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Category Archives: Make

Make is anything I have made from scratch i.e. tortillas, yogurt, crackers, mixes.

Super quick holiday appetizer…good for anytime.

I had some Maytag Blue cheese sitting in the fridge that needed used up quick. I love blue cheeses, but there comes a time when I just want something different. I usually crumble it atop salads. This is especially a good winter salad option. Crumble blue cheese on a study winter green, add pears and pecans (I don’t like walnuts), and toss with a simple vinaigrette.

But like I said. Something different. I remember reading this recipe in the At Home in Provence cookbook by Patricia Wells. (I’ve mentioned my love of France in previous posts). Many times, I’m missing an ingredient or two for these recipes. This time, I had everything. Or a close enough substitute.

Cheers!

Cheers!

This will make a nice snack spread for crackers or toasted bread, or a chunky dip for crudites (think celery). I think it would be wonderful for casual cocktail parties. Does anyone still have cocktail parties? Or just make a half recipe for weekday lunches. That’s what I did. Cheers!

Roquefort Dip

from Patricia Wells At Home in Provence

  • 2 c full-fat or low-fat cottage cheese
  • 3 Tbsp fresh chives, snipped with scissors (I used green onion tops)
  • 2 1/2 oz Roquefort cheese, at room temperature & broken into pieces (I used Maytag Blue)
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

Place cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor and pulse just to break up the curds. Add the chives and Roquefort, and process briefly, pulsing once or twice just to blend. Season to taste. Pulse again to distribute the seasonings. Transfer to a container, cover securely, and refrigerate at least 1 day to allow the flavors to blend. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Mango Chili Lime Margarita (for one)

I had a mango about to go, sitting in the fridge. I needed to do something quickly. I had thought, briefly, about some sort of mango salad, but I didn’t have any compatible ingredients on hand. Then I thought “margarita!” Why not? It’s hot and humid out today. What better thing to make on a hot evening than a icy, tropical-inspired margarita.

A quick, refreshing drink awaits.

I didn’t want to make a plain mango margarita, so I took the idea of a popular Mexican  street food – mango slices with chili and lime juice – and thought it would make a perfect drink. It’s refreshing and slightly exotic.

Mango chili lime margarita

This recipe makes one, but feel free to double it.

Mango Chili Lime Margarita

  • Juice and zest from 1 lime
  • 1/4 c simple syrup
  • 1 1/4 c frozen mango
  • 1 oz tequila
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Ice cubes, if necessary

Combine salt, chili powder and half lime zest on a small plate. Moisten rim of a glass with lime juice. (I used a spent lime half.) Rub rim in chili-salt-lime mixture. Set aside.

Put mango, lime juice and simple syrup in a blender. Blend until smooth. If it is too liquidy, or not icy enough, add ice cubes. Add remaining chili salt and blend until just combined. Pour into prepared glass. Enjoy.

Moving and Mexico

I recently moved from one apartment to another. While I did get a bigger kitchen, at least by square footage, I lost counter space and cupboards. It’s still a tiny kitchen, but I can still cook. In fact, the kitchen was the first room I unpacked. All of my dishes and pans are put in their place. All my spices and dry goods are set. The cookbooks take up several two-foot stacks against the wall. The rest of the apartment is mostly in boxes. I hate moving. I live among boxes for a long time until the new place “speaks” to me. I just don’t know where I want things until I live in a space for a while.

One box that did get unpacked was the collection of travel memoirs. You know, the Under the Tuscan Sun, Year in Provence-type books, and one called On Mexican Time. It’s a languid postcard from Mexico by Tony Cohan. There are no recipes or funny stories of locals, but a beautiful read none the less. It makes me long for Mexico.

I’ve been to Mexico just a couple of times. One time was a day/evening trip to Tijuana just to wander the streets, eating 3-for-a-dollar tacos and drinking Mexican Pepsi. The other trip was a 10-day excursion to Puerto Vallarta, for a honeymoon (for an ill-fated marriage).  That trip was spent mostly on Bahia Banderas at Juan’s beach shack, drinking Sol and eating whatever he caught that day. There was occasional forays into town, and brief sightings of whales.

