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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Sensible swaps like ground turkey, corn, and a light dressing update the calorie-heavy taco salad from the 1960s.


corn kernels, white rice, taco meat, chopped tomatoes and sliced radish on romaine lettuce leaves
Lightened-Up Taco Salad

Has March been a crazy month for you, too? It seems we haven’t shared a cup of coffee or tea and a recipe for a while! When you’re juggling a lot of balls, you need a recipe that’s quick and something everybody in the family will enjoy eating. You need this recipe for my Lightened-Up Taco Salad.  

 

This is a nice change of pace for your taco night at home. Inspired by those calorie-heavy taco salads that feature spicy ground beef, refried beans, mounds of cheese, sour cream, and a hint of a few green things layered up in a fried taco shell, this salad has way less calories but is equally delicious. Those salads in a fried shell can cost you 1,300 calories! But instead of a fried shell, my version uses corn to satisfies that comforting bite. Seasoned round turkey replaces the beef, and brown or white rice tells fattening fried beans buh-bye. We’re both busy, so let’s get cooking so you can have dinner ready tonight!


To make Lightened-Up Taco Salad, which yields 4 servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • 1 pound ground skinless turkey

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 cup cooked white or brown rice

  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • 12 romaine leaves

  • 4 radishes

  • Fresh cilantro or parsley and lime wedges to garnish

 

Directions for Lightened-Up Taco Salad

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add taco seasoning to bloom the spices (about half a minute). Add onion and turkey. Cook, breaking turkey apart with a wooden spoon, for 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute.

 

Add crushed tomatoes and salt; cook about 8 minutes until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.


To build the salad, place 3 clean and dry Romaine lettuce leaves on a plate. Mount a ¼ cup of the cooked rice on the end near the stems. Layer corn next to rice. Next, place turkey taco mixture on lettuce next to rice.

 

Top salad with chopped parsley, a sliced radish, and fresh tomatoes. Serve with lime wedge.

 

 

Notes for your kitchen

Instead of dollops of sour cream all over your salad, drizzle 2 tablespoons of low-fat ranch dressing that you’ve thinned with a tablespoon of lime juice. It suggests that creamy dairy finish without all the calories.

 

You also can make low-fat ranch dressing using Greek yogurt and lime juice. Here’s how:

Mix 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, pinch of salt, and 1½ teaspoons lime (or lemon) juice into ½ cup Greek yogurt. Stir to combine and add ½ teaspoon dried dill or parsley. If you have extra fresh parsley or cilantro from the salad, chop that fine and add to your dressing!

 

Did you know?

Taco salads became popular in Texas in the 1960s, and those likely were inspired by the Tacup, a food invention by Elmer Doolin, the Fritos founder, in the 1950s. Doolin even sold his Tacup dish at Disneyland in 1955, according to the Orange County Weekly.


I remember taco salad Tuesdays at the cafeteria where I worked. My friends and I got so excited on those days because chefs Al and Jerome made the classic salad with refried beans, the fried shell, beef, and all the trimmings. But I also remember feeling like a needed a nap after eating one of those! No wonder: I’d just consumed most of my day’s caloric intake at one meal!

 

By comparison, my Lightened-Up Taco Salad is 296 calories, so you won’t feel weighed down but still get all the flavor. If you want to spice the turkey up even more, add a couple teaspoons of adobo to the mixture.

 

Comfort food doesn’t have to be high-calorie and heavy on the stomach. It’s often food that ignites good memories, and this month, we’re exploring ways to do that without burning through your daily calories. Stay tuned because more healthy, comforting recipes are coming.

 

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.


author sipping mug of coffee with bio description

 

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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Seasonal oranges simmer in a pomegranate and molasses syrup to dress up a yellow cake and create a show-stopper dessert for your winter table.


glazed orange slices top a yellow round cake/canva
Orange Upside Down Cake

We’re closing our salute to winter citrus with a beautiful dessert, Orange Upside Down Cake. It’s a delicious and uncomplicated dessert that’s pretty enough for company. When I made it, I gave the second cake to a friend for her family dinner, and it received rave reviews!

 

Oranges are gorgeous this time of year, and I encourage you to look beyond the typical navel orange for this cake. Cara cara oranges have a beautiful pink color inside and are a little less acidic. Blood orange flesh is a stunning ruby color, almost like a pomegranate seed. If you can’t find these in your grocery store, navel oranges certainly would work in this recipe.

