CORNBREAD -What A Difference Cast Iron Makes!!!

corn-bread-textSeveral months ago I jumped onboard the cast iron craze and bought a 10″ skillet that I found at a thrift store. I absolutely love it, and my fear of keeping it seasoned was for nothing. It’s quite easy, really. After washing, all one has to do is rub a bit of vegetable oil over the surface, then place on the stove using a medium/high flame, letting it dry for 1 minute.

So now that I have this fabulous skillet, I was looking forward to making cornbread in it. As expected, the cast iron produced a perfect cornbread with a nice crisp bottom, side, and top, with a delicate center.

Of course, a good recipe is essential. Not all cornbread recipes are created equal – I’ve found the results often disappointing – dry and gritty. As a fan of America’s Test Kitchen, I eagerly attempted (and tweaked) their recipe. YUMMY!


  • 2 T white vinegar
  • 3/4 + 2 T milk (I use nonfat)
  • OR 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1  1/3 cups medium grind cornmeal
  • 3 ears corn (about 1¾ cups nibblets)
  • 6 T butter, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1¼ tsp salt

Make buttermilk (unless you’re using store bought buttermilk) by combining vinegar and milk. Stir in the cornmeal to soften it. Let stand while preparing the cornbread.

Remove corn from cobs by running a knife downwards and away from you along the cob. NOTE: You can use frozen or canned, if you’d rather.

Purée corn in a food processor for about 1 minute, stopping now and then to scrape down the sides. Pour into a saucepan and, stirring often, cook over medium heat until reduced to about 3/4 cup – about 8-10 minutes. It will become quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in 5 T butter.

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and yolk. Stir the eggs and buttermilk/cornmeal into the thickened corn.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the corn mixture, blending gently until dry ingredients are just incorporated into the wet. (Over mixing can lead to a tough bread.)

Heat remaining 1 T butter in a 10″ cast iron skillet. When skillet is hot, turn off stove and pour in cornmeal dough, smoothing top. Bake in preheated oven at 400º F for 25 minutes, until top begins to brown. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Let cool 20 minutes on rack before slicing. (If you slice it too soon, it will fall apart.)




PISTACHIO-FETA BISCUITS – Saving Money Never Tasted So Good!

pistachio-feta-biscuit-textAs a woman who hates waste (yeah – I’m cheap!), I was trying to come up with something to do with leftover feta cheese. True, it can always be a crumbled topping for salad, but I wanted something new. As I was looking for a bread recipe to post, I decided to merge the two. Biscuits! There were also a handful of pistachios lurking about, so I threw them in for crunch.

Once again, my frugality prevailed – PISTACHIO-FETA BISCUITS were a success! For those of you who have never made biscuits, it’s easy as pie (I felt obliged to use a food simile).

Note: I toyed with the idea of adding in leftover dried cranberries. Next time, I think I will.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 T butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup pistachio nuts
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or cream (sometimes I use nonfat, sometime I use cream)

Preheat oven to 500º Fahrenheit. (You will lower the temperature when you bake the biscuits.)

Into the work bowl of your food processor, put the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Pulse a couple of times to mix. Cut butter into about 8 pieces and add to flour. Pulse 20 times to incorporate butter. Mixture should be crumbly.

Note:  If you don’t have a food processor, then do this by hand: using 2 knives, cross-cut the butter into the flour mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a fork just to break them up. Pour in milk, as you continue to beat eggs. Set aside 2 tablespoons of this mixture to glaze the biscuits.

Stir the feta and pistachios into the egg mixture.

Pour the flour mixture into the eggs, blending with a spoon until most of the flour is incorporated. Empty the bowl onto a lightly floured large breadboard or counter. Knead the dough about 20 times to unite all the flour into the batter.

With your hands, shape the dough into a 1″ thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 12 squares.

Note: I prefer to cut squares – it’s faster and there’s no waste. You can cut circles, if you want, then gather the uncut dough and reform it so you can cut more circles. BUT – overworking dough can cause it to become tougher – not a good thing, so after re-gathering one time, just bake the odd bits as is – they’ll still taste wonderful.

Place cut pieces on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or greased. Brush with the egg/milk you set aside (you probably won’t use it all).

Put sheet in preheated oven. IMMEDIATELY LOWER OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 425º. (I can’t stress this enough!) Bake 10-12 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve immediately for best quality.

