6/30/11

Brownie Bites Baking Pan and Perfect "edge" Brownie Baking Pan

Perfect Brownie Pan Set
Place this pan's insert in the bottom, fill with batter, add divider, and bake; then cool, remove divider and outer pan.  Perfect brownies for those who like the 'outside' of the pan because with the insert in place, every brownie is an 'edge' brownie!   Non-stick carbon steel. Hand wash. Includes 10 decorative stencils.  $19.99


 

The hottest thing to hit the brownie baking scene;  the Brownie Bite Silicone Pan
Bake itty-bitty brownies and cakes in this easy-clean silicone pan from Wilton.  It makes 24 bite-sized treats for perfect portion control or events. Resists odors, stains, and heat to 500 F.  It's oven, microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe. $14.99




Receive 15% off orders over $50 at The Home Marketplace with code 50619101002! Or receive FREE shipping on Orders Over $50 with offer code 50619101001 now through July 31, 2011!
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Red Velvet Cheesecake - Add some blueberries for a "Red, White & Blue" dessert

This morning I was thinking about 'red, white and blue' desserts in honor of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday in the USA.  I think jello desserts are overdone, simply because they are so easy to work into a patriotic theme.   I took a sip of coffee, asked myself;  "What dessert could be red, white and blue that doesn't include blue jello?"  and immediately I thought of my favorite cake;  Red Velvet. 

I remembered I had a Red Velvet Cheesecake dessert tucked away in my collection of files and it only took me a second to find it.  Bingo!  By removing the green garnish on top and adding washed and dried blueberries, you can incorporate the 'blue' into this red and white dessert.  Viola!  A 4th of July dessert.


 Red Velvet Cheesecake

1 1/2 c chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c butter, melted
1 T granulated sugar
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3T  unsweetened cocoa
1 c sour cream
1/2 c whole buttermilk
2 t vanilla extract
1 t distilled white vinegar
2 (1-ounce) bottles red food coloring
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c butter, softened
2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract



Stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan.

Beat 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar at medium-low speed with an electric mixer 1 minute. Add eggs and next 6 ingredients, mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 325° for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 300°, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until center is firm. Run knife along outer edge of cheesecake. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven; cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Beat 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese and 1/4 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth; gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly over top of cheesecake. Remove sides of spring form pan. Garnish, if desired with washed and dried blueberries for a 'red white and blue' presentation.
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6/29/11

Patriotic Potatoes! Red, White and Blue for a Fourth of July BBQ


Last night I planned to grill steaks for dinner, served with a side salad and my favorite way to grill potatoes;  lots of olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.  It was another busy week night however and It ended up being just 2 of us home for dinner.  I still followed my planned menu, but it explains why there are so few potatoes in my photo!

Idea for this Fourth of July holiday;  red, white and blue potatoes!  You can find these potatoes at most larger (and some small) groceries.  While the blue are more difficult to find, the red and white are readily available and I've found blue to be more popular now than ever before.  

At my local Super Walmart they made it easy for me;  Tasteful Selections has bagged all three for me and sells them in a 40 oz. package called "Sunrise Medley".   They were about $3.50 for the entire bag, which serves about 6 people.   Having a backyard get-together this 4th of July?  Surprise your guests with patriotic potatoes!
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6/26/11

The Cherry Bundt Cake that Didn't Get Chosen To Be Made This Week

(How is that for a mouth full!?)

The Cherry Nut Bread I made a couple days ago almost didn't get made;  only because I was debating between it and this one - Cherry Bundt Cake.  It sounds incredible and I'm craving it now that I chose to make the bread instead.  The funny thing is that I chose to make either of them this week to use up the cherries leftover from the 50's cupcakes.  However, if I choose to make this Cherry Bundt Cake, now I'll have to go back to the store and buy more cherries! 

