Sunday, August 31, 2008

Homemade Tortillas!

The following post was taken from the listed URL. The tortillas were AMAZING although they only produced five tortillas.
And when she says cook on medium, she means medium for a cast iron skillet, so you need it much hotter than that in a non stick skillet.

(Btw, Chris was the cook this time -- bravo!!!!)

Homemade Flour Tortilla Recipe

* 2 cups of white flour
* 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1 tsp. salt
* 2 tsp. vegetable oil
* 3/4 cup warm water

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine the warm water and oil.

Add the water/oil mixture to the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time and mix the dough with a fork. Once the water is mixed in, add another tablespoon of water and repeat the process until all the water is mixed into the dough.

The dough will be sticky.

Kneading The Dough

Lightly flour a wooden cutting board and knead the dough.

Kneading is done by pushing the dough with the heals and palms of both hands down onto the board. Fold the dough back onto itself, give a quarter turn and push again with the palms and heals of your hands. Just repeat the process of pressing, folding and turning for about 4 or 5 minutes. Add a dusting of flour when the dough gets sticky.

If the dough sticks to the cutting board while kneading, scrape up the dough and dust the board with a little flour and continue kneading.

Eventually the stickiness will go away and you will have a nice smooth dough.

Place the dough back into the bowl and cover it with a damp towel or damp paper towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into golf-ball-size balls by pinching off the dough with your thumb and fore finger. Form each ball into a nice ball shape.

Place the balls on a flat dish making sure they don't touch each other and cover with the damp cloth.

Let the dough rest again for 10 minutes.

Rolling The Tortillas

Preheat a skillet or cast iron pan on medium high heat. You really can't beat cast iron pans for even heat distribution and their ability to withstand high heat without warping.

Lightly dust your wooden cutting board with flour. Take one of the balls of dough and flatten it out on the cutting board to a 4 inch circle. Rub flour on your rolling pin and begin to roll out the dough starting from the center out. Roll the tortilla until it is 6 or 7 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick.

It's difficult to roll out a perfectly round tortilla so if that is important to you, you can always trim the tortilla with a knife.

I like their irregular homemade looking shape. No one can mistake these for store bought, especially when you taste them.

Don't be surprised if your kids take this flour tortilla recipe to new heights by making shapes out of the dough. Their creative little minds will be making homemade star shaped quesadillas!

Cooking The Tortillas

Back to the flour tortilla recipe...

Once you have rolled out the tortilla, place it on a preheated skillet. You don't need to add any oil or butter. Cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds. You will notice brown spots all over your tortilla. Flip it over and cook an additional 30 seconds.

Don't over cook it as you want the tortilla to be nice and soft.

Keep your tortillas warm by covering them in a towel on a plate or in a tortilla warmer.

Storing Tortillas

Tortillas are best eaten hot right off the griddle, but you can refrigerate and freeze them too.

If you freeze the tortillas, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put them in a ziplock bag. When you are ready to use them, first thaw at room temperature and then wrap them in foil and place them in a 250 degree oven for a 10 to 15 minutes.

I don't recommend microwaving them as this tends to toughen them.

So try your hand at some homemade flour tortillas. It's really pretty easy and I think you will be delighted by the results.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hearty Vegetable Stew

My plan tonight was to make vegetarian chili...but after talking to Steph she had me craving Vegetable soup. My problem was that it's the day before payday and I've already gone WAY over my budget for groceries this month. This recipe could also be called "End of the month whatever I have left over Vegetable stew". You can throw in whatever you have on hand...well almost ;). Normally I would use a broth as the base but I have a vegetarian in the house and all I had was either chicken or beef broth, no vegetable broth. So I compromised and it turned out great!

