Tuesday, April 06, 2010

More homemade food and recipes! Mexican night, ole' !

I'm trying to make things this week that end up with a lot of left-overs.  Jeremy is home for spring break and since we were broke this week, when I went shopping last week I made sure to stock up on items that can make more than one meal.  Tonight's dinner is one of those and it is mostly all made from scratch!

First, the Carnitas.

For anyone who has never had carnitas, it is a nicely flavored pork that is slow cooked until fork tender and then shredded up.  Just the smells of it cooking are enough to send your taste buds into salivating overdrive, LOL!

4lbs of boneless pork loin roast

Take a couple of tablespoons of oil, I use either Olive Oil or peanut oil,  and put it into a preheated pan, make sure it is a pan that your roast will fit into with a lid on, I use a tall sided skillet.  When the oil is hot, put the roast in and brown it on all sides until nice and golden, then remove from the heat and let cool a little.

In a separate bowl, mix up the seasonings:

1 T beef base
1 T dried cilantro leaves
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a measuring cup, measure out 1/2 water and add to it
the juice of one orange and the juice of one lime.  Then add 2 T of
low sodium soy sauce.

Take dry seasoning mix and coat the roast evenly on all sides.  Pour in the liquids and let it come to a boil.
Cover and simmer over low heat until fork tender, about 3-4 hours.  When it literally falls apart, pull the roast apart with 2 forks and mix the meat around in the pan juices until it soaks it all up.  YUM!  You can use as is and make any kind of soft or hard shell taco or burrito---we use it to make fried tacos.

Fried Tacos

Take some soft corn tortillas, lay them out on the counter--I do nine at a time so they don't dry out, keep the others covered or in the bag until ready to use.

Take about a Tablespoon of meat and put it on one side of the tortilla, don't use too much!

Place the tortilla gently into your hot oil, I use a large skillet and fill it about 1/2 inch with peanut oil.

Now here is the tricky part and I couldn't get a picture because I only have 2 hands and they were both busy, LOL!  I use a wooden spatula and a pair of tongs, I take the tongs, very gently go under the end that has no meat and fold it over the meat, using the spatula to pat it down.  If you use too much force, the tortilla will tear, so be gentle!

I add each one, one at a time, fold it and push it aside to make room for the next, never more than 4 at a time.

Cook until the side is lightly brown, then gently flip it over and cook until golden.  About 1-2 minutes per side, depending on how hot your oil is.  I usually make it about 350 degrees, and I keep my heat on medium so it doesn't get too hot.

When they are done I put them on a cookie sheet with a paper bag, or paper towels to soak up the grease, then I transfer them to a clean sheet so they aren't sitting in grease!  Beautiful!  Yummy!  Fattening, yes, but we don't eat these too often.  Once in a while is OK!

Now, not all my kids like these (I know, can you imagine????) so I make the regular Taco meat.  I had no flour tortillas and this is broke week, use what we have--so, I made my own tortillas!  It is very easy, you'll be surprised, this was my first time making them and I'll be making them from here on out.

Here we go.  In a bowl, or your mixer, put in 5 cups of all purpose flour, 2 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp of salt.

Mix up dry ingredients.  Now, you need to add your fat.  Traditionally, cold bacon grease is used, it provides the best flavor and I know that my Mexican Aunts used it.  You can also use Lard.  If you are scared of such fatty greases, you can use vegetable shortening---it will work fine but you won't have that authentic taste, but it will taste perfectly good either way!

So, work in 2 T of your fat into the flour until it is well mixed in, I find it best to use my fingers, you can cut it in with 2 knives or use a pastry cutter, just so it is worked into the flour well.

Next you are going to slowly add 1 1/2 cups of hot water, it doesn't have to be boiling, just as hot as you can handle it on your hands.  I just put the mixer on low and slowly add the water as it is mixing.

 Just mix (or knead with your hands) until the dough is smooth and elasticky.  

Cover the dough and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Grab your skillet, I use a cast iron skillet, put it on the stove on high heat until it is hot.  I put a little oil in the pan and rubbed it around---just a little to coat the bottom of the pan, then I remove the excess with a paper towel, which I place on the side to re-season the pan if needed.  You want to dry fry the tortillas.