What do I remember most from my trips to Mexico so long ago? Tortillas and the warmth of the Mexican people.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Mexico. I go through phases of food, but often go back to the simplicity of Border and coastal Mexican food. Re-reading On Mexican Time came at the right time. Making some sort of meal to put in tortillas is about as easy as it gets, and since I’d just moved…  I ended up trying homemade flour tortillas, re-fried beans and rice. I found a simple recipe -no lard!- for tortillas in my trusty Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison. And surprisingly, a good recipe for beans in Better Homes and Gardens Mexican (2012). Some good, fairly authentic recipes in that magazine.

My very loved Border Cookbook

The flour tortillas came out quite tasty, but I needed to added a bit of salt to the beans. I’ve been eating everything in the tortillas all week. Give them a try for this weekend.

Texas Flour Tortillas

from The Border Cookbook

2 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil

3/4 c lukewarm milk or water

Sift together flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. Pour in the oil and mix with your fingertips to combine. Add the milk or water, working the liquid into the dough until a sticky ball forms.

Dust a counter with flour and knead the dough vigorously for 1 minute. The mixture should be “earlobe” soft and no longer sticky. Let the dough rest, covered with a damp cloth, for about 15 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 balls, and cover again with damp cloth, for about 15-30 minutes. (At this point the dough can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours. Bring the dough to room temperature before proceeding.)

Resting

Dust a counter with flour again and roll out each ball into a circle approximately 1/4 inch thick. *this was far too thick for me. I rolled them to about 1/8 inch and they were still too thick. Obviously, the thickness is up to you. These will be irregular shaped. If you want a perfectly round tortilla, feel free to cut into a circle. To avoid toughening the dough. try not to re-roll it.

No fancy gadgets needed

Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over high. Cook the tortillas 30 seconds on each side, or until the dough looks dry and slightly wrinkled and a few brown speckled form on both surfaces.

Almost done…

Keep warm in a cloth lined basket, or reserve for future use.

Re-fried Beans

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens ‘Mexican’ (magazine)

8 oz dried pinto beans (1 1/4 cups) (I used a combination of pinto and white beans. It’s what I had)

8 c water

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp bacon drippings or olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Rinse beans. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven combine beans and 4 cups of the water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. (Or place beans in water in pan. Cover and let soak in a cool place overnight.) Drain and rinse beans.

In the same sauce pan, combine beans, 4 cups fresh water, and the salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until beans are very tender. Drain beans, reserving liquid.

Mash away

In a heavy large skillet heat bacon drippings. Stir in garlic. Add beans; mash thoroughly with a potato masher. Stir in enough of the cooking liquid (about 1/4 cup) to make a paste-like mixture. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 8-10 minutes, or until mixture is thick, stirring often.*I added more salt because the beans were too bland for my taste.

Homemade re-fried beans…that taste good!

I served the beans and tortillas with a side of quick “Mexican” rice. That is, cooked riced with onions, salsa and spices. Leftover tortillas and beans make a great grab-n-go breakfast with the addition of some cheese, salsa and eggs. This style of tortilla would also make a good substitute for flat breads in a variety of Middle Eastern dishes. Heck, use them to make quick, individual pizzas. The possibilities are endless…

Easy granola

I like granola. Sort of. I’m very picky about the granola I eat. I don’t like a lot of frills in my granola. That means no seeds, and very little nuts. Dried fruit is OK.

I’m always on the lookout for a granola recipe I can make the way I like it. I’m pretty sure making homemade granola is more of a technique than an actual recipe, but I still haven’t tried any. What if I take out what I don’t like? Will it mess up the ratio? Where do I find some of those ingredients (flaxseed?) in small-town Ohio? Granola shouldn’t be stressful.

I used raisins and dried cranberries. It's what I had on hand.

Then I got my latest issue of Food Network Magazine. In an advertising insert, I found the “perfect” granola recipe. Oats and flavorings, flavoring I like. Add whatever fruits and nuts you like later. Yay! This is quite tasty.

Stored in my pretty blue Ball jar

Easy Granola

adapted from a Home Made Simple recipe

  • 3 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used almond. Use what you like)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c add-ins, like dried cherries or cranberries, almonds or pistachios, or…???

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Pour over oats and toss well.

Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes. Let cool completely, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in add-ins.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Note: Eat as-is for a snack, or mix into Greek yogurt for a great start to your morning.

