Friday, May 27, 2011

Crispy Tacos

Last night I made crispy tacos.  I had no intention of doing it.  I intended to make soft tacos with whole wheat tortillas, a much healthier choice.  But when I went to the fridge to pull out the tortillas I noticed that I had corn tortillas on hand and the urge to make crispy tacos totally overcame me.  I was powerless.  

Our family loves crispy tacos.  I don't use the word loves loosely.  When I say loves I mean loves.  I almost never ever make them.  I don't even make them once a year.  There are reasons for this that I will now share with y'all.  First of all, I don't like to deep fry.  I'm not a fan of it at all.  Not only is it unhealthy, it stinks up the house and the house smells like whatever you deep fried for a few days.  My philosophy is, if you want something deep fried, go to the county fair.  Those fair folks have no pride at all when it comes to deep frying.  Twinkies.  Snickers.  Oreos.  Avocados.  Need I go on?  I think not.  The fair is the place for all things fried.

But, every now and then, the hankering for crispy tacos overtakes my soul and there's no fighting it.  And I succumb!  And my family is happy when every now and then this happens.

Here's how I made these crispy critters.  First I browned a pound of ground beef.  Then I added a packet of this:

Just follow the directions on the package.  

Then I put about 1/4" to 1/2" of vegetable oil in my electric skillet and turn it up to 350 degrees.  Once the oil is hot, you're ready to roll.  (Test the oil by throwing in a tiny piece of torilla.  If it bubbles and floats to the top, you're good to go.)

Place a corn tortilla into the hot oil.  Immediately flip it over and place a spoonful of meat down the center.  Fold the tortilla over the meat and let it cook in the oil until it's brown.

Here they are before I flipped 'em:

Here they are after I flipped 'em:

By this point my teen son was drooling.  It wasn't pretty.  Not pretty at all.

When they are brown on both sides, make yourself a little taco teepee.  This will help the extra oil drip out of the taco and onto the paper towels.

We stuffed them with lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese and then topped them with my favorite taco sauce:
All I can say is make these.  Even if you don't like to deep fry.  Even if you don't like the mess of deep frying.  Even if you don't like your house to smell like deep frying for days.  Make these!  You'll be glad you did!

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Homemade Barf and Patty Melts

I do recognize that the word "barf" should never ever be used on a cooking blog.  I get that.  But I feel the need to break a basic cooking blog rule and tell you about how I accidentally stumbled upon the perfect recipe for homemade barf last Sunday.

It all started out so innocently.  I had this recipe called Mexican Manicotti that I had been anxious to try.  I know the combination of pasta and Mexican food can be a bit risky, but this recipe caught my eye and I just had to take it for a spin.

Just so you know, I will not be posting the recipe for Mexican Manicotti on this blog.  It wasn't that the recipe was all that terrible, it's more that the sauce looked exactly, and when I say exactly, I mean exactly like barf.  As soon as I stirred it up I started to giggle.  I'm very immature when it comes to these sort of things.  I started to giggle because I knew The Spy Who Loves Me was going to flip his balding lid when he saw this sauce.  The Spy is kind of a big baby girl when it comes to these sorts of things.  More on The Spy's girly princess issues later.  Let's get back to the barf.

The sauce consisted of five very innocent ingredients.  Innocent on their own, not so much when combined.  Cream of chicken soup (a good ingredient in many recipes), green chilies (a personal favorite of mine when it comes to ingredients), chopped onion (great for flavor, but added an unfortunate element of chunkiness to this poor sauce), milk (harmless enough), and finally, the culprit, salsa!  Yes, it was the salsa that turned this sauce into something that looked exactly, trust me on this, exactly like barf! 

Like I said, as soon as I stirred it up I started to giggle.  The Spy had been sitting at the kitchen counter while I stuffed the manicotti noodles with a mixture of chicken, onion, sour cream, green chilies and cheese.  He seemed a little bit unsure watching the combination of the pasta and Mexican ingredients come together, but I assured him that it would taste great.  He walked away for a few minutes and that's when I proceeded to stir up the sauce.  As soon as I stirred in the salsa I knew that I now had the perfect recipe for homemade barf.  And I knew The Spy was going to freak out like a big baby girl when he saw it in the pan.  And I was right!

