Wednesday, June 15, 2011

3 Cheese Margherita Pizza

     Wow.  This is AMAZING.  These are the words that sang like music to my ears from my husband's mouth after his first bite.  I was a little worried about putting a pizza in front of him that not only didn't have meat but only had one vegetable (or fruit, as it were) topping.  But, have no fear, this pizza does not disappoint!  I don't even like tomatoes very much and I loved this pizza.  Don't wait, go make this.  Now.  And use this crust recipe... it's called Ricardo's Pizza Crust and it's off of  I discovered it the first time I made dough from scratch and it ended what I thought would be years of searching, trying to find the perfect pizza crust.  I have no desire to try another crust recipe ever again.  This is THE ONE.  

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves


  1. Combine water, olive oil, sugar, salt in pan of bread machine Add flour, then sprinkle garlic on flour. Lastly add yeast.
  2. Turn machine on dough cycle. As the dough mixes, sprinkle on oregano and basil until it suits you for color and taste. Let mix for about 15 to 30 minutes. Let the dough rest from 5 to 30 minutes. The longer it rests, the thicker and more tasty the crust. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees F (245 degrees C).
  3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Spray a large pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough on pan and add your choice of pizza toppings.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.  


  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 vine ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 pizza crust (I just roll mine out to fit my pizza stone)
  • 2 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • dried basil


  1. Stir together olive oil, garlic, and salt; toss with tomatoes, and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Brush pizza crust with some of the tomato marinade. Sprinkle the pizza evenly with Mozzarella cheese. Arrange tomatoes overtop, then sprinkle with basil, Parmesan, and feta cheese.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 12 minutes.

     Now, I made this pizza half with pizza sauce and half with just the marinade as the original recipe called for.  I was skeptical of not having sauce on the pizza because of a bad experience in the past.  However, my husband and I both agree that the pizza was better WITHOUT the sauce.  So, stick with the olive oil marinade, it's great!  And feel free to use 5 fresh basil leaves, shredded, in place of dried basil.  I didn't have any and it was expensive so I opted for dried.  This is the first pizza I've ever had that I LOVED without dipping it in Ranch dressing.  That is proof enough in my book that this pizza is phenomenal.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Costa Vida Smothered Sweet Pork Burritos

     When I went to school in Utah I was blessed to discover Costa Vida  (it's not hard to do - everyone knows about it).  Costa Vida and their cousins - Cafe Rio - are popular out west.  There is one location here in Texas but it is 3 1/2 hours away.  Well anyway, they are famous for their salads and burritos... especially their sweet pork salads and burritos.  You may recall that I have already done a simple version of their salad back in December.  Well, last night it was time to try my hand at their sweet pork burritos... let me tell you, I am thrilled with how it turned out!  I wish I had taken a picture of the inside of the burrito so you could see the deliciousness going on inside but alas, you will just have to make your own to see what I am talking about!  I went to quite a few different blogs to find copycat recipes and then combined them and put my own twist on it.  The result was total restaurant quality and COMPLETE Costa Vida craving satisfaction. 
     To achieve legitimate results follow the recipe for the pork, rice, and beans.  It's really quite simple and totally worth it.  The rice recipe was adapted from the blog Marin's Creations, she's a gem for aiding in the quest for Costa Vida perfection from your own kitchen. 

3-5 lb. pork roast (mine was 3.3 lbs)
2 (12 oz.)  cans coke
1/2 c.granulated sugar
1 jalapeno - seeded and chopped
2 carrots - shredded or finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. brown sugar

1.  Place thawed pork roast in slow cooker. 
2.  Add remaining ingredients, EXCEPT for the brown sugar.  Stir sauce ingredients to combine.  (I did this after I poured it over the pork, you could combine all the ingredients in a separate bowl and stir, then add to crockpot but I didn't think it was necessary).
3.  Cover and cook on high 6 hours.
4.  After 6 hours, remove pork and shred.  (2 forks work just fine to pull it all apart)
5.  Return to pot, add 1/2 c. brown sugar and stir to combine sauce, shredded pork, and sugar.
6.  Reduce heat to low and cook 2-3 more hours.