3 ribs celery
1 small onion
1/2 a poblano pepper
1 bag frozen veggies or 3 cups fresh veggies
5 cups of low sodium V8 juice or other vegetable/tomato juice
3 cups water
1 cup of barley
1 can pinto beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen diced potatoes (I used O'brien hashbrowns)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp celery salt (optional)
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder (optional)
2 large bay leaves
2-3 cloves of garlic (crushed or chopped)
2 tbs of butter or olive oil
1 cup of morning star "meat" crumbles (optional)

Heat butter or olive oil over medium heat in a stock pot. Saute celery, onions, poblano pepper and other fresh veggies for 3 minutes. Add water and V8 juice and the rest of the ingredients except the meat crumbles. Set heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for an additional 30-40 minutes until barley and veggies are tender. During the last 10 minutes throw in the crumbles. Taste and add spices as needed. Enjoy!!

Note: I'm also cooking for a toddler so I have to watch the heat...However, the rest of us love to heat up our dishes with hot sauce. So I simply put out the hot sauce for each person to add according to their taste. If this was an adult only meal I would have added several hearty dashes of hot sauce to the stew. Also, I actually probably added a lot more salt and pepper than I mentioned in my recipe. So you might want to play around with the spices and continue to check. If you used canned veggies you'll need less salt b/c of the sodium content in canned vegetables.

Speaking of spices...I know this recipe calls for a lot of different spices..and many of my recipes might. I'm always buying new spices to stock my rack so that I'm never lacking spices. lol, in fact I bribed the movers with Pizza to allow me to pack my spices when I moved from Germany. If you don't have all the spices, that's ok...use what you have and improvise. But I do recommend stocking up here and there with different spices or at least investing in a good spice rack that comes with the spices. You can find them for $20+.

Turkey Vegetable Soup

I was in a rush to find something yummy and quick for supper. I had a package of skinless chicken thighs (and already have plans for them) and 2lbs of ground turkey. Having just a few choices mean you have to be creative. The following recipe can be followed, but really it should serve as a guideline to just help you think of things to use to help you create your own soup.

1 lb browned ground turkey
3+ cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 chopped and steamed carrots
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
1/2 red bell pepper
2 stalks of celery chopped
Leftover corn from last night
2 cans tomato sauce
3 chopped garlic cloves
chopped onion
Freshly ground pepper

Allow it to simmer for a while.

I wish I had had either potatoes or beans to throw in there. Black beans would have been fabulous. Any left over veggies that you have in your fridge that would blend well could be added.

I topped it w/ grated cheddar. YUMMY!

I know for a fact that Jammie's making her own Veggie Stew tonight, so hopefully we can get her to post it soon! :D

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mexican Cubed Steak


* vegetable oil cooking spray
* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 4 cubed steaks
* 1 (8 ounce) jar picante sauce
* 2 tablespoons lime juice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley


1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add oil.
2. Place over medium high heat until hot.
3. Add steaks; cook 2 minutes on each side Combine picante sauce, lime juice, and pepper; pour over steaks.
4. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
5. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Roast and Gravy

Cut up 2-3 potatoes and line the bottom of your crock pot.
Chop 2-4 carrots and add it.
Dice onion and garlic cloves to add.

Brown the outside of your roast on the stovetop.

Place the roast in the crockpot.

Add 2 cans of cream of mushroom (98% fat free).

Cook on high for 6-8 hours.

An Easy Lunch

I needed something quick and tasty for lunch yesterday. I did a quick survey of my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Noodles, frozen raw meat, milk, cream soups, noodle soups, diced tomatoes, frozen browned ground beef, more noodles. Things that could become a meal, but most of them we'd had recently. Then it struck me, I had NEVER made anything with egg noodles for Kairi. And I mean NEVER. So this is what I created. If nothing else, Alex ate 2 helpings for lunch that day and two more today. Kairi eats it, not perfectly, but anymore getting 2 bites per meal down her is a miracle.

Almost Beef Stroganoff (or however you spell it)

~1 lb of browned ground beef (thawed and rinsed to help remove excess fat/grease)
16 oz of egg noodles
1/2 cup of milk (skim)
1 can of cream of mushroom (98% fat free)

Cook and drain the noodles. Mix in the other three ingredients. Add salt to taste. Serve!

