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Tacos and Sparklers – A Perfect Texas Night

13 Aug

I love tacos – breakfast tacos, tacos from a trailer, tacos from a nice restaurant… whatever.

I also think that they’re easy to make, and generally turn out well.

Last night I had a few friends over for dinner and drinks. To make things easy, we served tacos and margaritas. I was able to make just about everything in advance and actually got to enjoy the party instead of spending the whole time in the kitchen.

As a side note, check out a video of Nellie from The Office learning how to eat a taco.  Unfortunately it’s not the best quality, but still fun to watch.

Here it goes – some easy, healthy, make-ahead recipes that were all a hit.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos – a favorite at my house. The salad on the side adds color and flavor.

Slow Cooker Chipotle Brown Sugar Chicken (from

I love this chipotle brown sugar chicken- it’s healthy, it’s a slow cooker recipe that takes about 10 minutes to prep, and requires very little prep once the chicken is done.

– 2- 3 Chicken Breasts

– 1/2 red onion

– 2-4 cloves garlic

– one can of roasted diced tomatoes

– 1- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – chop a little before placing in blender

– 3 tablespoons brown sugar

– juice of 1 lime

– 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, plus some extra for serving

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

– a little queso fresco or cotija cheese

– corn tortillas

– 2 limes, cut into wedges

Place chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Blend onion, tomatoes, garlic, pepper, sugar, limes and cilantro in a blender. Puree until the ingredients are liquefied. Pour the liquid over the chicken. Turn the slow cooker on low for 8- 10 hours (or high for 4 – 5).

Shred the chicken using two forks and serve on warm corn tortillas topped with a little cheese and fresh cilantro. Squeeze a little lime juice on each taco.

Ground Turkey Tacos (from

Ground turkey tacos were a huge hit and only take a few minutes to make.

– 1 tbsp cooking oil

– 1 white onion, minced

– 2 tbsp chili powder

– 4 garlic cloves, minced

– 1 tbsp dried oregano

– 2 tsp tomato paste

– 1 package ground turkey (1.25 lbs), use turkey that has some fat in it, not the extra lean kind

– 1 small can tomato sauce

– 1/4 cup water

– 1 boullion cube

– 2 tsp cider vinegar

– 1 tsp brown sugar

– salt and pepper to taste

– corn tortillas or taco shells for serving

Heat oil in a large pan over medium/high heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to look transparent.

Add the chili powder, garlic, oregano, and tomato paste. Mix in thoroughly and cook for about a minute before adding turkey. Cook turkey for about 5 minutes- stirring frequently and ensuring that the turkey is broken up as it cooks.

Once the turkey looks mostly cooked, add in the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes (until the meat doesn’t look like it has too much liquid).

Serve in taco shells or on tortillas. I use lettuce and cheese as a topping, but you could use any standard taco toppings.

Fresh Corn, Black Bean and Pepper Salad (adapted from

Last but not least, a side item or a taco topper – Corn, black bean and pepper salad. Fresh tasting, seasonal and healthy. You can see a picture of this salad at the top of the post.

– 3 ears of corn, cut off the cob

– 1 regular size can of black beans, drained

– 1 green bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

– 1 red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

– juice of one lime

– 1 tbsp olive oil

– 1 tsp red wine vinegar

– fresh cilantro for garnish

– salt and pepper to taste

Cut fresh corn off the cob – I like using fresh corn much better than canned, but in a pinch, drained canned corn could work.

Combine corn kernels, black beans, and peppers in a large bowl. Pour lime juice, olive oil, vinegar over the salad. Toss with salt and pepper and fresh cilantro.

I serve this as either a side item or a topping for tacos. It works well for either.

At the end of the evening we decided to use up the leftover sparklers from my wedding – made for good iphone pics. enjoy!

A few of the sparklers leftover from our wedding. Fun end to a fun evening.