INGREDIENTS - Cilantro Lime Rice
1 1/2 c. uncooked white rice
1 (15 oz) can chicken broth
1 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
1 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 Tbl. freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tsp. granulated white sugar
4 Tbl. fresh chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS- Cilantro Lime Rice
1.  In a saucepan or rice cooker add rice, broth, water, butter, 1 1/2 tsp. lim juice, and garlic. 
2.  Cook according to package directions.
3.  When rice is moist and cooked, add 1 1/2 Tbl. lime juice, sugar, and cilantro.  Mix well.

2 (14.5 oz) cans black beans
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin
salt to taste

1.  Empty undrained beans into a saucepant.  Add garlic, cumin, and salt.
2.  Mix well and cook on low until heated through and bubbling.

INGREDIENTS- Cilantro Ranch Dressing
1 packet Traditional Hidden Valley Ranch Mix
1 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. salsa verde
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
juice of one lime

DIRECTIONS - Cilantro Ranch Dressing
1.  Mix all ingredients together.  That's it!  Use a blender or mix by hand.

Okay, NOW you are ready to assemble your burritos.  Each prepared ingredient is important to achieve restaurant quality flavor so I hope you didn't skip them - plain rice and beans just wouldn't be the same! 

4 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 (20 oz.) can red enchilada sauce
Lots of burrito sized tortillas
Toppings:  Pico de gallo (tomatoes, onion, cilantro, salt), sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro ranch dressing

1.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees. 
2.  In the middle of a tortilla, place a scoop of rice, a scoop of beans, a large scoop of pork (use a slotted spoon so some of the juice drains out), drizzle cilantro ranch dressing down the middle, and top with cheese.  Roll tortilla burrito style and place in baking dish.
3.  Repeat for all of the burritos.
4.  For a 9x13 baking dish, fill with burritos (they should be pretty fat, I fit 6 in my dish), and empty half of the enchilada sauce on top of burritos (The other half will be used in your 2nd batch of burritos).  SPRINKLE (we're not talking about a casserole here, just sprinkle some on top, there's already some in the middle!) with shredded cheese and then place in the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted. 
5.  Serve burritoes and top with desired toppings (see above, under Burrito Time)! 

Alright, I used this recipe to feed 6 adults and still had 5 burritos left over (I think I made a total of 15 burritos).  So, plan accordingly.  I just refilled the baking dish and made another batch of burritos after the first.  You could always scale it down, but a pork roast is going to make a lot regardless so be sure to freeze the leftovers if you don't need to make that many burritos in one sitting.  Either way, this is totally worth the effort.  Go make your smothered sweet pork burritos and you can thank me later!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Taco Soup

  My family came to visit this past weekend for my mom's birthday.  I decided Taco Soup was the perfect crockpot solution for Sunday dinner.  Fast preparation, cooks while at church, eat when we get home.  I looked up a bunch of different taco soup recipes to get a general idea of what to do and then I made up my own.  It turned out great, approved by all.  So, next time you're cooking for a crowd, try this out.

1 1/2 c. dried pinto beans
1 1/2 c. red kidney beans
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground turkey 
3/4 c. onion, diced
1 (10 oz) can Mild Rotel
1 (10 oz. ) can Original Rotel
1 (14.5) oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5) oz. can corn, undrained
1 (14.5 oz.) can chicken broth
1 packet Ranch dressing seasoning mix
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. water
1/2 tsp. chicken bouillon
corn tortillas
fiesta blend cheese

1.  Soak beans overnight in cold water.  In the morning, drain and rinse beans and add to crockpot. 
2.  Add both cans of Rotel, diced tomatoes, corn, and broth.  Turn slow cooker on to low. 
3.  Meanwhile, in a frying pan cook the beef, turkey, and onion together.  Drain grease.  Add the Ranch packet and taco seasoning to the meat and stir.  Add the meat mixture to the crockpot. 
4.  Stir in cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. 
5.  Cook on low for 6 hours then on high for 2.  
6.  When beans are soft and cooked through, serve the soup and top with fiesta blend cheese and tortilla strips.  To make the tortilla strips, cut corn tortillas into strips, lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, stirring/flipping half-way through.  

