Taco Pizza

Hey everyone! Sorry for the delay we've had some internet trouble and so I've been trying to get it figured out while my husband is in another country (another continent actually) and I'm kind of "challenged" in that department. So, since I can't get my PC to connect to the internet I can't post the pictures so I will just post the recipe and the picture of the Happy Joe's "Taco Joe" to help you use your imagination to picture what "taco pizza" looks like. As soon as it's up, I'll post the actual pic!

Growing up in Iowa one of our favorite pizza places was Happy Joe's. AND my favorite pizza was taco pizza. A few years ago when we were visiting my grandparents/aunts/uncles in Iowa I took Rob there for taco pizza and he quickly decided Happy Joe's was his favorite restaurant. For the past weeks I have been craving this pizza and since it's very very expensive to have one shipped...I made my own. It turned out great and Rob requested I start making it once a week! SO....just try the recipe, you won't be disappointed even though it sounds strange.

As a note--when I was a kid in Iowa, taco-flavored Doritos were readily available--they came in an orange bag. But I haven't seen them in years and years. Luckily they now have new "late-night" Doritos and Taco flavored is one of the choices! Use those if you can find them, but in a pinch nacho cheese will do!

Taco Pizza

  • 1 can Pillsbury thin-crust pizza dough
  • 1 1/2 c. refried beans
  • 1/4 c. salsa
  • 1 Tb taco seasoning
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 2-3 Tb taco seasoning (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar
  • 2 Tb onion, minced
  • 2 c. shredded lettuce
  • 3/4 c. diced tomato
  • taco Doritos, crushed
  • sour cream
  • taco sauce

Preheat oven to 400. Unroll dough and press into a cookie sheet. Bake the dough 5-7 minutes until lightly browned. In the meantime heat the beans and mix in the salsa and 1 Tb taco seasoning. Brown the ground beef, drain and add in the 2-3 Tb taco seasoning and a little water and cook over low heat a few minutes. Top the pre-baked crust with the bean mixture, then the meat, then the onions, then the cheddar cheese. Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is completely cooked. Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the lettuce, tomatoes, crushed taco Doritos and sour cream and taco sauce to your liking. Enjoy!

**If you think you won't eat the whole pizza in one sitting...hmmm that sounds bad just writing that. But really--if you won't eat the entire pizza you may want to only cover half the pizza with the lettuce tomatoes and chips because it doesn't re-heat well that way. And trust me, you'll want to re-heat the leftovers for lunch the next day. (or a midnight snack)

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Tuna Pasta Salad

Living in Phoenix in the summer is a bit hellish. Living in Phoenix in the summer 7-9 months pregnant is super duper hellish. I'm always trying to find something to make for dinner that doesn't require a lot of oven time--or eating super steamy foods. This pasta salad is a great weeknight dinner that's super quick to throw together and is nice and cold to eat. Serve it with a piece of bread or some melon and you've got a meal. I made this for dinner at the beginning of the summer and it was a hit with my whole family and now that I'm looking at the picture thinking...hmmm I should make that again! this would also be a great playdate lunch that you can do completely ahead of time.

This is also a super inexpensive meal wihch is always a good thing too!

Tuna Pasta Salad
1 lb shells or any short-cut pasta (OR 13 oz whole wheat pasta, that's what seems to come in a box of that)
1 c. halved cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes
1 medium minced red onion
1/2-3/4 c. minced celery
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
3/4 tsp dill
1/4 tsp granulated onion
1/4 tsp granuated garlic
lots of pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 c. mayo
3/4 c. ranch dressing
3-4 cans tuna in water, drained well

Boil the pasta to al dente. Drain well and rinse under cold water until it isn't hot. In a large bowl mix pasta and all other ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate at leasat an hour before serving. If you refrigerate overnight you may need to stir in some extra mayo and/or ranch dressing because the noodles will soak up most of the dressing and personally, I like it more "wet" than dry.

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Asparagus and Roasted peppers

Yum. I found this recipe in a cookbook my friend gave me called Eat Drink Live. It's a great book with lots of vibrant pictures that makes you want to make the food. Unfortunately I'm not a photographer so my picture isn't doing justice to this sidedish, but it was so good. We had company, and I don't even remember who--but they loved it too.

