Saturday, August 30, 2014

Taco Flavored Tortilla Chips

Home Made Taco Flavored Tortilla Chips

These are just a simple variation on Home Made Tortilla Chips. You can even do this to plain store-bought tortilla chips. You know, when you have a quarter of the bag left and you're tired of the lack of flavor in them, or you've run out of salsa to go with them. They're super easy to make, so why not?
I started putting taco seasoning on tortilla chips a while ago, because when I was a kid I used to LOVE the Doritos Taco Flavored Chips. I think they still make some version of them, but they're not the same. This isn't the same either, but at least I'm not reaching into a bag expecting the same flavor from my childhood and then being let down. 
I can't say that the spice measurements are exact here. I usually just sprinkle away until it looks right and then add more if I need to. Today I added the hot chile powder to give them a nice kick, and I liked them a LOT. The ones you see pictured were gone several hours ago.
So, if you have some corn tortillas, cooking oil, and some taco seasoning around the house, I suggest you try these. Good stuff.

Taco Flavored Tortilla Chips

  • 12 corn tortillas (or more)
  • 1 inch of canola oil in a large frying pan
  • 2 tablespoons powdered taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon medium or hot chile powder
  • additional salt to taste
  • the large frying pan mentioned above
  • 2 tongs 
  • paper towels
  • cookie sheet
  • wire rack to fit in cookie sheet, or just over it
  • a large sharp knife 
  • large bowl or plastic bag
Place the wire rack in/on the cookie sheet. Place a double layer of paper towels on top of that.
Heat oil in frying pan over medium-high heat.  You can either check the temp with a thermometer (ready at 375 degrees) or put in a little piece of tortilla when you think it's ready. Be careful to not let the oil get TOO hot.
While oil heats, cut tortillas into eighths, like you'd cut a pizza.  
When oil is hot, fry enough chips to cover the oil with a little overlap, turning a time or two until both sides are a deep golden brown. Remove fried chips to prepared cookie sheet and sprinkle immediately with salt. Repeat with remaining tortilla wedges.
When chips have cooled, place in a large bowl and sprinkle with taco seasoning, chile powder, and more salt, if desired.
Toss chips in the bowl to distribute the seasoning.
If you have any left over, seal in an airtight container for up to a week, I suppose.
Makes a lot of chips.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcake

For some reason I'm not even aware of, I decided to make carrot cake cupcakes today. I really love Rhonda's Carrot Cake that I already have on this blog, and I guess I really wanted to eat some. I have no special event to take these to, so maybe I just figured it would be easier to get extras off my hands if I put the cake in cupcake form. So far I've eaten two, given away eight, and watched my husband eat two. Good start.
These cupcakes taste just as delicious as the original: moist, full of fruit and carrots, a little caramelized on top. Mmm.Then the cream cheese frosting is silky smooth, sweet, with a good amount of vanilla to balance the tang of the cream cheese. Good stuff indeed.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes 

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 pound (about 3 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Cream oil, sugar and eggs. Add flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add coconut, carrots, pineapple and nuts, and mix to incorporate. Fill lined cups to within 1/4 inch of the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a center cupcake comes out clean.

Carefully move baked cupcakes to a cooling rack.

While cupcakes cool, beat the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla together until smooth and creamy. Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice and frost your cupcakes. (To get the design you see, I piped 7-8 dollops around the edge of a cupcake and then used the rounded back of a spoon handle to press and sweep toward the center. Then I piped another dollop for the center.

I store mine covered in the fridge because of the cream cheese frosting, although I'm not sure how necessary refrigeration is. 

Makes 24 cupcakes (okay, maybe 26--I ended up with some extra batter.)

