Monday, April 11, 2016

Tacos al Pastor

Tacos al Pastor
My brother introduced me to tacos al pastor, and to this recipe, last Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if this is a traditional recipe or not--googling "tacos al pastor" got me all different forms of pork. Shredded, cubed, sliced. 
If you've never had them before, just know that tacos al pastor are made from pork marinated in a pineapple juice based marinade. It's almost like a Mexican teriyaki--sweet and salty deliciously tender pork. So good.
One thing I really enjoyed about how my brother prepared these tacos is that he cooked the corn tortillas in a little bit of oil rather than just heating them up. A little fat makes almost everything better, right? The cooking in a little oil makes the tortillas chewy and helps them hold up better to the fillings.
These tacos are not spicy at all, but if spicy is what you're into, I'm sure you could add some minced jalapeƱo to the marinade. 
I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough time for the meat to marinate since I got back from work around 5:15, but a 20-minute soak was plenty, and I had dinner on the table by 6:15, which, if you know me, is pretty good. I'm sure you could prepare the meat in the marinade in the morning and let it sit in the fridge all day and then cook it up quickly. It's really an easy meal. I strongly recommend you try it. Soon. And that's all I have to say. Enjoy.

Tacos al Pastor

Marinade Ingredients:
  • 2 cans (6 oz. each) pineapple orange juice
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons red chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork loin/tenderloin, cubed or thinly sliced 1-inch pieces
Other Taco Ingredients:
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 squeeze lime juice
  • In a medium sized glass bowl, whisk all of the marinade ingredients except the meat. Add the meat and allow to marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours or so.
  • Mix the half cup of diced onion with the 2 tablespoons cilantro and squeeze of lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  • When you're ready to prepare the tacos, prepare a sheet of aluminum foil folded in half to contain the heated tortillas. Then preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot, drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon oil over the center, and place a tortilla. Cook tortilla for approximately 1 minute, or until bottom is starting to brown; flip and cook another minute. Remove hot browned tortilla to the foil, placing it between the layers of foil to keep it warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • When done heating tortillas turn heat up to just above medium. Pour a little oil in the bottom of the pan (about a tablespoon). Remove meat from marinade with a slotted spoon and spread out in the bottom of the pan, taking care not to crowd the pieces of meat. You'll cook about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of meat at a time.
  • Stir meat to cook and caramelize evenly. When meat is cooked through and caramelized on the outside, place cooked meat in a heat-proof container and cover. Continue cooking meat, wiping pan with a clean paper towel between batches. Adjust heat and add oil as needed.
  • When meat is done, place two tortillas on your plate (yes, two--the double layer adds stability), top with about 1/2 cup cooked meat and a tablespoon or so of the cilantro/onion mixture. 
Makes about 6 tacos.

The meat is marinating
Heating a tortilla
Not the most attractive pic, but you can see how much meat to cook at a time
Such good tacos
This is the recipe my brother sent. He's not an exact cook, but he's a good one.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Gluten Free Deep Pan Pizza Crust

Gluten Free Deep Pan Pizza

As with regular pizza around here, I get tired of making one kind of gluten free pizza crust for my gluten limited son. Since the kid really loved eating Pizza Hut pizza before going gluten free on his pizza, I figured that I needed to try a pan pizza for him. For this recipe, I just used the recipe for Gluten Free French Rolls that originated with a Gluten Free French Bread recipe on the Better Batter Flour website.
I don't know that this pizza tastes like Pizza Hut, but my son said it tasted "like a slice of heaven," and "a little more crispy [than other pizza crust], but it's good." We'll see how he feels after eating the other two pizzas in the freezer. For now, though, I'm calling it a success. Deep pan pizza for my gluten limited son. Good stuff.