Cherry Bundt Cake

1 cup maraschino cherries drained and dried on paper towels for 4-6 hrs.
2/3 c  all-purpose flour
1/3 c  butter
2/3 c  sugar
2 eggs
1 t  vanilla extract
1 c  cake flour
1   baking powder
1/3 c  milk

1 c powdered sugar
1 T butter
2 T water
red food coloring (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour an 8 inch bundt pan.  Cut cherries in half and toss them in the 2/3 c flour.  In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until creamy and light. Add eggs, then vanilla.  Add dry ingredients that have been previously sifted and fold by hand alternating with milk.

Stir in cherries.  Pour into tin and smooth surface.  Bake for 35 min or until toothpick comes out clean of the center.  Let cool in pan for 10 min before unmolding.  For the glaze, stir all ingredients over a hot water bath or double boiler until smooth.  Pour over cake.
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6/23/11

Cherry Nut Bread


Ooops!  I forgot to take a picture of the finished product!!!

This week I wanted to use up an extra jar of cherries I had bought and used when I made the 1950's cupcakes.  Since I love old fashioned 'grandma' recipes, this is one I used.  Some readers will chuckle when they see the measurements;  "butter size of an egg"  and "fill on up with milk".  I LOVE recipes like this!!!  The "fill on up with milk" part of the recipe?  I assumed was a 1 cup measurement, and I was right.  The bread turned out delicious.  Unfortunately I didn't remember to take a picture and it's now gone.

Cherry Nut Bread

1 c. brown sugar
Butter size of an egg
1 egg
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 small bottle of cherries
(Drain cherries and cut in half. Pour juice into a cup and fill on up with milk)
2 c flour
1/2 c walnuts

Mix altogether; put in 9x5 greased pan. Let stand 20 minutes. Bake 45 minutes at 350.

*NOTE:  I found this bread needed to bake almost twice as long as called for.  I baked mine 1 hour and 15 minutes.  TEST YOURS.  When the center test comes out clean you'll know it's done.  If you remove it too early the center will be soupy.  
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6/21/11

KoolAid Balls? What can't you do with KoolAid? I Know Some Things You Shouldn't

Last night I was reading the news and one of the biggest stories yesterday all over the media were actually a 'fair' food;  deep fried KoolAid Balls.

Somewhat of a donut, flavored with kool aid, (the powdery drink mix) it's a fad of the moment but one that isn't too far away from something a lot of us have been making for years;  KoolAid Cookies.

As I sit here sipping my morning coffee, I think about all the ways I've used KoolAid drink mix.  Wow, there are a lot!

Over the years I've used KoolAid for many things; not only to drink (obviously) but I use it in our favorite Popsicle recipe, the kids homemade play dough, flavoring frosting, coloring and flavoring cake mixes, mixed in milk, added to homemade jelly, homemade snow cone syrup, dye for t-shirts, and popcorn balls!


I will even admit something completely stupid I once did with KoolAid.

In the Fall of  9th grade I went to the opening high school football season game, which was called the "Soap Bowl" because admission was a bar of soap, which the school then used to stock the locker rooms the rest of the year.  Being a creative kid, I did two things I now deem cringe-worthy.

1.  I opened the bar of soap and painstakingly carved out little words of support into the bar of soap.  "WIN" "YOU CAN DO IT!" "GO FIGHT WIN!"  "FOOTBALL".  I then packaged the soap back up and dotted it with glue to close it.  Once I learned the soaps were then used in the high school locker room the rest of the year, I lived in dread thinking I would walk into the showers and find my own goofy, support carved soap in the showers and hear everyone making fun of it.  (I never did.  Thank You God.).

But number two?  Oh my.

2.  At that same game I decided to show my team support by coloring my hair our school colors.  Only we lived in a tiny farming town and spray on hair color wasn't available except perhaps for 1 week prior to Halloween and only at the local Ben Franklin Store.  And our school colors?  Green and white.  Having too much enthusiasm and little brains; I did what any other stupid but creative 14 year old girl would do.  I used KoolAid.

