Homemade Corn Tortillas Will Change Your Life

A week ago I learned how easy it is to make corn tortillas at home and how absolutely delicious they are fresh off the griddle. Want to guess how many times I’ve made them since then? Let’s just say it’s definitely closer to 7 than I care to admit…

All you need is masa corn flour (Maseca), water, and a little salt. That’s it. I pour a cup of masa into a bowl, add about 3/4 cup of warm water, throw in a pinch of salt, and mix to make a soft dough. I break off about 6-8 pieces and roll into balls.  Then I tear two square sheets of plastic wrap, place a ball in between and press. I don’t have a tortilla press (YET) so I just use my cutting board and a rolling pin to flatten it to about 1/8 inch thick. Heat a griddle or pan, carefully peel the tortilla off the plastic wrap, and place into the pan.  Heat it for about 1 minute then flip over to the other side for another minute.  Repeat with the rest of them and you have a hot stack of delicious corn tortillas that are much better than any cardboard imitations in the grocery store.

Maseca

There’s also something really therapeutic about pressing the dough into a delicate disk and placing it carefully in the pan. The attention it requires helps me slow down (even if I am moving fast) and clear my mind, like pressing pause on life outside my kitchen.

Now that I know how easy they are, corn tortillas will now be in my regular rotation.  The first time I made them, I used them for tofu breakfast tacos by making a tofu scramble and pairing with a sweet potato hash and Cholula.

Tofu B-Fast Taco

The second time I made tempeh tacos by crumbling up some tempeh and sautéing it with kale, tomato, and spices like adobo seasoning, chili powder, and oregano.

tempehtacos

I even made buffalo pear blue cheese tacos, which I regret not taking a picture of and will definitely have to revisit.  I topped a couple corn tortillas with sliced pears, crumbled blue cheese, and slashes of buffalo sauce, and then placed it under the broiler until the cheese melted. The combo of sweet pears, tangy blue cheese, and spicy buffalo sauce on a base of a fresh corn tortillas was a symphonic blend that put me in a state of pure bliss.

So in conclusion: Go out and buy Maseca. Make some corn tortillas. Change your life. Most delicious life hack ever.

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Honey Blueberry Polenta

My immune system is terrible.  2014 barely begins and I get another cold when I just had one last month.  Granted, my roommate was sick and I had just hung out with a bunch of children as part of a volunteer event shortly before I started feeling off.  Luckily, it was nothing major.  Just annoying congestion and coughing.  I self-medicated with a lot of rest and liquids, including some tea that caught my eye at the grocery store.

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Something else that made me feel better was getting a package of some things I left behind at my parents’ house.  Mom also sent some fun, random little extras including a tiny jar of some local honey and the cutest smiley face I’ve ever seen.  (And The Kite Runner, which I read all day on Sunday.  It was amazing.)

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One morning the polar vortex had me craving something warm and comforting for breakfast but I was sick of oatmeal.  I had just bought polenta a few days ago for a dinner so I figured some grits would be a great partner for the honey Mom sent.  (Let’s be real…I just wanted an excuse to eat a lot of honey for breakfast.  Might have put it in my tea too…) Thus, the incredibly simple honey blueberry polenta was created.

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1/4 cup polenta
3/4 cups of milk (I used coconut milk.)
Frozen or fresh blueberries
Honey

I brought the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.  I added the polenta and lowered the heat, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes until it thickened and grits absorbed most of the milk.  Then I removed it from heat, added the blueberries with a stir, and let it rest for a couple minutes. (My frozen blueberries defrosted by just hanging out in there.) Finally I scooped some into a bowl and doused it in honey.  This probably makes about 2 small servings but for me it was one generous helping.

Just a note: In the pic above, I didn’t stir in the blueberries to make it prettier. ;)

Banana Coconut Oat Pancakes (vegan)

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I woke up this morning stressed.  For my entire dream, I was in an airport–which alone would be stressful–but the whole time I was constantly running to catch flights that I always missed.  Shortly before I woke up, I went to a vending machine to get a drink and it wouldn’t take my $5 (damn airport prices.)  When it finally did, it jammed and exploded into monopoly money.

Who wants to analyze that for me?

So I woke up annoyed, but also with an inexplicable craving for pancakes so I whipped up these vegan banana coconut oat pancakes with the stuff I had in my kitchen and pantry, which is how a lot of my experiments start.

These aren’t the fluffy kind of pancakes–they’re actually quite dense (with deliciousness), more like a moist quick bread.  They also happened to have a little protein boost from the garbanzo flour and if I would have thought to put slivered almonds on it (damn it) it would have been pushed over the top.  I gobbled down a plate of two of these and I really hope it don’t regret it when I go to the gym in 30 minutes.

