Taco Salad with Homemade Spicy Ranch

Guys, I am so bad at this whole “food blog” thing. Here’s my usual cooking routine:

2. Throw something together.
3. Hover over it anxiously waiting to be done cooking. Slap myself on the wrist when I try to take it off the stove before it’s cooked all the way.
4. Gorge myself.
5. Remember as I’m clearing the dishes that I should have taken pictures and documented the cooking process.

Sorry peeps. I’ve failed you. And today is no exception!

A couple days ago, I dug in the back of my cupboard and saw I still had some Tostitos. It was mostly crumbs; big enough to be tangible food, but not big enough to enjoy as a snack. I did some digging, and found an awesome taco salad recipe from Budget Bytes. I had a few things here and there from the recipe, and figured it would be easy enough to improvise. IT WAS.

I already ate half the salad before remembering to post a picture of it.
I had already eaten half the salad before remembering to post a picture of it.

The dressing was beyond easy to make, and it’s what really ties the recipe together. Add what you want, but don’t skip this if you know what’s good. And for once I got everything right! The only difference was I used homemade buttermilk using this recipe from Emeril Lagasse. I only used 1.5 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of milk since I was shrinking down the original dressing recipe. It saved me the trouble of buying a whole thing of buttermilk when I knew I’d never use it again before the expiration date.


When possible, always use a substitution or make a recipe ingredient yourself! Pantry staples saved the day for me – if you stock up on the basics, you’ll be golden in a pinch.

The rest of the salad was just tossing stuff in: Lettuce. Beans. Corn. Bell peppers. Tomatoes. Red onion. Tortilla chips. Beyond lazy. Beyond awesome.

I brought it into work with me Sunday, toting the tortilla chips and dressing in separate baggies so nothing would get soggy. My boss was SHOCKED I wasn’t eating something with garlic in it for once (due to the nature of my job dealing with people frequently and the nature of my palate eating garlic frequently, I keep looooots of Listerine strips handy).

Budget Bytes’ original recipe shows how to make your own tortilla strips to go with this recipe. I’m sure they’re wonderful, but like I always say about great cooking…

Taco Salad with Homemade Spicy Ranch
See the original recipe by Budget Bytes

Total prep and cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-3
Dishes rating: *

2 tbsp Plain yogurt
1/4 cup Buttermilk
1/8 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Garlic powder
1/2 tsp Chili powder
1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes

1 cup Lettuce
1/2 can Black beans
3/4 cups Corn
1/2 large Tomato (or 1/2 can rinsed diced tomatoes)
1/8 cups Red onion
1/4 cups Bell pepper
1/2 cups Medium-sized crumbled tortilla chips

1. Mix together the yogurt, buttermilk, mayonnaise, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and red pepper flakes. Makes about 1/2 cup.
2. Cut the lettuce into small pieces. Rinse the lettuce and drain well (or use a salad spinner). Also dice the red onions, bell pepper, and tomato. Rinse the black beans in a colander to remove the starchy canning liquid.
3. Add all the ingredients into a bowl, including the corn and tortilla chips.

Taco Salad with Homemade Spicy Ranch

Oven Roasted Chicken with Lime Cilantro Rice

Tonight’s supper was a beautiful disaster.

On Friday, I saw chicken leg quarters were on sale for $0.79 per pound. Uh, yes please! I’d never cooked anything but breasts before and I assumed it couldn’t be that difficult. Honestly it wasn’t, but it was my own fault that it didn’t come out stellar.


I’m a recovering vegetarian, so I’m still learning how to cook meats. I found a super simple recipe from Oh Snap! Let’s Eat that I somehow still managed to mess up. Namely, I went a little olive oil crazy. She specifically said DRIZZLE the quarters, not slather it on with a nice tanning oil. But did I listen? No. So what happened was when I ate it, the inside meat was quite oily.

On top of that, I was NOT prepared for the deboning process. Once I flipped those bad birds over, I gasped. Ewww, look at all this gunk I had to get rid of! It’s certainly not as pretty and mess-free as other cuts of chicken. No wonder it was so inexpensive. I say this about the sales rack at TJ Maxx filled with slightly damaged clothes, and I say it again about the grocery store: “If it’s on sale, there’s probably a reason.”


I tried to go on instinct alone and did my best to dig out the coveted white meat. As I was attempting to find what was bone and what could be palatable, only one thought was running through my mind:

I have a feeling this dog is going to be my spirit animal throughout my cooking adventures.

I got through, and I was surprised to find that THIS is what a chicken quarter looks like underneath it all. It’s basically the chicken’s entire leg. Call me a daff, but this is news to me. I put the other one in the fridge with the bones still intact. Maybe it’ll be better cooled off tomorrow.


The cilantro lime rice was one that looked easy enough to cook while the chicken was baking. This is another one that’s purely my fault for coming out less than great. This recipe on Budget Bytes suggests adding a few teaspoons of chicken stock, and in my Aha! moment realizing I had some chicken drippings from the oven roasted chicken decided to incorporate that into the recipe. Not realizing beforehand just how oily it was, it made a huge difference on my rice. The rice itself was undercooked (because of my own impatience) AND oily. Blech.

I also opted for dried cilantro and an older lime instead of fresh herbs and a juicy newer lime. I certainly under seasoned this time around… next time, I’ll use more seasoning and less oil. Overall it had the makings of being a great meal, but my ignorance and impatience ultimately led to its demise.


**Please note that although I changed the measurements to reflect cooking for one in the ingredients list, I did not do the same for the recipe itself. Way too time consuming.

Easy Spice Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters
By Oh Snap! Let’s Eat

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 2

2 Chicken Leg Quarters – bought this week
Garlic powder – did not use
Dried Rosemary – did not use
Herbes de Provence – did not use
Paprika – did not use
Onion Powder – did not use
Cayenne Pepper – did not use
Salt and pepper – already had
Olive oil – already had

0. Preheat oven to 425 °F.
1. Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry.
2. Mix all the herbs/spices together in a separate bowl.3. Rub mixture over chicken leg quarters and place into a baking pan.
3. Rub mixture over chicken leg quarters and place in to a baking pan.
4. Drizzle some olive oil over the leg quarters, and pop in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Make sure you bake them until the juices run clear. I usually start checking the chicken a few minutes before it is done cooking to guesstimate how long it’ll take. I also slice up the chicken pieces for 2 reasons: 1) to make sure the juice runs clear, and 2) I like the looks of it!

Cilantro Lime Rice
By Budget Bytes

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 1

1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice – bought this week
1 tsp chicken soup base or bouillon – bought this week
1 1/2 cups water – already had
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro – already had, replaced with dried
1/2 medium lime – already had
1/2 Tbsp olive oil – already had

1. Place 2 cups of uncooked rice, 3 cups of water and 3 tsp of chicken base into a medium pot. Stir to dissolve the chicken base. With a lid in place, bring the mixture up to a boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes or until all of the water has absorbed.
2. While the rice is cooking, prepare the cilantro lime mix. In a food processor or blender combine the juice and zest of one lime with one Tbsp of olive oil and the leaves from one bunch of cilantro (rinse the cilantro first). Blend/process until it is pureed or in very small pieces.
3. When the rice is finished cooking, remove the lid and pour on the cilantro lime mixture. Fluff and stir the rice gently to combine. If you stir too much or too vigorously the rice will become sticky and gooey so take your time.

Oven Roasted Chicken with Lime Cilantro Rice