Taco Pie

This past fourth of July, we decided to break from our normal routine of staying put in our neighborhood, and instead decided to go to our sister-in-law’s house for the weekend. It was fun to say the least. We were able to go fishing along the Rock river, as well as just spend good old time with family. Granted we did not catch many fish, but my kids were able to spend some good quality time with their cousins, and they loved every second of it! With that said, my cooking responsibilities were set aside as well. My sister-in-law did not even let me help. WITH ANYTHING. I will be honest, it actually felt pretty good not to cook for a bunch of people. Regardless, there was one dish she threw together that was so simple, and one where everyone devoured. It was a taco pie.

Taco Pie Recipe
Taco Pie

This taco pie is everything you could probably love about tacos, but done in a pie kind of form. In my case, I decided to use pre-baked puff pastry sheets as my top and bottom crust. Did my family love it? Heck yes, and it was so, so good.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry, cooked according to directions
  • 1 1/2 lb ground chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 whole jalapeno pepper, diced (seeds removed if you do not want it spicy)
  • 1/2 tbsp salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of cooked corn kernels
  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa (I used a blend)
  • 3 cups colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Doritos, crumbled
  • black olives, optional
  • sour cream, optional
  • shredded lettuce, optional
  • additional jalapenos, optional
  • lime wedges, optional
  • hot sauce, optional

Start by heating a large skillet on medium-high heat. Once heated, add in your ground chuck, and cook until browned. Strain and discard the fat.

Return the ground chuck back to the heat, and toss in the onions, corn, jalapenos, salsa, and seasonings. Stir and cook until the vegetables have softened. Once softened, remove them from the heat, and prepare your taco pie.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To a baking dish, one large enough to fit one of the pre-cooked puff pastry sheets, place the puff pastry sheet on the bottom.

Ingredients for making a Taco Pie

Top with some of the cheese, then layer on the meat mixture, then layer on the rest of the cheese, and then the crumbled Doritos. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted. Once melted, remove and top with the remaining puff pastry sheet, and then back in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the top puff pastry is warmed through.

Now you are ready to dig in. I let the pie rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into squares, but you do what you want.

Once sliced, place onto your plate, and add sour cream, olives, hot sauce, lettuce, and limes. Or don’t. It’s your call.

The ultimate is the taco pie. It’s a bit sweet from that awesome puff pastry, and then an explosion of flavor from everything you love about a spiced taco meat mixture. You could do this with chicken or pork if you want, but the classic ground beef mixture hit a homerun with my kids. Did I mention my oldest even ate it, and loved it? To me, that’s a win, win, and I’m thankful my sister-in-law turned me on to something so easy, yet so comforting to make. Hope you enjoy!

Taco Pie
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry, cooked according to directions
  • 1½ lb ground chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 whole jalapeno pepper, diced (seeds removed if you do not want it spicy)
  • ½ tbsp salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of cooked corn kernels
  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa (I used a blend)
  • 3 cups colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Doritos, crumbled
  • black olives, optional
  • sour cream, optional
  • shredded lettuce, optional
  • additional jalapenos, optional
  • lime wedges, optional
  • hot sauce, optional
Instructions
  1. Start by heating a large skillet on medium-high heat. Once heated, add in your ground chuck, and cook until browned. Strain and discard the fat.
  2. Return the ground chuck back to the heat, and toss in the onions, corn, jalapenos, salsa, and seasonings. Stir and cook until the vegetables have softened. Once softened, remove them from the heat, and prepare your taco pie.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. To a baking dish, one large enough to fit one of the pre-cooked puff pastry sheets, place the puff pastry sheet on the bottom.
  5. Top with some of the cheese, then layer on the meat mixture, then layer on the rest of the cheese, and then the crumbled Doritos. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted. Once melted, remove and top with the remaining puff pastry sheet, and then back in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the top puff pastry is warmed through.
  6. Now you are ready to dig in. I let the pie rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into squares, but you do what you want.
  7. Once sliced, place onto your plate, and add sour cream, olives, hot sauce, lettuce, and limes. Or don’t. It’s your call.

