Caramelized Onion and Bacon ‘Tart’

Well… not EXACTLY a tart because I don’t have a tart pan… But I tried to make it look like a tart…
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(That’s my attempt at making a pie look like a tart)

This was a great recipe and although it was easy, it took me a while.  I don’t know why either… My pie (tart) crust took no time at all because my husband got me a food processor for my birthday and it takes about a minute to make pie crust with it!!  Best invention ever, even if you only use it for pie crust!  (Oh sorry, I mean tart crust.)

Anyway, the link to the recipe is here.  Basically you cut bacon into 1/2″ pieces and fry them. 
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You take the bacon out of the pan and almost all of the bacon grease but leave a tablespoon because you’ll be frying 4 small onions in that grease.
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You fry them over medium high heat for about 8 minutes & then add some thyme (tablespoon) & salt (pinch).  Then you reduce the heat to medium low and cook them until they’re really brown and soft (the recipe says 20 minutes but I took them off the heat before that because I was getting scared they would burn) (and actually before that I added two tablespoons of butter for the same reason!).

While that’s going on, take a cup of whole milk ricotta & an egg yolk, a little thyme, a pinch of salt & 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and mix them all together.  Spread that mixture evenly across the tart shell.
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Sprinkle the onions over the cheese mixture.
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Sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese over the onions.  Then top with the crispy crumbled bacon.
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Then you bake it at 350° for 30-40 minutes (until the edge of the mixture starts to brown).

You might have to double check the recipe for the baking part because I haven’t put it in the oven yet so I might not have memorized that exactly… But I can’t wait!  I love bacon & onion together… And ricotta too?  Oh man, this is gonna be good!!!!

I was too excited to share this so that’s why I’m posting even before I’ve tried it.  How could it be bad?!?

Ok so I had to edit so I could tell you how unbelievably good this was!!!! It’s absolutely delicious… Heavenly actually!!! And to post pics after baking…
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Make-ahead Mexican Lasagna

This is an easy dish to prepare, it tastes amazing AND can be made ahead of time (it actually tastes better!).  I’ve been making this for a couple of years now – it’s become a family favorite! 

I created it out of necessity.  We used to have Burrito Night which consisted of everyone making their own burritos (which required many bowls for all the toppings).  Then after the burritos were made, we would have my youngest attempting to eat his burrito without it completely falling apart.  Haha.  Never happened.  Mess!!!  It would wind up that I would spend an hour cleaning up after dinner to put everything away, rinse all the bowls, etc. and attempting to remove burrito fixin’s from clothes!  There had to be an easier way!

I decided to see if I could put everything together in one dish and still have the same great taste.  It took a time or two before I got it just right – but here it is (this ‘lasagna’ contains everything we had in our burritos but the beauty of it is, you can change it however you like!  My family prefers very mild but go crazy, you can make this as hot & spicy as you can stand!)

I start by sauteing a cup of chopped onions in vegetable oil. 

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When they’re just about tender, I add about a teaspoon of minced garlic and the ground meat (I use ground pork). 

When the meat is cooked, I add taco seasoning and water (whatever amount the taco seasoning packet says). 

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You could easily make your own taco seasoning if you prefer (just make sure you add about 2/3 cup of water so the meat can stew in it for 5 minutes).

Now the fun part… Assembly!

First things first… I always use Crisco to grease my casserole dishes.  I think the cooking sprays are fine for frying but every time I use them in the oven, any part of my pan that doesn’t have food on it becomes a sticky mess that is impossible to remove without steel wool.  So… Crisco your pan for ease of clean up later. 🙂

OK here we go!  Open your can of refried beans! 

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Now, using a wide knife or spatula (I use my icing spreader), spread a layer of the refried beans on a 10″ flour tortilla.  Spread it fairly thin but cover as much as you can.

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Place the tortilla in the casserole dish (bean side up!) (mine is a 2 1/2 quart square-ish casserole dish and the 10″ tortillas fit just about perfectly).

Next layer some of the ground meat mixture on top of the beans (make it fairly thin – you need to spread the meat on 4 layers). 

Spoon some salsa on top of the meat – just a couple spoons here and there.  Sprinkle cheese on top of that.  One layer is complete!

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Repeat 3 more times starting with covering another tortilla with refried beans. (The next tortilla goes right on top of the cheese.)

