July 30, 2013

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I'm always looking for ways to save on our grocery bill, and making things from scratch is a big way that I save.  I've started making sandwich bread, breadsticks, pizza dough, and other things from scratch.  But flour tortillas is something I never even thought about trying, until I saw a recipe on Pinterest for it.  I made that recipe, and was happy with the result, but not thrilled.  Then, a few days later, I was moving my cookbooks to a different cabinet, and "found" this taco cookbook:


I found a flour tortilla recipe in here that differed slightly from the first recipe I'd made, so I decided to give it a whirl.  I was very happy with the result!  So here's the recipe from this book.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. lard or shortening (I used shortening)
  • 1 c. warm water
Directions:
  • Mix dry ingredients together and fold in the shortening
  • Slowly add water and mix until well combined
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for 3-5 minutes until you can stick your finger into the center and no dough sticks to it (add more flour if needed)
  • Let dough rest in a covered bowl for 30 minutes
  • Form dough into golf ball sized balls and roll out with rolling pin
  • Heat griddle or pan to medium-high heat and place tortilla on it
  • Cook until you see bubbles or a few brown spots, then flip and cook until done
*The original recipe says it makes 16 tortillas, but I got about 10 out of it.  I do think that mine were bigger and a little thicker than they "should've" been though.

 

July 28, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Pasta

This pasta casserole is yet another one of my Pinterest finds.  I made it for dinner a few nights ago, and it was a hit!  It's pretty quick and easy, would be great to make in a crockpot, and I think it would also freeze well.  Here ya go!

Ingredients:
  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken pieces (original recipe called for breasts, but I used thighs)
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups shredded Colby jack cheese
  • 16 oz noodles (I used shells)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Cook and crumble bacon, set aside
  • Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks
  • Cook chicken in the bacon drippings
    • add garlic powder and salt & pepper to taste
  • While chicken is cooking, boil pasta according to package directions
  • Drain pasta and return to pot
  • Add chicken, cream of chicken soup, and 1 cup of the cheese.  Stir to combine
  • Pour into greased 9x13 baking dish
  • Top with crumbled bacon and remaining cheese
  • Bake at 400 for approximately 20 minutes until cheese is melted 
    • (Or, pour into crockpot on low until ready to serve)

July 26, 2013

American Flag Cheesecake

Every year since we've been married (with the exception of '12 when we were moving in July), Justin and I have hosted a 4th of July party for our family and friends.  We love the 4th, grilling, making lots of food, and the fellowship with the people we love.  We look forward to it every year!  The menu has changed a little each year, but one thing that I've always made is a cheesecake.  It's simple, not a big fancy thing, but yummy nonetheless.  And it's decorated to look like the American flag, which is the main point anyway!

Here's what you need:

Crust:
  • 2 c. oreo crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 c. sugar
Cheesecake:
  • 4 pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. sour cream
Decorations:
  • cool whip
  • strawberries, sliced
  • blueberries
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Mix crust ingredients and press onto bottom of 9x13 pan
  • Bake 10 minutes
  • Beat cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, & vanilla with electric mixer until well blended
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed just until blended
  • Pour over crust
  • Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set
  • Cool & refrigerate at least 4 hours
  • To decorate: spread cool whip on top of cake, arrange strawberries and blueberries in flag pattern

July 25, 2013

Pepperoni Broccoli Pasta Salad

Every year on Memorial Day weekend, my mom's side of the family has a family reunion.  This year, my cousin Amanda's yummy pasta salad was a side dish to some delicious pulled pork sandwiches (thanks cousin Melinda!).  I snagged this recipe and immediately planned to make it at our annual 4th of July party.

As you'll notice in the picture below, I totally forgot the broccoli when I made it and didn't even realize it in all the 4th of July hoopla until it was too late, but it was still really yummy without it.  This is a great summer side dish for sandwiches, BBQ, burgers, hot dogs...the possibilities are many!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 6 oz noodles (the original recipe called for macaroni, but I used rotini)
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 c. broccoli
  • 4 oz pepperoni
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
Directions:
  • Cook noodles according to package directions
  • In a large bowl, mix oil, vinegar, salt, crushed red pepper, and basil
    • Combine with cooked noodles
  • Stir in parmesan, cover dish, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  • Add broccoli, pepperoni, tomatoes, and mozzarella
  • Toss and serve!
 

July 24, 2013

Homemade Refried Beans

Yesterday, I showed you how I make my own "canned" beans for the freezer, and today I'm going to show you a recipe to put those beans to good use!  Once again, refried beans is something I never thought about making on my own, until I came across this recipe on moneysavingmom.com.  They're easy, cheap, and, in my opinion, way yummier than the canned stuff.