Note:  Leftovers can be reheated in oven at 375º Fahrenheit for about 5 minutes – until hot to the touch (they’ll brown a wee bit more).

CHEESE BREAD – A Slice Of Goodness!

cheese-bread-textIt’s hard to beat bread and cheese. Add onion and bacon (fake, of course!) and – wow!

Cheese Bread is a quick bread, meaning there’s no yeast, kneading, or rising to deal with. However, there is a little bit of cooking (the onions and fake bacon), 45 minutes of baking, and 40 minutes of setting before slicing. So, while “quick” is a technically correct term, it does take some time.

However, don’t let that stop you – Cheese Bread is very easy to make and definitely worth the wait.


  • 2 slices fake bacon (I use Morningstar)
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 3 T oil (I use vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1¼ cup milk (I use nonfat)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz Gruyère cheese, cubed in 1/2″ pieces

Note: You can make your own sour cream by whisking together 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 T fresh lemon juice until thickened, then adding 1/8 tsp salt.

Slice the bacon in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/4″ pieces. Heat oil in skillet and fry the bacon until browned. Keep your eye on it – it burns quickly! With slotted spoon, remove bacon to plate, leaving oil.

Fry onions in same skillet as above, until golden.

Grease a loaf pan (I prefer a dark metal one to ensure a crispy crust) and sprinkle half of the Parmesan evenly on bottom.

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, cayenne, salt, pepper, and baking powder. Stir in the bacon, onions (with the oil), and Gruyere.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Whisk in the milk and sour cream. Add this to flour mixture and gently combine.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, spreading so it’s of uniform thickness. Sprinkle on remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake in preheated 350º fahrenheit oven for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from oven and let set in pan for 5 minutes. Run a dull knife along the sides and invert onto a wire rack. Then right the loaf and let cool 40 minutes before slicing – otherwise, it falls apart. The bread looks and tastes so good that waiting is very difficult – but try to restrain yourself.




CHILI SPOONBREAD – Creamy Goodness!

chili spoonbread1 textNever heard of spoonbread? Neither had I, but I saw it on America’s Test Kitchen and it looked delicious. A popular dish in the southern United States, it’s kind of a cross between cornbread and a soufflé.

As is my usual practice, I followed the recipe the first time I made it. It was good, but I doubted I’d ever make it again (even though it was pretty simple). Then I spied the leftover CHILI CON QUESO from last week’s blogpost. Hmmm! I wondered if it could be incorporated into the spoonbread to kick it up a notch.

Oh, yeah! Worked like a charm. Turned out to be a wonderful twofer bonus: improved the spoonbread, AND made use of the Chili Con Queso before I could grab the Doritos and scarf down the lot….uh, just so it wouldn’t go to waste.

CHILI-CHEESE SPOONBREAD – makes 4 individual servings

  • 1 cup fine-grind cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill makes this)
  • 2¼ cups milk (any kind – I use nonfat), divided
  • 2 raw cobs of fresh corn (white or yellow)
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup chili con queso  OR 1/3 cup red salsa
  •                                               2 oz Jack cheese, shredded
  •                                               2 oz med. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 tsp cream of tartar

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal and 3/4 cup of the milk. This will soften the cornmeal so it’s not so gritty. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Butter 4  1¼ cup soufflé dishes.

If you don’t happen to have chili con queso, make it by combining the salsa and cheeses in a saucepan over a low flame, until the cheese is melted. You can do this ahead of time.

Remove the husk and silk from the corn cobs, then wash and dry them. Next (this may sound daunting, but I promise you it’s not) holding each cob at an angle, remove the kernels by running a sharp knife down the sides. It’s easiest to begin a couple of inches from the top and work downwards, away from you. Then flip the cob, and remove the bit that was at the top in the same manner. You’ll get about 3/4 cup of corn from each cob – I found that amazing.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and cook corn over medium flame, until it begins to brown – about 15 minutes. Stir often. Then add in salt, sugar, and the rest of the milk (1½ cups). Bring to simmer, cover, and turn off stove. Let steep about 10 minutes.

Bring the corn mixture back to a simmer and, over a low flame, whisk in the softened cornmeal. Stir until it thickens – about 5 minutes. Shut off flame and stir in the chili con queso. Pour mixture into a large bowl and let cool 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400º fahrenheit, with rack in middle position.

