Tacoladas: Beef and Veggie Pie

Beef-and-Veggie-Taco-Pie

Do you remember math class in school? I do, and I remember two things in particular: One, was that I hated it. Two, was that I would get such a rush every time I found out I had the right answer when I checked the back of the book.

I sometimes get that same feeling when I COMPLETELY create and improvise a recipe from scratch. I am talking, no pinterest-ing, no internet searching. Nothing. And then it actually turns out, and it is delicious. Even better when there are lots of vegetables too! Such a rush.

So, behold my Taco Pie, aka. the source of this rush:

Taco Pie

Taco Pie. Er, Casserole. Er, …nevermind

Ok, that seems a little silly after I look at this picture. I mean, it looks like just any regular casserole, right? (Side note – If anyone can come up with a better name for this, please let me know in the comments below. It does not resemble a pie in any way shape or form, that is just what I keep calling it. And I think the term “casserole” can scare some people off with nightmares of cream of chicken soup and mayonnaise. )

From the bottom to the top, this casserole starts out with a hint of my favorite TJ’s salsa (I use the Trader Joe’s Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, but there are many you can choose from, just pick your favorite), then a layer of corn tortillas, cut into triangles.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Now, many of my friends have gone back and forth over “what is the best corn tortilla found on the shelves of Trader Joe’s.” My personal favorite is the “De Mi Abuela: Wheat and Corn Tortillas” because they are a little bit thicker, and have lots of flavor. Not every one in my house is a fan of that one, so I usually end up getting the “Corn Tortillas” that are gluten-free and have minimal ingredients. They are just your regular, run-of-the-mill tortillas. And that is perfectly acceptable in a dish like this, that has so much flavor and other textures going on.

Trader Joe's Corn Tortillas

Left: De Mi Abuela
Right: Corn Tortillas

The next layer is a mix of 6 different veggies that have been sautéed in a little bit of olive oil. You could probably swap out some of the veggies if you have other favorites. It is kind of a cool way to clean out your fridge if you have just a few randoms laying around. While I had my cutting board out, I actually ended up dicing a lot more veggies than this, and then saving them for the following morning to add to an egg scramble.

Nothing more beautiful than a rainbow of veggies in a skillet

Nothing more beautiful than a rainbow of veggies in a skillet

After that layer, add some more corn tortilla triangles, then the layer of ground beef. I like lean ground beef (96% lean) because it is pretty inexpensive, and is easy to freeze and de-thaw. I also ALWAYS have some hanging out in my kitchen. But if you prefer a different type of protein, you could easily swap the ground beef with turkey, or even shredded chicken (YUM!) Simply brown the ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken) in a skillet. It can be the same one you just cooked the veggies in. Then add a can of diced tomatoes and a half packet of taco seasoning. If you like your food on the spicy side, add a little more. If you like it less spicy, add a little less. However, there was enough heat for me and my family with just half a packet.

Put that mixture on top of the corn tortilla triangles, then load the top up with some shredded Mexican cheese and bake in the oven until it is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

IMG_1672

I topped mine with some guacamole, salsa, sour cream and Jalapeño Greek yogurt dip. No, I am not a glutton, just indecisive. I think the Jalapeño Greek Yogurt dip won. It is my current favorite.

And the icing on the cake, is the leftovers are even better. I just love when meals get better with age.

Tacoladas: Beef and Veggie Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 yellow squash, diced
  • 1/2 package of mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1/4 cup salsa verde (Roasted Tomatillo Salsa)
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into triangle wedges
  • 1 lb 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • 1/2 package Mexican cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Once warm, add onions and cook for a few minutes, then add bell pepper and cook for another couple minutes. Next, add zucchini and yellow squash, continue to cook for a few minutes. Then add mushrooms and cook for a few motte minutes. Lastly, add the kale.
  3. In a 9×13 glass dish, spread salsa along the bottom of the pan, then spread corn tortillas on top. Put cooked veggies on top. Do another layer of corn tortillas.
  4. In the same large skillet, brown lean grown beef. Once brown, add taco seasoning and tomatoes and cook on low for 8-10 minutes. Once cooked, add to casserole dish. Cover with cheese and bake for 25 minutes, until cheese is starting to bubble and brown. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before serving.

Suggested Side items – Black beans and a salad with Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Cilantro Dressing

Suggested Drinks – Trader Joe’s Organic Mango Lemonade (with or without tequila)

Healthy Whole Wheat Pancakes

Whole-Wheat-Pancakes

Here is the first video and recipe I shared with Nutrition Milestones, and it really is just too much fun to not post here as well. OJ and I were asked to make our favorite pancake recipe, which is basically just my father-in-law’s famous pancakes, with just a few healthy tweaks. Since filming this, I have also incorporated Non-Fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt to replace the buttermilk (not that there is anything wrong with buttermilk, it is just something I don’t normally purchase, and I am up to my ears with Non-Fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt!) I have also substituted honey for the sugar and added some cinnamon, added blueberries or chocolate chips, and all of them taste equally delicious!

