Tag Archives: homemade

Crescent Dinner Rolls

Crescent Rolls 2

Looking for the perfect rolls to serve for Thanksgiving? Or more importantly, to use the next day to make turkey/cranberry sauce sandwiches?

Look no further: these rolls are amazing. They are soft and tender, but also hold up to slicing and using as a sandwich bun.

Leftovers are always the best part of a big holiday dinner. I love cooking once and then repurposing dinner for the next few days. And rolls are the perfect food to make ahead of time, freeze, and then reheat in the oven just before serving.

To help elongate the crescent rolls and keep them from being too thick in the center, I cut a slit in the wide edge, separate the slit slightly, and then roll the dough into a crescent shape.

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This gives longer ends that are easier to curve into a rounded crescent.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Crescent Rolls 1

I posted about these rolls previously, but I have adapted the recipe this time to use instant yeast, which doesn’t require proofing before adding to the dough. You can find the original recipe, using regular yeast HERE.

RECIPE:

Crescent Dinner Rolls

Crescent Rolls 3

2 ⅔ cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
6 Tbs butter
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 heaping Tbs instant yeast
8-8 ¼  cups all-purpose flour
3 beaten eggs
Melted butter (about 4 Tbs; for brushing on top of cooked rolls)

Combine milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts and sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Add 4 cups of flour and the instant yeast to the warm (but not hot) milk mixture. Use a dough hook to mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix on high speed for 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs.

Knead in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. The dough should be very soft–it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it. Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with a clean towel. Place the bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled.

Grease large baking sheets, or line with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Punch down dough. Lightly oil  your work surface (USE OIL, NOT FLOUR, TO KEEP THE DOUGH FROM STICKING TO YOUR SURFACE). Divide dough into 3 balls and place one of the thirds onto the lightly oiled surface. Keep remaining dough covered until ready to use.

Roll each dough ball into a circle and cut into 12 wedges. Cut a ½” slit in the wide end of the wedge, separate slightly and roll  into crescent shape and place on prepared pans.

Cover rolls with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go, preheat oven to 375°F.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown. When done, remove from oven and brush lightly with melted butter.

Yield: 36 rolls

**To prebake (and freeze)  for serving another day: Bake rolls on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until rolls just barely begin to brown. Remove from oven. (Do not brush with butter) Cool completely. Place in Ziploc freezer bags. Freeze.

On serving day: Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, bake at 350°F for about 7-10 minutes, or until hot and golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter.

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Mango Jalapeño Jam

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Slightly sweet, slightly spicy. Perfectly versatile.

Serve it with savory scones, like these Bacon Jalapeño Scones:

Bacon Jalapeno Scones 5

Use it instead of apricot jam in this Apricot (Mango) Glazed Chicken:

Apricot Chicken 1

Serve it with these Indian Samosas:

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Heat the jam until warm and dip Chicken Taquitos in it:

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-Bake it with Brie wrapped in puff pastry dough for a delicious appetizer. Or cut pastry dough into squares and press dough into a well-greased mini muffin pan; place a square of Brie in the center and top with ½ tsp jam. Bake until browned.

-Spread it over a block of cream cheese or goat cheese and serve with crackers.

-Spread it between tortillas, along with grilled chicken and cheese, and grill for amazing quesadillas.

-Spread it on an English muffin and top with egg, cheese, and bacon for a breakfast sandwich with a kick.

-Add it to a grilled cheese sandwich.

-Spread it on a sandwich of leftover roast turkey or chicken.

-Add it to a marinade for roast pork or grilled chicken.

RECIPE:

Mango Jalapeño Jam

Yield: About 7 half-pint jars

Mango Jalapeno Jam 1

3 lb peeled and seeded mangos (weigh after peeling/seeding), about 6 cups
6-7 oz (about 6-7 whole) jalapeños
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
4 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box low-sugar pectin

Chop mangos in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pureed. You should end up with about 5 cups finely chopped mango. Pour into a large pot.