Stir the yolks together, then mix into the batter (once it’s cooled for 20 minutes – you don’t want to cook the egg yolks).

Using an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until stiff peaks form. Spoon about 1/3 of beaten whites into the batter and whisk in – you don’t have to be excessively gentle with this just yet. Once those whites are incorporated, pour the rest of whites into the batter and very gently whisk them in by dipping the whisk into the batter then lifting it out. OR, you can use a rubber spatula and fold the whites in. These whites are going to cause the batter to rise, so you don’t want to deflate them by stirring too vigorously.

Divide batter amongst the 4 soufflé dishes and put in preheated oven. IMMEDIATELY TURN OVEN DOWN TO 350º fahrenheit. Bake for 20-22 minutes, if you like a creamy center (I do!). If you jiggle the soufflé dish, the center should wobble. But, if you want the center cooked like the sides (more bread-like), then bake another 2 minutes – the center won’t jiggle.

If there are leftovers, store Chili Spoonbread in the soufflé bowls. Then microwave about 1 minute 15 seconds when ready to eat.


AREPAS – A Central American Favorite

arepas textI’ve been on a mission to try making foods from scratch that you would normally never think of, such as tortillas (flour and corn), Italian rustic bread, yogurt, cream cheese, and pasta. I think you get the idea.

But all the aforementioned foods have been homemade for centuries, and without the aid of modern kitchen conveniences.  How hard could it be? So far – not very. Yes, it takes more time than buying ready-made, but at what price? When I cook, I know what’s in my food. Plus, the price mark-up is incredible. Did I mention that I’m cheap?

Arepas are cornmeal flat, round bread patties (like an English muffin) that are slit open and stuffed with whatever you like. I’ve included a recipe for my favorite filling. You can even spread them with jam or honey. Use your imagination. They are amazingly easy it make – even kids (with very clean hands) can prepare the dough.

NOTE: The most common masarepas is PAN Harina. Below is a photo of what I bought. PAN is a brand, but others make it, too. You may need to go to a specialty store for hispanic foods (I had to). PAN Harina is NOT the same as masa harina, which is used for corn tortillas.

FullSizeRender (18)

TIP:  Store masarepas, and all extra flours & grains, in the freezer until use to prevent bugs and keep them fresh. Bring to room temperature before using.

AREPAS – makes 6

  • 2 cups (310g / 10 6/8 oz) masarepas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • about 2½ cups  (650 ml) water
  • about 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil

Put the masarepas, salt, and baking powder is a bowl. Use your dominant hand to mix it. (Yes, you’re going to mix the dough with your hand – it’s the easiest way.) With your non-dominant hand, pour in about 1 cup of the water. Slowly squish the mixture until water is absorbed. Add another cup of water and slowly squish. (If you squish quickly, the water squirts and makes a mess.) The end result should be a soft dough (softer than Playdoh), but not so soft that it sticks to your hand and won’t stay formed. Add more water, if needed…or more masarepas, if you’ve added too much.

Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each into a patty 4″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick.

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.

Have ready a wire rack sitting on a cookie sheet.

Over medium flame, heat 2 T oil in a 10″ skillet, or 4 T oil in a bigger skillet. When oil is hot, place in as many discs that will fit. When bottom is browned (about 3 minutes), flip cooking again until browned. Place on wire rack. Add more oil to skillet with each batch.

When all arepas are fried, place cookie sheet into oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool until you can slice them in half without burning yourself.

BLACK BEAN & RICE FILLING – makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup cooked black beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice (I use Brown Rice Medley from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup SALSA VERDE
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 cup jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1  2.25 oz can jalapeño sliced black olives

Blend all ingredients together.

MINI YORKIES: Fun Sized Yorkshire Puddings

mini yorkies text

As promised in last week’s TOFU ST. JACQUES A LA BONNIE post, this week I’m writing about Mini Yorkshire Puddings, which were the container for this scrumptious dish. (Often, puff pastry shells are used, but who needs the fat and calories!)

Yorkshire Pudding is traditionally made in a large pan, using drippings from whatever roast you’re cooking. But the sides would became tall and crispy, while the large center sunk and was kind of flabby and tasteless. Since the best part of the pud is the crispy edge, baking Yorkshire Pudding in muffin tins has gained in popularity.

