Lessons learned from taco night!
The last meal I made when our friends were visiting was homemade tacos. I love making tacos – pretty easy to prepare and fun for each guest to “customize.” There’s something satisfying about having people forming an assembly line of food preparation in the kitchen!
For our tacos, we usually include grilled chicken or beef, lettuce, Pico de Gallo, shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, sauteed green bell pepper and onion, Mexican rice, and black beans. A pretty tasty spread of topping options…
Well, while our friends were running some last minute errands I thought to myself “I’ll prepare dinner while they’re out so we can dig right into dinner.” My intentions were noble, but the execution proved a bit disastrous. I don’t have a lid for my big pan and so the beef dried out completely by the time they returned and my sauteed peppers and onions were pretty much slimy goop. My husband, being the supportive voice of calm, told me as I’m feeling a bit deflated – “hey… if they’re beef chips they’ll probably just be healthier for us.” It did make me giggle and realize just how important some of the other toppings can be – so below is my recipe for homemade guacamole and Pico de Gallo. These are pretty simple versions; anyone can give these a whirl!
Picking out a ripe avocado
This was a skill that took me a while to perfect – if you are looking for an avocado to eat the same night, look for color and firmness. You’ll want an avocado that’s more brown in tone than green and when you grip it in your hands and give it a squeeze – it should give to the pressure a little, but not feel like your hand is going to crush it completely. Firm and green avocados are best for use in the next couple of days…
My guacamole is pretty simple, and is a combination of the best advice from different recipes I’ve discovered online. You’ll want to feel this out and modify as you go – it took me a few times to get the right ratio of flavors (although each attempt along the way was pretty tasty – it’s hard to mess this up)!
2 tablespoons diced, sweet onion
2 tablespoons diced, roma tomato
1 teaspoon of lime juice (approx.)
Salt, to taste
1. Cut open the avocado, remove the seed, and dice the flesh into small cubes. (I usually run a butter knife along the length of the avocado, then I lift up the skin with the knife – easy to do if the avocado is ripe – and grab it with my fingers, pulling the skin off the avocado. Then I cut it in half, twist, pull the halves apart, remove the seed, and lay down each half. I dice and chop the halves up from there).
2. Place the avocado into a medium mixing bowl. Add the tomato and onions to the bowl.
3. Using a fork, give everything a nice stir – mashing up the avocado until you get the desired texture.
4. Add the lime juice and give the guacamole a nice stir. I usually give it a quick sniff to see if it has a nice, balanced aroma or if I should add a bit more lime.
5. I usually give it a quick taste to see if any salt needs to be added, then get the chips ready and dig in!
Pico de Gallo
Another super simple and non-spicy taco condiment. As with the guacamole, you can modify and adjust the ratio of ingredients as desired… this is a fun one to play with and enjoy with chips!
5 Roma tomatoes
1/3 cup diced yellow onion
3 tablespoons of fresh, diced cilantro
A hint of lime juice
Salt, to taste
Dice up the tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Mix them together in a bowl and add a hint of lime juice along with some salt. Enjoy!