Sunday, June 13, 2010

Flour Tortillas

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tortillas. I'm a flour girl (yeah, they're worse for you, whatever - they're GOOD!), & I like 'em thick. I cannot stand Mission tortillas. Heaven help the Mexican restaurant that dares to bring me Mission brand (yes, I hate them enough that I can tell!). I can taste the preservatives in them. blech.
So, now I just whip up my own tortillas when I'm in the mood. It really doesn't take long at all, I promise.
You need:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp shortening (or lard, if you keep it handy)
3/4 cup of HOT water
Dump everything but the water in a bowl.
Mix it up (just use you hands, you can always wash them), until the shortening is well incorporated. You'll have a coarse meal.
Add the HOT water. If you can't handle the heat, use a fork to mix it in, until it cools, then dig your hands in.
Once you've got the water fully mixed in, split the dough into 8 equally sized balls. (If you like thinner tortillas you can probably get 12-15 tortillas out of this dough.)
Call me a cheater... or a tortilla junkie, but I use a tortilla press. They're actually really cheap if you become a tortilla junkie like me. Since I'll assume most of you don't have a tortilla press, you can either use 2 plates & set the dough on the first & use the second to smoosh it (similar to a tortilla press), or you can roll the tortillas out with a rolling pin. If I want big tortillas, I still use a rolling pin. By the way, who cares if they aren't perfectly round (trust me, when I roll them mine aren't), it just adds to the home-cooked-ness.
(If you use a press, putting Saran Wrap on the press can help with the sticking, but it's not something you "have" to do. I do it about the half the time.)
From dough ball to tortilla, just like that. Best $15 I ever spent. ;)
I actually press all the balls, let each rest, then press them a second time. After the second press, I let them rest again, until they feel slightly dry to the touch.
Then, I throw them on a flat skillet that I pre-heated over medium-high heat.
(Sometimes I mix shortening & butter (half & half, the shortening helps keep the butter from burning), sometimes I just cook 'em straight on the pan. Depends on whether or not I want a butter flavor.) If your heat is right, it takes about 30 second - 1 minute per side to cook the tortillas (depending on how thick you make them).
Once you've cooked them all, dig in! Yum!
When you make your own tortillas, the sky is the limit on flavors. You can add some garlic powder to the mix, or some chili powder/taco seasoning, or go the other way & add cinnamon sugar.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How to Roast a Chicken

I know plenty of people are scared of whole birds. I don't, however, know why. They are simple & easy to roast. Let me show you the most simple roasting plan I can...
Take 1 whole bird, chopped celery, chopped carrots, 1/2 a chopped onion, 1 tbs salt, 1 tbsp pepper, 1 tbsp onion salt, 1.5 tbsp fresh garlic, & 1/2 cup of butter (I used non-dairy butter, you could use margarine, but butter is always better).
I like to put the chicken on a plate, in the sink, for ease of clean up. This can get messy.
Clean out the cavity of the bird. If you're buying from a grocery store, there's usually just a little bag to pull out, they've done the work for you. Most non-store bought birds (ie local farm birds or organic birds from your grocery/specialty store) you'll have to feel around & remove the giblets & kidneys.
*If you bought a yellow-ish bird (most grocery store birds are yellow-ish, with a really thick skin), I recommend soaking it in a salt water bath for about 10 minutes, then scrubbing it inside & out with salt & thoroughly rinsing it.
Once you have a clean bird, run your hand under the skin on the breast & thighs. Try not to rip the skin (as I did on this one), but try to loosen as much of it as possible. Then, rub the garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder & half of the butter under the skin, everywhere you can reach (todl you this would get messy!). Next, rub all the remaining seasonings & butter all over the cavity & outside of the bird (top, bottom, & sides!). Then, completely stuff the cavity with the carrots, celery, & onion.
Some people truss (tie) the bird, some people don't. If the cavity is stuffed full & you have something to tie it off with, go ahead & truss it. I didn't have any twine, so I used cheesecloth to improvise. It worked really well, so there's an idea if you need one. (Just make sure you using something heat & food safe to truss the bird with if you're improvising, please.)
Put the bird on a rack, breast side up, in a roasting pan & stick it in a pre-heated oven.
Bake at 350* until done. A 3 lb bird takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to cook completely. ((NOTE: your roasting time is going to depend on the weight of the bird - cook to an internal temp of 165, the heat will produce carry-over cooking that will get you past 170 before it's all said & done)).
Every 20 minutes, take a baster or a brush (or, a spoon if it's all you got!), and pour the juices back over the bird.
Here's my super secret trick, it helps add the moisture & keeps from over-browning the skin: after the 2nd basting, I flip the bird upside down for 15 minutes & then flip it back over & baste again.
Now, look at this GOLDEN bird.
To finish it off, take this pan of juices...
add flour, a little chicken stock, & some milk. I couldn't tell you the measurements, I truly just guess. Just add enough flour that it's as thick as you like it & enough milk that it's as creamy as you like.
You'll have this when you're done:
How's this for a perfect lazy-day lunch (or dinner)? Mashed 'taters, corn, green beans, carrots, roast chicken & pan gravy. Dig in! -But give the bird at least 15 min to rest before you carve it, please.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So we meet again...