Use the food processor to finely chop the jalapeños. Leave the seeds/ribs in the jalapeños for a more spicy jam; remove them for a milder jam. Add to the pot along with the vinegar, and 4 cups of sugar.

Bring to a full rolling boil, reduce heat to medium, and boil for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the pectin and ¼ cup sugar. Add pectin mixture to the pot and return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for 2 additional minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars. Wipe rims of jars with a damp cloth and add lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling bath canner for 10 minutes for half-pint jars. Remove from canner and place on a towel on kitchen countertop. Let sit 24 hours. Check seals before storing on pantry shelf.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Christmas Fortune Cookies

Christmas Fortune Cookies

DAY 11: Christmas Fortune Cookies

Fortune Cookies aren’t just for takeout anymore.

Fill these with fun holiday wishes or fortunes, “Name that Christmas Carol” lyrics or quiz, or funny quotes from Christmas movies.

Ideas for Christmas Fortunes:
Quotes from Christmas movies
Name that Christmas Carol quiz quotes
Christmas Jokes
Christmas Fortunes 1
Christmas Fortunes 2

For more photos and detailed instructions on baking and folding homemade fortune cookies click:
Homemade Fortune Cookies

RECIPE:

Christmas Fortune Cookies

Christmas Fortune Cookies

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs cornstarch
½ tsp salt
4 egg whites
1/3 cup oil
2 Tbs water
1 ½ tsp orange or almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Fortunes cut into strips about 3 ½” long by ½” wide
Melted chocolate, sprinkles and/or crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

Use a whisk to mix flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, use the whisk to lightly beat the egg whites, oil, water, vanilla, and orange or almond extract until frothy.

Stir the flour into the egg white mixture and mix until you have a smooth batter. The batter will be thin, with the consistency of a sticky pancake batter and not stiff like a normal cookie dough.

Place one tablespoon of batter onto the cookie sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread batter in a circular motion to make a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter.  Place 4-6 cookies on a baking sheet (start with fewer cookies until you get the hang of folding quickly). The batter should be very thin on the baking sheet. If it’s too thick the cookies won’t fold without breaking.

Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until the outer edge of each cookie barely begins to brown.

TO FOLD: Immediately after  removing baking sheet from the oven, working very quickly, remove a cookie with a thin metal spatula and flip it over onto a clean plate or mat. Place a fortune in the middle of the cookie (let one end slightly extend beyond edge of cookie, if desired). Fold the cookie in half, but do not flatten center crease; just make the edges meet gently. Fold cookie in half again by gently pulling the edges downward over the rim of a mug or glass. Place the finished cookie in the cup of a muffin tin so that it keeps its shape while it cools. Continue with the rest of the cookies.

Let cookies sit, uncovered, for 1-2 hours (so that they harden completely).

Dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate. Sprinkle immediately with crushed candy canes or sprinkles. If you are piping contrasting colors of chocolate onto the cookies, do this AFTER the chocolate coating has hardened.

Yield: 36-40 cookies

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Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

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Making your own taco seasoning mix is an easy way to cut chemicals and preservatives out of your food and save money at the same time. And it tastes so much better than any packaged mix. Make a large batch and then store in an airtight container. Use about 2 Tbs of the mix for a pound of ground beef to make regular tacos. You can adjust the amounts of spicier chilies to your family’s taste. Penzey’s (online or in person) is a great source for quality bulk spices.

