Beyond Easy Tortillas…

Quite a while ago now I pinned some tortilla recipes swearing I would try them but never got round to it.  The whole time flying by would be the excuse but not a very good one.  I mean I’ve posted some complicated recipes so I can’t say I never had the time to try them out.  For my birthday I asked for a tortilla press because I hadn’t read the flour tortilla recipes all the way through.

Turns out the press is for corn tortillas and you roll out the flour ones.  Doh!  So I’ve added corn tortillas to my list of things to try.  I did try the press on this recipe and yes, like they said, it won’t work.

However, that being said, flour tortillas are so easy to make it’s ridiculous.  It only has five ingredients!  The recipe I followed was this one but there are tons out there that are very similar.

In a mixing bowl add 3 cups flour, 1 cup lukewarm water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, and a third of a cup of vegetable oil.

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Using the dough hook mix the ingredients on low speed for a couple of minutes, scraping the sides as you go.  Once the dough comes together dump out on the counter that is lightly floured.  Knead for a couple of minutes.

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Divide the dough into 16 somewhat equal balls.  Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes.

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Heat a skillet that will take tortillas 6-7″ in diameter.  You want this hot but not so hot it will burn the tortillas.  A golden brown is what you are going for.  Roll out the first ball so it’s 6-7″ or so.  You’ll want to keep the surfaces floured as well as the rolling pin.  Also, don’t stack the dough.  It will stick and be on the soggy side.

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The first one was as close to a circle as I got.  🙂  Brought to mind those who post comparisons of the pinterest pictures vs reality.  So don’t stress if these aren’t shaped perfectly.  They will still work and taste good.  Place the first one into the skillet.  While it is cooking roll out the next one.  I got a sort of assembly line going.  This process does go quickly as you only need to cook for a minute or so on the first side and just over half that on the second.

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They do puff up a bit and get all bubbly.  When you flip them over press down to deflate the bubbles a bit.  Don’t cook them too “firm” as you want them to fold easily when you eat them.

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So of course I did tacos.  I did our normal mixture with a bit of beef and veg.  I decided to do a different topping to our usual sour cream.

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Mash up an avocado, add about 1/3 cup of homemade salsa, a few squirts of lime juice, a bit of adobe seasoning, and some cilantro.

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I really liked this as an alternative to sour cream.  Just something different.  Of course melted cheese goes well with this.  🙂

This recipe makes 16 tortillas. The ones you don’t use freeze well until needed.

So one more week of tax season and I can get back to reading everyone’s posts and having the usual chats.  I hoped it would be different this season in keeping up with everything but it just proved to hard with everything going on.  But next week I can’t wait to start the regular reading!

 

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Bitter Cold So It’s Enchilada Time…

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s.  We had our usual get together with our friends.  At our get together we do a potluck.  There were 8 adults and 7 kids but we always end up making enough for double that amount!  Keeps us going for our Texas Hold ‘Em, dancing, and general goofiness.  It’s always a good time.  It has been the high point of my week as I’ve struggled with a bad cold and winter is being harsh.  The past 24 hours brought us several inches of snow and tonight we are looking at a range of -15F/-26C and -22F/-30C.  At that point though, cold is cold!  The kids are enjoying 2 snow days with lots of PJ time and playing out in the snow until they can’t take the cold anymore.  Thank goodness for hot chocolate.  That will revive any child.  🙂

Because of my cold I’ve been trying to get as much spicy things into me as I can.  Though not always with success.  I tried making our spicy stir fry, which is normally a success, but not that night.  The jalapenos were mild and I screwed up the rice noodles.  So last night I wanted to redeem myself with something that actually had a bit of heat!  My kids wanted Mexican for dinner so I decided to make homemade enchiladas and sauce.

This is a very versatile dish as you make it your own.  Particularly in terms of how much heat you want in your dish.  So if you want to knock your socks off you can!

Pre heat the oven for 375F/190C.  Make the enchilada sauce first so it can simmer to give it time for the flavours to develop.

Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and about 1/2 a cup of onion and saute in olive oil.

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Once they’ve softened a bit add a 14oz can of tomato sauce, 3/4 cups of water, 1/3 cup of salsa, dried oregano, dried basil, chili powder, ground cumin, lime juice, red pepper flakes, adobe seasoning, and salt and pepper.  I’m not giving measurements for the seasoning as you can tailor it to your tastes.  The main bit is not to have an overpowering taste of tomato.  You want all the flavours to come through.  Let this simmer while you prep the enchiladas.

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I found chicken thighs to use for this dish as they are cheaper and have a lot of flavour.  I cut them into strips and started to brown them in olive oil.

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Once they are about halfway cooked add a few cloves of chopped garlic and about half a large onion that has been sliced.  Then add chopped peppers and a jalapeno.  Go ahead and add mushrooms if you wish.  I left them out of this dish for my son.  That made him very happy.  🙂

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Add a bit of lime juice along with chili powder and cumin as well as about 1/3 cup – 1/2 cup of salsa.  I wanted to try a creamy enchilada so I added about 4oz of low fat cream cheese.

