Category Archives: Food Drink

The Spicy Taco 7 Layer Salad Recipe For Those Who Love a Salad With a

For those of you wanting a little more kick out of your classic 7 layer salad, this recipe could be just what you’re looking for. I love Mexican food. I love salads too. This Spicy Taco 7 Layer Salad recipe is the perfect combination of those two loves. By keeping the layers in the appropriate order, you can prepare and store this dish in advance without having to worry too much about it getting soggy. I definitely recommend trying out this recipe at your next get together.

Ingredients for the Spicy Taco 7 Layer Salad Recipe:

3 cups of Romaine Lettuce

2 cups of Tortilla Chips (crushed)

1 1/2 cups of Yellow Onion (chopped)

1 pound of Ground Beef

1 1/2 cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded)

2 cups of Salsa (medium flavored)

1 1/2 cups of Sour Cream

If you think that the salsa will be too hot for you, simply replace it with a mild version. And on the other side, if you’d really like to spice things up a bit, just add three tablespoons of hot sauce to the salsa. Or include some chopped up jalapenos to the recipe.


1. Chop up the romaine lettuce and place in bottom of a large bowl for the first layer.

2. Take your crushed tortilla chips and distribute evenly over the lettuce to make your second layer.

3. Next, spread the yellow onion over the tortilla chips to form your third layer of the salad.

4. Cook up the ground beef in a frying pan. Make sure to remove as much grease off the meat as possible. Generally, I squeeze out most of the grease using a spatula, and then pat down the cooked beef firmly with a few pieces of paper towel. Spread ground beef over the onion for layer four.

5. Carefully spoon the salsa over all of the ground beef. This gives you the spicy fifth layer.

6. Generously spread the cheddar cheese over the ground beef for your next layer. If you do this shortly after the ground beef has been cooked, you get the cheese to melt into it.

7. For the final layer, you are going to evenly add the sour cream on top of the cheese.

8. Cover the salad bowl with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

9. When it comes time to serve the salad, just toss it quickly and add any additional spices and toppings.

If you like Mexican food, then you will absolutely love my Spicy Taco 7 Layer Salad recipe. I especially like the crunchiness of the tortilla chips mixed together with lettuce and salsa. Occasionally, I won’t refrigerate the salad overnight and instead serve it while it’s still warm. Its like eating a taco in a bowl. Delicious and your hands are kept clean.

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How To Smoke a Pork Shoulder


I usually try to purchase a pork shoulder that weighs about 8 pounds. I have found that larger shoulders are a little bit harder to smoke because the outer meat will dry out before the inner meat is done if a good mop is not used to keep the shoulder moist.

The night before you are going to smoke the shoulder, apply a thin layer of mustard to the pork shoulder. This will create a paste that the rub will stick to. The next step is to apply a rub. There are many great rub recipes out there, and you can find a few at my website. Below is a rub recipe I use quite often.


3-Tbsp Tony’s or comparable cajun seasoning
4-Tbsp Turbinado brown sugar (this type of sugar will burn at a higher temperature than regular brown sugar)
1/2-Tsp Paprika
1/4-Tsp Cumin
1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 Tsp Onion Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt


I usually mix and store all ingredients in an empty seasoning container.

Tips: If you need more, just double the recipe

After you rub the shoulder down with mustard, completely coat the shoulder with the rub. I have found that it helps to pat the rub into the shoulder to make it stick better.

Wrap the shoulder in plastic wrap, and refrigerate over night.

Take the shoulder out of the fridge about 1 hour before you are going to put it on the smoker. This will bring the pork shoulder’s temperature down to room temperature.


When the pit reaches operating temp, I smoke at 225 F, place the shoulder on the pit and let it smoke for about one hour, fat side up.

Next, apply a good mop to the shoulder. Keep the outside of the shoulder moist while smoking by applying the mop about every 45 minutes or so, but be careful not to open the pit too much because the temperature will drop and you will have to cook longer.

Here is a mop recipe:


1 Cup beef broth
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper


1. Mix all ingredients in a pot, and heat over med/low for 20 minutes.

2. Smoke the shoulder for about 1.5 hours per pound, or until the internal temperature of the thickest portion of the shoulder is between 170-180 F.

I have smoked pork shoulders directly on the pit with no foil for the duration of the smoking time, and I have wrapped them in foil after they have smoked for 6-7 hours. The wrapping method works well because you can control the moisture level of the shoulder if the shoulder is sealed in foil. The mop, and the juices create a very humid environment inside the foil wrapped shoulder, and I think that smoking a shoulder this way produces excellent results.