Use this for more than just ground beef tacos. Try replacing spices in the following recipes with this taco seasoning mix:

Layered Chicken Taco Salad Bowls
Taco Cornbread Pie
Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas
Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes
Baked Chicken Taquitos
Chicken and Black Bean Chili
Hearty Beef Chili
Fajitas
Marinades for grilled steak or chicken

RECIPE:

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

  • Servings: Makes about 2 ½ cups
  • Print

Taco Seasoning 4

1 ½ cups chili powder
4 Tbs paprika (Spanish smoked or regular)
2 Tbs kosher salt (coarse grain; use less for regular table salt)
2 Tbs black pepper
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder (not onion salt)
2 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs Ancho chili pepper
1 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs ground cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients and store at room temperature in an airtight container. Use about 2 Tbs of seasoning per pound of meat. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

Note: Adjust amount of crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper to make milder or spicier

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Homemade Fortune Cookies and thoughts on Japanese Gaman

Fortune Cookies 1

As we approach Chinese New Year which begins on  February 10,  I want to share a recipe for homemade fortune cookies and also my favorite fortune (from a cookie) ever.

A few years ago  I was serving in a responsibility at church that most of the time filled me with love and gratitude, but also involved a heavy time commitment and occasionally left me feeling heart-sick about things that I could not fix.

After one such day, Brian and I went to dinner with some good friends. After the meal, the traditional fortune cookies were served. I received the most timely fortune. It is the only one that I have actually held onto and occasionally reread.

Fortune 2

I know this doesn’t sound like an especially cheery sentiment, but it described exactly how I was feeling at the time. It was also a wonderful nostalgic reminder of the time we spent living in Japan. My Japanese is extremely limited, but one of the concepts that fascinated me there was the concept of uncomplaining endurance or perseverance, regardless of circumstance. From a religious perspective, we might call this “enduring to the end.” The Japanese have not just one word for this, but a vocabulary that covers an entire spectrum of levels of endurance and different situations which might require endurance.

The word “ganbatte”, on the low end of the spectrum might be called out to someone who has just one lap to go in a race or is about to take a hard test. It implies both an encouragement to keep going or work hard and also an admonition to do your best. It implies as well an unspoken wish of good luck in your endeavor.

At the other end of the spectrum you have “gaman”, which implies a self-sacrificing patience, endurance and perseverance through extremely difficult and often prolonged circumstances. It is a charge to endure with grace and dignity. “Work on in despair” is not meant to be a negative concept, but a positive character trait to develop that will bless both you and society at large.

So, as you make these cookies and the edges burn OR you wait too long to fold them and they harden, OR you make 600 of them for a Chinese New Year party and while you are changing your kids break open every single one to read the funny fortunes, all I can say is:

GANBATTE!

Fortune Cookies 2

Making Fortune Cookies:

Fortune cookies are made from a thin egg white based batter. You will need to line your baking sheets with a silicone liner or parchment paper. Spread batter in 3-4” circles on your baking sheets. I can get 6 on my baking sheet. The cookies will harden quickly after removing them from the oven. Start with just a couple of cookies on your baking sheet until you get the hang of folding them quickly.

Fortune Cookies 5

The cookies are done when the dough is dry, but not brown. Don’t be discouraged if you ruin a cookie or two trying to get the exact time right (no two ovens are exactly the same).

Fortune Cookies 3

To fold: While the cookies are still hot from the oven, flip a cookie over and place a fortune in the center of the cookie. Gently fold cookie in half (do not flatten center crease; just make the edges meet). Using a mug or drinking glass, fold the cookie in half again over the edge of the mug. Transfer to a muffin tin to keep cookie from unfolding while it completely cools.

Fortune Cookies 4

Cookies should be eaten the same day, or stored in an airtight container. They will quickly become soft in a humid climate. Making them in the winter here in dry western PA, they will keep for several days without becoming soft.

You can write your own fortunes, or here are some links for pre-written fortunes:

Traditional Fortunes:
FortuneCookieMessage.com
Fortunecookies.co.nz
KCFortuneCookieFactory.com
BreakTheCookie.com
ChineseFortuneCookie.com

Funny Fortunes:
YourDictionary.com
MentalFloss.com
SayingsPlus.com

For Kids:
DAPatchy.com/Kidscook
Fortunecookies.co.nz

RECIPE:

Homemade Fortune Cookies

Fortune Cookies 1

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs cornstarch
½ tsp salt
4 egg whites
1/3 cup oil
2 Tbs water
1 ½ tsp orange or almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Fortunes cut into strips about 3 ½” long by ½” wide

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

Use a whisk to mix flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, use the whisk to lightly beat the egg whites, oil, water, vanilla, and orange or almond extract until frothy.

