Mexican Pizza

Playoff Pizza – Mexican Style

This last weekend was a tough one for the Cavewoman; her beloved Colts lost their playoff game. So to perk up her spirits I made her favorite foods, Mexican and Taco Bell. First off will be the Mexican Pizza, which I have to say, one off my favorites as well. Check out the 7 layer dip I will be posting tomorrow…it’s not too shabby either.

What you will need: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • ½ of 1red onion chopped (I reserved the other half to top the pizza with) 4 tbsp.
  • Taco Seasoning (recipe to follow, or use package)
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese 8 (12″) Thin Flour Tortillas
  • 1 cup Shredded Lettuce
  • 1 cup of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno Sliced (optional)
  • 1 Can Refried Beans (Caveman Version)
  • 1 Cup Salsa or taco sauce.
  • 2 Green Onions chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced olives

Taco SeasoningOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp. cumin
  • 1.5 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. cilantro
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. Montreal steak seasoning
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • Dash cayenne pepper

 Prep

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Caveman Tip*** I make the taco meat and beans early in the day, and then store them in the fridge until I am ready to use them. This way I don’t have to rush to put them together and it gives the mixtures time to marry together for better flavor. Then when I am ready just reheat it quickly on the stove.

In a heavy bottom skillet under medium heat, drizzle EVOO and add the onions. You will want to sauté them till soft and then turn it up to medium high and add the meat. Once the meat is browned, drain the fat & reduce to medium low heat. Add the taco seasoning to the meat in the pan along with a splash of chicken or beef stock. (2 tbsp. or so) You will want to simmer on low heat until the liquid is absorbed.

Place the refried beans in a separate pan and heat to medium low.

Caveman Tip*** I use refried beans a lot, in either dishes and just don’t have the time to make them from scratch but I do like to doctor them up a bit. Sauté a 1/3 cup onion (I use a lot of onions so I always have some in the fridge half used from earlier that day or the day before) 2-3 baby bell peppers until soft. Add your beans small can 10 oz. rotell tomatoes, 2 tbsp. salsa, 2 tbsp. cayenne, 2 tbsp. cumin and heat under medium low.

Take your flour tortillas and lightly coat with EVOO then place on a backing sheet and put in the oven. After a few minutes I like to turn the heat up to broil to really crisp up those shells, but be careful they will burn quickly.

Assembly

Take your tortilla and apply a thin layer of beans on it, then add a thin layer of ground meat and top it with shredded cheddar cheese. Next, add your second tortilla to the top and then put a thin layer of salsa on it followed by a layer of the Monterey jack cheese.

Cook.

Put the pizza in the oven, middle rack at 400 degrees until all the cheese is melted, it will take 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the pizza and your oven. Once all the cheese is melted remove it from the oven and finish the assembly.

 Final Assembly

Top the melted cheese with the shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, and jalapenos and olives.  Don’t forget your sour cream!

This will definitely be on the repeat list.

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Cavemans Go To Rice

What you will need:

  • ½ cup white onion, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ½ cup baby bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushroom chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 ¼ cup long grain white rice
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. Montreal steak seasoning (optional)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • Chicken bouillon (¼ cube optional)

 

Sauté:

 

Sauté the onions, celery, baby bell peppers, mushrroms & a pinch of salt in butter until soft; stirring often.  Continue cooking under medium heat.  Add rice to mixture and stir.  Add parsley, Montreal steak seasoning and chicken bouillon, cook over medium heat until the rice is light brown.  **Caveman Tip – Do not burn your rice!! Stir your rice constantly.  Make sure it gets coated with all the ingredients.  Taste your rice mixture. If needed, add a pinch of salt.

 

Cook

Once the rice has soaked up all the goodness, add chicken broth and water, then kick up the temperature to high heat.  You want to get the rice to a rolling boil.  **Caveman Tip: Taste your liquid,  this is what your rice will taste like, so add pepper or seasoning as desired.  You shouldn’t need any salt as the chicken bouillon will add that in.

 

Once the rice has reached a rolling boil, give it one final stir and cover with lid.  Now reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer.  **Caveman Tip: I like to cook my rice closer to medium heat than low heat, so find that perfect setting.  For some reason – this makes the rice a little firmer and the benefit is better texture, rather than soggy rice.

 

Rice Cooking 101: NEVER remove the lid during the cooking process.  If possible, use a clear lid so you can monitor that the liquid will be absorbed fully.

 

Once the liquid is absorbed (temperatures may very so it’s hard to gauge a timeframe, so KEEP your eye on the liquid). If I had to guess – I’d say 8-10 minutes.

Once the water is absorbed, and the rice is no longer bubbling up top, remove from heat source, and let it sit covered, for at least 5 minutes.  **Caveman Tip:  This allows the residual heat in the pan to continue to cook the rice, without burning the rice on the bottom of the pan. I like to leave the rice sitting with the lid on until the rest of the meal is ready to serve; it also keeps the rice warm.

