Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Homemade Flour Tortillas

This one comes from my mother in law, and I have to admit, I have not tried them yet.  When I do, I will let you all know how they turned out.  Jeff has decided he likes to cook his own tortillas, rather than get the already finished ones at the store.  So I started getting the uncooked flour tortillas from our local friendly Sam's Club store, and he is hooked.  Maybe we could try this and see about not buying tortillas at all in the future!  Hmm, I wonder if I could make them whole wheat?

Flour Tortillas

4 C Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 C Shortening
1-2 C Hot Water (Start out with 1 C the add small amounts if needed).

Mix it all together kneading it by hand.   Start with 1 c of water, and if not enough, add more til all is combined.  Let sit 15 minutes before rolling it out, then heat over medium heat in skillet.  You don't need oil, but you can use oil if you want them crispy for tacos.  For burritos or wraps, just heat over medium high heat in a skillet until browned and appears like a tortilla--about 1 minute per side.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Homemade Mac N Cheese

I know I posted a similar recipe before, with 3 cheeses and mild green chilies.  That one was good, and this one is too, just different.  More traditional, and a bit easier.  Jeff loved it and I think it will be a repeat recipe in the future.    If you want a fun idea for the leftovers, you can take a leaf from Alton Brown's book and dredge chilled pieces in egg and breadcrumbs and deep fry it for a change (though not the healthiest idea, sounds good to me!).

Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb whole wheat pasta (I used rotini, but elbow macaroni or penne would work too)
3 tbsp butter
2 heaping tbsp flour
1 can evaporated milk
1 c shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, split in half
2 tsp cajun seasoning
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 c breadcrumbs

Cook pasta to pkg directions, just under al dente--still kind of chewy, because it will continue to cook in the oven.  While waiting for pasta to cook, make sauce.  Melt butter in small saucepan, then add flour and whisk together.    Add evaporated milk, and stir til smooth and thickened.  Add half the cheese, and whisk well til combined and smooth.  Add spices, stir to combine.   Drain pasta, add sauce and stir to coat.   Pour into 13x9 baking dish, top with the rest of the cheese and the breadcrumbs, and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees til cheese is melted and top is browned.

**Note** As I said, you can deep fry the squares the next day, after you refrigerate it overnight in the pan.  You can also add more cayenne if you like it spicy.  I found that if you use sharp cheddar, then you don't need as much and it gives you that strong cheddar flavor.  Also, you could also use regular milk, but evaporated milk is thicker because a lot of the water has been evaporated out of it, so you can get the smooth thickness without the fat of cream.  So even though you're using butter and cheese, it's not as bad as it could be.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Scentsy party treats, part 2

I also made this for the party, and it turned out really well, which was not really a surprise, but I guess I wasn't completely confident it would be such a hit.   Good for me, huh?   Very simple and I usually have the ingredients on hand, so that was the good part.  You can serve it with crackers, chips, veggies, whatever.

Cream Cheese Ranch dip

2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp ranch seasoning (I used Hidden Valley powder mix)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried dill weed

In mixer, beat cream cheese well til whipped (makes it light and airy).  Add ranch seasoning and blend well til combined, then add garlic powder and dill as you continue to blend. 

I also made this for St. Patrick's Day and dyed it green with food coloring.  Kind of a fun thing to do, and you could probably dye it any color you wanted for whatever occasion.  Or maybe have a couple small dishes with different colors for Easter.

and We're back.

Okay, so Spring Break for us is now over and I guess I kind of fell off the wagon last week while my husband was off school.   But I now have a renewed desire to cook and post recipes, so I hope the break was worth it.  This first recipe is from last Saturday when I hosted a Scentsy party.  I wanted to have some treats for my friends to munch on while they were testing different scented wax, and I thought this would be a good way to take care of that, and use up the rest of the dried cranberries in my pantry.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 c Splenda
1 c butter (2 sticks)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 c oatmeal
1 c dried cranberries
12 oz white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter and sugars and Splenda.   Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.  Combine dry ingredients, except chips and cranberries together in separate bowl, and then add slowly to wet ingredients.  Add cranberries, stir on low mixer setting til combined, then add white chocolate chips, and just pulse mixer til combined, gently so you don't break up the chips.  Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes.  I made mine bigger, so they took more like 10 minutes, but smallish ones should take just the 8.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Baked Custard