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Spoon the mixture into the middle of the tortillas.

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Roll and place in the seam down in the baking dish.

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Pour the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and cover with shredded cheese.

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Bake until the cheese melts and starts to brown a bit.

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It is ready to serve immediately.  For the table put out sour cream, salsa, and jalapeno to compliment the dish.

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The kids loved it and I liked how the creaminess balanced with the heat.  And the jalapenos brought some heat this time round!  Just what I needed.  🙂

 

Buttery Mushrooms and Other Yummy Tapas

It will come as no surprise when I say I love food.  It’s part of our life experience.  Something to be enjoyed and to add to our memories.  I could not wait to try all the amazing food I was sure we’d come across on our holiday.  Equally I could not wait to share it with our kids.  I think tapas is an amazing way of eating.  You can order many different flavours and be able to walk away from the table at the end of the meal as opposed to rolling away.  Only once did we get too much food because while they called it tapas it wasn’t.  The portions were too big.  Delicious but huge.

So this past Saturday we decided to share with the kids our version of a tapas night.  It was fun and we got to talk about some of the food we sampled as we traveled.

Our favourite tapas dish was a mushroom dish we had in Barcelona.  It was fabulous and the start of my planning of the meal.  Super easy to do which is good as we’ll be having this again.

Chop up regular mushrooms, some fresh thyme, and a few cloves of garlic.

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Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.   They aren’t buttery for nothing!  Perhaps this isn’t the healthiest but I threw caution to the wind!  Saute the ingredients together in the melted butter.  After a couple of minutes add a couple of tablespoons of chicken stock.  Salt and pepper to taste.   Saute until the mushrooms are cooked through and they are ready to serve.

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My son also requested I make up some zucchini flan.  I did as what we didn’t eat we saved for their school lunches.

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I bought some Manchego cheese, prosciutto, salami, and olives for one of the tapas.  Aside from the mushrooms on our trip this type of platter was up there in terms of favourites.  Add fresh baguettes to the mix and we were very happy.

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I also thought it would be fun to introduce caviar to my daughter.  At the Champagne Bar on the ship they would often serve some smoked salmon with a bit of caviar on top.  I loved it.  Unfortunately the caviar I found at the store tasted a bit muddled.  So it didn’t wow her like I’d hoped.  I’ll have to try another brand.

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Overall though it was a delicious meal to share with the kids.  I think we’ll be doing this again with different dishes.  After all if you can’t have fun with the flavours why bother!  🙂

Fire Roasted Salsa

As I was up to my elbows in food prep yesterday I got a little notice from WordPress saying Happy Anniversary!  A whole year has passed in a blink.  A year ago I took a deep breath, threw caution to the wind, and became an official blogger. I had no idea what to expect but I remember doing my first post and then wondering if anyone would read it.  To my surprise I quickly got a comment, and then another, and I got to discover some amazing bloggers out there and find out what a wonderful community it is.  So a big thank you to all who take the time out of your busy schedule to read and comment on my posts.  It means a lot.  🙂

We had another round of harvesting a ton of tomatoes so it was the salsa’s turn to be made.  We first made my husband’s salsa which is a raw salsa and great for a quick dish before heading to a party.  To make his we processed tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, onion and peaches.  It is seasoned with salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro.  For his we used the grinder on the Kitchen Aid then we drained the salsa a bit to thicken it.  It is always a hit whenever we bring it to BBQs.  Something about fresh out of the garden veg to make this so tasty.

That only took a portion of the harvested tomatoes so I wanted to try a new salsa with similiar veg but a different technique.  Richard from REMCooks posted this salsa and I thought I would take his technique and apply it to the ingredients I wanted to use.  It is not a hard salsa to make but given the volume of veg I had it took me all afternoon as I had to stage various ingredients and process them in stages but I got there in the end!

I started with the tomatoes first and instead of roasting them on the grill I had to do it in the oven as the cookie sheet was much bigger than my grill pan and even then I had to do two batches.  I heated the oven to 350F/ 177C.  On the large cookie sheet I did one layer of tomatoes and drizzled them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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I roasted the tomatoes until they looked like this:

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I like Richard’s tip about roasting the garlic in the skins on the grill so I gave that a shot.  Per his advice I started those first then about halfway through I added the onion.  For this I used one very large red onion.

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Remove and set aside.  While the onions and garlic were cooking I gathered the peppers from the garden and the peaches from the co-op.  Found some nice white peaches.  The peppers I used were cayenne from the co-op and hot wax, jalapeno, poblano, and sweet peppers from the garden.  I sliced the hot peppers lengthwise and cleaned them to prep them for the grill.

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While I was roasting them on the grill I got out a large bowl and chopped the onion and put that in the bowl.  I also chopped up the sweet peppers and put them in the bowl.  I left them uncooked for a bit of texture.  I then put together the food processor and put in the first batch of tomatoes, half the garlic (skins removed), a handful of cilantro and set aside for the peaches and hot peppers.

