Mini Taco Pizza

Once upon a time, our local Pizza Hut had a little lounge in the back called the Grog Shop, more of a bar.  And in that bar they served taco pizza.  I would occasionally take my kids there, with much glare from other customers, and we would devour a large taco pizza.  That was a treat to take them BUT it was a better treat that I made them at home too!!

I would buy one of those already prepared pizza crusts *insert a shudder, and build my taco pizza with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and salsa.  The kids LOVED it!  I often wonder if they remember that??

DSC_1675

Now, I make my taco pizza on a quesadilla shell.  Here’s what I do…

I like to use a Gluten Free corn tortilla, but I have also used flour tortillas/soft taco shells and they work great.  I like to  fry them up a little, just enough to get a little crispy.  I have this weird thing about wraps, quesadillas, etc.  I TOTALLY dislike the uncooked floury taste and texture so I have to crisp them up.  You can omit this step if you’re not crazy weird like me.

DSC_1679

For the flour tortillas I would just use a small amount of olive oil in a fry pan over a medium heat and lightly crisp each side.  With the corn tortillas I prefer using a little more oil, almost enough to simmer the shell, and again lightly crisp each side.  It only takes a few minutes and I flip it around on both sides a few times.

I then put them on a pizza stone and smother them with refried beans.  I have dressed the beans up, depending on my mood, with different ingredients.  I’ve chopped jalapeno’s, added some taco seasoning (I now use my own concoction), cayenne pepper, whatever spice I feel like at the time.

DSC_1675

Pop the pizza stone with the smothered shells in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the beans are hot to the touch.  The shells will crisp up a little more too.  You could also put them directly on your oven rack, I’ve never done that tho.  I am a creature of habit!!

When they come out of the oven, here is where you can be creative and build your own “personally designed taco pizza“.  You could add cooked and prepared taco meat if you want but I never use the taco meat mixture with the beans.  It’s just how my taco pizza rolls.  No meat.  Just beans.  Top with shredded lettuce, drizzle with your favorite salsa, then comes the cheese and chopped tomatoes.

DSC_1682

Top with sour cream and/or guacamole.  I have already put them back in the oven to melt the cheese a little more, that is quite good as well but I am usually too hungry for these and I just CAN’T wait to devour them!!

These are perfect for the single person.

They are perfect for having your friends over for lunch or a movie.

And perfect for your family too!

Live well my friends!!

 

Advertisements

Spicy Sausage Penne Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes

This is yummy!  I prepared it on a Sunday, (but I DID have to sample a little!) wrapped it in foil, popped it in the refrigerator and plan to bake it later in the week.  I love making meals ahead of time so that on a busy weeknight all I have to do is heat it up!!

DSC_1639

So, give this a try.  Make it over the weekend and keep it for later.  BUT treat yourself to a little sample first!!!

Now, I have been doing my best to be gluten free for several months now and I still have a lot to learn.  This recipe, as far as I know, is gluten free.  I used all gluten free products, and I am hoping the hot Italian sausage I purchased is GF too!!

I heated some olive oil in a pot, and in another pot I started the pasta.  I used penne because I am planning to bake it later and I think the penne will work best for that.  Cook the pasta al dente, DO NOT over cook the pasta!!

DSC_1636

I cooked 2  sausage links (or 3 depending on the size and how much meat you want in this dish) over low heat until it was cooked pretty much the whole way through, remove the sausage to a plate.  Leaving the remaining olive oil in the pot, add a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with the juice, an 8 oz can of tomato sauce and about 3 ozs of tomato paste.  Also add a tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes to taste, salt and pepper to taste.  I added 2 dashes of ground nutmeg…. YES I sometimes like to add my baking spices too!  Try it!!

While the pasta cooks keep the sauce on a very low heat so all the flavors can hook up and get to know each other.

I chopped about 1 tsp of fresh thyme, and grabbed about 6 basil leaves and chopped them too.  Next, chop about 1/3 cup of sundried tomatoes.   Add the herbs and tomatoes to the sauce just before you are ready to put the pasta in the sauce.

DSC_1634

When the pasta is ready add it to the pot of sauce.  Stir gently to coat the pasta.  Pour half the pasta and sauce into an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish, add chunks of mozzarella cheese, put on another later of pasta and sauce and dot the top with more mozzarella.  Let cool and cover with foil.

DSC_1642

Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until heated through, remove foil the last 5 minutes.  When you are ready to serve sprinkle with chopped basil and parmesan cheese.  This recipe would feed 2 with very large servings OR 4 smaller servings if you actually think you might want to share…..

I’m telling ya, I think this is the best baked pasta dish I have ever made!!  There are LOTS of flavors goin on but it combines into one delicious mouthful of yumminess I have ever tasted!!

