Baked Tacos

Evening kids! Taco night is upon us, so I thought I would change it up a bit. So, you know those crunchy taco shells you are supposed to bake in your toaster oven or oven before you all all your ingredients? Well, most of the time, some of them get burned or not at all cooked through. I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to add my own spin. Turned out great! The girls gobbled up their tacos. The awesome part about tacos is you can really add your own likes in that tiny shell. You could add a combo of black olives, black beans, refried beans, or ground beef. Mine are made with straight up cheese and ground beef.

Baked Tacos

1 package crunchy tacos
Ground Beef with Homemade Taco Seasoning- See below
shredded Mexican cheese blend

Directions-
Preheat oven to 350
Make your ground beef. Drain and cool a bit.
Put your shells in a long casserole dish. Put cheese on the bottom. Add in a spoonful of beef to each taco. Top with more cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or so until shells turn golden brown and cheese is all melted. Add your favorite taco toppings. You could make a ton of these for a party and set out a taco bar!

ENJOY!

Homemade Taco Seasoning-

Sautee 1/2 a chopped onion and 2 cloves chopped garlic in a bit of oil in your hot pan. Take out the onions and brown a pound of meat. Once browned, take it out and strain it. Add it back in the pan with your onions and add your taco seasoning.

Seasoning- Of course, you can always add more of less of these ingredients. I am using real sautéed onions and garlic, but you could use ground onion and garlic if you have it.
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
Add your seasoning to the beef and about 1/2 cup water over the heat until it absorbs, about 5 minutes

 

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One Pot Chicken, Mushrooms,and Potatoes

Hey guys! I made this dinner last night. I wanted to do a chicken and mushrooms of some sort. I thought of doing my creamy chicken and mushrooms, but I wanted something lighter. I had some beautiful potatoes I got at the farmer’s market, so I decided to make this dish. It was pretty delicious! I hope you will give it a try.

One Pot Chicken, Mushrooms and Potatoes

Ingredients
1 whole chicken cut in to pieces (on sale, so use whatever chicken you have.)
2 tablespoons oil
1 container of mushrooms, sliced
1 small bag or container of red potatoes- about 8 (you could use golden or fingerling) sliced in half lengthwise
1 medium onion, chopped
About 1 cup liquid- I used a combo if wine and chicken broth- you could also add water if needed
1 tablespoon cold butter
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
fresh herbs- rosemary, sage, tarragon, and parsley

Directions

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pot on medium/high heat until oil begins to shimmer- I used a dutch oven, but you could use a large cast iron skillet. Add chicken skin-side down and cook without moving until golden brown and crisp, 7 to 9 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on second side, another 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and set aside.

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Add the potatoes to the fat in the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and tossing occasionally until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3- 4 minutes. Stir in half or your chopped herbs.

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Next, Add the wine/chicken stock to deglaze the pan, scraping up brown bits on the bottom. Push the potatoes to the side and place the chicken back in, skin side up. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the thighs register at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer and the stock is reduced to about a half cup, 18 to 20 minutes. Add your pat of butter to the sauce. This gives it a nice rich finish. Add the rest of your fresh herbs on top.

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Roasted Eggplant Dip

So yesterday I bought a beautiful eggplant at the farmer’s market. I was thinking of what I could do with it; parmesan, rollatini, pasta, lasagna, etc. I was researching online to see what else was out there. Apparently, there are tons of ways to prepare eggplant. I kept seeing tons of different recipes for dips.

Babaganush is a eggplant dip served in many greek and mediterranean dishes. I have had it many times before, but I have never made it. Traditionally, it calls for tahini paste. Tahini is made from sesame seeds that are soaked in water and then crushed to separate the bran from the kernels. The crushed seeds are soaked in salt water, causing the bran to sink. The floating kernels are skimmed off the surface, toasted, and ground to produce an oily paste. Fun fact for the day!

Anyways, I didn’t have any tahini paste handy, and I did not want to make a special trip to the store to buy any, so I improvised with what I had. I ended up adding more olive oil and some red wine vinegar. I only used 1 eggplant here and ate half of this dip in one sitting with some carrots and pita chips. I would say one eggplant for every 2 people if you have a bunch of eggplant lovers. I also LOVE garlic, so I added 2 cloves. You can certainly use less or sub garlic powder for less intense garlic flavor.

Roasted Eggplant Dip- serves 2

1 eggplant- cut in half, salt and pepper, and add plenty of olive oil. Cook in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Let it cool.

Scoop out your eggplant filling. The skin should easily peel off. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and 2 garlic cloves finely minced. You could even pulse this all in a mini-food processor if you wish. I added a shake of Mrs. Dash.

Serve with chips, veggies, or crusty bread. You could even use this as a spread on a sandwich. If you like eggplant, you will love this dish!

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Chicken and Veggie Alfredo Pasta

So remember last night when I made that awesome slow braised chili beef? Yeah, well, we actually ate it tonight! It was so good, but I knew the girls would not eat it. I didn’t even make them try it. It was too spicy and smoky for them, so I made them this back-up meal. We all went to the farmer’s market today and picked out some yummy veggies. I sauteed some yellow squash, green zucchini, and mushrooms. I cooked a chicken breast and thigh in a cast iron skillet. When they were done, I shredded the chicken. The girls recently picked out some wagon wheel pasta, so I cooked that and added some jarred alfredo sauce (Newman’s Own). I added all the ingredients together and topped with parmesan cheese. The girls gobbled it up. So glad they love their veggies! You could totally make this vegetarian by omitting the chicken. Or you could even add shrimp or sliced sausage.
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Summer Tomato Sandwich