While your pan is warming up, take a small ball of dough---no bigger than a golf ball, roll it round and then flatten it.  Sprinkle some flour on your counter and rolling pin and roll the ball of dough flat and thin---but don't over roll or your dough will be tough!  I roll one time up from the middle, one time down, flip the dough a half turn, one time up and one time down, so it is flat and round--use a lot of weight, you want these as thin as you can make them without over rolling the dough---I never roll more than 6 times at the most!

Flattened dough ball

Rolled out at thin as I could get it.  See my rolling pin, that is the best kind for doing tortillas, pizza, pie dough, bread, etc.  The kind of rolling pins with the handles don't work as well, you can't put enough force on them to push and flatten.

Now, add your flour tort to the hot pan and let it cook on one side for a minute, then flip and cook for another minute.

And Voila' you have tortillas (maybe I should say Ole'!)

As you are cooking them, place the cooked torts on a plate and cover with a damp towels so they get nice and soft.  

These were very tasty!  I could have tortillas with every meal!  I'd like to try making a whole wheat kind, although I'd be the only one who would eat them ;-P

Ok, one more recipe for our yummy Mexican feast, I also make my homemade guacamole, I didn't take pictures while making it but it is very simple.

3 ripe avacadoes (they should feel soft and a little mushy, just a little, when you are feeling them at the store, if it is too soft and mushy don't buy it, it'll be black inside.  It should just give a little when you gently push your thumb into the side.)
1 serrano pepper (these are quite hot, if you can't do hot, use a fresh jalapeno, they aren't as hot but provide a nice bite)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion (this is a lot, if you don't want so much use 1/4 cup)
1 lime
2 cloves of garlic, minced  (we like a lot, you can cut it down to 1 clove if you don't like a lot)
salt and pepper to taste.

Cut your avacados in half, take out the seed (and save it to plant, it makes a nice indoor plant in a sunny spot!) and scoop all of the pulp into a bowl.  Using a potato masher, mash it up so it is smooth, with little chunks.
Cut your lime in half and juice whatever way you have to do it---if you are using your hands, before cutting it warm it in the microwave for 10 seconds and then roll it on the counter, pressing it down with your hand---it'll get all the juices out when you squeeze it!

Add half of the lime juice for now, stirring it in well.  Make sure you do this as your first step, it'll stop the avacado from oxidizing and turning brown or black.

add chopped onion

cut off top of pepper, slice in half and scrape out seeds using a spoon.  Then chop it up finely and add to avacado mix.

Take your bunch of clean cilantro, you'll need about half of it for the guacamole (or more if you want more)
Cut off the long stems and then chop up the rest finely, add to the guacamole.

Add your garlic, add about a 1/2 tsp salt, I use Kosher and 1/2 tsp pepper---I add a little at a time until it gets to be where I like it, so use your judgement.

Mix it all up well and taste.  If you like it, stop and put away so the flavors can blend, if not, add more cilantro, lime juice, onions, salt and pepper---whatever you need to get the right flavor---I'm not using a recipe, I'm just throwing these things together and I add as I go until it tastes good!  Just make sure to start out conservatively and add more to taste.

Ole',  perfect guacamole!

So, here is our Mexican feast spread---the only thing we were missing was fresh pico de gallo, but we are broke this week so we use what we have!

Here is Seamus, all bathed and hungry, LOL!

And here is my finished product, a taco and a bean burrito!

That's tasty green salsa on it, but opps, forgot the guacamole!

Now we're talking, DELICIOSO!

Here are the recipes:

Roast Pork Carnitas

4 lbs boneless pork roast
1 T beef base
1 T dried cilantro leaves
2 tsp brown sugar, packed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup water
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lime
2 T soy sauce (you can use low sodium)

Heat up a large pan, put in 2 T oil and let it heat up then add the roast, browning on all sides.
Mix up all the dry ingredients in a bowl, coat the roast with them, evenly on all sides.
Mix together the water, juices and soy sauce, add to pan and heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours until the roast is fork tender and falling apart.  Check occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn't boiled off, if it gets low, add some water.

When roast is done, pull it apart with 2 forks until nicely shredded and mix it with the pan juices, letting the meat soak it all up.

Flour tortillas

5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
1 tsp salt
2 T shortening or lard or cold bacon grease
1 1/2 cup hot water

Mix dry ingredients.  Cut in the shortening until it is well mixed into the flour.  Add water slowly, while mixing, until it is all absorbed.  Mix or knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes by hand, 5 to 8 minutes in a mixer.  Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Make small balls with dough, about the size of a golf ball.  Lightly dust your counter and rolling pin with flour and flatten ball and then roll out, use force to flatten, you want it to be paper thin---but don't over roll,  try to accomplish this in 4-6 rolls, no more or your torts will be tough.

