Low-Carb Taco Casserole

While most households were gobbling up lots of carb-laden snacks and appetizers this past Sunday, we watched the Super Bowl while munching on this delightful Low-Carb Taco Casserole.  I used to make this recipe without the added Doritos chips but I find the crust to be a bit more crunchy and a lot less low-carb tasting… just by added 3 little chips to the mix.  I looked up the  nutritional facts for Doritos and calculated that 11 chips equal 16 grams of carbohydrates so you can do the math to figure how many carbs exist in just 3 crumbled chips. Boy, those chips add a world of difference to the crust.  You be the judge…  It’s totally up to you if you’d like to omit the chips.  …Hope you enjoy this simple recipe that’s packed with flavor!

Low-Carb Taco Bake

For the crust:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 eggs

1/3 cup half & half

1/2 package taco seasoning mix

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

3 Doritos chips, crumbled

For the topping:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 package taco seasoning

1/4 cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons green chilies, optional

1/2 cup tomato, diced

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9×13″ baking dish; set aside. 

To make the crust:  Beat the cream cheese and eggs until smooth.  Add the half & half and taco seasoning, mix well.  Spread the cheddar cheese over the bottom of the baking dish.  Spread the egg mixture evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle crumbled Doritos over egg mixture. Bake at 375ºF, 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.  Let stand 5 minutes.

To make the topping:  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Brown the ground beef until no longer pink; drain thoroughly.  Stir in the taco seasoning, tomato sauce and chiles.  Spread over the crust.  Top with diced tomato and shredded cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Cool slightly before cutting into serving-sized squares.

Easy Skillet Pizza



I keep extra loaves of frozen pizza dough on hand for this Easy Skillet Pizza.  Using an old, well seasoned cast iron skillet is the secret to a crispy flavorful crust. Be creative and add your own vegetable favorites and toppings. Give this one a try… I think you’re family will love it. 

Easy Skillet Pizza

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage, browned and crumbled

1 pound fresh pizza dough or frozen bread dough, thawed and at room temperature

1 cup your favorite marinara sauce (or 1 1/2 cups crushed, strained San Marzano canned tomatoes)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 cups sliced red or green peppers, sliced (optional)

1/2 cup sliced pepperoni rounds (optional)

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasonings

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease the inside of a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.   Place the pizza dough in the center and spread evenly across the bottom edge and 1 1/2 inches up the sides. 

Spread sauce, garlic, and oregano over crust.  Sprinkle browned sausage evenly over the sauce.  Add desired fresh, sliced vegetables and pepperoni, if desired.   Next, add the mozzarella. Sprinkle the Italian seasonings on top. Finish with the Parmesan and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.





Place the skillet pizza on the bottom rack of the oven and cook until the edge of the crust is golden brown and crusty, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.



Note: If the crust and toppings start to brown too quickly, cover with a piece of foil and continue baking until cooked through.

Enjoy!



Best Banana Cake Ever

During my weekly shopping trips, I usually purchase a load of bananas for quick breakfasts and simple snacks.  By the end of the week, the bright yellow and slightly green fruit has turned to more of a brown and yellow speckled mass of goodness. While some might pitch the ripe bananas in the trash, to me, these gorgeous specimens are best for baking.  The sugar becomes more concentrated and the texture of the banana lends a moist property to scrumptious treats baked in the oven. I often toss the brown fruit into the freezer, skins and all, so that they become even more flavorful and delicious. Just pull the frozen bananas out of the freezer a bit before baking, peel the slightly thawed fruit, mash, and add to your favorite banana based recipes.

Best Banana Cake Ever
1 package yellow or white cake mix (with directed ingredients – eggs, water, oil)
2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Mash the bananas with the baking soda and stir into the cake mix batter. Pour batter into one greased and floured 9×13 inch baking pan. Do not preheat oven. Place uncooked cake in oven and turn oven on to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool thoroughly before frosting, slicing, and serving.

