Tag Archives: homemade

How To Make Tortillas At Home

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I love tortillas. They are so versatile, and save tons of money, because you can wrap up just about anything in a tortilla and it will taste great! You can use up leftover shredded pork, ground beef, chicken, eggs, and any type of vegetable pretty much.
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The problem is, sometimes tortillas are pretty expensive, and we go through lots of them. I always stock up when they are on sale, but if you just run to the store any given day, you might pay upwards of $3 per pack of ten. That adds up over time, so I sought a way to make my own tortillas for pennies on the dollar. Keep in mind this is my first attempt, I’m sure they get prettier with practice. =)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil or lard
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp salt
Step 1: Mix flour, baking powder, & salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. I used butter here but as above, you can use vegetable oil, Crisco, or lard depending on your preference and pantry. There are many proponents of each type of fat, and I’m not taking sides.
Step 2: Pour in your hot (not boiling) water, and mix until dough comes together. You can always add another tbsp so go easy at first. I think I over-did it just a bit here. Let the dough rest in a warm place for about an hour, covered with a towel.
Step 3: Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Flour your rolling surface and rolling pin, and roll out the dough into a roughly circular shape. Don’t worry if yours are misshapen, this is one of the many ways homemade tortillas are superior to cookie-cutter factory made tortillas.
Step 4: Heat up a cast iron or non-stick skillet to medium/ medium-high.
Toss your tortilla on there, and let ‘cook’ 1-3 minutes. You want it to not be raw anymore, but you also need to be careful to not burn them. This takes a little practice, so don’t feel bad if a few aren’t perfect. You’ll get it.
Step 5: Flip the tortilla so that both sides can get nicely browned. This one was pretty good for a first go. I think I rolled the dough a little too thick for this batch though. I got 12, and likely could have gotten more like 15.
Balls of dough resting before being rolled out.
My rolling area was quite cramped, so I had to do one or two at a time. That is probably for the best though, you want to keep the raw dough and the cooked tortillas covered so they stay moist and pliable. You don’t want to accidentally make tostadas after all.
Rolling the floured dough into circles.
Rollin, rollin, rollin….
Flipping the tortilla to flour the other side. Don’t want it to stick.
Wow, I actually look like I know what I’m doing! =)
This one got a little too crispy…
Careful how much oil you use in the pan, don’t want to fry them.
Stack your finished tortillas and keep them covered with a towel. I kept mine in the microwave to stay nice and warm and fresh.
These are far superior tasting to any store-bought tortillas. They do take some time and patience to master, but are very worth it in the end. Then use as you would any other tortilla, for breakfast burritos, a PB & banana wrap, lunch wraps, tacos, whatever! They are probably good enough just to eat warm. And I totally did that with a few.
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What do you like to eat with tortillas?

Homemade granola bars + Make your own vanilla extract

As a simple on-the-go breakfast, post-workout snack, or get-you-through-the-afternoon munchie, I love granola bars! Endlessly varied in terms of type of nuts, berries, chocolate, flavors in them, they are always in my pantry in multitudes.

Usually I buy whatever is on sale, say $1-2 for a box. I have a rotation and favorites, but am not brand loyal by any means. But even at $1 for a box of 6, it can get expensive. So I figured, I already have lots of different types of nuts and dried fruits, and oats. It can’t be hard to make my own.

After googling a bit, I found this recipe for home made granola bars, which is close to what I had on hand. But I didn’t want the chocolate part (shocking, I know!) because I’d be storing them in my book bag and gym bag and don’t want to deal with melty chocolate all over my workout shoes or laptop. So as usual, I took the framework of the recipe and made it my own with what was on hand and the pan size I was working with. The results were splendid!

Ingredients:
3 cups oats
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/4 cup smashed pistachios (I shelled them, put them in a ziplock baggie and smashed them up with a spoon. For reals.)
1/2 cup smashed up candied peanut halves (also ziplock pulverized)
1/4 cup chia seeds (bought a few months ago and had no idea what to do with them… perfect.)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Step 1: Mash up the nuts, then mix together oats, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Stir to coat well, then bake in a flat oven safe pan at 350 for about 10 minutes, to make everything brown and toasty.

