Thursday, April 30, 2015

Taco Salad & A Trip Down Memory Lane

When my husband and I went on our very first date, he took me to this old prison-turned-restaurant in downtown McKinney.  He won MAJOR bonus points for originality and creativity. It was called "Prison Bar and Grill".  I should've been a little frightened, but I thought it was the coolest thing!!!! You could even sit inside of old cells and eat.  It was the most memorable first date ever and it clearly won me over because I accepted his proposal one year later to the date.  The restaurant has since closed, but downtown McKinney turned into our little spot after that very first date.
We moved to McKinney...brought our two sweet boys home in that little town...and celebrated every anniversary right down the street from that old prison bar and grill right there on the square at Rick's Chophouse.  Before we moved to Houston, we spent lots of date nights and family days on the square.  

There was a little Mexican restaurant there (I heard it closed) that was just amazing.  I can't remember the name to save my life, but it was right across the street from my favorite antique store.  We liked to antique shop for just a bit...or as long as the kids wouldn't scream...and then head across the street to eat.  We ate there quite often.  They had the most AMAZING taco salad.   In fact, I think that's the first place I ever had a taco salad.  When I eat Mexican, you can always guess exactly what I'm going to get...either beef fajita Tacos al Carbon or some type of street taco.  I don't venture out much because I'm predictable and boring.  However, I always got the taco salad at this little Mexican restaurant.  I'm typically more of a "beef girl", but their shredded chicken was out of this world.  SO amazing.  I'm taking the boys up to Dallas this weekend and can't wait to stop by the square for some good food and a little trip down memory lane. I just wish that restaurant were still there!!!

When I found this recipe, I was hoping it would be just as good as the taco salad on the square.  While it wasn't exactly the same, I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was and knew this would be my new go-to taco salad.  We have this at least once a week far...I haven't tired of it yet.  Always a good sign, right?!?!  HA!

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. Nature's Seasoning
1 TBSP. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle chili peppers
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 Cups of water
3-4 green onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 head of iceberg lettuce
Buttermilk Ranch dressing

First things first.  When I make my chicken, I like to put it in the crock pot and let it simmer all day long while I'm busy working and/or running errands.  One less step I have to go through when it's actually time to start cooking!  I typically season my chicken breasts (thawed, not frozen) with a little salt, pepper, & garlic powder then place them in the crock pot and cover them with chicken broth.  Then I cook on low for about 8 hours.  When the chicken is cooked through, I drain the broth, return the chicken to the pot, and shred with my hand mixer.  Done and done!  

When you're ready to prep the salad, here's what you'll need to do.

Transfer the shredded chicken to a large skillet.  Add the black beans and toss in all the spices & seasonings...Nature's Seasoning, garlic salt, chili powder, cumin, and ground chipotle chili peppers.  Mix well to combine and then cover with 2 cups of water.  Turn heat to medium and let simmer until all of the water has evaporated (about 8-10 minutes give or take).  Stir continuously to prevent anything sticking to your skillet.

While the chicken mixture is simmering, chop your veggies (red & green bell peppers, green onion).  Then go ahead and chop the lettuce and place in a large bowl.  Toss in the veggies.  

Once the water has evaporated, transfer the chicken mixture to the bowl full of lettuce and veggies.  Mix well to combine.  

I personally prefer this salad with homemade buttermilk ranch.  I can't handle the ranch in a bottle!!  Top with your choice of fixin's...shredded cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, tortilla strips, etc.  I typically just top mine with a little sprinkle of shredded cheese and call it a day.

I can't tell you how much I LOVE this salad!!!  You'll just have to try it for yourself to see what I mean.

Of course, you can always sub the chicken with ground beef or ground turkey and it's pretty much just as delicious.  The secret is to ditch the pre-made taco seasoning.  This little combo of spices is SO much better!!!!  


  1. I love this post since it's about McKinney! Best little town ever! :) It's my favorite place to roam about! And that taco salad doesn't look too bad either.

  2. LOVE me some downtown McKinney!!! And...You are coming to Dallas this weekend??? I'm like 30 minutes from McKinney.... just sayin ;)

  3. You shred it with a mixer?? Never tried that!!
    What's your ranch recipe. I'm not a bottle fan either. It always tastes better homemade!!

  4. Loving your pictures and the authentic and unique way you have put your story across - you're an inspiration and I am following your journey - awesome work!

  5. I think that you posted about shredding your chicken with a mixer several years ago- I'm almost positive you are the genius I got the idea from! Love it! The salad looks delicious!