Leftover Holiday Cranberry Sauce Quick Bread

Making my way through the leftovers after a holiday meal is always a challenge.  I hate to waste food so I try to be as creative as possible when reinventing leftovers to make tasty meals for the family.  Yesterday I came across a plastic container containing a few cups of homemade cranberry sauce.  I remembered a recipe that I had made years ago for a chunky cranberry quick bread that would use up the two cups of sauce that I had leftover.  I searched my trusty kitchen  file and found the recipe.  With staple ingredients, this batter comes together rather quickly.  A sprinkle of maple/cinnamon steel cup instant oats makes for a sweet crunchy topping.  This is a great way to turn those holiday leftovers into a sweet treat the whole family will enjoy.

Leftover Holiday Cranberry Sauce Quick Bread

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups cranberry sauce

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, set aside.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small mixing bowl; set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and cranberry sauce; mix well. Combine dry ingredients to the cranberry mixture, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moist. Fold in chopped walnuts. Spread batter evenly into prepared loaf pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool completely before slicing.

Sweet Almond Pound Cake

Over the years I’ve baked lots of tasty loaves for friends and co-workers to celebrate the holiday season.  This week is no exception for I’ll be pulling out all of my favorite baking pans and an array of Christmas wrapping paper to start my traditional holiday bake. I usually make an assortment of flavorful loaves… a cinnamon swirl loaf, a poppyseed bread loaf, an applesauce nut loaf, and a sweet zucchini breakfast loaf.  Some of which are made from the carefully shredded and frozen excess garden produce that I tucked away during the late fall months.

This year I have added a simple, delicious recipe to the mix.  This Sweet Almond Pound Cake is moist, dense and full of flavor.  While the directions would have you bake the cake in a bundt pan, you can use the same recipe to make this delicious treat in a basic 9×5″ loaf pan. Sprinkle this baby with a bit of confectioners’ sugar or frost with a drizzle of cream cheese frosting before serving or wrapping.  A sprinkle of red and green candies makes for a festive addition. Give this loaf to those that you would like to recognize during this gift-giving season or place it on the holiday table for family and friends to enjoy.            

…Sending along a wish for the best of health and happiness in the coming year!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts!


Sweet Almond Pound Cake

1 package white cake mix

1 (3.4 oz.) package vanilla instant pudding and pie filling   (the coconut flavor works well too!)

4 large eggs

1 cup water

⅓ cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 10″ Bundt pan. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and extract in large bowl. Beat for approximately 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake for 10-15 minutes.  Carefully remove from pan and cool completely. Dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar or frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

Adorable Sock Snowman Craft

At a recent holiday party, one of my co-workers was kind enough to demonstrate the assembly of this adorable sock snowman craft.  You won’t believe how quick and easy this no-sew project is to assemble.  A simple white sock, some string, and a few sewing notions make for the cutest of holiday projects for any age to enjoy. 

While I was lucky enough to have a personal tutorial, I was able to find a similar link for a quick tutorial video. Here it is… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pB4jFqkn8MY

Honey Nut Snack Mix

By popular demand, I am posting one of my all-time favorite snack mix recipes.  It never fails, whenever I make this mix, I am always asked for the details of the recipe.  During the holidays, I usually pack this lip-smackin’ snack into decorative jars to pass along as a homemade gift from the kitchen.  Light, buttery, and full of that scrumptious honey flavor, this sweet treat is a winner.  Make a big batch and keep a watchful eye as it cools on the kitchen counter.  The mix has a tendency to disappear as the minutes tick by … Irresistible!



Honey Nut Snack Mix

6 cups Chex or Crispix cereal

1 1/4 cups mini pretzels

1 cup nuts (peanuts, lightly chopped pecans, or lightly chopped walnuts)

1/3 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

Coat a 13×9″ pan with cooking spray.  Add cereal, pretzels, and nuts; set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and honey.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes, DO NOT STIR.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Carefully pour the hot syrup over the cereal mixture, stirring until well coated.  

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour; gently stirring every 15 minutes to distribute the syrup evenly over the mix. Let cool on cookie sheets lined with parchment or wax paper.  Store in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from “The Family Table” by Brenda Hyde