I can guarantee you that a package of KoolAid mixed with a half a cup of boiling water, cooled to warm and used on your hair, does indeed permanently color it. 

I still get a little nauseous reminiscing about this memory. I think I'll push it back to the cobwebbed corners of my mind again now, thanks.

Kool-Aid Black Cherry Unsweetened Soft Drink Mix, 0.13-Ounce Packets (Pack of 96)  SO!  Let's talk KoolAid Cookies.  There are many recipes for them, here is just one.  Personally, as an adult I like the Lemonade flavor the best.  I think I've moved on from cherry and orange flavors but as a teenager?  Any flavor was a 'good' flavor for these.

1 small pkg regular dry kool-aid (not the kind with sugar already in it)
1 2/3 c sugar
1 1/4 c butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 t  salt
1 t baking soda
3 c flour
1/2 c additional sugar for dipping

Mix the KoolAid, 1 2/3 c sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add eggs and mix well. Stir in salt and baking soda. Add flour in 1/2 cup increments and mixing well after each addition.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and dip in the 1/2 c sugar. Place them on a parchment lined or a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10-11 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Let set for 1-2 minutes, remove from the cookie sheet to cool completely.


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6/18/11

Mussels Review

Mussels! One of my husbands favorite seafood's; he's been out of town on business and they were staring at me from the freezer every time I opened the door so I finally relented and made them without him here.

This just a heads up that these particular mussels were quite affordable;  bought from Walmart's frozen food department!

Mussels are closely related to oysters and scallops. The shells of freshwater mussels are used in button making while the mussels themselves secrete many pearls of low quality that are used in inexpensive jewelry.  Walmart's mussels have been cleaned, cooked and vacuum-sealed already so they are ready to simply reheat and eat. Their 2 lb. package is actually two 1-pound pouches that you immerse in simmering water for 4-6 minutes until they are reheated and then serve.  According to the packaging they are farm raised.
We like our mussels with a simple garlic butter sauce.  After immersing the bag in boiling/simmering water for a few minutes I opened the bag, placed it in a pan and added butter and garlic to taste.




Walmarts mussels are a bit salty and smaller than some of the mussels you may be used to, but if you live in the heartland of America and you don't want to buy fresh at the deli counter because you don't want to pay the price or you don't know when you will make them for sure, it's an easy and cheap purchase for mussels in a pinch.
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6/11/11

A Schneeballen Hunt... Before I mess all the recipes together and try my own!

Rothenburg Schneeballen

My oldest daughter just returned from a 3 week trip to Europe with a school group.  They visited Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France and England.  Of the many wonderful things she brought home, one of the most intriguing was a delicious not-too-sweet pastry.  Actually, she brought home FOUR of them!  A crumbly, flaky crust center rolled in or drizzled with anything from powdered sugar to glaze to candied flavorings, they are just...  delicious!

Even though I am German and Swedish I had never had one of these pastries that are a specialty of Rothenburg, Germany.  But enjoying a sliver of each this morning (Caramel, Chocolate, Lemon and Vanilla) with my coffee, I started a quest on the internet to find some recipes that looked promising and that I could 'play with' to concoct my own copycat recipe of this wonderful German treat.

Here is one that I found that has a bit more ingredients than some of the more basic versions;

Schneeballen

4 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 c sugar
3 lg eggs
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp rum, spiced (captain morgan)
1 Tbsp cream sherry
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 c sour cream
1 tsp nutmeg
cooking oil
powder sugar

Cream sugar and eggs together then add remaining ingredients except flour add it in gradually...cut with pastry cutter knife or hands.... cut rum and cream sherry, and sour cream gradually into mixture to make dough; adding flour from board as necessary; knead about 15 to 10 minutes till dough is stiff and shiny and pliable, cover and chill in fridge at least 1 hour.

