We’ve been doing a lot of traveling this summer including many miles on the road and many miles in planes. I hate planes. I really do. I feel like I become claustrophobic after about an hour. Plus, my husband would agree that I pretty much squeeze all of the blood from his hand at take off and landing. But, with planes and cars come great places with great food!
We went to Hawaii at the start of the summer, including renting a car and road tripping back from Las Vegas. Yes, we had a wonderful buffet in Vegas where we ate EVERYTHING! We went to the buffet at the end of breakfast/start of lunch so we definitely stuffed our mouths full of both breakfast and lunch foods until we were sick. It was great. We’ve traveled back home to Ohio to visit family. Visiting family sometimes turns into a “let’s eat everything that we don’t eat when we’re just by ourselves but with family it’s okay” kind of thing. I hope you know this feeling or else my family becomes the odd ones out and this is just /awkard/. Anywho, his past weekend we traveled “up north,” as Michiganders say, to Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Both gorgeous places with a lot of fun things to do.
This particular trip up north consisted of Mackinac’s famous fudge, ice cream, s’mores, and lots of yummy but not good for you grub. Needless to say, I needed some homemade goodness when we got home. These tortillas did the trick! And just wait until you see what went inside of these delicious pillowy treats…you’ll have to check back later this week 🙂 Sorry for testing your patience. It’ll be worth it!
Tortillas were something that I always took for granted because they came from the store, right? They’re one of those foods that unless you grew up making them you thought maybe they just were made by magic.
Well, my sister decided to make these flour tortillas for us one day. MIND BLOWN. Never again want to eat a store bought tortilla. For real. In fact, the recipe is from her blog! We’re like blogging sisters…but also literally sisters. Awesome, right?
Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the oil and mix until the oil is distributed throughout the flour mixture without any large clumps (this is easiest when using your hands). Add in the warm milk and mix until it forms a ball.
Knead the dough on a floured surface for 2 minutes. Then, place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for 20 minutes,
Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place the dough balls on a flat surface where they are not touching and cover again with a kitchen towel. Let sit 15 minutes.
After resting, take each dough ball and roll out on a well floured surface to about an 8" diameter. Keep the complete ones covered while rolling out the remainder.
Heat a griddle or large saute pan over medium-high heat without any oil in it. Put one tortilla at a time in the dry pan and cook on each side for about 30 seconds. They will start to puff up and get slightly browned. Cover the tortillas until you are ready to eat them.
To store, put in a plastic bag or wrap in foil and refrigerate. You can heat them up again on the griddle/saute pan if you want.
I’m approximately 72.5793% Slovak. Approximate guess. OKAY, random number I made up. But needless to say this fine specimen (me, of course) is mostly Slovak. I may, however, lose some Eastern European credit when I confess that I have never made homemade pierogi before now. I’ve eaten them many a time but never have these hands made them. *Sigh* Yes, I am ashamed.
My grandpa used to help make pierogi at his church and he would bring some back sometimes to eat. I’m pretty sure that when I say he helped “make” pierogi, he actually spent most of the time telling jokes and stories. However, the actual cooks were most likely well entertained during the pierogi-making process. And we were all happy to end up with tasty pierogi.
Since I had little idea of where to start making pierogi, I went to my trusty Slovak cookbook my grandma gave me many years ago filled with a wonderful mix of Slovak recipes and random recipes (I’m just guessing that chop suey is not Slovak…could be wrong). However, when the pierogi recipe called for 1 cup of flour and 1 potato to make 50 pierogi, I knew I probably would need a miracle from God to make that work. So, instead I found my way to the trusty internet and put together a mix of what I saw there with what my parents could tell me about how my grandparents would make pierogi and here is the end result.
These would be really good to make with friends, especially those with good jokes and stories like my grandpa had. I’m not saying they are hard to make, but very time consuming because so much love needs to go into each individual pierogi. Luckily, this recipe makes a good number of pierogi and once you have a system down, it wouldn’t be hard to make more! Just make sure your arms are up for a workout with all the dough rolling!
*Note: Yes, the plural is actually pierogi, not pierogies as many people say. It may even be spelled pirohy if you are Slovak. Only if you are Slovak can you spell it that way. Sorry non-Slovak friends. Such is life.