Stir the flour into the egg white mixture and mix until you have a smooth batter. The batter will be thin, with the consistency of a sticky pancake batter and not stiff like a normal cookie dough.

Place one tablespoon of batter onto the cookie sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread batter in a circular motion to make a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter.  Place 4-6 cookies on a baking sheet (start with fewer cookies until you get the hang of folding quickly). The batter should be very thin on the baking sheet. If it’s too thick the cookies won’t fold without breaking.

Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until the outer edge of each cookie barely begins to brown.

TO FOLD: Immediately after  removing baking sheet from the oven, working very quickly, remove a cookie with a thin metal spatula and flip it over onto a clean plate or mat. Place a fortune in the middle of the cookie (let one end slightly extend beyond edge of cookie, if desired). Fold the cookie in half, but do not flatten center crease; just make the edges meet gently. Fold cookie in half again by gently pulling the edges downward over the rim of a mug or glass. Place the finished cookie in the cup of a muffin tin so that it keeps its shape while it cools. Continue with the rest of the cookies.

Let cookies sit, uncovered, for 1-2 hours (so that they harden completely). Cookies are best eaten the same day, especially if weather is humid. In drier climates, cookies will keep well for several days.

Yield: 36-40 cookies

 

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Berry Picking and Raspberry Jams

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It is raspberry picking season here in western PA, and Little A & J helped me take full advantage of it last week. While older kids were off at youth camps, we spent a few days picking berries and making jams. And eating lots of berries on things like This:

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And This:

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We also made three different raspberry jams, two regular raspberry ones that I will share today, and a seedless variety with nectarines for tomorrow’s post. The first jam is a low-sugar red raspberry jam. I love how the fresh fruit taste shines in low-sugar jams, but they do have more of a fruit-spread consistency than the jelled set of full sugar jams.

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I make most of my jams with stevia as a sweetener. I use a little bit of sugar to help with the consistency and “sheen”, but most of the sugar I trade out for stevia. Stevia comes in many brands and forms (liquid: plain and flavored, powdered extract, “spoonable”, packets, crushed leaves), so you will need to do a little experimenting (i.e. tasting) to get the amounts just right.

I use the Sweet Leaf brand most of the time. In the past I have always used the powdered extract, which I highly recommend. This year I tried using their Vanilla Crème flavored liquid variety, and I really liked it. When making low-sugar jams, be sure to use the “no-sugar needed” pectin. For the SureJell brand, this is the pink box.

071311 027-1The second jam we made uses red, black and yellow raspberries. Black raspberries are smaller than the other colors, and have more a few more seeds. Their flavor also seems more concentrated. They make for good finger-staining when you are picking them! And teeth staining when you eat them. I actually prefer their taste over the red ones.

I made jam from just the black raspberries a few years ago, and it came out extremely thick (hold the spoon upside-down thick). So now I combine them with the red and yellow berries to get a better consistency.

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I don’t mind seeds in my raspberry jam, but if you prefer to make it seedless, start with about 1/2 cup more berries, and press through a sieve before adding pectin. If you want to make full-sugar jams, use the same amount of berries, regular pectin and 7 cups sugar (some recipes call for as much as 8 1/2 cups sugar).

