Posts Tagged ‘Cheese’

I’ve recently really been craving pizza, and since I really don’t have the cash to be ordering pizza I have been finding other ways of getting my fill. I’ve been preparing a lot of burrito/taco dishes lately and am usually left with a good amount of left over taco meat so I decided to use the left overs to prepare a basic taco pizza. Also, we purchased a heck of a lot of bread the last time we went shopping and I had to use our last loaf of French bread before it became moldy and inedible. These two recipes are so easy and quick that you’ll be enjoying a delicious pizza in no time!

Taco pizza sans extra toppings.

For the taco pizza you will need…

  • A frozen cheese pizza (I found that the Great Value frozen pizzas, or even the Wal-Mart fresh ones work well).
  • Ground beef (half a pound should do).
  • Chili, garlic, salt, and onion powder (or a packet of your favorite Mexican powder flavoring mix).
  • Onions (optional).
  • Garlic (optional).
  • Sour cream.
  • Your favorite hot sauce (Cholula or even Taco Bell’s fire sauce work great).
  • Shredded lettuce, sliced black olives, and any other condiments you may want to add.

How to prepare…

  1. If you’re going to add onions and garlic, chop them up.
  2. Place ground beef in a heated pan with a very thin layer of oil.
  3. Fry up the meat while stirring until most of the fat has melted, then drain it (you can save the grease to make a base for soups or sauces if you wish, but use it within the next day or so or it will start to smell weird).
  4. Add the onions and garlic.
  5. Add the seasoning and mix well. Cook until the onions have become clear and the garlic has become a bit softer.
  6. Place your frozen pizza on a sheet of aluminum foil (you may want to use some Pam on the foil depending on the pizza).
  7. Spread the taco meat evenly.
  8. Place the pizza in a preheated oven according to the box’s instructions. Usually the time mentioned on the box is enough to cook the pizza thoroughly even with this topping, but you can always leave the pizza in a bit longer as long as the crust isn’t turning too dark. If you think it needs more time, you can always place aluminum foil on top of the pizza to avoid further burning.
  9. Add dollops of sour cream and whatever other taco toppings you want.
  10. Slice and enjoy!

    French bread sliced in half.

What you will need for the french bread pizza…

  • A loaf of french bread.
  • Either canned tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes, or even fresh tomatoes.
  • Your favorite cheese/s.
  • Olive oil, garlic salt, onion powder, and favorite herbs such as basil and thyme.
  • Your favorite pizza toppings.

How to make…


After adding tomatoes.

  1. Slice the loaf of bread in half length-wise.
  2. Add the tomatoes. It’s up to you how much.
  3. Lightly douse it with olive oil and sprinkle the seasoning.
  4. Sprinkle the cheese on top (as thickly as you like just beware that the more toppings you have the longer it will take for them to cook).
  5. Add whatever toppings you like, such as capers, ham, pineapple, grilled chicken or beef.
  6. Place in the oven at about 350 degrees.
  7. Let it bake for about 15 minutes. The best way to avoid burning it is to keep an eye on it, or if you really don’t trust yourself, you can place aluminum foil on top after about 5 minutes into baking to prevent the bread from burning.
  8. Let it cool a bit and enjoy!

Before baking.

After baking (turkey, capers, not covered with aluminum foil when baked).

After baking (pepperoncini, covered with aluminum when baked).

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We finally did some grocery shopping and I’m very excited to finally have ingredients again to cook. I was getting tired of trying to make different pasta dishes with whatever weird stuff I could find. I have never purchased a whole chicken before, mostly because I thought they would be too expensive, but I found out that one chicken cost less than one little Cornish hen, and sure, the hen may have been healthier if it had been raised properly, but I doubt it. In fact, the two taste exactly the same when prepared this way.

What you will need…

Chicken Cacciatora.

  • A whole chicken.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Canned or fresh cubed tomatoes.
  • Capers.
  • Olive oil.
  • Parmesan cheese.
  • Salt.
  • Bacon.
  • Thyme and rosemary.

How to make it…

  1. Chop the garlic and place it in a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Allow it to brown a bit.
  2. Add the onions and let them cook until transparent.
  3. Chop the bacon and add that as well.
  4. Keep stirring until the bacon cooks for a few minutes and add in the herbs.
  5. Take a third of the onion mix and stuff it inside the chicken. Place a couple of capers under the skin.
  6. Place the chicken in a big pot, dump in a large can of diced tomatoes, or chop up 4 tomatoes and add two cups of water.
  7. Add a teaspoon of salt and a couple of more pinches of rosemary and thyme as you see fit.
  8. Turn on the heat to medium and add a teaspoon of capers (or more, if you like) and half the jar of the capers’ vinegar.
  9. Wait for the sauce to begin to boil around the chicken and then turn it to low and cover.
  10. After an hour, flip the chicken around. You may want to baste the chicken with the sauce every 15 minutes to allow it to absorb the flavors.
  11. Let it slow cook for a few hours. The longer you cook it, the more tender and blended the flavors become.
  12. Place some of the chicken on a plate along with some of the tomatoes and sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  13. Eat up!

