Taco Bake with polenta top crust

Thought I'd use some of our pulled pork to make a burrito . . . but this is what I came up with instead. I'll created more of a guide than an actual recipe as amounts can vary. I just made a small skillet full for Barry and me. Lots of possibilities -- add corn, black olives, use ground beef and taco seasoning or whatever you might have on hand.

Taco Bake with polenta top crust 
Olive oil
Roasted pork, shredded or pulled pork
Green onions, sliced
Minced garlic
Ground cumin 
Chili powder
Black beans or pinto
Salsa
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Paprika
Chopped tomatoes & cilantro
  1. Heat a little oil in a skillet, add cooked pork and onions and cook until meat is lightly brown and crusted; add a little garlic at the end of cooking time.

  2. Sprinkle with cumin and chili powder and spoon in drained beans and a little salsa (just enough to moisten)
  3. Top with a layer of prepared polenta.
    Prepared polenta ready to spoon over meat and beans.
  4. Top with shredded cheese and paprika.
  5. Bake in at preheated 350° oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. 
  6. Garnishes skillet casserole with chopped tomatoes and cilantro.

Taco Bake with polenta top crust 
Olive oil
Roasted pork, shredded or pulled pork
Green onions, sliced
Minced garlic
Ground cumin 
Chili powder
Black beans or pinto
Salsa
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Paprika
Chopped tomatoes & cilantro
  1. Heat a little oil in a skillet, add cooked pork and onions and cook until meat is lightly brown and crusted; add a little garlic at the end of cooking time.
  2. Sprinkle with cumin and chili powder and spoon in drained beans and a little salsa (just enough to moisten)
  3. Top with a layer of prepared polenta.
  4. Top with shredded cheese and paprika.
  5. Bake in at preheated 350° oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. 
  6. Garnishes skillet casserole with chopped tomatoes and cilantro.

Crispy Potato Crust Quiche

Forget about making traditional  pie crust. You don’t need it for this unique quiche. And the bonus is that you have potatoes, eggs and meat (if you add it) all in one dish! This recipe comes from Jane Medina as adapted from Creme de Colorado, p. 115 with a few additional adaptations on my part.
I often keep the prepared and baked crusts on hand; they freeze well. 

Crispy Potato Quiche    6 servings
1 (24-oz(. pkg. frozen shredded hash browns, thawed (use as much as needed depending on size of pie pan
1/3 cup melted butter
1  cup shredded hot pepper cheese (Monterey Jack with jalapenos or substitute plain 
Monterey Jack)
1 cup shredded Cheddar (or Colby) cheese
1 small (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
1 cup diced ham (or use bacon, sausage, etc,) - optional
1/2 cup half-and-half+
2 to 3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt or Tex-Joy seasoning
  1. Press thawed hash browns between paper towels to remove moisture. Fit hash browns into greased 10” pie plate, forming a solid crust.  

  2. Brush crust with melted butter, making certain to brush top edges.  
  3. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes. Remove from oven.  
  4. Sprinkle cheeses, chilies, meat (if using) evenly over bottom of baked crust. 
  5. Beat half-and-half with eggs and seasoned salt.  
  6. Pour over cheeses and ham (add more half-and-half and eggs if needed to fill pan).  
  7. Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow 5 or 10 minutes cooling time so it will set up.
Recipe without photos  . . .
Crispy Potato Quiche    6 servings
1 (24-oz(. pkg. frozen shredded hash browns, thawed (use as much as needed depending on size of pie pan
1/3 cup melted butter
1  cup shredded hot pepper cheese (Monterey Jack with jalapenos or substitute plain 
Monterey Jack)
1 cup shredded Cheddar (or Colby) cheese
1 small (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
1 cup diced ham (or use bacon, sausage, etc,) - optional
1/2 cup half-and-half+
2 to 3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt or Tex-Joy seasoning
  1. Press thawed hash browns between paper towels to remove moisture. Fit hash browns into greased 10” pie plate, forming a solid crust.  
  2. Brush crust with melted butter, making certain to brush top edges.  
  3. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. 
  4. Sprinkle cheeses, chilies, meat (if using) evenly over bottom of baked crust.  
  5. Beat half-and-half with eggs and seasoned salt.  
  6. Pour over cheeses and ham (add more half-and-half and eggs if needed to fill pan).  
  7. Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow 5 or 10 minutes cooling time so it will set up.

Toasted Bread Crostini-style Croutons

Crostini—toasted rounds of bread ready to be topped with any number of goodies or use to accompany cheese on a cheeseboard. Basically a round crouton that should be crisp to the bite!
We recemt;u served these with savory cheesecakes: Santa Fe Cheesecake & Blue Cheese & Onion Cheesecake.

