Taco Pie (31 Days: Day 9)

I got the original recipe for this dish from, I think, the Kraft website. (I'm sorry. I can't find the original version now. If I could, I would link to it.) I changed it so my family would eat it. Here's my version.

You will need ground beef, flour or corn tortillas, diced tomatoes, taco seasoning and shredded cheese.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Brown your ground beef.

And drain it.

Cut your tortillas to fit inside a 9x13 casserole dish that you have sprayed with non-stick spray. You'll want two layers of tortillas. Just take the extra bits you cut off and fill in the gaps. I usually spread a can of refried beans over my tortillas to add a little fiber and whatnot, but I was out. It made me sad. So just pretend that there's a picture of refried beans spread over flour tortillas in my pretty blue Pyrex dish.

In the same skillet you browned your ground beef in, mix the tomatoes and taco seasoning into your drained, browned ground beef. If you feel the need to, add a little water. Let this simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Spread your taco meat over the tortillas.

Add just a little shredded cheese to help the next layer of tortillas stick.

Add the second layer of tortillas, cutting them as needed to fit.

Cover with a good layer of shredded cheese.

Throw it in the oven just long enough to ensure everything is heated well, and your cheese melts.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, or anything else you'd like.

The recap:

1 pound ground beef
1 package burrito sized tortillas (10 count)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can refried beans (optional)
1 package taco seasoning
3 cups shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Brown ground beef in skillet over medium heat. Drain.

3. Return ground beef to skillet. Add tomatoes and taco seasoning. Add a little water if needed. Simmer until heated through and most of the liquid evaporates.

4. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place half the tortillas in the bottom, cutting to fit. Use scraps to cover gaps.

5. Spread refried beans over tortillas.

6. Spread taco meat over beans.

7. Sprinkle one cup of shredded cheese over meat. Top with remaining tortillas.

8. Top with remaining shredded cheese.

9. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through and cheese is melted.

10. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and any other desired toppings.

Fried Pork Chops (31 Days: Day 8)

OK, so this is kinda cheating today, but I'm gonna do it anyway. There is only one way my little sister will eat pork chops. To get her to eat them, you have to fry them. But you can't just dredge them in flour. No way, Jose. You have to cook them Christy Jordan style. To get the recipe from today's post, you'll have to visit SouthernPlate.com. Her recipe for Crispy Breaded Pork Chops can be found there, along with a lot of other really great recipes.

I will tell you that I cheat and add about a cup of plain bread crumbs to my breading. I also add a couple of tablespoons of McCormick Grill Mates Pork Rub.

So sorry I cheated (kinda) today. I just can't bring myself to post Christy's recipe here. She's worked hard to build her blog, and she's a North Alabamian like myself.

***I have no affiliation with McCormick or Christy Jordan (or Southern Plate), other than I love their seasoning blends and her recipes. I can't wait for her new cookbook to hit the shelves. No one paid me or otherwise compensated me to write this post. I just had to share THE BEST fried pork chop recipe EVER with all of you.

Capellini Pomodoro and Garlic Bread (31 Days: Day 7)

I love Olive Garden's Capellini Pomodoro. A lot. So much that I got on their website and looked up their recipe. But fresh tomatoes can be expensive certain times of the year, so I modified their recipe to use canned tomatoes. If you want the original Olive Garden Capellini Pomodoro recipe, go here.

This recipe for Capellini Pomodoro will serve 6-8 people, and twelve pieces of garlic bread should serve six people. It barely served the four of us. We're pigs. We're ok with that.

For my version of this dish, you will need six cans of petite diced tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic, a box of angel hair pasta, olive oil, dried basil, salt and pepper.

(I know, the picture has thin spaghetti in it. I was out of angel hair pasta, so I used this instead. It works. Regular spaghetti or fettuccine would be an acceptable substitute, also. Any really thin and long pasta would work.)

Fill a large pot with water and put it on to boil. While you wait on the water, open and drain your tomatoes. You don't want a lot of juice in this dish.

My bowl was exactly as deep as my colander, so I placed a small bowl, upside down, in my mixing bowl under my colander so it would drain correctly.

When your pasta water is boiling, add your noodles.

Throw the tomatoes, a few cloves of minced garlic, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper into a skillet over medium heat.

Check and stir your pasta. To test your pasta to see if it is cooked correctly, gently throw a few noodles on the wall, ceiling, or fridge when you think it's done. (Yes, I'm serious here. I worked with a man of Italian descent who told me this is the true way to tell if spaghetti-shaped pasta is cooked to the correct firmness. You just have to throw it at a smooth surface. Swear.) If it sticks, it's cooked perfectly. (As the pasta cools, it should fall off of whatever you threw it on.) Drain your pasta. Toss it with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together. While you're at it, stir your tomatoes, too.

See? Mine is done. I told you I throw pasta across the kitchen when I cook. Well, fettuccini or spaghetti-shaped pasta, anyway.

For the garlic bread, you're gonna need another few cloves of garlic, some butter, basil, and slices of bread. The bread can be French bread, Texas toast, white bread, hamburger buns, whatever. Seriously, hamburger buns make delicious garlic bread. Try it. You'll like it. (Anyone know what movie I just quoted?) Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mince the garlic and add it to a few heaping spoonfuls of butter. Add in a bit of dried basil. Stir it up.

I'm using some of my homemade white bread for the garlic bread. I need to use it up so I can bake more to post for you guys. That's twelve slices of bread on my cutting board.

Slather your bread with the garlic butter.

Pop it in the oven for a few minutes, until it's all toasty and good. While you're waiting on your bread, taste your tomatoes to see if they need any more of your spices, and adjust if necessary.

To serve, place noodles on a plate. Top with hot tomatoes. Serve garlic bread alongside. (The Olive Garden recipe says to toss the tomatoes and pasta in a skillet and saute until heated through. You could do that to each serving if you want. I'm too lazy and ready to eat to do all that extra work.)

This is so good. After the four of us ate, I had enough leftovers for three or four more servings of pasta. All the garlic bread got eaten.

Did you know capellini pomodoro translates to tomato angel hair pasta in English? Yes? Ok. We'll get on with it, then.

Here's the recipe recap:

Capellini Pomodoro
6 (14 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
14 ounces angel hair (capellini) pasta
three or four cloves garlic, minced (depending on the size of the cloves)
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.

2. Drain tomatoes.

3. Add tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper to a skillet. Saute over medium heat.

4. Serve tomatoes over pasta.

Garlic Bread
8-10 slices bread
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (depending on the size of your cloves)
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon basil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add garlic and basil to butter. Mix well.

3. Spread butter over bread. Place on baking sheet.

4. Bake at 350 degrees 5-10 minutes, or until bread is toasted.

That's it, folks. Easy take out made at home.

Question of the day: What's your favorite pasta dish?
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