So, I love Joy of Cooking, and I love pudding, and custard or anything of the kind.  My mom made this for dessert on Sunday when we joined them for dinner, and it was great!  My sisters didn't like it much at all, and I said, MORE FOR ME!  And the best part...LOW CARB!   So good.  And Mom once again told me she got the recipe from JOY!  So here you go. 

Baked Custard (pg 802 of Joy of Cooking)

3 large eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 c milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
ground nutmeg to sprinkle on top

Whisk together eggs, sugar and salt in a large bowl until well combined.    Steam milk in small saucepan, just til steamed.  Ladle in a small amount of milk into egg mixture, and blend well to temper eggs.   Slowly add the rest of the milk and continue to stir well until sugar is dissolved.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour into 5 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins (or oven safe teacups).  Bake in a water bath (a large [13x9] baking dish with about 1 inch of water in the bottom of it), at 325 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes, or until set but still quivery in the center.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.

We were talking about this, and decided it would be really good with some fruit or berries or something.  Or maybe to add some cinnamon to the custard before baking.  It's still really good by itself, but would also be good with a touch of other flavors with it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I was told that we made this recipe already.  So we did.  BUT I GOT PICTURES!  This is a really good recipe because making spring rolls could be  a whole lot more involved.
Step 1
Coleslaw mix in a bowl.  Er… take it out of the bag.  Now there’s a side experiment I’m running I’m wondering if our sponsors robot will try to sell you the same products I mention in the blog like Dole Classic Coleslaw mix.  Yeah my wife blogs I experiment.
Step 2 brown a pound of ground pork.
put it in the coleslaw,  If you looked at the recipe from before you probably noticed here I haven’t done anything with the rice sticks.  I couldn’t find them at Walmart today.
Now get yourself some eggroll wraps
It’s important to put enough mix into the wrapper but not so much that it breaks.  Seriously if you get holes in the wrap especially big ones it will make a mess.
get a glass of water, water will make the wraps stick to themselves.  Hey look at that sexy hand.  Hope you washed your hands.
P3090084Fold one grab one corner pull it nearly to the other.

Fold the other two corners in and roll it up like a burrito.

And stick them on a cookie sheet for later.

Fry them,  my mom does this in the deep fryer.  I don’t like to clean my deep fryer so I did it in the wok.  Fill it with some vegetable oil and put it on high heat.  Thermodynamics is important here, the hotter your oil the less soggy these will get; greasy is bad.  If you get the oil too hot it will smoke or worse.  So here my lawyers make me point out Don’t put out grease fires with water.  This thing here with the chopsticks you don’t have to do that.  In fact if you aren’t good with chopsticks… Just don’t do this, if you drop an eggroll you’ll splatter boiling oil all over yourself.
We eat these with a sweet and sour sauce.  So now that you’ve gotten this far and forgot, have your wife in a sauce pan stir together
1/4 C chicken broth
4 t cornstarch
1/4 C Splenda (you can use sugar if you’re not diabetic)
1/4 C Vinegar
1 1/2 t coriander
1 t ginger
2 T ketchup
Eggrolls are really good as leftovers cold or hot.

Cathy's Carne Asada

This comes from my mother in law, and the whole family loves it.  I must admit, my new addiction when we go out for Mexican food is to get the Carne Asada, with rice, black beans and lots of guacamole.  Though I have not made this one myself yet, I look forward to it whenever Cathy makes it for the family, and eventually I will be able to afford flank steak and make it myself!  Thanks for sharing, Cathy!