Mix the flour and salt together and pour on a flat surface. Form a well in the middle of the flour then add the milk and 1 tablespoon of melted butter to the well.
Start incorporating the milk and butter into the flour until you form a dough. Add water, as necessary, to help form the dough. I ended up using about 1/2 cup of water, but you may need more or less.
Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until a ball forms (Yes, you are reading that right. Turn on the TV or have a nice conversation while this is happening!)
Cover the dough ball with a bowl or in plastic wrap. Let sit about half an hour to rest.
Directions for the filling
While the dough is resting, peel and cut the potatoes into about 1 inch pieces. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let boil until the potatoes are fork tender. This process will take about 20 minutes.
Puree the onion and garlic in a food processor (you can also chop them into small pieces but my husband and I don't love onions so I pureed them to hide the texture a bit)
Saute the onion and garlic mixture in 1 tablespoon of butter for about 5 minutes until the onions turn slightly transparent and start to brown.
Drain and mash the potatoes, saving about 1/4 cup of the potato water to thin the potatoes if needed (you can also use milk or regular water to thin the potatoes).
Mix in the cheddar cheese, onion and garlic mixture, salt and pepper, and bacon to the potatoes. Add potato water or milk to thin the mashed potatoes if needed.
To make the pierogi
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces to make it easier to work with. Keep the extra pieces covered while working.
Roll the dough thin and cut into circles with a cookie cutter or glass.
Put about a teaspoon of potato filling into the center.
Wet one side of the dough circle with water to help seal and fold the pierogi in half.
Use a fork to seal the edges (and make it look pretty!)
Place about 8 pierogi at a time in boiling, salted water. Let the pierogi float to the top then cook for one additional minute. Let drain on a drying rack or towel.
Fry in butter until golden brown. Garnish with chives to serve.
You can also serve pierogi with sour cream on top. My grandma would always finish the pierogi by frying them in butter along with onions (again, not a huge onion fan so I put the onion in the filling instead). I actually used bacon fat from cooking the bacon to fry the pierogi the first time we ate these. Also delicious. Pierogi freeze well after they are boiled. Just let them dry off a bit once they come out of the water so they don't stick together. I put parchment paper between the layers of pierogi before freezing as well. When you bring them out out of the freezer you can just fry them up, even without defrosting prior to cooking.
Making mint extract is kind of like a long term commitment with a delicious ending. It actually takes a few months to reach minty perfection. I am *seriously* sad I have to wait to use my homemade mint extract because I saw some brownies with mint chocolate chip frosting and I am already salivating. However, it is said that all good things come to those who wait. And I certainly can think of MANY good things in my future with this mint extract.
This recipe can make however much extract you want. I made about a cup, which I can only imagine will keep me coming up with mint flavored goodies for quite a while. You can make more and give it as presents, or less if you don’t see yourself using that much. Either way, this stuff really doesn’t go bad sitting on a shelf so it’s totally worth it to make it!
Talking about being worth it, making extract is SO cheap. I just did the calculations and the base of the extract (I used vodka) cost me about $1.63 for about a cup. We’re using the cheap stuff here. No need to buy the best, most expensive liquor because the mint flavor will be the star flavor! I have fresh mint in my yard so that was free but it’s not that expensive in the store either. I looked up mint extract and they are definitely selling 2 ounce bottles for much more than twice what I spent to make a cup. Go me!
Also, as if being cheap wasn’t good enough…it’s super easy to make! Really this is barely a recipe it’s so simple. Check it out:
Place the mint leaves in a mason jar or container that seals very well and use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the leaves a bit and let out some of the oils.
Fill the remainder of the jar up with vodka (I used a 1 cup mason jar so I ended up putting in a little less than a cup of vodka). Make sure to cover all the mint leaves.
Seal the jar and shake it up a bit. Leave it in a cool, dark place like a cabinet, shaking it up a bit every few days. In about 1-2 months, or when it reaches your desired flavor, strain the leaves out and the extract is ready to use!
