Monday, January 27, 2014

Homemade Tortillas

I got to use my new kitchen gadget yesterday, my tortilla press. I love it. I made some homemade tortillas yesterday and they turned out really good, even if I do say so myself.

They were really easy to make and don't require a lot of ingredients. The best kind of recipe!!

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir together. Add the butter and shortening (more about the shortening later). Use a pastry cutter to blend until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Poor in hot water while stirring constantly. Keep stirring until the dough just comes together. It will be warm. Put the dough out and knead for about a minute. Form the dough into a ball and put in a bowl, cover with a towel for an hour to rest.

Now it's time to make the tortillas. I used a piece of plastic wrap on the press to it wouldn't stick then pinch off a piece about the size of a large walnut and lay it on the press and then press.

And there it is! While you're pressing the tortillas, heat a heavy skillet, I used an iron skillet, on medium to high heat. Place the tortillas in the skillet one by one. Cook for about 30 seconds then flip and cook the other side for 20 to 30 seconds.

Place the cooked tortillas on a flat surface and cover with a towel until your done. The recipe makes about 24 tortillas, but I only cooked 6 because obviously I wouldn't be able to eat 24 and they wouldn't keep in the fridge for more than a couple of days. To keep them in the fridge for a day or so, wrap the cooled tortillas in foil and when your ready to use them, pop them in the oven for a 10 or 15 minutes at 300F. I just heated a couple in the microwave and they came out fine. I rolled the  rest of the dough into balls and froze them to make in the future. The recipe didn't say if they could be frozen or not, but I did it anyway and hopefully it will work out next time I want some.

I ate a couple for lunch yesterday. I put a piece of cheese and a couple of thin slices of ham and baby kale to make a kind of "taco" and I must say it was very good.

Tonight for supper I had a couple of tortillas with a chicken tender, piece of cheese and more kale in each, so you see the possibilities are endless, you can put anything you want and like in them.

Here is the complete recipe and of course it is from my favorite cookbook author thepioneerwoman,com

2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of masa harina (corn flour) usually found in the Hispanic aisle of the grocery.
2 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup of vegetable shortening (here I used the NON-hydrogenated lard from the farmer's market that I have talked about before and am hoarding in my freezer).
2 tbl. of butter
1 cup of very hot water (I heated it up on the stove)

I deem this recipe a success. I did notice that on the back of the bag of masa harina there was a recipe for corn tortillas and it was an even more simple than this one. I'm going to try that in the future.


Saturday, January 25, 2014


Well, it's official.......I AM SICK AND TIRED OF WINTER AND SNOW AND COLD. Now I know that our 3 or 4 inches of snow is nothing compared to more northern locales, but it's a lot here and the relentless cold just keeps on coming. I think we've had snow every week for a month now with another 3 inches last night. It doesn't even warm up enough in between to get rid of the snow before it snows again. OK, that's my rant about the weather, just had to put that out there.

Now, Lola on the other hand, has not minded the snow or the cold. Yesterday she sat outside on a cleared off spot looking for someone to bark at.

 "I think somebody's coming.....I get to bark....oh goody."

 "Never mind....they went the other way.....darn it."

Now this morning, after the new snow, Lola was anxious to get out in the snow. She likes to eat it.

Afterwards she camped out on the deck for awhile hoping to scare the bejeezus out of someone when they walk past. Unfortunately, no one walked past this early in the morning in the snow.

Meanwhile, while Lola was hoping for some excitement, I made some homemade, sour cream pancakes for breakfast. That is the beauty of a Saturday morning, the time to make a breakfast that you don't have time to during the week.

Yummy, pancakes with real maple syrup.

Today was a kind of lazy day, made breakfast, paid bills, did some computer stuff, did some reading. Isn't that what Saturdays are for? Usually I like to cook something different or special, but I just wasn't feeling it today. Tomorrow is another day though!!