I realized today (about 10 minutes ago actually), that when I attempted this blog, I made our meals much more interesting than they are these days. Granted, I didn't have a high-maintenance almost-3 year old, and I didn't realize how much work that'd be, but that's just beside the point here... I WANT to keep up with this blog, but, well, I'm not good at keeping up with things. Ideas are great in my head, but they rarely come to fruition. (Raise your hand if you're with me on that one. Okay, you can put your hand down now, nobody can see you anyway.)
SO much has changed since I last posted in August, but I'll save those boring details for another day. I just wanted to get the ball rolling. This is a totally random, do I really want to attempt this again, kind of post. So, I'll tell you what we're having for dinner...
Spinach. Easiest veggie ever. Throw it in a pan, add a little butter, garlic, salt & pepper, then a splash of stock or water. (Yes, those are exact measurements.) Put a lid on it & cook it on med high heat for just a few minutes (toss it around while the lid is on, just like the tv chefs do. If you can't do that, then go ahead & open it to stir. Fun ruiner.). Then, eat. Easy, easy, easy.
Carrots. I like to add the carrots to a pan, then add enough stock (water will work) to cover them. I let them cook at a low simmer (read: NOT BOILING), until the are tender. Keep an eye on them, you might have to add more stock. Once they are tender, I either go sweet with a dollop of coconut oil (butter works just fine) , a pinch of salt, a pinch of brown sugar & a little maple syrup; or savory with a dollop of butter, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, some garlic, and any fresh herbs I might have handy. If I don't have any fresh herbs, I skip it. NBD as I tell my son (No Big Deal).

Oh sweet, glorious Mother's Day. This one is new for me. I can make bread with little to no effort. Best. present. ever. Kinda makes all those hours of labor worthwhile... Okay, the kid himself makes those worthwhile. I guess. That's what I'm suppose to say anyway.
I got a little spoiled this year, with a fancy Panasonic bread maker, complete with a delay timer, a yeast release, and lots of different functions/options.
...anyway, in here is our (hopefully) yummy bread for the night - spicy cheddar. I got the recipe from the instruction manual. Good job using my degree, huh?
The meat - spicy cheddar bbq chicken. I'll throw a little Stubbs (best sauce around!) Spicy on it while it bakes, then I'll finish it off with some chopped tomatoes (I'd add onion if I had it) & cheddar cheese on top, melted all ooey gooey... yummmmm.
Granola. Great on yogurt or ice cream. We'll see who feels like what tonight...
Recipe: hmmmm this is my best guess 'cause I just throw stuff in there.
2 c oatmeal (not the instant stuff you goon!)
2 tbs butter
2 tbsp honey (+ more later if you want)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp salt
Mix everything but the oatmeal together in a pan over med heat.
Once it's all melted, pour it over the oatmeal (which you should probably put in a bowl), & mix it up really well.
Bake at 300* for 30 min. <--Stir every 10 min so you don't end up with burnt pieces.
Once I take it out, I like to add about 1 tbsp more honey, mix it together, and pat it down tight. Then it will make small clumps when you pour it into a storage container later, after it cools. You don't have to do that extra honey step though, especially if you don't like really sweet granola.
*You can add any kind of nuts to the mix, but don't add them until the last 10-15 min or they might burn. You can also add coconut (I add it in the beginning, with the oatmeal). Or, you can add any kind of dried fruit you like, but I'd add them after you take it out of the oven. You don't really need to cook your raisins, you know?
The mess that is my kitchen. This is real stuff folks. See the hair clip, kiddo's school papers, dishes... That's my life. You can click on it & make it bigger, if you're really that into other people's messes.
Keeping it really real... here's my pantry. It used to be organized & pretty. Then I became a crazy busy, working mom. Now I'm just lucky there's anything in there. ;)
(Sure, you can click on it & see a bigger version, if you really want to. Weirdo.)
On top we've got the teas (I spy 7 boxes, we need to get to drinking!), the cereals (organic "Cheerios" & Kashi Autumn Wheat), Late July crackers (they're seriously the best!), & some Newman's Own popcorn 'cause the guys in this house love popcorn
Next we've got kiddo snacks - Annie's Cheddar Bunnies, Veggie Booty, raisins, organic suckers, graham crackers, I spy some of daddy's tortilla chips, some sandwich bread, honey, maple syrup, and I probably don't even want to know what else.
Then comes "mommy's" shelf. Baking soda, baking powder, meringue powder, dry milk, powdered sugar, brown sugar, all kinds of flours, choc chips, walnuts, and other misc baking things.
Then we've got oils (coconut, vegetable, olive, sesame), cooking spray, pizza quick sauce, refried beans ('cause mommy always forgets to cook the beans to make her own, so she gave up), tomato sauce, chicken broth, and other what-nots.
At the bottom we keep dog food, dog treats, potatoes, and an ice cream maker.
That's it folks. We'll meet again another day. Hopefully soon... but I make no promises.
If you're reading this, post a comment & let me know if I should attempt a come-back, or if you think I suck & I just need to go away. I'm all about honesty, so bring it!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c blueberries
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c butter (I used soy butter, it works just fine)
1/2 c shortening
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 c flour
1 c choc chips
Preheat oven to 350*.
Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over blueberries & bake for 15 minutes.
Mix the butter, shortening, sugars until smooth.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs & vanilla, then add to the butter/sugar mixture.
Mix the dry ingredients well, then add (slowly) to the butter/sugar mixture.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Gently fold in the baked blueberries until well combined.
Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet, then bake at 350* for about 10-12 minutes.
Optionally, drizzle chocolate over the top to help with the look.
They're purple.
People seem to find purple cookies strange.
I find people strange.
In any event, the chocolate drizzled over them seems to make people not mind the color - they just see CHOCOLATE! ;)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ginger Meatloaf Muffins

