Quick and Easy Taco Salad

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I have been missing my best friend a lot lately. I mean I miss her all of the time, but lately it has been a lot! She lives in Southern California and I am in Western Washington. We haven’t seen each other in 5 years, but we can sure burn up the phone lines when we want to!! You know a true friend  (and she is more like a sister to me than a friend) when you can not speak for a while, but when you do it can last 3 hours! That’s us!!
Anyway, this is a salad that she used to make all of the time. The first time I made it for my family they thought it sounded like a weird combination of flavors, but they ate it so fast I almost didn’t get any! After that I was requested to make this at least every other week (more like every week actually). This salad is inexpensive and extremely simple to make, and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they aren’t big fans. My kids hated tomatoes but ate them up like crazy when I made this salad for them. Kevin had never had it so he was skeptical about having a salad for dinner, but once he had it he said that it was like an entire meal in one bowl. He is right! Meat, veggies, dairy, yummm!! 

You can use packaged dressing and taco seasonings if you want. I make my own now so I have them on hand to use. Here is the link to my Homemade Italian Dressing Mix. I will post the recipe for homemade taco seasoning at the bottom (I don’t have a post for that yet).
Quick and Easy Taco Salad
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package low sodium taco seasoning or 1/4 cup homemade taco seasoning (see below for ingredients)
1 bag of chopped romaine hearts
1 to 2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or 2 tablespoons of my Homemade Italian Seasoning Mix
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Tortilla chips
Hot sauce, optional
Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brown the ground beef/turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small bits. Add the taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. You can add a splash of water here if needed. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions, avocado, and cheese. Toss to combine. 
In a shaker bottle, or medium bowl, combine the dressing mix, olive oils, vinegar, and water. Shake or whisk to combine well. 
Add the taco meat to the salad mix, toss, add salad dressing (as much or as little as you want), toss. Crush up several handfuls of tortilla chips and toss with the salad. Dish up into bowl and top with hot sauce if desired!
Serves 4 to 6
ENJOY!

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Steak with Red Wine, Shallot, and Mustard Sauce

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Do you sometimes just get this wild hair to make a gourmet meal for your significant other? I mean, especially with it just being the two of us now, the romantic bug bites me and I want to make a special meal for Kevin. I realize that it means more to me than it does him. I know he loves my cooking but I think I could give him a chili cheese dog and he would be just as happy.
But on this day I was determined to make a special meal. He loves steak so I picked up a flat iron steak from the store. He of course prefers rib-eye but who can afford a rib-eye every time you want to make steaks? Flat iron steaks have become my favorite because they are not that expensive, comparable to flank steak, but much more tender. I mean I have had some flank steak that I had to chew and chew and chew! Have you ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? You know the scene where they are sitting at the table trying to chew on the dry turkey? Ya, just like that.

This sauce is perfect for those people that are steak “purists”, as Kevin is. He doesn’t like fussy sauces and marinades. He tells me all he needs is salt, pepper, and maybe a little garlic powder. End of subject nothing else. However, he said he loved this sauce. 
Now I am sure you are thinking whoopdy frickin’ do Bobbi you made a steak, that is hardly a gourmet meal. Nope, I made two other dishes. Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Asparagus with Bacon Sabayone and I will post those later this week. 
Just let me say that I have realized I desperately need to work on my timing. By the end of cooking I was so stressed out I was thrilled it called for a cup of red wine in the sauce because that meant there was an open bottle and believe you me I claimed it as MINE!

Steak with Red Wine, Shallot, and Mustard Sauce



1 pound flat iron steak
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter (cold)
1 cup of dry red wine
1 cup of beef stock 
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

Red wine, shallot, and mustard sauce:

Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan, add the shallot, and cook until just translucent. Lower the heat to medium, add the wine and cook until almost all the wine has evaporated (it should just be covering the shallots), about 5 minutes. Add in the beef stock and cook until reduced by half, about 5 more minutes. 

Remove the pan from the heat and continue once the steak is resting.

Reheat the sauce and add the mustard. Swirl to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add the final tablespoon of cold butter and swirl the pan (don’t stir!) until it’s melted into the sauce.

Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.

Preheat a gas grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat. Cook the steak approx 3 to 4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the steak) for medium rare. Remove and place on a plate or cutting board. Allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly, and against the grain.

