Tostadas and That Boy has My Number

It’s Mother’s Day stateside tomorrow.  Luckily we have the kids this week and I suspect I might be spoiled once again with fabulous food and having fun with playing games.  Perfect if you ask me.  🙂

As a parent there is always the worry that your child will resent you for being, well, a parent.  I constantly worry about that being a step-parent.  Yesterday, as my son and I were going a few rounds of I forgot my water bottle at school and I forgot my homework, he showed me what he had to do for writing a short paragraph.  The assignment was to write about what he appreciated.  It was all about how he appreciated his two moms because we help with his homework, we care, we teach him street smarts, and we love him.  You can not stay annoyed with your child when presented with this!  I even missed the words that were misspelled.  Does he know how to play me or what?  LOL  It also means the world to me when I get to read stuff like that.  Being bonus mum to our two kids is such a gift.

This past Monday, in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d make homemade tostadas.  I’ve been playing round with fresh corn tortillas but haven’t really liked them.  Well I should say they worked for soft tacos but I was underwhelmed with the flavour.  I was wondering if I was doing something wrong.  Recently we went to an authentic Latin restaurant that had amazing food and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been making them correctly!  So I decided to play with adding some ingredients to punch up the flavour first.

Before we get to the tortilla bit the meat has to be prepared first.  I chose to slow cook the steak in the oven like I did with the pulled pork.  Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.  I did a quick mixture of 2 tablespoons of chili powder, a couple of teaspoons of cumin, salt and pepper, and a few dashes of adobe seasoning.  Rub the steaks and put into the baking dish.  Add 1/2 a cup of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of fresh lime juice.

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This needs to cook for about 4 hours.  Like the pulled pork you want the meat to easily be shredded.  This is the most difficult part of the dish.  So you can see this is an easy dinner to make!  I wanted to make twelve tostadas about 4in/10cm in diameter.  In a bowl add 1 1/2 cups of masa, a tablespoon of chili powder, and a pinch of salt.  For the liquid you need a cup.  I added a tablespoon of lime juice and then the rest was water to make up that cup.

Tostadas 2 2015Mix well and then knead until the dough is fully incorporated.

Tostadas 3 2015Divide into 12 equal pieces and form them into balls.  Line both sides of the tortilla press with cling film and place a ball of dough in the middle.

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Press down to flatten.

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Heat up a dry skillet on medium high.  Cook the tortillas about 30-45 seconds on each side.  They will puff a little bit and start to brown.

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Wrap the cooked tortillas in a tea towel until it is time to fry.  This keeps them warm and soft.  Set aside as you prep the rest of the meal. Shred the beef and add chopped pepper and onion to the beef and cook for a few minutes.

Tostadas 7 2015Keep the beef warm while frying the tortillas in vegetable oil.  As you fry them transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen roll.

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Once done layer all the ingredients.  For mine I layered sour cream, cheese, salsa, tomato, lettuce, and avocado over the beef.

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This was a fun meal to have.  It is super easy to make and it’s fun for the kids to assemble their own with what they want.  And the lime and chili in the tostadas worked really well.

Chicken Avocado Salad and a Frost Advisory

Correct me if I’m wrong but it’s still summer, right?  So it was completely insane to me to find us under a frost advisory.  Sunday afternoon we grabbed as many tomatoes as we could as the plants were too tall for us to cover.  The only other veg we really had to worry about were the peppers.  So we got those covered.  Turns out the temperature stayed just high enough but we have two more evenings this week that may get close to frost.  I had to dig out my winter hat to walk the dogs!

For Saturday I wanted to do a light healthy meal with chicken and avocado.  I was put in the mood for this last week when we had some gorgeous weather.  Saturday rolls round and it’s raw and cold.  I would not be dissuaded!  I put on more layers and got on with it.  🙂

This is super simple with layered flavours and it’s quick to put together.  The longest bit was the side of roasted potatoes.

Cook up 5-6 rashers of streaky bacon.

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Set aside the cooked bacon on paper towels and pour out most of the bacon fat and save for other dishes.  You only need a tablespoon or two.  Thinly slice a chicken breast and start browning it in the bacon fat.  Add a couple of chopped garlic cloves and a couple of mushrooms.

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As the chicken cooked I made the dressing.  This was a bit of an experiment as I had an idea of what flavour I wanted as well as consistency.  But wasn’t sure how to get there.  I started with a base of mayo.

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In hindsight I should have started with half the mayo I actually used.  I added sriracha sauce, lime juice and cilantro.  The important thing is not to have the aftertaste of mayo.

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To serve I layered lettuce leaves with the chicken, mushrooms, and chopped bacon.

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Add sliced avocado and fresh tomatoes. Drizzle the dressing over and serve.

