Double the Crunch with a Double-Decker Tostada

What is a Tostada but an open face taco? Or the Mexican answer to a pizza? All I know is that I love ’em to pieces.

Recently I posted my take on the popular Taco Bell Crunch Wrap with my Chorizo Crunch Wrap – Double the Pleasure! In that posting, I  included a link to a prior recipe for Double-Decker Tostadas. The problem with most links is that they suck you in – at least with me, that happens. I’ll click on a link, which brings me to my destination, but also gets my brain to whisper “what else is out there?” and before I know it, half my day has been spent wandering around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I haven’t been “productive” – I’ve usually managed to save/pin/be inspired by my finds – it’s just that the day got away from me. And it seems that we are always just one click away from greatness, if you know what I mean. So here’s a click you won’t have to make. I hope you enjoy!

Double-Decker Tostadas
16 Tostada Shells
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Lb Chorizo (always use the good stuff)
1 Tablespoon Taco Seasoning
1 Can Refried Beans
1 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings
1 Jar Nacho Cheese Sauce
24-32 Nacho Jalapeño Peppers (optional)
4-5 Lettuce leaves, shredded
1 Tomato, diced

Garnish Suggestions
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 or 2 Avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 Cup Sliced Black Olives
1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro Leaves (instead of or in addition to the lettuce)

Warm oven. Place tostada shells on a baking sheet and warm in oven.

In a heavy cast iron skillet, brown ground beef and chorizo meat together, crumbling into small pieces as it brown. Season with taco seasoning to absorb some of the excess fat (The seasoning will retain some of that yummy flavor of the drippings). Drain well, keep warm and set aside.

While the meat is browning, shred the lettuce and dice the tomatoes. Set aside until ready to assemble.

In a skillet, heat refried beans with bacon drippings until warm. The beans will spread more easily if warmed, the bacon drippings help to thin out the beans for spreading and add a little flavor.

Divide refried beans between 8 tostada shells, spread beans on shells. Place remaining 8 tostada shells on top of beans. Spread a layer of nacho cheese on each top shell. Divide meat mixture between the 8 double-Decker tostada shells. Place 3 or 4 Nacho Jalapeño Pepper on top, if using.

Return tostadas to warm oven for 5 minutes.

Remove warmed tostadas from the oven. Dollop with sour cream. Sprinkle with shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Garnish as desired.

Since the tostadas already contain refried beans and lots of veggie toppings, there is no need for additional sides. However; if you like you can always add a side helping of rice. (Yeah, I know – more links!)


Authentic Spicy Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice

Mexican Rice with Chunky Salsa

Mexican Rice

 

Lasagna Roll-Ups stuffed with Chicken and Italian Cheeses

Have you ever had a Lasagna Roll-Up? These things are awesome! Great for supper time, pretty as an appetizer or to serve up something different at your next pot luck. I’ve made Lasagna Roll-Ups using just an Italian Cheese filler, with Italian Sausage, a traditional meat filling and with today’s share, cooked chicken. Any cooked chicken will do, from last night’s left over roasted chicken to a rotisserie chicken from your local deli. To transform this recipe into an appetizer, simply cut the lasagna noodle in half width-wise to create two short noodles. Fill as you normally would, roll tightly and then cut in half again. Bake, remove from pan with cocktail skewers and plate with some Marinara Sauce for dipping. As a supper, the lasagna roll-ups are great for kids since the rolled lasagna is easier for little hands to handle. For a fancier presentation, ladle some sauce in the center of a plate, place three roll-ups upright in the sauce and top with some fresh basil for garnish. Paired with some warm, soft bread sticks and a nice Italian salad, you’ve got the makings for a supper fit for company. The sky is the limit.

The pasta sauce for this dish can be any red sauce of your choosing. I like to mix mine with some Italian-Style chopped tomatoes for extra flavor and texture. Fresh, chopped Roma tomatoes also work well when in season.

Chicken and Italian Cheese Stuffed Lasagna Roll-Ups 
8 Lasagna Noodles, cooked
3 cups Chicken, cooked
1/4 cup Milk
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (just a pinch)
3/4 Cup Baby Spinach, torn into pieces
2 cups Pasta Sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/2 Cup Basil, finely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook Lasagna noodles until just al-dente. Drain and lay noodles flat on a baking pan in a single layer until ready to fill. By laying the pasta out flat, this will make rolling tightly a little easier. The pasta should be warm and pliable.