Step 2: In a pan over medium heat, stir together butter, brown sugar, honey and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Pour over the granola mixture, and stir well to coat everything. Bake at 300 for 25-30 minutes, until warm and brown. Remove from the oven and let cool or stick in the refrigerator for a little while. Cut into bars the size you like.

I used a 9×13 pan, and as such I got 16 bars. They are very soft, so I put them in the fridge for about an hour before I cut them up.

I individually wrapped each bar in a plastic baggie, and am storing them in my pantry. They are delicious! The honey makes it so sweet, I don’t think you’d need chocolate anyway. Probably could even have done without the extra brown sugar.

I love these because I can use whatever dried fruits or nuts/seeds I have available. The next batch will include dried apricots and plums. You better believe sometime into the fall I will be making some bars with pumpkin seeds in them! I think I’m going to try experimenting with peanut butter in the honey instead of just butter too.

These are vegetarian, and could easily be made vegan as well. If you go easy on the oil/honey they are quite healthy and filling. And very inexpensive! Buy whatever fruits/nuts/seeds you like on sale, oats are cheap in bulk. This batch probably cost me $5 total?


Speaking of  inexpensive baking, did you know you can make your own vanilla extract from just vanilla beans and vodka? Seriously, that’s it.

A bottle of vodka on sale was about $7, the beans were a bit pricey at $4 for 2. But that’s $11 for about a gallon of vanilla that I can use pretty much forever. If I invested a bit more I could even jar it myself and give it as gifts or sell some. When you get low you just add more vodka and maybe after a year another bean or two. Jackpot.

Elk burgers — new food for July

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As July’s food item I’ve never tried, Elk nominated itself by being present at a farmer’s market I attended during 4th of July weekend. It sounded delicious and was only $10 a package from a local rancher, so I couldn’t resist. It was ground elk, so I’m sure I could have tried elk meatloaf or elk chili, but I had a hankerin for a good, juicy burger, so there you go. If you can’t or don’t want anything so fancy as elk, ground anything works for this plain ol classic burger recipe.
 
Ingredients:
1 pound ground elk (any meat)
4 tbsp seasoning of choice: I used Weber’s burger seasonings that include onion, black pepper, garlic, etc.
Buns
Burger toppings
 

Step 1: Divide ground elk into 4 even patties of about 1/4 pound each. Mix 1 tbsp seasoning into each and mix well. Shape into patties with your hands, or a press if you’re fancy enough to have one.

Step 2: If you’re lucky enough to have a grill, light that bad boy up and cook em that way. If you do not, a regular frying pan works. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, then flip. They’ll be nicely browned and sizzling. Cook the other side another 5-7 minutes. We like some pink inside so it took about 15 min total.

Step 3: Add your toppings. I love avocado but none was available. But we had the classics, so my elk burger included: sliced American cheese, lettuce, tomato, & ketchup.

My boyfriend the carnivore (“meat man”) had a double, and declared it one of the best burgers he’s ever had. Since I’d say that number is probably in the hundreds, I consider it a great compliment. Elk is salty and tender and delicious. It’s like beef, but different. Just try it sometime, and if you like beef I bet you’ll like this even better.

 What’s your favorite burger?

Make your own pizza, male and female style

You may think I’m weird for saying this, but I don’t like pizza that much. I know, how un-American of me. I will eat it if it’s around, and I get an occasional craving for a weird one like chicken bacon ranch, but in general if asked what I want for dinner, the answer will not be Little Caesars.
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My current S.O. could literally live off pizza and burritos. So we found a compromise, making our own pizza. That way I can have the things I want on it (veggies) and control the sauce, and he can have what he wants (as much meat as possible) at the same time. This is our version of men are from Mars, women are from Venus, in the kitchen.
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Ingredients:
1 tube pizza dough (about $2 at grocery store)
1 jar pizza sauce (~$2)
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Toppings of choice: Female half
Spinach & mixed greens
Onions & peppers julienned
Zucchini
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple
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Toppings of choice: Male half
Deli ham
Ground beef (pre-cooked, left over from burritos actually)
Bacon
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple
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Step 1: Cook the meat if needed, spray a 9×13 oven safe pan. Roll the pizza dough out flat and press to the sides of the pan.
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Step 2: Spread on as much sauce as you like. I don’t like most pizzas because I end up scraping a cup of sauce off my slices, so I put it on thin.
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Step 3: Layer the toppings.