Leaving the shoulder on the pit for the duration of the smoking time tends to produce a firmer, drier crust on the shoulder, but the internal meat is very good. You will just have to experiment both ways to find out which way you like the most.


My favorite way to eat the shoulder is to make pulled pork sandwiches. Smoked pork shoulders will literally fall apart, and making a pulled pork sandwich is fairly simple. Shred the smoked pork shoulder with a couple of forks to prepare the meat for the sandwich. The sandwich basically consists of two hamburger buns, some good barbeque sauce, the pulled pork, a few onion and pickle slices, and whatever else you think will taste good.

Pulled pork tacos are also very delicious. First, I heat up a couple flour tortillas. Next, I sautee onions and bell peppers, and then I put the pork in the tortilla, along with barbeque sauce and the vegetables.


Aaron Ralston, also known as The Smoker King, is owner of Outdoor Cooking: Barbeque, Sauces, Mops, Rubs at
. You can find more barbeque information and great recipes here.

How to Make Soft, Moist Muffins

There is nothing like a tender, soft, moist muffin straight from the oven. The perfect muffin’s outside is never hard, and when pulled from its muffin paper or popped out straight from the muffin pan it comes out completely and easily. How in the world is this done?

There are some tricks to muffins that many recipes (or box instructions even) do not include.

The first trick is to NEVER use a hand mixer. Think of muffin batter as a tiny soft baby that can easily crush.

The best utensil for mixing muffins is a wooden spoon.

Make a well into the dry ingredients of the muffins and add the wet ingredients into the “hole”. Gently fold the dry ingredients over and stir softly. NEVER stir the batter more than 20 times; count each turn of the spoon around the bowl as one, two, and so on.

It is okay to have some lumps in the batter. The object is not to rid the batter of the lumps, but to not over mix.

When putting the batter into the muffin tins, I like two methods. The first, method is to use a ? cup measuring cup. My other favorite method is to use an ice cream scoop with the sliding piece inside to easily push the batter out of the spoon and into the cup.

Here are a couple of recipes to try your hand at:

Blueberry Muffins

Use fresh or frozen blueberries to make these blueberry muffins.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, rinsed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Sugar for topping

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar. Add buttermilk, beaten eggs, and melted butter; mix until dry ingredients are just moistened. Mix berries with 2 tablespoons of flour; fold berries into batter.

Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Sprinkle each with a little sugar. Bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes 18 to 24 muffins.

Streusel Muffins

1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. oil
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. chopped nuts
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. melted butter

Grease or line 12 muffin cups with paper cup liners. In a bowl, slightly beat the egg; beat in milk and oil. Set aside. In a large bowl stir flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the egg mixture all at once. Stir just until moistened. Do not over beat. Batter should be lumpy. Spoon into muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

Top with streusel. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and serve warm.

OPTIONAL: Separate streusel mix in half. Put in the center of the muffins and rest on top.

Shiloah Baker is a mother of seven children and homemaker who resides in North Carolina. She is the owner of Homemaking Cottage & Co. , a website which offers homemaking related articles, books, eBooks, ideas, other homemaking related materials, and a subscription service. For more information go to:

or her blog at to learn how she raises seven children and runs a business at home.

You Say Merliton, I Say Mirliton – A Merliton by Any Other Name Taste

For those of you not living in either California, Florida, Louisiana or Latin America, you may not be familiar with a merliton. Perhaps the names, chayote, vegetable pear, mango squash, cho-cho, xuxu or christophene ring a bell. They all refer to this versatile gourd-like vegetable that is grown around the world and called by various names. Historically, it was a primary food of the Aztecs and Mayas.

What Exactly is a Merliton?

A merilton is an edible plant of the Curcurbitaceae (gourd) family along with melons, cucumbers and squash. It is grown on a vine. It looks like a light green large pear, similar in color to a Granny Smith apple. The inside is a lighter color with a soft large seed.

A merliton can be fixed in as many ways as a sweet potato. It can be stuffed, fried, bake, mashed, creamed, pickled and buttered. The filling makes a great custard pie. It can be eaten raw and served cold in salads. It makes a great tasting soup and merliton fritters are a popular substitute for pancakes.

Many say that merlitons can be substituted for any recipe requiring squash. But I would add, for any recipe calling for sweet potatoes as well.

Merlitons are a low calorie vegetable, only 40 calories per cup. They are also low in sodium and a good source of fiber. They are rich in amino acids and vitamin C.

How Does A Merliton Taste?

