Monday, March 17, 2014

Quick Taco Salad

Pyro Man works a number of jobs that sometimes take him away from a normal routine of a family dinner. Those are the nights that I usually make myself something I've been dying to try, but unsure if he'll like. Or it's the night I decide to take a load off and do something super simple. Last night was for sure a simple night.

One of the things Pyro Man has gotten me hooked on is mexican food. I've always liked it but it wasn't necessarily something I craved. Since we've been together I'm developed this love of all things tex-mex flavored, specifically tacos. Nowadays if you asked me what my favorite food is, nine times out of ten I'd probably say chicken tacos. There's something about them. Simple yet filling.

He's also been a huge influence in my newfound love for salsa. I swear I've eaten gallons upon gallons of salsa since meeting him. I used to be a Pace Picanta Sauce and Friotes kind of girl. Now, I'm totally a tortilla chips and FRESH salsa lady all the way (I actually use Pace in my crock pot chicken tacos recipe and it's fabulous!).

Dinner. Last night. Needed something quick and not too heavy. Looking around in my kitchen I had a lot of option including two giant jars full of fresh homemade salsa. "Hmmmm," I says, "What can I do with this?"
Yes, I do like to eat at my coffee table while enjoying a movie.
Well, I'll tell you what I did--I decided to make the fastest taco salad this side of the Red River. I chopped up a couple of small chicken breasts, tossed them in a homemade taco seasoning and threw them in a pan with a little olive oil. I quickly sauteed the meat and added a little bit of cilantro for extra flavor at the end. I LOVE me some fresh cilantro. With the warm weather coming, I can't seem to get enough. The flavor is fresh and crisp tasting. I swear it tastes like summer.

While the chicken was cooking, I chopped up some red leaf lettuce, cracked open a can of black beans, and diced up an avocado. I scooped half the chicken onto the salad, topped it off with a couple of spoonfuls of salsa and a little extra cilantro. Bam! Dinner was served.

I know taco salads can be a caloric nightmare with all the extra things added in there (cheese, sour cream, refried beans, taco shell, etc.) so I keep it pretty simple. Chicken breasts keep it light but protein filled. The black beans add a layer of of tastiness and also give you that source of protein and fiber that we need. Beans, beans, the magical fruit! The more you eat, the more...healthy your digestive track is! OK, you get it.

Greens? Well, you can't go wrong with a good among of lettuce and I prefer red leaf for a number of reasons. One, the darker the leaf, the more nutrients in it and two, it has more flavor to me than some others.  It's also calorie free and rich in Vitamin A. I'm sure you could use kale or spinach or romaine if you'd like or mix it all up. It's up to your taste buds--Just stay clear of iceberg lettuce--little flavor and no nutrients.

Avocados have those good ol' MUFA's for you and are tasty to boot! Salsa, well, it adds some pizazz and you don't need a whole heck of a lot on there. Just enough to mix it together and pack a punch of flavor with each bite.

OK--enough with the health push. It's simple, it's quick, it's delicious, and you might want to try it sometime.

What's your favorite quick meal? 

Salsa Recipe:
I actually use the Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Salsa. I truly think it's the! So easy and excellent on anything! The only thing I do differently is I add a few pickled jalapenos and a little of the juice to give it an extra kick. Pyro Man likes his salsa with some eat and I have to say, I like a little spice to mine, too.

Taco Seasonings:
I usually buy my taco seasoning, favoring Penzy's the most (Thanks, Aunt Diana!). A few weeks ago I forgot to get  our favorite crock pot chicken tacos on and I immediately texted Pyro Man to get everything started. Unfortunately we were out of seasoning. Uh oh. Man in the kitchen without all the ingredients could be scary, but I sent him a quick recipe from the internet and we made a few adaptations to this:

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Mix it all together and voila! You've got homemade taco seasnoning. It makes a ton so we've got leftovers stored in a jar up in the pantry. Came in handy for the Quick Taco Salad.

Quick Taco Salad Directions:
2 chicken breasts
1-2 tsp of taco seasonings
2-3 tsp of olive oil
2-4 cups of red leaf lettuce (or other)
1/4 cup of black beans (rinse in colander to remove excess juice)
1 avocado
1/4 cup of cilantro (more if desired)
1/4 cup of salsa

1. Heat olive oil in skillet and slice chicken breast into chunks. Toss chicken in taco seasoning before throwing into the pan.

2. Sautee the chicken stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Last minute or two of cooking, throw in 1 tsp of chopped cilantro (about a pinch) for added fresh flavor.

3. Meanwhile, chop lettuce into bite size pieces and toss into a bowl. Cut avocado in half,  slice up, and add to side of salad. Lemon, lime, or salt added to avocado is up to you! Scoop black beans onto salad and toss a couple of tsp of chopped cilantro to mix in.

4. Once the chicken is done, you can let it cool for a minute or lay on top of salad. Scoop a couple of Tbsp of salsa over the chicken and the salad. Garnish with cilantro and tortilla chips if desired.

5. Now all you have to do is enjoy! I like a few chips and salsa on the side with mine--it's hard to resist that lovely red sauce!

*There's enough to make two salads, one for now and one for later or the second to share. Anything can be adjusted to fit your needs for the evening. You could even use leftover taco ground beef if desired! 

1 comment:

  1. This sounds soooo good! I miss good Texas cuisine! Georgia folk don't really know Mexican food!


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