It is no secret that I LOVE TACOS! One day I was making a fresh batch when I looked in my cabinet to find no tortillas, hard or soft. This life problem gave forth to one of the greatest cooking discoveries of my career. The question was, how can I make homemade flour tortillas just like they do at the taco shops? With a little research and "real world experience", I have come up with a very easy recipe and method for making soft flour tortillas. This can be used for tacos, quesadillas, chimichangas, wraps, tortilla chips and more. Once you start making fresh tortillas, you will never go back!
Now Let's Get Cooking!
Homemade Flour Tortillas
2 C Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tbsp. Shortening or Butter
3/4 C Warm Water
Place the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and mix well with a fork. Add the shortening and then press it into the the flour with the fork tines until it is combined. Add the warm water and mix well until a ball of dough forms. Kneed the dough for 3 minutes with your hand then cover with plastic for 15 minutes. Cut the ball of dough into 8 pieces and let rest for another 5 minutes.
Place a ball of dough onto a floured surface and then flour a rolling pin. Lightly press down the rolling pin onto the center of the dough, turn a half turn and repeat. Flip the dough over, place the pin on the middle of the dough and roll outward, up and down. Lightly re-flour the surface, dough and pin. Turn and repeat this process until the tortilla is very flat.
Place a skillet (non stick, cast iron or steel) over medium high heat. Place the flattened dough into the pan and cook for one minute. The tortilla will puff up a bit, you can just press it down with your hand. Turn the tortilla and cook on the other side for about 20 seconds. Place the warm tortilla on a plate and cover with a moist towel while cooking the rest. Keep the tortillas wrapped in plastic until serving.
Pasta Cacio y Peppe is a classic Italian pasta dish from Rome. Pasta is cooked to "Al Dente" or "To the Tooth" and is then cooked in a light sauce made from starchy pasta water, butter, cheese and fresh pepper. This simple recipe is basically pasta tossed in cheese and pepper and can be made for a simple and inexpensive lunch or dinner. This is also a great recipe to bust out if you want to impress friend while on a budget.
Pasta Cacio e Peppe aka Pasta w. Cheese and Pepper
8 oz. Spaghetti
1 tbsp. Salt
3/4 C Pasta Water
3 tbsp. Butter
1/2 C Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/4-1/2 tsp. Fresh Pepper
1 pinch Salt
1. Bring 3 - 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Place the salt in the water, stir in the pasta and cook for 8 minutes. This will cook the pasta until it is "Al Dente" and will be slightly undercooked.
2. Remove 3/4 of a cup of the pasta water and then carefully drain the pasta well. The pasta water will be used to help make the sauce.
3. Place the pasta water and butter into the pot and stir together well over low heat. Add the hot pasta, cheese, pepper and salt to the pot and toss very well. The starchy pasta water, butter and cheese will melt together and form a cheesy and peppery sauce that will lightly coat every strand of pasta. The slightly undercooked pasta will finish cooking in the sauce while it soaks in more flavor.
Serve this immediately with fresh pepper and more cheese on top.
Fried turkey is a great way to quickly cook your bird for the holidays. You will get crispy skin, moist meat and a free oven to cook your sides. All you need is some simple ingredients and a safe technique to get the best experience.
You will need the following items to safely fry your turkey.
22 - 30 qt. Pot
Long Heavy Duty Tongs or a Meat Hook
Medium Sized Cooler or Large Stockpot with Lid
Meat Thermometer - Stem Style
Brined and Fried Turkey Recipe
11 lb. Turkey
1 qt. Water
1.5 C Salt
1 C Sugar
1 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1 gal. Ice
Optional Flavor Enhancement
1/3 C Pepper Corns
10 Bay Leaves
1/4 C Dried Thyme
10 Garlic Cloves
2 gal Peanut Oil
1. Place your turkey while in the bag into your frying pot, then fill with water until the turkey is covered by one inch of water. Remove the turkey and mark where your water line is. That is how far up you should fill the pot with oil.
2. Place your brining ingredients into a saucepan, bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove the brine from the heat and let cool.
3. Remove your turkey from the bag, drain any juices, remove any plastic and bag 'o' organs from the inside.
4. Place the turkey in a cooler or large stockpot with lid. Pour the brine over the turkey and then stir in the ice. The turkey should be totally under icy water. Brine for 12-16 hours, and it is important to keep ice cold during this process or your turkey will spoil. I like to keep it outside during this time.