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Now the idea was to make these as wraps but I served it this way because there was a lot of food.  Kudos for my family for being game and making them into wraps.  The thing I loved about this dish was it was filling but not heavy.  I hate feeling stuffed but also dislike being hungry a short time after so this was perfect. And we had just enough room for popcorn and watching “Young Frankenstein” with the kids.

Eggs Benedict with Avocado

There was a break in the humidity this weekend which allowed us to take advantage of weather to do a lot of little chores in the garden.  I am a bit worried about the potatoes as the leaves are looking a worse for wear.  After some research I realised that we aren’t given enough nutrients for them.  Hopefully I can get that sorted this week. 

Still no sign of the parsnips.  I mean none sprouted.  I find it really strange so I’m wondering if the packet of seeds was any good.  Keeping fingers crossed we chased off the rabbits again this year.  We were dealing with squirrels and the rabbits snuck in.  One was bold.  I ran towards it making all sorts of noise and it just looked at me.  Guess I need to work on my technique. 

After several hours of puttering about I was in the mood for a hearty lunch.  I had an avocado and some homemade ciabatta bread so it was a small leap to eggs benedict.  Makes sense, right?

As delicious as this meal is there is some of juggling with the prep to get it all done at the same time.  I made a half recipe from the Fanny Farmer’s Cookbook as a 1/2 cup was enough.  Set up the ciabatta to be toasted and buttered, then set up the eggs to be poached

If you are new to hollandaise sauce definitely use a double boiler.  When I started I didn’t have one and so learned in a small saucepan. 

In the pan over very low heat whisk two small egg yolks.

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These need to be whisked but not so much you scramble them.  Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and slowly add 1/8lb of melted butter while stirring.

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Slowly add a tablespoon of hot water, dash of cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.  Stir for a minute or so until thickened.  

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Layer the bread, avocado, poached eggs, and the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

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This is such a treat when the egg is cut into and the yolk blends with the hollandaise sauce.

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After a hard morning working in the garden this was a great reward. 

Seared Tuna in a Cup

Our son turns 10 soon, where does the time go?  But because we did the family celebrations this past Sunday he gets to enjoy a month of celebrations.  Needless to say he’s tickled pink.  But given our kids live in two households and then the various extended families their birthdays can go on for a few weeks.  It takes awhile to get it all in!

As a treat for the birthdays I did up my raspberry lemon cupcakes and decorated a few of them as minions.  You can’t go wrong with minions!

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In addition to the chicken salad on apple slices I wanted to do a seafood dish.  This dish would be great for a tapas night as well.  In a bowl add two avocados.

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Finely chop up a bit of red onion.

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Mash them together and add lime juice to taste, adobe seasoning, cilantro, and chili powder.   Season with salt and pepper to taste.  To keep it from browning add the avocado pits to the dish.  I made this a few hours ahead of time as this gets put together at time of serving.

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For the BBQ we had wood available to cook over.  I brought a grill pan to sear the tuna.  Season with salt and pepper then sear both sides.  This only takes a couple of minutes.

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Fill mini phyllo cups with the avocado and then top with the sliced tuna.

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It was an enjoyable day enjoying good food, beautiful weather, and listening to the kids playing and laughing.


Early Taste of Summer With Grilled Salmon

It was my kind of day yesterday.  Warm sun, a slight breeze, and time available to get in the garden.  Perfect weather!  We are doing a major tackle of our flower garden this year which will be shown in an upcoming post.  But suffice it to say, the grass has been winning.  So we’re rolling up our sleeves and plotting our strategy for winning back the space for our flowers.

Yesterday definitely put me in the mood for bright flavours and grilling.  It also reminded me that I need to get our outside table cleaned and set up with the chairs.  It would have been lovely to have dinner outside.

I discovered at the co-op that wild sockeye salmon is back in season so that was the base of the meal for my daughter and I.  For my husband and son I grilled up some curry chicken sausages and grilled veg.  But for me the salmon was the prize.  I found this recipe for tomato avocado relish and thought I’d do a version for our dinner.  One thing I love about the warmer weather is many dishes that go on the grill are so easy to throw together and you can have a fabulous fresh meal in less than 30 minutes.  And clean up is even easier!

I prepped the food in stages as the sausages had to go first.  I sliced up the lemon for the grilling.  This is one of the lightbulb moments when you first see it.  Grill the salmon on the lemon!  It is such a no brainer but really raises the flavour profile on the dish.  I will definitely be using this method going forward.

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To make the tomato and avocado salad I first did up the dressing of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part white balsamic vinegar and whisked it to an emulsion then seasoned with salt and pepper.