Today was my second day working out. Before you laugh, I think I'm going to like it and I can do it with a program that's online. It's called My sister-in-law told me about it and she's been doing it. You can sign up for a 30 day free trial and if you like it, it will be just $10 a month. She's been doing it for a while and really likes it and has seen results. It walks you through and asks what level (I'm a beginner) and what intensity and length of time you want your workout to be. It will also tell you how many calories you've burned at the end of your workout. You can also follow your nutrition on the site, but I'm just doing the workouts. Also, I like that I can pause it if I can't quite keep up to catch my breath then resume. I've been a little sore from my workouts but that's a good thing. So far, so good.

Ok, now does anyone know what this contraption is?

I will be using this tomorrow in my cooking adventure. It is a tortilla press. I asked for one for my birthday. I'm probably one of the few women who ask for cooking gadgets for my birthday, but I love them.

I have a recipe for  homemade tortillas so, of course, I needed this. I can't wait to try it.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Potato Leek Soup/Chowder

Friday was the perfect day to make soup, I had the time, it was very cold and snow was falling off and on all day. What a better day to warm your insides with a steaming hot bowl of soup and some cornbread.

When I make potato soup, I don't really use a specific recipe, I just kinda make it up as I go along. Most of the time it works out perfectly, but since I don't always make it the same way, there are a few times it hasn't worked out so great. I just fly by the seat of my pants when I make potato soup.

I get a bunch of leeks, which have a mild oniony flavor, cut off the ends, slice down the middle and then thinly slice.


Leeks have dirt and grit between their layers, so after slicing them you have to put them in a bowl of water to get the grit out. I let them soak for a few minutes then drain and rinse in a colander.

I cut up some bacon and cooked it til it was crisp then removed the bacon but kept the bacon grease. Then I put the leeks in to sauté until they were softand I added some dried basil leaves.

I also chopped up a couple of garlic cloves and added a dash of paprika, just because. Stir it around and next add two or three tablespoons of flour and stir it around and let it cook for a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. This will help with the thickening of the soup.

Once you let this cook for a few minutes, slowly add chicken broth (or you could use vegetable broth if you want it completely vegetarian) while stirring the whole time so there won't be any lumps. I ended up using a carton and 1/2 altogether.

I had already peeled, diced and rinsed about 4 pounds of potatoes and kept them in some cold water until I was ready for them. I added them to the pot, added some more broth to cover the potatoes and let it cook til the potatoes were almost tender but with still a little bite to them.

When the potatoes  were almost done, I decided at the last minute to add about a half of a bag of frozen corn....just for the heck of it, for color and taste. I added the cooked bacon back in and put the fire on low and let it simmer for a little bit. I also stirred in some heavy cream about this time, maybe a cup or so, depending on how creamy you want it, along with some salt and pepper.

The very last thing that I did, while the heat was still on low, was finely shred some cheddar cheese, maybe about a cup. Add this to the soup and continue stirring until the cheese is melted.

I then took the soup off of the heat, covered it with the lid and let it sit for a little bit. Since the potatoes were just shy of being completely tender, by taking it off the heat the potatoes will continue to cook in the hot liquid til all the way tender without getting mushy and dissolving in the soup. I know this from experience....haha.

This soup may put you in a carb-induced coma, but what better way to feel cozy and warm on a cold and snowy day.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Pie Sunday

Sundays are a kind of laid back day. A day to rest, recoup and not do anything if you don't want to. But I feel compelled to make pies on Sundays if I don't have anything else I have to do.

I took a big leap this Sunday and made an apple pie. I've never made a fruit pie before, it was quite the process.  I'm sure once I get the basics down it will not take me all afternoon. But it was worth it, I think it turned out really good. We'll see what my official taste tester thinks.

On Saturday I made the crust from scratch so that I didn't have to do it all in one day. The recipe makes two crusts so there is an extra one in the freezer for the next pie.

After I thawed out the crust and rolled it out, I actually got it into the pie pan without any major disaster.

I trimmed off the edge and I certainly don't get any style points. I haven't quite got the hang of crimping the edges to look fancy.

I peeled and thinly sliced 5 small granny smith apples and added them to a mixture of brown sugar, sugar, flour, vanilla and heavy cream. (the complete recipe will be at the end).