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When I went out to check on the peppers I discovered I ran out of gas.  My first thought this was now going to be a two day process but my daughter reminded me the cast iron griddle has a grill side to it.  Thank goodness!  I got that heated up and brought the peppers in to finish.

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Once they were done I took the smaller hot peppers and added them to the food processor and then chopped the rest of the larger hot peppers and added those to the bowl.  The trick is to have a bit of heat but make it so most people can eat it.  I wanted the hotter peppers to be evenly distributed through the salsa.

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The last ingredient to grill was the peach.  I love grilled peaches and will have to make some as a dessert as my daughter requested some soon.  They impart a lovely flavour.

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Add half to the to the food processor and process until it’s a bit chunky.  Repeat with the second half of the ingredients and add all to the bowl.  Then add lime juice to taste.  If it needs a bit more salt add that as well and then stir it all together.

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We like to have our salsa with lime flavoured tortilla chips.  We also had some last night with tacos.  It was pretty yummy!

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My 9 year old son’s take on this was that there was a punch of heat but it didn’t take away from all the flavours.  🙂

Quesadillas

Sometimes we don’t feel like cooking.  Gasp!  I know, hard to imagine.  Sometimes we just want the food fairy to show up for us.  She doesn’t but it’s good there are a few meals that are super easy and delicious to make.  Quesadillas are one of them.

I dice up some onions, peppers, and mushrooms and saute in some olive oil.

I add a bit of lime juice, chilli pepper, cumin, and adobe seasoning.  I then toss in some frozen corn.  I cook it until corn is cooked.

I take a tortilla and top with the veg mixture.  I liberally apply cheese (world would not be a good place without cheese!) and add another tortilla on top.  I place in the toaster oven and toast until the cheese is melted.

I use a pizza cutter to slice and then it is ready to serve.  Add sour cream and salsa and you have a filling, quick meal that is really tasty.  This only took about 20 minutes to make.

Ceviche with Avocado Salsa

My daughter and I love seafood while my husband and son don’t.  So if we do seafood it is usually on the grill.  But my daughter wanted to try ceviche and I found this ceviche and thought I could try it out.  Because hers looked a bit too spicy for a kid’s palette I changed it a bit for our family.

I bought flounder as it was wild caught and fresh.  Turns out tilapia is only farm raised.  I avoid that as I don’t like all the antibiotics they use.

I chop them up into small cubes and put in a bowl.  Then cover with lime juice.  Do this for at least 45 minutes.  Next time I make this I will probably do a blend of citrus juices as pure lime juice is overpowering for me.

Chop up some onion, garlic, and tomato.  Mix in cilantro and a bit of lime juice.  Instead of hot peppers I added chili pepper and adobe seasoning.  Stir well and set aside for a bit so the flavours mix.

Then chop up an avocado and add.  If you aren’t going to serve for awhile add the pit to the salsa to keep the avocado from browning.

For my husband and son I served the salsa before I added the fish.  Add the fish and serve.  A nice accompaniment to this would be lime flavoured tortilla chips.

This is easy to make and the prep time is minimal.  The length of time is primarily waiting for the fish.

It’s Chili Time!

I love fall and spring.  Warm enough not to have to wear a thousand layers but cool enough for comfort food.  We had a hint of fall yesterday so I thought it was time for warm bowls of chili.  I think this is my son’s favourite.  I make ours vegetarian.  I know it doesn’t look it from my previous posts but we do cook a lot of meals without meat.  I do use in this recipe Morning Star “beef” as it adds protein along with the beans.  But without all the fat or grease!

First stop was out to the garden.

I picked some peppers and kale for the chili.  We already had some scallions from the garden in the fridge that we needed to use up.

The recipe is:

Olive oil – to coat the bottom of the pan

Garlic – 3-4 cloves minced

Onions or scallions (we used scallions as that is what we have.)

Peppers

Mushrooms ( I used a portobello cap this time)

Lime juice

1 28oz can of crushed tomato or diced tomato

1 15oz can of tomato sauce

3/4 cup of black beans.  If they are dried soak them in water for a bit, otherwise you have to simmer the chili for a few hours like I had to.

Chili powder to taste (For the seasonings add the amount you like.  Some like the chili to be on fire, others not so much)

Cumin to taste

Adobo seasoning to taste

About 1 cup of fresh or frozen kale

1 cup of corn

6 oz of Morning Star “beef” (or any brand you like as it’s a taste preference)

Cilantro

Dice your veg to saute.  I usually saute the garlic and onions for a minute or so before the rest of the veg.  If you are using scallions then add those as you are adding the sauce.

Add a bit of lime juice to the sauteing veg. Then add the tomatoes and sauce, beans and corn.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the seasonings to the heat level you would like.  Add the kale and the “beef”.  Add a bit more lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro.

Once the beans are cooked through it is ready to serve.  I usually put hot sauce, sour cream and shredded cheese on the table.  This is a super easy meal and prep time is under a half hour.  The simmer time depends on the beans. And of course if you have it the next day the flavours are even better.