Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walking Tacos

For years my family served Walking Tacos at parties. Whether it was a birthday bash during the grammar school years, a Halloween party during middle school, or a band get-together in high school, Walking Tacos have been among the most-requested foods at our house.

Portable, easy, delicious, and perfect for big crowds, this delightful treat has been a go-to recipe for me since I first learned about them from my sister-in-law years ago. They're called "Walking Tacos" because you walk around while you eat them.

I used to make these with ground beef but now that my youngest has adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, we've been Walking-Taco-less for a couple of years. Lately we've defaulted to serving our teenage guests cheese pizza, but that can get boring pretty quickly.

But wait! Hope is on the horizon! Morningstar Farms makes "Meal Starters" which are soy-based meat crumbles that act and taste a lot like ground beef. My daughter and I decided to see if this veggie-friendly item would work to bring back the Walking Tacos she used to love so much.

And guess what? It did. The taste was spot-on!

Now, before I provide the recipe, let me share a few tips with you. You can make this, exactly as described below, with either the veggie option, or with real ground beef. If you're making this for a crowd, you'll want to brown your ground beef on your stovetop, but then once it's seasoned, place it in a crockpot to keep nice and hot.

Also, if you're feeding a crowd (as we often do) you may want to buy the mini-chip bags in bulk. We get ours at Sam's Club -- usually 50 small bags at a time. (See, I really did mean a crowd!). Most kids eat two bags, but this makes great leftovers, so we always prepare extra and it never goes to waste.

Ready? Here goes:

Walking Tacos
(multiply as needed)

1 lb ground beef or veggie substitute
1 pkg taco seasoning (I use McCormick original)
+/- 6 small bags of chips (We like Cool Ranch Doritos, but this works well with regular Doritos and Fritos)
Chopped onion
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped lettuce
Shredded cheddar
Sour cream

Brown ground beef/heat beef substitute. Add Taco Seasoning and water as directed on package. Heat until beef/substitute is cooked through.

To Assemble:

Choose a bag of chips. Crush them (you may want to allow a little air to escape before you start sqeezing the bag. We've had a few bags explode with first-timers!)

Add a heaping spoonful of cooked and seasoned ground beef/substitute

Add shredded cheddar, and (as desired) chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and sour cream.

Grab a fork and you're good to go! You eat right out of the bag as you mingle and chitchat.

One small word of warning. If you add a lot of ground beef to your bag, the bottom gets pretty hot. Just hold a napkin there (convenient for when you need to wipe your mouth!) and you're all set.

We're thrilled to know we can start serving these again here at the Hyzy house. My older two daughters won't have a problem with the meat version, but since they're not home that much these days, it looks like it's Morningstar Farms for us.

I hope you enjoy this. It's super easy and everyone who's ever tried it here, has gone on to serve it at their parties. It's genius!

On a personal note, although I'm super swamped with my current manuscript, I'm very much looking forward to Bouchercon. Just over a week from now--I can't believe it. I hope to see some of you there!

Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime.

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  1. OH wow! Julie you just brought back some goooood memories! Back in the dark ages, when I was in high school in Texas, we had a place across the street from the school that catered to the students. They served hamburgers, sold chips, candy, and soft drinks, and also offered what was then called "frito pie", though most of the students opted for nacho cheese Doritos. Same general principle as what you just described, except with a mild soupy chili instead of taco meat. I always wished they'd had a salad bar too, so I could have added lettuce, onion, and tomato to mine...

  2. What a great idea! I hadn't heard of Walking Tacos, and it sounds brilliant. My son would LOVE these...he's a taco fanatic. I'll be making this very soon--thanks!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Haven't made these in ages. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Shel - So glad to bring back good memories. I seem to recall the first time we had these (oh, so long ago) they were served with Fritos. We switched up to Doritos and my kids eventually suggested we go with Cool Ranch. That's the current family favorite ;-) (And I have another Cool Ranch Dorito recipe coming up soon, believe it or not!)

    Elizabeth - great! I hope he enjoys them!

    Molly - You're welcome! Hope you have fun.

    Avery - Thanks. This is just one of those "Mom go-to" recipes that works every time. Fun and delicious.


  5. Julie, this is a new one on me! Very clever, especially for kids.

    Good luck at Bouchercon! We're all crossing our fingers and hope you win that coveted Anthony Award!


  6. Dang, that looks like a party in a bag! I never heard of Walking Tacos before, but I cannot imagine kids not flipping over them.

    Like Krista, I'm sending out good karma and good thoughts to you for Bouchercon. Just to be nominated for an Anthony Award is the biggest win of all for any mystery writer. Enjoy yourself at the conference, Julie. You've earned it!

    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."
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  7. Julie-

    I've never heared of walking tacos. The dudes are all nacho hounds -- I can not wait to try these! Good luck at Bouchercon! I'm typing
    with fingers crossed for you to win the Anthony! Go, girl! And have FUN!!!

  8. You girls are the best, you know that? Thanks so much for all the well wishes. I'm very, very excited to have been nominated. No matter how it turns out I will always have those five months of "Nominee glee" to look back on. Thanks so much. I love you guys!

    And ... enjoy the Walking Tacos. We had leftovers yesterday and they were still awesome!


  9. My daughter loves these. We stopped at a little snack bar near the high school and she had a huge one from there. It looked pretty tasty! I'm sure my kids would love to have these for dinner this week.

  10. Wow, this is something that I would enjoy making.

    Good luck at Bouchercon!

  11. Janel - I know I could eat a huge one of these too, but we've always just used the small bags and had two or three... ;-) Congrats on winning our raffle!

    Dru - Thanks! And these *are* actually fun to make!


  12. What a great idea to put the ingredients in a bag. Ever since she was old enough to request a menu, my daughter has asked for tacos--birthdays, porch parties, any occasion. We use all the same ingredients and let folks build their own on plastic plates. But now I'll try the bags. (That child is now 34 years old and I'm still serving tacos to her family and friends.)