Seriously, a super easy dish. I loved it, Alex loved it. Kairi's opinion doesn't count since she doesn't eat. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spinach Baked Pasta

  • 1 box of penne or other pasta
  • 1 box of Silken firm tofu...drained and crumbled
  • 3 bunches of spinach blanced, drained, and chopped
  • 1 jar of marinara (I used mushroom & ripe olive)
  • 3/4 cup of diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 cups of mozzarella to top

Preheat oven to 350. cook pasta as directed on box. saute onion and garlic in olive oil. blanch and chop the spinach then add to onions. add crumbled tofu and saute for a couple minutes (add salt and pepper if you want). When pasta is cooked and drained add all ingredients together and mix well. Pour into pan and top with mozzarella cheese. bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Notes: I threw this together tonight based on a lasagna recipe found on the box of tofu. I put my own spin on it. I didn't have 3 bunches of spinach...I had half a bag of prewashed baby spinach...and I didn't have mozzarella so I used the 4 blend Mexican cheese I did have...and I didn't have fresh garlic so I used powdered garlic. This made 1 large and 1 smaller pan. It was pretty easy to put together. Usually I would make baked pasta dishes with ricotta cheese but the tofu is perfect in it--and it makes it a healthier alternative! And if you made it with soy-based parmesan and omitted the mozzarella it would be a perfect dish for any vegans in your life.

I always say that most recipes are flexible. And this is one is no different. If you don't have spinach, oh well! You can use what vegetable you have that could be substituted based on your preferences. Squash or zucchini could be used instead of spinach, or even fresh or frozen peas. Don't be afraid to play around with recipes. You can really cut down your grocery budget by trying to use what you have on hand instead of heading to the grocery store when you see you're missing an ingredient.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No-Pain Lo Mein

Taken from

No-Pain Lo Mein
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
30 Minute Meals
Last Minute Get-Together

  • 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan in a slow drizzle) vegetable or wok oil
  • 1 cup (2 handfuls) snow peas, halved on a diagonal
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into match stick size pieces
  • 1/2 pound assorted mushrooms (shiitake, straw, enoki, or oyster), coarsely chopped, if necessary
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 2 cups (about 4 handfuls) fresh bean spouts
  • 2 inches fresh ginger root, minced or grated with hand grater
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lo mein noodles or thin spaghetti, cooked to al dente and drained well
  • 1/2 cup aged tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, several drops

Heat a wok-shaped skillet or large non-stick skillet over high heat. When pan is very hot, add oil, (it will smoke a bit) then, immediately add the snow peas, pepper, mushrooms, scallions, and bean sprouts. Stir fry for 1 minute to flavor the oil, then add the ginger and garlic, and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and toss with to combine. Add the soy sauce and toss the ingredients to coat noodles evenly with sauce. Transfer the lo mein to a serving platter and garnish with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

Added Notes: The great thing about cooking is that you can usually improvise with recipes. When I made my lo mein I didn't have bean sprouts or cabbage so I just used red and green bell peppers and button mushrooms. Sesame oil of course is preferred when cooking stirfry and asian rice and noodle dishes, but in a pinch vegetable oil can be used. Don't be afraid to try your own twist on recipes you find.

When Dinner Blunders Happen

I consider myself a pretty good cook. Not as good as my mom...she's chef material. But I can hold my own in the kitchen. However, many times when I cook I throw things together without a recipe. Last night was no different. I had decided I was going to make veggie lo mein. So I cooked up a box of noodles, chopped and stirfried the veggies. Then I added the noodles (just plain spaghetti) once I dumped them in I realized that I had made way too many. You would think this would ruin the dinner. But that's when improvising comes in handy. I simply added more sesame oil and more soysauce. It certainly wasn't as good as I hoped but I'm always my worst critic. Everyone else ate them up. And there's plenty left for lunch today. I won't post my recipe but I'll post one I found from Rachel Ray on lol, hopefully that'll come out better than the one I made.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chicken Fried Rice

Have I mentioned that I'm so glad to have Jammie to share recipes with? :) Once again she came to my rescue and helped me with supper. I only made half the recipe because, well frankly I accidentally made half the rice I was supposed to and could only make half, but it came out with more than enough, so that's what I'm going to post. I didn't follow an exact recipe, so this is as close as it gets. Feel free to change what you'd like. :)

