Kid-friendly Cuban Street Tacos Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Cuban Street Tacos

Recipe: Cuban Street Tacos

Cuban Street Tacos

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Guajillo studio/Shutterstock.com
prep time
25 minutes
cook time
12 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Cuban Street Tacos

Street Tacos are traditional Mexican tacos served on corn tortillas, filled with various meats or veggies, and often topped with onions, cilantro, and "salsas" (sauces). In all likelihood, the fast-food chain Taco Bell made the popularity of the taco more widespread in the United States. The hard taco shell used at Taco Bell and found in stores is not traditional, though. The use of hard taco shells may have increased because they stay fresh for much longer when compared to soft tortillas. Although tacos aren't part of traditional Cuban cuisine, our Cuban Street Tacos get their Cuban flair from the citrus flavors of lime and orange.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • juice :

    to extract or squeeze out the juice of a fruit or vegetable, like a lemon, orange, or carrot, often cutting open or peeling the fruit or veggie first to access its flesh.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • tear :

    to pull or rip apart a food, like basil leaves, into pieces instead of cutting with a knife; cutting breaks cell walls more, so herbs can discolor faster.

Equipment Checklist

  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Skillet
  • Grater
  • Dry measuring cups
scale
1X
2X
3X
4X
5X
6X
7X

Ingredients

Cuban Street Tacos

  • 4 to 5 green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 medium orange
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 T light brown sugar/honey/agave
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 lb mushrooms
  • 1/2 to 1 C Monterey Jack cheese **(Omit for DAIRY ALLERGY or sub dairy-free/nut-free cheese, like Daiya brand)**
  • 12 or more small flour or corn tortillas, warmed **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use corn tortillas or other gluten-free/nut-free tortillas)**
  • sour cream, optional **(for DAIRY ALLERGY omit or sub dairy-free/nut-free sour cream)**
  • sliced avocado (optional)

Food Allergen Substitutions

Cuban Street Tacos

  • Dairy: Omit or sub dairy-free cheese for Monterey Jack cheese. Omit optional sour cream or sub dairy-free/nut-free sour cream. 
  • Gluten/Wheat: Use corn tortillas or gluten-free flour tortillas.

Instructions

Cuban Street Tacos

1.
chop + squeeze + add

Have your kids chop up 4 to 5 green onion stalks and 2 garlic cloves and add to a bowl. Next, have kids squeeze the juice of 1/2 orange and 1 lime into the same bowl. Then add 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

2.
heat + simmer + chop

Add everything to a skillet on your stovetop and heat over medium-high heat, stirring until the sauce boils and is slightly thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. While the sauce cooks, have your kids chop 1/2 to 1 lb of mushrooms into the smallest bits possible. Then add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook until they are softened, about 2 to 4 minutes more. Continue to cook, breaking up the mushrooms with a wooden spoon until browned.

3.
grate + fill

Have your kids grate 1/2 to 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, then fill warmed tortillas with the mushroom mixture, cheese, rice, and salsa. You can even top with some sour cream or avocado slices if you like! Enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Mushrooms!

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Photo by Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I'm Toady! I'm a Mushroom!

“I'm also a fun guy! Get it? Fun guy—fungi? I'm good in salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, on pizza, with pasta, and stuffed with other yummy foods. Plus, you can cook and use me in recipes just like you would meat!"

