Three Bean Taco Salad

As a momma to six kiddos, every Tuesday I am sharing my tips, recipes and anecdotes related to bringing out every kid’s culinary potential.

Click HERE to see all the posts in this series!

Kids in the Kitchen

These two handsome young men are my oldest two boys and their world is about to change significantly.  In a few weeks, these two best friends are going to be awfully lonely because the bigger of the two is leaving for college.  That college happens to be 1200 miles away so there won’t be any quick weekend visits home.  (please excuse me while I step away to sob for a minute….)

IMG_0107As the move out date quickly approaches, I’ve gotten a good chuckle from the significant list my son has made of all the things I need to teach him before he moves out.  Please note, I’ve taught him all the things on his list over the years, but he is in a bit of panic mode at the moment.  Growing up is terrifyingly exciting :)

three bean taco saladHe has chosen to live in a dorm that only has a kitchen.  No cafeteria!  Secretly, it makes me just a bit proud :)   This reality has also got him doing an inventory of what meals he knows how to make and which ones he must learn before he leaves.  This taco salad was on his list.  It is a menu staple in the Jones household because it is one that absolutely all 8 of us loves.  That is stating a lot because there aren’t many recipes that please all of us!  Taco Salad appears at least twice a month on our table.

I created this recipe years ago when my hubby and I were a very young couple in graduate school with lots of little kids and no money.  A pound of ground beef was a luxury and was certainly never served by itself in a taco!  Three types of beans were added to stretch that precious pound of beef and now my kids can’t stand having tacos or taco salad without the beans.

Three Bean Taco Salad


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 15 ounce can refried beans
  • 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounce can chili beans
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Corn chips, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, salsa and guacamole


  1. In a large skillet, season the ground beef with some additional salt and pepper, then brown over high heat. Once completely cooked, add the three types of beans, seasonings and 1/2 can of water. Stir to combine completely and allow the mixture to come to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
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Breaking Bread Leadership Challenge

Over the past two weeks, My Kitchen Escapades hosted two Breaking Bread Leadership Challenges.   One was with the Purdue University Center for Food and Agricultural Business and the other for the Land O’Lakes Co-op Leadership Program.  I always look forward to facilitating these events because it combines my two loves:  food and teaching.  Not to mention, they are just a blast!

The Breaking Bread Leadership Challenge is a unique and memorable leadership development tool my husband and I created a few years ago.  We’ve worked with varied groups in different settings but the end result is always the same:  an entertaining and engaging evening that lays the groundwork for teams, leaders and co-workers to build relationships of trust in an intimate, but not intimidating, setting.

There are many different twists and turns that make the challenge successful but the key factor is the FOOD!  There is something powerful we tap into during the process of preparing, cooking and eating a meal together.  The powerful connections formed in this Breaking Bread environment are unique and the effect is enduring.


Throughout the event, we create some difficult road blocks for each team to overcome but they continually amaze us with their ability to create rock star food despite their limited circumstances.  Each team is judged by a very elite panel of judges….well, maybe not quite elite but at least really hungry.  They are judged on taste, presentation and the creativity of their dish.  Sometimes there is a very clear winner and other times it is a heated and vigorous debate to pick just one.

LAThe winners from our latest two groups were both desserts:  S’mores Salad and Dessert Pizza.   You all know how obsessed I am with desserts but I want to promise you that  I was not the only one voting!

The S’mores Salad (as if the word salad makes it healthier) was created by one of our Purdue teams this past week.  They made it by layering buttered graham cracker crumbs on the bottom, then some milk chocolate bars, toasted marshmallows, more graham cracker crumbs, whip cream and then a garnish of chocolate and raspberries.  It was killer!

The Dessert Pizza (later titled Cajun Dessert Pizza because it was a bit “blackened” on the bottom…) was whipped up by one of our Land O’Lakes teams last week.  It used prepackaged sugar cookie dough baked in a pizza pan, then topped with a mixture of cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream.  On top of that they made a beautiful design of fresh fruit and graham cracker crumbs.  As long as you stayed away from the extra done parts, it was really amazing :)

LEAP win       LA WinnerEach winning team was crowned with their coveted Whisky Award and promised a featured post on here on My Kitchen Escapades.  Cheers for all my hard working teams over the past two weeks and I am especially grateful because I didn’t have to make a single dish.  I just got to enjoy all the wonderful dishes!  Everything tastes better when someone else is cooking for you, right?

