Friday, April 22, 2011

Stacked Tacos

I got this recipe from the archives of Real Mom Kitchen. I was bored with our normal Taco/Burrito/Taco Salad rut and was hunting for a new twist on some easy Mexican food. I think I hit the jackpot with this one. We all loved it - including my 3-year old. The sauce reminds me of the sauce on Taco Bell's Mexican pizza. It's tomato base makes it really unique and delicious.

We ate it the first night on these stacked tacos and still had enough for Navajo tacos another night AND my daughter and I made quesadillas with it for lunch one day. I  especially recommend using it on Navajo Tacos. Wow it was good!

Okay, on the recipe. Oh, and ONE more thing. In this recipe, it says to fry the tortillas one at a time. This took me forever, so I recommend maybe experimenting with other options. I was thinking that brushing the tortillas with oil and broiling them until they're crispy might work. That way you could do a few at a time. Okay, now it's on to the recipe. :)

Stacked Tacos

1 lb. ground beef
1 (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (Mine had lime juice and cilantro in them and I could definitely taste the difference. Yum!)
1 cup salsa
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
15 fajita-sized flour tortillas
Toppings of your choice

Brown ground beef in a skillet and drain.

In a large soup pot, combine tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salsa, tomato soup, and taco seasoning.  Stir well.  Add ground beef and allow mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes to blend flavors.

Heat a small amount of cooking oil in a skillet.  Pan fry each tortilla in hot oil until brown and crisp.  Drain on paper towel.

To serve: Place a tortilla shell on each plate. Add 1/4 cup of saucy meat mixture on each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Repeat two more times. You should now have a stack of 3 layers. Add desired toppings and serve! Makes 5 stacked tacos.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake Squares

We tried these last night and oh my word, they were delicious! We needed to use up the strawberries we bought on sale, so I searched Our Best Bites for some ideas and found this. My husband was a little reluctant at first (he's a cheesecake purist), but we both agree now that they were well worth the trip to the store at 6:00 at night to get the extra ingredients we needed.

If I were rating these recipes, this would receive 5 stars. Definitely.

Strawberry Cheesecake Squares

1 package Pecan Sandies Cookies, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
11 oz. cream cheese (1 8-oz. package + 3 oz. of another package, not low-fat), softened
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups sour cream
1 1/4 c. strawberry sauce - recipe found below (you can also use strawberry jam, jarred strawberry topping, or canned strawberry pie filling)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a food processor, process 3/4 of the Pecan Sandies (reserve 6). Mix with melted butter and lightly press onto the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, almond extract, and sour cream. Beat on high for 4-5 minutes. Spread half of the cheesecake batter onto the bottom of the 9×13 pan. Pour 3/4 c. of the strawberry sauce over the batter, spreading gently to cover the surface (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Spread remaining cheesecake batter over the strawberry layer and then spoon remaining 1/2 c. of strawberry sauce over the batter. Being careful not to cut into the surface of the cookie crust, swirl the strawberry mixture with a butter knife.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until center is jiggly but not liquid. While baking, process remaining 6 cookies. During the last 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle the cookies on top of the cheesecake. Chill for at least 8 hours and cut into squares. If desired, drizzle remaining strawberry sauce over the individual squares.

Serve and wonder if you have, actually, gone to heaven.

Strawberry Sauce

1 pint (16 oz.) strawberries
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. almond extract or vanilla extract
Wash strawberries and remove stems. If strawberries are really big (or if you don't think your blender can handle them), chop into smaller pieces.
Add ingredients to a blender* and pulse until smooth.
That's it!
*The original recipe actually says to add the ingredients to a saucepan first and cook for 5 minutes, then let the mixture cool before adding to the blender. I kinda didn't see that part and just put them straight in the blender. It still turned out yummy.

Saucy Chicken Italiano

I've been a pepper and onion despiser my entire life. Until my second pregnancy last summer, when I craved this dish all the time! I remember finding the recipe on Kraft Foods and thinking it sounded soooo good. I tried it and became addicted. I still love it, in fact. I guess I have pregnancy to thank for resolving my aversion to peppers and onions. :)

Saucy Chicken Italiano

4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
onion, thinly sliced, separated into rings
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Caesar dressing
1 cup Italian Five Cheese Blend
Pasta of your choice, cooked according to package directions (fettucini is usually best, but in the pictures we substituted "bow tie" pasta)
Heat large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 min. on each side or until cooked through.

Add vegetables, broth and dressing; cover. Cook on medium heat 6 to 8 min. or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Spoon cooked pasta onto platter. Add vegetables, then top with chicken, sauce, and cheese.

BBQ Chicken & Bacon Stuffed Pizza Rolls

I've heard of pizza rolls, but have never tried them. Then, when I was browsing Our Best Bites, I saw these ones and decided to give them a whirl.

The first try, about a month and a half ago, did NOT turn out well. For some reason, I started late so I was a little stressed about getting them done and turns out the little buggers are kind of time consuming. But even though they were a little dry and I had mixed up the seasonings to sprinkle on the top so they tasted very strongly of Parmesan cheese, I recognized potential. A week or so ago I finally worked up the courage to try them again. Much better this time, but still not very pretty (as you can tell). I think they take practice.

My problem was fitting all those yummy fillings onto the teeny-tiny squares. Just about every one was overflowing. I guess I need to make the square bigger?

Also, the first time we made them, we thought they were a little dry. The second time, I added a little BBQ sauce and it really made a difference (thus the name change from the original recipe). They're really good, which is why they deserved a second chance!

BBQ Chicken & Bacon Stuffed Pizza Rolls

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough*
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. olive oil or melted butter
Sharp cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
About 1 cup shredded, cooked chicken
About 1/4-1/3 cup BBQ sauce
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup milk

First take 1 teaspoon of your ranch dressing mix and combine it with 1 1/2 T parmesan cheese. Set aside. Combine the remaining ranch mix with 3/4 C mayo and 3/4 C milk and place in the fridge to chill.

Preheat oven to heat specified on pizza dough package.

Unroll your pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll the dough so it's about 12" by 8". You're going to want to cut it into 24 squares, so just eyeball it if you need to. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 24 squares.

Place a small (about 1/2 tsp.) dollop of BBQ sauce each square. Then place cheese, chicken, and bacon on top of sauce on each square.

When all of your dough squares have cheese and toppings on them, carefully lift up each square and wrap the dough around the toppings. I grab the four corners first and then squeeze the seams shut. (This is the frustrating part, but don't worry about it looking pretty. I just kind of mushed the dough until everything was covered.)
Place the dough balls seam side down in a lightly sprayed pie pan (or similar sized dish). Brush with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with the parmesan-ranch mixture.

Place your rolls in the oven. Set your timer for 10 minutes and check on them after that. They may take up to 15 or 20 to be done. Take them out when they're lightly golden on top.

Serve them warm with a side of freshly made ranch dressing for dipping.