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Taco Tuesday: Spice up Your Dinner

Abby Cowan
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Taco bar

Create a taco bar spread for easy, family-style serving. This way, everyone can build their own tacos and pick their desired toppings.

Tuesdays call for Tex-Mex - specifically, tacos! Living in a Tex-Mex hub, we have all had our fair share of tacos. But the usual ground beef or fajita meat can get boring, and Mexican food is all about spicing things up. If your Taco Tuesday is missing some extra flair, these two taco recipes will bring the flavor.

First up are my favorite, Chicken Tinga Tacos. Served with smooth avocado crema and tangy mango salsa, these unique tacos pack a flavorful punch. Chicken tinga, which originated in Pueblo, Mexico, is usually a saucy chicken mixture that tenderizes as it slow cooks so that it easily falls apart into its iconic shreds. This is a meal best prepared in advance, as the longer and slower the chicken cooks, the better the flavors develop. The sauce is a balance of smoky chipotle pepper and a sweet tomato base so there’s a flavor in there to satisfy everyone’s palate.

My entire family agrees that this is one of the best recipes I have ever made. And with my family, that says a lot. Each person always wants something different, but these tacos are a crowd pleaser. It is also one of the most popular recipes I have posted on my Instagram blog, @abbysapron, and followers ask me for this recipe all the time. If these rave reviews don’t convince you to make these tacos, I don’t know what will.

Next are Tropical Shrimp Tacos. When I need a super quick and simple weeknight dinner, sheet pan recipes are always the way to go. There’s no fussing with multiple pots and pans, just throw everything on one pan and let it cook. That is the best part of these tropical shrimp tacos with pineapple and salsa verde. They’re fuss free, and only take 20 minutes.

The Caribbean flavor brings a unique twist to the taco while the salsa verde reels it back to the tacos’ Mexican roots. You can use the spices listed in the ingredients to make your own Caribbean jerk style seasoning, or you can use store-bought jerk seasoning and the flavor will be just as pungent. After tasting these tacos, you will be shocked at the depth of flavor created in just 20 minutes.

Like I said, nobody can ever agree on meals in my family - the girls crave lighter, healthier ingredients while the boys always want meat. If you struggle with this same issue or if you are just not a shellfish fan, you can use the jerk seasoning from the shrimp on chicken as well, so there is something for everyone.

Happy Taco Tuesday!

Chicken Tinga Tacos
Abby serves these tacos with Avocado Crema and Mango Salsa.

Ingredients for Chicken Tinga
Abby used this recipe for chicken tinga.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs. total)
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 (14-ounce) can tomato purée
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced, plus 1 Tablespoon of the sauce

Ingredients for Avocado Crema
Abby used this recipe for the avocado crema sauce.
1 avocado, halved
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños
Juice from 2 limes
Kosher or flaky salt

Ingredients for Mango Salsa
Abby came up with this recipe.
1 mango, diced
1 jalapeńo, seeded and chopped
Juice and zest from 1 lime

For serving:
Warmed tortillas (corn or flour)
Cotija cheese
Sliced red onions

Recipe Instructions:

Garnish these Chicken Tinga Tacos with cotija cheese, freshly picked cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, and the 1 tsp. of salt, and stir to combine. Stir in the tomato purée, chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce and onions over the chicken. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 2-3 hours on the LOW setting or 1 to 2 hours on the HIGH setting.

Meanwhile, make the Lime Avocado Crema. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Season with salt.

Then, make the mango salsa by combining all ingredients in a bowl.

Turn off the slow cooker and transfer chicken to a clean cutting board. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces with two forks. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and stir to coat with the sauce before serving in tortillas with toppings if desired.

Tropical Shrimp Tacos Recipe
Abby used this recipe for shrimp tacos.

Ingredients For Shrimp:
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 tsp. all-spice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Kosher salt and pepper
Corn or flour tortillas
Sliced avocado, lettuce or cabbage, for serving

Ingredients for For Salsa Verde:
4 tomatillos, husked and halved
1 jalapeño
2 cloves garlic, skin on
Juice of 1 lime
Juice from half an orange
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup diced pineapple
1/4 cup diced mango

For serving:
Shredded lettuce or cabbage
Lime wedge

Recipe Instructions:

Serve these Tropical Shrimp Tacos in a warm tortilla with shredded lettuce or cabbage, avocado, and top with the pineapple and homemade salsa verde.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss together the shrimp, olive oil, chili powder, all-spice, ginger, thyme, cinnamon, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on one side of the pan. On the other half of the pan, add the tomatillos, jalapeño, and garlic. Transfer to the oven and roast 10-12 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked and the tomatillos are lightly charred.

Set the shrimp aside. De-seed the jalapeño, if desired. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skin. To a blender, add the roasted tomatillos, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, orange juice, and cilantro. Blend until smooth. Stir in the pineapple, mango and a pinch of salt. Stuff the shrimp into the warmed taco shells, and top with the Roasted Jalapeño Pineapple Salsa Verde, avocado, and lettuce or cabbage. Enjoy!

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