Serves 4

ENJOY!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

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I have had so many people asking for slow cooker recipes. But with the kids moving out and it just being the two of us here,  my slow cooker has been sadly neglected. As a matter of fact when I went into my pantry to get my slow cooker, I couldn’t find it! I hadn’t used it since we moved several months ago. I finally found it down on a bottom shelf, all by it’s self, lonely and neglected. Poor thing! Right then I vowed to try and do a slow cooker recipe at least once a month. 
Wow I sound like a complete nut job right now don’t I? YIKES! Anyway, moving on….
I know I have gone on and one about my love for Mexican food, and the fact that Kevin does not share my affection. So long story short, I love it, he suffers through it for me. End of story. Poor guy had to have it three times this week though. He must really love me!!
I will say that, in my defense, he walked in the door after work and the first words out of his mouth were “What smells so good”….he couldn’t argue with me after that. Chalk one up for Mexican food and me!!

This is a great recipe and can be easily doubled for more people. I used two good sized chicken breasts and Kevin and I agreed that it would have easily fed four people. I also only used one jalapeno (left the seeds in) and it was not hot at all. Next time I will use at least two.
I also love this recipe because it takes 8 hours (can be shorter if you cook on high) so for people that work full time it is great. You don’t have a meal sitting in your slow cooker on warm for three hours. 
You can top the tacos with whatever you like. I used my guacamole, sour cream, and some Chalula hot sauce. 
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 good sized handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin,
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and pepper
juice of 1 lime
1 cup chicken stock
Optional topping:
Sour cream
Hot sauce
Place the chicken in the crock pot. Add the tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, lime juice, and chicken stock. 
Cook for 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.
Serves 4
ENJOY!!

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing Mix

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TGIF everyone!! I am happy it is Friday, but it also means another week gone until Christmas! This year though it is not as bad as usual. I actually have all of my shopping done, and almost everything wrapped. The kids are going to all be out of town so I am not even having to stress over planning a menu. WOW I don’t know what to do with myself!! That is where this blog post came from, looking for something to do. Seriously I have really wanted to do the homemade seasonings for a while. I make my own taco seasoning, I have just never written it down or taken pictures of it. So when I decided to make a dish that included my Italian dressing I grabbed my camera real quick so I wouldn’t forget.
I am in no way saying that using the packaged version is bad. It is all a matter of preference. I just like the challenge of making it my own way. Plus if you make it yourself, you can always change things up to suit your tastes.
Homemade Italian Salad Dressing
makes 1 cup of mix
2 tablespoons dried Oregano
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
To make the salad dressing combine 2 tablespoons of the dry mix with 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons water. Shake to combine and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before using. 

Chipotle Chicken Braid

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This meal has been fighting me for a while. A few weeks ago I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was making this dish and several people expressed interest and said they couldn’t wait for the blog post and recipe. That night I set about the task of getting this all cooked up and must have lost my brain for a bit during the process because I forgot to add the salsa and the cheese. We just added them on top afterward and it tasted wonderful, but I didn’t feel right taking a picture and posting if I didn’t make the dish exactly as the recipe I am posting calls for. So I knew I had to make it again, and soon.
A few days later I was talking with my son’s girlfriend about how much we missed seeing them and asked her if they would like to come over for dinner. I figured I could kill a few birds with one stone, see the kids, make the dish again, and have more guinea pigs tasters available. In the end it was a fantastic night. I saw my kiddos, I prepared the dish correctly, and everyone loved it!! But then my camera batter died and I ended up using my iPhone to take the pictures! It fought me, but I won!!

I modified this from a recipe I found on Pintrest. I loved the idea of it, but wanted to add some flavor that I just felt the dish was lacking. I knew I didn’t want to just go for jalapenos and blow peoples heads of with that kind of heat. So I went with chipotle, and nice warm heat. The kind that makes your mouth tingle, but in small amounts is just nice and warm. If you are extremely sensitive to spicy food you can cut the chipotle chili powder in half, or even use regular chili powder in its place. But I can tell you we all love the flavor of this dish as is.
I have made this dish with puff pastry dough and crescent roll dough. I was able to stretch the puff pastry dough much more so I was of course able to add more chicken mixture to the braid. The second time I used the crescent roll dough. It was smaller so I reduce the chicken mixture from my original recipe. It worked out well both ways. With the crescent roll braid I was able to comfortably have 4 entree size portions.  

Chipotle Chicken Braid
adapted from a recipe on pilsbury.com
serves 4


1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small bell pepper, any color, sliced thin 
1 small onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small, or one large boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 jar chunky salsa (I used a 16-ounce can of a specialty white corn and *black bean salsa, medium heat), drained
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 egg white, beaten


Heat oven to 375°F. 

Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unroll dough onto cookie sheet; press to 8×12 inches

In a small bowl, mix the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Set aside

Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and sautee until the onions begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the chicken and sprinkle the chili powder mixture over the contents of the skillet. Stir to combine and cook just until the chicken begins to turn slightly white on the edges (it will finish cooking in the oven). Remove from heat.