While the water comes to a boil and the Lasagna noodles cook, prepare the filling.

Shred/chop cooked chicken meat as you would for chicken salad, into smaller pieces that will blend easily with the rest of the filling mixture. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Combine chicken with milk, Ricotta and feta cheeses.  Season with pepper. Stir/fold mixture to blend.

Spread about 1/2 cup of the filling mixture on each Lasagna noodle. Top chicken mixture with a sprinkling of torn baby spinach leaves. Press lightly to hold spinach in the cheese mixture.

Roll each filled noodle jelly-roll fashion. Spread pasta sauce into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Arrange Lasagna rolls, seam-side down on top of the sauce in the baking dish.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until hot.

While pasta is baking, finely chop fresh basil. In a small bowl, mix basil with Parmesan cheese and set aside until ready to use.

Once roll-ups are hot, remove from oven, remove foil and sprinkle with basil/Parmesan mixture. Return to the oven, bake another 8-10 minutes or until cheese has melted and is just beginning to brown.

Serve and enjoy! If desired, drizzle with some of the pasta sauce and more Parmesan cheese.

Chorizo Crunch Wrap – Double the Pleasure!

Confession time – the photo for this posting is not mine. It came from Delish, my source of inspiration. Typically, I like to at least snap a photo of the finished dish – but with the big move happening, I’m lucky I can find the stove to cook on let alone room to photograph anything. Hopefully, by the time this recipe share is posted, we will have the packing behind us and the move in full swing. For Lauren Miyashiro’s original recipe and the wonderful “how to” video, be sure to check out: http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a52078/crunchwrap-supreme-recipe/

While my recipe is similar, there are a few changes. Recently Hubby celebrated his birthday with a big Mexican Fiesta dinner – complete with street tacos filled with homemade Chorizo. While my guys love Chorizo all on its own, since the party included my less spicy extended family, I mixed the Chorizo with ground beef (3 lbs chorizo to 1 1/2 lbs ground beef). As it turns out, we had way more meat than we needed, and a ton of leftover. I decided to use the leftover taco filling for the crunch wraps. It was awesome! The key to chorizo is that you use good quality chorizo sausage. You can either make your own (Home-Made Chorizo Tacos – Oh My!) or buy the good stuff at your local Mexican market. The beauty of using Chorizo is that the meat doesn’t need a lot of spices added, it is flavorful all on its own.

This crunchy Tostada-Burrito combination is a lot like my Double Decker Tostadas, with a new dimension added for a little extra “wow”!

Double Chorizo Crunch Wrap
1 lb Chorizo
1/2 lb Ground Beef
1 Cup Tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 Cup Lettuce, shredded
1 Can Refried Beans, warmed
1/2 Cup Nacho Cheese Sauce
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
4 Large Flour Tortillas
4 Small Flour Tortillas
8 Tostada Shells
vegetable oil for frying
Hot sauce, for serving

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, cook up the chorizo and ground beef together. As the meat cooks, break it apart with a metal spatula until it is nicely crumbled and cooked through. Drain off fat and keep warm until ready to use.

While the meat is browning, dice tomatoes and shred the lettuce. Set aside until ready to use.

Empty can of refried beans into a microwave safe bowl and warm beans. The beans will spread easier once warmed. Set aside until ready to use.

Lay small flour tortilla on a cutting board. Place a Tostada shell in the center of the flour tortilla. Using a sharp knife, cut around the Tostada shell to create a flour tortilla about the same size as the Tostada. Set the round circle aside and repeat until you have four small rounds.

Once all the layering ingredients are ready, heat about 1/4 inch or so of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil heats, build the crunch wraps.

Lay one large flour tortilla on your work surface. Spread Nacho Cheese sauce on one side of a Tostada shell and place it in the middle of the flour tortilla. Spoon meat over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle some chopped tomatoes over the meat. Dollop a little sour cream on top of tomatoes.

With a second Tostada shell, spread refried beans. Place Tostada shell on top of meat covered shell. Sprinkle with some shredded lettuce. Place small flour tortilla cutout on top of lettuce/bean Tostada. Tightly fold the edges of the large flour tortilla toward the center, creating pleats. The Tostadas should now be completely encased in a flour tortilla wrap.

Flip wrap over, seam-side down, and gently place wrap into skillet to fry. Cook wrap for about 4 minutes, until nicely golden and crisp. While the first wrap is frying, build a second wrap.

