I first started cooking for myself when I was in college and lived in an on-campus townhouse with 3 other roommates. Taco night was always a big hit. We would pick up one of those taco kits – you know the ones, with taco shells, salsa, and a taco seasoning packet. All we had to do was add ground beef or ground turkey and assemble a few toppings (lettuce, tomato, cheese). Then, when I got married (right after graduating from college), my hubby and I still enjoyed taco night. I don’t remember if I still bought the whole kit, but I know I still relied heavily on the seasoning packets.
Now, over 5 years later, I have since graduated from the seasoning packets. The more I cooked (and the more I began to care about the food that my husband and I were eating), the less interested I was in grabbing a packet of pre-mixed seasonings (with all kinds of other junk in there, too) to add to my dinner.
We still enjoy taco night (although, I don’t think we eat tacos nearly as much as we used to)… Sometimes it’s fun to assemble little bowls with all of our favorite toppings and sit down to a make-your-own-taco dinner. On the surface it may look very much the same, but the taco filling has changed drastically over the years. I tend to throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand and wing it on the spices. As it turns out, tacos from scratch really are quite easy to make. If you feel like measuring spices is a chore, don’t worry about it. Since I want you to understand the joy that is tacos-from-scratch night, I’ve included easy ways to measure the spices in the palm of your hand.
Take my word for it… Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. Once you learn to relax and wing it in the kitchen, you’ll never want to go back!
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey (93/7)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 small bell pepper, diced
- 2 jalapeños, minced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
(about 1 palm full)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
(about 1 palm full)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
(about 2/3 palm full or about 1/3 palm full twice – whichever is easiest)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
(about 1/3 palm full)
- 1/2 cup water
- Pinch Kosher salt
- Tortillas or taco shells
- Favorite toppings (lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey and brown in the oil. Once the turkey has browned, add the onion, garlic, zucchini, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onions are translucent. Add in the tomatoes, spices, and water. Stir to incorporate the spices and water with the meat and vegetable mixture in the skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with the Kosher salt (about a pinch or two).
Transfer the taco filling to a bowl and serve with tortillas or taco shells and your favorite toppings. Enjoy!