Gluten Free Deep Pan Pizza Crust


  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons (approximately) vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt


  • Preheat oven to 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the water, flour, salt, and yeast. Mix on low until flour is moistened. Scrape the sides down and then turn mixer on medium to medium high for about 4 minutes.
  • While dough/batter mixes, spray three 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Drizzle about a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil in the bottom of each pan and then sprinkle with a little garlic salt.
  • When dough/batter is mixed, scoop about 1/3 of the batter into the center of each pan.
  • With wet fingers, spread batter to the edges of the pans, re-wetting fingers as needed to prevent sticking. Drizzle the tops with a little more oil--about 1 to 2 teaspoons each.
  • Allow dough/batter to rise for about 40-45 minutes, uncovered.
  • Right before baking, poke each pan of dough about 10 times with an oiled finger.
  • Place pans in the oven and bake for about 14-18 minutes, or until crust is puffed, set, and starting to brown on the bottom (you'll need to get a spatula or tongs to help lift the crust to get a peak at the bottom).
  • Now you have two choices: 1. Top your pizza with your favorite toppings and place back in the hot oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, or 2. Remove baked crusts to a wire rack to cool completely, place in zip top freezer bags when cool, and freeze until ready to use. Place on parchment or back in a pan when ready to use.

Makes 3 nine-inch pizza crusts

These crusts are frozen and ready for more pizza at a later date.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Simple Shortbread Cookies

Simple Shortbread Cookies

This here is me itching my scratch for Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. I haven't had Lorna Doones in years, and something in me just refuses to buy cookies in the store. Other things, I'm fine with purchasing pre-made, but cookies I am not. 
I looked up copy-cat recipes and also the actual Nabisco Lorna Doone recipe, and this is what I came up with. They're not as thick as I remember Lorna Doones to be, and I think they are slightly less dense, but they are just what I was craving: crisp, buttery, well-browned, and only slightly sweet. 
These spread more than I'd anticipated, but the flavor makes up for their relative flatness. Maybe if I make them again I'll try something different to avoid the spread, but for now, I am satisfied. This recipe is definitely a keeper for me.

Simple Shortbread Cookies
     --adapted from Simple Family Finance

  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (if dough isn't coming together)
  • about 2 tablespoons flour + 2 tablespoons sugar mixed together for dusting
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the flour, sugar, salt, and soda. Turn mixer on low to mix the dry ingredients. 
  • Add the butter and  mix on low speed. Dough will look dry and sandy for a while. If it does not come together into a cohesive mass within about 1 minute, add the heavy cream and continue to mix on low until it forms a dough.
  • Dust a clean work surface with half the sugar and flour mixture. Turn dough out onto work surface and flatten roughly into a rectangle shape. Sprinkle with more flour/sugar mixture. Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, trying to maintain a rectangular shape as much as possible. 
  • Cut with a pizza or fluted rotary cutter into about 1 1/2 inch square pieces. You'll have scraps left at the end
  • Place on prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until browned on the edges.
  • Allow to cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies

I cut them this size at first and decided they were too big.

The little scraps make tasty bite-size cookies.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

These potatoes are actually the inspiration for one of my more popular posts on this blog: Twice Baked Potatoes...Sort Of. My mom has been making these potatoes for years, and she probably got it from someone at church or something. They are FABULOUS--salty, rich, cheesy, creamy, bacony. The perfect side dish for beef or pork. At first my mom made them with fresh potatoes, but eventually changed over to using instant mashed potatoes. I'll put that version at the end. The recipe she sent me also calls for twice the cream cheese, sour cream, and milk. I'm not sure if that's just because the instant mashed potatoes produce a greater volume, but my version filled up a 9 x 13 inch pan perfectly.

Besides tasting out of this world, these potatoes are awesome because you can make them the day/night before and refrigerate. The next day you just pop it into a 350 degree oven to heat through and then add the cheese and bacon. Super easy and great for taking to dinner elsewhere.
So if you're looking for a delicious and convenient potato side dish, look no further. This is it. If you're looking for something light on calories, though, you may need to move on.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

