This year for Independence Day we decided to forgo the traditional food and go with something a little different. I had taken my son shopping the week before for some new clothes and shoes and we just happened to stop in a Ross Dress for Less store. As I was waiting for him to make his selections, I was perusing the rack at the end of the aisle and found a box of these Perfect Tortilla Pans. (I just used the Amazon link here, but there are several places you can order from that are even cheaper, or look at your local Ross store.) I had seen the commercial for them so many times and thought they were really cool, but had never purchased them. These were only $7.99, which I thought was a great deal, so I bought them. As it turns out, they are pretty much awesome!
I have used them several times already and they are so easy to use. You just drop in a flour tortilla and bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you want them. I had purchased some coconut oil spray at Trader Joe’s and I used that to spray on the tops of them before I baked them, but you don’t have to use anything if you don’t want to. You can use small, medium or large tortillas. I have been using the small size and they are so perfect for little individual salads. You could use these little beauties as bowls for salsa or dips, like this yummy Fiesta Corn Dip! I am even thinking that they would be great to serve up my recipe for Bonfire Chili! If you haven’t made that chili yet, you must add it to your to-do list!
During the summertime we eat a lot of salad. My husband works out in the heat a lot and salads are refreshing and really light on the belly after a hard days work. I am constantly on a quest to find as many different new ways to make salad as I can find. We love this Greek version and one of my all time favorites is this Chicken and Roast Pear. However, as I have mentioned several times in the past, I am all about Mexican foods. Besides steak and sushi, it is my favorite kind of food to eat.
For the 4th I decided to just have lots of different toppings set out in little bowls so that there would be something for everyone. I was able to do all of the prep work in the early part of the day so that I could just enjoy my friends later and not have to spend the whole time in the kitchen cooking. Now, unfortunately, I was so worried about eating, that I never took any pictures of these beautiful salads. I still felt like it was important to do a post about it, because these are so amazing that I wanted to encourage you to make them! There is something about the freshness of the ingredients and the crispiness of these bowls that make these one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life!
**This recipe is gluten free as long as you use a gluten free tortilla. I have not tried a corn tortilla in these pans, but it may work just as great. Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning ranch packets are gluten free.
First I wanted to share with you the easy recipe for homemade taco seasoning. It is easy to just buy the pre-made packaged kind, but if your like me and tend to use a lot of it, it is convenient and much cheaper to just make your own. Then you will have it on hand whenever you need a little, or a lot of it!
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Store in a Ziplock bag or sealed container until ready to use. This amount equals about 2 tablespoons, which is the amount in a standard size packet of taco seasoning. If you’re going to make this taco salad and dressing recipe, you will want to double this recipe when you make it.
This is the recipe for the taco salad dressing I always make. This is just a basic recipe, please feel free to adjust the seasonings to your preference. You can eliminate the mayo if you want to as well, and just use a little more sour cream. We love this dressing and can’t have a taco salad without it. If you are feeding a lot of people, just double the recipe.
Taco Salad Dressing
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 3/4 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning
Mix ingredients with a whisk until blended thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator and keep cold until ready to use.
For our party I used chicken and shrimp, but you could do ground beef as well.
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
When I cook chicken breasts, I always slice them through the middle so that I end up with two breasts out of the one piece. It allows them to cook so much more evenly and I just don’t like to eat a piece of chicken that thick. But that’s just me! 🙂 Season chicken with salt, pepper and taco seasoning. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the chicken and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and shred with two forks or cut into small pieces.
1 pound of uncooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned
Season shrimp with taco seasoning. Melt about 2-3 tablespoons of butter, in a skillet, over medium heat. Add the shrimp and toss them around in the butter, so that each piece is coated, and cook just until the shrimp turn pink and remove from heat immediately.
1 – 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
In a skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground beef until it is fully browned and cooked through. Then add about 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and about a 1/4 cup of water, stir to combine, and let simmer for about 2 minutes.
The following items are all optional, you can pick and choose what you want or even add in some other things you love. I saute the sweet onions and sweet peppers together in a butter/olive oil mixture over medium heat until they have softened and begin to caramelize, usually about 10 minutes or so. I will also chop up the mushrooms and saute them in a little bit of butter over medium heat until they brown nicely and get a little crispy. You will have to adjust the amount of toppings you need depending on how many you will be serving.
- green onions, sliced thin
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- plum tomatoes, diced
- black olives, sliced
- avocado, diced
- black beans
- pickled peppers or pickled habanero peppers
- red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers, diced and sauteed
- sweet onions, diced and sauteed
- mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
- lettuce (I used an organic spring mix, but you can use whatever you prefer)
If you are not using the tortilla bowls, you can make these just on a bed of lettuce or crunch up some tortilla chips as your base. Add what you want to the lettuce and top with the taco salad dressing. I love the idea of using the small tortilla bowls to hold mini taco salads and serving as an appetizer for a party.