Chicken Fried Rice

4 pieces of chicken, seasoned w/ garlic and ginger, broiled and then cubed (Or cube and then stirfry them w/ sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce and then add the rest)
2 cups of cooked rice
1 cup of frozen carrots
1 package of frozen broccoli (feel free to use whatever frozen veggies you'd like)
Sesame Oil
Soy Sauce
Minced Garlic (approximately 1 clove)
Water Chestnuts (ok, so this wasn't in the recipe at all, but I had some and love them so in the pan they went)

Heat the sesame oil in your skillet. Add the rice and frozen veggies. Add the garlic and ginger (can be adjusted to taste). Throw in the chicken. Add the soy sauce until it looks right. :) I added the water chestnuts VERY last to keep crispy.
Allow it to simmer until the veggies are cooked.

Yummy! Alex ate THREE helpings! And here is what Kairi thought of it:

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I made a lasagna last night for today, just in case we didn't have power. I used Mueller's no boil noodles. I won't list the recipe b/c it's on the box. Good, but not absolutely amazing.

I say this to make the pledge. I am on a mission to find an amazing sauce for the lasagna. I usually use whatever spaghetti sauce I have on hand. This time I had an actual marinara sauce. I simmered my meat in it. Chris said that he usually adds a glass of wine and some Italian seasoning to it. I should have done that, but at midnight I was too tired to care. ;) His sauce usually comes out really nice. But I want more than nice or good, I want great, amazing, fabulous, fantastic. I want people to taste my lasagna and ask for the recipe.

Know any great sauce recipes? Do you have a secret ingredient? I want to know!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Roast Chicken

Cut 1-3 potatoes into small chunks.
Layer the bottom of your crock pot.
Slice a carrot.
Put in the crock pot.
Add in any extra frozen veggies you'd like.

Stuff a whole chicken with chopped onions and garlic cloves. Put it in the pot. Season the top w/ garlic salt, parsley, and onion powder.

Leave it on high for 6-8 hours.

Welcome Jammie!

Yay! Jammie has joined us! :D Just to give a little bit more information on her, Jammie and I met on Babycenter about 2 years ago! (Can you believe it's been that long?!?) Her daughter, Jaycie, and Kairi are just a few weeks apart in age. After discovering a shared love for Stargate SG1 and Richard Dean Anderson, we hit it off and haven't stopped talking since.

I love sharing recipes with her and am super excited about hearing more from her!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cooking with Love

I was asked to co-author this blog today. I think it's a great idea and I love sharing my love for food. One of my favorite TV shows is The Next Food Network Star because that seems like such a dream job for me. What better job than to share your passion? I admit, I don't always cook meals for my family. By the end of the day I'm exhausted and the thought of preparing a meal and cleaning up the mess is daunting. But our budget (and waistlines) don't allow for frequent pizza deliveries or McDonald's runs. Besides, I believe establishing healthy eating habits for my toddler is incredibly important. So I decided to start cooking more...and cooking more healthy. Some days I cook simple easy meals and other days I'm inspired by Food Network and try my hand at more complex meals. Lately, however, I've been cooking more vegetarian meals since I currently have a vegetarian in the house. You might be like me and think that a vegetarian meal couldn't be satisfying, especially if you love meat as much as I do. But I was pleasantly surprised to find how much my family has enjoyed vegetarian meals. I hope you enjoy the recipes I'll be sharing and you're inspired to try your hand at different styles of cooking.

Grilled Garlic Steak Salad

Spicy Garlic Dressing
1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-pound beef boneless sirloin steak, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup sliced mushrooms (3 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 cups bite-size pieces salad greens

1. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. In tightly covered container, shake all dressing ingredients; reserve 1/4 cup.
2. Cover and grill beef over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until desired doneness. In medium bowl, toss bell pepper and mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of the dressing; place in grill basket. Cover and grill vegetables 5 minutes, shaking grill basket to turn vegetables occasionally, until bell pepper is crisp-tender.
3. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper; cut into 1/4-inch slices. Toss beef and reserved 1/4 cup dressing. In large bowl, place salad greens, vegetables and beef. Add remaining dressing; toss.