Crostini-style Croutons
French baguette or long loaves of narrow sourdough bread
Olive oil
Kosher salt & black pepper, if desired (or use herbs)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° (convection heat is ideal but conventional works too)
  2. Thinly slice bread (1/8 to 1/4"). When doing a lot, Barry uses our meat slicer to expedite the task!
  3. Drizzle olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and use a pastry brush to create a thin layer.
  4. Swipe one side of a slice of bread in oil to lightly cover (not necessary that all of the surface is coated); turn so oiled side is up and dry side is next to oiled pan. Repeat until baking sheet is full but slices are not overlapping.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Put in preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes -- watch closely. Bread should be crisp through and crisp when eaten. If you wait until it looks golden brown, it may be hard to bite. 
Recipe without photos . . .
Crostini-style Croutons
French baguette or long loaves of narrow sourdough bread
Olive oil
Kosher salt & black pepper, if desired (or use herbs)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° (convection heat is ideal but conventional works too)
  2. Thinly slice bread (1/8 to 1/4"). When doing a lot, Barry uses our meat slicer to expedite the task!
  3. Drizzle olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and use a pastry brush to create a thin layer.
  4. Swipe one side of a slice of bread in oil to lightly cover (not necessary that all of the surface is coated); turn so oiled side is up and dry side is next to oiled pan. Repeat until baking sheet is full but slices are not overlapping. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Put in preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes -- watch closely. Bread should be crisp through and crisp when eaten. If you wait until it looks golden brown, it may be hard to bite.

Savory Santa Fe Cheesecake -- perfect as an appetizer!


Another favorite savory cheesecake, perfect for party fare! The recipe is written for a 9" springform pan but I like to divide the mixture into three smaller (4 to 4 1/2") pans so that I can freshen the cheeseboard as the party progresses. Our other favorite savory cheesecake: The Culinary Center of Kansas City's Blue Cheese, Bacon & Onion Cheesecake.

Santa Fe Cheesecake 
Crust:
1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Cheesecake:
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese
2 eggs
2 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese or blend or combination of Mexican-blend and sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained
2 tablespoon Taco Seasoning 
Dash or two of hot pepper sauce
Toppings:
About 1/2 cup sour cream
Veggies could include: chopped red, yellow or orange peppers, scallions (green onions), chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Crust: Combine crushed tortilla chips and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan (or three 4 to 41/2" pans); press chips to form a crust and bake for 15 minutes (10 minutes for smaller pans).

  3. Cheesecake: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and eggs until well blended.
  4. Mix in shredded cheese, sour cream, green chilies, taco seasoning, and hot pepper sauce until well blended. 
  5. Pour mixture over tortilla chip crust.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes (a little less for smaller pans) -- cheesecakes should be firm on top; a knife inserted in center will be slightly coated with a firm cheesecake mixture.
  7. Toppings: Spread a thin layer of sour cream over warm cheesecake.
  8. Run a knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen from pan. 
  9. Cool before removing rim of pan.
  10. Chill thoroughly.
  11. Garnish with vegetables of your choice. 
  12. Serve with crackers, firm tortilla chips or toasted crostini.
    http://cookingwithbarryandmeta.blogspot.com
    Cheese board with selected cheeses including savory Santa Fe Cheesecake and
    Blue Cheese, Bacon  & Onion Cheesecake
Recipe without photos . . .
Santa Fe Cheesecake 
Crust:
1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Cheesecake:
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese
2 eggs
2 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese or blend or combination of Mexican-blend and sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained
2 tablespoon Taco Seasoning 
Dash or two of hot pepper sauce
Toppings:
About 1/2 cup sour cream
Veggies could include: chopped red, yellow or orange peppers, scallions (green onions), chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Crust: Combine crushed tortilla chips and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan (or three 4 to 41/2" pans); press chips to form a crust and bake for 15 minutes (10 minutes for smaller pans).
  3. Cheesecake: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and eggs until well blended.
  4. Mix in shredded cheese, sour cream, green chilies, taco seasoning, and hot pepper sauce until well blended. 
  5. Pour mixture over tortilla chip crust.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes (a little less for smaller pans) -- cheesecakes should be firm on top; a knife inserted in center will be slightly coated with a firm cheesecake mixture.
  7. Toppings: Spread a thin layer of sour cream over warm cheesecake.
  8. Run a knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen from pan. 
  9. Cool before removing rim of pan.
  10. Chill thoroughly.
  11. Garnish with vegetables of your choice. 
  12. Serve with crackers, firm tortilla chips or toasted crostini.

