Puff Taco Strudel

Today I pulled some ground beef out of the freezer and had a pastry dough to use up, so I went to my Pinterest board for savoury baking and decided to go with “Puff Taco Strudel”.  Obviously, I adapted the recipe – I refuse to use pre-mixed, chemical-laced products; making them myself is just as fast and a whole lot healthier.  So here’s my version (photo, courtesy of Pinterest):

Puff Taco Strudels

450 gr. ground beef

1 stalk of leek, thinly ringed

1-2 beefy tomatoes, finely diced

Black olives (amount to taste), coarsely chopped

Taco spices to taste

———————-

~100 gr. grated cheese

1-2 puff pastry doughs, rectangular OR Bisquick dough, rolled out

2 eggs

a bit of milk, egg, or Ranch dressing diluted with a bit of milk for a dough wash.

Combine the first ingredients into a frying pan, until the meat is browned (no butter or oil is necessary unless you’re using lean meat; then I would recommend a bit of virgin coconut oil).  Remove from heat.

Stir in the cheese while it’s still warm, and then the eggs.  Spoon along the centre of a rolled-out puff pastry sheet or rolled-out Bisquick dough; fold over and pinch to close, then flip the strudel seam-side down.  poke a few air holes along the top, then brush with your choice of wash – I used a bit of the Ranch dressing with milk.

Pop into a pre-heated oven at 210°C for 20-40 minutes (depending on your oven), until golden brown.  Serve as-is, or with the typical Tex-Mex side dish of guacamole, salsa, or a salad of your choice.  Enjoy!

Puff Taco Strudel

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Homemade Ranch Dip

We had a large party here this week, and this dip is a standard addition!  It’s fast, simple, and delicious.

The main ingredient is my homemade mix of Copycat Ranch Dressing Mix.  It’s a great mix to have on hand for making either dressing, dip, or adding to my Bisquick recipe for Ranch rolls.  If you need more than one kind of dip, grab your favourite dressing powder mix and replace the amount called for in this recipe.

Homemade Ranch Dip

Photo Credit:  Black Diamond Catering

Photo Credit: Black Diamond Catering

2 Tbs. Ranch mix

1 C. milk

1 C. Mayonnaise

Mix it up thoroughly about 20 minutes before serving, and chill; it will thicken up as the liquids are soaked into the ingredients such as the milk powder.  Give it a good final stir and serve with crudités (raw vegetables sliced for dipping).

Tip:  The catering photo above gives a great idea for serving the dip in a bell pepper.

Vegetarian Lasagna

It’s been years since I’ve made traditional meat-based lasagna; currently we eat basically vegetarian because the young woman living with us is vegetarian, and it’s practical and healthy; there are so many great alternatives out there on the market today that meat really isn’t necessary to any dish – it’s just a matter of preference.  Here’s my recipe for vegetable lasagna; it can be made with ground beef by the carnivores or ground Quorn by the vegetarians, or with neither… the vegetable mixture is so good that you won’t miss meat!

Quorn Lasagne 2Veggie Lasagna

Meat(less) Mixture:

~450 gr. ground Quorn or ground beef (either are optional)

1 onion, peeled & finely chopped

1 aubergine (eggplant), diced into small cubes

1 zucchini, diced into small cubes

1 tin of stewed, chopped tomatoes

Italian spices, salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the vegetables; sauté the onion in a bit of your usual oil – I use either olive oil or coconut oil.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, and cook until the aubergine and zucchini are nearly done.  Set aside while you make the sauce.

Pre-heat the oven now to 200°C (400°C) and put the oven rack on the lower to middle rungs.

 

Bechamel Sauce with Cheese:

1/2 C. Pre-made Bechamel Sauce

~2 C. milk (or more)

200 gr. grated cheese (your choice)

Place the sauce mixture in a sauce pan, and with a whisk, whisk in  ~1/4 C. milk to a smooth paste.  Bring gradually to a boil, stirring constantly and gradually adding milk.  The flour in the mixture will thicken gradually.  When the sauce has reached a good consistency – a bit thick, not soupy – stir in the grated cheese and remove from the stove.  If you feel you’ve not made enough sauce for 2 layers of lasagna, you can add a bit of Ricotta cheese, stirring it in well, to expand the amount of sauce.

Additional Ingredients:

Lasagna noodles (dry; not necessary to pre-boil them)

200 gr. grated cheese

~1/2 C. breading crumbs

To Layer:

Spoon 1/2 of the meat(less) mixture into the base of a rectangular oven-proof deep glass dish, spreading to coat the bottom of the dish.  Top with a layer of lasagna noodles (single-layer, not overlapping); spread 1/2 of the bechamel sauce over the noodles, covering all the way to the edges.  Repeat these layers once more.  Sprinkle the top with grated cheese, and then top with a sprinkle of the breading crumbs.  Bake at 200°C (400°F) for ~30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

If you like wine, serve with a red wine such as Pinot Noir for a robust taste, or Chianti for a slightly fruitier addition.

 

 

Make-Ahead Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce)

Bechamel Sauce - White Sauce

This is a recipe I keep on hand; it’s easy to make and use, and will save a lot of time when making a more complex meal.  You can also add a bit of this paste to any liquidy meal you need to thicken.

Make-Ahead Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce)

2 C. dried milk (powdered)

1 C. all purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

1 C. butter, margarine, or oil

Combine dry milk, flour and salt. Mix well. With a pastry blender, cut in butter, margarine or oil until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Put in an airtight container, store in refrigerator and use within 2 months.

