Mexican Black Bean Pizza

Remember Taco Bell pizzas?  Anyone who has ever had a love of fast food knows Taco Bell pizzas.  There was something so good about them.  Maybe it was the flour tortilla crust, all crunchy and munchy.  What was not so good about them?  How truly bad they are for your body.  Probably not such a big deal when I was in my 20’s.  Certainly an issue now that I’m in my 40’s.  From the perspective of my thighs, if nothing else.  And, I’d like to keep my kids as far away from fast food as I can.  It’s such a horrible habit to get into and such a difficult one to break.  Try this lighter, healthier version and I promise, you’ll forget about your Taco Bell days!

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 Tbs olive oil
8 (6″) flour tortillas
1 small onion chopped (or buy the pre-chopped from the produce section)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
½ cup salsa, mild or spicy
*Optional – 2 oz canned chopped mild green chiles
*Optional – You can add about ½ a cup of any meats you may prefer, pulled pork, chorizo (casing removed), shredded chicken, etc.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Mix half the Cheddar cheese with the Monterey Jack in a bowl and set aside.
Brush a baking sheet with 1 Tbs olive oil (or line with parchment paper) and arrange tortillas in a single layer.  Using a fork, puncture each tortilla a few times.  Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese evenly over 4 of the tortillas, then cover each with a remaining tortilla.  Bake 5-6 minutes or until browned slightly.

While tortillas bake, heating 1 Tbs olive oil in a skillet and cook onions until browned.  Add beans and partially mash with a potato masher or the back of a fork.

Remove tortilla pizzas from the oven and top each with bean mixture.  Top with salsa, green chiles (if using), meat (if using), and cheese mixture.  Return to oven and back until cheese melts, about 10-20 minutes.  Serve with sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, avacado.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Sauvignon Blanc
Bonarda
Pinotage

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 25 minutes

Mexican Pizza

*Derived from Bush’s Beans

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Pork Chops with Golden Apple Sauce

Still struggling with pork. Sigh. But I’m going to keep trying to work with it and I will start to get the hang of it. What I like about this recipe: it’s homemade apple sauce, that means you really taste the apples, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; apples and pork just really pair well together, that savory / sweet combination is a true classic; I also liked that my son said, “oh wow, Mommy, you really did good on this one!” Ok, now what I didn’t like about this one: I can never get Rachel Ray recipes ready in 30 minutes. Going into it knowing that though, makes all the difference.

Pork 1

Ingredients:

4 Golden Delicious apples, chopped
2 Tsp lemon juice
2 oz golden raisins (about a handful)
1″ piece fresh ginger root (I always substitute Gourmet Garden Ginger Spice Blend)
3 Tbs light brown sugar
2 cups all natural apple juice or cider
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbs olive oil
4 thin cut boneless pork loin chops (I discovered at the last-minute mine had bones, but they worked just fine)
Salt and pepper

Preparation:

Combine first 8 ingredients (up to the olive oil) in a medium pot over medium high heat and cook until a chunky sauce forms, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally,  If sauce begins to splatter as it bubbles, reduce heat a little, but it needs to be allowed to reduce and form quickly.  Once apples are soft and sauce forms, remove it from the heat.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil to pan.  Season chops on 1 side with salt and pepper.  Add chops to hot skillet, seasoned side down.  Season the opposite side of the chops with salt and pepper.  Brown and caramelize chops about 2 minutes on each side, then reduce heat to medium and cook another 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until juices run clear.  remove chops from heat and let rest a couple of minutes for juice to redistribute.  Top chops with generous portions of warm golden apple sauce.

Serves 6

Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time 15 minutes

Pork 2

*Derived from Food Network (Rachel Ray)

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Pork & Parmesan

I think I might have mentioned before that I struggle with pork.  I struggle cooking it and it not being too dry.  I struggle with finding recipes that I even want to try.  And I don’t know why that is.  The pork dishes I have made turned out positively lovely, and this is one of them!  Certainly adding it to my rotation.

Ingredients:

1 lb pork tenderloin
2 Tbs Italian bread crumbs
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 minced clove garlic
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small summer squash, thinly sliced

Preparation:

Cut tenderloin crosswise into 12 slices (I think I might have cut more than that, I just cut the whole thing), approximately 3/4″ thick.  Place cut tenderloin flat in large ziplock back, gently pound to 1/2″ thickness.  Once all pork has been flattened and removed, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in same ziplock bag.  Add pork in batches and shake to coat.  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in nonstick pan.  Saute pork 2-3 minutes per side; remove and keep warm.  Add onion, garlic, squash and zucchini  to skillet and saute 5 minutes or  until tender.  Serve with warm buttered, crusty bread.

Serves 4

Total time: 30 minutes

photo

*Derived from National Pork Board

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Carnitas

This was amazing and so simple! I knew it was truly a hit when my Mexican husband gave it two thumbs up. Another major bonus? Leftovers to be used in countless ways. This will be added to my rotation, for sure.

Ingredients:20130616-220550.jpg

2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
Salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Mexican blend seasoning
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 minced cloves of garlic
1 orange, halved

Preparation:

After pork has been rinsed and patted dry, generously add salt & pepper. Mix oregano and Mexican blend seasoning with olive oil and all over rub pork. Place pork in slow cooker and top with onion and garlic. Squeeze the juice of the orange and drop in the two halves. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Once the meat is tender, remove from slow cooker.  After it has cooled slightly, pull pork apart with fork.

*Derived from Food Network