1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c ketchup
1.5 # beef
3/4 c bread crumbs
3/4 c milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 onion, chopped

Mix the ginger, sugar, and ketchup together in a small bowl.

Mix the beef (I actually used 1# beef & 1/2# of TVP (textured vegetable protein)), bread crumbs, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, & onion in a larger bowl. -Use your hands, you just can't mix a meatloaf well unless you get your hands dirty!

Fill all 12 muffin holes (is there a technical name for those?) half full of the meat mixture.
Evenly distribute the sauce on top of each loaf (use however much sauce you like).
Top each loaf with more meat.
(I used 2 muffin pans & just split the meat all up, topped half of the loafs, then plopped the other halves on top.)

Bake at 350* 30 min.

*You could just make 1 big loaf if you prefer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Little Different Tuna Casserole

2 cans of tuna (whatever kind you buy, in water, in oil, whatever)
1 green bell pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cooked rice (I cooked my rice with 1 onion. You can add the onion separately, or omit it.)
1 cup monterrey jack cheese (or whatever flavor cheese you have/prefer)
Dump all the ingredients in a bowl & mix well.
Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, then dump the mixture into the dish & smooth it out.
Top with cheese.
Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Easy Sandwich Bread

I promise it's easy. It's also quick, which is how I cam up with the recipe. I needed some bread & I had 2 hours to have it complete. If I'm being honest, I was pretty shocked that this bread turned out. There's so much chemistry involved in baking that I'm always hesitant to mess with my own recipes, but if you never try you never create new stuff, right? So, here we go...

1 cup minus 2 tbsp warm water
1 package of yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp oil (corn or vegetable)
Approx 3 cups of flour (white, wheat, a combo, whatever you like should work)

Put the yeast in the warm water & set aside to bloom while you get the rest of the ingredients together.
In a bowl (a mixer is nice, but not a must) combine the salt, molasses, oil, 2 cups of flour, and the yeast/water.
While mixing, slowly add as much of the last cup of flour as needed. (Add flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.) It's really sticky because of the molasses, so it won't act quit like "normal" bread dough.
Form into a ball & leave it alone for 10 minutes.
On a floured counter top, knead for about 5 minutes.
Put the dough in a greased loaf pan & push it out to the shape of the pan.
Let the dough rise until doubled, 30-45 minutes.
Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
Turn the bread out & let cool on a cooling rack.