Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mexican Pizza

Disappointed in my photo, because it doesn't show off this dinner very well. It is actually two layers of tortillas. I browned each layer in a skillet with a bit of bacon grease. Then I layed one spelt tortilla down, topped with some homemade refried beans, salsa and cheese. Then a second tortilla, taco meat and more cheese. In the oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is nice and melty. Top with lettuce, onions, more salsa, and sour cream. Very tasty!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Zuppa Tuscano

Who doesn't love the salad at Olive Garden? It's one of the best first course restaurant salads out there. But you have to choose between salad OR soup when you go. And if you've ever had their Zuppa Tuscano soup, it's pretty darn great. Which makes you think, should I get it or the salad? So now I can have it whenever I want. This isn't an official copycat recipe. It's been months since I've been to Olive Garden. I did not look up a recipe for this, I just made it from memory and it tastes pretty spot on from my memory. Except better, because I know there is no MSG, or bullion cubes or other ingredients that chain restaurants may or may not use.

Zuppa Tuscano Soup

2 slices of bacon
2 stalks of celery
12-16 oz of mild italian sausage (no msg or nitrates!)
1 large or 2 small potatoes
1 tsp dill
2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
4-5 stalks of kale
1 cup cream
5-6 cups homemade chicken stock

Cut up bacon and add it to a soup pot. Cook until bacon is almost crispy. Next put the sausage in the pot. If your sausage is in casings, cut the casings open and squeeze the sausage out. With the edge of your spoon, break up the meat into crumbles as it browns. Add the celery and continue sauteing. Add seasonings (dill, basil, salt and pepper.) Very thinly slice your potatoes. You can leave the peels on as I did, or peel them. Add stock and cream. Pull the kale leaves off of the hard stalk and chop into bite size pieces. Stir everything together and last add the kale.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Taco Pie

A few days ago I saw something labeled as Taco Pie on Pinterest. The thought of it struck with me and I decided to make my own version. I think the Pinned version had a potato flake crust, which just seemed a bit odd to me. So I changed up the crust and made a few other adjustments, such as taking out the packaged taco seasoning and came up with this version which I think is pretty awesome. I basically took the idea of a 7 layer dip and made it into a meal instead of an appetizer. My husband took one bite and said, "Oh my god, this is SO good." Of course my 4.5 year old twins looked at it and said, "Ew... it looks disgusting." Once I got them to taste it though, they were pleasantly surprised and told me it tasted better than it looked. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Cornmeal Crust
3/4 cup of cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup of cold butter
4-5 tbsp of ice cold water

I used to make pie crusts in a food processor before my food processor bit the dust a few months ago. I'll describe both methods.
Food Processor: Put flours and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add cut up butter and pulse until it resembled wet sand. Add ice water one tablespoon at at a time until dough pulls from the side and makes a ball. Do not over process. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in your fridge to rest for about 15-20 minutes.

By hand: Mix flours and salt in a large bowl. Add cubed butter. With two knives start "cutting" the butter into the flour. You do this by holding a knife in each hand and cut across the flour and butter, this is cutting the butter and incorporating it into the flour. Again you are left with sand like texture. Add your ice water and with your hands gently massage the dough until it forms a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and put in your fridge to rest for about 15-20 minutes.

Taco Meat:
1/2 onion
1 bell pepper
1 lb ground beef
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper
3-4 tbsp of tomato paste
3 tbsp cornmeal

Cut onion into small pieces and saute in a bit of butter with bell pepper. Add garlic and seasonings. Add ground beef. Stir the beef as it is cooking so it crumbles into small pieces. When the beef is cooked through, add tomato paste and then the cornmeal. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Cheese Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp cumin
garlic (powder or clove)
3/4 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small sauce pan. Add 2 tbsp flour and whisk together. Add 3/4 cup of milk and whisk until there are no lumps. Add  tsp of tomato paste, 1/2 tsp cumin, salt and pepper and either some garlic powder or a grated clove of garlic. Last add cheese (I used monterrey jack, but cheddar or your favorite would work.) Stir until melted. Set aside.

Taco Pie Assembly!

1 Cornmeal Crust
1 recipe cheese sauce
Refried Beans
Sour Cream
chopped lettuce

Roll out pie crust by liberally sprinkling counter with flour. Place in pie plate and form the pie shell. Scoop taco meat in the pie crust. Top with cheese. Add left over refried beans, or some from a can. (Check your ingredients if you used can and do not buy refried beans with hydrogenated oils.) Top with some cheese and bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until crust gets crispy.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. (This helps with the cutting.) Top with salsa, sour cream, chopped lettuce and olives. Other toppings that would be good are avocados or tomatoes. I hop you enjoy!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Baked Chicken, Easy Mac & Creamed Spinach

This was so tasty, so easy and fast to put together.

