Day 13: A Hearty Fiesta Salad

When one hears, “We’re having salad for dinner,” this can invoke emotions across the spectrum.

Grumble…err…all I want is a steak & baked potatoes with a quart of gravy covered over it, not some puny little rabbit food.

Eh, salads are so boring…they never fill me up, and I’m just tired of eating them.

Yay! Salad! I had one for lunch, and I can’t wait to try another way to turn the boring green salad or caesar on its head with this new one!

Are any of those YOUR responses when presented with a salad for dinner after a very, very long day? Sure, sometimes all we want is the one meal we know our doctor would disapprove of us having (like my stupid craving for Pizza Hut last night…what was I thinking?).

So we need an alternative. We need a healthy lettuce-based meal that is fun, interesting and (of course) delicious. It needs to be colorful and enticing to look at and eat.

Behold, the Hearty Fiesta Salad. Let’s make it.

Hearty Fiesta Salad
4 servings (2 for dinner, 2 for lunch the next day)

8 cups of greens (your choice–I used spinach and baby kale)
Handful of baby carrots or 1-2 large carrots, chopped
1/2 cup corn or other veggie (use whatever you have on hand)
1 cup black beans (rinsed and drained, if from a can)
12-16 oz of chicken/pork/turkey/beef or veggie crumbles, cooked and seasoned with taco seasoning (cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt)
1 cup Shredded cheese (your choice)
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
Optional dressings/on the side: Salsa, Guacamole

Assemble your plate or bowl by layering each of the ingredients (split the above into 4 servings). Add a dash of your favorite seasoning blend (like Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute) to the top of the salad for surprising flavor in each bite (much like a steak). 🙂

Eat, drink, be merry and full!

Happy eating! Laurel


Day 11: Break the Rules: Sweet Potatoes

Breakfast for Dinner has always been one of my favorite…because it breaks all the rules. Sweet potatoes are kind of the same thing…like dessert for dinner. Yes, it involves brown sugar and sweet potatoes, but you’ll receive 300% of your Vitamin C in just one meal. Let’s get to it.

(Mom, I hope you’re not reading this…although my love for sweet potatoes totally came from your side of the family. Just remember…I used to whine if I had to eat the meat on my plate and NEVER hesitated to eat my veggies.)

Break the Rules: Sweet Potatoes
Okay, so this isn’t really a recipe, but if you want to know how I make ’em, read on!

1 chunky sweet potato (yam, yam, yam), that isn’t too skinny but is as ‘fat’ as you can find
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1 TB butter
1/2 to 1 tsp of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Step one: Rinse and poke a few fork holes throughout the potato. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. (Don’t judge.)

Step two: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the potato in foil and it in the oven, straight on the middle rack. Bake for 20-ish minutes, or until soft and tender to the (oven mitt-covered) touch. 

Step three: Unwrap, set on a plate, and slice open (half lengthwise). Top with the rest of the ingredients (and maybe some caramel sauce or other rule-breakers).

Eat, you rebel, eat. And, for those of you that live with a guy who’d rather eat a sponge than a sweet potato, enjoy it gloriously. Happy weekend, friends!!

Happy eating!


Day 7: Smokin’ Tofu

I know, I know, it’s tofu…but would a bbq-raised Texan bring you a bland, eggy substance and call it SMOKIN’? I think not. Let’s get busy.

Tofu is a blank canvas for so much…I actually love smoked tofu in stuff but it’s often hard to find at the store or more pricey than the reg tofu. Get organic tofu if you can…it’s the real stuff. This is quick, easy, and sure to satisfy even the carnivore grizzly bears in your home.

Smokin’ Tofu
Block of extra firm tofu (14 oz or so)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (homemade or store bought)
1 TB sesame oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco chipotle, for example)
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper

Supplies: towel, heavy book(s), bowl + brush, rimmed baking sheet, cooling rack (see photo)

Step one: Drain the tofu. It sounds gross, but tofu is a sponge–the more water you drain out means the more flavor/smoke liquid you can inject in. We want the tofu as dry as possible, so wrap the tofu in an absorbent kitchen towel. Place your heaviest cookbook or textbook on top of the tofu and let the towel absorb the liquid, about 20 minutes.

Step two: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (This is the universal temp for cornbread, french fries, roasted veggies and all things hearty and awesome. FYI.) Slice the tofu into “finger-sized” strips, about 14 will come out of a 14 oz block of tofu. In a small bowl, combine all of the seasoning ingredients (sauce, oil, smoke, salt, hot sauce and pepper).

Step three: Place the cooking rack on top of the baking sheet. Line the tofu onto the rack and brush the bbq sauce mixture onto BOTH sides of the tofu. (OPTION: If you have a little time, put the tofu into a gallon zipper bag with the sauce and let marinade for an hour or two. Then, use the excess sauce to brush on the tofu.)

Step four: Bake the tofu for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through and brush with the rest of the sauce. Serve piping hot with a baked potato, fries and some beautiful steamed broccoli.

Happy eating!


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