(Family Features) Busy school days demand meals that can match the pace of life. A Mexican-themed meal is a sure way to keep things festive and lively around the family dinner table.
Not only does a meal centered on Mexican-style foods let you spice up your menu, it also allows for plenty of personalization so even the pickiest of palates can be satisfied. That means less time for preparation and more time spent together.
Put a fresh twist on your next school-night fiesta with these ideas:
- An ethnically-inspired meal is a great opportunity to encourage kids to try out new flavors and experiment with foods they wouldn’t normally eat. Sample variations of classic salsas, incorporate seasonal ingredients like jicama and diced sweet peppers to freshen up your dishes or put a spicy spin on a classic Italian favorite by creating Mexican-inspired stuffed shells.
- Get creative with proteins. Chicken and beef are common options, but heart-healthy fish and shrimp are also great candidates for a Mexican-style meal. Pork is another good choice for many Mexican dishes, and beans provide an excellent source of added protein, along with some flavor variety.
- Mex-up your taco night. Try an alternative to the traditional corn shell with an option like Ortega Good Grains Taco Shells, crafted with artisanal blends of real corn, unique grains and ingredients baked into each shell. They’re made with whole kernel corn, giving them an authentic taste and a distinctive flavor, aroma and texture.
- Keep things kid-friendly and fun by focusing on finger foods. A large taco can be difficult for little hands to handle, but a street taco portion, a chimichanga or even nachos are more hands-on.
- Look for fun toppings that add an extra crunch. For example, new Ortega Crispy Taco Toppers, lightly breaded slices of real jalapeno or onion, provide a bold kick and are the perfect finishing touch for tacos, salads and even Mexican-style burgers.
- Don’t forget dessert. No meal is complete without a sweet treat, such as a churro, flan, empanada or sopapilla. Many of these favorites can be prepared ahead of time so you can simply cook and serve for a perfect ending to your family fiesta.
Slow Cooked “Pulled” Chicken Tacos
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 bottle (8 ounces) Ortega Chipotle Taco Sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 package (10 shells) Ortega Good Grains White Corn with Chia Taco Shells, warmed
In medium pan, combine chicken, taco sauce, chicken stock, salt and pepper, and cook on low, covered, approximately 2 hours, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 F. Remove chicken from pan and shred using two forks.
Turn heat to medium-high and reduce cooking liquid into thick sauce, cooking 3-5 minutes and stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and combine sauce with shredded chicken.
Serve in taco shells with desired taco toppings.