Recipe: Weeknight Taco Pie

TacoPieIs it a crime to tweak a recipe until it’s simple, easy, and an instant family favorite?  I didn’t think so.  This recipe certainly hits all the high notes of a great weeknight dinner (quick, uncomplicated, and easy to throw together) with the added benefit of a dinner I can tailor-make for whomever I’m feeding.  When the entire meal disappeared in one sitting, I was SOLD!

I started with a basic recipe that I stumbled upon on Facebook – I think it’s originally a Pillsbury recipe for a Taco Bake.  I used one roll of Pillsbury Crescent dough and pressed the dough together around a pie plate.  I then browned one package of ground turkey until thoroughly cooked.  I then heavily sprinkled the browned meat with taco seasoning and red wine.  I cooked the meat until the taco seasoning and wine were both well incorporated.  For this recipe, I used a red wine from my fridge – my favorite to use in this sort of situation would normally be James River Cellars’ Rad Red or James River Cellars’ Meritage but since Rad Red isn’t available right now, I used a Pinot Noir that I picked up in March at the Hilton Head Wine and Food Festival.

Once the taco meat was ready, I added 1 cup of frozen fresh corn and 1 cup of Gunther’s Gourmet Spicy Black Bean Dip, which I had picked up at James River Cellars Winery.  I put the meat mixture in the crescent-dough-covered pie plate and topped the meal with a generous portion of shredded Mexican cheese.  At this point, I put dinner into the oven at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Once dinner was cooked through and the crescent dough was nicely browned, I served the meal on plates with shredded romaine lettuce.

What a simple, yet incredibly tasty, dinner.  I’ll be able to alter this recipe as I make this dinner again and again.  I can switch out salsas for a different taste.  I can leave the salsa out altogether.  I can add onion and green pepper into the meat mixture.  I can use a more decadent cheese.  There are tons of ways to make this recipe more unique and individualized… and I hope you’ll consider trying every one of them!



Recipe: Pinot Noir and Black Bean Salsa Dressing

I was trying to make my lunch early this morning when I stumbled onto something pretty tasty. I’m generally not a fan of packing my lunch, but it really is the simpler option when I’m working at the winery. Bringing in something to heat in the microwave might seem easier, but since my meal might be interrupted at any moment, I really do like to have something that won’t spoil. A salad or sandwich is fairly quick to throw together before I leave but this time it became inspired.

I decided to put together a salad for today’s lunch. I cut up a head of romaine lettuce, sprinkled some freshly frozen corn kernels around and then spooned in a small amount of taco meat from last night’s dinner. I had pulled out the last of a jar of Spicy Black Bean Salsa that I had left in the fridge, but I didn’t feel inspired to create a multi-ingredient dressing. Instead, I pulled out a bottle of Acrobat Pinot Noir that I had left in the fridge… and that’s when inspiration hit me. What would happen if I added wine to the salsa?

It was nothing short of wonderful. 1/4 jar of the salsa, combined with about the same amount of the red wine and a packet of equal, became a fabulous concoction that was thick, without being too thick… Spicy, but not too spicy… In the language of The Three Bears, I had unwittingly created a dressing that was “just right”.

I would love to say that it was the most amazing thing I’d ever made, but that would certainly be overstating things a bit. It made a unique and “oh, wow” sort of flavor that blended with my salad ingredients beautifully. The lunch that I had grudgingly packed that morning turned into a meal that made me happy….and any meal that can do that for a person is one worth sharing.

Feel free to share my blog with you friends… Maybe my sense of whimsy in using wine for cooking will inspire others to make something new from the mundane. It certainly has livened up many of the meals in our household.

Wishing you all a renewed sense of the unique and the strange…. it can be quite tasty!