MEXICAN CHOPPED SALAD

Also known as a Taco Salad, they are not only tasty they are fun to eat!

What you put on this thing is so up to your individual tastes. This one has spicy ground beef, Spanish rice, kidney beans, Mexican blend cheese, Cotija cheese, chopped tomatoes, green onions, Chili Cheese Fritos,a spicy Sriracha crema, and chopped romaine and iceberg. Of course, feel free to add chopped cilantro, avocado, and salsa if you want.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • Avocado oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Pace Chunky Salsa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Taco seasoning (I make my own but you can use the stuff in a packet)
  • 2 cups chopped romaine
  • 2 cups chopped iceberg
  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans (drained and rinsed if using canned)
  • 1 cup Mexican blend cheese (Monterey Jack and cheddar0
  • 1/4 cup Cotija cheese, grated

For the Sriracha crema:

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chile powder
  • 1-2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Spanish rice:

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 2 tsp avocado oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Pace Chunky Salsa

Directions:

For the ground beef:

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp avocado oil. Crumble in the ground bee and cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper and the taco seasoning. Add 1/2 cup of salsa and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook on low about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until most of the liquid has reduced.

For the Spanish rice:

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tsp of avocado oil. Add the rice and saute, stirring, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and the cumin.
  • Add the stock and the salsa and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, and cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn of the heat and let it set for another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fluff with a fork and keep warm.
  • To assemble, place 2 cups of the lettuce mix in a large bowl or plate. Add some ground beef, then some rice, then some kidney beans.
  • Add the Mexican cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions, crema, Cotija cheese, and the Fritos.
  • Optionally, add chopped cilantro and diced avocado.

BABY RED POTATO, BACON, AND EGG SALAD

I can’t tell you how many different potato salad recipes I’ve made over the years. None of which I was really satisfied with…until this one! I will actually make this one again.

Full disclosure…I combined elements from several recipes including something I learned (stole) from my sister-in-law 40 years ago: Ranch dressing mix. I only use a small amount of this versatile powder here as it is a cut down recipe that serves maybe 3-4 small people. You can use your own favorite potatoes, but the little gold ball sized red potatoes work so well. Just one caveat: do not overcook them. These small gems cook up in about 10-12 minutes, not the 25 minutes we’re used to with full sized potatoes. Cool them in the fridge right away and wait until they are completely cooled before cutting.

If you’re a potato salad fan, try this one…you’ll like it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs small red skinned potatoes
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped 1/2 inch
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, cooked, chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, minced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp Ranch dressing mix
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped chives
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Do not peel. Bring to a hard boil, lower the heat, and cook for about 12 minutes. Don’t overcook, it’s easy to do with these small potatoes. Drain and place in the refrigerator until completely cooled, at least 1 hour.
  • In a medium bowl, combined the mayonnaise, celery, onion, cider vinegar, chives, and parsley. Mix well and place in the refrigerator.
  • Slice the cooked potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks and place in a large bowl and add the chopped bacon and chopped eggs. Gently mix completely. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Fold in the dressing mix until completely combined reserving 2 tbsp of the dressing. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Take potato salad out 20 minutes before serving and mix in the reserved dressing if desired.

JAPANESE EGG SALAD SANDWICH

I haven’t been to Japan for quite a while, so I have no recent first hand knowledge…but, supposedly, the most popular Egg Salad Sandwich in Japan can be found at 7-11! But, they sell them everywhere.

Typically, it is made with a Japanese milk bread called “shokupan”. It wasn’t available in my area, so I used a soft, thick-sliced artisan wheat bread. I did, however, use Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise that, in my opinion, is the best mayo you can find. A bit pricey, but it’s worth it.

Of course, an egg salad sandwich starts with hardboiled eggs, and therein lies the first critical challenge: cooking the eggs properly. I’ve included my method for cooking good hardboiled eggs below. Whichever method you choose, they must not be overcooked “Easter eggs”.

Ingredients”

  • 4-5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 4 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 4 slices Japanese milk bread or small artisan white bread
  • Dijon mustard

Directions:

  • Place the eggs in a saucepan of cold water and bring to a rolling boil. After 4 1/2 minutes after the water boils, remove one of the eggs and place in a bowl of ice water. After 1 minute longer remove the remainder of the eggs and place in the ice water. The first egg should be a little creamier inside, it will be the one you slice for the middle of the sandwich. Peel the eggs. Chop 3 of the eggs about 1/4 inch and place in a mixing bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • For the dressing, mix together the chives, mayonnaise, mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, reserve 1 tbsp of the dressing to spread on the bread.
  • Place 3 tbsp of the dressing in the bowl with eggs and fold together, mix gently, don’t mush it together.
  • To build the sandwich, spread a little Dijon on the top slice of bread. Spread 1/2 tbsp of the dressing on the bottom slice. Spoon on half the egg salad.
  • Slice the first egg in half lengthwise and place half on the bottom slice on the egg salad. Place the top slice. With a bread knife, slice off the end crusts then slice the sandwich in half through the egg as in the photo. Repeat with the remaining bread slices.

CHICKEN CLUB PASTA SALAD

This is an incredible Summer style pasta salad I have made a few times recently.

We love pasta salads with either rotini, macaroni, or ditalini pasta, red bell peppers, red onion, sliced black olives, parmesan cheese, and Italian style dressing. But this one caught my eye one day a few weeks ago…so, we made it. Wow, it’s really flavorful, creamy, and easy to make.

One of the keys is a “pantry hack” of using Ranch dressing mix. It add so much to a lot of things just using a half teaspoon or so. Most of the time, I made it without the leftover cooked chicken, but that is an option that makes it more of a meal. Finished with cubed avocado and fresh, ripe diced tomatoes, this salad is creamy, cool, and goes so well with almost anything. Its got everything!

The photo is without chicken, so don’t look for it! The only other thing I would add is sliced olives, but I was out of at the time.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 ounces of rotini pasta, colored or plain
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, sub whole milk if you want
  • 1/2 tsp Ranch dressing mix
  • 2 tbsp of mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives or green onions
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped – optional
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. I suggest cooking all the way (not al dente). Drain and rinse. Chill in the refrigerator.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, butter milk, and Ranch dressing mix.
  • Add the cooked pasta, celery, and chives and fold in, mixing well.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and fold into the salad. Season with fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.