Easy Taco Salad Recipe

I sort of shared this “recipe” back in 2010 when I first posted my Homemade French Dressing recipe. Since then I’ve had several people tell me that they’d prefer me to write out an actual recipe. It’s only taken me 6 years to do it. Therefore, if you have any requests, ask now. First come, first served – I shall answer your requests by 2022.

I hope I’m kidding.

taco salad1

A key player in this salad is the French Dressing. I used to toss this with bottled Catalina Dressing, but the homemade variety is easy and better for us. If I don’t happen to have time to make the French Dressing, we just dump in a little salsa. It changes the taste of this salad, but it’s still a great meal!

I shall now attempt to write down measurable quantities of salad fixin’s to provide an actual Taco Salad recipe. If in fact you don’t follow this recipe precisely, you will still turn out a fabulous Taco Salad. For that matter, since everyone in my family has specific preferences (some like tomatoes, some don’t; some like beans, some don’t) I often lay out all the salad makings and let everyone build their own bowl however they like!

Easy Taco SaladYum

Easy Taco Salad Recipe
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning mix
  • 1 head lettuce, any variety (we prefer red leaf, green leaf or romaine)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 15 ounces (or 2 cups) of pinto, chili, or black beans
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 cup French Dressing (give or take)
Instructions
  1. Brown hamburger meat and season with taco seasoning mix (recipe link below)
  2. Chop or tear lettuce into a large serving bowl.
  3. Add cooked meat (cooled), shredded cheese, beans, tomatoes, and chips.
  4. Toss with French Dressing.
  5. Serve.

Other fun Taco Salad toss-in options are:

  • Black olives
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Onions
  • Peppers

I recommend making this Taco Seasoning Mix to have on hand for recipes like this. Easy and delicious!

Easy Taco Salad

We will likely enjoy this Taco Salad every week until the end of summer. How about you? Are you a Taco Salad fan?



How to Make Peach Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea

If I like the Iced Mango Tea (which I do), I think like this Peach Tea even more. Talk about refreshment on a hot day!

Peach Tea

The trick I learned since starting to play with fruity tea recipes is that it works best if we add just a tiny bit of honey or sugar to the fruit and water while we bring it to a boil. This brings out the natural sweetness and great flavor of the fruit. I wondered if this might make the tea too sweet for my liking (I’m an unsweet tea girl). But I find it to be just right. On the other hand, my husband (who likes sweet tea), doesn’t mind drinking this tea as-is, without any added sugar beyond the tiny bit of honey I add to the fruit during the boiling process.

Experiment with this and see if you can also cut down on the sugar by letting the fruit do the job naturally!

Peach Sweet (or Unsweet) TeaYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
How to Make Peach Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea
 
Author:
Serves: ½ gallon
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts of water, divided
  • 4-5 ripe peaches, sliced
  • 4-8 tea bags of your favorite black or green tea, depending on how strong you like your tea
  • Liquid stevia, honey, or sugar to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized pot, heat 1 quart of water and the peaches to boiling. Add a teaspoon of sugar or honey if you like. This will help make a "peach syrup."
  2. Simmer for about five minutes.
  3. Mush the peaches in the water and add the tea bags.
  4. Allow tea to steep for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Strain tea into a ½ gallon jar or pitcher.
  6. Add a quart of water.
  7. Stir in stevia or sugar if you want your tea sweetened.
  8. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  9. Serve over ice.

How to Make Peach Tea

Be sure to also try the Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea along with this Peach Tea. See which you like best. Up next, Raspberry Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea!



Low Sugar Coffee Milkshake Recipe

If you’re wondering what I’m up to every single afternoon of every day during the entire summer – and obviously, you surely do wonder – you can be certain that I am making myself a smooth and creamy coffee shake and sipping it slowly. This, at about 1:30 each afternoon, CST. Set your clock by it. At 1:30 each day, you can think to yourself, Laura is most certainly enjoying her coffee milkshake right about now. We are so happy for her.

Thank you for your support.

Coffee Milkshake

I would love for you to also have the option of beginning your afternoon in this way, so please, allow me to share this recipe so you can indulge and love your treat right down to the last drop. The good news is that this is very low in sugar (though you can add more if you like!) and includes all real food ingredients. I suppose the other good news is that the coffee will perk us all up for the afternoon so that we can rock on with whatever it is we need to do. Hi-yah! Glory, hallelujah.

