With the right ingredients, Mexican dinners can be on the table in close to 30 minutes. Choose store-bought ingredients and use the microwave to give ingredients a head start on cooking. A pre-made blend of Mexican spices, that you make yourself or buy from the store, also gives you a head start on any Mexican recipe.
1. Tacos and Taco Salads
A pound of ground beef or turkey; shredded lettuce; canned, sliced olives; shredded cheddar cheese; salsa; and a dollop of sour cream give you the makings for tacos or a taco salad. All you need to do is cook the meat and toss everything together for a hearty meal. Put the ingredients into soft tortillas warmed in the oven or microwave or store-bought taco shells or bowls.
2. Chicken Enchiladas
With a rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken from the deli case, enchiladas come together quickly. Warm the chicken and a can of black beans in the microwave with a little water before placing some of each, along with grated cheese and canned green chilies, into tortillas. Roll up the tortillas, place them in a casserole dish and top them with store-bought enchilada sauce that you have heated in the microwave. With the ingredients already hot, the dish will finish heating in a 350F oven in 20 minutes.
3. Shrimp Rancheros
Quick-cooking shrimp served in a Mexican red sauce can be as mild or as spicy as your family likes. Buy cooked shrimp and your favorite canned enchilada sauce, and this dish takes only minutes to make. Heat the enchilada sauce, adding a little cumin or chili powder if you like, and gently simmer the shrimp in the sauce until everything is heated through. Serve the shrimp over a bed of microwaved rice or bulgur.
4. Beef Fajitas
A thin top round steak takes just 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time on each side in a large, oiled skillet, making beef fajitas an uncomplicated Mexican dinner recipe. Cook the steak first and let it rest, covered with foil, while you saute thinly sliced onions and thinly sliced bell peppers in a large skillet, with a few teaspoons of oil, cumin and chili powder for about 6 minutes. Slice the steak into thin slices, across the grain, and serve the steak and vegetables inside warmed tortillas.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.