Flour Tortillas

I’m a self-taught cook. One of my biggest self-imposed obstacles is that I assume everything is going to be hard to make.

I’ve had this tortilla recipe bookmarked for nearly a year but making my own tortillas seemed like such a project. I finally had time last weekend to do some kitchen projects and decided to make these. Imagine my surprise when I was done in a half hour! These weren’t hard at all and they were so much better than store-bought.

Have you tackled any recipes that intimidate you recently?

Flour Tortillas
(from Confections of a Foodie Bride)
Makes 12

3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 heaping t. salt
5 T. shortening, lard, softened butter, or olive oil (I used shortening)
3/4 c. warm water

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the shortening and pulse until incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.

With the food processor running, slowly add the water until a ball of dough forms. Continue to process for another 30 seconds to knead the dough.

On a floured surface, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Cover with a towel to avoid drying out. Taking one piece at a time, roll into a 8″ circle.

In a heated pan, add one tortilla at a time, cooking for 10-20 seconds, flipping and cooking for another 10-20 seconds. Remove to a plate and keep covered with a towel to keep warm.

Island Jerk Burgers with Zesty Coleslaw

Oh, how I loved these burgers. There’s really not much else to say.

The warm jerk-seasoned burgers coupled with the cool, crunchy  coleslaw is not a combo I would have ever thought up myself, but it works so well. I used the homemade jerk seasoning listed below, but a store-bought seasoning would also work fine.

Island Jerk Burgers with Zesty Coleslaw
(from Pennies on a Platter)
Serves 4

2 c. shredded cabbage mixture for coleslaw
1/2 medium red onion, peeled, halved and sliced very thin
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely sliced
1/2 c. mayonnaise (homemade or store-bought)
1 t. hot sauce
Zest and juice of 1 small lime
1 t. honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1.5 pounds ground beef
4 t. jerk seasoning (recipe below)
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 burger buns

Combine the cabbage, red onion and bell pepper in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime zest and juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss it into the cabbage mixture to coat. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.

Heat up your grill. Shape the beef into 4 individual patties. Rub each patty with the jerk seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper as desired. Grill the burgers until cooked to desired doneness, flipping once. Lightly toast the buns of the grill. Place a slice of cheese on the bottom half of the buns and heat briefly to melt. Assemble burgers on top of the cheese and topped with a pile of coleslaw.

Jerk Seasoning
(from Pennies on a Platter)
Makes 1/4 cup

2 T. dried minced onion
1 1/2 t. dried thyme
2 t. ground allspice
2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt

Place all ingredients in a small jar. Secure the lid and shake to thoroughly combine. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to use.

To use: Rub surface of meat with oil and then the seasoning. Or, use in any recipe calling for jerk seasoning.

Autumn Salad w/ Homemade Dressing

A few weeks ago, I started taking a Monday evening yoga class.  It feels wrong to eat a heavy dinner before going, so I’ve been whipping up lighter fare. This salad has been my favorite of the lot so far.

Pears, pecans and cranberries make this perfect for the season. The homemade salad dressings, though, give it the extra special touch. I’ve been remaking this salad for lunch a few days a week because I enjoyed it so much. It would also be a perfect dish to make for Thanksgiving dinner! 


Autumn Salad
(from Espresso and Cream)
Serves 2

3 to 4 c. chopped romaine lettuce
1 medium pear, chopped
1 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pecans
4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 T. Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (recipe below)
2 t. Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Combine lettuce, pear, cranberries, pecans, bacon and feta in a large bowl. Toss with dressing.

Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
(from All Recipes)
Makes about 1.5 cups

3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. cider vinegar
4 1/2 t. grated onion
1 T. ground mustard
1 t. poppy seeds
1/2 t. salt
1 c. vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Slowly add oil, while whisking briskly. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
(from All Recipes)
Makes about 1 cup

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
1 t. ground mustard
1 pinch salt
Ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and mustard powder. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Marshmallow Fondant

I first tried cake decorating with fondant a few years ago. I used store-bought fondant and was really underwhelmed with the taste. At the time, I was wedding planning  and all my fellow wedding-planning friends pretty much help the same opinion of fondant so I dismissed it as something that was pretty but didn’t necessarily taste the best.

