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: Easy Beef Stew

I love making a dinner that cooks long on its own…. something that takes short bursts of attention and ends up being incredibly tasty. This recipe could probably have been done in the crockpot, but I chose to start it in my large Calphalon skillet and just cooked it that way for the afternoon.

I started with two packages of “sale beef” – one was a packet of beef strips for stir-fry and the other was a packet of stew beef. Since I pulled both out of the freezer in the morning, I chose to slice the beef while things were partially frozen so the cutting would go faster. Once the beef was sliced, I sliced a vidalia onion and left both items on my cutting board for a moment.

Using my large Calphalon skillet, I heated one T of butter and one T of olive oil. When this was sizzling, I popped both the beef and onions in the skillet to brown. The kitchen started to smell wonderful, so I popped in three or four garlic cloves and then put the skillet into the oven at 350 degrees for an hour or so.

When I went back to the skillet a little later, the meat and onions had started to carmelize, so I added some James River Cellars Rad Red (you can just as easily use a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cabernet Franc, or a Meritage for this dinner), as well as some salt and pepper, and popped it back in the oven. At the next look, dinner was looking a little soup-y, so I shook a spoonful of flour over top and stirred it into the sauce. Note: make sure to taste your food along the way – it’s much easier to adjust the flavors throughout the cooking process than to dump in a spoonful of garlic salt at the end.

When dinner was almost complete, I tossed in some frozen peas, stirred them into the sauce, and returned the skillet to the oven until the peas were cooked and dinner tasted “ready”. I warmed up some rolls, but you could also use pre-made rolls or breadsticks, depending on your family’s preference.

My favorite part of this dinner was the fact that I could be doing other things throughout the afternoon and dinner still turned out fabulously. The beef had a rich, deep flavor and the sauce that I had at the end was perfect when served over a baked potato (as pictured) or over pasta (as my husband preferred). Either way, dinner was a success and this recipe became an instant favorite. I hope you’ll try making this for your own family and see if it doesn’t become a favorite for you as well. Enjoy!