Healthy Whole Wheat Pancakes

  • Servings: 10-12 silver dollar pancakes or 5-7 full size pancakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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IngredientsIMG_1714

  • 1 cup whole wheat white flour from Trader Joes
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

whole wheat pancakes griddleInstructions

  • Mix together wet ingredients
  • Mix together dry ingredients
  • Then add wet to dry and mix until well combined.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat your electric griddle to 350 (or a griddle pan on your stove at a medium high heat). Once hot, place a dollop of batter onto the griddle (1 Tbsp for silver dollar, 1/4-1/3 cup for full size).

Favorite Topping: Fresh Fruit and a drizzle of Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Agave Syrup Blend

Pumpkin French Toast

PUMPKIN-french-toast

The other day, I walked into Trader Joe’s, and for the first time, I felt a little intimidated by the amount of pumpkin items on the shelves. I am a lover of all things pumpkin (well… most things pumpkin) and even I almost thought “they have gone overboard,” but something inside me just couldn’t mutter those words.

Seriously, I love fall: Halloween, Thanksgiving, shopping, crisp and cool air, apple cider, school starting and tourists leaving. The flavor of ‘pumpkin’ just really helps me feel like fall has arrived. Call it ritualistic if you will.

Pumpkin Stash

My Pumpkin Stash

I started with the Pumpkin PopTarts Organic Frosted Toasted Pasteries. They were amazing, but were admittedly an impromptu purchase that should have never ended up in my basket, and only did because I was starving. I am all about moderation, but these little guys have no place on your breakfast plate.

The next thing I purchased was the “Pumpkin Walks into a Bar” bar. I will try just about anything in that line of products because I think the title is just that clever. Fig has been my favorite, but the pumpkin was pretty delicious too. My first experience with this item was when I was coming home from Disneyland on Dapper Day, and was trying to make it back to San Diego before rush hour, so I skipped lunch and only had those bars in my car. They were so delicious, I ate two of them. The next time I had a whole one to myself (once I was properly fed), I felt it was a little too sweet for my liking. However, my 18 month old daughter LOVES these bars and goes nuts for them.

The other fancy item I tried this year was the Pumpkin Cornbread to go with my Black and White Chili. Without sounding like a broken record, I always find the cornbread at trader joe’s to be a little too sweet for my taste buds (and that is saying a lot!! I love sugar!!) and this was no exception. I was also missing out on the giant chunks of corn that come in the normal cornbread. It was delicious, but I think from here on out I would stick to the traditional cornbread mix. I DID however feel inspired to attempt to make pumpkin cornbread cupcakes with Maple Frosting out of this mix, so stay tuned for that.

Truth be told, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to my pumpkin. I much prefer just getting a can of old fashioned pumpkin puree and just adding scoopfuls to my recipes already in rotation. I purchased a can at Trader Joe’s on my last trip, anticipating I would make Taylor Switft’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies but ended up doing something different, but just as yummy.

pumpkin spice

If you go onto Pinterest, you’ll see close to a million recipes for Pumpkin French Toast…WELL HERE IS A MILLION AND ONE! But seriously, there is a reason why this is so popular: it is delicious. There are just some foods pumpkin just fits really well into (while there are others, like, say, Pumpkin Spice Pringles, that make me lose my lunch).

Another great part of this: my daughter loved it. But then again, I wasn’t really expecting her to NOT love it, because she is a hoover and eats everything, especially pumpkin spice things.

So, without further adieu, I present you:

Pumpkin French Toast

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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IMG_2674
Ingredients:

  • 3 Slices of Milton’s Multigrain Bread
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice
  • Butter
  • Optional: Powdered Sugar and Agave Maple Syrup

IMG_2675Directions:

  1. Beat egg, add pumpkin puree and mix well. Add milk (start with 1/4 cup and if it looks thick, add more. I always try to put in as little milk as possible with my French toast). Finally add in the pumpkin spice (or if you are out, you could just use a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg and if you are trying to emulate the Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice, a pinch of clove too)
  2. GrillingHeat skillet on medium and add a pat of butter to the pan and let melt. I have tried to skip this step before,
    but the French Toast just gets stuck to the skillet, so, just do it and be liberal with the butter. You can always blot some off after.
  3. Dip bread (you can cut it in half if you like) in egg/milk mixture. Make sure each side is fully saturated.
  4. Cook French Toast a few minutes on each side until it starts to brown. Remove from skillet and top with powdered sugar and/or maple syrup.


**CUTE CULINARY ITEM ALERT**

powdered-sugar-spoonI had a little “me” time the other night, and I somehow found myself browsing the aisles of Crate and Barrel (which I could easily drop a couple thousand each time I walk in that store). I went to get a basket for my bathroom, but left with a quiche dish and the most adorable little powdered sugar spoon ever. I couldn’t pass it up, and was truly my inspiration for this post.