Perhaps the one draw back to making this milkshake is that you must think and plan ahead. Hot coffee ruins the moment. All key ingredients must be cold or even frozen. And then there’s the homemade ice cream issue. The ice cream amazing and easy, but too hard to scoop if not set out a few minutes ahead of your milkshake making endeavors. So here’s the breakdown so that you can achieve Low Sugar Coffee Milkshake perfection:

  1. Cold brew some coffee, or make regular hot brew and chill it thoroughly.
  2. Make yourself some coffee iced cubes. This isn’t a must, but almost.
  3. Be sure to have Homemade Low Sugar Ice Cream in the freezer (it’s easier than you think).
  4. Set your ice cream out on the counter about ten minutes before making your shake so that it will be soft enough to scoop.

Don’t get the impression that this is a high maintenance recipe. It really is not. I typically have coffee in my fridge and coffee cubes in my freezer. It takes 2 minutes to whip up a batch of this Homemade Low Sugar Ice Cream. Then it’s just a matter of pulling it all together. At 1:30 every single afternoon.

Low Sugar Coffee MilkshakeYum

Low Sugar Coffee Milkshake Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1-2 scoops Homemade Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 4-6 coffee ice cubes
  • 1-2 cups cold coffee
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a blender.
  2. Serve right away.

low sugar coffee milkshake

Take note that this is not a super-sweet treat as is, so you’ll want to adjust the sweetness level by adding maple syrup according to your taste. I personally love it with a strong coffee flavor and only a tiny bit of sweetness and creaminess. But the beauty of this recipe and the Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream recipe is that you can make it sweet or less sweet without messing anything up!

Get your ingredients ready! 1:30 will be here before you know it.



Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream ~ 3 Ingredients ~ No Machine

I just ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream. This hasn’t happened in over three years because my body gets mad at me now when I eat much sugar. But let me say it again: I just ate a bowl of ice cream. Happy, happy, happy, happy!!

Low Sugar Ice Cream

I’ve been wanting to figure out how to make low sugar ice cream (for three years), but I had two hang-ups:

  1. I was feeling pretty lazy about pulling out my ice cream freezer.
  2. I wasn’t confident that cutting the sugar in ice cream would taste good and I didn’t want to waste ingredients.

So I started doing some looking online. There are plenty of recipes for “no churn” ice cream so I could avoid the trouble of getting out my ice cream machine, but they all call for sweetened condensed milk. Nope. That wouldn’t make it low sugar.

Other recipes took way too many steps, at which point I figured I might as well suck it up and get out my ice cream freezer.

Finally, I decided to try the “no-churn” method I’d read about – but with healthier ingredients I feel good about instead of condensed milk – and just see what would happen. I decided if it didn’t turn out – at the very least I could re-purpose the cream mixture into a smoothie.

When you see this recipe you will wonder (like I am wondering) why it took me so much research and time to figure this out.

Three ingredients. Three. They are so obvious. (Cream, maple syrup, vanilla. See? Why did I make this so hard?)

The trick is to whip the ingredients together just long enough that they thicken, but don’t turn into whipped cream. This isn’t hard as long as you’re watching carefully. I put the ingredients into my Blendtec, whipped for 15-20 seconds, poured the mixture into a dish, froze it, and boom. I had Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream.

Low Sugar Vanilla Ice CreamYum

5.0 from 3 reviews
Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream ~ 3 Ingredients ~ No Machine
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons real maple syrup (more or less to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Blend ingredients together with a hand mixer or in a high power blender until they have thickened - but have not yet turned into stiff whipped cream. (The mixture should still be runny.)
  2. Pour mixture into a small casserole dish.
  3. Cover and freeze for about three hours.
  4. Scoop and serve right away.

Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream

A key player in this recipe is Homemade Vanilla Extract. I decided “why just add one teaspoon when I could add two?” This, of course, makes the ice cream much, much better tasting. (Ironic, isn’t it, since I was just saying that you can use half the amount called for in recipes since this vanilla is so potent? Use less vanilla in this if you like, but I am loving the strong vanilla punch of two teaspoons in this vanilla ice cream!)