The Spy walked into the kitchen and said, "You've gotta be kidding me.  That looks exactly like barf!"  I lost it!  My giggling turned into full blown laughter as I saw the look on his grossed out face.  This is what he saw:

This picture doesn't even do it justice.  It looked worse on it's own, before being poured over the manicotti.  It was one ugly sauce.  And to top it off, it was Sunday dinner.  I must say, I was proud of The Spy, my teen son and my mom.  They all closed their eyes and ate it.  And it wasn't horrible, although it most certainly falls in the recipe file called "one timers".

Bottom line, if you ever need to make fake barf, I've got the perfect recipe for ya!  And you're welcome!

Just so you know, the next night, Monday night, I redeemed myself by making patty melts for dinner.  The Spy loves a good patty melt, and in nearly 30 years of marriage I've never ever made him one.  But because he was so brave and ate the barf recipe, I felt he deserved a dinner he would truly enjoy.  So I fried up hamburger patties, sprinkled them with Montreal Steak Seasoning, put them between two pieces of rye bread with Havarti cheese and grilled them until they were golden brown.  The Spy was happy!

Getting back to the many reasons The Spy is sometimes a big baby girl slash princess, let me just list a few.  And don't you worry about me going behind The Spy's back.  I've warned him plenty of times that if he didn't change his girly ways I was going to blog about it.  He didn't, and now I am!

Recently we went out of town for a family wedding and stayed in a very nice hotel overnight.  For reasons that I will never understand, most hotels do not use fitted sheets.  They use a flat sheet on the top and on the bottom.  During the night the flat sheet on the bottom came untucked and created a wrinkle underneath The Spy.  Are you thinking of the same story I'm thinking of?  Yep, The Princess and the Pea.  Only we'll call this one The Spy and The Wrinkle.  When The Spy woke up I asked him how he slept and out came the little princess.  He went on and on about the wrinkle in the sheet and how he barely got a wink of beauty rest the whole night.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  Princess!  I told him that I was going to start saying the word "princess" every time he had a princess moment.   There have been several since that day!

The Spy can at times be a bit high maintenance.  Take for example the other day when I made him steel cut oats for breakfast.  I topped them with these nuts and added chopped apples, brown sugar and a splash of milk.  Do you know that man had the nerve to tell me I forgot the raisins!  It took everything in me not to bop him over the head with my rolling pin.  But I refrained and instead just called him a princess.

The Spy is spoiled.  Spoiled rotten.  At least I like to tell him that he is.  He was running late for a spy meeting the other day so I made him steel cut oats (with raisins this time) to go, and even put homemade orange juice in his spy cup. (Notice the little badge on the cup.  Isn't that cute?)  When The Spy picked up the cup he asked what was in it.  I told him fresh squeezed orange juice and that little princess said, "Too much pulp.  You can have it."  People, do you see what I'm dealing with here?

Tonight The Spy and teen son are camping with other men and their sons at a church campout.  The Spy slash princess took the twin mattress off our teen son's bed, placed a clean FITTED sheet on it and stuffed it in the back of our minivan.  Some call that camping, I call it a princess sleep over.  Our studly teen son took a tarp and a sleeping bag.  That's it.  I begged him to take his little pup tent but he wouldn't do it.  He was determined to sleep under the stars.  I guess I should be grateful that he hasn't taken after his father's princess ways, at least not yet.

There's really no point to this blog post.  I just wanted to give you a little window into my life, and what it's like to live with The Princess Spy.

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp softened butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar (maybe more)
3/4 cup brown sugar (maybe more)
1 bag  semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter and softened butter in a large bowl with a fork or whisk, or in a stand mixer.  Add the sugars and mix to combine.  At this point if the filling will roll easily into balls without sticking to your hands you’re ready to go.  If not, add a little more of each sugar until you reach a consistency that is easy to roll (I used about 3/4 cup of each sugar).

Use a teaspoon measure to scoop the filling.  Roll each portion into a small ball, then sandwich them between two whole pretzels.  When all the balls are rolled and successfully sandwiched, stick the whole tray in the freezer for about half an hour.

