(ARA) - The summer party season has officially begun, meaning it's time to plan fun get-togethers with family and friends. Food is central to any great celebration, but you don't need to spend hours in the kitchen to create a unique and tasty menu. You simply need some great tips and easy tricks for pairing tasty food with refreshing drinks and party success will come naturally.
You can use today's most popular food trends from skinny indulgence to dude food to create taco and margarita pairings that will leave all your guests wanting more. The secret is to create dishes that are flavorful and forward-thinking, but use familiar products, like Old El Paso salsa, that you can find at your local grocery store.
If you love the zest of Mexican cuisine and want to serve party fare everyone will remember, try these five new taco and margarita pairing ideas from the culinary experts at the Betty Crocker Kitchens inspired by some of today's hottest food trends:
Food trend 1: Skinny indulgence
The idea behind the skinny indulgence food trend is being able to enjoy fresh foods that are packed with flavor but not with calories. To incorporate this trend into your next party menu, try serving skinny citrus shrimp tacos. Fill tacos with warm citrus-flavored shrimp, fresh cucumber salsa and Greek yogurt crema for a smart and delicious indulgence. Pair with a light cocktail like a cucumber lime 'spa'garita - a traditional margarita enhanced with fresh cucumber and orange.
Food trend 2: Dude food
Dude food is a trend that takes traditional foods that guys love to the next level, so that any foodie, man or woman, can enjoy the rich flavors. For this trend, try pairing spicy 'beer'bacoa tacos with a 'man'garita. Simply stuff tacos with beer-braised beef barbacoa, spicy chipotle salsa and queso fresco. Wash down with a 'man'garita - a shot of aged tequila served with an ice cold bottle of Mexican beer.
Food trend 3: Global flavors
Blending authentic flavors in new and exciting ways is a huge food trend right now. It's fun to think outside the box and see where this crossover flavor adventure takes you. For example, try faux pho chicken tacos for your main dish. This fresh and flavorful chicken taco is inspired by pho - a popular Vietnamese soup. The 'faux pho' toppings - Thai basil, fresh chilies and crunchy ramen noodles - are the key to these unique tacos. Pair with a Thai basil 'mojit'arita that infuses the flavor of basil and agave nectar into a traditional margarita.
Food trend 4: Street food
When you travel, some of the best foods you encounter are made by street vendors. Additionally, food trucks have recently boomed in popularity in the United States, serving delicious food conveniently to patrons. You can bring this food trend to your next party by serving beef bulgogi Korean tacos. Simply load up a soft tortilla with Korean barbecue beef, cilantro-lettuce slaw and fiery Sriracha salsa. Pair with a Fizzy Lime 'soda'rita by mixing a traditional Mexican lime soda with blanco tequila and orange-flavored liqueur.
Food trend 5: Veggie love
Eating your vegetables is always healthy, but now it's trendy too. This food movement goes beyond carrot and celery sticks to create dishes that utilize fresh flavors in modern ways. Take cauliflower power tacos for example. Veggie lovers will devour this new take on a vegetarian taco filled with roasted cauliflower, crispy chickpeas and flavorful cilantro pesto. As a bonus it is gluten-free. Pair with frozen mango 'coco'ritas made with fresh mango and coconut water.
All complete taco and margarita pairing recipes can be found at www.bettycrocker.com/cinco.
Skinny indulgence taco and margarita recipes:
Skinny Citrus Shrimp Tacos
Prep time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour
Shrimp and marinade
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno chiles
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
Cucumber Salsa Fresca
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno chiles
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait Greek Fat Free plain yogurt
2 tablespoons orange juice
8 Old El Paso flour tortillas for soft tacos and fajitas (6 inch), heated as directed on package
1. In a 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix shrimp and marinade ingredients. Seal bag. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix cucumber salsa fresca ingredients. In small bowl, mix yogurt crema ingredients.
3. Drain shrimp; discard marinade. Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pink. Drain, if needed. Spoon shrimp on tortillas; top with cucumber salsa fresca, and drizzle with yogurt crema. Makes eight servings.
To make a Skinny Cucumber Lime 'Spa'garita:
Add 3 slices English (seedless) cucumber and half an orange slice to cocktail shaker; break up with muddler or spoon. Add 1 ounce blanco tequila, 3/4 ounce clear orange-flavored liqueur and 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice. Fill shaker with ice; cover and shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass. Top with 1/2 ounce chilled club soda. Garnish with lime slices and additional orange and cucumber slices. Makes one drink.