 

Read More

Cream Cheese Lasagna

Are you the type of home cook that plans your meals ahead of time, or one that cooks on the fly? I lean more on cook on the fly type, but we do make an attempt, at least talk about it, to think ahead of what we want to eat throughout the week. My wife had suggested that she make a pan of lasagna and freeze it to be had later in the week, and well, I had nothing as again, I’m more on the fly as to what my mood is. With that said, while she was out running errands, I decided to make the lasagna for her, you know, because I’m that type of guy. I had everything in stock with the exception of one ingredient, and I was not about to head to the store. This is when the cream cheese came into play.

Cream Cheese Lasagna

We are typically a ricotta cheese mixture type of family when it comes to making the cheese sauce mixture for lasagna, however I have taken spins on different lasagnas such as this Italian Beef Lasagna with Giardiniera, as well as a Lasagna Carbonara, both of which were awesome, so I was anxious to see how the cream cheese would turn out.

I grabbed my helper, who loves lasagna, and showed him how to make this recipe as well. Trust me, I am not looking back to ricotta ever again.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 12 sheets of lasagna, cooked under al dente
  • 1/2 lb ground chuck
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 3 tbsp
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Start by adding the sausage and beef to a pot, and cook it all the way through. Strain any fat, and return back to the stove. Add in your marinara, and give it a good stir. Season with the garlic, Italian seasoning, and some salt and pepper. Stir again.

Next, make your cheese sauce. To a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, eggs, and 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Season with an additional pinch of salt and pepper, and the dried parsley. Give this a good mix until you have a smooth cheese sauce and everything is nicely incorporated.

How to make cream cheese lasagna

OK, get your lasagna pan out. You know you have one. Take a ladle of the marinara and meat sauce, and get a nice thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Add 3 sheets of the cooked lasagna sheets onto the bottom. Top with some of the cheese mixture, into a nice even layer. Sprinkle a bit of the mozzarella cheese over the top, then more of the meat sauce. You want nice, even layers, reserving enough of both meat and cheese sauce for more layers.

Top with 3 more sheets of pasta, more cheese sauce, a bit more mozzarella, then more meat sauce. Repeat again, making sure the top layer gets the remaining meat sauce. Cover with mozzarella cheese, sprinkle on the 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, and take a look at that thing of beauty.

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray, and place that, spray side down, onto the top of the pan of lasagna. I find this helps to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and cook for 40 minutes. Uncover, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden, and some of the edges are a bit crispy.

Let this cool down a bit as it will be piping hot, then slice and serve.

The end result is a really, really good lasagna. I was always a fan of the standard ricotta cheese sauce, but this cream cheese just added this ever slight tang that I fell in love. Again, I will never turn back to the classic, it was that good.

Cream Cheese Lasagna
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 12 sheets of lasagna, cooked under al dente
  • ½ lb ground chuck
  • ½ lb Italian sausage
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 3 tbsp
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the sausage and beef to a pot, and cook it all the way through. Strain any fat, and return back to the stove. Add in your marinara, and give it a good stir. Season with the garlic, Italian seasoning, and some salt and pepper. Stir again.
  2. Next, make your cheese sauce. To a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, eggs, and ¾ cup of parmesan cheese. Season with an additional pinch of salt and pepper, and the dried parsley. Give this a good mix until you have a smooth cheese sauce and everything is nicely incorporated.
  3. OK, get your lasagna pan out. You know you have one. Take a ladle of the marinara and meat sauce, and get a nice thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Add 3 sheets of the cooked lasagna sheets onto the bottom. Top with some of the cheese mixture, into a nice even layer. Sprinkle a bit of the mozzarella cheese over the top, then more of the meat sauce. You want nice, even layers, reserving enough of both meat and cheese sauce for more layers.
  4. Top with 3 more sheets of pasta, more cheese sauce, a bit more mozzarella, then more meat sauce. Repeat again, making sure the top layer gets the remaining meat sauce. Cover with mozzarella cheese, sprinkle on the 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, and take a look at that thing of beauty.
  5. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray, and place that, spray side down, onto the top of the pan of lasagna. I find this helps to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and cook for 40 minutes. Uncover, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden, and some of the edges are a bit crispy.
  7. Let this cool down a bit as it will be piping hot, then slice and serve.
  8. The end result is a really, really good lasagna. I was always a fan of the standard ricotta cheese sauce, but this cream cheese just added this ever slight tang that I fell in love. Again, I will never turn back to the classic, it was that good.

