Friends add such a layer of joy to life! Not only is it fun to have girlfriend time with our friends, but it’s also fun to have shared mom time. You know….times where you hang out with your kids for play dates, or outings together. If you’re lucky, once in a blue moon the stars align and your hubbies both work late on the same night….and you serve your kids dinner together. And maybe eat cookie dough out of a bowl for your dinner. And if you’re really blessed, at times you even share vacations together.
I’m blessed to have several childhood friends still in my life. And one of my very best childhood friends, Donna, I’ve known since we were 11 and I moved into the house next door to hers. It was the summer of 1980, and we were both about to start 6th grade. Back in our day, 6th grade was the highest you could go up in elementary school…and junior high was 7th and 8th grade. Nowadays, we have middle schools that are from 6-8th grade, at least around here. My middle daughter is in 6th grade, and the age I was when I met my good friend Donna.
Donna’s family was like my second family growing up. Her house was my second home. Most days after school you could find me and Donna hanging out at her house, making afternoon snacks (sometimes even full on breakfast for snack…bacon and eggs!) and watching General Hospital together. Had to have our Rick Springfield fix! Over the years as we’ve grown up, we haven’t grown apart. I was in her wedding, she threw me my first baby shower. I have 3 girls, she has 2 girls. We both even had premature infants….for both of us it was our first daughters…both born early at 33 weeks, small and by emergency c-section. And our girls have even become friends. So neat to see our girls play together over the years.
And even though we live miles away (me in Florida, her in North Carolina), we still always pick up right where we left off. Donna still lives on our old street, next door to her parents…and when I come home, her mom runs our to greet me, tears streaming and hugs my babies as if they are her own grand babies. Most say you can never “go home” again, but in my case….it feels like I can, and I do! We’ve gone up to visit almost every summer these past 5 years, and when I peek out of Donna’s windows I can see my bedroom window from my childhood home. Donna is like a sister to me, and we’ve also been blessed to vacation together. We’ve spent time at her beach house, and a couple magical vacations at our happy place….DISNEY!!
And it was one of these Disney vacations where this taco salad happened. We were staying with Donna’s family in their town home, and one night it was taco night. We prepared all the fixin’s for tacos, and Donna shared with me one of her many secrets for easy meal time. Instead of putting tacos together, you crumble up tortilla chips or chop lettuce for your base, and then layer up your very own taco salad. Easy, simple and definitely fast. And I didn’t miss the taco one bit!
Donna is an amazing cook, and whips up meals for her family all the time in the blink of an eye almost effortlessly. She and her home (and family) are the very definition of southern hospitality. When you stay with Donna, you not only feel like family….but somehow she makes it seem like you are no trouble at all. Like you….and your 3 kids and hubby…..have always been there, and aren’t in the way one bit. Every time I stay with Donna, I pick up new tricks to help make things run smoother at my house. One time we were going on a picnic after checking out the NC Transportation center, and Donna packed a picnic in record time. Lunchmeat and condiments into the cooler. Loaf of bread, plates, snacks etc. in a bag. And novel idea….we made the sandwiches at the picnic!! Why had I never thought of that?
So though this is more of a food idea than a recipe, I would be remiss not to share it. The taco salad has become a regular in my meal rotation, and I’m sure it will in yours too. Easy variations can be made….grain-free? Just use lettuce as your base. Dairy-free? Just leave out cheese and sour cream. Vegetarian? Just leave out the meat. I happen to like my taco salad with ground beef that I make with my own taco seasoning. Making your own taco seasoning is definitely less expensive, but the main reason I make my own is to control the ingredients. No MSG, no sugar, no ingredients I can’t pronounce.
- Tortilla chips
- Ground beef
- Taco seasoning (preferable homemade)
- Lettuce, chopped
- Cheese, shredded
- Olives, sliced
- Tomatoes, diced
- Onion, minced
- Sour cream, optional
- Hot sauce, optional
- black beans, optional
- Not really an exact recipe. Make ingredients as you would for taco, except taco shells
- Brown ground beef and add taco seasoning (homemade is better for you and less expensive)
- Prepare all other ingredients and set aside
- Everyone assembles their own taco salads
- For grain-free, leave out the tortilla chips
- For dairy-free, leave out the cheese and sour cream
- For vegetarian, leave out the beef