Tip: You can always brown the chicken with your preferred method before slow cooking it. Remember that you can always place the left overs in a slow cooker or back in a pot to reheat. The best thing about slow cooking is that you don’t really need to pay much attention to it especially if you use a slow cooker! Just dig in when you’re hungry.

Close up of the soup.

I know, another polenta dish, and really, I had grown tired of eating polenta. But you see, we ran out of food and only had a few things left in the kitchen, so I decided to try and cook something up and see if I could make anything that was edible. So I decided to take whatever I had in the fridge and cupboard to see what would come out. I was actually amazed that I had enough ingredients to make something I actually wanted seconds of. The only problem is, this stuff is way too filling for me!

What you will need…

  • About 3/4 of a cup of some kind of fatty meat drippings such as ground beef or lamb.
  • An onion.
  • A clove of garlic.
  • Thyme.
  • Vegetable juice, like V8.
  • Rosemary.
  • Olive oil.
  • Corn starch.
  • Salt.
  • Heavy whipping cream.
  • Spinach.
  • Your favorite cheese.

How to prepare…

  1. Chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Dribble a bit of olive oil into a pot and turn up the heat to medium-low.
  3. Place the onions and garlic in the pot and allow the onion to turn a bit transparent while browning the garlic.
  4. Add thyme, rosemary and salt to taste.
  5. Add the fatty drippings into the pot and turn it down to low. Let it simmer for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  6. Cook further if the onions need more time to caramelize. They should be turning brown and shrinking a bit (you may shorten the cooking time if needed but it won’t be as flavorful).
  7. Add about 2 cups of v8 to the pot together with 1 cup of cream. You can add more cream if you like it to be creamier, but it will make it heavier also.
  8. Add the spinach.
  9. Mix two teaspoons of corn starch into a cup with cold water and make sure to work the lumps out.
  10. Slowly add the corn starch mixture into the pot while stirring to avoid creating lumps.
  11. Keep stirring for 8 more minutes to allow the corn starch to thicken.
  12. Scoop up some polenta and place it into the middle of the bowl.
  13. Pour as much soup as you like on top of the polenta and place the cheese of your choice on top of that.
  14. いっただきます! (Ittadakimasu– Bon Appetit!)

Tip: If you want to try slow cooking the soup over several hours on low, or even in a slow cooker, you will get a deeper and more blended flavor. You can always add meat to the dish if you would like. Instead of adding the drippings, you could use half a pound of 15% fat ground beef.

Top view of the soup.


Boiled polenta with grilled lamb, salt pork tomato sauce, and brie.

I really love lamb, and I really love polenta. So I decided I’d make a dish out of it. First I started buying those weird pre-made polenta things which had an odd consistency and didn’t have much flavor. Then I finally found polenta meal hidden in the baking isle at Save Mart. So this is the result.

Note: I don’t really use measurements myself because then I can’t customize my meals to my tastes. You should always make the dish to your specifications. Some people like saltier food, some like blander food, and others like spicier food. The easiest way to cook is to keep tasting your food and invent as you go along.

Substitutions: You may substitute the lamb for steak or any other red meat. You can also substitute the salt pork for your favorite bacon. If you like, you can use some milk in the polenta, or even some butter, or olive oil. If you really like you could make a ratatouille-like tomato sauce. The more vegetables, the better! If you really can’t find polenta, you can use the kind of corn meal you use to make corn bread. It is a little finer but it does make for a creamier dish.

You will need…

  • Polenta.
  • Canned tomatoes (crushed or whole if you wish).
  • Salt pork.
  • Capers (if you want).
  • Two lamb chops.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Cheese of your choice.
  • Any combination of thyme, rosemary, basil, and pepper.
  • Olive oil.
  • Salt.
  • Bell peppers.

How to prepare…

The polenta.

It is easier to prepare this dish if you prepare the polenta before hand. I usually cook everything at once because it doesn’t take nearly as long, but if you’re not used to cooking multiple items that need constant attention then I suggest you don’t try it yet.

