Tag Archives: Recipes

Tortilla Tutorial

I grew up eating homemade tortillas. My paternal grandmother (full-blooded Native American from the Laguna tribe in New Mexico) taught my mother once she married my dad, who then taught me how to make these from scratch. They’re not the super thin variety you’d find in a package at the store. These are thick and hearty and full of flavor. Add a little butter to one straight off the griddle and oh my! A little piece of heaven.

It’s not as difficult as you might think to whip up a batch. To assure you that you can have your very own freshly cooked tortillas, I’ve made a tutorial to walk you through the process, step by step.

You probably already have all the equipment you need. Nothing fancy required except a rolling pin (though also having a pastry cutter would be an upgrade from the fork needed to cut in the lard/shortening in Step 2).

Now, on to the recipe…

Grandma Louise’s Tortillas
(Makes 1 Dozen)


4 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 T. lard or shortening
Approx. 1 ½ c. luke-warm water


1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.

2. Cut lard or shortening into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until it looks coarse and mealy.

3. Pour in half of the water.  Knead dough thoroughly and add remaining water until dough has an elastic consistency. (It shouldn’t be too sticky or too dry.)

Meanwhile, heat a heavy skillet over moderately high heat.

4. Separate dough into 12 even balls:

First, form the kneaded dough into one large ball with a slightly oblong shape.

Next, divide the large ball in half. Divide the two halves into four pieces. Finally, divide each of the four pieces into thirds.

You should now have 12 fairly even pieces of dough.

5. To create a round tortilla:

a) Roll each piece into a ball. Lightly flour your work surface.

b) Flatten each ball in the center with your rolling pin, or flatten with your hand.

c) Once initially flattened, roll out the ball, moving from center in an upward direction and then downward.

d) Turn the rolling pin and repeat motion in opposite directions.

e) Continue to roll in all directions until you have a near circle, lifting the dough and stretching slightly to the desired shape, if necessary.

6. Once the tortilla is flattened and rolled out, place one at a time on the hot skillet for approximately 2 minutes.

You’ll be able to tell it’s time to flip it over when it starts to bubble. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stack on a plate. Cover with a towel to keep warm.

Cook’s Notes:

  • I usually roll out each dough ball one at a time. While one tortilla is cooking, I’m preparing the next one (Step 5, a-e), that way I don’t run out of work space and the dough stays moist.
  • Make sure your griddle/skillet is hot. They just don’t cook right if the heat is too low.
  • I have never tried these with whole wheat flour. If any of you are brave enough to do so, let me know how it goes!
  • I have started using lard instead of shortening and have been pleased with the results. Might as well use the natural fat if you’re going to use any at all!
  • These are not what you would use to make quesadillas or enchiladas. Serve these with beans or as a fat holder of taco ingredients.


Was the tutorial fool-proof? I’d love to know how your tortillas fared!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

Disclaimer: This is one of about 5 recipes I intend to share over the course of this month. I just can’t get enough pumpkin this time of year…


We made these for breakfast this morning and oh my! The only way they could have been improved is perhaps with a topping of maple whipped cream, or something. We just used butter and regular syrup. And you could probably get away with only 1/4 tsp. of nutmeg. But otherwise, they’re perfect.

I cannot wait to make them again.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

1 C. whole wheat flour
1/2 C. cake flour*
1 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1 C. buttermilk
1 C. canned pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 T. oil
1 t. vanilla
2 T. dark brown sugar

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the first eight ingredients (whole wheat flour through nutmeg). In a separate bowl, whisk together the last six ingredients (buttermilk through brown sugar).

2. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and blend together with a wooden spoon until just combined. Lumps are ok, just make sure all the flour on the bottom of the bowl is mixed in. If batter seems too thick to pour, you can gently stir in a little more buttermilk.

3. Drop pancakes by ladleful onto a medium-hot griddle. Pancakes are ready to turn when the edges start to look a little dry and you can see small bubbles forming on the surface.

*I used all-purpose flour and they turned out fine.

