Taco Salad

I’ve mentioned numerous times how much I enjoy salads because they are so versatile. I’ve learned I can build a salad with unlimited ingredients for as little points plus values or as many as I wish.  Nothing is worse than a “plain ole salad” day in and day out.  This is a salad I tend to go for whenever it’s taco night in my house if I don’t feel like having tacos soft shell tortillas.
This entire salad is only 3 points plus values!  With that I’ve got a bed of garden salad, topped with 3 ounces of cooked ground turkey taco meat (seasoned with a Taco seasoning packet and onion). My salad is topped with chunky medium salsa and for a little spice kick, I garnished with jalapeño slices.  I find with my taco salads the salsa acts as a dressing, so there is no need to layer the salad with a salad dressing.
One thing I do tend to enjoy is occasionally eating my taco salads with a side of fresh soft tortillas (I buy the Joseph’s band wheat flax tortillas) to aid in “scooping” some of the salad into.  Or sometimes I jazz my salads up with a bit of Trader Joe’s Queso and garnish the plate with some tortilla chips.
Possibilities are quite endless which is why I love taco night at home!
What is one of your favorite ways to dress up a salad?

Tex-Mex Taco Pasta

I got an e-mail from Mr. Food last week and the dish on the e-mail looked decadent. It was listed as a “mac and cheese” but the recipe contained no cheese. It sent my wheels into motion and I started to write out a recipe adding in a few different items, calculated the points and decided it would be Sunday dinner for when my brother and sister-in-law came over.  As I was cooking the dish, I made a few edits and actually was able to reduce the points plus values by a point.
Considering this was a rather “on the fly” type of meal it turned out great and my brother and sister-in-law were quite the fan.  It does have an underlying spice to it, but that’s due to the taco seasoning packet I used.  The spiciness of course could be brought down by using a brand of taco seasoning that is on the milder side or you could even whip up your own taco seasoning spice by using some ingredients in your pantry.
Serves 8. Serving size roughly ~1 ½ cups.
7 Points Plus Values.

Tex-Mex Taco Pasta

  • 1 ¼ lbs 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz. uncooked pasta
  • 1 packet Old El Paso Original Taco Seasoning
  • 1 can petite no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 can no salt added corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 5 tbsp tomato paste
In a large non-stick skillet, combine onion, pepper and ground beef.  Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up meat until cooked and no longer pink.
Fill another pot with water, season with salt and set on to boil.  When water boiled, add in the pasta and cook until desired texture is met.  I recommend cooking until al dente.  When pasta is done, drain and set aside.
Once meat and vegetables are cooked, sprinkle the taco seasoning over the meat and add in the water. Stir to combine.
Add in the black beans, corn and can of diced tomatoes.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and let mixture simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Add the cooked pasta to the dish and gently stir to combine.
Depending on how much liquid is in the bottom of the pan, add in a tablespoon of tomato paste at a time. Blending the tomato paste into the “sauce” to thicken it – I found at 4 tablespoons there was still extra moisture in the bottom of the pan and the 5th tablespoon really brought it to a thicker consistency.
Divide into servings and enjoy!

Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Chucky Guacamole

I picked up this Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole at Trader Joe’s after hearing that it was pretty good.  I checked out the nutrition label and was duly impressed, so I made sure to bring it home with me to try out.  Guacamole is typically higher in fat and calories when made the regular way – but Trader Joe’s found a way to make it a friendly food by incorporating the dish with greek yogurt.
Trader Joe’s really does impress me with some of the items they come out with – needless to say, this is one of them.  I can’t say I’m a huge guacamole fan, but this particular guacamole easily became my favorite (I don’t love avocados).  I was incorporating this into my nachos, chicken burgers, or plain right alongside some tortillas/crackers. It’s a smooth and creamy guacamole which is packed with flavor. There are smaller chunks of vegetables (and even pieces of avocado if you’re lucky) running through the guacamole with a cilantro, lime flavor in the background.  I don’t find it to be spicy even though the label does state there are jalapeno’s in the dish. It’s creamier than your average guacamole, which I feel is to be expected because there is Greek yogurt in the dish.
Amazingly, a 2 tablespoon serving is only 1 points plus values!  Definitely worth a shot if you’re even remotely a guacamole fan OR just living life on the edge!
Have you tried the reduced guilt guac?

Plated: Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad & Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles

I decided to try out Plated for a second time after receiving my initial box.  There were 3 dishes that seemed really interesting to me this time around, but I eliminated one solely on the fact I guestimated the points plus values would be astronomical.  I talked about the Plated membership during my first review of the subscription service (see here: http://shannonslifestyle.blogspot.com/2013/06/plated-membership-ft-chicken-tacos-w.html).  As mentioned previously Plated is offering a free monthly subscription and 4-plates to anyone who signs up during the month of June using the promo code: junefreegift.
I was weighing my options between the two dishes I chose and a paella dish.  Figuring the paella would translate into far too many points plus values that I’d be comfortable with I decided to order the Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad and the Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles.
The first dish I put together was the Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad.  It took about 30 minutes to put together, which was quite simple since there was very minimal chopping and mixing involved.  The only thing I altered was I eliminated a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned my steak in McCormick steak seasoning and when my skirt steak was finished searing, I let it rest, sliced it up and then returned it back to the pan because I prefer my steak dead and buried.
The one thing I will point out is the vinaigrette which went over both the corn salsa and the potato salad was rather spicy. The chili powder was a little overwhelming, but regardless of the heat from the spice it was a pretty tasty meal.  I was able to make 2 ½ meals out of all I was provided, so points plus wise my dish was 12 points plus values.  I had 2.5 oz steak, 5.5 oz potato and 1/3 the corn salsa.
Now onto the most delicious lettuce wrap I have ever had in my life that I will undoubtedly be making again and again and again.  Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles probably one of the most delicious and relatively simple meals I’ve whipped together that wasn’t one of my own creations. 
The only difference from the recipe provided was I eliminated 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.  Otherwise the recipe is exactly as stated.  With this meal I was able to make 3 dinners out of the entire box provided and 1/3 of this was 13 points plus values.  This dish was the most delicious and refreshing meal.  The lettuce wraps totally lightened up the dish, but still allowed it to be filling and delicious.  My boyfriend mentioned that it should be a staple on our food menu – which I think it may very well become.
Have you tried Plated?

Trader Joe’s Chicken Asada

I purchased this Trader Joe’s Chicken Asada meal for my boyfriend and I when we were going to be going away for our anniversary.  I figured having at least one meal that was going to be point friendly would be best for me. After purchasing, I found out our hotel did not have a refrigerator or microwave in the room – but the staff advised that they’d gladly heat anything up for me in the staff microwave.  That put dampers on bringing meals for the few days we were there – but that made having dinner at the hotel a score for the first day there.
The Chicken Asada meal comes with 2 servings in the container.  It’s sold in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s because all you need to do is heat it up in the microwave and your meal is ready to roll.  It consists of grilled chicken, poblano peppers, red peppers and onions.  I was quite surprised at the sheer amount of chicken I was able to have in my meal.  It looked like something you would order at Chili’s but ten times better!  It tasted delicious, fresh and flavorful.  The greatest part was that the serving (1/2 the package) was ONLY 5 points plus values!
My boyfriend and I ate this with wheat flax tortillas, so we were able to have chicken asada tortilla wraps.  It was absolutely delicious!  This is so good I actually have one in my freezer, which I’ll probably be taking out this week for lunch.  Yum!
Have you tried the Chicken Asada meal from Trader Joe’s?