  1. Pour water into a preferably non-stick pot. It is up to you how much you want to make. I usually make as much as I can and refrigerate the left overs to fry another day.
  2. Put the pot on the stove. Do not turn the heat on yet.
  3. Pour the polenta into the pot. I don’t measure how much, but usually try to keep it to 3/4 of the amount of water in the pot. Remember that you can always add water to the polenta if it needs further cooking or is still too hard.
  4. Set your heat on medium and begin to stir right about the time it begins to boil.
  5. Put a couple of pinches of salt in.
  6. Keep stirring.
  7. You may add herbs or dried tomatoes to the mix if you wish.
  8. Keep tasting the polenta to see if it has reached a desired consistency. It should be creamy though it will have some firmer bits in it. It usually takes around 30-45 minutes. Keep cooking it and adding water until it is as creamy as you like. Remember that if you add more water to keep cooking it until it is mostly evaporated and the polenta has an almost putty-like consistency.
  9. Once the polenta is the way you like it, turn off theheat and leave it uncovered (if you want it to firm up) or cover it up (to keep it softer).

The sauce and lamb.

  1. Chop the onions, garlic and bell peppers and cut the salt pork into cubes.
  2. Put enough olive oil in the pan to thinly cover the bottom.
  3. Turn the heat on medium and allow the oil to heat up.
  4. Dump the vegetables into the pan and allow them to cook until the onions begin to turn transparent and the garlic begins to brown. Do not burn the garlic.
  5. Dump the herbs in and saute` a bit longer and then dump the salt pork in and cook it up until it browns a bit.
  6. Open the canned tomatoes and pour it in the pan quickly being careful not to make the oil splatter.
  7. Put as many capers as you like. I also like to pour some of the caper vinegar in the mix.
  8. Wait until the tomato sauce begins to bubble and turn the temperature down to medium low.
  9. Cover with a lid and allow it to slow cook for 30 minutes or so.
  10. While the tomato sauce is cooking, fire up the grill and put your lamb chops on it. It is up to you how well done you want the lamb chops to be. If you don’t want to grill the lamb you can always cook them in the tomato sauce. This will make the sauce a bit more fatty but it will definitely give it a nice flavor.
  11. Add salt to taste making sure to periodically taste the sauce to prevent over-salting. You may also add more herbs if you wish.

Tip: Don’t worry about making too much polenta, you can always either fry it up, or bake it. Also, be careful when salting this dish because salt pork itself will do a good job of salting it. DO NOT over-salt the polenta. An insipid polenta with a salty sauce is better than having it the other way around. I made the mistake of over-salting the polenta and ended up having to put it back in the pot and add more polenta, cooking it longer.

How to put it together…

  1. First take a ladle and scoop up as much polenta as you like into a dish.
  2. Then place the lamb chop/s on the dish and then ladle the tomato sauce on top of both making sure to get a good amount of vegetables and salt pork on top.
  3. Add your favorite cheese on top.
  4. Bon Appetit!

Tip: Not that I’ve tried it, but it may be possible to cook polenta in a rice cooker. It works with quinoa, so why not with polenta!?

This is a type of dessert I’ve enjoyed my whole life. It was definitely the number one treat me and my brother, and even my dad would ask my mom to prepare, usually for breakfast. I’ve never craved something so much as these cheesy, chewy, crunchy, fried honey covered delights!

You will need…

  • Won-ton skins of whatever size or thickness you prefer.
  • Your favorite cheese (I would recommend either a dry mozzarella, Monterrey jack, or even cheddar — brie or cream cheese would be good too).
  • A bit of water.
  • Your favorite honey.

How to prepare…

  1. If you’re using a harder cheese such as Monterrey jack, shred a good amount into a bowl. If you’re using a soft cheese like brie make sure to remove the skin.
  2. Lay down a won-ton skin on a clean plate and dip your finger in the water. Then carefully wipe the edges of the won-ton to soften them.
  3. Put the cheese inside the skin. Make sure you don’t put too much otherwise it will ooze out. The best way to master this is to keep making them until they come out perfectly.
  4. Close it up by folding it in half and press down on the edges. To seal it in completely you should make little folds. There are several different techniques for this. Here is a good example on how to do it.
  5. Heat up a pan with about a quarter of an inch of oil in it.
  6. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by dropping a small piece of won-ton skin in the oil to see if it bubbles) drop the cheese things in the oil.
  7. Once they puff up you can look underneath to see if they’re golden brown. If not, let it fry a bit longer. Then flip it over and let the other side fry.
  8. Place them in a plate with paper towels to soak up the extra grease.
  9. After a few minutes place in another dish and pour honey on top. The cheese things need to be hot enough to melt the honey.
  10. Enjoy!