I tried different ratios of eggs to milk to flour, achieving the best texture for my palate.

I also experimented with shortening versus butter versus oil to grease the cups. Shortening won that contest – it yielded a crispier pudding.

The final variable was whether to flour the sides. It didn’t seem to matter that much – both versions were crispy, however, the floured ones were very slightly taller. Since flouring muffin tins is kind of a messy task, it wasn’t worth the effort to me.

NOTE: The batter needs to rest for at least 30 minutes before baking, so plan accordingly. They need to be served immediately.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ cup milk (I used nonfat)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 T vegetable oil

Into a bowl beat the eggs and milk. Whisk in the salt and flour until fairly smooth (some small flour lumps are acceptable). Place a plate over bowl and let rest for, at least, 30 minutes.

With rack in middle position, turn oven to 450º F.

While oven is heating, grease cups (sides and bottoms) of a 12-cup muffin tin with shortening.

In a small saucepan pour 1 T vegetable oil. As the oven gets close to 450º F, heat up the oil and drizzle it into the batter, whisking continuously. Pour batter into a container with a spout (such as a pitcher or measuring cup) to make it easier to fill the muffin cups. Fill each cup halfway to start, then go back and evenly divide the remaining batter amongst the cups.

When oven is at 450º F (don’t jump the gun!), put muffin tin in oven and set timer for 20 minutes. Do not open door!!! (The cool air will prompt the puds to deflate a bit.)

After 20 minutes, reduce temperature to 350º F and set timer for 7 minutes. Again – do not open door!!! Turn on oven light and peer through door to see if they’re well browned. If they look satisfactory, open door, pull out rack, and pierce tops with a skewer to allow steam to escape. Remove tin from oven and empty Yorkies into a bread basket.

Eat immediately – they’re at their best when fresh and hot. However, if you have leftovers, you can reheat them for a couple of minutes in a toaster oven (or standard oven, if you don’t have one).


PITA BREAD – Pocket Your Sandwich!

pita bread textPeople are often astounded that I bake my own pita bread. I’m not sure if it’s because they don’t understand why I bother, or because they believe it’s difficult to make.

Well, I bother because I like to know what’s in my food, AND because I love to save money. Breads are so cheap to make!

As to the difficulty – it’s not! If you think about it, pita bread has been around for thousands of years. People managed to bake it without the use of machinery or sous chefs. How hard could it be?

The key elements to getting the dough to puff is a HOT oven – 500° F, and rolling them thin (but not too thin). They’ll be the correct thickness if you divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each 6½ in diameter.

NOTE:  Even if they don’t inflate, they still may have formed a pocket.

If, for some reason, the pita doesn’t inflate or, at least, separate inside so you can stuff them, never fear. They’re still usable! Simply pile the filling on top and fold the bread over like a taco. Some people prefer it that way.

PITA BREAD: makes 6

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1½ tsp yeast
  • 6 T whole wheat flour
  • about 1¾ cup bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 T olive oil

Heat water to 100°-104°. Stir in yeast and let proof for 5 minutes.

Into the work bowl of your food processor put all the wheat flour, 1½ cups of the bread flour, the salt, and oil. Turn on the machine and slowly pour in the yeast water through the pour spout. Let run 30 seconds. Check dough to see if it needs more flour. It should be slightly tacky if you tap it quickly, but not so tacky that it sticks to your finger. Add more flour if it is. Run machine again. Let run another 30 seconds, even if you didn’t need to add more flour.

NOTE: If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll have to mix and knead the dough by hand. During the 10 minutes of kneading, try and figure out how you can afford a food processor!

Pour dough into an oiled bowl, flip dough so it’s oiled on both sides, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

Punch down dough and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover, and let rest 10 minutes to decrease its elasticity.

On a floured surface, roll each ball with a rolling pin into a circle 6½” in diameter. Keep dough covered when not working with it.

Place oven rack on bottom slot, set bread stone or a cookie sheet on top of rack, and preheat oven to 500° F. The time it takes to heat oven allows the dough one final rise.