I learned that if you freeze this for less than 3 hours, the ice cream will be too liquidy. But if you freeze it for more than 3 hours it becomes a bit hard. The solution for “too hard” ice cream? Simply pull it out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before serving. It’ll soften just enough for you to scoop it out.

low sugar icecream5low sugar icecream4

Want your ice cream to be not-so-low in sugar?

My kids agree. Simply add a little more maple syrup until you have reached your desired sweetness level. You might also try adding a few drops of liquid stevia.

Because we have the whole summer ahead of us, I will now spend time creating variations of this Low Sugar Homemade Ice Cream. I’m thinking peach, strawberry, chocolate, mint, chocolate mint, and whatever other ideas you have for me.

Go make yourself some ice cream!!



Strawberry Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

It seems we’re starting off this week with a bit of a strawberry theme. This Strawberry Spinach Salad is a little bit different than the Strawberry Blueberry Parfaits – so feel free to eat them during the same meal.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

I’m typically a pretty boring salad maker – as if adding fruit and nuts to salad is difficult (which, of course, it is not). I blame it on the fact that I am a meat-and-potato-farm-girl at heart. I grew up eating the basics. The only way we ate pecans was in pies. Strawberries were made into jelly. And spinach? The only kind I’d heard of was the slimy canned variety – and I didn’t touch it.

Now that I’ve branched out into loving all kinds of different foods (like actual strawberries – you should try them), I figure it might be time for me to try a few different salads beyond the basic kind with mixed greens and ranch dressing. Last week, I was out of mixed greens, but had a big container of spinach and several containers of strawberries. I did a little searching and came across this, which I tweaked and made for our lunch.

It was surprisingly very tasty. (Why was I surprised? I don’t know. Because it wasn’t basic mixed greens with ranch?) The combination of roasted pecans with the strawberries with the easy-to-make dressing packs a great punch of flavor.

Look at me. I’m such a big girl now – eating salads with fruit and nuts and vinaigrette.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette DressingYum

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6 cups fresh spinach (give or take)
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced into fourths
  • ¾ cup pecans
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 2 shakes of sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, roast pecans by warming them over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir them frequently to keep them from scorching. (I didn't find it necessary to add any oil to the pan.)
  2. Toss the roasted pecans into a large bowl with spinach and strawberries
  3. In a jar, mix the oil, vinegar, mustard, and salt.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad just before serving.

Isn’t it pretty?

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

Are you brave with your salads or do you typically stick with the basics?



Americana Cheesecake Parfaits (It’s too easy)

What happens when you cross a blueberry with a strawberry with cheesecake filling? Red, white, and blue. This is what you have. Regular cheesecake parfait becomes Americana Cheesecake Parfait. Just like that, you’ve created a perfect treat for your holiday.

Strawberry Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits

I realize it might be too late for you to do this for Memorial Day – unless you happen to have these fine ingredients already in your fridge. I once (last week) bought 18 packages of cream cheese at one time because it was on sale for $1.00 and I couldn’t help myself (obviously). Plus, I frequently bring home 12-16 pounds of berries at once when they are in season and on sale. (No one ever looks at me funny while I’m going through check-out.) Perhaps you also have a fridge full of cream cheese and berries?

If not, you can tuck this recipe away to make when you find these ingredients on sale. After all, it never hurts to make these with no holiday attached. And of course, you’ll want to remember these for the Fourth of July.

The Original Cheesecake ParfaitsYum

About this time last year, I concocted our first Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits. We have since declared this to be the best way to eat fruit. Recently we tried Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits, which are just as amazing.

chocolate cheesecake parfait

Matt and I much prefer this made with stevia. Our boys make a batch for themselves with a little sugar instead. We’ve been eating this and serving this to friends who come over pretty much constantly since berries came back in season a few weeks ago. This is a definite family favorite!

Americana Cheesecake Parfaits

4.0 from 1 reviews
Americana Cheesecake Parfaits (It's too easy)
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
  • Liquid stevia to taste (I use about 20 drops) (Use a few Tablespoons of sugar if you prefer.)
  • 1 -2 pounds fresh, sliced strawberries
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients (minus the berries) into a blender.
  2. Whip until smooth and creamy.
  3. Spoon mixture into bowls or cups - layering them with blueberries and sliced strawberries.