Ed’s Sugar Cookies w/ Buttercream Frosting

Ed Krenger used to make the best sugar cookies. He baked them for his kids, for special events and friends. When his son Kelly was attended Norte Dame, we traveled with the Krengers to a football game. One the way, Ed made the mistake of offering a couple of cookies. Barry didn't stop with two, or even three. Finally, Ed said, "Barry, I made those for Kelly!" Barry's addiction to these cookies is typical; these are GOOD cookies. And, the sugar is so easy to work with, too.
Betty continues to make Ed's cookies and shared the recipe in an cooking article (Home Cooking—Dickinson County Style)  I wrote about her for the Reflector Chronicle in May, 2004.
She keeps batches of them on hand in her "magic freezer" and pulls them out as needed, adding the frosting after they are thawed.

Ed’s Sugar Cookies      Makes about 3 dozen cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2  large beaten eggs
4 tablespoons milk (or the equivalent of 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (the first 4 ingredients).  
  3. In another bowl, beat the shortening and sugar. 
  4. Then add the beaten eggs, milk and vanilla. 
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined. 
  6. Roll dough to about ¼” thickenss on a floured board and cut out (Ed always used a round cutter but other shapes can also be used). 

     
  7. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake @ 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. Frost cookies when cool.
Buttercream Frosting for Sugar Cookies  -- enough to frost about 100 (2 1/2") round cookies
1 cup salted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
4 to 6 tablespoons cream, divided (or use evaporated milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla 
Gel food coloring, if desired
Assorted sprinkles or colored sugar, if desired 
  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, use the whisk attachment* to beat the softened butter until it is fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add half of the powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons cream. Beat well. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining powdered sugar and 2 more tablespoons of cream. Beat well.
  4. Add salt, vanilla, coconut, and almond extracts. Beat well. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Add remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream, if needed.
  6. Add gel food coloring if you want to tint the frosting. (liquid food coloring thins the frosting) 
  7. Frost the cookies, cover and store on the counter for 2 to 3 days.
Recipe without photos . . .
Ed’s Sugar Cookies      Makes about 3 dozen cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2  large beaten eggs
4 tablespoons milk (or the equivalent of 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (the first 4 ingredients).  
  3. In another bowl, beat the shortening and sugar. 
  4. Then add the beaten eggs, milk and vanilla.  
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined. 
  6. Roll dough to about ¼” thickenss on a floured board and cut out (Ed always used a round cutter but other shapes can also be used).  
  7. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake @ 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. Frost cookies when cool.
Buttercream Frosting for Sugar Cookies -- enough to frost about 100 (2 1/2") round cookies
1 cup salted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
4 to 6 tablespoons cream, divided (or use evaporated milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla 
Gel food coloring, if desired
Assorted sprinkles or colored sugar, if desired 
  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, use the whisk attachment* to beat the softened butter until it is fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add half of the powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons cream. Beat well. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining powdered sugar and 2 more tablespoons of cream. Beat well.
  4. Add salt, vanilla, coconut, and almond extracts. Beat well. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Add remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream, if needed.
  6. Add gel food coloring if you want to tint the frosting. (liquid food coloring thins the frosting) 
  7. Frost the cookies, cover and store on the counter for 2 to 3 days.

Slow Cooker Pepper & Onion (Swiss) Steak

Swiss Steak — Take a less tender cut of meat (beef round), cook it in an acid (tomatoes) for a long time until it is fall apart tender and packed with flavor. The slow cooker is ideal for this task but it can also be done in the oven.
It also helps to tenderize the meat by pounding, or simply purchase cubed steaks.
While beef is normally used to make Swiss Steak, try cubed pork cutlets for another tasty variation. 

Slow Cooker Pepper & Onion (Swiss) Steak    2 to 3 servings 
1 can (14 ounce) petite diced tomatoes (double this if you like a lot of sauce)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 small mini peppers – I used a red, orange & yellow
1 large yellow onion, cut in half & thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed & minced
1 small bunch fresh thyme, tied or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
About 1 pound round steaks, tenderized or buy cubed steak. Or, used cubed pork cutlets instead
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
All-purpose flour
Olive oil, optional
Fresh parsley for garnish, if desired
  1. Slow Cooker: Mix tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, peppers, onions, garlic, and thyme in slow cooker.
  2. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Or, add an extra step (which I did) — After seasoning steak, dredge in flour and lightly fry in a pan (medium-high heat) coated with olive oil (this step creates another layer of flavor).
    Above -- tenderized steak dredged in flour.
    Below -- Dredged steak lightly fried before adding it to the slow cooker.  
  3. Add meat to slow cooker and “nestle” it into the sauce.
  4. Cook on high 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours. During about the last hour or so, mix a couple of tablespoons of flour with enough water to create a slurry. Add this to the sauce and carefully mix – this will create a slightly thickened sauce vs. a watery one. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. Serve over noodles, mashed potatoes or even rice. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Oven Directions: Assemble ingredients into a Dutch oven and baked in a preheated 325° oven for 2 hours or until steak is tender and falling apart. 