I *think* I have peppermint growing in my yard (it was given to me so I'm not certain). Needless to say, you can use any kind of mint for this. You will get slightly different flavors depending on what you use but all should be delicious! Make sure the leaves end up covered after you shake it so it doesn't mold. If after 2 months the flavor is not as strong as you want, you can let the extract sit for longer or strain the mint leaves and add fresh leaves.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
P.S. Keep an eye open for my lemon extract recipe pictured below! It will be just as difficult to make as the mint extract…meaning it will take 5 minutes to make 🙂 *UPDATE* Lemon extract is up! Check it out here!
I never bought ginger root before about a year ago. No reason except that I thought I was perfectly content with the little dried jar stuff. WRONG. Don’t do it!! Buy the real stuff! It’s cheap and simple to use. I’ll even show you how peel it!
Ginger root kind of looks alien-like. Kind of scary. Looks like there’s a chance it could bite you if you touch it. Don’t worry…I’ve used ginger root many, many times in the past year (for recipes like Veggie Packed Peanut Butter Pasta) and I swear to you that it does NOT bite. You can quote me on that one.
So you buy the ginger root from the store (you can find it almost anywhere now) and bring it home. Simple, right? You got this. Next, you get a spoon. Everyone has a spoon. This is seeming easier and easier. That’s because it is. Take the spoon and scrape the skin of the ginger off. Ginger root is a little flexible so you can even get around the little knobbies pretty well. That’s it. Nothing scary. All you need is ginger root, which remember I said doesn’t bite, and a spoon. And a trash can for the peels if you want to get technical on me I guess. The peels could even be composted though so a trash can is actually not essential in this process.
To use the ginger, prepare it by grating it with a microplane or chopping it into whatever size you may need. Put what you don’t use in a freezer bag and freeze. The ginger root will last in the freezer for about 3 months and grates beautifully frozen. I just pull it out, grate the amount I need, then stick it back in the freezer until its next adventure awaits. Simple, folks. So go get some ginger root and make something!
This one was inspired by my garden. My teeny tiny garden that doesn’t get any sun because of the massive maple trees we have in both our front and backyard. I love the shade from the trees…do not love that I have about one square foot of sun in my yard to try to plant the many fruits, vegetables, and herbs I want to plant.
However, even with sun at a premium in our yard I DID actually produce the herbs that went into this delicious crumble! We also do have a peach tree and blueberry bushes (see picture above). Note that I said “inspired by” when I started this story because as you can see, there are no actual peaches on the tree. Also, the blueberries you see in the picture are THE blueberries on the bushes we have. I ate one. In fact I ate the blue one you see there. Not even good. It was such a sad moment in my life. I think I need some help in the blueberry arena. Any suggestions, let me know. Anyways, the peaches and blueberries had to come from the store if you couldn’t gather that from my ramblings. Luckily they were both in season!
The peach tree, despite being peachless, was actually started from a peach pit! My husband’s grandma started it a few years back and gave it to us to plant in our yard. The tree grows like crazy! It’s a little lopsided but it’s wonderful. Travis already told me that we are digging it up and taking it with us when we move someday. I’m totally cool with that. Someday, maybe there will even be peaches! Wouldn’t that be great? I think so.
This crumble is kind of a mix of many crumbles I’ve made. Not too sweet and the herbs make you stop for a minute and ponder what might be making that delicious combination of flavors. It can be our little secret. But you can also share the secret. It’s really up to you. I wouldn’t have shared this recipe if I really wanted it a secret. Either way, I hope you enjoy this little sweet treat perfect for two!
Mix together fruit mixture ingredients in a medium sized bowl. The flour should just coat the fruit to help make a thicker syrup. Use 1-2 tablespoons depending on how wet the fruit you use is.
Place the fruit mixture into 2 small ramekins. I filled mine up most of the way with fruit.
Mix together the crumble topping ingredients until the butter is mostly incorporated with pea size bits remaining. I find it easiest to use my hands for this.
Place crumble on top of fruit mixture in ramekins. I went all the way to the top, but do not push the crumble down too much.
Place ramekins on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (to help with drips) and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the crumble is lightly browned.
You can really use any fruit with this recipe. When trying to figure out how much fruit to use, I will often put the fruit in the ramekins as I am cutting it up then transfer it back to a bowl to add the other ingredients. This way I am sure I have the exact right amount! If you are making more of this recipe you can certainly use an 8x8" pan (or any size pan)! When cooking, look for a bubbling fruit mixture and lightly browned top to tell when it is finished.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/