  • 4 pounds red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup jarred bacon bits (or a half-pound of bacon, fried and chopped into pieces, or chopped into pieces and fried)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, dry, pierce, and bake potatoes for about 1 hour, or until potatoes yield when squeezed with an oven-mitted hand.
  • When potatoes are done, carefully remove them from the oven and place them in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if you're going to be using a hand mixer).
  • Break up potatoes with a potato masher or other tool that will break them up into rough chunks.
  • Heat the milk a little bit in the microwave and then pour into the bowl with the potatoes. Add the butter and salt. With the paddle attachment on the mixer, turn the mixer on low speed and mix until milk is basically incorporated. 
  • Add the cream cheese and sour cream. Mix on low at first and then turn up to high and beat until creamy. Scrape the bottom and the Add green onions and mix to incorporate.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the potatoes into the pan. Cover pan with aluminum foil. At this point you can do one of two things: 1. put the potatoes in the refrigerator until the next day, and then bake them in a 350 degree oven for 60-75 minutes; or 2. place back in the oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are piping hot.
  • When potatoes are heated through, remove the foil and sprinkle top with the shredded cheese and then top with the bacon bits. Return to oven for 5 minutes.
  • Serve.
  • Refrigerate leftovers, if you have any.
  • Makes about 12-16 servings
Twice Baked Potato Casserole under the cheese


  • 6 Cups water
  • 1/4 lb butter (I sometimes omit this fat)
  • 4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (16 oz) container of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced thin
  • 1 (15.3 oz) Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes (flakes: any brand will do)
  • 3 cups of grated yellow cheese
  • 1 lb cooked bacon (cut into 1/4" pieces and refrigerate until next day)
1. Heat water, butter, salt, to boiling in a 6 quart Dutch oven. Remove from heat. Add cream
cheese, milk, and sour cream, stirring until cream cheese melts.
2. Stir in potato flakes and green onions, mixing until all ingredients are well combined. Spread mashed potato mixture into 13 x 9-inch glass pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Make ahead: refrigerate until next day. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour covered or until bubbling around the edges. (It takes longer to bake when refrigerated) Allow another 20-30 minutes. I sometimes microwave potatoes to bring up the heat before putting in the oven
4. Cheese and bacon topping: when fully cooked, sprinkle cheese and bacon over potatoes and cover to melt. If potatoes are ready too early, reheat in microwave.

This recipe has 47 gazillion calories and is absolutely a crowd pleaser

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mr. Yoshida's Style Sauce

Tasty Mr. Yoshida's style teriyaki sauce

Mr. Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce is what I would call a classic teriyaki sauce--sweet and salty and delicious. It's widely available on the West Coast, but I've only found it once here in Iowa--at SAMs Club when it had accidentally been shipped to our local store. I can order it from Amazon, but since even with two-day shipping I can't get it here in time for my husband's birthday dinner, which I just found out will be Teriyaki Brisket
At first I made this without all the water, and only 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, but it was way too strong. Adding the cup of water and two more tablespoons of cornstarch mellowed it out perfectly. This isn't exactly like Mr. Yoshida's, but it's close enough for me. I'm excited to try it on the brisket and will share those pics later. If I can remember.

Mr. Yoshida's Style Sauce
     --adapted from

  • 6 quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger
  • 6 green onions, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 bottle (15 oz.) Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Mirin
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • Mix the corn starch and water in a bowl or liquid measuring cup and set aside.
  • In a medium to large size heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add all of the ingredients except for the corn starch and water. Stir occasionally as it comes to a boil. When it boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir the corn starch and water mixture and then stir it into the sauce. Simmer for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Allow sauce to cool in the pot for an hour or so, then strain into a jar or bottle for storage. Refrigerate.
Makes 4 cups


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hawaiian Bread Rolls

Hawaiian Bread Rolls

Spring break means sleeping in and doing what I want. And what I wanted to do today is bake something new and blog about it. I've toyed with the idea of making Hawaiian style rolls since my husband LOVES King's Hawaiian Bread, but today is the first time I've done it. They turned out awesome too. Not exactly like King's Hawaiian, but awesome nonetheless. They're so soft and tender in the middle, and just slightly sweet. I may even add a little more sugar next time. They'll be great for little sandwiches and for breakfast and just to enjoy with dinner. 
I'm glad I've finally made these. Now I'll just have to make some more and freeze them because, honestly, they take a little bit longer than the usual rolls I make. Perhaps I'll have to invest in the King Arthur Flour's recommended SAF Gold Instant Yeast. You can stop reading now. I'm just rambling. Go try these rolls.