I love pumpkin goodies.


What are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes?

Cookie Maker


There is no doubt who the cookie maker is in this family: it’s Colin. Hands down, he bakes the best cookies of anyone I know.

His specialty is chocolate chip cookies. Rich, buttery, gooey, chocolate chip cookies. One of the many reasons I aim to keep him around for eternity.

Believe it or not he uses the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. So common sounding, but he makes it his own. He has some trade secrets that I’m not at liberty to divulge here. But let’s just say that they make for a wicked good cookie. Top it off with the fact that he usually whips up a batch in a white shirt, tie, and blue-striped apron because the only time he has to make them is on Sundays. That is style, friends.

Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 60 cookies


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (opt.)


PREHEAT oven to 375°F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.

One tip I will share is his method for storing, because he usually doubles the recipe: After taking enough for the amount desired to bake and eat, take remaining dough and scoop into small balls. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place sheet in freezer for at least 20 minutes, just to hold their shape. Once set, place balls into gallon ziploc bags and store in freezer. You’ll now have cookie dough ready to bake at a moment’s notice. (Warning: dangerous practice.)

“C” is for cookie? Or Colin? That’s good enough for me.

Handmade Popsicles

While the rest of the country may be settling into fleece jackets and baking loaves of pumpkin bread, I’m making popsicles. How’s that for living in a place with no real seasons?


Kelley sent me the link to this recipe for creating tasty fruit pops. Essentially, it’s this:

  • 2 cups fresh fruit
  • Throw them in a food processor with 1 Tablespoon super fine sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  • Then blend it all together until completely smooth.
  • Pour and freeze.
  • Makes 4 popsicles.

I added vanilla yogurt to make pretty layers. I also used store-bought popsicle molds but you could do as the recipe suggests and use candy cups instead.

Popsicles melting in the hot sun. Cleaning sticky hands in the hose water. That’s autumn in these parts.

Cherry-Almond Brownies

This is another Martha recipe. When I saw the picture in the magazine I just knew I had to have them. They are delectable. I love them. Only a tiny bit more work than my normal brownie recipe, but so worth it.

Tips: it suggests eating them straight from the oven on the first day. I do not recommend this. We served them to some friends this way and I was a tad embarrassed by their texture. Make these ahead and give them time to sit in the fridge. You won’t be sorry. Also, I substituted a water/cocoa powder mixture for the 1/4 cup coffee. It might even need a little more liquid than that to yield a moister brownie. (I’m still playing around with it…)


Cherry-Almond Brownies

Yields 10

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup strong coffee, room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave-safe 8-inch square baking dish, combine chocolates and butter. Microwave on high in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk mixture to combine. Let cool slightly.
  2. Add sugar, eggs, and coffee and whisk gently to combine. Add flour, salt, and almonds and stir to combine. Gently stir in cherries.
  3. Cook just until set and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool completely in dish on a wire rack and refrigerate 2 hours before cutting into 10 rectangles.

Editor’s Note: I have since decided that this recipe is not as good as our standard brownie recipe. Instead, I just use our old stand-by and add 2 TBS. cocoa powder, chopped almonds, and chopped dried cherries. Easier and a better texture.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Semifreddo

Katie, this one’s for you…

Last year, I subscribed to Everyday Food magazine and have been very pleased with my purchase. I’ve found several great recipes that have made it into my rotation. Most are relatively simple. Others are worth the extra effort. Like this rich little number.

To quote Martha:

The texture of semifreddo (Italian for “half-cold”) lies somewhere between ice cream and mousse.

It looks pretty, too. Try it out when you need to impress. But don’t be like us and make it with no company around to help eat it. You’ll be sorry when you’re on Day 6 and 5 lbs. heavier.