Carne Asada

1- 1 1/2 lb flank steak
1/2 c cooking oil
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c red wine vinegar
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice (really good with lime)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients in gallon size Ziplock bag.  Add steak and marinate over night, or at least 2 hours.  Grill on BBQ 5 minutes per side, slice thin.  Serve with your favorite Mexican foods: rice, beans, tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

So my mom used to make this for us when I was a kid, and I loved it.  She still makes it sometimes, but I don't get it as often because I don't live at home.  Maybe I will have to request it one of these times I visit.  It is still a favorite of mine, but for some reason I haven't made it in a long time.  I think I should make it this week if I remember.  You can serve it over rice or egg noodles, either way is really good.

Beef Stroganoff

1 lb ground beef
1 8 oz pkg sliced fresh mushrooms
1 pkt Lipton onion soup mix
1/2 c water
1 pint sour cream
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 pkg egg noodles, cooked, or 2 c cooked rice

Brown beef in skillet, and break into small pieces as you cook.  Add mushrooms towards the end and cook til tender.  Stir in soup mix and W. sauce, and add water.  Simmer til about half of the liquid is reduced.  Right before serving, stir in sour cream until combined.  Serve over rice or noodles.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Green Eggs, and Potatoes and (Sausage)

Okay, so I wanted to do something fun for Dr. Suess' birthday and St. Patrick's Day.  But I didn't have any ham, and we did have some pork sausage and some potatoes.  So here is my little variation on Green Eggs and Ham.  It's a bit different and of course you can make ham instead of sausage, I just went by what I had in the fridge at the time.  Enjoy!

Green Eggs and Potatoes

2 eggs per person you are cooking for
1 c chopped fresh spinach
1 tsp basil pesto (I didn't use the homemade version, but you can get the recipe here.)
1/4 c milk or heavy cream
few drops green food coloring
2 previously baked potatoes, diced (or frozen and thawed country hashbrowns)
1 tbsp olive oil

Scramble eggs lightly, add milk, spinach, and pesto, beat well with fork or whisk.  Add green food coloring.  Cook potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until crispy, turning occasionally to get them evenly crispy.  Pour egg mixture over the top and stir to combine with potatoes, cook until eggs are firm and cooked well.  Serve with warm ham or sausage or bacon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Well, not quite traditional because I can't afford lamb or mutton, so I use ground beef.  But this one is pretty easy and versatile--you can change it if you like.  I like to use fresh veggies for mine, but you could get away with using frozen if stuck with no time (but if you have the time, chop your own veggies, its really worth it for the flavor and health benefits).   My dad loves shepherd's pie and my mom made it at least 3-4 times a year, and whenever she wanted to make Dad happy.   I thought it would be appropriate for St. Patrick's Day, and I hope you enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie

4-6 potatoes (depending on size--4 large or 6 smallish to medium)
1 lb ground beef
3 carrots, diced
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1/2 small bag of frozen peas (its the same as shelling your own)
1/2 small bag frozen corn
1-2 tbsp flour
1 c water
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
pepper, seasoning salt

Cut potatoes into wedges or large dice, then place in large saucepan and cover with cold water (add a little salt too), bring to boil and then continue cooking til potatoes are tender, drain and mash with a bit of butter and some salt, maybe a 1/4 c of milk.  Set aside.

While potatoes are cooking, brown your beef, adding onions and garlic when it gets close to done.  Do not drain, add flour, and stir til flour coats meat and onions.  Add W. sauce, water, pepper and salt.  Stir til thickened, and then add corn, peas, and carrots.  Cook this mixture over low to medium heat til carrots are tender, but peas are still pretty color of green.  Pour mixture into 13x9 baking dish, then top with mashed potatoes.  I sometimes top the potatoes with parmesan cheese or breadcrumbs or paprika.  It's really up to you.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, just til the potatoes get a kind of crust on top and the gravy mixture is a bit bubbly.  Everything is cooked so you are just trying to brown the top.  Serve by itself or with some other steamed veggies or a salad or some rolls (I forgo the rolls, this one has plenty of carbs on its own).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My first experience with Risotto.

So, my friend Miri is awesome and she shared this recipe with me.  I am taking her recipe today and I am planning to make this either today or tomorrow, and SO LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!  On the other hand I am so nervous because I have never made risotto before.  So I am sorry, I don't have any personal tips, but this look so dang good I couldn't resist it.