Not much can beat the taste of a summer tomato sandwich. I picked 2 tomatoes from my garden this afternoon. I promptly cleaned one of my beauties and sliced it up. A sprinkle of salt and pepper. White bread of some sort is best- I had a loaf of soft french bread, so I broke off a piece and sliced it down the middle. I added a slather of mayo, loaded my bread with tomatoes, and took a bite. Complete perfection! If there is a heaven, there will be lots of fresh garden summer tomatoes all year round!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Semifreddo

Evening ya’ll! This was a scary undertaking…semifreddo…YIKES! I was scared at first that I could not pull this off. I was SO wrong. Looks complicated..lots of steps and patience is a must! But it was really not that hard! This was perfect and had the girls and me eating off the cutting board with forks. I had to share the rest with our lucky neighbors, lest we eat it all in one sitting and maybe regret that sweet chocolate cream in the morning… I saw this on The Chew and just had to make it. Instead of peanuts, I used almonds…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Semifreddo- From Carla Hall on The Chew

Ingredients

Peanut Chocolate Ganache Layer
1 cup Peanuts (toasted; salted; roughly chopped) ***I used sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (about 10 ounces)
3/4 cup Heavy Cream (heated)

Semifreddo
10 Egg Yolks
1 cup Granulated Sugar (divided)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste or 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract Pinch of Salt
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Creamy Whipped Peanut Butter (warmed; avoid natural varieties)
Reserved Chocolate Ganache

Directions

Spray a 5×11″ loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place two 3″ strips of parchment inside the pan so the ends of the parchment overhang the long sides. Lightly spray again with the non-stick cooking spray.

Add 1 cup Peanuts/Almonds (toasted; salted; roughly chopped) Sprinkle in the chopped Peanuts to mostly cover the bottom of the pan.

1 1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (about 10 ounces)melted on a double broiler

3/4 cup Heavy Cream (heated) Begin to melt the Chocolate in a microwave until mostly melted. Pour in the heated Cream and gently stir to finish melting the Chocolate. Stir until completely blended.

Reserve 1/3 cup Ganache. Then, pour the remaining amount into the pan to cover the Peanuts.

10 Egg Yolks

3/4 cup Granulated Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste or 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt For Semifreddo: In a metal or tempered glass bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks, 3/4 cup of the Granulated Sugar, Vanilla Bean Paste and Salt until pale. Place the bowl over a sauce pot with 1″ of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk the Yolks until doubled in volume and an instant read thermometer reads 160°F. Remove the bowl from the heat and place into an ice bath until mostly chilled, stirring occasionally.

1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar In another large bowl, whip the Cream and remaining Sugar until the Cream holds a stiff peak.

chilled Yolk mixture Fold the Cream into the chilled Yolk mixture, making sure not to over mix.

1/2 cup Creamy Whipped Peanut Butter (warmed; avoid natural varieties)
Reserved Chocolate Ganache Pour the Cream mixture over the Ganache layer. Then pour or dollop the warm Peanut Butter and the reserved Ganache over the Cream mixture. Using a metal spatula or Butter knife, swirl the layers together, making sure to avoid hitting the bottom layer of Ganache.

Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap or foil and place into the freezer for at least 8 hours.

When ready to serve, remove the Semifreddo from the freezer. Remove the plastic wrap or foil and use the parchment paper to lift the Semifreddo out of the pan. Place it Peanut side up on a long platter.

Slice and serve immediately. Pour extra Chocolate Ganache over each slice for garnish (optional).

Helpful Tips:
1. A semifreddo is a dessert that means “half-frozen.”
2. Warm the peanut butter in the microwave so it’s easier to stir.
3. Freeze for 6 to 8 hours until solid.

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Spicy Slow Cooked Beef Chili

So today at about 12:30, I started prepping this dinner. I browned the meat, made the sauce, and let it cook until my husband came home at 5. It only needed about 30 more minutes. Everyone was STARVING!!!! No one could wait! Hubby had a hockey game and he had to eat soon. The girls were ready to attack the cabinets for whatever snack food they could find. I could not hold them off. So we went out to Chinese. Sigh… we will eat this tomorrow night. It will cook longer to warm up. It will just get better with age. This is a yummy spicy beef chili, no beans. I will make the girls try a bite. “My tongue is burning!” “Too spicy!” “Can I have more crackers, please?” I already have a backup plan… wagon wheel pasta and alfredo sauce. You should make your kids try everything you make. It is good for their palettes and opens them up to new flavors they may actually like. But they just might not like it; they might not be ready for those flavors yet; that is ok. Keep on trying but make sure they are still well fed. The alternate will be just as tasty. I may even add in a few veggies…

Spicy Slow Cooked Beef Chili

1 beef rump roast, browned
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 bottle beer- I used Yuengling
2 large cans of tomato sauce
2 small cans of stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
1-2 cups beef broth/water/more beer- depending on the size of your meat- eyeball along the way
heaping spoonful of cumin
heaping spoonful of paprika
heaping spoonful of chili powder
heaping spoonful of cayenne pepper
few shakes of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper- make it rain!
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions

In a large pot, brown your beef
Take out beef and add a bit of oil
Cook your onions down for about 5 minutes
Add your garlic and tomato paste; cook for 3-5 minutes
Add your beer and worcestershire. Stir and reduce for about 5 minutes.
Add all your canned tomatoes and spices
Stir well and add back in your beef. Add your broth or water if needed along the way. This should be thick, but not without a bit of liquid. Check and turn your meat every 30 minutes or so. Add more liquid (water/beef broth/beer) as needed.
Cook on med.low for 5 hours plus… The longer the better.
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