Roll out dough...about 1/4 inch thick and cut into strip...make strips into ball by wrapping them around each other....fry in hot oil till golden brown on one side then turn over and fry other side till golden brown all over...drain on paper towel and cool sprinkle powder sugar on top you may also dip them into dipping chocolate...

~ ~ ~ ~

This one is a bit more basic but still embellishes the dough a little more than the most popular version I found.  I do like that this one went into a bit more explanation about the cooking process and the ball shape;

3 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cloves
1 pt. sour cream
4-5 cups Flour or as much as needed to make a medium stiff dough


Mix the eggs and sugar together then mix in the remaining ingredients, adding the flour last in small amounts till you have a medium stiff dough.

Pinch a walnut size piece of dough and roll out into a 4 by 4 inch circle. cut with a fluted pastry wheel or a knife. Lift weaving inbetween each slit with a small rod.


Make a ball in your hand and then deep fry till brown on one side. Flip it over and then brown on the other side. Push sides in to make a ball or use an ice cream scoop.   Lift out onto a plate with a paper towel and press into a ball shape while still warm. Dust with powdered sugar.

~ ~ ~ ~

Here is better directions from another source that was describing the Schneeballen but not making them and thus did not provide a recipe.  The description of watching them made in Rothenburg however, was so well done that I understood now what I was trying to accomplish;

Egg, flour and sugar pastry is rolled out quite thinly. The middle is cut into strips, but not all the way to the edges. Every other strip is lifted onto a wooden “broom handle”, then the baker slips his hand under these strips and expertly folds them all together into a ball, which is placed in a special long-handled tong-like tool. This is dipped into oil and deep fried. After cooling, the snowballs were traditionally sprinkled with icing sugar (hence the name), but today they can also be covered with chocolate and nuts and filled with all sorts of creme fillings.


And here is the most basic of recipes for them, but it's the version I found the most on the internet from 90% of the sources;


1 c all-purpose flour, minus 1 tbsp
2 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp butter
2 egg yolks
Dash of dark rum
Sauterne or white wine

Combine all ingredients. Mix with hands. Add rum and wine to make dough. Knead about 15 to 10 minutes, adding flour from board as necessary, until dough feels like velvet; cover and let rest in refrigerator at least 1 hour. Roll out thin on floured board and cut into squares. String on the handle end of a wooden spoon, and carefully place in preheated deep-fryer. Fry until golden. Drain on brown paper bag. Roll in cinnamon sugar mixture of confectioners sugar.

~ ~ ~ ~
This one also promises to be a recipe for Schneeballen but I really don't know if it is, as the only German I speak is my maiden name, the only German I sing is Stile Nacht and the only German I read is... well, none.  I can't read German.  It could be a grocery list for all I know!


Zutaten für Portionen
7 Eiweiß, gut gekühlt
100 g Zucker
½ Zitrone(n), der Saft davon
Für die Sauce:
½ Pck. Vanillezucker
500 ml Milch
5 Eigelb
100 g Zucker
10 g Mehl


Zubereitung
Gut gekühltes Eiweiß steif schlagen und mit dem Zucker und Zitronensaft verrühren. Die Eiweißmasse formt man mit einem Löffel zu Bällchen, die man in kochendes Wasser gibt. Die "Schneebälle" werden 3-5 Min. gekocht, dann mit einem Schaumlöffel herausgenommen und in eine Schüssel gelegt.

Für die Soße das Eigelb mit dem Zucker verquirlen, die Milch und das Mehl unterrühren und alles im Wasserbad auf 80° Grad erhitzen.
Zuletzt den Vanillezucker hinzufügen und die Soße über die "Schneebälle" geben.
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6/9/11

UPDATED: CLEARLY FRESH PRODUCE BAGS COUPON CODE NOW AVAILABLE



Bananas are a favorite fruit of my husband, but many times the bunch start to get speckled and overripe before he can find them all.  They don't go to waste in our household because I instantly pop them into the freezer to use for future banana bread and banana bars but when I was given a sample of a new vegetable/fruit storage bag to try from clearlyfreshbags.com, my plan was to test them on our favorite fruit and vegetables to see if I would notice in how long our produce stayed fresh verses my regular storage habits.

bananas in my freezer
If you've never heard of breathable storage bags, please check out their faq page for more information.