NOTE:  After I had served 6 bowls I discovered the soupy broth was just about gone.  That's when I added the water and chicken bouillon, along with sprinkling the same spices as earlier.  The reason I don't tell you to add the extra water in the beginning is because I don't know how big your crockpot is but it wouldn't have fit in mine.  Without the extra cup of water I had filled mine to the top.  So, if your pot is big enough, by all means add the water in the beginning! 

     Serve this tasty soup up with some cornbread (don't forget the butter and honey!) and enjoy the mild spice and great taco flavor! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

    Last Sunday I felt it was high time for some good homestyle American cooking.  With having to cook a new meal every day sometimes we go through phases of eating lots of different ethnic foods and it's nice to just get back to some normal chicken and mashed potatoes sometimes.  I got this recipe for the chicken off of, tweaked the recipe a bit,  and it turned out marvelous.  Very flavorful.  And you know me, I love good strong flavor in my food.  

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt.
  4. Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 8x8 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.
  5. Bake covered, 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.  (My chicken breasts were pretty thick so I cut them in half, making them half as thick.  I thought that was a lot easier than pounding them thin like the original recipe instructed.  Just make sure your chicken is cooked all the way through, you may need longer depending on how thick your chicken is!) 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

     I love me some stuffed green peppers!  This soup is a nice way to change it up and still get your kick. My mother-in-law's ward at church just published a cookbook and this recipe came from it.  I made a few small changes of my own and came up with the following:  

1 lb. ground beef
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1/4 c. diced onion
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
16 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 cube beef bouillon
1 tsp. parsley
1/8 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 Tbl soy sauce
1 cup cooked white rice

1.  In a skillet brown beef over medium high heat.  Drain off any fat.  Add the peppers and onion to the meat and sauté for 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with juice, water, bouillon cube, parsley, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and soy sauce.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.  Stir in the rice and heat through, simmering about 10 more minutes.  

The original recipe says to simmer 30 to 45 minutes but I thought that was unnecessary.  Feel free to do so but I just got everything good and hot, gave it about 15 minutes to let flavors set in and then I served it up.  Pretty low-key and very tasty! 

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

      This was the best tilapia I've ever eaten.  Tilapia is a pretty un-flavorful fish and I've struggled to make anything too delicious out of it.  Until now.  This recipe is so fast and looks great on the plate.  And uh the flavor?  Delish!  

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (plain or italian)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 pound tilapia fillets
  • salt

1.  Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil. ( I just used a cookie sheet and covered it with aluminum foil) 
2.  In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.
3.  Sprinkle both sides of each tilapia fillet with onion powder and salt.  (This is key to adding more flavor to your fish!) 
4.  After sprinkling fillets with onion powder and salt, dip in bread crumbs, flip and coat both sides. 
5.  Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

And that's it.  It takes like 15 minutes.  And, the broiling time turned out to be PERFECT for me.  Such a great way to cook fish! 

And if you want some yummy rice to go with it, I got this recipe from a friend who served it to us when my husband and I went over to her place for dinner recently.  It's also very simple but extremely tasty.  Just cook your rice then fry it up in a pan with butter.  I used quite a bit of butter but go with your own tastes.  Add chopped green pepper, chopped carrot, garlic salt, and pepper to taste.   Stir, frying the rice until the veggies are cooked but still have a slight crunch to them, they are perfect that way!