Super Simple Fresh Tortillas

I just love Mexican food. One of my favorite restaurants is Chevy’s simply because of their fresh tortillas. I went to my mom’s for dinner, shortly after being married, and found she made the switch to making her own fresh tortillas. Nearly as soon as I moved out! She has all older kids and they roll their own tortilla out and cook it real quick whenever they’re ready for another. Here, I have is a 2 year old, a 1 year old and a husband. Sooo…. I do all the rolling. At first I was sure it would be too complicated to do for what I typically categorize as a simple meal. (Such as bean burritos.) But man was I ever wrong! It is so simple! I love them. So warm, fresh and chewy. They take a cheap, end of the month budget dinner and elevate it. Without any real increase in cost! They take less than 15 minutes over all.

(Note. This is a double of the original recipe I found. My small family finished off a single recipe of 8 small tortillas in one sitting. This time I aimed for 12 larger tortillas.)

wpid-img_20141010_003738.jpg4 cups Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 cups water
6 Tbsp. Olive oil

 

 

- Mix by hand until just combined.
- Turn onto lightly floured surface and kneed 10-12 times.
- Add a little more flour if too sticky.
- Roll into 12 round balls.
- Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes (Longer if you’re doing pre dinner prep!)
- On a floured countertop, roll them out one at a time. (As needed so they don’t dry out!)
- Cook on a greased flat cast iron skillet. High heat. Flip regularly and do not burn!
- Place on a plate, in a towel to keep warm. When you’ve made enough, sit down and enjoy!

My girls even eat these as a snack! Like I said. Chewy. Easy. And yummy!

Chewy, Thick, Better-than-Your-Current-Favorite, Pizza Crust!

I have tried several pizza dough recipes in my 4 short years cooking for my husband. We agree this is the best.

When we first got married, I was still cooking my moms long loved pizza dough. There’s nothing wrong with it. {Although she too has moved onto bigger and better pizza dough’s…) But it hated me. And therefore I hated it. Every time, something else went wrong. Too much flour. Too little. Forgot the oil. Whatever. Let is stand that I still can’t make it right.

Then I tried a new one. Then an even newer one (Pioneer Woman’s, to be exact, is anyone surprised? I’ve tried most of her recipes haha!)

And finally. I found the best! It is so chewy. Fluffy. Gooey. The bottom is crispy, the edges are crunchy and the rest of it is gooey and delicious. I like to do light sauce, easy on the cheese and heavy on the toppings. (When I have em on hand.) But obviously to each her own with the toppings.

Just.

Try.

This.

CRUST.

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Monthly Meal Plan, Round 2! {November}

First, a recap on October:

My first month trying this full menu for a month planning. It worked so WELL! I cooked more than normal with less stress than normal, and less money than normal. I baked almost all of my bread myself… Including rolls, which worked for hamburger buns, tortillas, and sourdough bread. I still bought 2 loaves of wheat bread at Costco, as well as a pack of muffins, which is my Sunday morning saving grace… ;-) I came in under budget. I do my bulk shopping in the first week of the month, with a smaller trip to replenish dairy items and produce ONLY sometime during the third week of the month. I have done this the past few months, and its been an awesome money and time saver. (Taking fewer trips!) The monthly meal plan is just an extra bonus to take off some of the work.

Chicken Stir Fry
Chicken Stir Fry

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October Meal Plan (with a lot of LINKS!!!!)

This month I’m trying to plan my WHOLE menu out at the beginning. I definitely notice a difference in my budget if I plan it each week so I figure I should get even better return planning out an even bigger chunk right? Maybe! We shall see :-)

wpid-20140805_133714.jpg(ahhhh the work I can accomplish during nap time bliss! Thank you Lord for making babes need LOTS of sleep!)

I got all the way through the last week, which I just finally completed today. I procrastinated a little, but with an “input needed” post to FB, all the slots got filled rather quicly!!! Sometimes I could kiss social media!

I can’t stand hand written sloppy paper though, so I wanted to store it here. I figure once I’ve done this it for a few months, it will be way easier to see what our favorite meals are. (HINT! Favorites are bound to use a LOT of fresh tortillas!)

wpid-img_20141010_003738.jpgWe have very busy Tuesday nights, (10 minutes after the husband gets home to feed him and get the babies in the car and then we aren’t home until 9:30PM after youth group!) so we try to stick with Taco Tuesdays! And on Thursday nights I try to do something in the crock pot or a soup, because we host small group at our house every week… Which normally requires a little bit (or a lot depending on my week!) of extra prep time from me ,and my kiddos have to be able to start dinner right after naps because they’re super pokey eaters! :-) Other than that, it should be mostly normal and I might be able to cycle through it in 3 or 4 months again who knows?! That’d be so handy!

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Chicken and Rice (Or… Dumb Rice!)

So simple. A toddler favorite…. Something you probably grew up eating your whole childhood, but won’t make for your kids.

(Duhn duh duh DUH!)

RICE A RONI! 

Hailee simply calls it by the endearing name “Chicken and Rice”.

My nephew calls it, “Dumb Rice.” Not quite as endearing.

So I’ll call this Chicken and Rice! :)

It was a regular in our home. But….. This mama’s new budget dislike the price per box. And mom dislikes the random items in the ingredients list!

So I decided to look for a recipe for something very similar, using only basic ingredients from my kitchen. My first test was SO spot on, we all loved it! The adults agree it was better than the boxed kind, and the toddler’s didn’t notice a difference so THAT is certainly a win! I just had to share, and record for myself, since I did make a few adjustments to the original find.