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Banana Coconut Oat Pancakes

Ingredients:

2/3 cup of oats (you can use gluten-free oats)

1/3 cup garbanzo/chickpea flour

1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 ripe banana
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. coconut or olive oil
2 tsps. coconut nectar or maple syrup
2/3 cup coconut milk
Topping:
More maple syrup or coconut nectar
Grated or shredded coconut

In a food processor, grate the oats until they form a powder.  Pour into a bowl and mix with the garbanzo flour, baking soda, and salt.  In the food processor, blend the banana, vanilla, oil, syrup, and milk.  Pour into the dry ingredients and mix.  Heat a little coconut oil in the skillet on medium low.  Pour 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of batter to form a pancake (spread it out with the spoon a little if you have to.)  Cook on low until the edges are cooked and the bottom is browned.  Flip and cook until the other side is browned.  Repeat for more pancakes!

While the skillet is still hot, pour in some shredded coconut.  Stir and toss until browned and crispy.  Top pancakes with the shredded coconut and maple syrup.

This makes probably around 4-5 medium pancakes.

Bacon Jam Crescent Rolls

I know what you might be thinking: “Bacon? Again? What’s with this woman?”

But if you’re cool, which you are, you’re probably thinking, “Bacon! Again! I love this woman!”

Now I promise I’m not obsessed. The sound of sizzling bacon doesn’t make me tremble. The smell of sizzling bacon doesn’t make me weak in the knees. Actually, when I’m at home, I usually eat vegetarian or vegan meals. But I saw this recipe for bacon jam on Ezra Poundcake, and I could not resist. I mean it’s JAM made of BACON!!!

Excitedly I told two friends about it, and they had the opposite reaction. Their faces scrunched up as if to say, JAM? Made of BACON?

This only made me more determined. It was even enough to get me out of my self-imposed Saturday morning coma to get some biscuits from Target.

Now Target is a trap. I go in for one specific reason and end up battling the urge to buy things I don’t need, like a donut hole/cake ball pan. True story. Now I’ve never wanted a wedding or thought much about getting married, but as I looked longingly at the kitchen appliances and gadgets, I realized that maybe I do want one someday…because I can register for some epic kitchen swag and get it FO FREE. Then I realized that it’s not really FO FREE because I have to pay for the wedding. Touché, frugality. Touché.

Anyway, Target did not have biscuits, and the thought of bacon jam hadn’t empowered me enough to make them from scratch, so I saw the crescent rolls and thought, why not?

I followed the recipe for bacon jam on Ezra Poundcake with no variations. And she’s right, it does smell pretty bad at first, but when it’s done, it mellows out and the flavors intensify. I won’t go into detail because I can’t do a better job describing it than she did. Much, much later I spread some on the crescent roll triangles, rolled up those suckers, and popped them in the oven. Easy.

I felt a little Sandra Lee using one of those tubes of pre-made dough, but whatever…call me Sandra Lee if you dare, because it was good. Buttery and bacon-y, and really, what could be better? These could be a great addition to a brunch menu, and quite simple if the bacon jam has already been made. All they need is a tall glass of orange juice, some scrambled eggs, and hash browns. Next time.

Edit: These also taste fabulous when you come home from dancing at 2 in the morning. :)

Warm Vegan Breakfast Quinoa

It’s a brand new year, and like most people who have made resolutions, I’ve decided that this is the year that I get in the best shape of my life.  This is not just an empty threat, not this time.  I’ve realized that I’m way too young to feel out of shape.  I’m 23–why shouldn’t I be in the best shape of my life?  Besides, it’s not only a choice to be healthier; it’s a choice to be happier.

The holidays were filled with rich food and copious amounts of wine so January is devoted to detox, getting my body back on track with a healthier diet and more exercise.  I’ve been experimenting with vegan recipes.  I’ve found that a delicious and healthy way to start the day is Warm Breakfast Quinoa.
I adapted a recipe from 101 Cookbooks with some substitutions based on what I had: I used almond milk instead of dairy milk to make it vegan, and I added blueberries and grated coconut.  I also added ground flaxseed for some extra fiber, and I used coconut nectar instead of agave nectar.
I found Coconut Secret coconut nectar at Whole Foods while looking for agave nectar or another natural sweetener.  It claims to be more healthy than agave nectar, and it tastes and looks similar.  After drizzling it on this breakfast quinoa, I’m kind of obsessed with it now, which is probably NOT healthy.  It’s difficult to hold myself back from adding a little extra to the breakfast quinoa.
I love the texture and taste of quinoa. Biting into the bubbly grains, you experience an initial give followed by a subtle burst of nutty flavor.  The roasted pecans and grated coconut enhance the warm nuttiness of the quinoa while the berries and coconut nectar lend it a soft edge of sweetness that hits the perfect note for breakfast.  This dish will be on my breakfast rotation for a while.