Mini Taco Salad from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012

Robin, one of the bloggers I read, is in the midst of a series. The first word in the title of each segment is, ‘Why.’ Her writings explain the why of the day. Why she writes, why she runs, why she cries easily, etc. Robin’s explanations are given with a wonderful sense of humor, poignancy and introspection.  I think you should visit Pink Dryer Lint and see for yourself.

Ok, that was mean. Before you go visit, know that I’ve just set you up. Once you begin reading Robin’s ‘why’s,’ you won’t be able to stop and and you’ll begin to personalize the word. It’ll be like that song that you can’t get out of your head. I’ve been thinking about ‘why’ for four days now. I guarantee that you’ll do the same.

It’s so cool.

For instance, I go through food magazine recipes to make sure a recipe turns out the way it’s supposed to, right? That’s an easy one. What you can’t see is what’s going on in my head as I’m actually in process with a dish.

I read a recipe at least a half dozen times before I ever make it because I’ve overlooked a simple step too many times. I get that little leap of elation inside me. That ‘I caught you,’ just before re-reading the directions and realizing that I’m the one that missed the instruction instead of the magazine not putting it in.

I force myself not to take short cuts and instead I do exactly what the recipe’s instructions say to do. Last week I made the null. I, and several others, questioned why Fine Cooking has us remove the cake from the pan, cool it on a rack, then put it back in the pan. Seemed superfluous, no? Yes.

However, ignoring my natural inclination to totally write off the method, I wrote and asked why. And they answered. Yeah, it’s a necessary step. It would probably turn out fine without doing that; but I did do it and it was incredible. Fine vs. incredible? I’ll take incredible.

Last night was another great example. These Mini Taco Salads include a bowl that’s made from cut-outs of large tortillas. They say I can get three circles using a four-inch cutter. So, I tried. And I got two. Again, I had that leap of elation that comes with ‘I caught you.’ 

But (there’s always a but), I had to make absolutely sure before I came to you and told you that the magazine was wrong. So, I tried again. And again.

And, yes, they were right. You really can get three 4-inch circles out of a large flour tortilla if you take your time and are careful. The cutter has to be right at the very, very edge of the tortilla.

You know what I learned about ‘why’?

I learned that I also go through magazines because I really want to catch these guys making a mistake. It’s just so darn hard to do. (But I’ll keep trying.)

The Process

See above. The rest is cake.

The Verdict

In truth, there is an error with this recipe. It says that it makes 12 servings. It does not. It makes 12 mini taco salads. For us, that made 3 servings.

Three servings that are carefully measured out. Three servings of which each bite was relished and totally enjoyed. Three servings, that when done, left us wishing there were more.

The bowl-making is time consuming, but I’m telling you that you don’t want to skip it. Tortillas brushed with melted butter that’s been whisked with garlic and cumin? Holy cow. They turned out beautifully crispy and oh-so-very tasty when paired with the meat (yum) and toppings.

It’s so, so very good.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Absolutely nothing.

Mini Taco Salad from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Serves: 12
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  • ¼ cup prepared or commercial salsa
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup finely shredded green leaf lettuce
  • ½ cup seeded and chopped tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, garlic salt, and ¼ teaspoon cumin; set aside.
  3. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut 3 circles from each tortilla. Brush both sides of prepared tortillas with butter mixture. Place centers of tortillas in wells of a 12-cup muffin pan, carefully pressing remainder of tortilla up sides of muffin pan, to form cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. In a small bowl, combine salsa, sour cream, and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate.
  5. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground chuck for 6 minutes or until browned and crumbly. Drain meat completely. Return to heat; add water, chile powder, remaining 2 teaspoons cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and red pepper, stirring to combine well. Spoon meat into prepared tortilla cups. Top with lettuce, salsa mixture, tomato, avocado and cheese. Serve immediately.


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No-Bake Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Special Issue, 2012

Did you know that Mermaid Man died earlier this week? Dudette and I just watched several episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants featuring him and Barnacle Boy today. It must have been to honor his passing, which was very sweet of the station.

You might know Mermaid Man by some of his other names: Commander Quintin McHale (McHale’s Navy), Cabbie (Escape From New York), Dutch (The Wild Bunch) and yes, Ernest Borgnine.

My generation is an odd one. I was a toddler while McHale’s Navy had its success, but I did watch the black and white reruns of the show as a youngster. There were many shows like that; The Andy Griffith Show, Dick Van Dyke Show, My Favorite Martian, Mr. Ed. . .

. . .Come on, my generation, help me with others.

I’ve kept track of these guys over the years and my heart breaks a little every time one of them leaves us. Andy Griffith last week; Ernest this week.

I liked Andy, who couldn’t? But there was something about Ernest that was just so cool. The fact that this 95 year-old man was Mermaid Man proves that.  Did you know? Would you have ever guessed it?

In between episodes of Sponge Bob, I made these cookies. Because there was no baking, I was able to throw everything together during commercials and scooped out the balls while watching the television from the kitchen.

It was nice to enjoy and laugh with Ernest one last time.

Speaking of Mermaid Man, don’t forget about Barnacle Boy. He is, after all, 78, and another one of those that I’m keeping my eye on.

The Process

You’ll need your stove for about three minutes in order to heat the sugar, milk, honey and butter. That’s it. If you have three minutes, you can make these cookies.

The Verdict

My child has issues. Texture issues. Because of the oatmeal in these and the fact that they’re balls instead of flat, ‘normal’ cookies, she decided that she didn’t like them. So, I tested them on her friend Ashley; they were found very good. Ashley’s mom loved them and reluctantly passed along a good portion of her cookie to her preschooler who asked for more. I’d call that a success.

These are delicious. Hubby and I both think so. In this case, Dudette’s in the minority and her finickiness is our gain. I love how easy they are to make and how good they taste.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

For Hubby, chocolate chips instead of raisins, but that would require making things a bit differently since the hot peanut butter would melt the chips. I’d pour the peanut butter mixture in the oatmeal without the chips and stir to combine; wait a minute or two, then add the chips and fold them in carefully.

No-Bake Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Special Issue, 2012
Prep time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Cookie
Cuisine: American
Serves: 24
  • 3½ cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1½ cups raisins
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ⅔ cup peanut butter
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, combine oats and raisins; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, honey, and butter. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until peanut butter is melted.
  3. Add sugar mixture to oats mixture, stirring to mix well.
  4. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper. Let cool for 1 hour or until completely set.
  5. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen.


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