Americana Cheesecake Parfaits

However are you remembering and celebrating this weekend?



Veggie-n-Egg Scramble ~ A Great Last Minute Meal Idea

I think this Veggie-n-Egg Scramble might become one of my favorite and most relied upon go-to meals.

Veggie and Egg Scramble

I used to make something like this years ago, but kind of forgot about it. Weird how that happens.

A few weeks ago, I needed a quick meal before we headed out to a soccer game. I didn’t have time to cook meat, but I did have a fridge full of veggies and a few dozen eggs. I called the boys into the kitchen and started throwing vegetables and knives at them. Hold on. That didn’t come out right. I didn’t throw knives at them. (Peppers maybe, but not knives.) I’m just saying I started handing out jobs and we all worked together to make this quick and nourishing meal.

Everyone started chopping until my big electric skillet looked like this:

Veggies for veggie scramble
All the veggies are good in this Veggie-n-Egg Scramble, but I will suggest that onions are a key player. Onions give this dish such amazing flavor! Sweet peppers are a close second. Broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, and spinach come next. The beauty is that you can use whatever veggies you like and whatever you have on hand.

Saute the veggies in olive oil or butter until tender. Scramble in some eggs with salt. Toss in a little cheese for extra amazingness. So much deliciousness. Very little work. Extra wonderful nourishment.

Veggie-n-Egg Scramble ~ A Great Last Minute Meal Idea
 
Author:
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 4 cups chopped veggies (onions, sweet peppers, zucchini, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, or any others you like in any combination)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • sea salt to taste
  • shredded cheese to taste
Instructions
  1. Saute vegetables in oil or butter until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, crack eggs into a bowl and whip with milk.
  3. Pour egg mixture over cooked veggies and salt as you like.
  4. Scramble the eggs with the veggies until they are cooked through.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top to melt.
  6. Serve

I at least double this for my family of 6 big eaters. Plus we serve it with fresh fruit. Buttered toast also helps fill them up. Seriously. We really do eat and keep eating at our house.

TIP: If you happen to have leftover ham or bacon – even chicken or beef – hanging out in your fridge, those would be a wonderful addition to this dish.

This meal has become one of the easiest ways to get my family to eat a big variety of veggies in one meal. It ranks right up there with Easy Noodle Stir-Fry.

Easy Veggie and Egg Scramble

Do you ever make a meal like this at your house? What veggies would you or do you include? 

It’s meals like this that make “teaching our kids about nutrition” quite natural.

P.S. It is worth noting that this dish makes it possible to feed my family very well for about $1.00 per plate. (We won’t talk about how many plates we go through during a meal…)



Low Sugar Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

If we can make Low Sugar Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, then surely we can add a little cocoa powder and make Low Sugar Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, dontcha think??

It’s too easy.

I had the grand idea of baking these in muffin cups so that they’d take on the look of a peanut butter cup. Too bad that didn’t really work.

low sugar chocolate pb cookies1

They look kinda cute in the muffin liners, but they didn’t really flatten enough to take on the shape of a peanut butter cup. We ate them anyway. It wasn’t a problem.

Low Sugar Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Get my Homemade Natural Peanut Butter Recipe here. You’ll be amazed at how delicious homemade peanut butter tastes (and how easy it is to make)!

Low Sugar Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter CookiesYum

Low Sugar Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 15-20
Ingredients
  • 2 cups natural peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup sucanat, honey, or brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Mix the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Use a small or medium scoop to place dough balls on a cookie sheet, about two inches apart.
  3. Bake in a 350° oven for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.
  4. Allow them to sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing them to cool on a rack.

The flavor of these cookies is super delicious. These will give you a great chocolate peanut butter fix, without all the sugar or even flour!

I know I just shared this low sugar cookie list last week, but when it comes to cookies and cutting sugar, I want to be sure you know I have your back.

More Low Sugar Cookie Recipes

I get many of my best ideas from YOU. What other cookie recipes should I play with to see if I can create a low sugar version?

 



Low Sugar Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

Low Sugar Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and my Mother’s Day flowers!

Low Sugar Peanut Butter Cookies

About the time I think I’ve cut the sugar in every recipe that would possibly work, I find another that works just as well.