Peanut Butter-Chocolate Semifreddo

Serves 10, Active time:15 minutes, Total time: 40 minutes + freezing

2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)
2 cups heavy cream
teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Line a 5-by-10-inch jumbo loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 4-inch overhang on all sides. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add peanut butter, and whisk until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add half the peanut butter mixture and whisk until combined. With a rubber spatula, add half the remaining peanut butter mixture and gently fold 3 times (mixture will be rippled).
  4. Transfer half the cream mixture to loaf pan. Top with half the peanut butter mixture and 1/4 cup chocolate mixture. Top with remaining cream mixture, then drizzle with remaining peanut butter mixture and 1/4 cup chocolate mixture. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl mixtures together. Freeze until firm, about 5 hours (or up to 3 days). Let sit 20 minutes at room temperature before serving with extra chocolate sauce.

11 lbs. of Apples

With 11 pounds of freshly picked Gala apples from our Avila Valley Barn outing I made this:


Raw Apple Juice

and this:


Raw Apple Sauce (the remains of the apples used to make the apple juice above scooped out of the cheesecloth and sprinkled with cinnamon)

and this:


Two-Tone Coleslaw (one of the tones was not supposed to be pink but shredding the red cabbage in the food processor was apparently not a good call. Tasted really great, though…)

and, finally, this:


Apple Pie (but I put the cinnamon right in the filling)

Who knew you could stretch one bag of apples into so many recipes?

Corn, Pepper, and Red Onion Salad


For the most part, my easy menu planning is going super well. I’m digging the simple dinners with minimal effort. But every once in awhile I still get the urge to create. What can I say, I love good food.

Inspired by a bag full of fresh ears of corn that I was supposed to use in this recipe, but didn’t plan a meal around, I came up with a salad that I think is perfect for that late summer harvest. Coupled with Tami’s killer salsa dressing, this is one that I’ll be returning to before the season is finished.

Corn, Pepper, and Red Onion Salad

1 (12 oz) bag chopped lettuce
2 fresh ears of corn (raw)
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. red onion, thinly sliced and diced

Take ears of corn and husk, clean, and pat dry. Remove kernels with a knife.

Place lettuce, corn kernels, bell pepper, and onion in a large bowl. Toss ingredients with dressing (recipe below).

You can use the following dressing on a taco salad, as it was originally served to me. But I believe it was a tomato-based salsa, so you can see it’s versatility!

Tami’s Salsa Dressing

½ cup mayo
¾ cup green (tomatillo) salsa (I like Trader Joe’s “Salsa Verde”)
2 Tbs. lime juice
½ cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

Blend in blender or food processor until smooth.

No too difficult to prepare but full of flavor. Win-win for me.

½ cup mayo

¾ cup green (tomatillo) salsa (I like Trader Joe’s “Salsa Verde”)

2 Tbs. lime juice

½ cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

Blend in blender or food processor until smooth.

Wanted: Dinner Ideas

You know how I decided to scale down my weekly dinners? Create easy meals that the whole family would enjoy? Spend 30 minutes or less preparing them? For the last month I’ve put that plan into effect and it’s been working just fine except for one thing: it’s so boring! I remember now why I seek out new and exciting recipes and vary my cuisines so much. Spaghetti and meatballs can only be thrilling for so long. After awhile, I start to lose interest. Like after the 2nd time.

So here’s where you come in, friends. You must have some “tried and true” recipes that you fall back on when life gets too busy, right? I’d love you to share them with me. Surely, your simple dinners can’t be exactly the same as mine. We can work together on this. For example, here’s the menu I came up with last week:

  • Monday– Fish sticks + rice + peas
  • Tuesday– Egg burrito in spinach tortilla
  • Wednesday– Baked potatoes + salad
  • Thursday– Spaghetti + meatballs + salad
  • Friday– Vegetarian chili + cornbread
  • Saturday– Bean burritos
  • Sunday– Grilled cheese sandwich + tomato soup

See what I mean? So this is a call, a plea for new ideas, or at least a different spin on the old ones. If you have meatless recipes, even better– though I’ve found that so many tasty vegetarian dishes are the main culprits for time suckage. Alas.

So what do you say, help a girl out?

(And those of you who’ve already shared some ideas, THANKS! I’ll be trying them out soon…)