RECIPES:

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Low-Sugar Red Raspberry Jam

——————–Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

5 cups slightly crushed raspberries
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into raspberries in a large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

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Low-Sugar Triple Raspberry Jam

————————-Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

5 cups slightly crushed raspberries (3C red, 1C black, 1C yellow)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into raspberries in a large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

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How To . . . Make Great Waffles

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Basic Waffle Tips & Strategies

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  • Make sure that your waffle iron is very hot. Cool iron = lots of sticking. My new Calphalon waffle iron is non-stick and does not require any oil or spray to keep the waffles from sticking.
  • Don’t overfill the waffle maker pockets. Spillage is not fun to clean. Start with a scant amount of batter on the first few waffles, until you are sure of the right amount. Different recipes will rise more or less while cooking, so don’t think that the same amount of batter will work with different recipes.
  • Once your batter is mixed, do not keep stirring batter between batches. The air pockets in the batter (from the baking powder/soda or whipped egg whites) will collapse with over-stirring.
  • Use a ladle or measuring cup (1/2 cup size works well for my waffle maker) to scoop batter. This minimizes the stirring or pouring which will deflate your batter.
  • If you are using add-ins like blueberries or chocolate chips, sprinkle them on the batter in the waffle iron (instead of in the batter in the bowl); then use a heat-safe rubber spatula (or the back of your ladle) to move some batter over the berries/chips so that they don’t stick to the top plate of the waffle maker. If stirred into the batter in the bowl, these heavier items tend to sink, requiring more stirring, which will deflate your batter.
  • Cool waffles on a wire cookie sheet, not a plate. Letting the air circulate around the waffles will keep them from getting soggy.
  • If you are not serving the waffles immediately, place the wire cooling rack in a warm oven (200°F or lower) until ready to serve.
  • Waffles are great for making in large batches and freezing in Ziploc bags for busy mornings. Reheat in the toaster to maintain crispy edges.
  • Buttermilk substitute: Place 1 Tbs lemon juice in a one cup measure; add milk to one cup line. Stir; let sit for 5-10 minutes before using. Or try dried buttermilk powder that stores in the fridge. Or use kefir.
  • Oil (in the batter) makes for crispier waffles; melted butter makes for softer, more cake-like waffles. I prefer using oil in most recipes. Use a mild flavored oil.
Waffle Recipes:

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast/Brunch, Desserts, Tips and Tutorials

Whole Wheat Tortillas

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Making your own tortillas is a simple process that gives you a delicious wrap for everything from tacos and enchiladas to shredded meats or sandwich fillings. And an additional bonus: they are much healthier than store brought tortillas. Especially if you use whole wheat flour.

You can use all whole wheat flour, all white flour, or a combination of both. These tortillas are about 3/4 whole wheat and 1/4 white all-purpose flour. If you are using all whole wheat flour, try to use a fine mill of a softer wheat, like White Wheat. 12-31-10 079-1

Roll a golf-ball sized piece of dough into a thin circle (or as close to round as you can get-perfection is not necessary!)

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Cook in a hot, dry skillet for about 10 seconds, or until the tortilla begins to bubble.

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Turn over and cook for an additional 20-30 seconds, or until tortilla starts to brown. Flip tortilla again and cook the first side again until it begins to brown on that side as well.

While one tortilla is cooking, I will roll out the next ball of dough.

12-31-10 086-1 Keep tortillas warm under a kitchen towel while cooking remaining tortillas.

Make a large batch and freeze extras between layers of waxed paper.

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We served these tortillas with a Shredded Thai Pork filling.

RECIPE:

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Flour Tortillas

2 cups flour (whole wheat or all-purpose white, or a combination of both)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil or shortening
3/4 – 1 cup boiling water

Bring 1 cup water to a boil; set aside. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in coconut oil or shortening with a pastry blender or two knives. Add 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir with a fork until mixed. Add additional water (1 Tbs at a time), if necessary. The total amount of water needed will depend on the type and humidity level of the flour used. Knead dough 3-5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Roll into 10 balls (about golf ball sized). Keep balls of dough covered while rolling out and cooking individual tortillas. One at a time, roll balls into circles about 8” in diameter. Cook in a dry non-stick or cast iron pan over medium-high heat:

1st side: 10 seconds (until tortilla starts to bubble)
2nd side: 20-30 seconds (until it starts to brown)
1st side (again): 15-20 seconds (until it starts to brown)

Remove tortilla from pan and cover with towel to keep moist while other tortillas are cooking.