 

 

Cranberry goodness.Thankgiving recipes. After the fact.

Yes. I procrastinate. What I could be doing now, I put off for later. I blame work. And school. And laziness. I wanted to post some Thanksgiving recipes I found. Before Thanksgiving. I’m just so lucky I got to make anything for Thanksgiving. Thankful, even. I made an amazing roasted turkey breast with maple glaze, apple-onion dressing, and these fab cranberry dishes. Of course, I had mashed potatoes. Don’t be silly.

I really need to share that turkey recipe. You’d die.

Looking back on last week, I realize I need to post something, anything, before my few followers abandon ship, and thought, these recipes can be used for Christmas as well.  The two I want to share, Cranberry Pie and Cranberry-Jalapeno Relish, compliment a variety of dishes. Any roasted fowl can be served up with cranberry relish. It’s awesome on chicken, turkey or pork sandwiches. The cranberry pie is just good. Tis the season for cranberries. They’re not just for Thanksgiving anymore.

Ever since a Navy captain’s wife gave me a jar of her homemade jalapeno-cranberry jam, I’ve been searching high and low for something like it. I loved it that much. On turkey sandwiches. On crusty bread spread with cream or goat cheese. It really was that good. It had the right amount of sweet, tart and spice. Every fall, I resume my search for any such concoction. Every year, I fail. Except this year. I think I found what I’ve been looking for. And it comes from, of all places, Hawai’i…where I received the first jar that began this madness. Maybe it’s the Islands that make the stuff amazing? I highly recommend trying this if you like cranberry. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures until after I made it.

Auntie Louise’s Cranberry Jalapeno Relish

Tasty goodness in a jar.

Adapted from recipe courtesy of Gen Furukawa, (from lickmyspoon.com)

Serves: 10-12

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz fresh cranberries (two bags)
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes, plus zest)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 ½ cups sugar

Preparation:

1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Be careful not to over process because you don’t want the berries pureed.
2. Add all the ingredients, except the cilantro, to a medium pot with a heavy bottom. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until thickened. Mix in the cilantro. Cool before serving.

Note: I omitted the cilantro. It wasn’t in the original jam I had.

The second cranberry recipe I want to share comes courtesy of the Pioneer Woman. Last year, she posted a recipe for Nantucket Cranberry Pie. It wasn’t really a pie; it was more like a cobbler. But at the time, I had a bag of cranberries needing used, and I gave this recipe a shot. Um, yum! It was just something I made on a whim that I ended up absolutely loving.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

from The Pioneer Woman (at tastykitchen.com), *Adapted from a recipe by Laurie Colwin*

  • Butter, For Greasing
  • 2 cups (heaping) Cranberries
  • ¾ cups Pecans, Chopped (measure, Then Chop)
  • ⅔ cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 whole Eggs, Lightly Beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar For Sprinkling

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously butter a cake pan or pie pan. Add cranberries to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on chopped pecans, then sprinkle on 2/3 cup sugar.

Gorgeous cranberries & nuts

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine.

Pour batter slowly over the top in large “ribbons” in order to evenly cover the surface. Spread gently if necessary.

I dare you not to lick this batter

 

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. 5 minutes before removing from oven, sprinkle surface with 1 tablespoon sugar for a little extra crunch.

Crunchy, sugary top

The last days of summer…peach-vanilla-bourbon jam

In the last few weeks I have been doing a lot of canning. Well, at least a lot for me. Between work and school, it’s hard to fit in a canning session. I usually do it late at night when I get home from work. I set some jars in the canner and attend to my classes (I take them online). Most of my caning has been tomatoes. I put up a bunch because that is the one pantry staple I cannot live with out. I’m always using caned tomatoes for something. Chili, pasta, stews, soups. You name it. I have about 5 quarts and about 20 pints. Even though I live alone, that’s not enough. Now, I just have to find room for them in this tiny kitchen. Looks like I’ll be tucking them behind glasses and dishes.

Tomatoes!

I wanted to do more pickles, but I haven’t gotten around to getting more cucumbers. Although, I just came across a wonderful sounding recipe for Ploughman’s Pickle (fall veggies!) in Karen Solomon’s new book, Can It, Pickle It, Smoke It. Mmmm, pickled fall veggies… I sense quite a few projects from that book.

