Why do we buy canned salsa? Whyyy?? This salsa takes 5 minutes to throw together, and it really does taste like it’s from a restaurant. Also, scroll down to read how Eric and I have been hosting Taco Tuesdays all summer, and how you can too!
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Eric and I have been hosting Taco Tuesday this summer. It has been super fun! I feel like one of the greatest casualties of suburbia and text messages is that no one “drops in” anymore. This is convenient for all-day pajama days (hey, it happens), but is a huge bummer when it comes to building friendships.
Every time I start a new group on Facebook, I get a congratulatory message. “Great job! You’re building community!” Facebook groups have their place in the world, but it’s not true community in my opinion. Humans need human interaction, and screen interactions are rapidly replacing them, which is a little crazy if you ask me.
Enter Taco Tuesday. A standing drop-in event. I wanted to give a few more details in case you want to try hosting your own!
Here is the text message that I sent out to a few friends and neighbors:
“Every Tuesday from 6-8pm bring the family to have dinner and hang out with us! We will provide all taco fixings. (Unless you happen to have some tomatoes or shredded cheese to use up, then you’re allowed to bring it, but the rule is NO grocery store trips.) This is just a fun and casual night to hang out. (We all need to eat dinner, why not do it together??) I will not be cleaning my house or wearing fancy clothes for Taco Tuesday. We will be using paper plates. This is meant to be a drop in event; no need to come every week, no need to explain why you can or can’t make it, just show up between 6-8 every Tuesday.
If you want to read the official rules for “How to Host a Crappy Dinner Party” (inspiration for Taco Tuesday), read this post. Hope to see you Tuesday!”
You can invite a bunch of people, or make it more intimate and just invite your BFF family over every week. If there are only a few families and everyone commits, then you can make food assignments. The reason I didn’t ask people to bring stuff is because sometimes if people feel obligated to bring something, that is their reason for not coming. “Oh I’ll skip it this week, I don’t feel like making a side.” I didn’t want anyone to feel pressure, so I said just come for free dinner. People love free food and I’m not above buying friends apparently.
You also don’t have to make it every week. Eric and I aren’t doing this forever; just for the summer months. You could do the first Tuesday of every month, or of course whatever night of the week works best for you.
2. The Food.
Now you guys know how much I like food. As much as I love to get down in the kitchen, Taco Tuesday is not the night for it. Keep the focus on having fun, not cooking. Here is our menu, yes, every week:
- Flour tortillas
- Taco meat (ground beef cooked with homemade taco seasoning, or with a regular ol’ taco seasoning packet) I always add a can of beans to make it go further. If you have vegetarian friends, you could also jazz up some canned beans for your taco filling, like in this recipe. Sometimes I make both.
- iceberg lettuce
- salsa (recipe below!)
- tortilla chips
- sour cream
You will also need paper items:
- Paper plates
- plastic silverware
The sharpie is so that people can write their names on their cup. (Or skip the cups and grab a pack of Aquafina at Safeway like I did!) Water is simple and cheap, don’t complicate your life.
It really isn’t that expensive. Taco stuff is pretty cheap. If there are leftovers, I freeze what I can to use the next week. Taco meat freezes beautifully. I also freeze extra tortillas and shredded cheese.
Also notice: there are no side dishes. No desserts. No fancy drinks. The idea is to keep it SIMPLE.
This section is short. Remember, the idea is to not stress yourself out in the name of entertaining. You are inviting people over to chat with them, they are not there to see your model home. I do general clutter pick up so that people have a place to sit, and light a candle so that the house smells nice. Thaaat’s it.
Summers are busy and people forget, so I often send out reminder texts to people.
4. Have fun!!
That’s the whole idea right! You guys seriously have to let me know if you try out your own Taco Tuesday. It has been such a fun part of our summer this year.
(There’s my neighbor Tyrone in the middle. Of the famous Mac and Cheese contest!)
Here’s Truman. He’s eating the inside of his taco with his hands. Typical.
And now for the SALSA recipe, amigos. Salsa is one of those phenomenons that has remained in mediocrity far too long. Bad salsa is everywhere (jarred chunky salsa, anyone?) Why are we still buying this stuff? It’s just wrong. Why doesn’t somebody can Restaurant Style Salsa (meaning it’s all blended up) and sell it in stores? It would be so easy to do.
I tested out a few batches to get this salsa just right. I tried it with fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and one time I added too much cilantro in addition to over blending it, which turned it brown instead of red. (It still tasted amazing. Let me be clear: there is never too much cilantro. But if you are posting pictures of your salsa on the internet, it probably shouldn’t be brown.)