5. Remove the turkey from the brine, drain and dry very well, then set out at room temp for 90 minutes to remove the chill from the bird.
6. Place the frying pot on your outdoor burner at least 10 feet from your house, preferably on concrete. Attach the candy thermometer and fill up with oil to the water mark you made earlier. Turn the heat on and heat the oil up to 350 F.
7. Tie the legs together with butchers twine and dry the turkey with paper towels one more time. Very slowly hook the turkey legs using long tongs or a meat hook and lower into the oil. Keep kids and pets away during this time.
8. Cook the turkey for about 25 minutes at 350 F. Adjust the fuel as needed to maintain the heat. With a friend carefully bring up the turkey halfway out of the oil and check the temperature of the bird using a stem thermometer. The deepest part of the thigh, not touching bone, should register at 175 F. If it needs more time, fry for another 5-10 minutes.
9. Remove the turkey from the oil and place on a clean platter. Let the turkey sit for 20 minutes before carving.
Hard boiled eggs are a great way to get your protein fix for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. The method for cooking the eggs is very simple and can be done in no time at all. I like to boil about a dozen eggs at a time and keep them in the fridge for whatever comes my way during the week.
To store the eggs, peel them and dry well with a paper towel, then place in a airtight container. They should last about 4 days. You never know when you are going to have a craving of deviled eggs, egg salad or my favorite, breakfast guacamole!
You will need...
6 -12 Egg
1 Medium Pot
1 Slotted Spoon
1 qt. Ice
1. Place the eggs into the bottom of a pot and cover with cold water.
2. Bring the water to a full boil, cover, and turn off heat.
3. Let the eggs sit for 12 minutes.
4. Take the eggs out of the pot and place then into a bowl with ice water.
5. Let the eggs cool completely before peeling.
6. Dry the eggs week and store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Place the first 7 ingredients into a blender, blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Toss the remaining ingredients together, season with salt and pepper then refrigerate until service. Top each serving of soup with the chopped vegetable garnish.
Mornings are a drag, but the one thing that can get me out of bed is a big bowl of fresh cut fruit. You can eat the fruit straight up, pop it in a blender with some yogurt or freeze it for a healthy frozen treat. Fresh fruit will give you the boost of healthy sugar you need for a successful start to your day. The bright colors and flavors will get you pumped for whatever comes your way. Also, when you keep a cup of fresh cut fruit or whole fruit in your bag you are less likely to visit the candy machine and fast food spots or make poor food choice during out the day.
Check this vid out and learn how to cut whole fruits like pineapple, mango and kiwi, then pack it up for freshness.
Scallops are one of the most tasty treats from the sea. Cooked and served properly, the outside will be crisp while the inside is soft and tender. Most of the time scallops will be over cooked and result in a very rubbery texture that is not fun to chew let alone eat. Follow these simple steps, and you will get restaurant quality scallops every single time.
1. Start Fresh - Only buy high quality seafood that smells and looks fresh.
2. Dry It Up - Dry the seafood well with a paper towel or or kitchen towel. When you place it in the pan, it will start to sear and seal in the juices immediately.
3. Keep it Hot - Work with a hot skillet and leave plenty of room between scallops while cooking. This will allow the water that cooks out of the seafood to evaporate instead of staying in the pan.
4. S&P - Season lightly with salt and pepper to help form the outside crust and enhance the natural flavor of the seafood.
5. Cooking Time - Do not over cook you scallops! A simple sear for 2-3 minutes on both sides should do the trick and leave you with a perfectly cooked scallop.
*** Most Important*** Do not touch the scallops while cooking. Once you place them in the pan, let them cook, turn once and repeat.
8 Scallops - Large or Jumbo
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper, ground
1 tbsp. Oil - Olive, Veg or Canola
Place a large non stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat, then let it heat up for 3 minutes. Place the scallops onto a plate and pat both sides dry. Season both sides of the scallop with salt and pepper.
Add the oil to the pan, when it smokes place the scallops into the pan with at least 1/2 inch between each one. Let the scallops cook for 2-3 minutes or until you see it has cooked half way up the side - do not touch while cooking. Flip the scallops and repeat. The scallops should be almost cooked though but not completely. Remove the scallops from the pan and serve immediately.
Samosas are a classic indian hand pie/pastry that is served with a variety savory flavors. Generally a pie dough is rolled flat, stuffed with a mixture of vegetables and spiced lamb and then fried. This recipe has been simplified, stuffing a vegetable mixture into a piece of puff pastry and baking until golden brown.
