*Super Bowl Week* Puff Pastry Mini Pizzas

Okay, so far in Super Bowl week we’ve paid tribute to Mexico with the taco crescents and good ol’ America with the bacon cheeseburger sliders, so I think it’s time to tip the hat to the flavors of my favorite country, Italy!

The classic combinations of tomato, basil, and mozzarella in these little beauties are definitely reminiscent of Italy, but I did put my own spin on it by using puff pastry and Kielbasa sausage! If you wanted to be more true to Italy in your meat choice, salami is extremely popular there!

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Start off with two sheets of puff pastry (one package) and let them thaw out on the counter. (About 30-40 minutes.) Once they’re nearly thawed, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a frying pan over medium-low heat, saute 1 diced green pepper and 1/2 package of kielbasa cut into small pieces, tossing occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until the sausage has started to brown. Set aside.

Take the thawed pastry sheets and cut each one into 9 equal squares. (18 total.) Lay them out on your prepared baking sheets, and then score a crust around the edge of each square.

Score

Doing your best to stay inside the scored square, spread about 1 tsp or so of tomato sauce onto the dough and then sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil, and garlic powder. (If you like things on the spicy side, add a touch of cayenne, too!)

Sauce

On top of the sauce, add about 1 tsp each of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Carefully add your sausage and pepper on top of the cheese, evenly distributing to all 18 pizzas.

Sausage

Once they are all assembled, bake for 12-15 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two and then serve!

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These are absolutely delicious and packed with flavor, and the lightness of the puff pastry means they aren’t too heavy to go with anything else you might be serving!

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The best part is that these are super flexible – you can top them with whatever you like! No matter what your culinary taste is, I’m sure there’s a million different ways you could make these to suit you!

Full Recipe:

Puff Pastry Mini Pizzas

Yield: 18 pizzas

Ingredients:

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1/2 (14oz) package of kielbasa, cut into small pieces
1 green pepper, diced
1/3 cup tomato sauce
Salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder, cayenne – all to taste.
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Process:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a frying pan over medium-low heat, saute diced peppers and sausage for about 3 minutes or until sausage has begun to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

3) Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 9 equal squares (18 total) and lay them on the baking sheets. Score a crust along the edges of each square.

4) Staying within the scored square, spread 1 tsp of tomato sauce onto each square and then sprinkle seasonings on to taste.

5) On top of the sauce, add mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, about 1 tsp of each cheese per square.

6) Carefully add the sausage and peppers to the top of each pizza, distributing it evenly to all 18 pizzas.

7) Bake for 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, and then serve immediately.

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*Super Bowl Week* Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders

Burgers are one of the best “having people over for a casual get-together” foods, but let’s face it, on Game Day, people want a little of everything, and a big burger is just too much with everything else you have to eat!

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That’s where sliders come in – little miniature burgers, PACKED with flavor, but not too heavy to eat! These sliders really deliver on flavor and they pack a little heat, too, so they are sure to be a crowd pleaser!

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Start off by cooking 6 pieces of bacon (crispy) in a large skillet. (Cook more if you can’t resist the temptation to eat some!) A few minutes per side on a medium low heat should be enough. Set these aside on a paper towel to drain off the excess oil.

In a mixing bowl, put 1 pound of ground beef and add to it 1 tsp each of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano, and a 1/2 tsp of cayenne. Use your hands to combine this all together and then form the meat into 12 patties, about 3 inches wide.

Raw burgers

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Don’t over-knead the meat! Get it just combined so all the spices are evenly distributed, and then STOP! Over-working the beef causes it to be tough, and nobody likes a tough burger! Use your palms to lightly squeeze each ball of meat so it becomes a flat patty – no extra pressure is needed!

Heat up the same pan you used for the bacon (don’t wipe out the grease!) over a medium heat and add the burger patties to it. It’s important that you don’t overcrowd the pan, so if they don’t all fit with an inch of space between them, do it in two batches. Cook on one side for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. (This much time should mean they are medium well to well-done.)

Cooking burgers

Just before they have finished cooking, add a slice of pepper jack cheese to each one. (If you buy the single-serving sliced kind, one of those slices should divide nicely into 4 squares that fit perfectly on these burgers.)

If you want raw onion on your sliders (I personally can’t imagine a burger without onion!) then while the burgers are cooking you can cut up about half a large onion. (Cut the half into quarters and then slice up each quarter.) You can also prep the buns by taking 3 large kaiser rolls and cutting them into quarters. Open up each mini-bun and add the onion (if desired) to each one and top with a drizzle of your favorite barbecue sauce. Put a burger on top of each, and then break each slice of bacon into quarters and put two pieces on each burger.