The ingredients for the topping includes brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and butter, pulsed in the food processor til crumbled.

Pour the apple mixture into the pie shell. Also, put the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet because it may drip over the sides of the pie pan when it starts bubbling. Putting foil on the cookie sheet makes for easy cleanup. And I'm all about the easy cleanup!

Then just sprinkle the topping over the pie, then bake at 375F for an hour.

Before baking put foil around the edges and put another piece loosely over the top, this will prevent the crust and topping from getting too brown. After an hour of baking, take the foil off and let it bake for another 15 or 20 minutes until it is a golden brown. I have to confess that it took me at least 10 minutes to get that dang foil to stay around the edge.

And there ya I said, I'm still working on style and presentation. But that doesn't affect the taste. YUMMY.

As you can see, I have ingredients and utensils spread out all over the counters. Hopefully I can streamline this process in the future.

The aftermath.

This recipe is from my favorite It's officially called DREAMY APPLE PIE.
Here is the complete recipe:

1 pie crust (of course you can buy a pie crust to make things a little easier and there's nothing wrong with that)
3 large or 5 small granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced.
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 tbl all purpose flour
1 cu heavy cream
2tsp of vanilla extract
1/8 tsp of cinnamon

7 tbl. of butter
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 cu pecans
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 375F
Roll out pie dough (or use a prepared crust) and decorate the edges if you can (obviously I can't yet)

Now what I did was mix together the cream, brown and white sugar, flour, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl and as I peeled and sliced the apples I put them in the mixture. When you're done slicing the apples then pour the whole mixture into the pie shell.

In a food processor (or by hand) combine the butter, flour, sugar, pecans and salt, then mix til everything comes together in clumps. Pour toppin over the apple filling.

Now you can fight with the foil and put that around the edges and you really need to or the crust gets too brown. Also, lay a piece of  foil loosely over the top to keep that from browning too quick.

Place pie on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour. Then remove foil and let bake another 15 or 20 minutes til it is a golden brown. It should be nice and bubbly. Let cool and serve by itself or with whipped cream or ice cream.

It's well worth the time to fix this pie.....too good.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

I've Been Lazy

I've been lazy, I haven't been on here or posted anything in several weeks. First it was the Christmas holidays, New Years and all the business that comes with the holidays. Last weekend I was suffering from a muscle spasm in my back that was so very painful and lasted for two and half days. Then, of course, there was the whole "polar vortex" thingy that blew through 2/3's of the country this past week. I was busy trying to stay warm and keep my water pipes from freezing. Now, finally, the weather is back to it's usual winter yuckiness.

With everything going on I haven't cooked anything special or different for a while, just the usual meals. BUT, tomorrow is going to be "Pie Sunday". I going to try my hand at making an apple pie with a pecan/brown sugar topping. It sure sounds good and I hope I can pull it off. I will post the results.

Meanwhile, I've noticed something different at my grocery store. I don't know if it's new or I just haven't noticed it before, but this baby kale in a package is brilliant.

I noticed it a couple of weeks ago and have been buying it ever since. I love putting it on sandwiches instead of lettuce. It has kind of a peppery taste. I've also been putting quite of bit of it into salads, makes for a nice twist. I'm loving it. Plus it's healthy and keeps me eating my veggies.

I've also been on a Brussels sprout kick. I found this bag at the store and sautéed some tonight, in a skillet, for dinner. These, too, are also good chopped up and put into salads. I have a recipe somewhere for a Brussels sprout coleslaw that I'm anxious to try, maybe for the summer.

Again, it keeps me eating my veggies which I'm sometimes lax about, but determined to do better in the New Year.

On a separate note, my specialty utensil drawer is still a jumble, but I can usually find what I need.

I bet there's some things on the bottom of that pile that I have forgotten all about or could even throw out. But, that's another project for another day.

On a closing note, since the weather has warmed up slightly, it is still winter afterall, and it has rained several times this week, Lola's running paths are a mess.....but she doesn't seem to mind.

It's just soooo much fun.