When oven is ready (make sure it reaches 500° F – don’t get impatient!) gently place as many dough circles as will fit. Cover those that don’t fit and cook them when these are done. Set timer for 4 minutes. DON’T OPEN OVEN DOOR UNTIL TIMER GOES OFF! If you want to watch, turn on the light and peer through the door. For the pitas to puff properly the temperature needs remain really hot.

Stack baked pitas and wrap completely in a tea towel. This allows steam to finish the cooking, plus it keeps them pliable.



HOMEMADE CORN TORTILLAS – Perseverance Leads To Perfect Tortillas!

HOMEMADE CORN TORTILLAS – Perseverance Leads To Perfect Tortillas!

corn tortilla1 text

I’m a gal who makes nearly everything from scratch. Pasta, breads, yogurt, cakes, and cookies hold no fear for me. I even successfully started making my own flour tortillas. So it came as a shock when I attempted corn tortillas and failed miserably. I threw out the dough in frustration, banished the remaining masa harina (the flour used to make corn tortillas) to the deep freezer, and vowed to never attempt homemade corn tortillas again.

But every now and then I would come across that siren-like bag of masa harina whilst rummaging around the depths of my freezer. She would beckon, tempting me to try again. “You can do it!” she sang.

So I tried again. And she was right. I DID IT!!! Success!!!

How did I do it? I watched several youtube videos on corn tortilla making. Everyone made it look so easy – which it was…..eventually. But there were many bits of useful information they left out which I had to work out for myself. To spare you the angst, I’m going to impart my new found knowledge onto you. Why reinvent the wheel?!

Be sure to read all of the directions and notes before beginning.

NOTE: If you watch how-to videos of tortilla making, you’ll notice most of them use a tortilla press. I chose to use a rolling pin instead because I really didn’t want to buy a press (cheap!), and I thought if it works well without one, YOU wouldn’t want to buy a press.

CORN TORTILLAS – makes 6 five inch tortillas

  • 1 cup masa harina (4.5 oz)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 1/2 cup water

NOTE: The amount of water used will vary according to the masa harina and, perhaps, even the temperature. This is NOT an exact science.

NOTE: Use your hand to mix the dough, not a spoon. It’s important to feel the dough to reach the proper consistency.

In a bowl, mix together the masa harina and salt with one clean hand. With the other hand pour in half of the water. Begin massaging everything together with the first hand. It will feel like wet sand. You want the dough to stick together, but not be too wet and tacky. Slowly keep adding water until it feels like Play Doh. To test, roll a golf ball sized amount and press it into your flat palm. With palm facing down, try to peel it off. If you can’t, it’s too wet – add a little more masa harina. If it falls right off, it’s too dry – add more water. When you think it’s right, cover bowl with a plate and let rest for 15-30 minutes, so the masa harina fully absorbs the water.

After resting, recheck the dough’s consistency by pressing some into your palm again. Don’t worry about overkneading – unlike wheat flour dough, it won’t get tough. The proper feel of the dough will take experience – one or two times, and you’ll get the hang of it.

Divide dough into 6 pieces and roll into balls.


Now you’re going to do a rolling test to be sure the dough is properly made, so don’t turn on the griddle yet (no point in heating it up unnecessarily). If the dough isn’t quite right, just scrape it back into the mixing bowl and correct with either more water or masa harina, depending on what’s required.

NOTE: You’re going to roll each ball between two pieces of cling wrap (Saran Wrap). Some of the videos suggested waxed paper or using a Ziploc bag cut in half. DON’T! They’re too stiff and increase the odds of tearing the dough when you peel it off.

NOTE: The cling wrap will become less clingy with each tortilla, so use the same pieces for all the tortillas. Less clingy is a good thing – this makes it easier to peel it off.

Place one 8″ piece of cling wrap on a smooth surface. Put one ball in the center and press with fingers until it’s 1/2″ thick. The edges will become jagged.

corn tortilla smash

Keeping your fingers on the disc, use your other hand and press in sides to smooth out edges. The edges will still end up slightly jagged, but much less so by doing this step.

corn tortilla sides

Lay down another piece of 8″ cling wrap at a 45° angle from the bottom cling wrap (so the corners DON’T line up). This will make it easier to separate the two pieces when you peel away the cling wrap.

Smash the disc with a flat object which is at least 5″ in diameter – such as a saucepan, plate, or plastic container. This will start the rolling process.