Yield: 10 small tortillas

 

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Chewy Granola Bars

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Homemade chewy granola bars: A fraction of the cost of store-bought bars, and so much tastier! Not to mention healthier. I never mention that part to my kids.

I used a combination of oats, almonds, pecans, Rice Krispies (to make them a little less dense), sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, raisins and dried cranberries.

I like to toast the oats and raw chopped nuts before mixing with the other ingredients.

I use kind of a “shortcut” step when making these. Instead of cooking a syrup to bind the bars, I use a can of sweetened condensed milk. Doesn’t everything taste better with a little sweet milk mixed in?

051410 004-1To avoid sticking: Spray the back side of a spatula with non-stick spray and use it to press granola bar mixture into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You could also just spray your hands and use them to press the mixture into the pan.

Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until top just begins to brown.

Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, and then use parchment paper to lift cooked bars out of the pan.

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Be sure to save all of the “crumbs” after you cut the bars. These are great over a bowl of yogurt!

RECIPE:

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Chewy Granola Bars

4 cups rolled oats
4 cups additional items:
Chopped nuts                        Sesame seeds
Dried fruit                              Flax seeds
Sunflower seeds                  Wheat germ
Rice Krispies                         Chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted nuts; omit if using salted nuts)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs  honey or molasses
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 35o°F.

Spread oats evenly on a rimmed baking sheet (about jellyroll size, 10×15”).  Toast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes. Place toasted oats in a large mixing bowl. If nuts/seeds are raw (not roasted), toast them on the same baking sheet for 7-10 minutes.  Add to mixing bowl with oats.

Stir in additional dry granola items, cinnamon and salt; mix lightly. Pour sweet milk, maple syrup, honey or molasses, and coconut oil over granola mixture. Mix well.

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper, letting it overlap the sides. Spray the back side of a spatula with non-stick spray and use to press granola bar mixture into lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until top begins to brown.

Cool. Lift parchment paper (and granola bars) out of baking sheet. Cut into bars. Store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.  Cut granola bars can also be frozen in Ziploc bags.

To make crunchy granola bars: Divide mixture into 2 pans (creating thinner bars). Bake until nicely browned. Cut before completely cool. (Don’t use dried fruit or Rice Krispies)

NOTE:
I doubled this recipe and made them in a large 15×21” pan and got about 80 granola bars.

These are the proportions of items that I used:
8 cups oats
2 cups chopped almonds
2 cups chopped pecans
2  1/4 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup dried cranberries and raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds


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Dulce de Leche

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**Below are six different ways to make Dulce de Leche. Click on the “METHOD” titles to go to the individual blog posts for more detailed instructions and pictures**

 

STOVETOP METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Start with a large stockpot. Place a rack in the bottom of the pot (mine has a steamer insert that I used).
  2. Remove the labels from your sweetened condensed milk. Place unopened, label-free cans  into the bottom of your stockpot. You can use as many as will fit in one layer in your pot.
  3. Fill pot with room temperature tap water. Cover cans completely with water. The water level should be at least 2 inches above the cans.
  4. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 3 hours.
    ***The water level must remain above the top of the cans. If not—this is when you end up cleaning caramel from exploding cans off of the top of your ceiling and every surface beneath it*** To ensure that you don’t forget that you are cooking when you go off and start another project, set a timer for 30 minutes. Check water level (add more boiling water, if necessary), then set the timer again for another 30 minutes. Continue setting the timer in 30 minute increments until the 3 hours are up.
  5. Remove pan from heat, remove lid, and let water cool for 30-60 minutes before removing cans.
  6. Unopened cans can be stored on a pantry shelf (use a marker to label cans). Opened cans need to be refrigerated.

