Thursday, July 7, 2011

What We're Eating This Week: Taco Salad

as I mentioned on Tuesday, we aren't home much this week so there isn't a lot of cooking to be done. Last night we relied on a freezer favorite (pizza!) and tonight Deputy Handsome is back to work for the first of two nights before we hit the road again (this is unusual! usually he works four or five nights a week and so I am loving this!!). To accommodate a crafty dinner guest tonight and also provide a filling meal for Deputy Handsome on the job, I am making taco salad! This is a complete make-ahead meal with minimal work and perfect for this hot, hot weather. You can do all the cooking in the coolness of the morning, prep the rest of the ingredients during nap time and then at dinnertime, just pull everything out of the fridge and let everyone put together their own salad. The only thing I would do at the last minute is slice avocado. Here's what I have available for taco salads at my house:

  • ground turkey or beef cooked with taco seasoning (I use a homemade blend from Miserly Moms)
  • romaine lettuce and/or shredded cabbage
  • grated cheese
  • chopped tomatoes
  • avocado
  • green onions
  • grated carrot
  • black olives
  • beans and corn: dice half an onion and saute in a little olive oil. once soft, add one cup of frozen corn and one 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed. add seasonings to taste. I like a little garlic salt, black pepper and cumin. cook a few minute longer to defrost the corn and blend the flavors. cool and store until ready to eat! 
  • salad dressing: whatever you like! My go-to salad dressing is Good Seasons Italian, so that's what we'll use tonight but my favorite dressing specifically for taco salad is Bernstein's Italian. 
  • tortilla chips: serve on the side with salsa, or crumble up as "croutons"
Mix and match any of the above ingredients to suit your taste. I love that this meal is totally customizable and also the different layers of flavor that come from the meat and also the bean mixture. 
If some members of your family think that salad is not a meal - even a big, yummy salad like this one with lots of protein options - these same ingredients can easily be transfered to a tortilla for a burrito. Just microwave the tortilla layered with meat and beans, then add on the veggies and cheese before rolling. 
For younger kids, here's what I do for Little Miss: heat up some meat along with the beans and corn, then stir in cheese and carrot for a one-dish meal. I leave out the lettuce as it's a little challenging for someone just mastering the use of a fork to handle.
This heat is supposed to continue through the weekend here in Southern California, so I hope you'll give this yummy salad a try and let me know what other ingredients you include at your house!

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