History

  • The first mushrooms were thought to be cultivated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known why for sure. Perhaps someone discovered that mushrooms grew by accident and sought out a growing method.
  • All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms! There are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million species of fungi on planet Earth, of which only 80,000 have been properly identified. There are over 250 kinds of mushrooms that people eat.
  • Mushrooms are a kind of fungus that look like umbrellas! They grow in places like yards, forests, fields, and gardens. 
  • What is a fungus? It's a kind of living organism that is different from plants. In fact, mushrooms are more like humans than plants! 
  • Fungi walls are made of a fibrous substance called "chitin," rather than cellulose, like plants. Also, plants produce their own energy from the sun from photosynthesis, but mushrooms and other fungi don't need the sun for energy!
  • Many fungi eat by breaking down dead plants. However, other fungi feast on dead animals, bird droppings, manure, wallpaper paste, fruit, and living animals. So fungi are like nature's cleanup crew!
  • The yeast that makes bread rise is a type of fungi.
  • Mushrooms are sometimes called Toadstools! Can you picture a toad sitting on top of a giant mushroom?
  • Some mushrooms are good to eat, like portobellos, crimini, and shiitakes, while others are extremely poisonous. Never eat a mushroom you find growing outside unless you are with a mushroom expert!
  • The Honey Mushroom in the Blue Mountains of Oregon is the world's largest living thing. It is actually a mushroom colony and is believed to be at least 2,000 years old! It covers almost four square miles!
  • Some mushrooms live entirely underwater.
  • In the Amazon rainforest, mushrooms release spores into the air, which creates the surface for water to condense and can trigger rain. The rain then causes more fungi to grow.
  • Before the invention of colorful synthetic dyes, people used mushrooms for dyeing wool and other natural fibers.
  • Greek warriors ate mushrooms to increase their strength before battle.
  • Mushrooms are one of the vegetable world's substitutes for meat. 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • The largest mushroom you'll find in most grocery stores is the portobello. It is the fully grown version of the Agaricus Bisporus species and has a large, brown cap. Smaller, immature mushrooms may be brown, like the cremini, or white, like the button.  
  • Mushrooms contain more than 90 percent water!
  • Some mushrooms glow in the dark! They produce light through a process called bioluminescence. People used to carry these in ancient times to light their way through the forest. 
  • Mushrooms can grow super fast. Once they break through the surface of whatever they're growing on, they can double their size in just one day.
  • The word "mushroom" comes from late Middle English for any fungus with a fleshy and fruiting body. It is derived from the Old French "mousseron," from the late Latin "mussirio."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Wild mushrooms can be found in many wooded areas. If you choose to harvest wild mushrooms, make certain you have a professional identify your pick. Many mushrooms may resemble safe mushrooms but are actually poisonous!
  • Buy mushrooms with whole, intact caps, and be sure they are not wet or slimy!
  • They will smell strong, sweet, and earthy when fresh. 
  • Rinse mushrooms before you slice or cut them. Whole mushrooms won't absorb much water, while cut mushrooms will. Wait to rinse mushrooms until right before you cook them; otherwise, they'll turn slimy.
  • Mushrooms can be broiled, sautéed, and grilled. Mushrooms can be chopped or sliced and added to other dishes. Portobello caps are large enough to eat like a hamburger on a bun!
  • The mushroom cap is most often the part that is cooked and eaten. The stem can be fibrous and woody but will add flavor to vegetable or meat stock.
  • Mushrooms pair well with balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs (like oregano, rosemary, thyme, and cilantro), marinara, spinach, leafy greens, tomatoes, goat cheese, mozzarella, cream-based sauces, garlic, and onions.
  • Store mushrooms in a partially closed resealable plastic bag to ensure air circulation without drying out the mushrooms.

Nutrition

  • Mushrooms are low in calories and are an excellent source of B vitamins. These vitamins are needed for healthy cell and brain function, and they help prevent cancer and stress.
  • Even though mushrooms don't use the sun for energy, they use it to produce vitamin D, just like humans do! Vitamin D is essential to our bones! It keeps them strong and regenerating. 
  • Mushrooms have essential minerals such as selenium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. Copper helps the body build red blood cells and is necessary for the health of our bones. Selenium is an antioxidant that may decrease cancer risk. 
  • Mushrooms have been used successfully in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat many health conditions. Western medicine is finally beginning to recognize and utilize some of the medicine mushrooms naturally contain.

 

History of Tacos!

Photo by Gulcin Ragiboglu for Shutterstock
  • The Mexican word "taco" and the English word "sandwich" are generic terms that describe a dish with a filling. A taco is different from a sandwich because you place the filling inside of a tortilla instead of between two slices of bread. Traditionally, a corn tortilla is warmed or fried and then folded or rolled up over the filling. You can also make a soft taco with a flour tortilla. Taco fillings are as varied as sandwich fillings and are often determined by geographical region. You can eat a taco as an entrée or snack. 
  • The origin of the taco may have started in Mexican silver mines sometime in the 19th century. This idea comes from the name of the first type of taco, "taco de minero," which translates to "miner's taco." Also, have you ever noticed that taquitos look similar to a stick of dynamite? The word taco most likely referred to pieces of paper that miners would wrap around gunpowder and use in holes carved into the face of a rock. 
  • Mexican immigrants brought tacos with them to the United States in the early 20th century, and now "taquerías," restaurants that sell tacos, have become widespread. Mexican cuisine is one of the most well-liked in the US!