Spoon chicken mixture in 4-inch strip lengthwise down center of dough. Top with salsa; sprinkle with cheese. With a sharp knife, make cuts 1 inch apart on long sides of dough within 1/2 inch of filling. Alternately cross strips over filling; press edges to seal. Lightly brush with egg white.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. If the dough begin to get to dark to quickly cover with foil to stop the browning process.

*The first time I added black beans to the mix, but since I found the black bean salsa I omited them this time. You can drain a can of black beans and add them if you want a higher protein/fiber content

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Pan Fried Pork Chops

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Tonight was a good ol’ down home country cookin’ dinner. Kevin has been so patient lately with my soups and casseroles, so I decided to give him just a great casual but comfort food kind of meal. 
“Men need meat”, he always tells me that. I sometimes think that he feels women would be happy in a meatless world. Ppfffttt forget that. I mean I know there are plenty of women (and men) that live a meatless lifestyle and are very happy with it. But has he met me? I  mean really? Almost 5 years. WOW. Tsk tsk Kevin!
I love a good steak just like he does, but he has been asking for pork chops lately and I knew as soon as he said that, I wanted to make pork chop the way my Mom used to make them. Is it the healthiest way? Nope, but hey all things in moderation right? We rarely eat fried food so this night I was going for the gusto to make my tummy and mind happy. Oh ya, Kevin’s too hehe.

Now when he asks for pork chops he wants those big fatty pork chops that you used to be able to buy. Most of the stores I go to have trimmed the fat before the meat even hits the counter. There are a couple of butchers here in town but I just didn’t feel like driving to be honest, so I used center cut boneless loin chops. I will say that if you can find some chops on the bone get them. Ask Michael Symon, he advocates cooking all meat on the bone. It helps keep the meat moister and adds flavor.
I have to say, bone in or out, these chops came out wonderful. Major flashbacks of my youth! We just paired them with my Spicy BBQ Baked Beans, but they would have been wonderful with some mashed potatoes and pan gravy!!

Get your dry ingredients all mixed up together.
You can tell I am not used to taking step by step photos because I started to flour the top before I could snap the pictures! Salt and pepper each side of your chop (I like lots of pepper as you can see) and then dredge them in the flour. One side..
Then the other. Make sure they are covered with the flour mix completely, then shake off the excess before putting them into the oil.
Add your chops to the oil, make sure it is hot first, medium-high heat. Let them cook until the edges begin to turn a nice golden brown. Time depends on the thickness of your chops.
Flip them over and admire how gorgeous they look while finishing up cooking the other side. I had a few oohs and ahhs from over my shoulder when I turned these babies over. Then plate them up and go to town!! I chose to have a little wine with mine.
Is frying pork chops the most complicated thing in the world? Nope, but they are a quick, easy, and oh so satisfying way to make your tummy happy!
Pan Fried Pork Chops
1/2 to 2/3 cup oil (whatever your favorite frying oil. Peanut, canola, etc.)
2 tablespoons butter
4 pork chops (bone in if available)
2 cups All-purpose flour
2 tablespoons seasoned salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we like a bit of heat but it is optional of course)
Season each side of your pork chops with salt and pepper. 
In a shallow dish combine the flour, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir with a fork or whisk to combine. 
Add oil to a skillet (I used my cast iron) and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the  butter (this helps with the browning process).
Dredge your chops in the flour mixture and add them carefully to the oil, making sure not to crowd them. They wont brown properly if they are crowded. 
Cook the pork chops on one side 2 to 4 minutes (depending on thickness). Then flip them over and finish up cooking.
Remove to a paper towel lined plate or pan and finish cooking the other chops.
ENJOY!!

Stocking Stuffer Ideas with Coupons

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Hello everyone! How are you doing with your holiday shopping? If you are anything like me you are putting things off until the last minute, even though you had all the intentions of being done at the beginning of the month!! Every year, it never fails, I am looking for last minute gifts.

I have gotten pretty good about purchasing the larger items quickly. Online shopping has been a savior for me! But the little things or stocking stuffers always seem to be the things I put off getting until the last minute. That was why I was so excited to find all of these coupons! We are movie lovers here. Oh goodness you don’t want to see how many DVDs we have in our house. But we must have the motto “The more the merrier” because every year we end up with tons more.

I have already purchased what I wanted, so now I am sharing it with you. I hope it can help you out by making your shopping a bit easier!!

Happy Holidays!!!!