It tastes good! A merliton tastes similar to summer squash, but a little sweeter. The outside texture is a cross between a potato and a cucumber. The inside is more similar to an eggplant. I prefer it cooked, but many eat it raw or pickled.

A great low calorie snack is to cut into strips and boil. Marinate with low fat salad dressing in the refrigerator. The strips make a great snack when looking for something quick to munch on.

Where Do I Buy One and Why Are Merlitons So Great?

Although merlitons were native to Mexica and Central America, they are now grown over the world. They can be found in ethnic markets including Asian, Indian, Philippian, Caribbean, and Latin American. They may be found in your local “super” supermarket, but most likely are not called a merliton.

Merlitons are great because they taste so good and can be fixed so many different ways. But best of all most people have never heard of them. I live in Texas and for me they are my secret weapons. When I want to WOW my friends with my cooking prowess, I cook a dish with merlitons. My Cajun merliton and shrimp soup has my neighbors begging for more!

My name is Dianna Smith and I live in Texas with my husband and two daughters. My husband is from New Orleans. My in-laws lost most of their possessions due to hurricane Katrina. This included the family recipe book. So, I decided to create a website, Cooking New Orleans Style, where the family recipes could be viewed by all of our displaced friends and family.

Please visit my website at for more Cajun and Creole recipes.

Learn How to Make Some Fresh Tomato Salsa With These Recipes

If you like tomatoes then chances are you love a great tasting fresh tomato salsa. This is especially true when you use homegrown ingredients like sweet tomatoes from your own garden. Unlike many dishes, salsa recipes can blend so many twists of flavors that you can essentially try almost any ingredient in this dish and get something good. Plus, in many cases it only takes minutes to prepare. Here are some recipes for fresh tomato salsa. These salsas created from these recipes are sure to liven up any meal whether it’s your favorite Mexican food dish or the old standby appetizer of “chips and salsa”.

Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe

INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 medium tomatoes 2 to 3 white onions 1 can black olives. 3 to 4 green chiles 2 Tbsp. vinegar 2 Tbsp. oil.

DIRECTIONS: Chop tomatoes, onions, olives & green chiles in very small pieces. Combine oil and vinegar, pour over tomato mixture. For best flavor, chill for several hours before serving.

Corn and Bean Salsa with Avocado

INGREDIENTS: 1 (16 ounce) package Cascadian Farm® frozen organic sweet corn, thawed and drained 1 (14.5 ounce) can Muir Glen® organic diced tomatoes, drained 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped 1/2 cup chopped red onions 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS: Stir together all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tomato and Mango Salsa Recipe

INGREDIENTS: 1 small mango 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped 1/3 cup chopped red onion 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 2 tablespoons lime juice

DIRECTIONS: Carefully peel skin from mango sections attached to seed. Slice flesh from seed. Chop flesh to measure 1-1/2 cups. Combine all ingredients in small bowl; refrigerate 2 hours.

Hot Salsa

INGREDIENTS: 1 Red onion diced fine 1 Red pepper diced fine 6 Red chilies chopped 1 tsp dry chili powder 2 cloves garlic crushed 1 tsp Salt 6 tomatoes skin and seed removed and diced fine 1 tsp Cumin seeds and 1 tsp coriander seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle. Zest and juice from 3 limes and 2 lemons ( chop the zest ) 2 tsp of brown sugar

DIRECTIONS: To make the hot salsa dissolve sugar in lemon juice and then mix thru all other ingredients, store covered in the fridge for 24 hours stirring occasionally.

Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic Salsa

INGREDIENTS: 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed 1 head garlic cloves, separated and peeled 3 fresh jalapeno peppers 1 bunch fresh cilantro 1/2 cup water, or as needed salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven’s broiler. Arrange the whole cloves of garlic, tomatillos, and jalapenos on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler, and cook for a few minutes. Remove garlic cloves first, as soon as they are toasted, to avoid developing a bitter flavor. Continue to roast jalapenos and tomatillos until evenly charred, turning occasionally. Set aside to cool. Don’t remove the charred parts of the tomatillos or the peppers. They add a really nice flavor. Place peppers and tomatillos in a blender with the garlic and cilantro. Add a little water to the mixture if necessary to facilitate blending. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until serving. Make these recipes for a delicious food dip or topping. Or, you could get creative and add some variation to create your very own flavorful and tasty fresh tomato salsa.

Author: Jolene Christopherson. Are you sure the tomatoes you by in the store are safe for you or your family? Are you looking for ways to cut costs and eat healthy, safer food? What better time to start growing you own tasty juicy fresh tomatoes? For healthy food you grow yourself go to Also, for an abundance of other useful tomato information see