Hawaiian Bread Rolls
    Adapted from

  • 1/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 3/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 3 tablespoons instant mashed potato flakes (or 2 tablespoons potato flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup pineapple or pineapple/orange juice
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten (keep egg white in fridge for brushing dough later)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the 1/4 cup flour, instant yeast, and water. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes to rest. (Please note that the next time I do this I am going to skip this step and add the yeast to the dry ingredients, and then cut in the butter. Then I will stir the wet ingredients into the dry. This is all because I don't think my sponge worked smoothly into the dough through my hand kneading.)
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 3/4 cup flour, potato flakes, and salt.
  • Add the butter, juice, eggs, sugar, and vanilla to the "sponge" that's been resting. Try to mix those ingredients as well as you can. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until a sticky dough forms.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth, adding only enough flour so the dough doesn't stick to the work surface. When dough is smooth and springy, return it to the large mixing bowl. Cover and allow to rise for about 2 hours.
  • Spray a 9x13 inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pulling up around the edges, form the dough into a nice purse. Gently press the purse down into a circle about an inch or inch and a half thick. Cut into 16 equal pieces. 
  • Form each of the pieces into a little purse and set aside. When all of the pieces are purses, go back to the first and form into a nice tight little ball. (Click here for a short video of how I do this. You'll need to scroll down a little to get to the video clip.)
  • Place dough balls in a 4 x 4 array in the greased pan. Cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap that's been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Allow to rise until puffy, about 1 1/2 hours.
  • While rolls rise, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mix the egg white with 1 tablespoon water. Brush tops and sides of rolls with egg wash.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown and internal temperature reaches 190 degrees on a digital thermometer.
  • Remove rolls from oven and allow to cool about 3 minutes before turning them out onto a cooking rack to finish cooling.
Makes 16 rolls

I'm not a fan of the "sponge" in this recipe and won't be doing it next time.
Risen dough
Dough balls set to rise
Risen dough balls
Browned, glossy, and fabulous baked rolls

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal tastes like a fresh baked peanut butter oatmeal cookie.

One of the reasons I never expect to make a living at this blogging thing is that I really don't have the time or mental space to think of recipes just to blog about them. I make food because I want to eat it. And because I want other people to eat it too, when it turns out delicious. 
This morning I decided that the Baked Oatmeal I've been making for a little over a year now could taste really extra special with the addition of a bit of peanut butter. 
This thought came to me early in the morning--fortunately allowing me enough time to execute my experiment before having to go to church for coffee bar duty where I would be tempted to eat yummy Asiago bagels with cream cheese. I'd like to say that my serving of this oatmeal helped me to resist, but the siren call of the bagels was too much, and I ended up having half a bagel. Just half though. That's okay, right?
At any rate, bagel eating aside, this little baked oatmeal experiment turned out perfectly. My house smelled like fresh baked peanut butter cookies, and the peanut butter added a nice nutty richness to the baked oatmeal I've already come to love.
If you've never tried baked oatmeal, you really must give it a try, whether you're a fan of regular oatmeal or not. It's not mushy at all, and it tastes to me like a big fluffy oatmeal cookie doused in heavy cream and milk. The oatmeal comes out al dente, and the sugar and honey make is awesomely sweet--not sugary, just sweet.
If I were a fan of jam, I might have added a dollop of strawberry jam to the top of this, but since I'm not, I added the chopped almonds because I could--and because they're delicious.  
So here's the recipe. I've said more than enough. Enjoy. 

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal


  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 5x7 inch pan and set aside.
  • Mix together brown sugar, oil, peanut butter, honey, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Add oatmeal, flax meal, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly and then stir in milk.
  • Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle with the final teaspoon of sugar and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  • Serve with milk, nuts, fruit, or whatever sounds good with oatmeal.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated and warmed up in the microwave easily. I also wrap single serving portions in foil and freeze. When I want to use it, I open the top of the foil and bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes or until heated through. Sometimes I'll microwave it a little at the end to get it hot.
Makes 4 servings
Recipe is easily doubled--just use a square 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan.

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