(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
A few contests for the New Year were giving away 52 cookbooks, one for each week. If you want to save time, you can look to your favorite cookbooks. You can pick one recipe a week, double or triple it, refrigerate or freeze the leftovers and think of simple variations. Mixing it up between hot, cold and room temperature offerings makes the most of the opportunities. Your creativity just may amaze you. The following chicken tacos and toppings show how easy it can be.
Fun fare like this proves that food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive -- and fast. The dishes are delicious evidence that everyone --- including you and your kidlet helpers --- has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family time in the kitchen that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you choose to use can't help but draw "wows" at the table.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
- CHICKEN TACOS TO START THE WEEK
Jazz up your favorite chicken taco recipe with standout toppings, such as packaged cabbage salad mix tossed with green goddess dressing and Mexican seasonings, halved grape tomatoes marinated in olive oil and vinegar dressing and Mexican seasoning and finely chopped red onions.
- CHICKEN TACO SALAD
Use refrigerated leftover taco filling and toppings as a main-dish salad. For the salad bed, use arugula, peeled matchsticks of jicama, julienned carrots and zucchini.
- CHICKEN TACO MULTI-LAYER DIP
Put refrigerated leftover taco filling and toppings in food processor and pulse until consistency of a slightly chunky dip. Divide as layers in a microwave safe serving dish. In between the chicken taco layers, spread layers of cooked refried beans and queso cheese sauce. Cook in microwave until thoroughly heated (careful not to overcook). Serve warm with dollops of sour cream and guacamole on top.
- CHICKEN TACO SANDWICH
Mince leftover chicken taco filling and gently mix with small amounts of mayonnaise, fresh lime juice, chucks of pear and dried cherries. Serve on toasted whole wheat bread, accompanied by the leftover refrigerated taco toppings as a side dish.
- CHICKEN TACO MEATBALLS
Put refrigerated leftover taco filling in food processor, add finely chopped red bell pepper, leftover red onion topping, small amount of fresh garlic and pulse until the consistency of meatballs. Roll into meatballs and cook according to your favorite meatball recipe. Serve with warmed store-bought or homemade salsa as a sauce.
If your adventure isn't what to prepare each day for meals, but whether or not your kids will eat it, Jennifer Tyler Lee
has got your back. She turned the whole thing into a game. A few years back, Lee dared kids to try one new food a week in the excellent "The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year"
. Part of the fun is that the children get to peruse the book and choose what foods they would like to try in what order. Selections (featured in more than 150 recipes) include bok choy, Brussels sprouts, persimmons and quinoa. Lisa Messinger
at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes
(Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet
(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.