Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dairy Free Turkey Taco Pie

Eric and I love turkey tacos. We use a great recipe from the bottle of Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce. It's our go-to meal and we have it about once every two weeks because it's so easy, incorporates all food groups in one dish, it's healthy, and it's the perfect comfort food. Turkey tacos are so easy because you can store all the ingredients in your kitchen without having to stop by the store to pick anything up. I keep ground turkey at the ready in the freezer, canned black beans and diced tomatoes in the pantry cupboard, buy rice in bulk, and store jarred salsa and Frank's in the fridge. It's a meal I don't have to plan, I just get out all the ingredients.

The basic Frank's taco recipe calls for 1 lb. cooked ground meat, 1 cup salsa, 1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce, and 2 teaspoons of chili powder. We build on the recipe and add diced tomatoes, then layer our tacos with black beans and brown rice. Occasionally Eric adds shredded cheese while I add guacamole if it's in the fridge. Sometimes we don't always have tortilla shells, and we will either eat it burrito bowl style like Chipotle, or eat with tortilla chips. I usually have some Tostitos Lime Tortilla chips on hand.

One week not too long ago I didn't have any chips or tortilla shells, but I did have fresh tomatoes, romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese shreds, and even guacamole. All the ingredients perfect for tacos! Rather than go to the store just for taco shells, I pulled out the cornmeal I use for dusting pizza crust and made a delicious Taco Pie. It's so good and looks beautiful when it's all put together. You don't need sour cream or cheese to make this delicious. Add a dollop of guac to your pie when serving to get that creaminess you desire.



1/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
cooking spray


1 lb. ground turkey breast
1 cup salsa
1-2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 can black beans, drained (not rinsed)
1 cup three cheese soy cheese shreds or mixture of mozarella and cheddar Daiya Shreds
red pepper flakes (optional)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup lettuce, shredded
Gaucamole or advacado (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 inch pie dish with cooking spray then sprinkle a light dusting of cornmeal on bottom and sides of dish to prevent crust from sticking.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in almond milk and vegetable oil until a ball begins to form.


3. Use your hands to knead the dough into a ball, then, on a surface dusted with flour, use a rolling pin to roll out your dough into a 10 inch circle.


4. Place your rolled out dough onto the pie dish, molding to form a crust. Tuck extra dough underneath to make even. Poke a few fine holes in the bottom and sides with a fork to prevent crust from bubbling up.


5. Place in oven and cook for five minutes, or until lightly browned and hardened like a tortilla shell.

6. Meanwhile, cook your ground turkey until browned. Drain any liquid fromt the pan, then add salsa, hot sauce, and chili powder. Simmer uncovered for ten minutes, allowing the tortilla crust to cool and the spices to seep into the turkey.

7. Add turkey and salsa mixture into tortilla crust. Follow with a thick layer of black beans, then top with cheddar cheese shreds. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes for an added kick.

8. Bake for 8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown. Remove pie from oven and immediately top with diced tomatoes and lettuce. Cut like a pie and serve with guacamole.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Roasted Potato Wedges

I made these crispy potato wedges to go with my Irish Bangers as an appetizer for St. Patrick's Day. I used Chef Paul Prudhomme's Magic Salt Free Seasoning All Purpose Blend. I also recommend Mrs. Dash Salt Free Seasonings. I did add a little sea salt to bring out the flavor, but at least I can add the amount I want. I also used yellow fingerling potatoes because that's what I had, but gold or russet potatoes will work well.

Be very careful when pulling out your potatoes from that dark, cool space in your kitchen. I had a near death experience when I lifted my bag of fingerling potatoes and a ugly brown spider was hanging from it. I almost had a heart attack along with my panic attack. Spiders are the scariest creatures on earth as far as I'm concerned. Eric knows me so well that as soon as he hears the involuntary scary spider sound coming out of my mouth (something between a scream and a yelp), it triggers his spider alert senses and he comes quickly with a fly swatter to save the day. Sigh...he is my hero.