After you finish the layers, you can refrigerate if you want to.

At this point I prepare my lettuce.  I use a regular head of iceberg lettuce and shred it myself because I never have luck with those bags of lettuce lasting!  I put this in the refrigerator to chill until I’m ready for it.

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When you’re ready to cook it, preheat the oven to 350°.  Put the ‘lasagna’ in the oven, covered.  Bake for about 30 minutes (10 minutes less if you’re cooking it right away) then remove the lid and bake another 10 minutes (mixture should be bubbly around edges when ready).

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Now take your sour cream and layer it on top of your ‘lasagna’ – about 2 cups spread out. 

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Put your shredded lettuce on top of the sour cream.  (I overdid the lettuce a bit!)

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All ready!  Dig in!

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Here are the abbreviated directions (without comments and pictures!):

Make-ahead Mexican Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 lb ground pork
1 packet taco seasoning
Water per instructions on taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
4 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese
8-10 tablespoons of salsa
2 cups sour cream
Approx. 2 cups shredded lettuce.

Directions:

Saute onions, add garlic, add ground pork.  When meat is cooked thoroughly, add taco seasoning and water (water amount according to taco seasoning instructions).  Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Spread refried beans on flour tortilla.  Place in greased 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Layer about a cup of the meat mixture on top of the beans.  Spoon a couple tablespoons of salsa on top of the meat.  Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on top of the meat and salsa.  Repeat 3 more times.

Bake in preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes (covered).  Remove cover.  Bake an additional 10 minutes, until edges are bubbly.  Remove from oven & let cool for 5 minutes.

After it has cooled, spread a layer of sour cream (2 cups) on top of the casserole, then 2 cups of shredded lettuce on top of the sour cream.

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine.  If you try this recipe or if you make something similar, let me know.  (I’m always looking for delicious make-ahead meals.)

Ham & Cheddar Swirl Bread

The other day I had an itching to make bread again so I thought I’d make something with what we had on hand (which to be honest isn’t much!).

My chicken parmesan stuffed bread was a hit so I thought I’d do something similar.

I decided on a stuffed ham & cheese bread but instead of braiding the top like I did with the chicken parm bread, I decided I would roll this one like you do cinnamon swirl bread so there would be layers of bread, ham & cheese swirled throughout. 

We didn’t have anything too special with it – just some tomato soup – but it was along the lines of comfort food and when the temps dip down into the low 80’s, we could use some comfort food!  Haha

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The top cracked!

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BTW, I finally figured out how to score the bread… Best to use a razor blade.  My knives (serrated or not, always stick to my dough and make a mess – more of an indent than a score).  The razor blade worked like a charm!

Potato Skins… Or Twice Baked Potatoes (!?)

Being that today is Sunday and that means football, I decided we should have a football-appropriate snack.  I decided to make Potato Skins.

I don’t usually have regular potatoes because for most things I make, I prefer red potatoes.  So… I decided to try and make Red Potato Skins!  I turned the oven to 425° and prepped my 8 potatoes.  I decided I better coat them in a little oil because I wanted the skin to get a little crispy, not soft.  And I put a little Kosher salt on the skin after that.  They took about 45 minutes to get soft enough.  I let them cool.

Besides the potatoes I had everything on hand – except chives.  Not a problem.  I diced up an onion and caramelized it over low heat in a skillet.  But then I had an inspiration!  I would throw my bacon in with the onions and add a little garlic (why not?) and add it to the soft potato mixture! 

When the potatoes were cooled, I halved them and scooped the innards out and put it in a bowl.  Not real appetizing.  Kinda dry looking.  So I melted some butter (half a stick) and added it.  Better… But it needed something else.  Milk!  And salt and pepper!  Hmmm!  Now I have mashed potatoes in my bowl!  Did I mean to do that?  Oh well! 

I added my (drained) bacon, onions & garlic and about a cup of shredded cheddar.  I tasted it… Added some more salt.  Tasted again… Pretty good!! 

I loaded my potato skins with my potato mixture and topped them with more cheddar (didn’t measure!) and threw them in the oven at 400° for about 15 minutes. 

The family went nuts over them, everyone REALLY liked them!  But I wonder… Did I make my own version of Potato Skins or did I just make Twice Baked Potatoes??? 

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