A Diary of our Current Meanderings, Thoughts, and Adventures...


Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Make your own...Whaaaat?!" Entry #3: Tortillas

Guacamole may be one of my favorite foods. Wait...no, no, salsa. Better yet...burritos. My point is: Mexican food is one of my all-time weaknesses. I love all things Mexican-food related. When I started making my own tortillas to go with all of this goodness, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
The best part is how stinkin' easy they are to make. Just be warned, once you try these, you will never want a bag of store-bought tortillas again.

Here's what you'll need:
4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

2 tbsp. shortening/lard
Appx. 1 c. water

Start by mixing all of the dry ingredients together, like so.

*I should also note that wheat flour works just as well as white, however I would not do more than 2 of the 4 cups with wheat. They will become too stiff to work with.

Stir together, then add the shortening. Now the fun part...Noa's favorite part, in fact. Use your clean hands to squish the shortening into the flour. You should do this all through the flour til it's evenly spread. Then add the water a little at a time, continuing to mix with your hands until a nice dough ball forms. (pictured below)

Then create smaller dough balls, about an inch and a half around. This batch made 12 dough balls, which is more than enough for a family of four's tacos! Also, be sure they are each pretty large, otherwise you will end up with itty bitty tortillas that you can't fit any toppings on!Next, the smashing!! Another kid-friendly favorite part. :)

Push the dough down into circles, then roll them out until they are quite thin, but not so think that you can't pick them up without them breaking apart.
Your tortillas do NOT need to look like perfect circles. Infact, I prefer mine to look like outlines of continents on a map. ;) (See Australia below)

Next, turn your burner on to medium heat, using a non-stick skillet. I prefer my pancake skillet so I can do more than one at a time! Lay out the tortillas on the skillet and wait until you see your tortilla starting to form bubbles. Check the back, and if small brown spots are beginning to occur, flip your tortilla to get the same done-ness on the other side.

Voila! Tortillas. :) These guys are pretty hearty if you ask me, so you should plan for about 2 per each person you are cooking for. Tacos were the order of business for us last night, so here are my tortillas at work, pictured with spiced ground beef, homemade salsa, sour cream and monterey jack cheese. Mmm....

They are a favorite with everyone in my household, especially the little one!!

You should also try these with fajitas, quesadillas, egg and cheese wraps, whatever! Enjoy. :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Make your own...Whaaaat?!" Entry #2: Freezer Fudge

One of my favorite parts about the Jersey shore is the fudge. The last time I was at the shore, I ordered. 1.5 lbs of fudge. I couldn't believe I was taking a box that weighs as much as a small pet of PURE chocolate home with me... Bryce and I devoured the box in a weekend. I had always wanted to try my hand at making my own, but the thought was too daunting. Until...I found this--Freezer Fudge.
This recipe was passed to me by word of mouth from a mom at a mom's group I meet with. It takes 5 minutes to prepare and is the pefect after-dinner chocolate treat. Delightful.

1/2 Cup of Chocolate - Chocolate chips, barred chocolate, or cocoa powder all work, but I prefer a yummy piece of dark chocolate, or dark chocolate chips
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup of shredded coconut if you wish

Start by melting down the chocolate chips with the butter on low heat. Slowly add the oil and sugar and stir until sugar has dissolved well. Add vanilla and salt. When chocolate mixture is starting to bubble and sugar has dissolved, add coconut. You could also add nuts, dried fruit...whatever you'd like!

Once everything is stirred in, it's time to freeze the fudge. This fudge is a little stiffer than Jersey shore fudge, and needs to be kept in the freezer when not eating. That's what makes it the perfect summer treat!

Pour the fudge into a glass dish and let sit. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and put in freezer. The fudge should be ready in about 2-3 hours.

Isn't that easy? The only hard part is waiting for it to cool....(as seen in photo below :) )

Enjoy! Anyone else have any good, easy fudge recipes out there?

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Make your own...Whaaaat?!" Entry #1: Nutri-grain Bars

I've always been fascinated by making my "own" anything. When I was little, I would walk through the jewelry store and try to figure out if I could buy the right beads to make my own necklace. When I bought a home, and realized how awful chemical cleaners were for our health, I began making my own cleaning supplies and haven't turned back.

I've been moving more toward the food portions of "make your own"...particularly, snacks. Who doesn't love a great box of cheese-it crackers, name brand cookies, or a great jar of marinara sauce. What I never explored was..."How could I make this myself?"

So here goes, my summer series on my blog: "Make your own...Whaaaat?" First up:

Strawberry Nutri-grain Bars

I use the brand name of this item specifically because "cereal bar" can often be confused with granola bars, which are not the item I am going for this time. This is more specifically a combination of grains and oats, mixed with a fruit preservative. Such a great treat for an on-the-go-breakfast, between meal snack, or toddler meal replacement in some cases! (haha)

My favorite brand is Kashi TLC Cereal Bars, however, at about $5 a box, and only 8 in a package, I wanted to see if I could come up with my own version that are healthier, tastier, less processed, and just plain fun to make. I think I found it!

Start with:
2 sticks of butter/margerine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
Appx. 1/2 cup Strawberry preserves/jam
2 tsp. almond extract

Cream butter and brown sugar together. Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Press 2/3 of mixture in 9x13 pan. This works best if you coat your hands with butter first so the mixture doesn't stick to your utensil or hands when pressing.

Add a layer of preserves. I used my homemade jam to make strawberry preserves. (I will add the recipe later!)

Take the rest of the oats/flour mixture and drop over top of the preserves layer. If you add 1/2 more of each ingredient, you can cover the entire layer completely making it much more like real nutri-grain bars in appearance. Since I'm obsessed with strawberries, I opted for just 1/3 of the whole mixture for the top.

Bake at 300 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, until slightly brown on top. Let cool, and then separate like bars.

If you'd like them to "keep" for longer than a few days, I suggest wrapping them individually in plastic wrap, and then sealing them in an air-tight container.

Enjoy!! :)

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Strawberry Pickim' Pals

Cheering Mama on at a 5K!

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Building, Building...

The Newest Addition to our Backyard - A Shed!

A Picnic Birthday Party for our 2-Year Old

Puddle Jumping Friends

Swim Lessons at the YMCA