I went ahead and roasted my own peppers but you could certainly toss in some jarred red peppers at the end just to heat them through to make it simpler. I did make a couple changes to the recipe just to make it simpler.

Asparagus and Roasted Peppers
3 red bell peppers
2 red onions
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
sea salt and fresh black pepper
parmesan cheese

Turn the oven on to broil and stick the peppers right on the oven rack. Keep an eye on them and turn them over when the skin is turning black. Once the second side is black, remove the peppers and put them in a bowl and cover it with foil. This will make the skins come off really easily. When cool, peel the peppers. Cut them in half and remove the seeds and cut the peppers in big chunks or wedges. Turn the oven to bake at 450. On a cookie sheet toss the asparagus, peppers, and onions--cut into small wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle on the salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat the veggies. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, stir and then another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly shredded or shaved parmesan cheese at the end. I served this with a steak and potatoes, it was great!
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Grilled Artichokes & Roasted Garlic Aioli

One of our favorite places to eat is Cheesecake Factory. Almost everything there is soo good. And really the only reason I say almost is because their menu is so extensive that I haven't actually tried everything! Rob's favorite item on the menu is the fireroasted artichoke. It comes with this aioli that is super delicous and really you're eating tiny bits of artichoke with loads of mayo, so what could be bad about that?

Recently we've been on a quest to perfect our own artichokes at home. This recipe is pretty darn close. We thought they were delicous, along with our eleven dinner guests who gobbled up the entire platter full. There aren't necessarily exact measurements for this so just pour in some olive oil and don't worry about it.

Prepping a fresh artichoke can be a little confusing the first time so I found this video on youtube to help you understand what I'm talking about--check it out if you've never done artichokes before. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOtbrnEZKl4

Grilled Artichokes
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil

Trim the stem of the artichokes, not too far, you don't want it to fall apart. Then trim off the top of the artichoke just to open it up a bit. You just want to cut off the sharp points of the leaves. Rinse the artichokes well. Open p the artichokes a bit and drizzle in plenty of olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar in each artichoke. Toss them in a big pasta pot, cover with water, and sprinkle in spenty of salt. Boil the artichokes about an hour. You'll know to stop cooking when you pull off a leaf and the artichoke is bite-tender. Drain the artichokes and cut them in half. Scoop out the fuzzy purple "choke" in the middle with a spoon--careful not to scoop out the heart with it, that's the best part! Grill the artichokes on your outdoor grill over medium-high heat until they are getting some good grill marks. Serve with roasted garlic aioli.

Roasted Garlic Aioli
6 cloves of garlic
3/4 c. mayo
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
Peel the cloves of garlic and either: A) wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 375 35 minutes OR B) roast in a frying pan with some oilve oil over medium heat turning until the cloves are brown and soft--but not burnt. Smash the roasted garlic with a fork and mix together with all other ingredients. Refrigerate until needed.

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Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

I love mushrooms. Sauteed mushrooms, grilled, roasted, and especially stuffed mushrooms! Of all kinds really--I've never tasted a stuffed mushroom that I didn't like. I just threw this recipe together for Rob's 30th birthday because he loves appetizers and he LOOVES sausage so this was a nod to that.

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 16 oz sausage, whichever kind you like (Breakfast sausage works great)
  • 5 c. fresh spinach, chopped (or one box of chopped, frozen spinach.  Thawed and squeezed dry.)
  • 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 block cream cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 24 oz button mushrooms (3 containers)
  • 1 T bread crumbs
  • 1 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 375. Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth or paper towel and remove stems. Place in a 9x13'' pan. Brown the sausage and drain the fat off. Add olive oil, spinach and garlic and cook over medium high heat until the spinach is wilted and the garlic is fragrant. Cube the cream cheese and add that along with the parmesan to the sausage mixture and stir over low heat until the cream cheese is melted and incorporated. Taste and then add salt and pepper. (Careful, sausage is already salty.) Stuff the mixture into the mushroom caps. Mix together the breadcrumbs and melted butter and sprinkle over the top of the stuffed mushroom caps. Bake 30 minutes.
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