Saturday, May 07, 2016

Easy Vegetarian Taco Salad

Simple meals are a lifesaver on busy days in our house. With a hubby gone for his job about seventy hours a week right now, my blogging work and the kids' extra-curricular activities, things can get pretty chaotic. Still, we try to sit down as often as possible - around the table - to enjoy a meal together. This Vegetarian Taco Salad is often a go-to for us. I can, literally, whip it up in like, fifteen minutes (or less) and it's filling enough to satisfy my crew. We are big on loaded salads and loaded rice/grain bowls in our house. They just seem to come together quickly and simply when life gets crazy. (Some other favorites? This ONE and this ONE.)

Recently, our seventeen-year old daughter had her first prom. What a fun experience. As her mom, it was so cool for me to help her find just the right dress, assist in planning her hair-do, help hunt for the perfect pair of shoes and spend the day helping her get ready for the big night. This salad is what the rest of the family had for dinner after she headed out the door that evening. (Ya know, once the whirlwind of craziness died down and this mom could catch her breath a bit.)

I tend to keep the ingredients for this salad on hand so that I can toss this together when I'm short on time or things are hectic. Since we are huge fans of Mexican food, taco salads go over well. I do sometimes include some grilled chicken, but more often than not, I serve this vegetarian-style. A drained can of chili beans lends some spice and protein here. And, I usually keep cooked rice in the freezer just for dishes such as this one. I just season it up a bit with some ground cumin and a little salt for this salad. And, yes, I know ... nacho cheese chips. A somewhat unhealthy-ish inclusion to an otherwise healthful salad I suppose. But, golly dang .. they kind of "make" the salad if you ask me. So, I would probably just go ahead and throw them in there if I were you. Afterall, Y.O.L.O! (Shhhh! Don't tell my kids I just typed that. I embarrass them enough and I'm told that Y.O.L.O is so like, three years ago or something.)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Ultimate Loaded Baked Potato Salad

With grilling season and summer gatherings right around the corner, I thought I'd share my recipe for one killer of a summertime side dish. Potato salad is pretty much a staple at most warm-weather get-togethers. {I actually love potato salad so much that I make it two or three times a month from spring until fall.} I've taken the traditional potato salad and given it one heck of a make-over. It's quite the upgrade actually. Here, we've, basically, got the working parts of a potluck favorite combined with everything we all love about a loaded baked potato.

The result of this marriage is something pretty darn amazing. I start with baking the potatoes instead of boiling them. Once removed from the oven and cut into chunks, the potatoes then get a good dousing of vinegar while they are still warm. (I use the vinegar trick for any potato salad recipe that I make. I think I learned it from watching Emeril years ago. He said that he considers potatoes "most vulnerable" while they are still hot and more easily "accepting" of the vinegar.)

For the dressing, a little sour cream is incorporated in with the mayo for the perfect tangy zip and to mimic those flavors found in loaded baked potatoes. Crispy bacon, lots of scallions (or chives) and shredded cheese get folded in for the perfect "bang" in this firecracker of a potato salad.

Yields 8 - 10 servings.