Photos by Amy Gramlich

 

With Cinco de Mayo here, it is time to consider easy appetizer ideas for parties and other casual entertaining. These taco wontons, made with taco meat and wonton wrappers, are the ideal party appetizer for Cinco de Mayo or any fiesta.

 

WONDERFUL WONTON WRAPPERS

 

Wontons come to us from the world of Asian cuisine. However, over the last decade or two, dough-based wonton wrappers have been found in a variety of popular party appetizer recipes. Wonton wrappers are typically made of flour, milk and egg and are found in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets.

 

The square shapes of thin dough are just the right size for wrapping or folding in fillings, which are then fried or oven-baked for a satisfying nosh of individual-sized party food.

 

Wontons are also incredibly versatile, offering multiple fillings and topping ideas that are easy to change based on preference. Working with the wonton wrappers is as easy as removing them from the package and placing them inside the wells of a greased muffin pan.

 

For this appetizer, consider making a half-and-half style with each half offering different toppings, or guests might prefer to add their own toppings from a small toppings bar.

wonton cups

DO NOT SKIP THE SPICE

 

This recipe calls for taco seasoning blend, which is simple to make and does not take much longer to put together than opening a seasoning packet. That is especially true if one chooses to make a large batch of seasoning in advance to store in the pantry. However, store-bought taco seasoning works fine for this recipe, as well.

 

Cooks may opt to make a larger batch of the taco seasoning, which is versatile for adding to many dishes. This blend maintains a ratio of chili power to the other spices, but feel free to experiment until the desired flavor profile and heat is achieved. Store the mixture in a recycled jar with a tight-fitting lid in the pantry.

 

Ingredients

24 wonton wrappers

1 pound ground beef

8 ounces tomato sauce

1 cup refried beans

2 cups shredded cheese

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Suggested toppings

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup lettuce, shredded

1/2 cup black olives

 

Optional

1/4 cup salsa and/or pico de gallo

for dipping

Directions

In a small mixing bowl, combine chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, ground cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and black pepper.

 

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and drain thoroughly. Return drained meat to the stove, and add the seasoning.

 

Add tomato sauce and simmer for 3 to 4 additional minutes until meat seems evenly seasoned and moistened with the warmed tomato sauce. Do not overcook, which may cause the meat to become dried out.

 

In this recipe, a criss-cross layering method helps to provide a shell that overlaps and rises all the way around the taco wontons. Grease the wells of a standard muffin pan and place a wonton wrapper inside each muffin cup.

 

Add 1 tablespoon of refried beans on top of each wrapper, and then place a second wonton wrapper over the beans in a criss-cross fashion.

 

Top the second wrapper with 1 tablespoon of drained taco meat, and sprinkle the meat with shredded cheese. Repeat for all 12 wonton appetizers.

 

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 350° F. Remove from the oven, and place wonton cups on a serving tray, allowing them to cool slightly.

 

Add toppings — a scattering of lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, shredded cheese and/or olives — as desired. Optionally, set out a bowl of salsa or pico de gallo for dipping, and enjoy.

 

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