Last week I tried this recipe out for the first time to make bean burritos, and my whole family was happy!  My recipe below is just half(ish) of the original

Ingredients:
  • 1 "can" beans from the freezer
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • milk, as needed
Directions:
 
  • Saute the onions in the butter in a pot until they are soft
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for a couple more minutes
  • Add the beans
    • if your beans have no liquid, you may need to add a little milk at this point (to your liking)
  • Stir in the seasonings and bring to a simmer
  • Cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally
    • add milk as needed for more liquid and creaminess
       Here's what my beans look like at this point:
        

         Next, I use my immersion blender to mix them up, but you could easily use a potato masher:


        Mix/mash them up to a consistency you prefer (I like them a little bit chunky):
 
 
 
         Then, use them however you want!  I used them to make bean burritos with a little cheese,
         served with sour cream and salsa on my homemade flour tortillas (recipe coming soon):
 
 
*I have not tried to freeze these yet, but I'm sure they would freeze very well!  I will try this some time and update!


July 23, 2013

Frugal Freezer ("Canned") Beans

I'm always trying to find ways to save money, especially when it comes to groceries.  So when I came across this idea for making my own "canned" beans over at Eating on a Dime, I was in!  It was one of those "why didn't I think of that?" moments.

I used to buy canned beans all the time.  I'd throw them into soup, chili, taco meat, all kinds of stuff.  Cans are so convenient that I never wanted to bother with buying and cooking dry beans...until I realized how easy and convenient dry beans could be, not to mention CHEAP!

So here's whatcha do:
  • Start with a bag of whatever kind of beans you want (I prefer to always have pinto and black beans on hand)
  • Rinse the beans and place in a crockpot with plenty of extra room for the beans to expand
  • Cover with lots of water, about three times as much water as beans
  • Cook in crockpot on low for 8-10 hours
  • Separate into containers or ziploc bags (I separate mine into approximate 1-can sizes)
    • A 2 lb bag makes about 8 "cans"
  • Cool and freeze!
  • When ready to use, I sometimes thaw the beans out in the fridge the day before, but I've had no problems putting them straight from the freezer into a crockpot or pot on the stove.
It's that easy!  Saves me some money, and after one day of "cooking", I've got a freezer stocked with beans!

July 22, 2013

Dry Erase Menu Board

Most weeks, I am diligent in planning our meals.  I always have them written down in my personal planner, but my husband is always asking "what's for supper?".  So I decided to actually put into place one of those cute menu boards that I'm always seeing on Pinterest.  I wanted to get it done quickly and easily, so I searched for a free printable as opposed to totally assembling my own...maybe one day I'll get around to that.  :)  But for now, I'm totally happy with this one, and it's nice to have the week's menu posted in the kitchen.

All I did was print this menu, put it in a picture frame, and hang it on the wall.  I put a dry erase marker in the junk drawer under the menu, so it's super easy to erase last week's menu and write the new one right on the glass!  Another plus is that it's posted right by my husband's coffee pot, so he's sure to see it every morning!

Here's mine!

July 20, 2013

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

After positive responses to some cakes I've made for my kids' and husband's birthdays, I've recently started toying with the idea of making and decorating cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc to sell out of my home.  So I've posted pictures of things I've made on Facebook and Pinterest and prayed that God would lead me to some business if it is His will.  Recently, a sweet lady at church "ordered" a dozen carrot cake cupcakes from me - even after learning that I've never made carrot cake before!  :)

I had two weeks before she needed her cupcakes, so I set out to make a couple of practice batches to let my husband and friends try.  (I don't like carrot cake, so I'm not a good judge.)  I made two different recipes, and the vote was unanimous that the recipe below was the best.  I frosted these cupcakes with some yummy cream cheese frosting.  That recipe is below too.  Here ya go:

Carrot Cake (makes about 2 dozen cupcakes)
Ingredients:
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. all spice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 2 1/2 c. grated carrots
  • 1-1 1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
Directions:
  • Mix together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in mixing bowl
  • In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, & cloves
  • Add dry ingredients to first mixture until well combined
  • Add grated carrots and pecans (if using) and mix well
  • Spoon into lined muffin tins
  • Bake at 350 until set, about 20 minutes
Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients:
  • 1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick butter (1/4 c.)
  • 1/4 c. shortening
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 c. powdered sugar (give or take, depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk (if needed for thinning)
Directions:
  • Cream butter, cream cheese, and vanilla
  • Add powdered sugar a little a time until well combined
  • Add milk and/or more powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency (I like it a little on the thick side for piping onto cakes or cupcakes)
  • Pipe or spread onto cooled carrot cake

 
 
Some that I decorated for an order