On thing I do know when making risotto, don't use regular rice.  You need to use the Arborio kind, it's a shorter grain and a lot starchier. The extra starch is what gives it the creaminess. I have heard of people using cauliflower or potatoes for risotto, but I have never tried it.

Thanks for sharing, Miri!

Mushroom Risotto
3 tbsp. butter
1 pint shitakes mushrooms
1 pint baby portabella
2/3 c of red wine or red wine vinegar
3/4 c milk or light cream

2 (more) tbsp. butter
1 White onion (finely chopped)
1 1/2 c of Arborio rice

4 c vegetable stock (you can use chicken stock if you want)
2 c water

½ c of cheese-- Asiago , or Parmesan

1. Melt butter and caramelize mushrooms until tender and yummy. Make sure mushrooms are chopped pretty small. Add wine and reduce until about half the liquid is gone, 3 or 4 minutes. Add cream and simmer for 5 more minutes. You don't want it to be too liquid-y. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Simmer water and stock in a separate pot. Having it hot makes the process go faster.

3. Over medium heat cook the onion in the rest of the butter until tender. Add rice and coat with the butter and onions. Add simmering liquid mixture half a cup at a time and let cook off before adding the next. Stir constantly, so rice doesn’t stick. By the time you are out of liquid rice should be thoroughly cooked. If not, add more hot water and keep cooking.

4. Remove from heat and mix in cheese and mushroom mixture.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Best Flank Steak I have ever had.

I think this one came from my great grandma, and it is seriously the best kind of steak ever!  Too bad it's one of the most expensive steaks to buy at the store... When Mom makes this, it is gone in less than ten minutes, and she usually has to make 2 or 3 of them when we have guests.  Usually this is something she makes for special occasions, or when the steak is on sale.  But it is sooo tasty!

Flank Steak

1 flank or London broil steak
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tsp vinegar
3/4 c vegetable oil (but you can use olive oil if you want)
3 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 finely chopped scallion

In a large (gallon size) Ziplock bag, mix all marinade ingredients together.  Add steak and shake and mash bag with hands, and then place in refrigerator overnight or for at least 2 hours.  Grill steak 5 minutes per side, and slice thinly.  Can be served over salad, with potatoes or whatever you like.  Watch it disappear!

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Honor of National PB Lover's Day...

I've decided to post a peanut butter recipe.   I personally LOVE peanut butter and would eat it right out of the jar.  Crunchy is my favorite, but I can tolerate the creamy (it's just stickier, and you need more milk to un-glue your mouth).   With these, you can use either creamy or crunchy, whatever you have in the cupboard.  I couldn't decide which I liked best, so I am settling on two.  Enjoy!

Recipe #1
Peanut Butter Frosting  (you may think it's weird, but it's fantastic on chocolate cake!  or brownies!)

2 sticks butter
1 c peanut butter of your choice
2-3 tbsp milk
3 c powdered sugar

Cream softened butter and peanut butter together with a mixer.  Add powdered sugar (a little at a time so you dont get the cloud of powdered sugar everywhere), and then milk, 1 tbsp at a time til you get the right consistency.  Spread over chocolate cake, brownies, or on a graham cracker, or anything you like for that matter!  I love this one!

Recipe #2
Peanut Butter Bars (this one is from my friend Ashli, and I hope she won't be mad at me sharing!)

1 stick butter
1/2 c sugar or 1/4 c Splenda and 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c oatmeal
1/3 c peanut butter

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
4 tbsp cocoa
3 c powdered sugar
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter, sugars, and peanut butter together.  Once combined well, add egg.   Mix dry ingredients together, then add to wet ingredients a little at a time til dough forms and all is used up.  Spread mixture into a prepared(spray with cooking spray, or butter the inside) 9x13 baking pan, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  Once baked, spread a thin layer of peanut butter.  Frost it with chocolate frosting.

What's your favorite peanut butter recipe?  Share!