Southwestern style chopped salad with homemade tomatillo ranch

IMG_5499Yes I shamelessly love shopping at the grocery outlet in my neighborhood….their beer selection is better than anywhere not to mention cheaper, the same stuff can cost you upwards of $1 + at the Wholefoods, unless wholefoods is running a promo. They carry tons of local produce, milk (dairy and non-dairy) organics, and cage free, organic eggs. Occasionally I will get really fabulous foreign imports or Earth friendly cleaning products. Also they have one of my favorite cashiers ever, he only works weekends and he makes everyone (even drunkards on motorized scooters) feel like family. Getting rung up by him can take upwards of 7 minutes or so….hard to wait sometimes, but always worth it, he may be wearing an ascot that day or a bandana, always bold in his fashion prowess he is a kindred spirit and I like his style, he makes a cashier job much more….he makes it a performance, and we patrons a captive audience. If he ever reads this, he knows who he is….Thank you for brightening mine and everyone else’s day. I remember when we first moved here and I knew nothing and nobody it was one of the first places I went to shop and I was wearing my son (he was 8 weeks old) and Ava who was 4 and he helped us feel at home and even “Welcomed” us to Portland. So today most of my food was bought at the GC, in the Hollywood district in PDX. Ava wanted chicken legs so made the recipe for my Wings?! We don’t want no stinking wings! (poulet “Legs” aux Buffalo stylie). I decided these would be great deboned, as like a Southwestern chopped salad, one like I order, when we are at our local pub….mine of course will be better since I can pick exactly what I want in it!
There was a plethora of treasures today at my store and besides the hassle of the prep work this salad is easy! So what I got is the chicken of course (recipe above). Two hearts of romaine, cleaned, chopped, ½ cup each diced jicama, carrot, celery, red pepper, corn, ¼ cup each radish, thin, green onions, avocado, 1 can black beans, rinsed, ¼ cup diced olives, shredded cheese (I used cabot’s chipotle cheddar)use what you like though, leave out what you don’t! I made a creamy cilantro style dressing, 1 clove garlic, ½ small onion, diced, 4 tbsp balsamic, ½ juice one lime, 1 tsp salt, ½ bunch cilantro, pepper, 2 tbsp olive oil, ½ cup Mexican crema, or sour cream, or yogurt…..blend till smooth. Top salad with tortilla chips if you like em’. Serves four as an entrée, eight as a side dish.

Sexy Tex-Mexi Tacos

While I was visiting my fam in the Utah, my nephew’s girlfriend Felisha treated us to some lovely tacos. She made them with ground beef, made her own pico, served them with some onions and cilantro, and gave the corn tortillas a quick dip in some hot oil so they were almost like puffy tacos, a famous style of Texas taco that is neither soft nor crisp…just delicious. I felt inspired, and my family loves tacos, so I decided to make my own version…and ya know what? They were fiesta inspiring! I also did some sneaky “Mom” stuff like added some veggies to meat mixture and topped them with a healthy dose of romaine and radish. This worked great for a fast, Friday dinner that pleases everyone.
Beef filling
1 lb 85/15 ground beef
2 carrots grated
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
In a skillet over medium high heat, brown the beef with the onion and carrot, till golden, drain fat. Add tomato paste and seasonings and 3 Tbsp water….let simmer while you prep your toppins and fix your tortillas.
In a shallow skillet, add about an inch of canola (or other high smoke point oil of choice) heat to medium high. Add tortillas one by one until they bubble and puff, this will take about thirty seconds if your oil is the right temp. I used some locally made corn tortillas, they only have three ingredients, corn, lime, water. The shelf stable variety tend to have too many hard to pronounce chemicals for my taste. Drain tortillas on paper towels.
I shredded half a head of organic romaine (lettuce is a good one to buy organic as it is highly susceptible to chemicals.
1 cup grated cheese, I used cheddar
A few thinly sliced radishes
1 bunch cilantro (I added the stems to my meat mixture)
Salsa verde
Salsa roja
I didn’t make my own salsa today due to time issues, my son just turned two and is especially mischievous right now, and I have great access to local salsas. But if you have the time I say make your own, especially if you are growing tomatoes!!! These were fast and easy and fit into my budget. I make a lot of tacos but these ones were in honor of Felisha’s version. Gracias Felisha!