Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

One of my favorite ways to incorporate salads into our menu is under the influence of Mexican Monday. Typically salads are just plain boring, but with big flavors in Mexican cuisine, no salad is ever boring. And creamy dressings are my favorite. This dressing gets a kick from the chipotle pepper in adobo, but is mellowed out by the sour cream and cilantro.

This salad makes for a great lunch or quick dinner – and can be assembled even more quickly if you have left over cooked chicken or stop at the store and pick up a rotisserie chicken from the deli. With black beans in the salad, you could even omit the chicken if desired for a Meatless Monday too.

For a little crunch in your salad, topped with crushed up tortilla chips or the tortilla strips salad topping from the store (they’re typically next to the packaged croutons).

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo*
  • 1/3 C packed fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 C sour cream
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

*for a milder dressing remove seeds from pepper, for a spicier dressing include some of the adobo sauce

Ingredients for salad:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 head of lettuce, chopped
  • grape tomatoes, halved
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • canned corn, drained and rinsed
  • avocado, diced
  • red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Steps:

  1. Season chicken with S+P. In a non-stick skillet, cook chicken over medium-high heat in a little bit of olive oil.
  2. Place dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  3. In a large bowl combine salad ingredients with cooked chicken. (Note: I didn’t specify amounts for the salad ingredients, use any or all to create your perfect salad!)
  4. Toss salad with as much dressing as desired.

*This recipe is adapted from David at http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chipotle-chicken-taco-salad-10000001215905/*

Chipotle Taco Salad

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Did you know that for your money, the most nutritious thing you could buy in the grocery store is the sweet potato?

Sweet potatoes are one of Stuart’s favorite foods. If a restaurant offers sweet potato fries as a side option, he’ll be paying the extra $0.99 for them. If mashed sweet potatoes are suggested as a side dish to you-name-the-protein, he’ll pick that entrée. However, unless it’s for Sweet Potato Casserole, I find myself rarely cooking with sweet potatoes.

I spotted a recipe for Loaded Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and thought, that’s a good idea! And while my photograph isn’t as beautiful or as appealing as Brandi’s (I have to admit, I became very frustrated with trying to capture this dish) the stuffing flavors complimented the baked sweet potato beautifully – no extra toppings needed. Additionally stuffed potatoes make for a surprisingly filling dinner.

Because our Publix is still so new, they don’t yet carry Chorizo – although someone from the Meat Department did promise us that they will. I decided to buy ground pork and add chorizo spices while cooking the meat. I also used (half) my recipe for black beans instead of using refried black beans.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch ground coriander
  • 1/2 recipe of black beans {click for recipe}
  • 1/2 C shredded Mexican cheese

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and dry potatoes. Poke with a fork and wrap in foil. Bake 1 hour.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat brown pork in olive oil. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add remaining seasonings and cook, break up the meat, until cooked through. Drain if needed.
  3. In a bowl combine cooked pork and beans.
  4. When potatoes are cooked through allow them to cool enough to handle. Cut a canoe-shaped cavity and stuff with the pork and beans. Top with shredded cheese.
  5. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake 5-7 minutes, until the cheese on top is melted.

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Protein Packed Southwestern Salad

I am keeping with my healthy kick of Mexican Monday (previous weeks included Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers and Turkey Lettuce Wraps) with a double duty Mexican Monday & Salad Night.

It’s been way too long since my last salad post – and unfortunately that also indicates it’s been way too long since our last salad night! Stuart has been looking for healthier meals lately, and after eating this Southwestern Salad he was completely satisfied.

The dressing for the salad is made with Greek yogurt. If you’ve paid attention, or know me, you realize that I have a great dislike for Greek yogurt. But I do try and give it another chance every now and then. I was prepared to revert to bottled salad dressing, but I’m happy to state that I loved the creamy cilantro vinaigrette!

I added chicken to the salad so we’re getting 3 sources of protein: the Greek yogurt in the dressing, chicken, and black beans! I promise this is no rabbit food.

Protein Packed Southwestern Salad

Ingredients for the chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken tenders (you can also cut up 1 breast into strips)
  • 3/4 tsp Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tsp Ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided use
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 C canned corn, drained
  • 1/2 C canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 on-the-vine tomato, chopped and seeds removed
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • crispy tortilla strips, for topping

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/2 C Greek yogurt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 C fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl combine adobo seasoning, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Season both sides of chicken with spice mixture (you will have some left over).
  2. In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
  3. In a food processor combine all dressing ingredients.
  4. Assemble salad with lettuce, corn, beans, tomato, avocado, and chicken. Toss with as much dressing as you like. Top with tortilla strips.

*This recipe is adapted from Chung-Ah at http://damndelicious.net/2014/01/10/southwestern-chopped-salad-cilantro-lime-dressing/*

Protein Packed Southwestern Salad 1 Protein Packed Southwestern Salad  2 Protein Packed Southwestern Salad 3

Rice and Beans

To me, “rice and beans” by definition is white rice with black beans (cooked with onion and bell pepper) but after living in the Alabama where pinto beans seem to be more popular and living in the Florida panhandle where there’s a lot of New Orleans influence, rice and beans has come to be a very ambiguous term.

This recipe for rice and beans refers to black beans. Although similar to my mother’s recipe, this one is actually adapted from my brother’s fiancé.

Black Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 shakes hot sauce
  • S+P

Steps:

  1. Saute onion and pepper in olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Season with garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add in black beans, 1/4 can water, bay leaf, and hot sauce.
  2. Cook covered over med-low heat 25 minutes.
  3. Serve with cooked white rice and cream cheese*.

*I have a recommendation that will sound strange – serve cream cheese with your rice and beans. Trust me on this one. I think my mom was the first person to try this – she says it is common to eat rice and beans with Edam cheese. As delicious as Edam is (it’s one of my favorite cheeses) the slight tang and the creaminess you get from cream cheese compliments the bold flavor of black beans. (If you think of it like sour cream it doesn’t sound as crazy.) Take your fork, get a little cream cheese and then dig into the rice and beans! Perfect.

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