 

When your ready, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork, and serve!

Food Storage Tips

If there is one thing that I really hate, it’s buying an ingredient to cook a meal with and then watching it spoil and go to waste within a couple of days; usually because I don’t have anything to use it for again. We all love using fresh ingredients and definitely know that they make meals hit that next level. So here are a few staple items that I pick up at the store every week that go with a lot of the meals I cook. Here are Caveman’s Tips on how to make those ingredients last long enough to get your money’s worth out of them.

Onions:

Onions are an item I use in a lot of dishes, soups, sauces, rice, other sides and salads. I like yellow onions as they get that sweet caramelized flavor when sautéed.  I will also pick up a red onion, as I prefer them in the raw state in my Mexican dishes. A taco night or burrito night is pretty common in my house, it makes for a quick, easy and tasty meal after work.

 

I tend to not over buy onions, but if stored in a dark cool dry area they can last weeks. The only drawback is that most recipes only end up using about a half an onion. What I like to do is chop the whole onion, use what I need, and then store the remainder in an airtight container in the fridge. It will easily last several days, as I mentioned most of my meals include an onion in one way or another.

Another option is the shallot, it is a smaller version of the onion and a bit more potent, but when sautéed with oil and salt, it also turns sweet. The thing I like about the shallot is that they are smaller and will allow you to use only what you need without wasting half. They are a bit more expensive though. Shallots should be stored in the same way as the onion which is a dark cool dry environment such as a panty; you don’t want them to start sprouting.

Fresh and Easy sells onions and shallots in mesh bags; this works good to hang in your kitchen or pantry which stops any mold from accumulating on the bottom of the onion. Just screw a small hook in your pantry.

Celery:

Celery is another one of those items that adds great flavor and texture to soups, sauces, rice, side dishes, salads, and I just eat it as a snack. (I know celery is not “traditional” caveman style but come on guys! I want to be able to enjoy life with my cavewoman and delicious food well into my 70’s & 80’s…I don’t want to die of a heart attack at 50! So, occasionally, snacking on celery at work or just sitting around the house isn’t such a bad idea.  Just sayin’…)

Now, I like to buy the celery that has been trimmed, washed and packaged (you will still want to wash prior to use).  This celery seems to last me at least 7 days in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. I have bought this at most grocery stores.

This type of celery tends to be a little more expensive than just the normal celery bunches so if you are on a budget, and believe me there are weeks the caveman is on a budget, pick those up instead.  Make sure you look through them for condition and cleanliness.  Do not just grab the first one available; usually the grocery stores will put the new stock in the back so don’t be afraid to dig in there.  Look for really green and healthy-looking celery and particularly look at the leaves.  You want to find celery where the leaves haven’t tuned brown and the stalks aren’t bruised. You want bright, fresh, and green. Grab those.

When you get home you need to decide how to store them.  The method I have read about simply said to wrap the celery in foil and store it in the vegetable drawer. Me personally, I don’t want to waste the tin foil, that stuff is not cheap. I like to clean, cut, and trim my celery when I get home.  Then, I place it in a jar or plastic pitcher of water as seen in the picture. (I pilfered this picture off the internet as I currently have the prepackaged celery in my refrigerator.) You want to then cover the top with a plastic bag, (one you brought home from the grocery store will do just fine) and put it over the top of the pitcher and seal with string or a rubber band. This will allow the celery to last at least a week.  Just pull off the plastic when you need celery, and re-attach to store.

Carrots:

Again, carrots are another one of those items that adds great flavor to soups, sauces, rice, side dishes, salads and I eat it as a snack. Carrots are very versatile and will store for over a week in the fridge. I prefer to buy the packages of pre-cut and peeled carrots, they are just that much easier to work with and make great snacks.

If you want to go the raw unprocessed carrots I have heard this is the best method. You will want to trim all but 2” of the green off the top of the carrot, do not peel or cut anything else on the carrot. Put the carrots in an airtight container and store in the vegetable drawer of the fridge, they will last at least a week.

Mushrooms:

I never used to like mushrooms but recently, I have really acquired a taste for them. They add that deep earthy flavor to salads or a sweet mild earth flavor when sautéed over chicken or steak. I really like using them in sauces and gravy for steak, chicken, and mashed potatoes. I even like making stuffed mushrooms as a tasty appetizer. (Check out my Chicken with Mushroom Gravy recipe or the Stroganoff that I really enjoy.)