I’d heard that marshmallow fondant was better but I didn’t have a good reason to try again – until I saw a picture of a Mystery Machine cake online. I knew it would be the perfect birthday cake for my brother-in-law. I used this recipe from Chef Mommy – she’s got a great step-by-step tutorial and other helpful tips. This fondant really was better than any other I’d had before. I was pleased – I’ll definitely use this for cakes from now on.

For this cake, I split the cake batter between two loaf pans and inverted one on the other for the van shape. The wheels were Oreos and the lettering was gel icing. The rest of the decorations were made with the fondant.

This was a huge hit at the birthday party – it looked fun and tasted great!

Marshmallow Fondant
(from Chef Mommy)

16 oz.mini marshmallows
2 lb. powdered sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 t. vanilla
Vegetable shortening

 Lightly grease a microwave safe bowl with shortening. Add the marshmallows and the water. Microwave at 30 second intervals until all of the marshmallows are melted. In between intervals, stir the marshmallows with a lightly greased rubber spatula.

Lightly coat the inside of a heavy-duty stand mixer bowl and the paddle attachment with shortening. Add the powdered sugar to the bowl, reserving about a 1/4 cup. Carefully, pour in the melted marshmallow into the bowl. Turn the mixer on to low speed, add the vanilla and let mix until most of the powder and marshmallow comes together – about three minutes.

Lightly grease the stand mixer’s dough cook with shortening and switch from paddle to dough hook. Knead on low until smooth – about five minutes.

Once your fondant is completely smooth and pliable, form it into a ball and tightly wrap it with plastic wrap that has been lightly greased with shortening. Then place inside a plastic Ziploc bag and store at room temperature until ready to use. The fondant can be colored with gel coloring – just add the desired amount and knead until the color is disbursed throughout the ball.

Classic Strawberry Jam

My Mom has a strawberry patch in her yard so for a few weeks in the early summer they’re completely inundated with strawberries. This year, they ended up being really busy during strawberry season so when I stopped in one day she passed off several pounds of strawberries to “do something with” – so I decided to make up some jam.

This was my first time making jam – and only my second time canning – but it went incredibly well. I recently picked up Put ’em Up! and it’s an excellent guide for anyone learning to can. This took a bit of time to make, but it was very much worth it – I’ve been loving having the fresh jam on toast for breakfast!

Classic Strawberry Jam
(from Put ’em Up!)
Makes 7 half-pint jars

8 c. strawberries, hulled and halfed if large
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. bottled lemon juice

Toss the strawberries and sugar in a large bowl and let sit in the refrigerator overnight to coax out the fruit’s juice.

Transfer the mixture to a large nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring and crushing to release the juice. Stir in the lemon juice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches the desired gel, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release air bubbles. Skim off any foam.

Use the boiling water method to can: Ladle into clean, hot half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on the jar bands. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Bam Fries

This is the most-used seasoning in our house – our go-to for just about everything. It’s perfect for chicken, steaks, vegetables – really anything you want to put it on. We always have some on hand.

It’s also the crucial ingredient to our go-to side when we make burgers or sandwiches for dinner. As the weather warms up and we start grilling more and more, these get made at least once a week. They’re easy-peasy, delicious and a better alternative to their deep-fried inspiration.

Emril’s Baby Bam Seasoning
(from ABC’s Good Morning America)

3 T. paprika
2 T. salt
2 T. dried parsley
2 t. onion powder
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. ground black pepper
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. celery salt

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Store in an airtight container for up to three months. (For a spicier mix, add in 1/4 t. cayenne pepper.)

Bam Fries

1 medium potato per person
1 T. olive oil per potato
Baby Bam Seasoning

Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

Cut potatoes into fry-shaped wedges and place in a small bowl. Add in olive oil and toss to coat. Shake seasoning over (as much as you want) and toss to coat again.

Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet and bake for twenty minutes or until golden brown, turning halfway through.

Refrigerator Pickles

I kept seeing these pop up in other blogs and was hesitant to try them. I’m a big pickle fan and was afraid they wouldn’t meet expectations – but they totally did.

Refrigerator Pickles
(From The Nerd’s Wife originally from Annie’s Eats)

3 c. water
6 T. white vinegar
3 T. salt
minced garlic
fresh dill

Mix together water, vinegar and salt until salt is dissolved to make brine.

Slice cucumbers.

Add fresh dill to the bottom of the glass jar. Fill halfway with cucumbers. Add more dill and fill the rest of the jar with cucumbers. Add minced garlic to top and pour brine over until jar is filled.

Refrigerate for two days and enjoy!