After rolling, place tort into hot skillet cooking for 1 minute or until lightly golden, then flip and do the other side for another minute.  As you are cooking these, store them under a damp towel so they will be soft.

That's it, repeat until all the torts are done, whatever you don't use at your meal, store in a ziplock bag to keep soft.

That's it!  I hope I've inspired you to create your own Mexican feast!  Enjoy!

TTFN,  and please leave a comment, I like to say hi to all of you and thank you for stopping at my site!


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Foodie night!!!

I was sitting in my kitchen at 6:10 and I realized I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner!  I went to Allrecipes.com to look up recipes for chicken leg quarters and I found a few that I liked but nothing thrilled me.  I noticed that my recent copy of Everyday Food was sitting on the table next to the computer so I looked through it and found a great recipe from Emeril called Emeril's Chicken-patty pockets.  Now, I really wanted to make them but I had no ground chicken and no pitas---so I decided to make it all from scratch.  Yes,  I am crazy, LOL!

I found some pita recipes, I decided to make a white pita for the kids and whole wheat pitas for me.  Here are the recipes:

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
1 cup warm water
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
cooking spray
cornmeal for dusting
1. In a bowl mix the water, yeast, molasses, and salt. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes, then gradually mix in the whole wheat flour and soy flour. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth. Place in a large bowl lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
2. Punch down the dough, and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Divide into 6 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each piece to about 1/8 inch thick with a rolling pin. Cover with a towel, and let rise 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Warm a baking sheet in the preheating oven for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and sprinkle with cornmeal.
4. Arrange the dough rounds on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 6 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from heat and cover the bread with a moist towel to soften. When cooled, slice in half and use a knife to cut pockets in the bread.

  Pita Bread


  • 1 1/8 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast


  1. Place all ingredients in bread pan of your bread machine, select Dough setting and start. When dough has risen long enough, machine will beep.
  2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll and stretch dough into a 12 inch rope. With a sharp knife, divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each into a smooth ball. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 6 to 7 inch circle. Set aside on a lightly floured countertop. cover with a towel. Let pitas rise about 30 minutes until slightly puffy.
  3. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Place 2 or 3 pitas on a wire cake rack. Place cake rack directly on oven rack. Bake pitas 4 to 5 minutes until puffed and tops begin to brown. Remove from oven and immediately place pitas in a sealed brown paper bag or cover them with a damp kitchen towel until soft. Once pitas a softened, either cut in half or split top edge for half or whole pitas. They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for 1 or 2 months.

Emeril's Chicken-Patty Pockets (from Everyday Food issue 71)


1 lb. ground dark-meat chicken
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 T. minced garlic
1 t. course salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 T. olive oil
whole grain pita pockets
lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, for serving


1. Heat broiler, with rack in highest position. In a large bowl, combine chicken, egg whites, bread crumbs, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, and spices and mix until well blended. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and drizzle with 1 T. oil. Divide chicken mixture into 8 portions (about 2 1/2 to 3 ounces each) and place on sheet. Shape each into an oval patty and use your hand to flatten slightly. Drizzle 1 T. oil over patties.

2. Broil until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until cooked through, about 4 minutes more. Serve in pita pockets with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and Tzatziki sauce.
Ok, so I had no ground chicken, but I did have 10 thawed out leg quarters so I decided to make my own ground chicken.
Here are 10 leg quarters reduced to this plateful.
Here is my old trusty Kitchen Aid.  It's been rebuilt by Scott twice because I blew out the motor making bread dough 2-3X a week.  Now it's only good for grinding meats and whipping cream.  That's ok, my all powerful Bosch is behind it!!
Here it comes!  The kids were grossed out, LOL!
I didn't take pictures of the preparation of the patties, my hands were covered in raw chicken and I was so involved in what I was doing, I forgot!  Here is the end result, though!
OMG these were SO good!
Ok, here is the pita prep---
White pita dough and whole wheat pita dough.
Here they are all rolled out and risen and ready to bake.
And here they are all baked and ready to go!
And here is the end result.  Sorry the picture isn't clear, I didn't realize it was fuzzy until after dinner and after everything was eaten.  They were very good, everyone liked them, even the kids and they said the recipe was a keeper!