Baked Chicken

1 tbsp ground sage
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup pineapple juice (lemon juice or orange juice would be good too.)
1/2 stick butter
6-8 chicken bone-in legs (or breasts)

Mix all the seasonings in a bowl. Put on chicken and rub it in well. Pour juice on top and marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Put 1/2 stick of butter in a baking dish and put it in the oven while it preheats at 375 degrees. When butter is melted, pull out the baking dish and toss the chicken in the butter. Pour juice on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Increase temperature to 425 and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until skin is nice and brown.

From Scratch Easy Mac

8 - 10 oz noodles of choice
1/2 package of cream cheese, cubed
1 cup shredded cheddar or montery jack
1/2 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)

Cook noodles. Drain most of the water out. Add noodles to the pot and add the cream cheese, cheddar and cream. Stir until everything melts and comes together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Creamed Spinach

2 slices of bacon, cut in bits
5-6 button mushrooms, sliced
8ish loose cups of baby spinach
splash of heavy cream

Saute bacon and mushrooms in a pan until bacon is crispy. Add spinach and stir until it cooks down. Add a splash of cream, salt and pepper.

Friday, July 6, 2012

From Scratch Pizza

Yum. Homemade Pepperoni and Olive Pizza.

 Homemade Red Sauce. YUM, seriously I have a trick to make this so delicious!

 Sauce on homemade dough.

 Top it how you like. There is a reason for the Christmas plastic placemat, but you could probably use an Easter one too... ;o)

 Waiting to cut into is so important, but it sure is hard to wait!

An old friend introduced me to Ranch dressing on my pizza and now there is no turning back. At least, homemade makes it good for you! (Please ignore the chips in my dishes, I usually angle my camera away from them, but this time I was too much in a hurry to eat!)

Okay, I've been on hiatus for awhile so at least I'm bringing you three yummy recipes all at once. I've done pizza on this blog before, but it's been awhile and this time I have some new methods. Now this is a traditional yeasty recipe, but if you are looking for grain free crusts, you should try a cauliflower crust or an almond crust pizza, they are actually really good!

Pizza Crust

1 cup of warm water
2.5 tsp of yeast (or one packet)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup olive oil
3 (ish) cups of flour (I used white-wheat)
2 tbsp gluten
1.5 tsp salt

Water should be warm, but you should be able to comfortably put your finger in it. If it is too hot for you finger it will kill the yeast. Sprinkle yeast in the water and add the honey. Whisk with a fork and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Get out either your food processor or your kitchenaid mixer (I've used both for this recipe) if you use the processor, the regular metal blade will work. If you use your mixer use the dough hook. You could also do this by hand, you'll just need to knead for a lot longer.

Pour the flour, gluten, olive oil and salt in your mixer. And stir to get it mixed in. (You can leave out the gluten, your crust just won't be as stretchy.) When the yeast has bubbled up quite a bit, pour it in the flour and mix for a good 10 minutes. If you are doing it by hand knead for 15-20 minutes. Your dough should be shiny and pulled away from the sides of the mixer. If it isn't pulling away and is really sticky within the first minute or two of mixing, slowly sprinkle more flour in until it does. Take the dough out, roll it in a ball, coat thinly with more olive oil and let it rest in a warm spot for at least an hour.


Red Sauce
(By the way, this sauce is easy to make in bulk and then freeze)

1 can of crushed/diced OR pureed tomatoes (I get the big can... I think it's 32 oz?)
1/2 stick of butter (the secret ingredient)
1.5 tbsp of dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
3-5 cloves garlic (depending on how garlicy you want it and how big your cloves are)
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes (more if you want a spicy sauce)
salt and pepper to taste

Basically, put all the ingredients in a pot (I grate the garlic in) and stir until the butter melts and incorporates in the sauce. Then let it bubble away on low on your stove for 30 minutes up to an hour. Depending on if you are using this for a pizza or a spaghetti sauce, is what kind of tomatoes you want to start with. Or, if you only have diced tomatoes like I did, then I used my stick immersion blender to puree it up. This sauce is SO good, and don't you dare skimp out on the butter.

Using high quality butter from grass fed cows (kerrygold is a great brand) is actually GOOD for you. Read this article on the Untold Story of Butter. Also, eating enough high quality animal fats helps with preventing sunburns!

Homemade Ranch Dressing

There are fancy homemade recipes, but I like my simple one. It does start with homemade mayo, which does take some practice.

1 cup of homemade mayo
1/4 -1/2 cup sour cream (do this to how sour you like the taste)
1/2 tsp grated garlic clove
2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp celery seed
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together and enjoy!

I love the quote, "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, first you must create the universe." So keeping this in mind, I could have taken this pizza even further by making my own mozzarella and a few of the other prepared ingredients, like the pepperoni, but I'm satisfied with this "from scratch" version!
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