Place a rolling pin at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock position, and lightly roll back and forth 4 times to about 1/2″ from the edges.

corn tortilla roll

NOTE: Be sure not to roll the pin over the edge and off the tortilla, or the edge will become too thin and it will be impossible to remove the cling wrap without tearing the dough.

Now turn the rolling pin 90° to the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock position, and roll again the same way. Then again at 10 o’clock and 4 o’clock; and again at 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock.

Repeat the entire rolling process 3 or 4 more times, until the circle is about 5″ in diameter.

Heat the dry griddle (no oil) to medium heat. Give it a minute to warm the surface before attempting to remove the cling wrap from the first tortilla – you want the griddle ready to go once the cling wrap is off since the longer the tortilla is on your hand, the more likely it is to stick to it.

Remove the top piece of cling wrap by grabbing a corner and carefully peeling it away. The top layer is pretty straight forward since it’s laying on the counter. However, if you notice the dough starting to crack – STOP. Try peeling from another corner – you may be able to salvage it. If it keeps tearing, the dough is probably too wet. Scrap the dough off, reform the ball, and begin again.


Now comes the tricky part – removing the bottom cling wrap. Lay one hand with fingers spread over the tortilla and, putting your other hand underneath the tortilla, flip so that the top hand is on the bottom and bottom hand is on top. The tortilla is still in the middle.

corn tortilla hand on dough

If the tortilla is bigger than your hand, let it hang over on only one side (this is a weak spot). Pick a spot to begin slowly peeling away the cling wrap. Work your way down to the dangling part at the end (unless there is no dangling part) so it doesn’t tear.


NOTE: You can’t repair a torn tortilla – it’s not like a wheat flour dough. Just scrap it off and start again. You’ll get the hang of it.

NOTE: It’s never too late to adjust the masa harina/water proportions. If at any point you believe the dough is too wet or too dry, go ahead and smash all the balls together and make the correction. (Needless to say, you CAN’T correct a cooked tortilla.)

Flip the dough back to the other hand. (This is the final test to see if the dough is too wet.) If the dough is stuck to your palm and won’t drop out, squish it into a ball and began again. If it transfers without tearing, flip it immediately onto the griddle since the longer it lays on your warm palm, the more likely it will stick.


NOTE: If the tortilla doesn’t drop onto the griddle flat, DON’T take a spatula to adjust – the dough is too mushy. Let it cook for 30 seconds to firm up before manoeuvring  it.

Cook the first side about 1 minute. The edges will become slightly whiter.

corn tortilla cooked edge

Flip and cook another minute.

NOTE: In some of the videos I watched, their tortillas puffed up. Mine never did and it didn’t seem to matter. They were still delicious and rolled perfectly for enchiladas.

When each is done, place in the center of a tea towel and fold in all 4 corners to cover. This will keep them moist and warm.


Good luck! Homemade corn tortillas are worth the effort! With a little practice you’ll be able to whip up a few tortillas whenever you want – without having to buy a pack of 10!






Last week I posted about Breakfast Burritos and it occurred to me I should post about making homemade flour tortillas.

You may be wondering why I bother making tortillas. Of course, there are the usual reasons: it’s cheaper (although it’s pretty cheap to buy them), and I have control over what goes in them.

But, the main reason I make them is because the purchased packages contain at least 8 tortillas – which is way more than I generally need. Yes, I realize I’m the Queen of Freeze, but, unfortunately, tortillas don’t freeze well. Since I hate waste, I would find myself snacking on them just so I didn’t throw them out. Those are empty calories I DON’T need!

Flour tortillas are surprisingly easy to make, once you get the hang of it. Just roll them out on a floured board and quickly cook on a dry, heated skillet.

NOTE: Even if you have a tortilla press (which I do), you really need to roll them out with a rolling pin on a floured board first, then you can cook them on the press. With the heated press, they stop spreading before they’re the proper size. If you press really hard so they spread to full size before they’re cooked, they’ll shatter. I speak from experience!

FLOUR TORTILLAS – makes about 5  8″ tortillas, depending on how big & thick they are

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use corn oil)
  • about 1/2 cup water

Into a food processor put the flour, salt and oil. Pulse a few times, then press the ‘on’ button. Slowly add the water through the pour spout until the mixture forms clumps. Depending on your flour, you may use a little more or less water than the 1/2 cup listed. (You’ll probably need to stop machine and scrap the flour from the side.)

