Last week, JD, Jay and I took our first lesson with Ben’s Beginners, a global initiative from Uncle Ben’s, aimed at getting kids and families cooking together and having fun while developing a lifelong, good relationship with food.
After improving their stirring skills together during Lesson 1 (you can read about that here), we were challenged to try out a quick and easy family recipe: Black bean & rice open-faced tacos.
Again, the steps are really easy to follow with a nice, large visual to follow.
The kids clicked through each stage and JD (8) read the instructions to J (4) and I, so that we knew all the stages to expect before we got started.
Having had the recipe so clearly explained to them through the Ben's Beginners hub, they both felt confident and keen to get started.
Here's how we got on...
- 1 250g (9 oz) package Uncle Ben’s® Mexican Style Express Rice®
- 6 x 20cm (8 in) corn tortillas
- 1/2 can (400g/14 oz) no-salt added black beans, rinsed & drained
- 3/4 can (340g/12 oz) no-salt added corn, drained
- 1/2 can (400g/14 oz) no-salt added diced tomatoes, drained
- 60 g (2 oz) shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- Thinly sliced avocado
- Chopped coriander
- Chopped olives
Turn a 12-cup muffin tin upside down. Nestle 6 corn tortillas in the space between the cups to form a “bowl.” Kids will enjoy helping form the bowls. We found that the corn tortillas are a little easier to mould if you heat them slightly in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften. This is quite a fiddly job for young hands, but JD (8) did a great job with just a little help from me, and it was a chance to talk through why some foods crack while others bend and so on.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190°C/375°F until firm and beginning to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool - a grown up job, of course.
Cook Uncle Ben’s® rice according to directions on the pack. We used the microwave, which takes only 2 minutes. Again, handling while hot is a grown up job, but the kids can help press the buttons on the microwave, if appropriate.
While the rice is still warm, transfer to a large bowl.
Mix in black beans, corn, tomatoes and 2 tablespoons cheese. Let your children be in charge of sprinkling the cheese into the mixture. JD and J loved taking it in turns to tip everything in. As I'd pre-measured all of the ingredients, there weren't any delays that might have meant they lost interest, we were just able to happily get on with having fun cooking.
We enjoyed talking about each ingredient as we tipped it in. Good questions to discuss include the colour, texture and flavour of the ingredient, and it's nutritional benefits. They can even pick up and eat a piece of corn, or squash a black bean between their fingers to explore further.
This is JD putting their stirring skills into practice - great work, I think you'll agree and actually, it was easier to communicate how to stir properly because I could refer back to the lesson we'd just completed.
Fill the shells with the rice and bean mixture. This was another activity easily shared between the kids - three taco cups to fill each. It was also a great chance to discuss what it means to share equally and how to judge volume by eye.
Top evenly with remaining cheese. We call this "sprinkly fingers".
Let the little chefs add their favourite toppings like avocado, coriander, or olives. If your children are reluctant to try unusual veg, this can be a great way to encourage them, as they get hands on and enjoy adding the contrasting colours. J enjoyed the avocado best and noted it felt slippery in her hands.
And these are the finished cups. The kids did a beautiful job, don't you think? And we really enjoyed our cooking session together.
Are you thinking of trying this recipe at home?
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Black bean & rice open-faced tacos
- 250 g (8.85 oz) Uncle Ben’s® Mexican Style Express Rice®
- 6 20cm (26 cm ) corn tortillas
- 400g (0.5 ) canned black beans canned
- 340g (0.75 ) sweetcorn canned
- 400 g (0.5 ) fresh tomatoes diced
- 60 g (2.12 oz) cheddar shredded (vegetarian if required)
- 1 avocado peeled, stoned and thinly sliced
- 10 g fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped
- 25 g olives chopped
- Turn a 12-cup muffin tin upside down. Nestle 6 corn tortillas in the space between the cups to form a “bowl.” Kids will enjoy helping form the bowls.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190°C/375°F until firm and beginning to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Cook Uncle Ben’s® rice according to directions on the pack.
- While the rice is still warm, transfer to a large bowl.
- Mix in black beans, corn, tomatoes and 2 tablespoons cheese. Let your children be in charge of sprinkling the cheese into the mixture.
- Fill the shells with the rice and bean mixture.
- Top evenly with remaining cheese.
- Let the little chefs add their favourite toppings like avocado, coriander, or olives.
This is a commissioned post for Uncle Ben's. Recipe courtesy of Uncle Ben's, imagery by Emily Leary.
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