there's always time for taco salads and guacamole

Despite it being a long work day and a post-run meal, the hubs and I set out to make healthy, homemade taco salads and yummy guacamole for dinner. After all, we still needed to use up our leftover beer-can chicken from this past weekend!

This meal is actually pretty easy to put together and can be varied easily to your taste. Plus, I think the creation of the bowl is a neat part of the meal. I usually use a whole-wheat tortilla for that, partly because it's so much better for you and partly because you can't tell the difference once it's smothered in the yummy filling, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guac. Hey-o, taco salad night!

To start, you need to get your filling* going. Start with a pound of ground beef or chicken chunks and saute it (in olive oil if using chicken) until cooked; drain and remove from pan, wiping the pan free of any grease with a paper towel. (Skip this step if your meat is already cooked or if you want to go sans meat.) Saute about 1/2 of a large onion, chopped, in a little olive oil at medium heat in the same pan until it just starts to become translucent, and then add a couple of cloves of minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper and add the meat back to the pan. Add half a can each of drained corn and black beans. Lower the heat and season with about 1 1/2 tbsp chile powder, ~4 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp. oregano, a pinch of red pepper and a small handful of chopped, fresh cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste and give it a good stir. If it tastes a little weak, add more cumin and chile powder, and salt and pepper, until it's robust.

Preheat your oven to 400 derees. While waiting for the filling to cook, crumple two large pieces of foil into fist-sized balls. Place them on a jelly-roll pan. Lightly brush two* tortillas with canola or olive oil and sprinkle with chile powder. Drape them over the foil balls and bake in the over for five to ten minutes, until they become toasty-crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes. When the tortillas are removed from the pan, they'll hold their bowl shape.

Now, there a few things that I let the hubs take over cooking or making in the kitchen. Eggs, steak, grilled meats and guacamole make the list. An eater will get a true taste of culinary talent if this rule is strictly adhered to. In regards to his guacamole, I am the resident "taste tester," meaning that I eat half of the guac and chips in the process of directing "more lime!" or "more cilantro!" before it's put on the table. And that's the way both of us like it. A match made in heaven, eh?

In all seriousness, guacamole is pretty simple, really: just mix a couple of avocados with a little diced red onion, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and jalapeno pepper, the juice of one or two limes (depending on their juiciness), and some salt and pepper. Keep tasting until you get the ratios right. I recommend a good thick chip** for munching. We went for blue corn chips for this meal. (You can tell he's making the guacamole on the right because of how messy it is, haha ... love you, hubs!)

Place your bowls on a plate and stuff them with torn lettuce, the filling, salsa, sour cream, salsa, Mexican cheese, tomatoes, jalapenos or whatever your heart desires and enjoys. Filling, yummy and super healthy, this is a winner.

* Depending on how hungry you are and how much "stuff" you fill your bowl with, this filling will feed 4-6 people. I wrote two tortillas in this case, well, because there are two of us, knowing that we'll be eating leftovers (does the chicken count as left-over leftovers in this case?).
**In case you were wondering, here are my thoughts on corn chips as of late: I've been in favor of the organic version simply because of the GMO corn issue. I've investigated the baked vs. fried kind, and while the baked has no added ingredients or preservatives to artificially improve the taste, I still prefer the standard kind ... in moderation. :)

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