Chopped Taco Salad

My mom used to make a version of this salad when we were kids. I remember there being enough salad that an entire bag of crushed Doritos was mixed in! I think there was also most of a bottle of ranch dressing involved. I substituted a handful of Late July organic tortilla chips. Mom would approve of this version nowadays versus the dusty orange, chemical laden Doritos of the past.

Late July chips

Confession: I hid the rest of the bag of chips from my teenage son, otherwise I wouldn’t have seen them again!

chopped taco salad

Served in front of the tv while watching the movie Fury with a side of pickled jalapenos.

Chopped Taco Salad

What it took for 2 nice sized servings:

  • 8 ounces ground sirloin
  • heaping tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 4 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • shredded cheddar cheese, (didn’t measure about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced (in the summer I have used chives)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 12-15 nacho chips, crushed
  • Newman’s Own organic ranch dressing¬† (didn’t measure about 1/4 cup)
  • pickled jalapenos
  • cilantro is amazing in this salad but I didn’t have any

Method

  • Cook ground sirloin until well done and drain. Stir in taco seasoning along with a couple tablespoons of water. After the water has evaporated turn off and remove from heat to cool slightly.
  • In the meantime start preparing the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Start with the lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cheese, avocado…then squeeze the lime juice over the avocado (for amazing flavor and to keep the color fresh), crush the tortillas over the salad, add the slightly cooled meat, drizzle with the ranch dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

layering the taco salad

 

Pumpkin Enchiladas

veggies   pumpkin enchilada sauce   chicken, peppers & onions

Mexican food and Fall flavors got married, had a baby and this recipe was born! I found this recipe a few weeks ago and have made it twice already! It satisfies my need for spice, all-things-Fall and is super comforting.

pumpkin enchiladas

I was a little scared at first because when you taste the sauce before it bakes, it’s a little weird…or too pumpkin-y something…but nothing that roasting in the oven for half an hour doesn’t fix!

Besides a little cheese (which isn’t bad for you) these are super healthy. Pumpkin is super high in antioxidants, vitamin A and potassium. Then you also have the added veggie goodness from the onions – pepper – jalapenos ¬†and garlic . Super tasty! You have to try these babies!

pumpkin enchiladas

Pumpkin Enchiladas

For enchilada sauce:

  • 2 jalape√Īos, seeded and chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree ( I used canned organic pumpkin)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • ¬ĺ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • ¬Ĺ cup low-sodium chicken stock

For the filling:

  • about 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced into small chunks
  • 1 medium onion (such as vidalia), diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons EVOO
  • salt & pepper, to taste. Also add some of the chili powder, cumin and oregano that went into the sauce for extra flavor!

For assembly and serving:

  • 8 medium- sized corn tortillas (if you use the small size it may take 10-12)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
  • sliced green onions or chives and chopped cilantro, for serving

Method

  • Preheat oven to 425. Add EVOO to a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, chicken, salt and pepper. Saut√© until veggies are soft and chicken in done, about 10-12 minutes. About 2 minutes before its done add¬†some of the chili powder, cumin and oregano that went into the sauce for extra flavor! Set aside.
  • Place chopped jalape√Īo and garlic in a food processor and pulse to mince fine. Add pumpkin puree, chili powder, cumin, oregano, Greek Yogurt, and chicken stock. Pulse to combine. (I used my Vitamix for this step)
  • Pour one cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8√ó13 baking dish.
  • Heat tortillas in the microwave for 45 seconds, until they are warm and pliable. Spoon about ¬Ĺ cup of chicken mixture onto each tortilla. Sprinkle with a little of the shredded cheddar. Roll up each tortilla and lay them in the pan, seam side down.
  • Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas. Top with grated cheddar, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  • Garnish with green onions and chopped cilantro.

Based on the recipe by How Crazy Cooks

Homemade Taco Seasoning

It’s taco night in our house! There’s so many reasons to love tacos. Everyone can pick their own toppings, they take no time to make and they can be as healthy (or as bad) as you want! I have a few hard taco shells leftover from another dinner and some soft flour tortillas (for me) so we’ll have a mix of both tonight.

The toppings tonight are: avocado, tomatoes, red onion, jalapenos, lettuce, black beans, Herdez salsa (hot!) and of course cheese and sour cream!

I’ve been searching around for a while for just the right mix to make homemade taco seasoning because the packets that are available at the grocery store are so pricey, especially the organic ones and the “regular” brands have so many mystery ingredients. I think I have finally created our favorite mix! This blend is very bold and flavorful. It tastes like it cooked for hours instead of just minutes.

Taco Seasoning

  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons shallot salt (sold at Penzey’s)
  • 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method

  • Mix all spices together and store in a glass spice jar (I wash and reuse all of my old glass spice jars). Use a heaping tablespoon of spice plus 1/3 cup of water per pound of cooked ground beef to season for tacos.