There a many types of mushrooms used for cooking, and I prefer the portabella. It typically has an earthy meaty flavor but if you prefer a milder flavor, try your standard white mushroom. (I do typically keep a package of dried shitake mushrooms in the panty, because I really love Asian foods, I can rehydrate them as necessary when I cook an Asian dish)

Keeping mushrooms can be tricky but if done right they can be stored up to a week.  Choose those mushrooms with a firm texture and even color with tightly-closed caps. If the gills are showing, it’s an indication of age, and they are probably past their prime. Discolored, broken and damaged mushrooms with soft spots should be avoided. I prefer to store them in a brown paper bag.  I usually get one form the store when I do my weekly shopping trip.  Do not wash them!  In fact, pat dry if they are wet from the store, put a layer of mushrooms in the bottom of the brown paper bag, don’t overcrowd them to the point they are all touching.  If you have more, place a paper towel down to separate the layers. Loosely fold the top of the paper bag as you want the air to be able to get in the bag and place in the crisper section of the fridge. If you picked good ones they should last. **Caveman Tip: never wash mushrooms, they are like a sponge and will absorb liquid and become soggy.  Just brush the dirt off with either a soft vegetable brush or a paper towel

Not only have I given some insight to the things any regular person should have in their fridge on a weekly basis, but I’ve also shared how to keep them fresh and get the most bang for your buck.  I really hope this helps.  Feel free to let us know by posting your thoughts.

 

 

Blackened Chicken Rub (we like it spicy…)

 

What you will need:

  •  1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • ¾ tbsp. sugar
  • ¾ tbsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp. salt
  •  ½ tbsp. thyme
  • ½ tbsp. red pepper flakes

 

Combine all the above ingredients and store in an air tight container until ready to use.  Shake and make sure they are mixed well.

  • 1-2 Limes (to squeeze lime juice)
  • Chicken breasts, (boneless works best depending on what you’re making but bone in  hind quarters are just as delicious)

Apply

Take the defrosted chicken breast put in a bowl and squeeze lime juice on both sides.  Let the chicken sit in the bowl for 5-10 minutes. Pull the chicken, pat dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle liberally with seasoning and let sit another 10 minutes.  This allows the chicken to come up to room temperature prior to cooking.  **Caveman’s Tip: cooking cold meat on a hot grill makes the meat contract resulting in a tough, potentially dry meat

Prepare the grill

Get the BBQ ready, either coal or propane, I prefer having a propane grill for this because it’s usually a weeknight meal and after work I don’t have time to mess with the coals.  Heat the grill until hot, on a propane grill I get it up to 500°F.

 Cook

Put the chicken on the grill. Sear until the chicken is a deep red color with dark black grill marks on both sides.  (I like to have the grill lid open at this point because it allows me to sear off the chicken without overcooking it)

Still on the grill, move the chicken to indirect heat, off to the side. (I prefer to cook at this point with the grill lid down now) Continue to cook for 8-15 minutes depending on the breast size.

**Caveman Tip:  People often get hesitant when cooking chicken and tend to turn it into chicken jerky. I always use a good reliable instant read thermometer when cooking chicken and pork so I can make sure it always ends up plump and juicy. Chicken can be so flavorful when cooked correctly. (Please check out my blog on cooking the perfect chicken for more info)

Check the temperature of the chicken and make sure it’s 150°F and then remove it from the grill. 

Wrap it in foil or a container with a lid, and let it sit for 5-8 minutes. This allows the chicken to finish coming up to temperate without drying it out. It also allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Put the chicken on a cutting board and slice to serve, I prefer this in tacos, burritos and even a good salad.

Corn Relish (Dee-lish!)

What you will need:

  • 6 ears of fresh corn, peeled
  • 2 large tomatoes, core then grill (see below)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup total red, & green bell pepper (I like to get the bag of mixed baby bell peppers, it’s easier to use than the small ones so I don’t have to waste half a large one)
  • ¼ can black beans rinsed (I typically make the relish with tacos or burritos so I can use the remaining beans with that dish)
  • 1 Jalapeno finely chopped seeds and veins removed (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare:

Peel 6 ears of fresh corn.  Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Core 2 large tomatoes, slit an X in the bottom and coat those with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

We love to grill anything we can to get the Caveman flavor.   So heat up your grill and lightly grill both the corn and the tomatoes.  Turn the corn frequently (we do not want blackened corn, just lightly grilled).  The tomatoes will only take a few minutes just enough to heat them up but not make them mushy.  This adds a little depth of flavor. Once grilled, remove both items and set aside to let them cool.  (Tomatoes can be put into refrigerator)

I always prefer to use fresh corn in any dish, ears of corn are cheap and add great texture to any meal.

 Assemble:

Shave the corn from the cob and put into bowl.  In a separate bowl, put your chopped red onion and coat with 4tbsp red wine vinegar and let rest for 10 minutes.

With corn, mix in the bell peppers and jalapeno. Chop the tomatoes and add to mixture.  Mix ¼ cup of black beans and stir.  Combine the red onion mixture into corn relish mixture and stir.  Add salt and pepper.  Don’t forget to taste your food and make adjustments as necessary!

Drizzle a light amount of balsamic vinegar over the mixture and stir. Top with cilantro and additional salt & pepper, if needed.