Clearly Fresh bags look similar and feel similar to the large clear zip bags most of us have in our homes.  These however are equipped with a breathable 3 inch square membrane on one side.  They allow you to keep your fruits and vegetables fresher longer by allowing the bags to 'breath' while regular plastic storage bags do not.  At 12"X14" they are large enough to allow you to store an entire bunch of bananas or a whole head of lettuce. 

Because I couldn't personally test more than one or two fruits or vegetables, here is a list from their website showing some of the items they feel Clearly Fresh works best on:

• Bananas
• Avocados
• Apples
• Mangos
• Papayas
• Asparagus
• Broccoli
• Carrots
• Lettuce
• Cucumbers
• Berries

This week I ended up testing the Clearly Fresh bags on green onions, celery and cucumbers.  I didn't get a chance to test my banana theory as my two 'banana eaters' in the house were both gone this week so didn't purchase them during my last trip to the store.

In the end I'd say the bags provided excellent storage for the green onions and cucumbers, while the celery performed at best, average but I think that is because I washed and cut it before storage and of course celery likes to be stored whole and unwashed until you need it.

Their website states that strawberries are best stored in the bag unwashed and uncut as well;  which I couldn't test because the strawberries I came home with were immediately grabbed and gobbled up by my teenage son and his girlfriend!

UPDATE:
*Clearly Fresh Bags would like to offer all my readers and subscribers a 15% off discount on all orders placed in the next 15 days. The offer code for the 15% off is "AHM15". The offer starts Saturday, June 11th and is good until July 1, 2011. In order to receive the 15% off discount,  readers will need to check out through the clearlyfreshbags.com website and enter the promo code when you are in the shopping cart/checkout prompt.




*I can say that I have now used the bags to keep leaf lettuce fresh as well.  I bought the 'bagged' ready to eat lettuce, which goes gooey within about 3 days it seems.  I removed it from the grocery bag, used the Clearly Fresh bag and 4 days later finished the last of it - still quite fresh.  I did place a clean, folded, white paper towel in with the lettuce and that helps absorb moisture from the leaves.
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6/7/11

Freezer Pizza Sauce (or Spaghetti Sauce)

With garden's starting to produce, it's a great time to feature a recipe that uses up a lot of those wonderful tomatoes your plants are soon to be laden with!

This recipe is a sauce that can be used in two ways.  I make pizza every Saturday night so we go through more pizza sauce than spaghetti sauce and thus;  I pureed this briefly to give it the texture I wanted.

Originally it was an old spaghetti recipe and if you would like to keep it as such, do NOT puree the tomatoes and onions but leave them simply CHOPPED.  This gives a more chunky texture, perfect for pastas.  You can also add just a smidgen more sugar for a spaghetti sauce if you are used to the sweetness of the commercial style sauces you buy at the store.  It's going to make about 7-8 quarts so be sure you have freezer containers ready!

Freezer Pizza Sauce
(or Spaghetti Sauce)

24 c peeled, chopped tomatoes lightly pureed in a food processor or blender
2 c chopped onion, briefly pureed in food processor
½ c olive oil
2 T minced garlic
3 (12 oz.) cans tomato paste
4-5 bay leaves - left in only for cooking but removed from product before freezing
4-5 T dried oregano
3 T dried basil
3 T salt
2 T pepper
½ cup sugar


Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Cook over medium hight and then reduce to simmer until thick -about 2 or 3 hours.  Cool completely, then freeze in good freezer containers.
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6/6/11

Oh My! Not Quite my Normal Rated G Post.

My teenage daughter went to the mall with a friend yesterday and called me on my cellphone:

"Mom, can I make dinner tonight?"

"Um... sure?"