 

Read More

The Best Sausage Stuffing Recipe

I’m always curious why sausage stuffing is typically only served maybe once or twice a year, typically around the holidays. In all honesty, sausage stuffing, or sausage dressing if you will, is probably my favorite part of the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday. No lie. I could probably just live off of that during those couple of days, with a ladle of gravy, I’m set. I’ve been making this recipe for years now, and I might add a slight twist or two depending on my mood, but this is the one, and one that many people love.

The Best Sausage Stuffing Recipe

This recipe uses fresh herbs, a couple of different types of bread, chicken livers, sausage, and an array of vegetables, all drowned in chicken stock to be baked, then crisped at the end. It’s a wonderful spoonful in every bite.

This recipe feeds a small army, probably 12 or more, so from this, you can figure out what you need, or freeze the leftovers and use them up on any day where you require a bit of comfort food.
Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup of chicken livers, pureed in a food processor
  • 2 pounds of Jimmy Dean’s Pork Sausage with Sage
  • 1/2 cup of fresh sage, minced
  • 1/2 cup of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 21 oz Pepperidge Farm herbed seasoned stuffing
  • 4 cups sour dough bread cut into thick cubes
  • 6 slices of Nueske’s bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 head of kale, stems removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, minced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 5 cups of chicken stock, warmed
  • 2 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt, to taste

Heat two skillets on your stove, on medium heat.

To one skillet add the canola oil and let it come to temperature. Once heated for a few minutes, add the pureed chicken livers and mushrooms, and give a good stir.

To the other skillet, add the chopped bacon.

Cook the livers only for a few minutes, stirring along the way, then remove the skillet from the heat and set the livers into a bowl.

Cook the bacon, just until slightly crisp, then strain some of the bacon fat, reserving for later use if you want.

To the skillet with slightly cooked bacon, add the chopped kale, and half a cup of water. Continue cooking until the kale gets nice and wilted, about 12 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Once heated, add the sour dough bread cubes to a baking sheet and place into the oven, cooking for about 12 minutes or so until the bread is nice and golden crisp.

To the skillet where you were cooking your chicken livers, heat on medium high heat, add the 2 pounds of Jimmy Dean sausage. Cook the sausage until nice and crisp, about 10 minutes. Once cooked, place into a bowl and set the sausage to the side.

To your large skillet, add the butter. Cook on medium heat and let the butter melt. Add the onions, garlic, parsley, fresh herbs, and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes or until everything is nice and tender. Season with the salt and pepper.

How to make Thanksgiving Stuffing

I used a large aluminum pan that I purchased from the store to mix all of the ingredients.

To the large pan, add the bread cubes, bacon and kale mixture, liver and mushrooms, raisins, and sausage. Give this a good mix, making sure you incorporate all of the ingredients. Next, ladle in the warm chicken stock. You want to make sure the mixture gets softened, but not mushy. You don’t want mush.

Cover the pan with foil.

To the preheated 325 degreed oven, add the stuffing pan, and cook for 30 minutes, covered. Next, uncover cook for an additional 15 minutes so the top gets a bit crisp.

How to make Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing

The end result is pretty flipping amazing. You get sweet, savory, and great texture all around. This is my go to stuffing recipe and it’s one that I crave during the fall and winter months.