Salsa Verde Sour Cream Enchiladas

We spent a couple days in Virginia Beach this week. Two days of boating, playing in the water and soaking up the sun. We ate brunch at our favorite-brunch-place-in-the-world, Citrus. Everytime we go to Virginia Beach we HAVE to eat there. It’s a great diner atmosphere with awesome brunch selections (and lunch but we always get breakfast). I had their Beach Benedict which has¬†avocado, tomato and spinach in place of the typical ham in an eggs benedict. The rest of it is traditional with a crispy english muffin, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce….served with a side of yummy grits!!

One night we ate at another one of our favorite spots, Tautogs. They have amazing seafood and fun bartenders. We always eat at the bar when we go there.  One of the bartenders plays music just like Travis does so they had plenty to chat about. I was busy sipping on a pomegranate martini and eating up their Tau-Pho. The Pho had tons of veggies (baby bok choy, squash, zucchini, onions, jalapenos, peppers, cilantro) and had TONS of shrimp it in. It was like 95 degrees outside and I was eating hot soup and sweating but it was WORTH IT!!!

We got home yesterday afternoon and I enjoyed a little “me” time. I worked out, showered, got my nails done, went grocery shopping and after cooking dinner I went over to my friends Brian and Jes’ house. ¬†They live in my neighborhood so I just had a walk around the corner (bonus)! They made samples of super-healthy smoothies with their Vitamix blender for us to try and we washed those down with glasses of wine. Super fun time!

I have made this recipe once before about a month ago for my brother and my Dad’s birthday (their birthdays are one day apart on the 24th and 25th of May). Due to the commotion of having guests over and cooking at the same time I didn’t take any pictures. The original recipe that I made from Sing for Your Supper blog made enough enchilada sauce and chicken filling to fill two 13×9 dishes (about 20-22 ¬†enchiladas). That was nice the first time I made these since I had 9 people to feed but I had to cut it down for just the 3 of us. This recipe makes enough enchiladas to fill one 13×9 dish.

Devin gave them his signature thumps up and Travis said they were really, really good. These enchiladas are a little spicy from the jalapeno and cayenne pepper, creamy from the sour cream and tangy from the salsa verde. I can’t wait to have leftovers for lunch today ūüôā

Salsa Verde Sour Cream Enchiladas

Slightly Adapted From  Sing For Your Supper Blog

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded (I used a rotisserie chicken and saved the legs and wings for the guys to snack on later)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup (or half of a 16 ounce jar) of Medium Salsa Verde, I used Herdez
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons dried cilantro (I forgot to buy fresh)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup each sharp cheddar and monterey jack cheese
  • 10-12 flour tortillas

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat large non-stick skillet and spray with non-stick olive oil spray, then add butter. When the pan heats and butter melts add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and saute until soft. Add flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken stock until smooth and bubbly. Add cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper and cilantro and stir. Then add in salsa and sour cream. Let it come to a simmer and then turn down to low while you prepare the tortillas.
  • Spray a 13×9 baking dish with non-stick olive oil spray. Add 2 ladle-fulls of sauce to the bottom of the dish. Add some chicken and cheese to each tortilla and roll up. Place in the pan seam-side down. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned. Serves 3-4 with leftovers.

Urban Herb Garden

I have been obsessed with growing herbs for about 5 years now. Last year I had what I consider to be my most successful year of growing. Today I want to share with you where they grow and some pictures of what I’m growing.¬†My rosemary is whispering in my ear telling me that it wants to be written about first. It is included in the name of my blog, after all.

My rosemary grows, along with the rest of my garden, in a spot that has one of the most beautiful views in Richmond. My roof. We live in an urban neighborhood right on the James River in the downtown area of Richmond. The neighborhood is a mix of privately owned condos, townhouses and businesses. We have a pool, 3¬†restaurants¬†and a boat marina. This is a photo of the seating area and part of the “growing” roof top.

Back to the rosemary…it grows inside of an old broken fire pit that was too cool and rustic to throw out. Here is a view from the top as it grows up toward the sun:

And another view of the rosemary:

Here are some shots of other herbs growing on the roof:

Lemon thyme, planted in 2011

Tarragon, planted April 2012

Sage, planted April 2012

Oregano, planted April 2012

Tomatoes (because they didn’t want to be left out), planted April 2012

The largest and most abundant herb that I grew last year was sweet basil. I had 3 very large bushes. One large plant would fill up a large colander once was it was cleaned and stemmed. This season I have planted sweet basil and thai basil, it’s currently about an inch tall and I’m hoping it’s going to get just as big as it did last year!

Basil, stemmed and washed. 2011

I also have a few things growing in pots on my front porch. The dill has been planted from seed I saved from last year.

Dill, planted March 2012

Chives, planted April 2012

Jalapeno pepper, planted April 2012

Thai Basil seedlings, started March 2012. A stray dill seed got in there somehow!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my recent plantings. I will keep you updated as they grow and as I use them in recipes! – Elissa