Recipe:

2-3 Italian Sausage links

2 cups uncooked Penne Pasta noodles

Olive oil to cook the sausage

14.5 oz can of Diced Tomatoes, use juices too

8 oz can of Tomato Sauce

3 oz Tomato Paste (half of a 6 oz can)

1 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Onion Powder

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/3 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped (I use the jarred in oil)

2 dashes of ground nutmeg, optional

1 tsp Fresh Thyme

6 Basil Leaves

1 large ball of Mozzarella cheese cut into chunks

Parmesan cheese and additional basil for serving

DSC_1638

Live well my friends!!

 

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

I cannot imagine my life without the occasional indulgence of a yummy chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven!  However, making sure I eat healthy and even mildly trying to watch my gluten intake, make eating these little babies a special treat!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (2)

Not sure how many of you have tried my recipe that I posted before, BUT I think these are best, in my half baked opinion, if they are ‘under‘ baked.  Nonetheless they should be stored in a container that seals tightly.

But, you can FREEZE this cookie dough, in small amounts for the occasional treat of a few freshly baked cookies!!!  I usually have a few little bundles in my freezer, ready to be thawed in the fridge slowly for about 4 hours.  I wouldn’t suggest thawing on the counter since the dough does contain raw egg.  I have also had the dough in my freezer for 2-3 months and they baked lovely and tasted fabulous!!

DSC_1631

It’s also a nice little treat to share with someone special….like my grandkids!!  It’s fun to have these small batches and let the kids help to bake.

So, go ahead and prepare the recipe as follows:

Place in a large bowl and set aside: 2 cups plus 2T flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda

Meanwhile, melt 1 cup butter (2 sticks).  When cooled add: 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed (( I have been known to throw in an additional 1-2 T)),  and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Then mix in 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk along with 1/2 T vanilla extract.

Transfer the butter and sugar mixture to the flour bowl and mix by hand until just combined.  Don’t over mix!

Add 2 cups of chocolate chips, my secret is adding enough chips to TOTALLY fill the batter with chunks of chocolate!

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.  Check the dough in about 30 minutes, if it’s getting too hard to work with remove from the refrigerator and move on to the next step.  The dough still needs to be “movable” so that you can shape it so you may NOT need to refrigerate.

DSC_1628

Divide the dough into the amount of batches that you want.  Remember that when you bake you will be using balls of dough that are just a little smaller than a golf ball to bake.  I usually do 3-4 little cookie packages!!!

DSC_1629

Spread out the plastic wrap.  After you have the dough divided place them on each piece of plastic wrap and form into a log shape.

Wrap the plastic over the dough and very lightly roll the dough a little to smooth out the shape.  Don’t handle the dough too much, the heat of your hands will start to soften the dough quickly.

Wrap up each package with a second piece of plastic wrap and slip into a ziplock freezer bag.  Date the bag so you can remember when you made the dough.  Pop them in the freezer!  Although you might want to bake a few cookies right away!!

Now, when you are ready to bake the cookies, don’t be fooled by the dough after it has been in the fridge for a few hours; the dough will be hard when you are ready to bake.  Don’t mistake it to be frozen.   I have left  the dough in the fridge for a full 24 hours before baking and that amount of time did NOT make the dough any more pliable.  And it’s still good!

Depending on the size of the cookie dough log, you could just make slices and bake.  I have also not rolled the dough into a log, it was just a mound of luscious dough, I just used a spoon to measure and scoop out.

DSC_1627

When ready to bake, Preheat oven to 325.  Drop the dough balls, a little smaller than a golf ball, onto your cookie sheet.  Bake for about 12-14 minutes but like I said, a little under baking is totally yummy!!!.  Allow to cool on your cookie sheet for a good 5 minutes or so, especially if you want them a little more gooey, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (1)

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!!  Live well and eat chocolate chip cookies!!

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I know, to some just the thought of chocolate chips in banana bread sounds ridiculous!  But to me, and hopefully a few more, it is fantastically yummy!!

DSC_1532

I took the bread to work to share with the girls in my department.  Someone who shall remain nameless stopped in and I offered him a slice.  He is brutally honest on my baking!!  I asked him later if he liked it, he said he DID NOT like the chocolate with the banana bread!!  Did I happen to mention he can be BRUTALLY honest?!?!!!

DSC_1544

I have been playing around with my banana bread recipe, changing this or changing that, but this recipe, I think, is the best so far!!!

DSC_1533

Here’s my recipe for one loaf of this delicious bread!  It goes great with your morning coffee or tea!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl combine:

1 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 and 1/2 cups mashed banana’s (about 4 medium banana’s)

Combine all ingredients except the mashed banana’s, by hand until blended.  Then add the banana’s and blend until well blended BUT do not over mix!!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes.  Set your timer for 50 minutes, check with a cake tester to see if it comes out clean, if it DOES NOT tent the baking pan with foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until the cake tester comes out clean.

DSC_1545

That’s it!  Hope you enjoy it!  Oh, and it smells wonderful while it’s baking!! Do you see that little corner I broke off to nibble on while I took a picture!!

Live well friends!

DSC_1532