Grilled California Chicken Wraps

 As a momma to six kiddos, every Tuesday I am sharing my tips, recipes and anecdotes related to bringing out every kid’s culinary potential.

Click HERE to see all the posts in this series!

Kids in the KitchenAs I mentioned last week, I was the camp cook for a week long girls camp for our church and it was a wonderful experience.  It was an overwhelming amount of work, but now that it is over, I can honestly say it was fun :)

This experience had me pulling out all my best catering experiences and skills to menu plan the best I could, but we did end up with some leftover food at the end of the week.  In my opinion, it it is always better to have a bit more food than not enough….especially when we are talking about hungry teenage girls!
Grilled California Chicken WrapsThe majority of the leftover food was given to a few families who could use a little extra love and attention right now in their lives and they were all very grateful.  After all that food was given out, I was left a few small parts of camp meals still in my fridge.  Hmmmmm…..It was time to let my kids get creative with the panini press.  Hands down, it is their favorite small kitchen appliance.

These California Chicken Wraps took some leftovers that were quite boring all on their own and turned them into something magical!  My 10 year old made a bunch of them for dinner and even got my pickiest eater (my 4 year old) to give them a taste.  Once that initial battle of “just taking a bite” was conquered, she willingly ate the rest of her dinner on her own.  Whew!DSC_0076Kids in the Kitchen Secret #10 – Teach your kids to be creative with leftovers!  They can be so much more than something to just stick in the microwave to reheat!

Grilled California Chicken Wraps


  • Flour tortillas
  • Leftover chicken, chopped
  • Shredded cheese
  • Real bacon bits (please no fake stuff!)
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Chopped green onion
  • Ranch dressing


  1. Preheat your panini press or just a flat electric griddle. Spread 1 Tb of ranch dressing on one side of the tortilla and lay the chopped chicken evenly down the center. Top with the remaining ingredients and then tightly wrap up all the ingredients inside the tortilla. Grill until golden brown and slice in half to serve.
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Rice Krispies Mint Chip Crunch Cake

I am excited to have Deb from Made From Pinterest guest posting for us today!  Thanks for your great recipe Deb :)

Do your kids have an imaginary friend? I have three kids and two did not have any imaginary friends while growing up. But my third child had plenty and one of her friends was called “Pony”. She also made up imaginary friends for her siblings. Of course, she didn’t want them to feel left out.

Not only did this creative daughter have plenty of imaginary friends, she became an imaginary friend. What imaginary friend did she become you ask?

Jim the Squirrel.


Not just “Jim” and not just a squirrel. Jim the Squirrel.

When I would call her for dinner she would not come unless I said….

“Jim the Squirrel, it’s time for dinner!”

Rice Krispies Mint Chip Crunch Cake

Yesterday “Jim the Squirrel” really did come over for sunday dinner. Would you like to see what “Jim the Squirrel” looks like today? I thought you would.

Brooke cropped

I think that’s one pretty cute looking squirrel, don’t you?

So last night at dinner “Jim the Squirrel” nibbled inhaled her dessert which was this Rice Krispies Mint Chip Crunch Cake.

Rice Krispies Mint Chip Crunch Cake.

Jim the Squirrel would like you to know that she loved this dessert and you will too.

And she also wants you to know that she’s not making that up!

Carole, thanks so much for letting us come and share our family and our recipes with you. We hope everyone is having a great summer!




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Recipe adapted from One Perfect Bite.

Rice Krispies Mint Chip Crunch Cake


  • 1 (12-oz.) package semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 gallon mint chip ice cream


  1. Melt your chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave. If microwaving, watch your chips very closely so that they do not burn.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted chocolate and the Rice Krispies. Stir until very well coated. Pour this mixture onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. Put into a freezer to freeze.
  3. While this mixture is freezing, take out your ice cream and put it in your refrigerator to soften. I left mine soften for about 25 minutes. You want it soft enough to mix but not runny.
  4. When your ice cream is soft enough, mix in half of the chocolate covered Rice Krispies, saving the other half for the topping.
  5. Press this ice cream mixture into an 8 or 9 inch springform pan. Press down firmly to eliminate any air pockets.
  6. Then sprinkle the rest of the Rice Krispies on top, lightly pressing into the ice cream. Cover with clear wrap or foil and freeze until serving.
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