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I sliced up an avocado.  This is fast becoming one of my favourite foods.  It goes well in a lot of dishes but is also a superfood so for me it’s a win-win.  My other favourite foods include crisps which isn’t on the superfood list by any stretch of the imagination.  So I’m getting one right!  🙂  Chop up a fresh scallion.  I’m not a huge fan of raw onion as it is too much for me but in dishes like this it gives it just enough zip.

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I found at the co-op some local cherry tomatoes, they must be grown in a hot house and while not the same as fresh from the garden they taste better than those trucked in from afar.  Slice them in half and add them to the dressing along with the scallion and avocado.  Toss to coat with the dressing.

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Set aside and spread out the lemon slices on the hot grill and place the salmon on top.

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This is a great trick for two reasons, one it doesn’t stick to the grill, and second it imparts a lovely lemony flavour to the fish without overpowering it.  Once the fish is cooked place it on some mixed greens and top with the tomato avocado salad.

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I’ll admit I went for presentation for the photo then added more of the tomato avocado salad!  My daughter and I loved this dish and I look forward to having it again.

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!


My Dad’s Birthday and Cooking on a RV…

When we head to up Lake Champlain every year to celebrate my dad’s birthday we always plan a nice meal for him.  It is usually swordfish and steak.  In the days running up to the dinner I hadn’t a clue what to make but fortunately we were able to come up with some ideas as we headed to the store.  And whatever we come up with it all has to fit together like a puzzle as there isn’t much space to cook a big meal on a RV.   You have to keep your elbows in when you have a few cooks whipping up dishes.  It used to be my mum and me but now my daughter has joined in.  Which is wonderful, but keep the elbows in!  🙂  And because the kitchen is small and doesn’t come with a dishwasher it is important to keep the dirty dishes to a minimum.  Logistics is the word of the day.

My husband came up with the idea to use garlic and worcestershire sauce for the steak.  I thought an avocado smash would be perfect for the swordfish.  Off my mum and I went to get the ingredients and when I got to the fish section I saw they had deeply discounted the swordfish.  More than 50%!  I was a bit nervous as when you buy fish you don’t want it to smell fishy.  As I can’t smell things I thought it would be best to ask how long they had displayed the fish.  Two days so I thought ok I’ll risk it.  I really didn’t want a situation where you get what you pay for.

I prepped the steak first.  I sliced the garlic thinly.

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After making several cuts into the steak I stuffed the garlic in and then seasoned with salt and pepper.  I put the steak in a bowl with the worcestershire sauce to marinate for about 45 minutes.  This is as simple as it gets!

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The avocado smash is very easy as well.  I thought I had picked two soft avocados at the store.  I wasn’t quite right there.  Fortunately there was enough soft bits to make this work.  I coarsely chopped the avocado into a bowl and added red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and a bit of cayenne pepper and cumin.

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In addition to the steak and swordfish we were also having a wonderful potato salad made by my mum, grilled portobello caps, and grilled veg.  The only thing not being cooked on a grill was the potato salad.  The grill was this big.

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So the veg wrapped in foil started first and I staged everything else.

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It all came together.  I grilled the mushrooms first with the veg then kept those warm, next the steaks went on while the veg was finishing.  Those got dusted with a bit of cayenne pepper as well for a bit of heat.  They cooked well but as it was a small grill I couldn’t get the sear I normally do.  Then I removed the veg and seasoned the swordfish with salt, pepper, cayenne, and cumin and got that on the grill.

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I spooned a bit of the avocado smash onto the fish to serve.  I have to say for a deeply discounted bit of fish, this was really good.  I am glad I took the chance.

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Later we finished the evening with my mum’s homemade brownies and some ice cream.  The brownies were delicious.  🙂

Grilled Tomato Avocado Cheese Sandwich

Yesterday I mentioned having a chef’s equivalent of writers block.  Finding grilled cheese recipes cured that malaise.  I made my husband the roasted jalapeno grilled cheese and made myself a lovely grilled tomato avocado cheese sandwich.  I’ve seen several variations on Pinterest so I came up with my own as well.

To start I used some of the cooked bacon I used on the other sandwiches and sliced up some mozzerella.  You want this to be a bit firm but still creamy.

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Slice some tomatoes and shred a bit of basil.  I can’t wait for fresh tomatoes from the garden to make this.  It will be amazing!  These organic tomatoes weren’t too bad considering the season but fresh off the vine is hard to beat.  🙂

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Top with some bacon.

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I was lucky to find some organic avocado tucked away at the store.  All I could find at first was regular and they were all rock hard.  You could do some serious damage with those!  Fortunately I kept digging and found some of the good stuff.

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Butter the outside of the bread.  The bread I used for these sandwiches is our sourdough bread we make every week for the kids lunches.  Grill to brown both sides.  As this is a soft cheese you don’t need to keep it on the skillet for too long.  You want it melty, not soupy.

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Serve with soup or salad and enjoy!