Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homemade Tortillas

When we moved from California to our little town in Pennsylvania 22 years ago, I went to the local market to buy some tortillas for dinner. To my shock, they did not carry any! For a Californian who loves Mexican food, this was a catastrophe. Burritos and tacos were staples in our menu, so I knew I needed to find out how to make tortillas myself.

Here is the recipe I used back then. I'm not sure where it came from, and let me tell you, it took a few tries before I got the "feel" of how moist the dough should be to be just right for rolling. I did not have a tortilla press, so I had to roll them out by hand to get them thin enough for burritos, but I made many a tortilla by this recipe until our local store finally started carrying packaged tortillas.


4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. Crisco
14 oz. boiling water

Mix dry ingred. together; cut in Crisco. Add boiling water all at once, and mix with spoon until smooth. Knead dough with hands until elastic. Pinch off balls of dough one at a time and roll out on lightly floured board. Keep remainder of dough covered with damp cloth while working. Bake in non-stick ungreased skillet or on griddle, on med. high heat. Makes abt 18 med size flour tortillas.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hummus For Health

Here's a health tip for those who love to snack but find it is putting pounds on their waistline or contributing to increased blood sugar or other problems.

Every year for Christmas I make up some Hummus to go with our Shepherd's Dinner on Christmas Eve. It goes great with crackers, pita bread or torn bread pieces. I'd always made my hummus with garbanzo beans and sesame seeds, but my oldest son introduced me to Tahini paste (basically ground sesame seeds in paste form) this past year, which results in a much smoother Hummus with great, rich flavor.

After I was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago, I found out that Hummus is also a wonderful food for diabetics as the garbanzo beans fall low on the glycemic index scale and it makes a healthful snack or meal that doesn't raise blood sugar like so many other foods can do. Since then, I've started purchasing Hummus from the store as well as making my own so that I usually have some around in the fridge for whenever I need a small pick me up or a quick lunch. One of my favorite brands is "SABRA". I especially like their Roasted Garlic Hummus and their Pine Nut Hummus. Yum! I even found it at the little market store in Yosemite Valley this past summer and enjoyed a hummus picnic lunch while watching the water cascade over Bridal Veil Falls.

So the next time you have a hankering for chips and dip, reach for a container of Hummus and some pita bread or pita chips instead. You just might form a new, healthier habit.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Favorite Banana Cake

When my kids were all at home, it was hard to keep them filled up! With six boys (and a girl), it seemed like someone was always rooting around in the kitchen, looking for a snack. I did a lot of baking in those days to make sure I had plenty of goodies for late night snack attacks, school lunches, and after school snacks.
Yesterday I saw that I had a big bunch of bananas on the counter that were perfectly ripe and needing to be eaten or used in something, so I pulled out my old Betty Crocker cookbook I received when I got married 30 yrs ago, and turned to my favorite banana cake recipe. I've tweaked it a little, but it is absolutely delicious and serves a crowd.

NINA'S FAVORITE BANANA CAKE - based on Betty Crocker

Put all the following in a large mixing bowl:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup Crisco
2/3 cup buttermilk (I always keep a quart on hand)
3 eggs
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed up before adding

Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high speed for 3 minutes.
Pour into greased and floured 13x9 pan or two round cake pans
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Can be frosted with cream cheese frosting if you like, but we eat it plain.

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