Monday, January 27, 2014

Oven Tacos

I hate to admit it, but it was only a year ago when my kids first learned what a taco was.  I know.  (Can we still be friends, Jessie?!).  The discover happened when I brought a book home from the library titled Dragons Love Tacos.  After reading the title, before cracking open the book, one of my gingersnaps asked, "Mom - what's a taco?".

Um.  What?  Seriously?!

Well you know what that meant.  I promptly added tacos to our menu for the next week.  And everyone loved them.  Except for the whole falling apart thing.  I think deep down that's why I never made tacos for my family.  The whole falling apart after the first bite thing is just a little too messy and annoying.  My kids were feeling it.

But tonight I made these.  Oven tacos are it!  With the meat, cheese, and beans already baked into the shell, there isn't much left that tends to fall out and everything just held together better.  My son made it down to his last two bites of taco before things crumbled to bits - and he was so proud of himself!  Three cheers for oven tacos!

adapted from MIH

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup water
1 cup refried beans
1-2 cups grated cheese
10-12 hard taco shells

Taco topping ideas:
sour cream

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large skillet, brown meat and onion on medium-high heat.  Drain off any excess liquid and grease.  Return to pan and add seasoning, tomato paste, water, and beans.  Mix well and cook for a few minutes.

Spoon the taco meat mixture into the taco shells and place into a 9x13 baking dish, standing up.  Sprinkle cheese over the top of the taco meat in each shell.  Place pan in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted fully.  OR, do it in two batches so you get extra fresh tacos!  As you pull out the first batch of 4-5 tacos and serve everyone, quickly throw together the rest and let them bake while you are enjoying your first taco!

Remove from oven, throw on your toppings, and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Bread

I love flipping through the Penzeys catalogue for the recipes and found this one last week.  This bread would be absolutely perfect in the Fall, but my feeling is there's never a wrong time to eat pumpkin!  I really liked the hint of orange, but the second loaf (the recipe makes two) started drying out after a couple of days so I'd make sure to have enough people to share the bread with, or go ahead and stick a loaf in the freezer for another time.

3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. grated orange rind
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin purée
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine the dry ingredients and set aside. 
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each one. Add the vanilla, pumpkin and dry mixture approximately 1/2 cup at a time, alternating between the pumpkin and dry mixture until all is combined. Stir in the cranberries and nuts. 
Divide the batter between two 8x41/2-inch greased and floured loaf pans and bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Hash with Sausage and Eggs

I mentioned this on my top ten list yesterday and realized then that I'd never posted the recipe.  How have I been holding out you for so long?  Truly.  This dish is amazing.  The ingredients may seem a strange combination, but you have to trust me that everything comes together to create an irresistibly savory and filling meal.  It could easily work for a brunch, and a lot of it can be made ahead of time.  Try it.  You'll like it!

2 pounds onions, about 2 large
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Table salt
1 pound fresh Italian sausage or chorizo
3 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 large potatoes, ideally organic
6 large garlic cloves
4 long stalks rosemary, about 1/4 cup of leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if necessary
Freshly ground black pepper
To serve:
Large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, to serve
To make the hash:
Heat the oven to 450°F. Peel the onions and cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them into thin half-moons. Cut the half-moons in half. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it foams up add the onions and sprinkle lightly with salt. (Don't worry if they are crammed into the pan; they will rapidly cook down.) Lower the heat slightly and cook the onions for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and lowering the heat if they seem to be burning. Cook them until they are very dark brown.
Meanwhile, put the sausage in another skillet and brown over medium-high heat, chopping it up into fine crumbles with a spatula. Cook the sausage for about 10 minutes, or until it is browned and beginning to crisp. Drain away any excess fat.
While the onions and sausage are cooking, chop the unpeeled sweet potatoes into cubes that are about 1/2-inch to a side. Finely mince the garlic and rosemary leaves, and toss them in a large bowl with the sweet potatoes. Toss with the olive oil, kosher salt, and a generous helping of black pepper.
When the onions are dark brown and the sausage is crispy, stir these into the sweet potatoes as well. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, and spread out the sweet potatoes evenly. Roast the sweet potatoes for 30 to 45 minutes (roasting time depends on the size and uniformity of the sweet potato chunks, as well as the variety of sweet potato you buy) or until they are soft and browned.
Refrigerate the cooled hash for up to 5 days.
To serve:
Heat the oven to 425°F. Spread a relatively thin layer of the (already cooked) sweet potato hash in a baking dish, such as a cast iron skillet or a 9x13-inch baking dish. You can also bake in individual ramekins. Make small wells in the sweet potatoes and crack in large eggs. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are hot and the eggs are baked through. (Test the eggs by prodding them with a fork to check the firmness of the white and the yolk; baked eggs are deceptive in that the white often looks much less cooked than it really is.)
Serve immediately, with shavings or sprinkles of Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Favorites from 2013

Happy New Year!  I can still say that, right?!  We are finally settling in back home after a month of traveling to be with family for the holidays.  The trip was wonderful, but now it's back to the real life of daily responsibilities, which is why there haven't been many new recipes showing up here lately.  My family has definitely been eating, though, and I have some good things to share.  But I wanted to do a little re-cap of last year and post my top 10 recipes from 2013.  In no particular order, here is a list of things I would say you've got to try.  Happy Eating!

Pumpkin Waffles

Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad

Sour Cream Chocolate Banana Bread

Carne Adovada

Summer Pesto Pizza

Sweet Potato Hash

BLT Salad

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies

Herb Cheese-stuffed Salmon

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