I love food. I love to cook and discover new foods. I can be picky (I won’t voluntarily eat squid!) but I love making great homemade food that’s a little healthy too!
We love pizza, and we eat it at least once a month, if not more. Sometimes I make my own crust, but lately I have been using the premade dough from Trader Joe’s. They sell a regular, whole wheat, and garlic herb crust dough. It comes in a bag, refrigerated, and all you need to do it plop it on the floured counter (or board) for a half hour, roll it out, and voila, ready to decorate! We love the garlic herb because it has great flavor.
I tend to over-flow my pizza. I mean, what’s another topping or twelve? So when I happened across a Food Network special on the secret life of pizza, including the deep dish Chicago style pizza pie, I knew I had found the solution to my overfilled pizza problem! The last time I had a deep dish pizza was 1981. I remember exactly where I was at the time too. I have no idea why it’s been so long, but hey, it was definitely worth trying again.
I used a 9 inch round cake pan, gave it a quick spray of pam (don’t ask, I apparently was having a menopausal moment!), plopped in the dough, pressed it out and up the sides as much as it would go. The “up the sides” part was a bit of a battle, and took a while to sort-of stick. Next time I will roll out the dough first, larger than the pan, and then place it in like a pie crust. I will also use a bit more flour next time (without the Pam) and see if it makes it a bit easier. Another option is corn meal, but I didn’t have any on hand. Even as it was, once it cooked, it worked its way up the sides and turned into a great pie.
I topped the crust with some garlic mushroom marinara sauce (it was a Trader Joe’s kind of night), a thin layer of mozzarella, home-seasoned caraway seed & sage sausage, Canadian bacon, halved grape tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, black olives, some feta, and another layer (bit heavier) of mozzarella. I popped it into a preheated 400 degree oven, and cooked it for 40 minutes.
My only concern when it came out of the oven was that I may have overcooked it and burned the cheese, but I was able to easily pop it out of the pan, and slice it into wedges; and despite how it looked, it tasted wonderful! Next time I may cook the first 20 minutes with foil, so that the top is brown but not as crunchy. Never the less, it was so good, fabulous flavor, great cheese, and held together well in the deep dish form. We will be making this one again. Soon!
I met Gloria Chadwick through our blogs. I remember the first time I saw her Cookbook Cuisine blog and thought, YAY! Then one day I found the magical link asking “Do you want to review my cookbook?” and I thought, Well ya, of course I do! A few emails later and I had my hands on Tex-Mex gold from Pelican Publishing, and was happy to be part of the world tour for Food and Flavors of San Antonio.
Many of my fellow bloggers have shared the goodness that is within the covers of this book, including the gems of San Antonio itself, which sound so great you just want to hop on a plane!
My biggest dilemma was recipe selection. So many great choices, and the more I perused the more I began to assemble the meal in my head. I have been craving tacos for a few months. I did not eat tacos for about 14 years. I can remember the month and year I stopped eating tacos, but that’s another story, and trust me, you just don’t want to know! But lately I have wanted to eat tacos at almost every meal, but not your run of the mill ground beef taco. I wanted meaty goodness, great seasoning, and layers of sensational flavors.
I selected the Shredded Chicken Tacos (p. 114) and decided to make them as soft tacos. My fate was sealed when I found the recipe for flour tortillas on page 211.
FLOUR TORTILLAS: I tried these twice, once following the recipe exactly, and once with half oat flour and half all-purpose. The original was much better, but with a little tweaking the oat flour would work too. Karen Cooks beat me to the punch and made the flour tortillas for breakfast (Fantastic!), which just told me that I had made the right decision! The recipe says Make them once and you’ll never buy packaged tortillas again. Now that I’ve made them I have to agree!
GUACAMOLE: I also decided to make Guacamole since K loves it so much. I have never been a fan of avocados, but that is no reason to deprive my family. K’s verdict: “Mmmmmm, Really Good!” This recipe is on page 25, and I will definitely use it again:
4 ripe avocados
1 small tomato, peeled, seeded, diced, and drained
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fajita seasoning
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt to taste
Cut the avocados in half. Twist to remove from the pit. Scoop out the pulp. In a medium-sized bowl, mash the avocados with a fork so that the mixture is a bit chunky.
Add the tomato, onion, garlic salt, cumin, and fajita seasoning. Mix thoroughly.
Add the lime juice and mix well. Taste and add salt and more seasoning if necessary.
Since K was the only one eating it I pared down the recipe to 1 avocado. It was easy to make and a perfect taste! I also got to use my avocado “scooper”, another one of those gadgets I was gifted and never thought I would use. My verdict: it works! It only took two sweeps of the gadget to clean out the “shell”.
SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS:
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups finely shredded, cooked chicken breast
1 1.25 package taco seasoning mix (I used fresh seasonings as well)
1/4 cup water
12 taco shells, warmed
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese
1 8 oz. container sour cream
1 avocado, mashed
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
Heat the butter in a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until transparent.
Stir in the chicken, taco seasoning, and water. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
While this is cooking, warm the taco shells in the oven at 250 degrees for 10 minutes.
Spoon the chicken mixture into the taco shells. Top with lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, avocado, green onions, and black olives.
We had the guacamole instead of the avocados. Since I made shredded beef a few days before we had both shredded chicken and shredded chipotle beef. We also had some re-fried beans to add to the goodness.
The recipes in this book are inviting. I tried to come up with a different word, but this fits so well. So many of these are easily do-able, great weeknight dinners, and I know this cookbook will be well loved and well used. I have to thank Gloria for writing such a fun cookbook, and for allowing me to be a part of this great tour! I’m already planning my next San Antonio meal.
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