 

An upside down cake is one of my favorite desserts to make because it packs a “wow” with very little effort on my part. I also love its timeless appeal. Many of you probably remember Pineapple Upside Down Cake from your childhood; it’s been around since the 1920s. While those yellow rings with the cherry center are pleasing, swapping citrus for pineapple in my Orange Upside Down Cake is a nice switch, and I think makes for a more sophisticated presentation. So, let’s get to baking!

 

To make Orange Upside Down Cake, which yields four servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 2 navel oranges (cara cara or blood oranges)

  • ¼ pomegranate juice

  • ¼ molasses or dark corn syrup

  • 1/3 cup orange juice

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 yellow cake mix

  • 1 cup milk

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • 4 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons orange zest

  • 1 teaspoon orange extract

 

Directions for Orange Upside Down Cake

Zest one of the navel oranges (about 2 tablespoons). Thinly slice both oranges, leaving skin on fruit.

 

In a medium saucepan, add pomegranate juice, molasses, orange juice, and butter. When it starts to bubble, add orange slices and turn heat down to low. Simmer fruit for 3 minutes, stir to turn over slices in pan and simmer another 3 minutes.

 

Prepare a 10-inch round cake pan by lightly buttering bottom and sides. Line bottom with parchment and lightly coat with cooking spray.

 

When oranges have softened, arrange slices in the pan. Continuing to cook liquid for about 5 minutes more until a light syrup consistency is achieved. Pour syrup over fruit. Transfer pan to freezer so syrup will set up, about 15 minutes. Do not allow it to freeze.

 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, add cake mix, milk, oil, eggs, orange zest and orange extract. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes and pour into pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

 

Cool cake on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the pan’s edge and invert onto a serving plate. Remove parchment and allow to cool an additional half hour before serving.

 

Notes for your kitchen

Boxed mixes will yield 2 cake rounds. You can go two routes with the extra batter:

1.     Bake a dozen cupcakes with leftover batter and freeze for later.

2.     Make a second Orange Upside Down Cake, which is what I did. If you choose to do this, simply slice an extra orange. Bump up the bump up the pomegranate juice and syrup by 1 tablespoon and orange juice by 2 tablespoons.

 

Here’s another tip. If you don’t have molasses or dark corn syrup in the pantry, use brown sugar (preferably dark brown sugar); same ¼ cup.


 

Notes for your kitchen

Boxed mixes will yield 2 cake rounds. You can go two routes with the extra batter:

1.     Bake a dozen cupcakes with leftover batter and freeze for later.

2.     Make a second Orange Upside Down Cake, which is what I did. If you choose to do this, simply slice an extra orange. Bump up the bump up the pomegranate juice and syrup by 1 tablespoon and orange juice by 2 tablespoons.

 

Here’s another tip. If you don’t have molasses or dark corn syrup in the pantry, use brown sugar (preferably dark brown sugar); same ¼ cup.


About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.


author sips a mug of coffee in a composite image that lists her bio and social handles @threewomeninthekitchen

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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Follow these simple freezer tips to save money.


photo of whole orange, lemon and lime and sliced grapefruit and orange

Those bags of beautiful navel oranges look wonderful in the grocery store, but be honest; you don't always eat every one. Especially for smaller households, large amounts of any produce can lead to food waste. One solution might be to buy less per trip to the grocer. But learning how to get the most out of your freezer is another helpful hack. That's what we're talking about today.


Tips for storing citrus

A bowl of lemons looks so pretty on your kitchen counter and the fragrance can be enticing. But remember that citrus fruits kept at room temperature will be good for about a week. After that, it's best to move them into the refrigerator where they will last for three to four weeks. I like to use washable and reusable mesh bags inside my refrigerator for most fruits and vegetables. The key is to lock out moisture and allow for cold air to circulate.


Tips to freeze citrus

Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits can be frozen whole or sliced, according to the folks at Stop Food Waste. Be sure fruit is washed and dry before freezing. Whole citrus can be simply placed in a freezer bag. It's so easy to zest a frozen orange! Thaw whole citrus fruits in cold water for 15 minutes or zap in the microwave for just a few seconds. These fruits are perfect now for juicing.


Wedges or slices of citrus should be frozen flat first on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once frozen, place the wedges or slices in a freezer bag and use in your recipes or add to drinks.


By adopting these simple tips in your kitchen, you'll never toss a shriveled orange again!




photo of author drinking coffee from mug with bio to the right of photo

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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