Turn frying wrap over and continue to cook another 3 minutes or so until it is golden and crisp. Remove from oil, blot with a paper towel. Place on a wire rack in a baking sheet and hold in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Repeat until all four wraps have been built, fried and ready to eat.

Serve with hot sauce and your favorite sides such as Mexican Rice with Chunky Salsa.

Creole Shrimp and Spicy Rice

Recently I received a request for more seafood dishes. Hum, that was interesting since I’ve posted five recipes in the last month that revolved around seafood. I had thought it was becoming a bit much, yet here I am again, fishing through recipes of the past in search of a few seafood favorites worthy of a second look. At the same time, I was also organizing and re-categorizing my Yumprint cookbooks. Right now I’m in the “Chicken” main dish book. One of the recipes for Barbecued Chicken made me think of the whole “Barbecue” social event, which always conjures up an image of Scarlett O’Hara at Twelve Oaks. Mammy was one of my favorite characters. She was a woman who spoke her mind to the “white folks” whither they wanted to hear it or not. And she had a way of keeping Scarlett in her place as much as possible.

“If you don’t care what folks says about this family, I does! I has told you and told you that you can always tell a lady by the way she eats with folks. Like a bird. I ain’t aiming for you to go to Mr. Wilkes’ and eat like a field hand and gobble like a hog!”

gone with the wind cookbookWhen I was cooking these Creole Shrimp packages for the very first time, I wanted to find a side dish that had that same Creole influence. Much to my surprise, in 1939 a cookbook was offered to publicize the release of the classic film Gone with The Wind. Originally printed as a booklet that was offered with toothpaste, the premise of the book was that it contained a collection of Southern Recipes offered by the characters themselves, and not the people who portrayed them.  One such recipe was Mammy’s Creole-Spiced Rice.  It seemed perfect – a rice made with tiny shrimp and Creole seasonings. I was not disappointed – the rice paired beautifully with the main attraction – jumbo shrimp with a buttery creole dipping sauce. To add a little more color to the plate while providing a little relief from all those wonderful spices, I included some sweet, ripe cubes of mango. Everything was delicious.

Yep, this 2014 posting is worth a second look. Now I know for many of us, this is summer – and spicy foods should be reserved for cooler weather, when we long to warm our toes from the inside out. As Scarlett would say “Oh fiddle dee-dee”.

Creole-Spiced Shrimp Packets
2 pounds Jumbo Shrimp, preferably wild-caught
1 small onion, sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.

Peel and devein shrimp. Rinse and place into a large bowl. Add next nine ingredients (onion through black pepper). Toss to coat well. Let rest about 10 minutes.

Drain liquid from shrimp into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add enough water to create 1 cup of liquid.
Cut four large pieces of foil. Line a small bowl with foil to create a “pocket. Place 1/4 of the shrimp mixture into the foil.

Add 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup liquid into pocket with shrimp. Fold and crimp/twist foil to seal.

Bake until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 30 minutes.

Carefully open shrimp packages. Use a slotted spoon to remove shrimp from packet and place on dinner plate. Pour sauce from packet into a small cup for dipping.

Mammy’s Creole-Spiced Rice
1 large onion, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 ½ tablespoon butter
¾ tablespoon flour
¾ tablespoon salt
¾ cup water
1 ½ cups tomatoes, diced (canned okay)
1 ½ cups black beans, cooked (canned okay)
½ tablespoon vinegar
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ cups tiny shrimp, cooked
1 ½ tablespoons Creole Seasoning
2 cups rice, cooked and still hot

Sauté onions and celery in butter until browned.

Stir in flour and salt, and then slowly add the water. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomatoes, beans, vinegar, sugar, shrimp and Creole Seasoning. Continue to cook 10 minutes longer.

Place hot, cooked rice in a large, deep serving platter or bowl. Pour Creole mix over hot rice. Toss lightly to blend and serve.

Note: Today we have the convenience of readily available canned ingredients from the grocery store aisle. If you have the time and wish to make this dish in its original form, use home-canned tomatoes in their juices and cook the black beans from scratch.


Just an interesting note: At the Twelve Oaks Barbecue, the Tarleton Twins (like most of the southern gentlemen in attendance) spent most of the barbecue buzzing about the lovely Miss Scarlett. Notice the twin on the right, if he seems oddly familiar it’s because that’s George Reeves, who went on to television fame in the 1950s as Superman.