You can use a variety of filings including ground meats, potatoes, grains, beans and vegetables. Spices can include curry, cumin, cinnamon and garam masala (a mixture of warm spices), that can easily be purchased at the grocery store for little $$$.
The technique takes a little practice, but once it is perfected you can make a big batch of samosa in no time. It is also a cool group activity. Remember to use parchment paper or a SILPAT (non stick silicon pad) on your baking sheet so the pastry won't stick!
Baked Vegetarian Samosa
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 C Sweet Potato or Potato, small dice
1/2 C Onion, small dice
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 C Kale, sliced thin and chopped
3/4 C Canned or Frozen Peas
3/4 C Rasions, chopped
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1-2 tsp. Cumin
1-2 tsp. Curry Powder
3/4 C Water
1 Lime, juiced
2 sheets Puff Pastry, defrost in the fridge
1/2 C Water
2 tbsp. Sesame Seeds, optional
You will need a baking sheet with parchment paper or a SILPAT (non stick silicon pad).
Pre heat the oven to 425 F. Place a large pan over medium heat and add the olive oil to the pan. Place the sweet potatoes and onions into the pan and cook for 5 minutes, tossing every minutes. Add the next 4 ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, tossing every minute. Add half of the salt, pepper, cumin and curry and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and let simmer for 10 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the sweet potatoes are soft. Season the mixture with the rest of the spices to suit your taste and stir in the lime juice. Let this mixture cool to room temperature or chill completely.
Take the defrosted puff pastry out of the fridge and place both sheets on a cutting board. Mix the egg and the water in a small bowl and set aside. Cut each sheet into 9 equal squares. Take one square and lightly roll it out and rub/paint a small amount of the egg mixture in the 4 sides. Place 2-3 tablespoons - a golf ball sized scoop - of the vegetable mixture in the middle of the square. Pull the 4 corners together with one hand and pinch tightly. Use your other hand to seal the seams together, creating a four cornered pouch of awesomeness. Place the pastry on the lined baking sheet and continue until you have formed 18 samosas. Paint the remaining egg mixture over the pastry and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Place the samosas into the oven and bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pans and cook for 8 minutes or until golden brown.
You can serve samosas with homemade or store bought chutneys, sweet chili sauce or fresh salsa.
Slow cookers are a great tool of convenience for new cooks and busy people alike. Though electric crocks were invented in the 50's, the brand name "Crockpot" exploded on the market in the early 70's. It has been used to make a million recipes from meat stews, roasts, ribs, soups and sauces, rice, breads, beans, grains, baby food, hot beverages and even yogurt.
Paella is a classic Spanish seafood dish from Valencia, Spain. Created in a wide pan called a "patella", Paella is a communal/shared dish that is made from short grained rice flavored with saffron and topped with steamed shellfish. The recipe can change widely from local village to village and include regional flavors and ingredients. The combo paella adds different meats like spicy chorizo sausage, chicken, veal and rabbit. Shellfish and fish filets can also be added in many combinations to add a regional flavor.
Spanish Paella Serves 4-6
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 lb. Chorizo Sausage
1 Onion, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 C Short Grained Spanish Bomba Rice, Sushi Rice or Arborio Rice
3.75 C Chicken or Seafood Stock
1 C Green peas
1 lb. Med. Shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 lb. Mussels, cleaned and rinsed
1 lb. Clams, cleaned and rinsed
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Lobster, sliced lengthwise
1 C Tomato, seeded and chopped
½ C Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 Lemon, sliced
Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the saffron and paprika and simmer on low heat. Add the olive oil to a very large skillet. When the oil starts to smoke, place the sausage into the pan, brown on all sides and then remove.
Add chopped onion and bell peppers and sauté until tender. Add the rice and sauté until it turns white. Add the chorizo back to the rice mixture, then pour in the boiling stock and add the peas, tightly cover the dish and simmer for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the lid, add the clams and mussles then simmer covered for 5 minutes. Again, carefully remove the lid to the pan and place the shrimp into the rice. Cover and cook for 7 minutes or until the rice is tender and the shellfish are open.
While the shellfish are steaming, place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan. Season the split lobster with salt and pepper. When the oil smokes, place the lobster into the pan and sear on both sides until the tail curls up.
Serve the Paella hot, and garnish with fresh tomato, lemon and parsley.