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat at 30-second intervals, stirring occasionally until completely melted.  Remove the pretzel sandwiches from the freezer and quickly dip each half-way into the melted chocolate.  Return to the tray and repeat with remaining sandwiches.  When all are dipped, return the tray to the freezer to set up completely.  Store the sandwiches in the refrigerator until serving time.

Cook's tip:  I used 3/4 cup of powdered sugar instead of 1/2 cup.  The dough wasn't thick enough with just 1/2 cup.  I also learned that refrigerating the dough before rolling it into balls and putting it between the pretzels made the process quite a bit easier.  I dipped half of the batch in milk chocolate and half in semi-sweet and surprisingly I liked the semi-sweet better.  Also, I made the mistake of accidentally buying unsalted pretzels.  Although the bites were good using unsalted, I think they would be better with salted. 

From whence it came:  My cute as can be married daughter found this recipe while stalking the blog of one of her cute friends.  My married daughter called me and told me about these and I just had to try them.  My married daughter is on my good list, not only for sharing this great recipe, but for being just as sweet as this great recipe.  Do you know that she calls her momma just about every single day to check in and say hello?  Do you know how much that means to her momma?  More than words on this silly little blog could ever express.  Oh how I love my married daughter, and oh how you'll love these pretzles!

Why it's blogable:  The combination of sweet and salty is a winner as far as I'm concerned.  You combine pretzels and chocolate and I'm gonna sit right down next to you and be your best friend.  At least until the pretzels and chocolate are all gone.  Then you go and put peanut butter into the mix and you've got yourself one sensational recipe.  These little bites might be a process to make, but they're not hard, and they're worth the effort.  The Spy Who Loves Me and my teen son totally and completely agree!

Click here to get the printable:
Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Very Cool Pie Crust Secrets

If you're into making pie crusts, you have to check out this super cool video:

Lion House Pie Crust Secrets

Personally, I'm not a pie crust making girl.  It's an art I haven't mastered.  I think I lack motivation because I'm not a huge pie lover.  I do like pie sometimes, but it's not my favorite, so I've never taken the time to learn how to make a really good pie crust.

My mom makes a really good pie crust, and when we were kids she would make pie crust dough, pat it out into small circles, brush it with melted butter, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and bake it in the oven until it was crispy.  Oh baby!  It was a huge treat for our family.  We called it Yucca Crust.  I have no idea why.  But it was really good!

If you're into pie, watch the video.  It has some great tips.  And if you've ever had a Lion House Pie, you will know that they are yum-e!  Here's their very famous recipe:

Lion House Pie Crust

1/4 Cup Butter
1/3 Cup lard
1/4 Cup margarine
1/3 Cup shortening
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBS nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 1/2 cups Bread flour
1/2 cups plus 1 TBS cold water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixer, cream together butter, lard, margarine and shortening. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, baking powder, salt and dry milk powder; add to creamed butter mixture and mix briefly. Add pastry flour and beat until blended. Add bread flour and mix slightly. Pour in water and beat again just until water is blended.

Divide dough into two or three balls. Roll out each ball on a floured board. Line pie pan with dough and cut off excess dough. Flute edges. Bake at 375 for 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Otherwise, fill unbaked pie shell and bake according to recipe. Makes 2 to 3 9 inch pie shells. You can substitute 3 cups all purpose flour for the pastry and bread flour called for in the recipe.

Click here to get the printable:

Click here to learn more about The Lion House - it's one of my all time favorite restaurants in the whole world! 

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yum-E Fruit Dip

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 jar (about 7 or 8 oz.) Marshmallow Creme
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Mix all together and chill.  Serve with fresh fruit.

From whence it came:  The cutest couple shared this wonderful recipe with me, and boy am I glad they did.  They have an adorable baby boy and they are just the best little family.  Justin put up some pretty cool Christmas lights this year and nearly blinded the neighbors, but in a very tasteful way.  Justin and Michelle are the kind of kids that most of us are hoping our kids will grow up to be like.  Thank you Justin and Michelle, for the recipe, and for being so terrific.  

Why it's blogable:  Just read the list of ingredients and tell me if your mouth doesn't start watering.   Then imagine dipping fresh fruit into that heavenly dip and let the drooling begin.  This is perfect to take to a party, and when you do, you will be loved, adored and admired.  And that's a good thing!

Hope you enjoy stirring it up!