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Let the kids help make a healthful Tex-Mex supper

Posted Thursday, Oct. 04, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Getting kids involved in planning, shopping for and preparing family meals from an early age helps build healthy eating habits for life.

This family meal is a favorite for many. Start with lean and spicy taco meat and crispy taco shells, and then set up a taco bar with your family's favorite toppings.

Children as young as 3 can help tear lettuce, and older children can help chop fresh cilantro, grate cheese, dice onion, slice ripe olives, dice tomatoes, make fresh guacamole or salsa -- the options are almost endless. End the meal with a festive caramel flan with mangoes for dessert.

Register on MealsMatter.org to add these and other recipes to your meal planner.

"Family Meals Matter" features recipes selected by registered dietitians from the thousands of user-contributed recipes available on the free online nutrition and meal-planning website Meals Matter (MealsMatter.org), sponsored by Dairy Council of California.

Caramel flan with mangoes

2/3 cup sugar, divided

3 beaten eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Fresh mango slices or other fresh fruit, for serving

1. In a heavy, medium skillet place 1/3 cup sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt (do not stir); shake skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. Reduce heat to low and cook until sugar is melted and golden brown; stir as necessary after sugar begins to melt. Pour caramelized sugar into an 8-inch quiche dish. Tilt dish to coat bottom. Let stand 10 minutes.

2. Combine eggs, milk, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Place quiche dish in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan on the oven rack.

3. Pour egg mixture into prepared quiche dish. Pour boiling water into the baking pan around quiche dish to a depth of 3/4 inch. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

4. Carefully lift quiche dish from water. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm, or cool completely and cover and chill up to 24 hours. Loosen edge of dish with a spatula or knife, slipping point of spatula down sides to let air in. Invert onto a serving platter. Garnish with mango slices or other fresh fruit.

Crispy taco shells

12 6-inch corn tortillas

Canola oil cooking spray

3/4 teaspoon chili powder, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Wrap four tortillas in a barely damp cloth or paper towel and microwave on high until steamed, about 30 seconds. (Alternatively, wrap in foil and heat in the preheated oven until steaming, about 5 to 7 minutes.) Coat both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray; sprinkle a little chili powder and salt on one side.

3. Drape each tortilla over a panel on a baked-taco rack and bake until crispy and brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the shells from the rack and repeat steps 2 and 3 with the remaining 8 tortillas.

Lean and spicy taco meat

8 ounces 93 percent-lean ground beef

8 ounces 99 percent-lean ground turkey breast

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles or 1 1/4 cups petite-diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile or 1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Place beef, turkey and onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

2.Transfer to a colander to drain off fat. Wipe out the pan. Return the meat to the pan and add tomatoes, cumin, ground chipotle (or chili powder) and oregano. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 to 6 minutes.

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