Category Archives: Indoors

Pretty healthy taco salad

So this happened tonight:

wpid-20141204_215001.jpg

I could totally live on taco salads. It all started with me discovering Ree Drummond’s recipe for salad tacos, and her deceptively simple ingredient list yielded the best Tex Mex-style taco meat I’d ever made at home. Plus, combining ranch dressing and salsa is genius. She uses sour cream, mayo, and ranch packets for her sauce, but usually I just mix together salsa and bottled ranch, or sour cream. Or just plain salsa. It’s a perfectly good (and very healthy) salad dressing all on its own.

This pile of wonderful from tonight has seasoned turkey (more on that in a bit), half a head of chopped romaine lettuce, 8 old grape tomatoes that needed to be used up, a sprinkle of sharp cheddar, a little bit of frozen corn that I mixed with some salsa, some Bolthouse Farm yogurt ranch dressing (my favorite dressing ever), and a sprinkle of chipotle powder on top. Oh, and a baked tortilla bowl and some lovely salsa to dip it in.

How do you make a tortilla bowl, you might wonder? It was super simple: I took a large flour tortilla and just molded it onto the bottom of a medium-sized steel mixing bowl – no cooking spray needed. Then I popped the bowl in a preheated oven at 400 degrees until the edges were a little browned and the whole thing was crispy-looking (about 10 minutes for me). I took it out of the mixing bowl and let it sit in the oven another couple minutes just to crisp up the bottom a little more.

You might be able to do this if you have glass or ceramic mixing bowls, but I think you would have to preheat the bowls because they’re so much thicker than metal.

Now on to the turkey!

I used just short of 1/2 pound of lean ground turkey, and I threw in a little ghee that was laying around, to give it some extra flavor and prevent it from sticking to the pan (nevermind that I was using the nonstick skillet) and heated it over medium. Then in went the turkey, followed by these other good things:

  • Salt
  • Chili powder (unsalted in my case)
  • Garlic powder (sometimes I’ll actually mince/microplane a garlic clove, but I’m usually too lazy)
  • Cumin
  • Mexican oregano
  • Hot sauce
  • Jarred jalapeno slices

On a regular day I’d usually add Worcestershire sauce and something tomato-ey, like some salsa or a spoonful of tomato paste, but this came out totally fine and with that lovely “holy awesome, this is delicious taco meat” umami flavor I wanted. I didn’t even have to add ancho or chipotle powder to the meat. I want to say it’s because of the added fat from the ghee.

Note: if you’re not like me with tons of spices and clarified butter laying about, it’s perfectly fine to just use taco seasoning from a packet and adjust the amount you use to suit your own taste. Sometimes I prefer the packet anyway. 🙂

Also, a sprinkle of black beans on this would be awesome.

Happy salad-building and tortilla baking!

Single Thanksgiving

This is the year of doing things on my lonesome, and as it turns out, holidays are included on that list of things. Sure, I could have finished up my Wednesday shift at 4:00pm, packed up the dog and driven 200 miles to rural Pennsylvania, spent the holiday in a flurry of turkey gravy and visiting relative after relative after friend while fighting off a food coma, then rushed around Friday morning to drive 200 miles back, plop the dog at the house, and go to work at noon trying to look halfway decent. I could have done that, but I didn’t. And I don’t regret it one bit.

Instead, I came home Wednesday, happily ignored the dishes piled in the sink, threw on sweatpants, and leisurely debated what I wanted to smother in bacon the following day.

But first, some exercise.

I woke early on Thanksgiving to drive to Madison for the 36th annual Turkey Trot, one of many Connecticut-area Thanksgiving Day races that I’d never been able to participate in before. The 5 mile race around Hammonasset Beach State Park was pretty cold, but I felt great and even managed to pick up the pace for the last mile and a half I finished in 54:54 (that’s a lightning fast pace of 11:22 per mile – terrible for most people, but not bad for me).

After scarfing down some post-race apples, I ventured home and took Little to the dog park. Which she liked as much as she likes anything, I suppose.

Then it was bacon turkey time.

wpid-20141127_175449.jpg

I stuffed a couple pieces of bacon under the breast of half a turkey and roasted it in a glass casserole dish for almost 90 minutes at 375 degrees F. It slept on a nice soft bed of sliced onions and a fennel bulb cut into wedges. (If you’ve never had fennel before, it has a very mild licorice taste, and it was like a divinely soft, sweet onion when roasted here.)

There were honey-orange glazed carrots with ginger and Chinese five spice, bacon braised Brussels sprouts, garlic mashed cauliflower, and gravy made with turkey drippings and a touch of vermouth.

Not pictured: Haagen-Dazs Caramel Cone.

Yep, Single Thanksgiving was a success.