Squeeze some of mixture together to form a small ball. If it doesn’t hold together, turn on processor and drizzle in a tablespoon of water. Run machine another minute to knead.

flour tortilla mixture

If you don’t have a food processor, the holidays are coming – put it on your wishlist! In the meantime, put the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Then knead for a several minutes on a floured board.

Once the dough is the desired consistency, form tight balls in the amount for the size tortilla you want. I make 5 balls for 8″ tortillas.  Cover in an air-tight container (I just put them in the food processor with the lid on) and let rest for at least 30 minutes.  This decreases the elasticity of the dough and allows them to be rolled easier.

On a floured board, flatten each ball with one hand while pushing in the sides with the other. This helps keep the edges from being too jagged. Then start rolling your dough with a rolling pin, from the center of the dough outwards, forming a circle.


Heat a dry skillet (no oil or butter) over a medium flame, then place your rolled dough. It will stick initially, so don’t try to move it. After 20 seconds or so, shake the skillet and, when the tortilla scoots around, you can flip it. You don’t want to brown the tortilla (that will make it crispy), just gently cook it through. A couple browned spots on the bubbles are okay. Keep flipping and turning to cook it evenly.


It should take about 1-2 minutes total. Use your eyes as a guide, not a timer. While the first one is cooking, roll out the second, etc.

Immediately place the cooked tortilla into a plastic bag to keep it soft. If I’m making burritos, I also roll the bag to prevent the tortillas from cracking when I form the burritos.


They’ll keep a couple of days in the plastic bag, but the point of making them is so you don’t have an abundance of extras. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself tearing off bits and snacking. Unfortunately, the myth that if you eat only a portion of an item the calories don’t count isn’t true. Dang!







I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve created due to my frugality (aka, cheapness!). For last week’s blogpost, Parmesan Pasta Salad, I needed Parmesan cheese (duh!). Normally, I would never buy grated or shredded cheese (once again – cheap). I would purchase a block and do it myself.

However, when I went to select the Parmesan wedge, there – beckoning me like a siren, RIGHT AT EYE LEVEL! – was a bag of powdery, grated cheese. It would take some doing on my part to get cheese this fine. So, in a Thelma & Louise moment, I grabbed the bag and didn’t look back.

Once the Parmesan Pasta Salad was bagged, tagged, and logged (I watch a lot of Law & Order, SVU), I found there was quite a bit of leftover cheese. Which is where my frugality came into play. I had to use up the stuff.

I decided to make biscuit sticks (like bread sticks, without the yeast), incorporating Parm into the dough AND sprinkled on top. Well, as you can see from the photo above, they didn’t come out at all like I envisioned, but I actually like these ‘slices’ better.

Being a biscuit rather than a bread, there’s no need to wait for rising dough, so they’re fairly quick to put together. Including baking time, start to finish is around half an hour. Not bad!

Note:  I chose to use grated Parm, but you could also use shredded.

PARMESAN BISCUIT SLICES – makes about 20, depending how you cut them

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter (salted) – you can use more if you’re feeling decadent
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used nonfat)
  • about 1/2 T butter, melted for brushing
  • extra grated Parmesan for dusting

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and Parmesan.

Add in chilled butter, crosscutting with 2 knives until the texture becomes pea-like.

Pour in milk and mix with a fork until most of the flour is incorporated.

Knead the dough 10 times. Count! You don’t want to overmix. You can either empty the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, or knead directly in the bowl by pushing the dough down with your well-floured knuckles, folding the far half on top of the close half, turning the bowl 90º, and repeating process. TIP:  I always count aloud so I don’t lose track.

Pat the dough into a rectangle using well-floured hands. Then, using a well-floured rolling pin (are you getting the idea the dough is sticky?), roll the dough to 1/2″ thick.

Cut the dough into 1/2″ wide strips using a pizza cutter or knife.

Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit.

Generously grease a cookie sheet (even nonstick). Place the strips cut side down (and up) at least 1½” apart. Brush sides and top with melted butter, then sprinkle on the dusting Parmesan. Gently pat cheese into dough.

Bake at 450º F for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest 1 minute. Remove to wire rack or directly to serving basket.