Bacon

Put the caps on each burger, put them on a serving dish, and you’re done!

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You might find yourself making these a lot more than just when you’re entertaining!

Full Recipe:

Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders

Yield: 12 sliders

Ingredients:

6 pieces bacon
1 pound ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne
3 slices pre-packaged pepper jack cheese
3 large Kaiser rolls, cut into quarters
1/2 large onion, cut into quarters and sliced
Barbecue sauce, for topping

Process:

1) In a large skillet over medium low heat, cook bacon for 2-3 minutes per side or until crispy. Set aside on a paper towel.

2) Combine beef, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and cayenne together in a mixing bowl. Form the beef into 12 (three inch) patties.

3) In the same pan that you cooked the bacon, over medium heat, cook the 12 patties for 3-4 minutes on the first side and 2-3 minutes on the second side. If they don’t all fit comfortably in the pan, do 2 batches.

4) Add 1/4 of a slice of pepper jack cheese to each burger just before they are finished cooking, and then remove from heat.

5) Open each mini bun and top with onion, barbecue sauce, and then each burger.

6) Break each slice of bacon into quarters and then place 2 pieces onto each burger.

7) Cap the burgers and serve immediately.

*Super Bowl Week* Beef Taco Crescent Rolls

It doesn’t seem like that long ago we were all counting down the days until the start of pre-season, and now suddenly the ever-anticipated Super Bowl is upon us again!

I’m a huge football fan, and of course I love to cook for people, so my house is normally a gathering place for Super Bowl every year, since I love to entertain! I’m going to focus this week on some awesome recipes for entertaining on the big day, so keep checking back for more new ideas!

I decided to kick things off (pun intended!) with a great finger food with a Mexican flair – all the goodness of tacos, wrapped up in easy to eat crescent rolls! As I already stated in my Handheld Apple Pie recipe, I just adore the versatility of crescent roll dough!

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Wrapped up in delicious crescents is one of many ways to use this recipe – it would also make a fabulous hearty dip for chips or you could even use it to make sliders or full size sandwiches. However, I really like the neatness and compactness of the crescents.

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees and lining two baking sheets with non-stick foil. Then, coat a frying pan in about 1 tbsp of oil and brown about 1/4 pound of ground beef in the pan over medium low-heat. (2-3 minutes.)

ground beef

While the meat is browning, dice up 1/2 of a green pepper and 1/4 of a red onion.

Pepper and onion

Once the meat has browned, turn the heat down to low, add the onion and pepper, and sprinkle with seasonings. I used 1/2 tsp salt and then cheated a little by using 2 tsp of McCormick’s “Perfect Pinch” Mexican spice mix. If you don’t have a Mexican spice mix, you can do 1/2 tsp each of cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, and cilantro.

Simmer

Stir to combine, and then cover and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

While that is cooking, prepare your crescent dough. You’ll need two packages (8 crescents each) of the dough; Unroll each section of dough and separate out the triangles so they are all lying flat your prepared baking sheets.

After you’ve let your beef, onions, and peppers simmer, remove the lid and add 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa. (I personally like medium, but feel free to kick it up a notch with a hotter salsa!) Stir this in and then remove the pan from the heat.

Assemble the crescents by spooning about 1 tbsp of the filling onto each crescent, sprinkling cheddar cheese on top, and then rolling them up.

Pre bake

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Do each crescent one at a time! (Place the filling, sprinkle cheese, roll up.) The heat from the filling will make the dough soft very quickly, and if you let it sit too long, it will become too thin and fragile to roll up properly!

Once all the crescents are rolled, bake them for 12 minutes or until they are golden brown. Let them cool for a minute or two, and then serve with sour cream!

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They really are fabulous, and there’s just enough filling inside to give it a nice kick without being messy!

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Like I said earlier, feel free to try the filling served with tortilla chips or on sliders, too!

Full Recipe:

Beef Taco Crescent Rolls

Yield: 16 rolls

Ingredients:

2 packages crescent roll dough
1 tbsp oil
1/4 pound ground beef
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp McCormick Mexican spice mix (or 1/2 tsp each cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, & cilantro)
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil.

2) Coat a frying pan in 1 tbsp of oil over medium-low heat. Brown ground beef in the pan, about 2-3 minutes.

3) Once the beef is cooked through, add onions, peppers, and spices. Stir to combine, cover and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

4) Uncover and add salsa. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

5) Unroll each section of crescent dough and separate the triangles so they are all lying flat. Spoon 1 tbsp of filling onto one triangle at the wide end, sprinkle with cheese, and then roll up the crescent. Repeat with all 16 dough triangles.

6) Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 1-2 minutes, and then serve with sour cream.