It’s Claire approved.

Which… I’ll admit it. She eats a lot! Soooo this just means you can trust it wasn’t disgusting! ;)

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And it’s Hailee approved!

Which means a lot. Little picky eater. I have to work hard to make sure the things she actually likes enough to eat a significant amount of are nutritious, because she tends to only like starchy, snacky, or sweet foods. So her stamp of approval is one hard earned!!!

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Try it. It’s easy and delicious!

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Italian Sausage Sauté on Pasta

This is a dinner I have thrown together once a week for the past two weeks… And I’m planning it again tomorrow!
Its delicious.

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I tend to prefer pasta dishes that are full of cheese and cream but… Claire-Rue can’t handle cheese so I have been forced to expand! This meal is basic, and yummy!

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(^ this is what she looks like if I eat dairy! Kinda funny! Well… Actually not funny AT ALL! She looks much cuter withOUT dairy!)

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(Not many pictures today… Hailee ate first and then dad and I ate later…)

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Our Favorite Shredded Beef Tacos

This is all I need to show you to convince you these tacos are AMAZING:
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Here’s what you need:

3-4 pound chuck roast
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin – lightly sprinkled over roast
1 can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup beef broth
lime, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream or other favorite toppings
tortillas

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees if you need this done in less than 3 hours, or 300 degrees if you have a longer amount of time. (Approximately 4 hours.)

Season the roast with spices. (Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin. More or less depending on how spicy you like- or whether you’re feeding a baby or just adults!)

Heat your Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 3 Tablespoons butter. Sear roast on all sides, 2-3 minutes per side.

Turn fire to low, and pour the can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and then 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa over the top of seared roast. Stir together carefully.

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Turn fire off, put the lid on the dutch oven and put your Dutch oven in the Oven-oven. (?)

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After a few hours (2 hours if on high, 3 hours if on low.) test with a fork. It should start to pull apart easily. Very clear that you could shred it with two forks. If not, put it back in the oven and test after another hour.

Once it pulls apart easily,  remove your Dutch oven from the Oven oven and the roast from the Dutch Oven.

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Leave the lid off your Dutch oven so the sauce can cool while you shred the beef.

(Be sure to remove any fat while shredding beef!)

Now back to the sauce. It should be mostly cool by now, so that you can scoop it the fat off the top with a spoon. Throw it away!

This is the base of your sauce. Add 1/4 cup of beef broth to the pot and turn fire to low and let the sauce simmer. Squeeze the juice of one lime into sauce. Taste! And add more lime if needed. Add the shredded beef back into the sauce and stir gently but thoroughly.

Once your beef is completely rewarmed, its ready to serve! Feel free to taste again and adjust salt or other seasonings as needed.

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Baby girl is my 3rd in line taste tester! Me first, Dad has second opinion, and then mostly she just feels left out and starving.

I mean, I was running 30 minutes late with dinner. How dare I!

A valuable lesson for parents of one year olds!

*No matter how many nights in a row you have dinner ready at exactly the time Daddy gets home, if you’re late one night, that all goes out the window! Along with her patience!*

Back to serving dinner! Get all your favorite toppings assembled.

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And create some beautiful tacos!

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For babies, Hailee’s advice is: serve “open face” tacos. Meat and toppings in a bowl with a tortilla on the side!

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Enjoy!

Kait

Kung Pao Shrimp {PF Changs Copycat}

One of my favorite restaurants is PF Chang’s. For starters, I simply love all Chinese food.

When I was pregnant, I went crazy on grocery store cafeteria chow mein  Gross right?! My husband thinks so! Luckily, he loved me enough to still bring me some every once in a while.

I blame this gross craving on the fact that I live in a small town, where we don’t have any actual GOOD Chinese food restaurants. At least Raley’s looks safe!!!

But believe you me. I notice a difference between PF Chang’s Chinese food, and Raley’s.

{Even the pregnant me does.}

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And this recipe is as close to their’s as I’ve gotten, and its pretty darn close!

Enjoy,

Kait

I have another copy cat of theirs, Dan Dan Noodles, from Secret Recipes 2 that I have adjusted and find near perfection as well. Hoping to post that soon, but wanted to mention it because if you make these two dishes on the same night—- prepare to be in Chinese food heaven!!!

 

Ingredients:

4 Tbs. soy sauce
1\2 tsp. corn starch
4 Tbs. water
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
pepper to taste
3 Tbs. hot chili oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 onion, cut into quarters
15 large, peeled and deveined, shrimp
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
5 scallions, chopped

 

If you are using frozen shrimp, put those in a baggie, and in a sink filled with warm water and let them thaw. While thats happening…

Mix soy sauce, corn starch, water, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and pepper together in a small bowl. Set next to the stove.

Pour your hot chili oil into your frying pan. (Pan should be fairly deep. If you have a wok, that is a good option.)

Also, if you don’t have hot chili oil on hand, just use 3 tablespoon of oil, and sprinkle in a smalll amount (~1/2 tsp.) of red pepper flakes. This will result in a similar flavor.

Place you minced garlic, quarted quarter of an onion (read that again- it does make sense!) into the chili oil. Saute on medium until you can smell the spicy-ness! Delicious!

Add the shrimps and cook until one side is pink. Add your sauce mix and stir the shrimp around.

Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes or until sauce is thick, coating the shrimp.

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Turn off fire, stir in scallions and peanuts.

Serve on rice and enjoy!!!

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