Scarlett Ohara Twelve Oaks 2

Skewered Chicken Spirals on a Bed of Garlic Couscous

Recently I read a darling recipe for Italian Chicken Sausage and Israeli Couscous. It is definitely on my “gotta try this” list. Everything cooks up in a single pan – always a plus, and I love couscous. Coleen over at Leen Cuisine always is a delight to read, and her recipes are beautiful. Her one-pan wonder is no exception (https://leencuisine.com/2017/08/06/italian-chicken-sausage-with-israeli-couscous/)

Reading Coleen’s post got me to thinking about my own favorite chicken with couscous. It’s a delicious recipe that I had shared with you back in October 2014. This is an updated recipe, as it includes the recipe for the Garlic Couscous. Sure, you could serve this spirals on a bed of rice or risotto or all on their own. I just like the added exotic appeal of Couscous.

Let me know what you all think – and please check out Coleen’s recipe, too.

Skewered Chicken Spirals with Fresh Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, pounded thin
1 Garlic Clove, crushed
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 Hickory-Smoked Bacon Slices
Large handful Fresh Basil Leaves
Kitchen twine, enough to hold rolled chicken together
Oil for brushing
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Bamboo Skewers, soaked for 30 minutes in water

For Serving: A Bed of Garlic Couscous (recipe below)

Soak Wooden Cocktail or Bamboo Skewers in water for 30 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Spread out a piece of chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound thin. Repeat with remaining chicken.

01 Pound Breast Thin

On a large work space, lay out chicken. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Mix together garlic and tomato paste, spread a layer of paste on each piece of chicken. Lay a slice of bacon on top of paste, then scatter basil leaves. 

03 Spread Tomato Paste, add bacon & basil

Roll tightly to form a spiral, rolling in the opposite direction as the bacon strip. Beginning at the center and working out, secure roll with kitchen twine in 1-inch intervals. Trim the ends so that the chicken will be somewhat uniform in shape and thickness.

05 Roll and Tie

Starting at one end of rolled, about ¾ of an inch from the very end, with the breast perpendicular to the skewer, thread bamboo skewer through chicken to hold spiral shape. Using a sharp knife, slice chicken spiral from roll at the twine; and then cut away twine. Give the skewered spiral a quarter turn, so that the cut side is up. Re-position roll and repeat until entire breast has been threaded onto skewer, cutting away twine as you go. This will make the rolled chicken hold its shape better and will make threading it easier. You should end up with four or five spiral pieces of chicken on each skewer.

07 Place on skewers

Heat broiler element. Lay chicken on a broiler pan and brush with oil. Place chicken under broiler and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes, turning once midway through.

P1020128

To Serve: Create a bed of couscous on an oval serving platter. Top with chicken spirals and serve. Great with Smokey Pan Seared Asparagus or even a bright and refreshing Asparagus and Tomato Salad with a Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Garlic Couscous
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
Butter, as needed
1 ¼ Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Pearl Couscous
2 Teaspoons Butter
1 ½ Teaspoon Parsley Flakes

Peel and mince garlic. Set aside until ready to use.

Bring the stock to a boil. While waiting, sauté the garlic.

Heat a dab of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté until garlic is tender and just beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes.

To boiling stock, add 2 teaspoons butter, garlic, parsley and couscous. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat. Let sit a few more minutes for flavors to merge together. Remove cover and fluff before serving.

Simple French Country Cooking – Forty-Clove Garlic Chicken

Gotta use up what’s on hand in the kitchen until we land on our feet in our new digs. Peered into the freezer – on the chicken shelf (yeah, I’ve designated shelves for different things – beats the heck out of digging through the freezer to find a pound of ground chuck or whatever) yep, we’ve got chicken thighs. As for the pantry – yep – got the chicken stock and I’m never without olive oil. Seasonings? Who doesn’t have salt and pepper on hand? As for the garlic, now there we are truly in luck.

My sister lives way out in the country. She has chickens and ducks running around in her yard and cats in the barn. On the back deck, there are pots filled with all sorts of herbs. And a beautiful garden. When you go to her house for dinner, you actually go out back to “pick” your salad for the evening. Like most gardeners, she grown more that she can eat. My sister brought over some of the best onions we’ve ever tasted. And a big bag of garlic. We’ve got garlic coming out our ears! (There’s some of her home-grown garlic simmering in a big pot of spaghetti sauce as we speak – what an aroma!)

