Some summer-friendly taco recipes

Tacos can be a fast and tasty answer to “What’s for dinner tonight?” during the upcoming summer months.

This is when everyone wants to be outside having fun or watching the youngsters play some sort of sports activity.

Taco shells can be purchased or made, then filled with a vegetable or protein mixture and served in a jiffy. Or they can be sprinkled with cheese and put into the oven to heat up and melt the cheese.

Here are some “summer-friendly” taco recipes. Take your choice and see if they tantalize your taste buds.

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Tacos can be doubly delectable, for their flavor and their lower fat content. Starkist Tuna has a “South of the Border” version.

Sweet and Spicy

Tuna Tacos

4 taco shells

Two 2.6-ounce pouches Starkist tuna, sweet and spicy

1/4 cup mild or any warmer salsa

1 cup shredded lettuce

1/4 cup diced sweet onion

1/4 cup diced tomato, blotting away juice before adding to mixture

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a medium bowl, mix tuna and salsa. Evenly fill shells with lettuce, tuna mixture, onion, tomato and cilantro.

Note: For a change, after putting tuna and salsa in taco shell, sprinkle with shredded Mexican blend cheese and put in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted. Then add toppings.

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Besides tuna, shrimp can make a taco that is hard to beat. This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine, with 318 calories for a two-taco serving.

Shrimp Tacos

1 cup fresh corn kernels, about 2 ears

2 tablespoons vegetable salad oil

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 diced, peeled avocado

Cooking spray

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 cup light sour cream

Eight 6-inch corn tortillas

Preheat broiler to high. Combine corn and oil in small bowl and toss gently to coat. Spread corn on jelly-roll pan; broil 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine corn, onions, cilantro, 1 tablespoon lime juice, salt, pepper and avocado in medium bowl; toss gently.

Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Combine shrimp, 1 tablespoon juice and honey in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Add shrimp to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side. Combine sour cream and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice in a small bowl. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Place 2 tortillas on each of four plates. Top each with about 1/4 cup corn mixture, about 4 shrimp and 1 1/2 teaspoons sour cream mixture.

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This is a meatless soft taco, with black beans and brown minute rice cooked on the stove with salsa and chopped green peppers. This was a recipe from Minute Rice in the Woman’s Day magazine.

Fiesta Mexican Soft Tacos

15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup thick and chunky salsa

Medium green pepper, chopped

1 cup water

1 cup minute brown rice, uncooked

8 flour tortillas

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Mix beans, salsa and green pepper in medium saucepan. Stir in water. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Stir in rice. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir. Let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Spoon rice mixture evenly onto tortillas; sprinkle with cheese. Fold tortilla in half and serve with extra salsa if needed.

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A creamy veggie side dish is needed with the Mexican food. Here is one from Woman’s Day magazine. It is colorful and has a creamy salad dressing.

Citrusy Slaw with Peppers and Scallions

1 orange

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons sugar

Kosher salt and pepper

Small 1 1/2-pound head green cabbage, shredded, to make 8 cups

3 peppers: 1 yellow, 1 red, 1 green, thinly sliced

Bunch scallions, about 6, very thinly sliced

Grate 2 teaspoons orange zest into a bowl and squeeze in 2 tablespoons juice. Whisk in the sour cream, lime juice, sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add cabbage and peppers to the bowl. Toss to coat. Fold in scallions. Let sit, tossing occasionally for about 20 minutes before serving.

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Nothing is better than ice cream on a hot summer evening, and one that is rolled in crisp sugared cornflakes and drizzled with honey is really different.

It is an American invention, an imitation of Asian fried ice cream which uses a tempura batter. Scoops of ice cream are rolled in cornflakes or cookie crumbs before being fried for the Asian version. This recipe is not fried, merely frozen firm and drizzled with honey after coating.

Mexican Ice Cream

2 cups vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup frosted cornflakes, crushed

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup honey

Place four 1/2-cup scoops of ice cream on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for an hour or until firm. In a shallow bowl, combine cornflake crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Roll ice cream in crumb mixture. Freeze until serving time. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon honey. Makes four desserts.

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This recipe is from Hungry Girl and is called Hungry Grilled Veggie Tacos. Two tacos equal 228 calories, with sweet and tart balsamic vinegar and feta crumbles in the mix.

Hungry Grilled Veggie Tacos

1 large portabella mushroom cap, with stem removed

Two 1/2-inch thick onion slices, with rings intact

Red bell pepper, halved, stem and seeds removed

Small zucchini, ends removed, cut lengthwise into 4 slices

1/8 teaspoon both salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 corn taco shells, flat-bottomed, if available

1/4 cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese

Bring a grill sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-heat heat. Add veggies and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for 5 minutes with the grill cover down. Grill for 5 more minutes, or until softened and lightly blackened with the cover up. Once cool enough to handle, blot away excess moisture from mushroom. Cut mushroom and bell pepper into strips. Cut onion slices in half and cut zucchini slices in half lengthwise. Place veggies in bowl and drizzle with vinegar. Stir to coat. Evenly distribute veggies among the shells. Top with feta cheese and enjoy.

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This is a side dish that would go well with tacos and takes little time, either on the stove top or in a skillet on the grill.

It is from the Taste of Home Cookbook. The Mexican Fried Corn is even tasty served for breakfast.

Mexican Fried Corn

3 cups fresh corn, or it can be frozen or in a pinch, the canned niblets variety

1/2 cup diced onion

1/4 cup butter, cubed

4-ounce can chopped green chilies

Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, cook corn and onion in butter until tender. Add chilies, salt and pepper; cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes four to six servings.

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Because of an omission of sugar in the recipe for Chocolatey Caramel Thumbprints in the May 28 edition of the food column, I am printing it again.

I thank a reader named Judy for calling to ask the amount of sugar. Sadly, she was just getting ready to make the cookies when she saw the omission and I didn’t come to work until three hours later.

Chocolatey Caramel Thumbprints

1 egg

1/2 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

16 vanilla caramels, unwrapped

3 tablespoons whipping cream

1 1/4 cups finely chopped pecans

1/2 cup, 3-ounces, semisweet chocolate pieces

1 teaspoon shortening

Separate egg. placing yolk and white in separate bowls. Cover and chill egg white until needed. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat well. Beat in egg yolk, milk and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together the flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well-combined. Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill about 2 hours or until easy to handle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a small saucepan, heat and stir caramels and whipping cream over low heat until mixture is smooth. Set aside. Slightly beat reserved egg white.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in egg white then in pecans to coat. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Using the thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake about 10 minutes, or until edges are firm. Remove from oven. Spoon melted caramel mixture into cookie centers. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. In another small saucepan, heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly. Drizzle chocolate mixture over tops of cookies. Let stand until chocolate is set. Makes about 36 cookies.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com‘>emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)