Fresh tomatoes are great, especially if they are straight from the garden. Can’t beat that flavor. BUT. Fresh tomatoes are super watery, which was the problem with my first batch. You only want about 12 ounces of fresh tomatoes. If you are doing canned, you’re going to use 14.5 ounces. If you are a nervous salsa maker, use canned tomatoes! It’s pretty foolproof. And the flavor really is on par with fresh. Just make sure you drain them well.
The other secret ingredient here is cumin, a tip I got from The Pioneer Woman. You can add it to taste or leave it out, but I think it’s so great! The other ingredient you NEED is salt. Taste your salsa, and if it doesn’t take like you want to eat 10 more bites, add more salt. It really is like magic.
Fresh on the left, canned tomatoes on the right. Don’t go crazy on onions. Nobody likes onion-breath.
This recipe makes about 1 cup of salsa. Can we just call this a single serving? Yes? Just give me that bag of Juanitas and an entire batch of this and I’m set.
More Mexican food ideas for Taco Tuesday!
- Mexican Street Corn Dip << This is a recipe from my cousin Lani and it’s SO GOOD.
- 10 Minutes Enchilada Quesadillas:
- Traditional Tejano Carne Guisada: << this recipe is from my brother-in-law’s Tejana grandmother. It’s legit.
- Mexican Lasagna from A Family Feast
- Easy Chicken Tostadas from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
- Ground Beef Enchiladas from Belly Full
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5 Minute Restaurant Style Salsa
- 2 tomatoes, 12 ounces OR 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 small onion, don’t go crazy. You don’t want dragon breath
- 1/2 clove garlic, or 1 very small clove
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeds and membranes discarded
- 3 tablespoons cilantro
- 2 teaspoons lime juice, fresh! fresh!
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- pepper , to taste, optional
- Core the tomatoes and slice them in half. Add them to a food processor or blender.
- If you are using canned tomatoes, drain them in a colander. Or squeeze a handful at a time out over the sink. Add drained tomatoes to the blender.
- Add the onion. Smash the garlic with the side of a knife and add that too.
- Add half a jalapeno.
- Add the cilantro. I just chopped off what looked like about 3 tablespoons worth of leaves from the bunch and threw it in. You can always add more if you want.
- Add the lime juice, cumin, salt, sugar, and black pepper.
- Pulse the mixture about 1 full second at a time until blended. Stop a few times to scrape down the edges so you get everything chopped up. Don’t go overboard or it will get too watery.
- Serve with chips! Juanitas are the best chips. The salsa tastes great right away, but is even better the next day, after the flavors have married. Such a great union.
I’m working with Safeway on this post. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that keep The Food Charlatan running!
I love your Taco Tuesday nights with neighbors! Once each month, I organize lunch for some neighbors. We meet at a different restaurant usually close to home. And we have an annual Party at the Lodge in early Fall. it is a potluck and everyone loves it.
That sounds like so much fun Joanne! Great way to connect with the neighbors! Love the potluck idea.
This would be awesome with those enchilada quesadillas!
Yassssss it so would be!! Let’s make it happen!
Love this! I have another friend who started out doing cookie night. They made a buttload of cookies and invited all the neighbors on their block over. They did that a few times, and then they could just say “cookie night this sunday” and everyone would show up with cookies. Now they’ve even started branching out saying “ice cream sandwich night!” or “brownie night!”. It’s enough of a tradition that most people come, and most people bring something. Cool, right?! I totally want to come up with something I can do, not sure what that’ll be for us yet.
Oh my gosh I LOVE that! Cookies would actually be a lot easier. It would be a good option to do in the winter when it gets dark earlier. Part of what inspired taco tuesday was Sandi’s neighbor, has she told you about him? They have ice cream sundays. Every Sunday after church he puts a flag out in his yard, yes a legit flag. If the flag is up everyone knows it’s ice cream time. The guy has an actual soft serve machine. So cool right??
That is such a fun idea Karen!!! I might have to try it!
Thanks Dorothy, you totally should!
Love this post so much. Nothing can ever replace that face to face connection. We were out of town when National Night Out occurred and I was bummed – we always have such a great time chatting with old neighbors…and meeting new ones. So maybe we’ll open up our doors for Taco Tuesday! And serve your salsa, of course!
When is National Night out? That’s so cool that your neighborhood does it! I should tell my neighbors! Thanks Amy :) :)
This is seriously the greatest idea! And you’re right community requires human interaction :) Considering how much my family loves tacos (and this salsa by the way) – Taco Tuesday would be perfect for us. We make it for ourselves all the time, wouldn’t be so hard to invite some friends over too! Love this!
Thanks Trish! You should totally try it out, it’s been such a fun summer seeing friends more often! Your boys would love it.
Ooooh YUM! A good salsa makes all the difference!!
So true Cathy! Why do we bother with tacos when there are chips and salsa?? :) :)