This is another “blast from my blogging past” – a recipe I first shared back in April 2014. Brother Dear was still with us, living in our house as his health was beginning to fail. He loved the chicken although he thought the idea of 40 cloves of garlic was a bit over the top. That is until he tasted it. The garlic does not overpower the dish but rather enhances the succulent chicken. This is one of those dishes I like to serve “family style” – a big platter in the middle of the table with small plates for the baguette rounds. You just dig in and enjoy! Finger food with form and grace.

French Country Forty-Clove Garlic Chicken
6 lbs Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 heads of garlic, peeled (more if desired)
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 cup dry white wine
24 (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fresh Tarragon (optional)

Peel 3 whole heads of garlic, about 40 cloves. Set aside until ready to use.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Let rest a few minutes while skillet heats.

Combine butter and oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces to pan; cook 2 minutes per side or until golden.

Remove from pan, keep warm. Repeat with remaining chicken, then remove from pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently.

Arrange chicken on top of garlic. Add stock and wine; cover and cook 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender.

Increase heat to medium-high, uncover and cook until liquid in pan is reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes.

Remove chicken and place on a large serving platter. Use a slotted spoon to remove garlic from pan. Surround chicken with garlic. Pour pan liquid over chicken and garlic. Garnish with parsley or Tarragon if desired.

Note: Baguette rounds can be brushed with a little olive oil, and warmed in the oven if desired.

Serve with warm baguette rounds. To eat; spread soft garlic on baguette, top with chicken and enjoy.

Grilled Onions and Burgers – What a Great Combination

All this talk of Okie cooking combined with the “big move” got me to thinking about another blast from the past, my Oklahoma Onion Burger. The recipe was originally shared (you guessed it) way back in 2014. There’s a whole backstory to the invention of the Oklahoma Onion Burger contained in the original posting that you might enjoy. As for today, I’m just going to chat a minute about my Pops and then get right into the recipe.

Dad is set in his ways. He does not take kindly to change. Our pending move has him all worked up. It’s not like our last move, to another state for fourteen years before returning to my roots, the central valley of sunny California. We are talking another town within California – just an hour’s drive away. Dad has enjoyed the past eight years, having me only twenty-minutes away. What’s another forty minutes you ask? For us, no big deal. For my Dad, it may as well be to the moon! I know, once we get settled into our new digs (wherever that might be – still house hunting in between packing), we are going to have a family barbecue. Okay, so the burgers are cooked on a griddle and not a grill, but you get my meaning. In honor of Dear Old Dad and his Oklahoma roots, I plan to make Oklahoma Onion Burgers. These are easy to cook up, leaving oodles of time to visit with Dad. I’m sure, once he knows exactly where we are, he will feel much better. And comfort food like a good, old-fashioned burger can’t hurt!

Oklahoma Onion Burger
1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt
Seasoning Salt
Garlic Powder to taste
Pepper to taste
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 teaspoon bacon drippings
4 slices of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4 hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
4 Slices Beef Steak Tomatoes
4 Lettuce Leaves

Peel onion and cut in half to create two “domes”. Lay onion, cut side down, and cut all the way around to create thin slivers. Repeat with second half of onion. Combine onion and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl and toss to combine, transfer to a colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Cut several layers of cheesecloth, large enough to hold onions in a bundle. Using tongs, transfer onion to cheesecloth, gather edges and squeeze onion dry.

Divide onion mixture into four separate mounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Form beef into four lightly packed balls seasoned with seasonings as desired. Place beef balls on top of onion mounds and flatten beef firmly so that the onion adheres and patties measure 4 inches in diameter.

Melt bacon drippings on a griddle over medium heat. Using spatula, transfer patties to griddle, onion side down, and cook until onions are deep golden brown and beginning to crisp around the edges, 8-10 minutes. Flip burgers, increase their heat to medium-high and cook until well browned on the 2nd side, about 2 minutes. Place 1 slice of cheese over each burger, allow to melt.

Spread your favorite condiments on buns such as mayonnaise, ketchup and/or mustard. Place a lettuce leaf on the bottom of each bun. Top with onion burger and a slice of tomato. Place top bun into place. If desired, cut burgers in half to make it easier to handle when eating. Just be sure to serve with plenty of napkins.