CROCKPOT METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • Unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Remove labels from sweetened condensed milk cans. Do not open cans.
  2. Place cans in the bottom of a crock pot.
  3. Cover cans completely with room temperature water. **Be sure that water completely covers cans**
  4. Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on low heat for 8 hours. (The water level in my crock pot stayed the same for the entire cooking time, so there was no need to add additional water.)
  5. Turn off crock pot, remove lid and let water cool 30-60 minutes before removing cans.
  6. Unopened cans can be stored on a pantry shelf (use a marker to label cans). Opened cans need to be refrigerated.

OVEN METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • One can of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate. Cover the pie plate securely with foil.
  3. Place foil-covered pie plate in a larger baking pan. (I used the bottom half of a broiler pan.)
  4. Place the pans on an oven rack and add hot water until it reaches the halfway mark of the pie plate.
  5. Bake for 60-90 minutes, adding more water if necessary

DOUBLE BOILER METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • One can of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into the top of a double boiler.
  2. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover pan and cook over low heat for 50-60 minutes (or longer to get desired consistency).
  4. Stir mixture occasionally, until thick and caramel-colored.

PRESSURE CANNER METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • Cans of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Wash canning jars (a quick run through the dishwasher is a good way to sanitize them). Place new canning lids in a small pan of very hot water (bring water to a boil, then remove from heat and add lids).
  2. Open sweetened condensed milk cans and pour into canning jars, leaving 1/2” headspace. (Try not to lick the remaining sweet milk off of the can lids now-you don’t want to incorporate any germs into the jars. There will be plenty of time for licking when the jars are processing.)
  3. Wipe rims and edges of jars with a damp cloth to remove any milk that dribbled.
  4. Place lids and rings on jars.
  5. Place filled jars on a rack in a pressure canner (YOU MUST USE A PRESSURE CANNER, NOT A BOILING BATH CANNER). Add 3 quarts of room temperature water. DO NOT BRING WATER TO A BOIL BEFORE ADDING JARS. Since you are not doing a “hot pack” (hot jars; hot filling; hot water), the jars WILL break if you place them directly into boiling water. Then you end up with a very large pot full of sticky, sugar milk/water. Leaving you to clean all of the other jars and the pot and start over. Not fun.
  6. Place the lid on the pressure canner and bring the water to a boil over high heat.
  7. After you have a steady steam flow through the vent pipe for 10 minutes, place the pressure regulator on the vent pipe.
  8. Continue to cook on high until pressure reaches 15 lb.
  9. Lower heat to maintain a constant 15 lb pressure. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge and adjust heat to maintain 15 lb of pressure. Cook for 20 minutes at 15 lb pressure. I used both pint and half-pint jars, and they both came out the same after 20 minutes.
  10. Turn off stove and remove pressure canner from heat. DO NOT OPEN. Let the pressure drop until the air vent/cover lock has completely dropped and no steam escapes when the pressure regulator is tilted (this took about 30 minutes for mine).
  11. When pressure is completely reduced, remove pressure regulator and open canner. Remove jars and set on the countertop on a clean towel.
  12. Let sit for 24 hours. Check seal. Refrigerate for added food safety.

HOMEMADE METHOD
(Adapted from Alton Brown):

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 quart) whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 vanilla bean, split

Preparation:

  1. Combine the milk and sugar in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir.
  3. Remove from heat and use a skimmer to remove foam (a spoon or small ladle will work if you don’t have a skimmer).
  4. Add baking soda and split (but not scraped) vanilla bean to the pan.
  5. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for one hour, stirring often and skimming foam as necessary.
  6. Remove vanilla bean and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches desired thickness.  This will take about 60 minutes, depending on how thick you want your caramel. It will burn easily at this point, so be attentive!
  7. The dulce de leche is close to done when a spoon dragged through the mixture leaves a trail. It will thicken a lot as it cools. Test for consistency by dropping a small spoonful into a cup of ice water, or by placing a few drops on a plate that has been placed in the freezer.
  8. The original recipe calls for straining through a fine mesh strainer, but I skipped this step and it was still nice and smooth.

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