To make white sauce:

Combine ½ C. white sauce mix, 1 C. (or more, to required thickness after the flour has had cooking-time to swell) cool water or milk, cook over low heat until smooth, stirring constantly. Season as desired.

 

Copycat Ranch Dressing Dry Mix & Dressing Recipe

For those of you who live in the States, you may be able to go out to the store and buy a large container of this; but if you read the ingredients list, and look up those chemical codes, you might be surprised to find out just how little that concoction resembles anything your grandmother would have recognized as “food.”  I prefer to mix it myself; then at least I know what I’m eating!  If you want to go all natural, grow and dry your spices yourself (here in Switzerland there are no added preservatives to most spices I buy), and try to find powdered milk that is just that – milk that has been dehydrated and pulverized, with no added sugar or chemicals.

I keep a large container of this at hand; it makes a great salad dressing (obviously), but can also be used in Bisquick biscuits, soups, or any meal that wants a quick zing added.  Mix it up and keep it in an air-tight container.  To mix up the dressing, make sure you use a generous-sized bottle as it will thicken, and you will likely need to add additional milk to bring it to the consistency you want.

Ranch Dressing MixRanch Dressing Mix

½ C. powdered milk (unsweetened!)

1 Tbs. dried parsley, crushed

1 tsp. dried dill weed

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. dried onion flakes

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend at high speed until it forms a consistently smooth, fine powder. Store in an air-tight container.

Ranch DressingRanch Dressing

Combine

1 Tbs. mix

1 C. mayonnaise

1 C. milk; if you want a buttermilk taste, add 1 Tbs. lemon juice to the cup of milk.

Stir well.  It will thicken up because of the powdered milk, so make sure you use a large container or bottle.  If you want a “Lite” dressing,  I assume you’re smart enough to figure out the changes to ingredients on your own… 😉

Otherwise use 1 Tbs. in any recipe calling for an envelope of ranch dressing mix.

North African Spiced Carrot Soup

Photo credit: MichellePetersJones / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: MichellePetersJones / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND

This is a recipe that I’ve made again and again; easy to make, and yet it adds an exotic touch to any complementary meal.  I serve it with a variety of Moroccan dishes, and even Persian dishes.  The cumin and coriander make a smooth backdrop to the carrots, but it’s the ginger, orange juice & hint of cayenne that really make it sparkle!  A little potato adds silky texture; if your carrots aren’t sweet, use a sweet potato instead, or a bit of honey.

North African Spiced Carrot Soup

1 Litre + (1 quart +) vegetable boullion (stock)

1 Tbs. light olive oil

1 medium yellow onion; thinly sliced

1 tsp. salt

2 cloves garlic; minced

1½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. fresh ginger root; grated

1 cayenne pepper

900 gr. carrots; thinly sliced

1 medium potato; thinly sliced

½ C. fresh orange juice

½ C. creme fraiche (cream cheese, or even yoghurt will do well too)

2 Tbs. fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot & add the onion & ½ tsp. salt. Saute over medium heat until it begins to release its juices, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, & a few pinches of cayenne. Cook until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes, adding a little stock if it sticks to the pan.   Add the carrots, potato, 1 tsp. salt, & 1 qt. (1 L.) stock. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat, cover, & simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, using a little extra stock if needed. Return to the pot, add the orange juice, & thin with stock to the desired consistency. Season with salt to taste and, for additional heat, a pinch or two of cayenne.  Garnish each serving with a swirl of creme fraiche & sprinkle with cilantro.

Southwest Beef Empanada & a Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Photo Credit:  Betty Crocker

Photo Credit: Betty Crocker

I’ll be making these once again this week.  This recipe was originally from Betty Crocker; one of my pet peeves is product placement in recipes; this is the 21st century, and bloggers are global which means that many people do not have access to Uncle Doohickey’s Gobbers, and have no idea how much “1 package” is!  When it comes to recipe ingredients, I’m a scratchaholic.  The Bisquick is a clone recipe I’ve already posted, and here you’ll find a good recipe for taco seasoning mix; there are hundreds out there on the web, but this is one I’ve used and like.

SOUTHWEST BEEF EMPANADAS

FILLING:

1  lb. (450 gr.) lean ground beef

1 oz. (30 gr.) taco seasoning mix

2/3  C. water

2-3 small potatoes, finely diced

8 oz. (225 gr.) carrots, finely sliced or diced

1  Tbs. dried minced onion (or 2 Tbs. fresh, finely chopped)

 

DOUGH:

4½  C. Bisquick mix 

1  C. boiling water

 

Heat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with baking paper, or grease with butter or oil of choice.

In a pan, sauté the diced potatoes and carrots in a splash of coconut oil or olive oil a minute, then add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until done; drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix, the water, & onion. Reduce heat to medium; cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a bowl stir the Bisquick mix and boiling water together until a dough forms. On a surface sprinkled with Bisquick mix, roll the dough in the mix to coat; knead. Divide dough into 6 balls. Pat or roll each ball into 7-inch (18 cm) round. Place on the baking sheet. Spoon about ½ C. beef mixture onto one half of each round. Moisten the edge of each round with water and fold over the beef mixture, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Cut 3 small slits into the top of each crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

 

TACO SEASONING MIX

In a small bowl, combine the following ingredients:

 

¼ tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

4 Tbs. flour

1 ½ tsp. powdered beef bouillon

½ tsp. sugar

3 tsp. dried chopped onion

2 ½ tsp. salt

4 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. garlic powder

 

Mix well, and store in a sealed jar.  This should be enough for ~25 tacos.