Recipe without photos . . .
Slow Cooker Pepper & Onion (Swiss) Steak    2 to 3 servings 
1 can (14 ounce) petite diced tomatoes (double this if you like a lot of sauce)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 small mini peppers – I used a red, orange & yellow
1 large yellow onion, cut in half & thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed & minced
1 small bunch fresh thyme, tied or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
About 1 pound round steaks, tenderized or buy cubed steak. Or, used cubed pork cutlets instead
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
All-purpose flour
Olive oil, optional
Fresh parsley for garnish, if desired
  1. Slow Cooker: Mix tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, peppers, onions, garlic, and thyme in slow cooker.
  2. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Or, add an extra step (which I did) — After seasoning steak, dredge in flour and lightly fry in a pan (medium-high heat) coated with olive oil (this step creates another layer of flavor).
  3. Add meat to slow cooker and “nestle” it into the sauce.
  4. Cook on high 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours. During about the last hour or so, mix a couple of tablespoons of flour with enough water to create a slurry. Add this to the sauce and carefully mix – this will create a slightly thickened sauce vs. a watery one. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. Serve over noodles, mashed potatoes or even rice. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Oven Directions: Assemble ingredients into a Dutch oven and baked in a preheated 325° oven for 2 hours or until steak is tender and falling apart. 

Electric Pressure Cooker—Almond Spiced Rice Pudding

A total comfort food dessert made in the electric pressure cooker! Good for breakfast, too

Electric Pressure Cooker —Almond Spiced Rice Pudding
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 cups milk (whole or 2%, or almond milk )
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ to ¾ cups raisins (or craisins) – optional
-----
1/4 cup evaporated milk or half and half
1 egg
-----
Toasted sliced or slivered almonds for topping 
Extra cinnamon or nutmeg for topping
  1. Set electric pressure cooker (EPC) on sauté; add butter and let it melt.
  2. Add rice and stir to coat. 
  3. Add milk along, seasonings and raisins if using to the rice. Stir to combine.
  4. Put lid on EPC and close steam valve. 
  5. Set to pressure cook on high, for 14 minutes. 
  6. When done, do an assisted release on the steam valve and carefully lift lid. (If rice is not tender, add lid and set pressure for a few more minutes; then do an assisted release.
  7. In a small bowl whisk egg and evaporated milk together. 
  8. Spoon a spoonful of rice pudding mixture into egg mixture and stir, add another warm spoonful of rice and stir – this will temper the egg and avoid scrambling it when added to the hot pudding. 
  9. Add the tempered mixture back to the EPC and set on sauté. 
  10. Let the mixture bubble for about 30-60 seconds, stir slowly so it doesn't stick to bottom. It will thicken as it cooks. If it gets too thick, add additional milk.
  11. Serve warm or chilled, top with additional  cinnamon or nutmeg + toasted almonds.
Recipe without photos . . .
Electric Pressure Cooker —Almond Spiced Rice Pudding
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 cups milk (whole or 2%, or almond milk )
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ to ¾ cups raisins (or craisins) – optional
-----
1/4 cup evaporated milk or half and half
1 egg
-----
Toasted sliced or slivered almonds for topping 
Extra cinnamon or nutmeg for topping

  1. Set electric pressure cooker (EPC) on sauté; add butter and let it melt.
  2. Add rice and stir to coat. 
  3. Add milk along, seasonings and raisins if using to the rice. Stir to combine.
  4. Put lid on EPC and close steam valve. 
  5. Set to pressure cook on high, for 14 minutes. 
  6. When done, do an assisted release on the steam valve and carefully lift lid. (If rice is not tender, add lid and set pressure for a few more minutes; then do an assisted release
  7. In a small bowl whisk egg and evaporated milk together. 
  8. Spoon a spoonful of rice pudding mixture into egg mixture and stir, add another warm spoonful of rice and stir – this will temper the egg and avoid scrambling it when added to the hot pudding. 
  9. Add the tempered mixture back to the EPC and set ton sauté. 
  10. Let the mixture bubble for about 30-60 seconds, stir slowly so it doesn't stick to bottom. It will thicken as it cooks. If it gets too thick, add additional milk.
  11. Serve warm or chilled, top with additional  cinnamon or nutmeg + toasted almonds.