Birthday Bash and Taco Time

Yesterday was Chris’s birthday –HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY to my wonderful husband!

Looking like a pro and happy as a clam - one of his first loves - being on the WATER!

I meant to post this on his actual birthday, however, I was a little preoccupied preparing for his special day that I just didn’t have enough time to post. With a hectic day at work, we decided it was best to have a low-key homemade dinner at Chris’s request – TACOS! Whenever I ask what “special” meal he would like me to cook, that’s the answer I receive 95% of the time. Fine by me, as I enjoy making him happy AND tacos happen to make me smile too 🙂

Tacos are an ordeal in our household, as I like to make all of the salsas and toppings from scratch. I could easily get pre-made guacamole, salsas, shredded cheese, taco seasoning,chopped veggies etc but I prefer to chop everything myself for ultimate flavor and freshness. Well, to be completely honest, there were two things I didn’t make from scratch – the taco shells and refried black beans…but I do have plans to make my own refried beans soon!

Taco and burrito filling is a great place to add chopped vegetables to bulk up and stretch the meat – for this version I used up what was in the fridge (grated or chopped zucchini, bell pepper and onion) but grated or chopped carrot, yellow squash, tomato, mushrooms and spinach all work nicely too! Chris prefers ground turkey to beef in his tacos – so ground turkey is what he got – though ground buffalo, beef or chicken could all be used in it’s place. You could even make a meatless version using black or pinto beans as the taco “meat” for an easy meal — oh the possibilities!

Much like our beloved Chipotle, we enjoy a medium-heat corn salsa, mild pico de gallo, creamy guacamole and a bit of shredded cheese for serving. I’ve included my versions below but feel free to use your favorite if you’d like! If you are short on time, you can always use a taco seasoning packet, shredded cheese, prepared guac and salsas for a satisfying and simple weeknight meal, no one will judge you 🙂

Turkey Tacos


1/2 lb ground turkey* (I used 98% lean for these but any will work)
2 tsp coconut oil, olive oil or oil of choice
1 to 2 garlic cloves. minced
1/2 small bell pepper, chopped (I used yellow)
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped or grated
1 batch of homemade taco seasoning (recipe below) or 1 packet of taco seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 cup of chicken broth or water
squeeze of lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (optional but we like cilantro)
salt and pepper, as needed

For serving (all optional, you choose!)

Taco shells, cooked/warmed per package instructions (or corn tortillas warmed in an oven to make pliable)
Corn-Cilantro Salsa (recipe below)
Pico de gallo (recipe below)
Guacamole  (recipe below)
Shredded cheese (I grate Tillamook medium cheddar)
Other options: shredded lettuce, sour cream


1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ground turkey and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in chopped bell pepper and zucchini and continue to cook until meat is cooked through and vegetables are cooked but still crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Add in taco seasoning (recipe below) and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil then simmer until mixture thickens.
3. Remove from heat, add lime juice, cilantro leaves and season salt and pepper, if desired. Stuff mixture into taco shells, top with desired salsas and toppings then enjoy!

*If you don’t want to use veggies, eliminate bell pepper and zucchini and increase meat to 1 lb.

Homemade Taco Seasoning (yield is about equivalent to one taco seasoning packet for 1 lb ground meat and/or veggie-meat combo like mine)


1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


1. Add all ingredients to a container with a lid, shake (or you can stir) and store in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes: After browning meat and/or veggies as your taco filling, add a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of chicken broth or water to meat, bring up to boil then reduce and let simmer until desired consistency is reached. If you want a slicker thicker sauce and to help cling mixture to meat, add a 1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch to meat/taco mixture.

From top to bottom: pico de gallo, corn salsa, and guacamole

Corn-Cilantro Salsa


1 ear of sweet corn, kernels removed from cob (I like to use raw corn but feel free to grill or saute the kernels before mixing)
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and deveined, chopped (save other half for guacamole)
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup yellow, white or red onion, chopped (red looks prettiest but I only had yellow on hand)
2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
salt to taste
Optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh red bell pepper is also delicious!


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, season with salt to taste and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made-ahead for quick serving.

Pico de Gallo Salsa


2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 small red or white onion, chopped
2 Tbsp or more cilantro leaves, chopped
juice from 1/2 lime
salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, season with salt to taste and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made-ahead for quick serving.



1 avocado
1/2 small jalapeno, seeded and deveined, chopped
juice from 1/2 lime, or more to taste
1/4 cup yellow, white or red onion, chopped (red looks prettiest but I only had yellow on hand)
2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
salt to taste
Optional: 1/4 cup chopped tomato, 1 tsp minced garlic


1. Half and pit avocado, then spoon out flesh into a small bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado, leaving it somewhat chunky. Mix in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste and serve.

Can you tell from the all of the above recipes that Chris and I love lime juice, onion and cilantro? : )

After much discussion, Chris decided he did not want a birthday cake this year…too bad for me since I enjoy baking BUT I still wanted to make him something that he could put a candle in. After all, what’s a birthday celebration without some form of cake or ice cream? I made homemade ice cream sandwiches with chewy cookies, that were made with all-purpose flour since the birthday boy prefers gluten-filled cookies. I didn’t partake in the cookies but instead had a big bowl of ice cream…can you guess what flavor I made? One hint, it’s not just plain vanilla…Recipe to come!


5 thoughts on “Birthday Bash and Taco Time

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