Foil Pack Taco Chicken Dinner


* 4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
* 4 teaspoons TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
* 2 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes
* 1 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Shredded Cheese
* 1/2 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
* 1/4 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle chicken evenly with seasoning mix. Place 1/2 cup of the potatoes on center of each of four large sheets of heavy-duty foil; top each with 1 chicken breast, 1/4 cup of the cheese and 2 tablespoons of the salsa.
2. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and both ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place in single layer in 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (170 degrees F) and potatoes are tender. Remove packets from oven. Let stand 5 minutes. Place one packet on each of four dinner plates. Cut slits in foil with sharp knife to release steam before opening. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of the sour cream.

After tryings this, we agreed that it definitely needs to be made with chicken breasts, not thighs. And it would be DELICIOUS on the grill.
Also, serve it with a bean dip and chips. Yum.

Onion Soup Chicken

Onion Soup Chicken
1 package of onion soup
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of water
Mix together.

Cut up 2 potatoes, 3 med carrots, and another veggie. Put in oven bag. Add mixture. Shake until all veggies are well-coated.

Add chicken.

Bake at 375 for an hour.

If your carrots and potatoes are already cooked, then you can do it in the microwave for approximately 15 minutes instead (w/o the bag). Or you can combine then and throw them in the crockpot.

Spicy Black Bean Chicken Soup

Spicy Black Bean Chicken Soup

Shredded boneless skinless cooked chicken (I usually just use leftover chicken from the past night or so.)
2 drained and rinsed cans of black beans
1 can of chicken broth
1-2 cans of rotel (according to taste)
Occasionally I add corn.
Garlic salt
Onion powder

Combine in pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

Cream Cheese Chicken

Cream Cheese Chicken

boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs -- We use thighs b/c they're just a tiny bit more tender.)
1 can of cream of mushroom (98% fat free)
1 package of cream cheese (1/3 less fat)

Put in crock pot for 4-6 hours. Top with basil. Serve with rice and broccoli.

Provolone Chicken with Portobello Mushroom Caps

Provolone Chicken on Portobello Caps
2 (5 - 6 inch-wide) portobello mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used the thin cut.)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
2 slices provolone cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dry vermouth or chicken broth
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease medium baking dish; place mushroom caps in dish, gill-side down.

2. Place chicken in shallow dish. Combine soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic in small bowl. Brush half of the mixture over both sides of mushroom caps. Pour remaining mixture over chicken, turning to coat all sides.

3. Bake mushroom caps 15-20 minutes or until tender but not limp, turning once.

4. Halfway through baking mushrooms, remove chicken from marinade; reserve marinade. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken 4 minutes or until browned on one side. Turn; add mushroom stems to skillet. Top each breast with 1 cheese slice; sprinkle with pepper. Pour vermouth (broth) and reserved marinade into pan; partially cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 3 - 4 minutes or until cheese melts and chicken is no longer pink in center.

5. Place mushroom caps gill-side up on plates; top with chicken mixture. Drizzle with pan juices. Sprinkle with chives.

This recipe is easy to double (or triple) and very filling. Great with a simple salad and some crusty bread. I also have made it w/o the portobello caps and added just small pieces of fresh mushrooms (all broke up) in the pan instead when needing something quick (think 15-30 min TOPS) that everyone will enjoy.

A New Beginning

Recently I've been having a lot of fun learning how to cook new foods and learning new recipes. I've shared most of these new ideas with my mother or mother-in-law. I've posted them on my message boards' recipe threads. I've taken recipes from those sources as well. I've scoured food websites for fun foods to try. And I am constantly finding myself wanting to share the latest recipe I've tried.

Now, let me clarify that I don't do fancy. I have a hard enough time finding the time and/or energy to cook a simple meal, so a fancy one is out of the question. Any recipe I post, unless I specify at the beginning of the post, should not be hard to make nor require any truly special ingredients.

At first there might be a multitude of recipes added that I've tried recently, but as time goes on I'll just be posting what our meals are and any recipes that you share with me.

I don't expect a huge following based on this blog, but I wanted a way to share the fun recipes I've found, and this is the best way I could think of!