Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mexican Pizza

Just another variation on our favorite Mexican dinners - pizzas! These are very filling and fun to make. You could modify this recipe different ways to suit your taste. I went for the semi-healthy, semi-spicy version by baking the tortillas instead of frying them, using fat-free beans, skipping the sour cream (ok, I really just forgot it), and adding hot peppers to the meat and the tomatoes - jalapenos, hot banana and another green chile - a Big Jim maybe?

Source: Adapted from Cooking This and That

1/2 lb ground beef (I brown the meat with chopped onion and a hot pepper)
taco seasoning (My seasoning was made of a combination of cumin, chili powder, pinch of salt, and a spoon of minced garlic)
1/4 cup water
4 flour tortillas (10 inch)
cooking spray
2 tbsp chopped green onions
1/2 can (8 ounces) refried beans
1 cup diced tomatoes (I made pico de gallo for extra flavor - tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, cilantro, lemon juice and salt)
1/2 cup taco sauce (I used homemade enchilada sauce)
1 cup shredded cheese
sliced black olives, optional


Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the ground beef until brown, drain. Return to the heat and add the onion & pepper, taco seasoning and water. Continue to cook for several minutes, until cooked through, stirring often.

Spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray and place directly on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for about 6 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown and crispy. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Remove to a baking sheet.

Microwave the refried beans for 30-60 seconds, or until spreadable.

Lay 2 tortillas out on a baking sheet; top each with a spoonful of the beans, ground beef, and 1/4 cup cheese. Top with another tortilla and lightly press down.

Top the second tortillas each with 1/4 cup taco sauce. Layer with diced tomatoes, cheese, green onions and a few black olives.

Bake for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and top with sour cream and/or salsa if desired.

Jalapeno Corn Muffins

This is one of my favorite things to make to go with pretty much any Mexican style dinner. Normally I would see this long list of ingredients and skip right over the recipe, but most of the items you probably already have. I make one batch (12 muffins) and freeze the leftovers for the next time. It's a quick side - just microwave the frozen muffin for a few seconds (maybe 30?) and it's just like fresh baked. The muffins aren't really spicy (but you could make them as spicy as you like), and still have good flavor and texture between all of the the cheese, jalapeno, corn and honey. They are really soft and would be great with chili!

Source: Emeril Lagasse

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Pinch salt plus 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon minced green jalapeno, seeds and stem removed
1 tablespoon minced red jalapeno, seeds and stem removed
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fresh corn and a pinch of salt and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, cayenne pepper, and cheese. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, jalapenos, and honey. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Stir in the cooled onions and corn.

Spoon the batter into lightly greased, regular size muffin tins, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake muffins for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from muffin tins and cool on wire rack. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 muffins

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Double Chocolate Brownie Cake

Today I was in the mood to bake something, but didn't want to go out in the rain to run to the store for anything. I have a good baking stash in the pantry, but decided on this Double Chocolate Brownie Cake that calls for very few ingredients. It's a simple doctored cake mix and turns out really dense, moist, and chocolately. Since the cake itself is fairly rich, I just dusted powdered sugar on top instead of making a glaze or frosting of some kind. Yum!

Source: Allrecipes.com

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Have all ingredients at room temperature.

In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding mix. Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, sour cream, oil and water. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cupcake Burgers & Fries

Here's a fun treat for your next BBQ. I saw these cupcakes on several blogs this summer and decided I needed to make them. I went the easy route and used box mixes for the cake and brownies and used canned icing.

I made the cupcakes mini sized and used one of the big wilton tips as a cutter for the brownies to fit just right on the cupcake.

You'll need:

1 box yellow cake mix made 50-52 mini cupcakes. I used liners for the cupcakes. Next time I would be more careful about how much batter went into each one because the ones that overflowed the top didn't have matching top/bottom bun sizes.

1 box brownie mix baked in a 9x13 pan was plenty for 50 cupcakes.

1 can of white icing - color some red, some yellow and some green.

sesame seeds (optional)

To assemble the burgers, start by cutting the cupcakes in half. Then top with a brownie burger, pipe some red, green, and yellow icing on top. Brush the top bun with a little bit of water and spinkle sesame seeds on top.

The burgers were fun to make and not too time consuming, but the fries were a different story for me. I bought refrigerated sugar cookie dough and rolled it out and cut it into strips using a pizza cutter. The idea was to peel away every other fry and place it on another cookie sheet so when it baked, it had room to spread.

Well...after rolling/cutting, the dough was pretty warm, so I popped it in the fridge for a while, but apparently not long enough. The dough was way too soft to be able to lift/move each individual fry. It was a long process to try and get the fries to keep their shape...and in the end, they didn't. They spread too much on the pan and didn't look much like fries. Oh well, they tasted fine and right after baking I threw them in a brown paper bag with some granulated sugar to look like salted fries.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stuffed Jalapeños

I had these stuffed jalapeños at a party recently and they were great - not too spicy. I knew I'd want to make them myself with jalapeños from our garden, so I did!

To take some of the heat out of the peppers, I seeded them all the day before and soaked them in milk overnight. It's the first time I tried that trick and I can't really say how much it helped, since I couldn't compare the before pepper to the pepper that was soaked. However, most of the peppers were mild enough that I didn't need a drink immediately after eating one. After reading the reviews, I also added a big spoonful of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese. I also used turkey bacon and 1/3 less fat cream cheese to cut out a lot of the fat.

Instead of cutting each pepper in 1/2, I cut a "T" shape into the pepper. I cut a line down the length of the pepper, and a smaller cut across the top below the stem, just big enough to be able to get the seeds out.

Source: Allrecipes.com

12 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 (8 ounce) package whipped cream cheese
12 slices bacon, cut in half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Stuff each jalapeno half with whipped cream cheese. Wrap a half slice of bacon around each stuffed jalapeno half.
Arrange wrapped jalapeno halves in a single layer on a medium baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven 45 minutes, or until bacon is evenly browned and crisp.
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