Mini Shepherd's Pie....

8:21 PM


So my cousin, Catina Williams called me the other day and told me she had something she wanted me to try. She came over with a plate of these, they were cold from being in the refrigerator but they were so cute, I wanted to try one then. I ended up eating all ten of them, cold and all and asked her if she would please, please, please make some more for me to photograph. And she did!

We are huge shepherd's pie lovers here and these bite size pies are perfect for any party or brunch. You would be the hit of any potluck with these!

The phyllo crust adds the perfect crunch to them and is a great contrast to the other textures of the meat and mashed potatoes. She added bacon on top of hers but you can easily just top with a small mound of shredded cheese.

You will need:
phyllo mini tart cups
ground beef (1 pound is more than enough)
salt/pepper to taste
mashed potatoes
      (to fill about 30 mini pies, peel and cut 2 large potatoes into quarters. Place in pot of boiling water...add chicken bouillon cube and let cook until potatoes are tender.  Pour out  the broth into a measuring cup or bowl, you will need it.  Begin mashing the potatoes, slowly adding in the stock for moisture and creaminess, add in a tablespoon of sour cream...mash well)
red/yellow and orange bell pepper (about 1/4th of each--diced)
bacon (optional)
cheese (optional)

Brown ground beef adding salt and pepper to taste.  Drain grease.  Fill the phyllo cups with a spoonful of beef, top with diced peppers and dollop of potatoes.  Place in oven until warm for about 15 -20 minutes. Remove and top with bacon or cheese.

These are so delicious. I have no idea where they have been all my life. Thank you to my cousin for sharing these with me, I will definitely be making them soon!

Taco Lasagna & Pico De Gallo....

7:39 PM


With my mom being from Texas, migrating to Mississippi after she was married, my family grew up on Tex-Mex and Mexican inspired dishes.  It is my mom's favorite type of foods and it will always make her happy to cook her something that is Mexican or Spanish.

I remember when I was still a newly wed and did not know how to cook well nor have the patience, Old  El Paso came out with a box meal called "Soft Taco Bake".  I tried it and it was a hit with my family. It is a layered soft taco dish, basically.

This recipe is my take on it, I have tweaked it a bit and I do not use the box, but everything I use makes this super easy to prepare for your family.

You will need:

2.5 pounds of ground beef
2 packets of taco seasoning (or prepare your own)
1 can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 large can of refried beans
2 jars of Queso Dip
8 flour tortillas
2 8 inch cake pans
cooking spray

For the Pico De Gallo:
1 fresh whole jalapeno
1/4 sweet onion
half lime
1 tsp salt
2 tsp italian seasoning 
1/2 diced tomato


Cook your ground beef as you normally would, stirring as it browns to create small crumbles. Drain grease and add in one packet of taco seasoning, cooking until seasoning is blended.  Add the beef to a large bowl, then add can of fire roasted tomatoes, and the second seasoning packet. Mix well. 



In cake pan, spray with non stick cooking spray and then begin layering with flour tortilla.  Spoon a nice heap of refried beans into the center, spreading outwards until evenly covering the tortilla.


Add your beef mixture.



Now  pour and spread a nice amount of the queso dip. Add another flour tortilla and continue upward for one more layering of each.


Top the last tortilla with shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


Remove from oven and allow to cool. This is like lasagna...the more it sets, the easier and less messy it is to serve.


Pico de gallo is really easy.  Chop all of the ingredients and in a bowl, mix with the juice of a fresh lime, salt, italian seasoning.


See, easy. 


I topped my taco lasagna with sour cream, fresh pico de gallo and served with a simple salad. It was so good!




chocolate

Easy Chocolate Covered Strawberry Yogurt Pops...

1:25 PM


Healthy summer treats have never been so easy! Can you imagine the possibilities you get when you combine ready-made yogurt with fresh fruit?

Summer is approaching and the temperature is rising here in Mississippi. My children love frozen treats during our warm months. Usually I would just buy the huge box of juice pops for $5, freeze and serve to my kids when they wanted a frozen treat. But you know what? Making your own is so easy and you control what goes into it!

I made these by combining fresh sliced strawberries with strawberry yogurt.  I mixed it well and then placed in my popsicle molds. Once frozen, I poured Magic Shell (found on aisle with ice cream cones and toppings) into a large measuring cup, then dipped each popsicle into the chocolate. Placing on a wax sheet, I placed back into the refrigerator.

So many different combinations you can make. Blueberries, mango, pineapple, raspberries, blackberries, what about cutting cake chunks and placing them in a nice cheesecake filling and freezing. YUM-O.

garden

[Mis]adventures In Gardening : The Beginning...

6:49 PM



I have a very close friend who is a woodworker. For the past 3 years he has been successfully growing tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Seeing how fruitful his harvest has been coupled with my desire and need of fresh herbs and vegetables, I decided, heck, why not try a hand at it.  I have never grown anything that required photosynthesis other than in the third grade when we sprouted beans from dried peas. I remember taking it home to my mom, placing it in the kitchen window and never thought about it again.

Alas, here I am, trying my hand at it. First, I did research. I am one of those people who loves to read and if I am interested in something I will read up on it, learn about it and then pinterest the heck out of what inspires me.

So, what am I growing?  I wanted to start small. I purchased seeds for cilantro, lavender, rosemary, basil, and dill. I got some soil and planted them in their own seedling pots.  So anxious, I potted some in styrofoam cups when I ran out of seedling cups.  I would recommend sticking to the more eco friendly seedling cups. It only took about a week before my seeds started sprouting. My basil has the nicest small leaves already.

After seeing that I could at least sprout seeds, I decided to purchase plants. I have tomato, watermelon , cucumber and jalapeno plants. They are thriving.  I have started them all indoors but place them outside in full sun for 6 hours each day. Now it is time to plan my outside garden. It will consist of part raised bed for my herb garden.

I will update as they grow and when I make harvest a recipe using the 'fruits of my labor' are sure to follow. I am feeling pretty confident about this.

If you are a gardener and have any tips, feel free to share!

My Favorite Salad....

11:48 PM


I love a great salad with fruit elements. Have you tried it? Romaine, spinach, trying different greens paired with fruits is a healthy way to eat a light lunch or dinner. I usually serve a side salad with every meal. No matter how small or 'fattening' dinner/lunch may be, I offer my family a salad. 






My favorite salad is usually romaine, spinach, bleu cheese and various fruit. I pair mine with simple vinegar and oil dressing with a little salt and pepper. Simply beautiful.

cake

Photographing: Linkie Marais

9:49 PM


I am a freelance photographer for a local magazine in my state's region. Covering numerous counties throughout the state it is fast becoming one of Mississippi's leading magazines. I am thankful to be a part of it all. 

A few weeks ago, the editor and I met Linkie Marais, South African Next Food Network Star finalist, season 8.  Her accent and skill were amazing, her smile contagious. She was a joy to photograph and if I could bake, her lessons would do me good! 







Quick Tip: Topping Tacos

8:47 AM






Here is a quick tip, when making tacos, place your guacamole in a ziploc bag and your sour cream in another. Push them into the corner of the bag and then snip it with a pair of scissors. Now you can drizzle your sour cream and guacamole with out spooning it and getting lettuce and tomatoes into your sour cream and guacamole dishes!

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