The frosting process
Some got a simple daisy pattern.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cheesy Potato Bread

Cheesy Potato Bread, toasted and buttered

Here's one more recipe today from the King Arthur Flour Yeast Bread Competition at the Iowa State Fair. I love that two of the recipes I made yielded two loaves each. This way I can blog about them...and taste them, too, I suppose. Not that I need to be eating this. I wasn't sure what to expect with this bread because I've never really heard of "Cheesy Potato Bread" before, but I wanted to put something into the competition ($250 King Arthur Flour gift card for best overall).  I'm pretty doubtful I'll be getting any ribbons or gift cards out of the competition today, but why not stay up until 3:00 A.M. baking bread? Right?
I do like this bread, but I think next time I make it I will add more cheese, or different types of cheese, and maybe even some bacon bits or something. It's got a smidge of cayenne pepper, but I almost think black pepper would have tasted better. Anyway, it's really good toasted with butter, or toasted and dipped into Potato Leek Soup (that is topped with bacon). It's not a fussy bread, so it's relatively easy to make. It just took a while to grate the potato. It rose pretty quickly, so it's a time value. Did I mention I went to bed at 3:00 A.M.? And that I woke up at 7:00 to take the bread to the fair? Now that I've eaten and blogged about this bread, I think a nap is in order.
Go try this bread now.
P.S. As mentioned in my previous post, I just copied and pasted the recipe as it appears on the recipe cards I had to turn in for the competition. And now you know my Exhibitor number for the Iowa State Fair.

Class 124                                                                                                    Exhibitor #51592
Division 12

Cheesy Potato Bread
   --adapted from


  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5-1/2 to 6 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups finely shredded peeled potatoes (I used yellow-fleshed potatoes)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese 

page 1 of 2


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a heat proof measuring cup, measure out water and half-and-half. Cut butter into tablespoon size slices and add three of them to the water/milk mixture. Microwave on high for about 50 seconds. Stir to melt butter. Microwave for additional time to bring the temperature up to 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Transfer liquid to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, and 2 1/2 cups of flour. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Mix in shredded potatoes.

Switch to the dough hook attachment, making sure to scrape the dough off the paddle before removing. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour, half a cup at a time. Stop adding flour when/if dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium speed for about 5 more minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down. Pat into a 1/2-in.-thick rectangle. Sprinkle cheese evenly over dough. Fold dough over the cheese and knead into dough. Shape into two round loaves; place in greased 9-in. round baking pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Cut an X on top of each loaf; brush with butter. Bake at 400° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the center reaches 185-190 degrees. Remove from pans to cool on wire racks. Yield: 2 loaves.

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Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Bread toasted

Today I'm posting my recipe as it appears on the cards I turned in for the King Arthur Flour Yeast Bread Competition at the Iowa State Fair this morning. I don't expect this bread here to win anything today. I decided around 9:00 last night that I would enter this competition, with three entries no less. My timing was a bit off, and I didn't have the right amount of time to let this bread rise all the way. I expected it to rise a little faster and the cheesy potato bread was rising super fast, but not so fast that I could have baked it first... I don't make the best baking decisions at 1:30 A.M.

The decision making doesn't get much better at 7:30 A.M. after only four hours sleep. I drove myself to drop off my three entries, naively thinking I could drive into the drop off lot. Apparently one needs a special permit for this. So I ended up parking about two blocks away, thankfully for free on the street, and walked my entry in. I should have dragged one of my kids out of bed to run in for me to drop the stuff off. Well, live and learn, as they say. At least they don't require a ticket to go in to drop food entries off.

Back to the point of this post. This bread is interesting because it has rolled oats in it. I'm not sure if it's the oats or the need for a longer rise, but this is a relatively dense loaf of bread. Lots of cinnamon and raisin flavor, and it tastes great toasted with lots of melty butter. There's a lot of chew to it--again, not sure if that's due to the rise or the oats. It's a hearty bread that I think my husband would like for breakfast, so I think I'll probably be making this again.

Well, what do you know. It ended up taking first
place in the cinnamon raisin bread class. Guess
it turned out the way it was supposed to.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
      --adapted from
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 heaping cup raisins
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water, 110°F
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups KingArthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Combine and heat the milk and butter (on the stove or in the microwave) until just hot to the touch (about 120°F). Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and add the raisins or other fruit, water, oat flakes, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt and cinnamon; stir well and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix three cups of flour with the instant yeast. When the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add the yeast/flour mixture and turn mixer on low. Add remaining 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour, half a cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium speed for about 5 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat it on all sides, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a cozy place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Knock down the dough, knead briefly on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Shape into loaves and place into two lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Brush tops of loaves with the egg & water mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until nicely browned and internal temperature reaches 185 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Near the end of the baking time, if the loaves are getting dark too quickly, cover them with a piece of aluminum foil, shiny-side up. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Yields 2 loaves

