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.
Roasted potatoes are one of my favorite sides and they go great with breakfast, lunch or dinner. This recipe is very basic, so you can use any kind of potato you have on hand (white, Idaho, yukon gold, red skin, sweet potato and yams). Feel free to switch up flavors to match your tastes, budget or whatever you have in the kitchen. I like roasted potatoes with roasted, grilled or baked meats like chicken, steak, fish and pork chops. You can also serve these on the side of some eggs and bacon or create a chilled roasted potato salad with the leftovers.
Now Let's Get Cooking!
Herb Roasted Potatoes
5 C Potatoes, diced
2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Butter
2 tsp. Olive Oil
2 tsp. Dried Herbs - Italian Herbs or French Herbs aka Herbs D' Province
1/3 C Fresh Parsley
1/2 tsp. Salt and Pepper
1. Pre heat your oven to 450 F. Place the potatoes and salt into a medium pot then cover with water by one inch. The high heat is going to crisp up the potatoes quickly without drying them out too much and the salt in the water will help to season the potatoes on the inside.
2. Place the pot over medium/high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, cook for 7 minutes and then drain very well. Starting out with cold water and then bringing to a boil will help the diced potatoes cook evenly. Boiling before baking will help to make the potatoes fluffy when you eat them. Draining the potatoes well will keep then from getting mushy and help them to brown evenly.
3. Place the potatoes and the rest of the ingredients into a bowl and toss to coat well.
4. Place the potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the potatoes and continue to cook for 20 minute or until crispy and golden brown. The parchment paper is used to create non stick surface on your baking sheet, it is also biodegradable. It is a little more expense that aluminum foil, but is a great tool to use for everyday cooking.
Pumpkin pie is filled with warm spices that bring the Fall season into full effect. I like to make a batch of pumpkin pie spice to use for all types of recipes from pies, cookies and cakes to adding a couple of dashes to my morning coffee grinds for a dose of light pumpkin flavor. Check out the recipe below and experiment with the warm spices in your spice rack.
Now let's get crackin'!
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 tbsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Nutmeg
2 tsp. Ginger
1.5 tsp. Allspice
1.5 tsp Cloves
Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine. Keep in an airtight container to keep fresh.
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.
This recipe for summer strawberry tart is really easy and great for picnics, lunches, brunches and parties on hot summer nights. You can use also add all types of summer fruits like blue/black or raspberries, peaches, plums and nectarines.
Summer Berry Pie
1 Pre Made Frozen Pie Crust, blind baked and cooled
4.5 C Strawberries, rinsed, dried and halved
1 C Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 tbsp. Corn Starch
1/2 Lemon, juiced
Cook the crust following the instructions for blind baking. Place 1/3 of the strawberries in a pan with the sugar, salt, lemon and cornstarch. Simmer for 15 minutes on low heat then smash the fruit until chunky. You can also place this into a blender and carefully blend until smooth. Let this mixture cool completly.
Place the rest of the berries into the pie shell, pour over the berry jam mixture and let chill in the fridge for 2 hours. You can top this with whipped cream or ice cream for an extra awesome treat.
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.
Pre heat oven to 375 F and butter an 8-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Mix the peaches with the sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch and place into the baking dish. Mix the butter, brown sugar, flour and oats together until a crumble if formed. Place the crumble over the peaches, lightly top with foil and bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown.