I end this week (which coincided with my Spring Break at work) on a bittersweet note. Muffin and I really got to spend some Mama-Muffin bonding time (and discovered we both enjoy bedtime snuggles while he looks at books or plays games or has me read him a story) and shared some fun Mama-Muffin cooking moments in the kitchen (such as his pride in cracking eggs…and my terror of him doing so!). And the moment I had to remind him that I had to head back to work on Monday, and he begged me to stay home. The pain of being a working mom. The joy of watching him continue to diligently use the potty during waking hours. Each visit brought with it another measure of sweet success!
And for the challenge: I learned so much–about cooking, about blogging, hopefully about photography, and myself–in this challenge. I took risks that I had always been unwilling to take–3 slow cooker dishes in one week!–and lived to tell the tale. I had several successes and a few near misses that will involve lots of tweaking. I commented like crazy on blogs with supportive words and received kind words in return.
I really allowed my culinary experimentation to stretch (the Frenchy Toasty bread pudding bar!) and thought up a few other possibles to challenge myself with in the future (the Turtle Cream Puffs). I definitely see myself doing a summer-themed challenge in the future.
From beginning to end, here are the recipes that were featured in the Challenge (see the Recipe Index page for the links):
Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken
Crock Pot Low Country Boil
Paula Deen’s Banana Bread
Le Pop-Corn du Sel et Poive (Salt and Pepper Popcorn)
Cowboy Chicken Casserole
Emeril’s Southwest Seasoning
Barbie Lemonade Spritzer
Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
Quick and Easy Cheeseburger Pies
Hamburger Topping Salad
Easy Peanut Butter Fudge
Parmesan Garlic Toast
Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
Homemade Ranch Seasoning
Peas and Peppers
Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops
Homemade Hamburger Buns
Monterey Chicken Sandwiches
2-Minute Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug
Soft Pretzel Bites
Chilies Rellenos Bake
That’s 23 new recipes in 9 days!
But, onto the offerings of today. I made an old favorite, but I tweaked it. From LivingOnaDime’s book (considered sometimes to be my cooking Bible), Dining on a Dime, I made the flour tortillas today for Tuesday’s tacos (that you will see tomorrow). I made one-and-a-half times the recipe and I swapped out the shortening for all butter. I divided the resulting dough into sixteen pieces to make sixteen tortillas.
Adapted from Dining on a Dime
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (I accidentally doubled the amount in the original which resulted in fluffier, softer tortillas)
3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water (I used water warmed from the tap)
Place all ingredients except water in the Ninja blender-sized container or the work bowl of a food processor. Process/blend until the consistency of oatmeal. I actually took it a bit farther because it’s harder for me to tell with the Ninja. It was pretty much a softened, slightly moistened, consistency of baking mix.
Dump the mixture into a large mixing bowl and pour water over it. (Here’s the fun part. Make sure to remove all jewelry. I keep forgetting to remove my ring in making recipes like this, and it gets all gloopy.) Blend with fingers. Knead on a plastic cutting board for five minutes. For me this is the most strenuous part because I have ZERO upper body strength.
Shape mixture into a ball. Return the mixture to the mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rest for half an hour. Take this opportunity to rest as well.
After half an hour, divide the ball into four wedges with a bench scraper, a pizza cutter, or a butter knife. I used my bench scraper this time. Roll each wedge into a ball. Divide each of those balls into four wedges and roll into balls. Place the balls onto a cookie sheet and cover again with the tea towel. Rest the balls 45 minutes (and really rest up if you didn’t before).
Volunteer your spouse for this next part. One person needs to be rolling out the tortillas; the other needs to be cooking them. The cooking process goes very quickly, and the rolling process sometimes…doesn’t. Especially in the first few attempts of making these.
To flatten the balls: Using the same plastic cutting board, use your hand and knuckles to flatten the ball into a fairly flat disk. Using a rolling pin, flatten the disk out as much as you can (1/16-1/8 inch). Remember the dough has baking powder; it’s going to puff a bit when it hits the heat. Turn it 90 degrees after each rolling and flip it over. I didn’t need to flour my surfaces, but you might have to if your rolling pin isn’t fairly nonstick.
Meanwhile, put a (not non-stick) skillet over medium-high heat and let it get HOT. After it is hot, you can back it down to medium heat, but the point is to get the pan hot enough to cook one side on its own. Place the flattened dough in the pan. It will start to bubble up immediately. Press the top surface to collapse some of the bubbles and help it cook more evenly. After no longer than 30 seconds (and for the first few probably less), flip the tortilla. The goal is to have some patches on the cooked surface that are slightly browned. If you allow them to get burned, they will not be soft.
Evacuate the tortilla to a plate. They keep covered for a couple of hours. You can also refrigerate them for a few days or freeze them for up to two months.
Verdict: I prefer homemade tortillas and get pouty when I have to buy them (time constraints). They do require a bit of muscle, but they are worth it. And the all butter and pumped up baking powder level took them to levels unknown. And having Josh do the cooking of them while I rolled them out really helped!
(With Carol’s salsa and slathered in butter) Note: The crepe recipe that I love to make so much is on the facing page of Dining on a Dime from the flour tortillas.
The true finale for the Challenge came at suppertime tonight. I needed to end it on something Tex-Mex and a casserole (because it’s getting to that time of year when there aren’t going to be many casseroles because of the infernal heat). I also wanted to give some props to a blog that I discovered recently, Love Bakes Good Cakes. It was the Chilies Rellenos Bake. The best Chilies Rellenos I’ve ever had was at, oddly enough, the Panchos Buffet. So, I was hoping that it would live up to that (flavor-wise). The dish is intended to be vegetarian, but I added a bit of browned ground beef (from the meat factory bee-sheen) flavored with Emeril’s Southwest Seasoning (which works pretty well as a makeshift taco seasoning) to please my carnivores. It was a fitting end to the challenge. Muffin liked it (it’s very cheesy) and Josh did, as well. I figure I can use different meats in it and maybe, hopefully, someday make it as it was intended (as a vegetarian dish).
Chilies Rellenos Bake
Adapted from Love Bakes Good Cakes
1/2-3/4 pound ground beef, browned and crumbled
1 tablespoon Emeril’s Southwest Seasoning
8 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
several drops Louisiana hot sauce (or 1-2 drops of Tabasco)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cans chopped green chilies, undrained
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together eggs and sour cream until homogenized and custardy. This will take a couple of minutes. Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Combine ground beef and southwest seasoning in the skillet. Add cheeses and chilies to the egg mixture. A few tablespoons at a time (to avoid curdling the eggs), add the hot ground beef mixture. As the eggs become tempered, you may add more amounts at a time, folding in each addition.
Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13-inch glass/Pyrex pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Here are some more photos from the “Bake”:
Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!
How did your week of cooking go?
And did I mention that both of these recipes were Muffin Approved?