Thursday, January 31, 2008

Taco Pie

This is old favorite dating back to my teens. My Mom had to make two because one of my brothers would devour it. If his friends found out Taco Pie was on the menu at our house, they would try to figure out a way to get invited for dinner. This savory dish is a great quickie meal.

Taco Pie - Brown one pound of lean ground meat, drain well. Return meat to pan, add one envelope of Taco Seasoning Mix and 3/4 cup of water and cook meat per the package directions on the Taco Seasoning envelope. While the meat is browning, get out a glass pie dish or an 8 x 8 glass, oven safe dish and open up a tube of crescent rolls. Roll out and press the crescent roll dough together into dish to form a crust to cover the bottom of the dish and halfway up the sides of the dish. When meat is finished cooking dump into crust and spread out evenly. Crumble a couple of handfuls of Nacho Cheese Doritos and sprinkle over meat. Ice the meat with low-fat sour cream (this will be messy). Crumble some more Doritos over the sour cream, garnish with sliced black olives and shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. Check after 20 minutes. Pie is done when crust is browned and cheese melted to your liking. Let pie rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Bueno!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Smoky Mountain Cajun

It's Mardi Gras time in N'Awlins and I have been remembering get togethers in the past with friends. My husband and I have some very good friends back in The Big Easy that live two houses from one of the parade routes. We spent a lot of time at their house during Mardi Gras. Their home was a gathering spot for their friends and family. On Sundays, there were usually two parades, one in mid-afternoon followed by an evening parade. We would gather around noon and everyone would either bring a dish or cook when they arrived.

I cooked what I call Cajun Smoky Mountain Pasta last night. I hope you enjoy it as much as my twelve year old did last night but not as much as my co-workers did today :( They ate my lunch!

One ingredient you will need to make ahead of time is "Essence". This is one of Emeril Lagasse's seasonings that I always have on hand. It's great for seasoning a multitude of meats and veggies. The recipe for Emeril's "Essence" is a follows: 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried thyme. Mix ingredients in an air tight container to keep as a pantry must!

Cajun Smoky Mountain Pasta - In a large, heavy pot, over medium to medium high heat, heat up three tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add one medium onion chopped and one pound of cubed tasso (optional). Saute until onions are soft. Add two teaspoons of Essence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, mix together and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of white wine to deglazed pot and cook until almost all of the liquids are evaporated. Lower heat to medium add one cup of heavy cream, one 8 oz. package of light cream cheese (room temperature), juice from half a lemon and about a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Blend well and stir until cream cheese is completely melted. Add one pound of crawfish tails and two chopped scallions and a palm full of freshly chopped parsley. Let crawfish tails heat through over low heat, then stir in about 3/4 lb. of cooked penne pasta. Serve with a green salad and garlic bread.

It's Mardi Gras in the Smokies!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Do you ever plan a menu for a week and then you look at your pre-planned menu of the day and say, "Nah, I don't feel like making that or that's not what I want."? Well, that's what happened to me Tuesday. I looked in the freezer to see what struck me. Not much. I was really in the mood to go out and eat. We've been trying to watch our pennies lately and are doing what most people are doing, "trying" to cut back. Going out, even for burgers was not in the budget. Tuesday was the season premier of "American Idol", so I had to be out of the kitchen before showtime! I saw a pack of sirloins and pulled them out to thaw. Our menu was Teriyaki Sirloins Steaks, Balsamic Baby Bellas and Roasted Yukons.

Teriyaki Sirloins - Sprinkle Sirlions with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste, then sprinkle some teriyaki sauce on them and let them "hang out" for about ten minutes. Grill them or cook them in a pre-heated 450 degree oven until desired doneness. Bast or sprinkle the sirloins with teriyaki sauce during cooking. When done, let them rest for five to seven minutes to let the juices redistribute.

Balsamic Baby Bellas - Use one container of baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced. Add one stick of butter (not margarine) and bellas to a sauce pan, cover and heat over medium low heat. When butter is halfway melted, blend in about one-third of a cup of balsamic vinegar being careful not to break the shrooms! Turn heat to low and let the flavors mingle for about twenty minutes and serve.

Roasted Yukons - Clean about six yukon potatoes (serves 4, and depends on size of Yukons). Place potatoes on large pot and pour in enough chicken broth to go about halfway up the potatoes. Cook covered on medium to medium high heat for about twenty minutes. You want to braise the 'taters. Take the lid off the pot and let the chicken broth off. Once broth has evaporated, lower heat to medium, use a jar or can and split the potatoes being careful not to smash them. Add three tablespoons of butter to pot and salt and pepper to taste. Let potatoes brown and flip and brown them on the other side. You can garnish with chopped scallions or chopped fresh parsley.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Quick and Easy Comfort Food

<----The Home Girlz
The temperatures are dropping in the mountains and the Home Girlz are demanding "something good". Since it was Monday, I really didn't want to get tied up in the kitchen for hours after working all day. The menu: Pan Seared Ham Steaks, Cajun Cheese Grits, Roasted Asparagus. Sorry no picture of the finished product today, but I will try to start uploading photos with the Daily Menu.

Pan Seared Ham Steaks - your favorite brand of ham steak from the grocery (we usually figure half a steak per person), butter. Preheat a non stick skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter and melt. Add ham steak, sear for about two minutes each side.

Cajun Cheese Grits - 2 cups quick cook grits, 2 cups heavy cream, 2 cups water, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon light oil, 1/2 stick buter (cut up), 1/2 pound smoke sausage, 2 green onions, chopped. Using a 2 quart pot, pre heat to medium high and add 1 tablespoon oil and brown sausage. When sausage is browned, remove from pot and set aside. Add water, cream, salt, cayenne, butter, bring to a boil, add sausage and grits lower heat to medium until grits absorb liquid. Add cheese and turn off heat and stir until cheese is melted, then stir in green onions and serve.

Roasted Asparagus - one pack asparagus, extra virgin olive oil, salt, freshly cracked black pepper, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Wash asparagus, drain well, take one spear and hold at each end and bend it until it breaks. Pitch the end and keep the tip on each. Place the asparagus on a foil lined baking sheet (for easy clean-up) sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive olive and toss with your hands to coat each spear. Place in a preheared 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. The asparagus with have a nutty flavor - YUM!