She never makes dinner.  Ever.  The only time she will make it is if we are having a 'finger foods' night where we make 3-4 different kinds of appetizers and have an appetizer dinner.

She called back 10 minutes later.  "Who all will be home for dinner?"

When I told her her brother and his girlfriend were at the home she hedged a little.  "There won't be enough for 4 people...  uh, only you and me."

"Well, I think they are going out to eat anyway...  why?  What are you making?"

"I am not going to tell you!  You'll see!"

When I picked her and her friend up at the mall about an hour later she was very protective of one bag and warned me not to look in it!  It was dinner.

What in the world could she get at the mall that could be in a bag and she was making us for dinner?

Then I found out.  She was playing a trick on me.

My daughter and I sat down to a delicious Italian Pasta Salad made with....   penis shaped pasta!

 
The meal prayer last night was a little uh, awkward.  

"Thank you God for this penis shaped pasta, which we are about to receive from your bounty, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen."
 




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6/4/11

It's Saturday! Pizza Night! Homemade Taco Pizza

It's Saturday and around here that means pizza night.  The pizza's I make are different week to week but we usually have pepperoni as a standby as it's so popular with everyone.  The other 1-2 pizza's I make along side it have been featured on my website many times over the years but could be a Chicken Ranch or Sausage or Garlic Chicken, Greek Spinach with Feta or if my youngest daughter has her way, plain Cheese Pizza. 

Are you in the mood for Taco Pizza?  This is one of those fun recipes that you can play with to make it your own;  adding the toppings you want and leaving off what you don't care for.  Also, it's so fun to let the kids help as it's an easy recipe which parents or Grandparents can make the crust and top with the refried beans, then let kids have their way, going crazy with the lettuce, meat, tomatoes, onions, salsa, chips and more.  Kids like to eat what they help make so this is a great way to get them to try a new food or to eat their vegetables.


An American Housewife - Pizza Dough

1 pkg. (2 1/4 t) dry active yeast
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 c dry powdered milk
1 1/3 c warm water

Put into the bowl of a mixer or mix by hand. Wait 2 minutes.

2-3 T olive oil
4 c flour

Knead in a Kitchen Aid style (heavy duty) mixer 5 minutes or knead 10 minutes by hand. If the dough is too dry add a tiny bit more olive oil.  Let rest 10 minutes. 

Use in up to 3 greased, average large pizza pans or 1 extra large and 1 large. Let raise about 1 1/2 hours and top with your choice. Bake at 400 approximately 16-25 minutes depending the size of your pan and how many toppings you have on it. Bake until golden brown.

 ~ ~ ~ ~

An American Housewife:  TACO PIZZA

1 pizza crust  - baked or partially baked
1 Can refried beans (any style, regular or fat free)
1/4 lb. ground Italian sausage, browned (OR can use ground beef flavored with taco seasoning)Lettuce
Red onion sliced and pulled apart into rings
Shredded cheddar cheese or a cheddar cheese mixture
Tomatoes - sliced or diced
Black olives (optional of course)
2 handfuls Doritos or tortilla chips, slightly crushed
Taco Sauce/salsa
Guacamole
Sour Cream


Pre-bake your homemade crust (or even use frozen, thawed bread dough pressed into a pizza pan and let set about 10-15 minutes before baking) for 15-20 minutes until it starts to turn golden brown, or use a store bought Boboli or similar crust.

I usually bake my pizza crusts around 400-410 degrees. Spread refried beans over the crust, covering all. Sprinkle the sausage or taco meat on top. Place in the oven and turn the oven off while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Remove the pizza from the oven and slice it with a pizza cutter before you add the 'cold' toppings (to make serving easier).

Add chopped lettuce followed by the optional toppings that you love;  onions, black olives, chopped tomatoes, cheese and more. Finally top with crushed Dorito's. Sprinkle with taco sauce or salsa and serve additional taco sauce along with sour cream along side the pizza.
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