2 lbs of potatoes, washed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons salt-free all-purpose seasoning


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice potatoes into skinny wedges, like fry cuts.

2. In a large dish, add wedges and vegetable oil, then toss until wedges are completely covered in it. Sprinkle on some sea salt, then transfer wedges to a nonstick baking pan.

3. Bake wedges for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown all sides. Once wedges look browned and are crispy on the outside, remove them from the oven and sprinkle with all-purpose seasoning. You can place them in a paper towel lined tray or basket to absorb the excess oil and to serve less greasy wedges.

Irish Bangers and Whiskey

These Irish sausages are a fun and simple option as an appetizer for your St. Patrick's Day Party. I recommend using some Irish Whiskey, but whatever you have on hand will work great. Throw the ingredients together and walk away while they cook in the sweet whiskey sauce. Broil to make them crispy, transport in the Crock Pot, then serve them with toothpicks.

While I waited for the sausages to cook, I picked out my outfit for our couple's St. Patrick's Day Party. Unfortunately, I don't have any fun t-shirts that say things like "Luck O' the Irish," or my personal favorite, "Patrick was a Saint, I ain't." But my family used to go all out for St. Patrick's Day. We have a direct Irish heritage on my Dad's side. Even my little brother's name is Patrick. And Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the place to be on St. Paddy's Day.

I've had some serious adventures on St. Patrick's Day in Pittsburgh. I went to a women's private college called Carlow University--it was founded by Irish nuns. They have a sister university in Carlow, Ireland. I was on the dance team, and one year the student activities director asked if we would learn an Irish step dance routine and perform in the city parade. Of course we said yes, since it sounded like a fun opportunity.

Learning Irish step dancing was really fun, but the parade was a total misadventure. First, we almost missed it, because trying to get a bus to the parade route was impossible. Public buses of college students passed us by because they were so full. We were just standing on the side of the road, a group of young college girls in our green Carlow hoodies, all done up for a performance. Eventually, a party bus decked out in St. Patrick's Day decorations and flashing lights saw us waiting and picked us up. Whoever was running the bus took us to the parade route with no charge, blasting crazy music the whole way there. That was pretty awesome.

Then the parade started and we danced our routine for a few miles in icy cold, slushy Pittsburgh weather, right in front of the truck transporting Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog. I remember my tennis shoes and socks being completely soaked through. My black pants were wet all the way up to my knees. We were cold and miserable, and to top it all off, the drunk college guys threw green beads at us yelling "Dance! Dance!" I vowed to never do that again, but it was one of those experiences you just can't make up, filled with memories I'll never forget.

I was able to save my shoes, but I haven't been to a parade since. I hope you have a positive St. Patrick's Day experience filled with green drinks and lots of luck. Enjoy this Irish Banger recipe along with my recipe for Roasted Potato Wedges. Happy St. Patrick's Day!


2 lb. Irish Bangers (16 links), separated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup whiskey
1/2 packed brown sugar, plus more to sprinkle on top


1. Sear the sausages in a skillet with vegetable oil over medium heat until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes).

2. Let sit for five-ten minutes to cool down for cutting.

3. Cut sausages into 1/2 inch slices, perfect bite size pieces for appetizers. Add sausages to the Crock Pot and turn on low setting.

4. Mix together 1/2 cup whiskey with 1/2 cup packed brown sugar until blended but not dissolved. Pour mixture over sausage pieces in the Crock Pot and stir to coat. Slow cook for three to four hours.

5. You can serve them like this, or, to make them crispy, broil them. Turn off Crock Pot. With a slotted spoon, place sausages in a broiling pan, sprinkle with brown sugar, and broil for three minutes. Pour the excess liquid from the Crock Pot into a measuring cup. Add 1/8 cup of the whiskey liquid back into the Crock Pot and discard the rest.

6. Once sausages are browned, add them back to the Crock Pot with the small amount of liquid to stay warm. Transport them to the party and turn the Crock Pot on low to keep warm for guests. Serve with toothpicks.