Do you remember my Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies? One cup peanut butter, one cup sugar, one egg. They’re delicious. They’re naturally gluten free so I can make them for my GF friends. They’re incredibly easy. And they have a very high sugar content.

I thought surely cutting the sugar in that recipe would mess up the consistency and turn out weird cookies – if they even turned out cookies at all. I am so happy to say, “I was wrong.”

The only thing that didn’t work when I cut the sugar in this recipe is that the dough didn’t allow me to do the cute little criss-cross fork squish thing. The dough was too sticky. Thankfully, life goes on and we’re all grown up enough to eat our peanut butter cookies without fork-squishing them, right? Thank goodness.

Low Sugar Flourless Peanut Butter CookiesYum

Low Sugar Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe
 
Author:
Serves: 20ish
Ingredients
  • 2 cups natural peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Mix the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Use a small or medium scoop to place dough balls on a cookie sheet, about two inches apart.
  3. Bake in a 350° oven for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.
  4. Allow them to sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing them to cool on a rack.

Get my Homemade Natural Peanut Butter Recipe here.

Low Sugar Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

Matt and I are totally good with barely sweet treats. But the boys? Well, they’re a little more particular. Therefore, my kids are always the true testers for whether or not one of my Low Sugar Treats actually tastes good to other people.

I always hesitate to say these are low sugar, come try them because sometimes that makes the boys unsure from the get-go. But there I was, standing in the kitchen eating a peanut butter cookie. This made the boys suspicious. If Mom is eating it, it must be low sugar.

All that to say: These cookies smelled really good, which made my boys want some. Then they saw me eating them, which made them not so sure. I insisted they try a bite because I thought they were so good I could hardly stand it, and I knew they would like them once they tried.

What did they think?

Well, let’s just say that I had to stop them from finishing the entire batch in one sitting, and we all started shaking our heads once again at Betty Crocker for making us all think we needed eighty cups of sugar in cookie recipes just to make them taste good. C’mon, Betty.

You’ll want to look through all of our tried and true Low Sugar Recipes here. It is amazing how much sugar you can cut out of treats and still make them taste delicious! These Peanut Butter Cookies went from 2 cups down to 1/3 cup of sugar – and they are amazing.

Need more Low Sugar Cookie Recipes?



The Best and Easiest Homemade Guacamole

I posted this recipe several years ago, but last month when I was cleaning out some old, irrelevant posts – I think I somehow deleted this one for Homemade Guacamole! Yikes. One should never delete their guacamole.

Homemade Guacamole

What I love about guacamole is that it is a super easy way for our family to add nourishment to the table. Everyone in our family loves this guac. They just think they’re eating chips with dip, and I’m like, “Yay, they’re eating another veggie!” Actually, avocados are a fruit aren’t they? Well, whatever. They are super nutritious.

Before I (re)share this recipe, I need to have a slightly weird conversation with you. Avocados are green and guacamole is usually green, but what happens when you mix green (avocados) and red (salsa) together? Wellllll….

Let’s just say my guac ends up looking a little bit like…um, well, it’s brownish. Red and green make brown, and that’s what color your guac will be when you follow this recipe. There is no other way. So the end result of blending these fine ingredients together makes an ugly mixture in a bowl.

We are used to it and don’t even care. But when we serve it to company we have to have a “sorry this guacamole looks like baby poop, please try it anyway” conversation. Then we all enjoy snacking together. Hospitality is always fun at the Coppinger house.

Well now that we got that out of the way…

Easy Homemade GuacamoleYum

The Best and Easiest Homemade Guacamole
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 16-ounce jar of your favorite salsa
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of lime juice
Instructions
  1. Cut open the avocados, pull out the pit, and scoop the "meat" into a blender.
  2. Dump salsa and lime juice into the blender.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. So what if it's brown?

Do you see how easy this is? Dump in the ingredients, blend it up, scoop it out, eat it because you just can’t stop. After one bite, you will no longer care what color it is because the flavors are just so wonderful together.

Easy Homemade Guacamole

Don’t sweat the exact measurements on this “recipe.” Add or subtract ingredients to taste. Use hot salsa, medium, or mild – your choice. It pretty much tastes great no matter how you blend it. It just looks ugly. Bless its heart.