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bisquick Velvet Crumb (Coffee) Cake

Bisquick Velvet Crumb (Coffee) Cake

My weekend of over-baking and over-eating has come to and end. It's time I hop back on some sort of wagon with my eating, but not before posting, what I think is the last newish recipe of the weekend. I say "newish" because I made this coffee cake years and years ago when I still lived with my parents. High school? College? Not really sure, but I know when I tasted it this weekend, I remembered it like an old friend. The Bisquick website doesn't call this "coffee" cake; just "cake." It's got the tenderest crumb of any cake I think I've ever baked. So soft and velvety, just like the name implies. The website has a coconut topping, but I use my grandma's streusel recipe because I like it. 
I will be making this again, but I think I need to wait a couple of months. I'm not one to count calories, but I think in this case, I need to earn my way back to this coffee cake.

Bisquick Velvet Crumb (Coffee) Cake
    --adapted from Bisquick box

Topping Ingredients:
Cake Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
For the topping: In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup Bisquick, 3/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon. Mix in the 1/4 cup butter slices, using your fingers to smoosh butter into the dry ingredients. Squich and mix until it looks like somewhat clumpy wet sand. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat 3 cups Bisquick, 1 cup sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, and eggs with an electric mixer on low speed just to incorporate ingredients. Then beat on medium for about 4 minutes, making sure to occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Pour and spread batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle topping as evenly over the top as possible.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Makes one 9 x 13 inch cake.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pancake Sausage Dogs (on a Stick)

Pancake Sausage Dogs. I think they
look like little elongated balloons. 

This recipe was created and enjoyed with our good friends, Jen and Jeremy, and their four fabulous kids. Jen and Jeremy only lived around here for less than a year, but they are kindred spirits, and we get to see them once a year as they pass through on their annual trek from Texas to Wisconsin. Jen is the friend who introduced me to Shortcake Biscuits with Warm Berries and Whipped Cream. She is, most definitely, one of my best eating buddies. 
So, when the family comes and stays for a day or two, I see it as an opportunity to try new, fun foods. This is one of those new things that I've been meaning to try, and it is indeed a success: Warm fluffy, slightly sweet pancake fried around a salty seasoned breakfast sausage. Then you dip it in maple syrup. Mmm. It's easy to eat four of five of these before noticing that you've probably eaten more than you should have.
Although these make a little bit of a mess, they're super easy to put together. They're a fun "something different" to make for a special occasion--like a Saturday morning, or eating buddies visiting from out of town.
Give 'em a try.

Pancake Sausage Dogs (on a Stick)

  • 16 breakfast sausages (precooked & frozen)
  • 2 1/2 cups Bisquick 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • canola oil (3 inches in pot for frying)
  • maple syrup for dipping (optional)
Other Equipment:
  • 8 bamboo skewers, cut cleanly in half
  • plastic cup
  • tongs
  • paper towels
  • cooling rack
  • baking sheet
  • heavy pot for frying

Whisk together Bisquick, eggs, 3 teaspoons oil, and milk. Cover and refrigerate for one hour to overnight.
Thaw sausages for about 15-20 minutes, until they're able to be pierced with a skewer. Then push one skewer into each sausage, along the length, about halfway through.
Place a cooling rack in/over a baking sheet, and then top the cooling rack with paper towels. Set aside.
Pour the batter into a plastic cup that will allow you to dip the sausages in to coat with batter.
In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, preheat the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
One at a time, dip each skewered sausage into the batter, completely covering the sausage. Dip coated sausage carefully into the hot oil, spinning a little to cook the outside of the batter layer, and then gently let go and allow it to float and fry. Repeat with two or three more sausages and fry until a deep golden brown all over, turning with tongs as needed.
Remove pancake sausage dogs from the oil to the paper towel covered cooking rack. Repeat with remaining sausages. Allow to cool for at least five minutes before attempting to eat.
Makes 16 pancake sausage dogs

Our little friend Coco really enjoyed her breakfast.