In the meantime, I had some increasingly sad looking peaches in the refrigerator that need to be dealt with. I thought about chutney, but I never did gather all the ingredients. What I did have was the right stuff for jam. Namely Peach-vanilla-bourbon jam. I ended up adapting jam recipes from a few different recipes, but generally they were the same. Peaches, sugar, lemon juice, pectin, plus something. I used a recipe from Canning, a Better Homes & Gardens special magazine, as the basis for this jam.

Peach-Vanilla-Bourbon jam

adapted from Canning, BH&G, Nectarine and Vanilla Bean Jam

  • 4 c chopped, peeled ripe nectarines (I used peaches)
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 7 c sugar
  • 1/4 c bourbon
  • 3 oz packet liquid fruit pectin

In a 6-8 quart heavy pot, combine nectarines and lemon juice. Using a potato masher, crush the nectarines to create a pulp. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla beans into the pot. Stir in the vanilla bean pods and the sugar. Bring mixture to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Add bourbon.

Peaches, vanilla, bourbon...and a whole lotta sugar.

Increase heat to medium-high; bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in pectin. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for one minute. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon. Remove and discard vanilla bean.

Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims; adjust lids.

Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on a wire rack.  Makes 6 half pints.

It seems like this jam and the end of the tomatoes marks the end of summer. Time to switch gears and start thinking of sauerkraut and applesauce, bread and soups. Kinda sad… But I’ll have the gifts of summer on my shelves all winter long.

So pretty!

I think this jam looks so pretty and jewel-like. Some lucky friend or family member just may get a jar for Christmas…

 

Chicken & tortillas

It’s been far too long since I posted anything. Sometimes I get in a (long) mood of not wanting to do anything cooking related. Last week, I finally got off my bum and did something…in a slow-cooker. I made chicken. Not a chicken dish, just cooked chicken. Now, I did this for a reason. I get so discouraged when I want something with chicken but find I only have rock hard frozen chicken breasts. So I thought I’d do something different and cook up a bunch of chicken all at once, portion it out into recipe sizes and then freeze. Zip top bags of cooked chicken thaw in the time I’m at work. I take one out in the morning before I leave, and by the time I get home it’s ready to throw into any thing I make.

Cooking chicken in a slowcooker is about the easiest thing even. So much that I didn’t really use a recipe. Here’s the basics:

  • 4 chicken breasts (I used boneless skinless)
  • seasonings of choice (I lightly salted and sprinkled marjoram. I love marjoram.)
  • about 1/4 cup water

Toss everything in the slow-cooker and cook on low until cooked and shred-able, about 6-8 hours. Depends on the size of the chicken breasts. When done, let them cool for a bit until you can handle them, then shred. I find shredded chicken more adaptable to more recipes than chopped. When the chicken is completely cool, fill freezer bags with 1 – 2 cup portions (depending on your favorite chicken recipes), label and freeze. That’s it.

Shredded chicken

 

 

 

Since I had a hankering for tacos, I left a little aside for supper. But I had no tortillas. All was not lost because I still have some masa flour in the cupboard. Yep, I make my own corn tortillas. It really is quite simple. All it takes is masa flour, water and muscle. I bought my masa flour at the local grocery, not a specialty store. You don’t even need a tortilla press or a comal (Mexican griddle). It only takes a few minute to make, especially if you’re only making a few.

Corn masa flour

 

The recipe (from the back of the Maseca bag):

  • 1 c masa flour
  • 2/3 c water
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Mix together ingredients to for a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water. Divide dough into 8 equal balls. Using a tortilla press (I use a heavy sauce pan), flatten the balls flat between plastic until 5-6 inches in diameter. Cook on an ungreased, preheated griddle ( I happen to have a griddle pan, but have used a nonstick skillet) over medium-high heat for about 50 seconds per side.

Masa before saucepan

 

 

Masa after saucepan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all that (not) hard work, I seasoned my leftover chicken with a bit of my favorite tacoseasoning (Not store bought. I’ll have to share that another time.), piled it on a couple tortillas, and added my favorite toppings. I have to say, these things tasted great. I didn’t slave in a hot kitchen all day and was still rewarded with good food. Kinda what my site is all about.

Chicken tacos