Step 4: Cover in as much cheese as you can handle. Because cheese is sent from heaven to make all foods taste better. Some calories are just worth it.

Step 5: Bake at 425 for ~20 minutes or until crust is brown and crispy and cheese is bubbling.

This recipe is as varied as your imagination, nearly any meat or vegetable can be a pizza topping, so if you like it then go crazy! You can use veggies left over from other meals. It’s easy to make a vegetarian (or even vegan without the cheese) pizza.

You can fold the dough in half to make a smaller deep-dish pizza. Try a bunch of variations and find what you like best.  No matter what you put on yours, its likely to still be much cheaper and healthier than a purchased one.

Shepherd’s Pie my way

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As you can see in a post prior to this, I had recently made a large amount of mashed potatoes & cauliflower. I had quite a bit left over, so I was browsing some of my favorite recipe web sites for ideas. I wanted to make pierogi (I am slovak & polish you know) but I was out of eggs (used my last one in my breakfast BELT recipe!) so I couldn’t make the dough.
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Then I stumbled across this recipe for “Italian Irishman’s pie” on Allrecipes.com. It used sausage instead of beef in shepherd’s pie. Since I had a pack of Johnsonville Cheddarwurst Brats in the freezer, I figured this could work. So with what I had on hand, I pared it down to serve two (since a large amount of food almost always goes to waste) and gave it a try. It came out pretty tasty!
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Ingredients:
2 brats, sliced thin (reserve the drippings)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cream or milk
Salt & pepper
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 – 2 cups mashed potatoes
Optional: 2 slices cheese, or 1/2 cup shredded cheese
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Step 1: Cook the brats until they’re done, put into a loaf pan.

Step 2: To drippings, add flour & brown for 2 minutes. Add water, cream, salt & pepper to taste, whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, cook until thickened. Pour the gravy over the brats.

Step 3: In the same pan, add diced vegetable. Cook until tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, squash and onion to the loaf pan.

Step 4: Layer the mashed potatoes on top of everything. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Now you have layered your sausage, gravy, veggies and potatoes. You can brush the top with some melted butter or margarine if you like.

Step 5: Bake in the oven set to 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 6: The gravy and potatoes should be bubbly. I added 2 slices of colby cheese on top and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes to melt.

Step 7: Spoon a big helping onto a plate and enjoy! You can top with extra shredded cheese and salt/pepper if you like.

Delicious, filling and not as bad for you as you might think, assuming you used the potatoes/cauliflower mixture!

White bread with flax

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I have always loved fresh baked bread, and have been dying to make my own! Now that I finally have an oven, I plan on making my own as much as possible. So I found a simple recipe online, and decided to try my hand at it. Take a look at my first attempt!
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Ingredients:
6 cups flour
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground flax
2 cups warm water
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Step 1: Add the sugar to the warm water and dissolve. Then add the yeast. Let it sit somewhere warm until it starts to foam. That means the yeast ‘woke up’ and is breaking down the sugar to make CO2, which makes the bread rise.

Step 2: Add the oil & salt. Then add the flour 1 cup at a time. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and no longer sticky. Let sit until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).

Step 3: Knead again on the floured surface. This recipe makes dough for 2 loaves, so divide and place into an oiled bread pan. I made one regular loaf, and one twisted loaf, like french bread.

Step 4: Let rise again. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the top with butter so that it stays soft.

This loaf ended up breaking, because I didn’t let it rise above the level of the pan. So more patience next time. Other than that, it came out beautiful! I will be trying again soon for sure. I dream of the days of sandwiches on homemade bread, and dipping my own buttered bread in warm spaghetti sauce…