The time has come for me to confess my obsession with something other than Pinterest…I can’t get enough of Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman (or PW, as I, along with millions of others, like to call her). I follow her blog/website, on facebook, on twitter, I watch her show on Food Network whenever I can, I have one of her cookbooks (how I don’t own them all I’ll never understand…especially since hers and Cybele Pascal’s are the only ones I seem to use anymore), and even have her first children’s book Charlie the Ranch Dog. I am eagerly awaiting her upcoming holiday cookbook (be still my heart) and was ECSTATIC to hear she will be making a stop in St. Louis on her book signing tour on November 20th!! You better believe I will be there, wearing a jewel-toned shirt (ha!), books in hand, trying not to pass out from excitement.
While I love love love PW, I’ve had to do some finagling in many of her recipes to make them allergy-friendly for our household. You know what? Her recipes are SO worth the extra effort to make the substitutions, and even deal with a few flops and re-dos before getting it just right. If I want to make something I don’t already have a recipe for, I always, ALWAYS check if PW has a recipe for it first before looking anywhere else. Her stuff is just that good. I never have to worry about whether or not it’s gonna be any good. It just is. Every time. I don’t know how she does it.
This recipe took minimal altering to make it allergy-friendly for us (though if your family has different food allergies you may still need to make some alterations…dairy being the biggest one that comes to mind…and I’d be happy to brainstorm ways to make it work for you if you are interested!) I’ve made this chicken taco salad several times since I first saw it on her blog back in July and it’s become one of my go-to staples when we’re having people over because I can do almost all of the prep ahead of time and then just rewarm a few things at meal time and I’m ready to go! Check it out!
Chicken Taco Salad (slightly modified from Ree Drummond’s recipe)
For the chicken seasoning…(the one thing that drives me crazy about this recipe is Ree doesn’t give seasoning measurements for the chicken…so here’s the mixture I use!)
1 Tbls seasoned salt
1 Tbls cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
(Mix together and set aside.)
For the salad dressing…
1 cup fat free ranch dressing (I use fat free because it is egg free, which is crucial in our house!)
1 cup salsa (any brand and heat you like)
4-6 Tbls chopped cilantro (more is better for us!)
For the rest of the salad…
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
seasoning mix from above
2 Tbls evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
2 Tbls butter
1-2 heads leaf lettuce or romaine
4 roma tomatoes, diced (Ree has a beautiful tutorial for making this so easy in the recipe)
1-2 cups grated pepper jack cheese (or whatever kind you like)
4 ears corn, shucked (or a pack of roasted corn in a steamer bag…heehee)
2 avocados, diced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Season both sides of each chicken breast with seasoning mix.
Melt butter and evoo in grill pan (or skillet) over medium heat and brown chicken on both sides while allowing to cook all the way through. (If you have a hard time getting the chicken to cook through without scorching the outside you can always “finish” it in the oven at 350 degrees until cooked through.)
Chop it up and toss it around so that yummy seasoning gets all over every little bit of surface of each bite of chicken (yum!)
Toss your shucked ears of corn into the same pan you just cooked the chicken in and grill it up, allowing it to get a little charred and all covered in the seasonings left in the pan. Yum. Cut it off the cob once it’s cooled enough to handle. (Both the chicken and the corn can now be refrigerated and reheated before eating if you are prepping ahead!)
Meanwhile, chop up a whole bunch of cilantro. Toss a bunch in one bowl to mix into the dressing and set aside the rest for garnish.
Add the ranch and salsa to the cilantro and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Chop up your lettuce. Refrigerate in a bowl or a large ziplock bag with a paper towel to absorb moisture.
Dice your tomatoes (not pictured…Buddy was waking up from his nap early so momma was in a rush!) and crush up a bunch of tortilla chips. Save the avocados for the last minute so they don’t brown. You may choose to throw all the ingredients together in a large serving bowl/platter or create a taco salad bar for guests to assemble their own! I typically go with salad bar style so everyone can customize exactly how they like it. Here’s mine. 🙂
Note that I totally cheated this time and used tri-color tortilla strips. Sue me. It was easy…and delicious. This is such a yummy dinner and, if you set it up salad bar style, it’s easy to save the leftovers (if there are any) for a yummy lunch the next day! I should also note that black beans would be a delicious addition (but they are a no-no in our house) and Ree likes to add green onions but that’s not really my thing. You could toss in just about anything that sounds good to you…experiment and enjoy!