$3.00 off Ramona and Beezus on Blu-ray
$3.00 off Chronicles of Narnia on Blu-ray
$3.00 off Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules dvd
$3.00 off Rio on Blu-ray™ + DVD + Digital Copy
$10.00 off Barbie toys by Mattel, $50 minimum
$3.00 off West Side Story on Blu-ray
$3.00 off The Sound of Music Blu-ray™ + dvd
$3.00 off All Dogs Go To Heaven on Blu-ray
$3.00 off Home Alone on Blu-ray
$3.00 off Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
$3.00 off Miracle on 34th Street on Blu-ray
$5.00 off Power Rangers Super Samurai Season
$4.00 off any Crayola DigiTools
$1.00 off $5 on any Crayola products
$2.00 off $19.97 or more of Crayola products
$5.00 off Magic City dvd
$3.00 off Chilly Christmas dvd
$6.00 off LET IT SHINE: DVD and Soundtrack
$5.00 off The Three Stooges on DVD or Blu-ray
$5.00 off Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
$5.00 off We Bought A Zoo on DVD or Blu-ray
$5.00 off Mirror Mirror on DVD or Blu-ray

Manic Monday Party #21

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Happy Monday! Can you believe it is only 15 more days till Christmas?  WOW I have a list of things I still need to do and had better get hot on it before I run out of time!! But I can’t complain, I love this time of the year. I am one of those people that gets the post Christmas blues. I hate taking down my tree and decorations. So I sure try to get the most out of every minute I have!

One of the things I want to celebrate is the wonderful posts you all shared last week, and how many people took the time to come back and vote. It is great to see that you all enjoy this as much as I do!! 
So with that being said let’s get on to the top posts from last week’s party based on your votes!!
Homemade Naan Bread from Hun What’s For Dinner
Homemade Sugar Cookies from Sweet Heat Chefs
Ravioli and Sausage Skillet from The Slow Roasted Italian
WOW some fabulous stuff right? I pinned them so fast it made my head spin and can’t wait to give them a try! So you know of course I am excited to see what you all share this week! I would love to see your favorite posts this week. I know you all have some stunning and tasty dishes to share!
So let’s get this party rockin’!!

As usual, the rules are;

Link up the picture to the post not your main blog page
Please link back to this page on your blog post.
Make sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Pintrest. I will be tweeting, pinning, and posting your recipes all week long. 

Leave up to 3 recipes that will help with the last minute Manic Monday scramble, or fit in with the weekly subcategory.

Please grab one of my buttons from the right side bar and add it to your post or website if you would like to be featured.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment. I love to know who is here and spread the word, the more the merrier!!

Remember to vote for your favorites and please don’t forget to click on the other recipes and show them some foodie love too! Make sure to tell them where you saw them!!

Spicy Steak Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions

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The other night I made one of my favorite soups, Cream of Mushroom with Port Wine. It has been cold and rainy as usual here in the Pacific Northwest, so I was craving something creamy, rich, and warm. But, like I have said in the past, if I try to put soup on the table and call it dinner Kevin thinks I have lost my mind. So my new plan is, when I want to make soup (which will be a LOT this winter), I will make some kind of a sandwich for him. That way we can both be happy right?
Well I can tell you he was very happy when he found out that I was making Steak Sandwiches. It was not only meat, but it was nice thick cut beef. You would think I gave him a million dollars when I handed him this sandwich! Hhhmmm maybe that is the answer to what to give him for Christmas. Naaa I can’t wrap up steaks, they would go bad. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

He was actually happy with the soup as well. He loves mushrooms and with the port wine in the soup it has such a rich deep flavor it complimented the steak very very well. He even took a sandwich and soup for lunch the next day. I told him he would really appreciate that soup when he was cold at work and it was warm and creamy. I was right. Well why would he even doubt me?
I have to say that I blew it on the picture gang. Fist I am still having problems with my lighting so that is always an issue. But, and I will blame this on Kevin wanting his sandwich right away, this sandwich does not have the caramelized onions on it! UGH!! I didn’t realize my mess up until we had already started eating and he asked where his onions were. So you will have to take my word that they looked scrumptious!!
Also, I am very excited to announce I have been nominated for 2012 Best Food Blogger!! I can’t tell you how shocked I was when I received the notification. So if you could just do me a favor by clicking the little “love” button at the top right corner, or just click on the name of my blog in the same area, you will be able to give me a vote. Thank you all so much!!
Spicy Steak Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. olive oil 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 1-1/4 lb. flank steak 
4 large sandwich rolls, split 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup light mayonnaise 
3 tablespoons horseradish 
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mixed greens  


Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat until hot, or heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onion slices and sautee the onions until they begin to brown lightly, approx 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill, flipping once, until cooked to your liking. Approx 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain
Toast the rolls cut side down on the hot grill pan until lightly browned.

Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, horseradish, and cayenne in a small bowl and spread it on the bottom halves of the rolls.

Divide the onion, steak, and greens among the rolls and serve.

ENJOY!!!