Potato and Onion Tarts

Potato and Onion Tart 

My dear friend Jen, of Shortcake Biscuits with Warm Berries fame stayed at our house this weekend with her four kids and her husband. Thankfully, my friends are not dieting this year, so I was able to cook up some super decadent treats, including Nanaimo Bars (some of which got deep fried--yikes!), Toasty S'mores Rice Krispie Treats, Bisquick Velvet Crumb Coffee Cake, Dutch Letters, Waffle Sticks, and Pancake Sausage Dogs--just to name a few. I'd made fresh Dutch Letters and had some extra dough, which reminded me that I've been wanting to make these Potato and Onion Tarts for a while, ever since I purchased a copy of Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. That Martha has a ton of incredibly delicious recipes in that book.
At any rate, these turned out even better than I'd anticipated. I wasn't so sure about the balsamic glaze, but it added the perfect finish to these deceptively hearty tarts. There's nothing I don't like about these. They've got the crisp, buttery puff pastry on the bottom, which adds a little chew and density; they yummy soft potato in the middle; the sweet, tender onions; and then the rich, buttery, savory balsamic glaze on top. To me, it's fancy comfort food. So satisfying.
If you don't want to bother making your own puff pastry, Pepperidge Farms makes a great frozen puff pastry dough. After you have the puff pastry settled, these are quick to make, and Martha says that you can prepare them a few hours ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake. Thanks again, Martha, for another fabulous recipe.

Potato and Onion Tarts (Potato and Onion Tartes Tatin)
--adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook


  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pans 
  • 1/4 recipe puff pastry dough (see recipe below) 
  • 1 medium yellow onion 
  • 4 smallish red or yellow skinned potatoes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • pinch of sugar 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Roll puff pastry dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using the bottom of a mini pie pan or mini spring form pan as a guide, cut out four puff pastry circles. Prick each with a fork several times. Place on a plate or sheet pan and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Generously butter the bottom and sides of four mini pie pans or mini spring form pans. Set aside.
  • Slice onion into 1/8-inch slices, making sure to keep circles together.
  • Slice potatoes into 1/8-inch slices. 
  • Place 2 or 3 onion slices on the bottom of each buttered pan so that it's somewhat evenly covered. 
  • Place potato slices on top of the onions in an overlapping circle pattern. Place a single potato in the middle if it's not already covered by potato.
  • Salt and pepper the potatoes.
  • Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-22 minutes, or until fragrant and the puff pastry is a deep golden brown.
  • Carefully invert each pan onto a plate.
  • Bring balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for about 4 minutes, or until thickened and syrupy (you may want to reduce the heat once it comes to a simmer).
  • Whisk in butter, one small chunk at a time into the balsamic syrup. 
  • Drizzle a little balsamic butter syrup over each tart. Salt and pepper further, if desired.
Makes 4 individual tarts

Puff Pastry

  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour and the salt. Cut cold butter into half-inch slices and add to the flour mixture. Toss until butter pieces are coated with flour and separated from each other.
  • Stir egg and ice water together and then pour all at once into the flour/butter mixture. Using a spoon quickly mix until you see no obvious wet spots. Butter will still be in large pieces and "dough" will be in shaggy bits and there will still be lots of flour that's not mixed in yet.
  • Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper (or a lightly floured pastry cloth if you have one). Knead the dough ten times or so by pressing and pushing dough together, using the parchment between your hands and the dough, to form a rough square shape. Using a little extra flour for the rolling pin, roll dough into a 15x10 inch rectangle. Fold 2 short sides to meet in the center. Bring the top edge down to meet the bottom edge to form 4 layers. You will now have a long rectangle about 7 1/2 by 5 inches.
  • Repeat rolling and folding process once more. Wrap dough in the parchment paper you're using, and then wrap that in plastic wrap. Chill dough for 20-30 minutes. Repeat rolling and folding process two more times, and then chill the dough another 20 minutes before forming your pastries, whatever they may be.
  • Once dough is chilled, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. 
  • Use dough within 24 hours.
Maybe try making some Dutch Letters, Mini Apple Turnovers, Puff Pastry Pizza Pockets, or Two-Bite Chocolate Croissants with the remaining dough. Or you can just make more puff pastry pizza pockets and freeze them.

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