Mission San Xavier

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Saguaro National Park

So a month ago my family came to visit me in Tucson so we decided to go sightseeing and the first place we went was Saguaro National Park. Now while I could write a lot and explain exactly what we did and saw, I thought I’d let the pictures speak for themselves. All I will say, is that I never thought cacti were beautiful until I went here, but now I truly appreciate them.

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Quick Homemade Tomato Sauce

Another recipe I wanted to try called for tomato sauce, and with a mother who always made tomato sauce from scratch I knew I couldn’t just go to the store and buy a jar of it. So while I didn’t have all the ingredients to make my mom’s tomato sauce, I decided to try and make a quick, simple recipe that I found on allrecipe.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/homemade-tomato-sauce-ii/)

So I began by putting 4 tbsp of evoo and heating it in a large pan over medium heat. Then I added 1 chopped onion, and 4 cloves of crushed garlic and cooked until tender. Then I added 1 (28oz) can of peeled and crushed tomatoes, 1 cup of water (instead of the 2 the recipe called for), 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning.

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Once incorporated I let it continue to heat through and thicken, stirring occasionally until it was thick.

Review: a simple base recipe for tomato sauce that you can change up to suit your specific tastes.

City Wife Country Life’s Homemade Tortillas

So with my appetite coming back I decided it was time to try round two of making homemade tortillas. This time I tried City Wife Country Life’s recipe: http://www.citywifecountrylife.com/2010/11/5-tips-for-perfect-homemade-flour.html

I began by measuring out 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 1/2 tsp salt into a large bowl. Then I added 1/2 cup (1 stick) of chopped butter in place of lard. Then I slowly added 1 cup of boiling water, mixing with my hands (be careful when doing this, so as not to burn yourself)

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Still using my hands I continued to knead the dough for another 5 minutes forming it into a ball. Then I let the dough sit, covered, for 15 minutes. After that I cut the dough into 8 pieces and flattened each into a circle using my hands. After I had rolled out the first one until almost see through, I realized it wouldn’t fit in my skillet so I went back and cut the other 7 sections in half to make smaller tortillas. It definitely makes a difference when you roll them out very thin, to the point you can see through them for light and tender tortillas,

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Then place the tortillas in a skillet over medium and flip when it begins to have air bubbles. (don’t worry if this doesn’t always happen, some of mine didn’t and others had huge bubbles but they all turned out good anyways) But when you see them rising beat it down.

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Flip and remove from the heat. This will make a large plate of tortillas which can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for longer (just let them thaw before you begin cooking)

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Because I am lazy my tortillas certainly weren’t perfect circles, but they were still delicious!

Review: very yummy, a softer and more tender recipe than the last I tried, but it also helps that it was my second time making them.

 

Favorite Family Recipes’ Restaurant Style Refried Beans

So to go along with my homemade tortillas (separate post) I decided to have refried beans. But the ones straight out of the can didn’t seem that appetizing so I searched around and found Favorite Family Recipes’ Cheater Restaurant Style Refried Beans: http://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/2013/01/cheater-restaurant-style-refried-beans.html

The recipe itself is very easy: 1 can of refried beans, 1/3 cup sour cream and then hot sauce. As I didn’t have any hot sauce I used ground cayenne pepper instead (to taste). Another good option would be medium or hot salsa, taco seasoning,  and maybe some lightly sauteed chopped onions for a little texture. As I wasn’t using it as a side I skipped out on topping it with cheese and baking.

Sadly I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture to post-but go to the link to check out the recipe and see their photo.

Review: definitely a step up from just out of the can refried beans, and they actually tasted better the next day cold as a dip to my quesadilla. Yum!

Real Mom Kitchen’s Italian Crescent Casserole

With the weather cooling down some I decided it was a perfect time to make a casserole, so I decided to try Real Mom Kitchen’s Italian Crescent Casserole, but make vegetarian friendly and extra tasty with some homemade tomato sauce and tofu crumbles in place of ground beef.

I began by mixing a handful of my tofu crumbles with my homemade tomato sauce in a skillet to warm through.

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Then I took 4 separated crescent roll doughs and arranged them on a glass pan in a circle pattern with the narrow tips facing out. I topped this with about 1/3 cup of shredded cheese and some Italian seasoning. Then I topped with the heated mixture and covered with the ends of the dough, sealing it in. I sprinkled the top with a little more cheese and some more Italian seasoning and baked at 375 for 20 minutes until golden brown.

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Review: this recipe was very tasty, but for one person it was a little hard to make it all fit in the two dinner rolls, so I used four instead which made it a little more carb heavy but still good.

Picky Palate’s Candy Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches

For MIBOLC (MIlitary Intelligence Basic Officer Leadership Course) we are organized into different groups or TOCs and my TOC has decided we want to have snack day on Friday, where each Friday a different member of the group brings a treat to class so we can celebrate another week of hard work and long hours. This week it was my turn so i figured it was the perfect time to try my next Pinterest recipe. This time it was Picky Palate’s Candy Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches: http://picky-palate.com/2011/01/17/candy-bar-chocolate-chip-cookie-sandwiches/

I started off by creaming together 2 sticks of softened butter with 1 cup of granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup brown sugar. After a few minutes of beating I added 2 eggs, 1 tbsp of vanilla and beat until incorporated. Then I added 3 tsp baking powder (since I didn’t have baking soda), 1/2 tsp salt, 3 1/2 cups of flour and mixed. Finally I added 1 cup of mini chocolate chips.

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To make the cookie I chopped normal size Snickers bars into 4 equal pieces to be about equal to the size of a mini Snickers. Then I made two chocolate chip balls, put one under and one on top and pressed to make one massive cookie. I would stick to 10 minutes on the cooking (with an oven at 350) because they tasted better a little gooey and soft .

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Review: everyone who tried them loved them, our International Officer from Pakistan loved them and wanted the recipe, and I’ve now been asked to make more cookies. So fun and creative.

My San Francisco Kitchen’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes

So it has been a longggg time since I’ve last posted because for the past two weeks I’ve been sick, busy, and not much in the mood to cook or post. But with my sniffles going away and my appetite returning I’ve been back in the kitchen. This Sunday I tried my next pancake recipe-it’s an addiction.

This time it was chocolate chip pancakes from My San Francisco Kitchen (recipe at: http://www.mysanfranciscokitchen.com/best-chocolate-chip-pancakes/ )

Since the recipe said it served two I halved the recipe-but in my experience it actually made 2 servings when you halved the original recipe, so I think the original (depending on how much you eat) is more of a 3-4 person serving size.

To start off I melted 1 1/2 tbsp of butter, then I added the dry ingredients (2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tbsp granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup of flour)

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Then after mixing that together I added 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup of half-and-half (I had run out of milk), 1 egg, and 1 tbsp of water.

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I stirred until it was incorporated. I wasn’t able to get all the lumps out, and since I was hungry and lazy I decided it didn’t matter.

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Then in a skillet over medium heat (put a tiny bit of oil on the bottom) I dolloped the batter, sprinkled on top some chocolate chips,  and flipped when the top bubbled. Immediately upon removal I topped with butter.

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To serve I added some syrup (I’m a glutton for sugary items) but I would advise serving topped with powdered sugar and a big glass of milk.

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Review: Delicious, easy recipe, could substitute other things such as blueberries for the chocolate chips.