Hope you enjoy!

Read More

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Finally the Thanksgiving holiday is behind us, and hopefully we all survived the anxiety of making sure guests and food all turned out well. This past Thanksgiving was another success. We did not host this year, however we went to my in-laws and everyone brought a side dish, appetizer, or dessert. It worked out well. My responsibility was the turkey and the dressing (or stuffing). I’m always game for taking on those challenges, and I will admit, the dressing (or stuffing) is one of my favorites. I bought a large turkey, enough to feed everyone, and decided to simply stuff it with oranges, apples, and herbs, shove butter under the skin, and top it with Nueske’s bacon. It turned out pretty awesome, and with that said, we had leftovers. Lots of leftovers. My favorite part of the Thanksgiving holiday is probably waking up the following day and heating up a plate of leftovers. I’ll admit it, no problem. BUT I still had leftovers. That’s when I decided to make something my wife really, really loves, and that is shepherd’s pie. So what a better use of leftovers than making a turkey shepherd’s pie.

Turkey Shepherd's Pie

What I love about shepherd’s pie is that it is so easy to make, and it just screams comfort in every bite. Perfect for any day of the week, and great for work day leftovers.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of leftover Thanskgiving stuffing/dressing
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, and diced, approximately 1 cup
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups of leftover turkey, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup of frozen corn
  • 1/2 tbsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 whole baking potatoes, skinned, cubed
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • leftover gravy, optional

Start by heating a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the butter and canola oil, and let the butter melt. Add in the carrots, celery, and onion, and let this cook for about 8 minutes, stirring along the way.

Next add in the turkey, stir, and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add in the corn and peas, and give another stir. Add in the salt and pepper. Stir, and remove from the heat.

Make the potatoes by adding the potatoes to a large pot of cold water. Bring this to a boil and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Once tender, drain, add the potatoes back to the pot, cooking over medium heat to remove any excess water, then add in the butter and milk. Mash, or use a ricer. Taste and adjust any butter or salt if needed.

How to make turkey shepherd's pie

Next get a 9×13 inch baking dish out. Line the dish with the leftover Thanksgiving dressing or stuffing. Top with the turkey and vegetable mixture, then lather on the mashed potatoes.

Place the dish, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Remove and serve.

To serve, scoop out a serving and ladle on warm gravy. The end result is nothing short of comforting. It has everything you want in a great bite of food, and to me, I would be just happy serving this for my next Thanksgiving, it’s that good.

How do you use your leftover Thanksgiving food?

Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of leftover Thanskgiving stuffing/dressing
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, and diced, approximately 1 cup
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 2 cups of leftover turkey, chopped
  • ½ cup of frozen peas
  • ½ cup of frozen corn
  • ½ tbsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tbsp canola oil
  • 3 whole baking potatoes, skinned, cubed
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • leftover gravy, optional
Instructions
  1. Start by heating a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the butter and canola oil, and let the butter melt. Add in the carrots, celery, and onion, and let this cook for about 8 minutes, stirring along the way.
  2. Next add in the turkey, stir, and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add in the corn and peas, and give another stir. Add in the salt and pepper. Stir, and remove from the heat.
  3. Make the potatoes by adding the potatoes to a large pot of cold water. Bring this to a boil and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Once tender, drain, add the potatoes back to the pot, cooking over medium heat to remove any excess water, then add in the butter and milk. Mash, or use a ricer. Taste and adjust any butter or salt if needed.
  4. Next get a 9×13 inch baking dish out. Line the dish with the leftover Thanksgiving dressing or stuffing. Top with the turkey and vegetable mixture, then lather on the mashed potatoes.
  5. Place the dish, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Remove and serve.
  6. To serve, scoop out a serving and ladle on warm gravy. The end result is nothing short of comforting. It has everything you want in a great bite of food, and to me, I would be just happy serving this for my next Thanksgiving, it’s that good.

 

Read More