Let's Learn About Cuba!

Photo by BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock.com
  • The Republic of Cuba is an island and country in the Caribbean Sea and is part of the North American continent. The country includes the main island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), and numerous minor archipelagos (island groups). 
  • Cuba's population is over 11 million, and 2.1 million live in Havana, the capital city. Its total area is 42,426 square miles. The official language is Spanish, and although there isn't an approved religion, many Cubans practice Roman Catholicism. 
  • The Cuban peso is now the only currency of Cuba. Until 2021, the Cuban convertible peso was also in circulation but is now retired. 
  • The government of Cuba is a Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party (Communist) socialist republic. Its economy is based on its socialist government. Therefore, it is a state-controlled planned economy that thrives through various sectors tobacco farming, fish, coffee farming, and nickel mining. Recently, Cuba's constitution was changed to allow individuals to own private property such as small businesses and homes.
  • Even though Cuba is a developing nation, it has a 99.8 percent literacy rate, the tenth highest in the world, possibly due to the free education it provides. The government also offers free universal healthcare. 
  • Did you know that Cuba is only 90 miles from the United States? Havana, Cuba, is 105 miles from Key West, Florida. 
  • Because the island of Cuba resembles a crocodile or alligator from an aerial view, it is sometimes called El Cocodrilo or El Caimán. 
  • The Bee Hummingbird, native to Cuba and only two inches long, is the smallest bird in the world.
  • Baseball is especially popular in Cuba. In fact, some Cuban baseball players have come to the United States to play on Major League Baseball teams. 
  • Music and dance are very important in Cuba. Dances that originated there are the Danzón, Mambo, and Cha-cha-cha.
  • Christmas was banned as an official holiday in Cuba from 1969 to 1997. However, due to pressure from Pope John Paul II, when he visited the country in 1998, the government made Christmas a legal public holiday once again. 
  • On New Year's Eve, Cubans burn dolls as a symbol of putting away the bad times of the previous year as they look forward to new and good times during the new year.
  • Cuban cuisine includes a mix of Spanish and Caribbean foods and a lot of spices. Traditional foods include black beans, shredded beef, rice, and plantains. Family meal planning has to work around government food rationing, established in 1962.
  • A national dish of Cuba is "ropa vieja" ("old clothes"), which came from Spain. It is a slow-cooked beef stew with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and spices and is often served with "Moros y Cristianos" ("Moors and Christians"), a dish of black beans mixed with rice and fried plantains.
  • Cubans have not typically written down their recipes, passing them on orally from generation to generation.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Cuba?

  • Every child in Cuba between 6 years and 15 years of age must attend school, and every student wears a distinct uniform according to their grade level.
  • The toys kids play with in Cuba are often homemade, sometimes a combination of wood and leftover industrial parts, but they have fun with what they have.
  • Kids often play outside with little supervision. There is a sense of responsibility among the Cuban people, especially for the safety and well-being of kids!
  • Internet access is limited, but students may be able to use it at school. Instead of playing games on their computers or phones, you'll often see kids outside playing "las bolas" ("marbles"), "el pon" ("hopscotch"), or "cuatro esquinas" ("four corners"), a simple street baseball game using the four corners of an intersection as the bases. 
  • Popular sports for Cuban kids are baseball, boxing, volleyball, and basketball. 
  • For breakfast, kids may eat "tostada" (toast made with Cuban bread) dipped in "café con leche" ("coffee with milk") or chocolate milk. They may also have eggs with toast or rice. Meals often depend on the family's income and the availability of ingredients.
  • Favorite desserts include "pastelitos de guayaba" ("guava pastries"), "arroz con leche" ("rice with milk" or rice pudding), Cuban flan (made with canned evaporated and condensed milk), and "cake de ron" ("rum cake").

The Yolk's On You

Did you hear the joke about the fungus? 

I could tell it to you, but it might need time to grow on you.

THYME for a Laugh

Why did the Mushroom get invited to all the parties? 

Because he's a fungi! (fun guy)

That's Berry Funny

Why did the Fungi leave the party? 

There wasn't mushroom to dance!

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