Homemade Flour Tortillas

Okay, you may be asking yourself, yet again, why on earth would I make my own flour tortillas when I can buy them for about $2.00 a package?! Because I can make them myself!! Haven’t you ever planned on having burritos or soft tacos for dinner only to find you forgot to buy the tortilla shells?! I have, lots of times. And what did I do? I scratched that menu and scrambled to think of something else to make with the thawed hamburger that would go with chips and salsa for dinner. Well no more!!! Come on you guys!! You can do this and it only takes a few ingredients that you already have on hand. Just read on and see if you’re not convinced. I betcha you’ll be making these in no time. DISCLAIMER: I will say this; it would be faster if you had a tortilla press (and more fun!! Everybody in the family’ll want to help!! You may even have to keep it a secret that you’re making them!).  I don’t have one, but, as of this writing, my wonderful hubby is in the process of designing one to build for me. I know what you’re thinking already – don’t you people ever buy anything ready-made? Yes – cars and Q-tips. Anyway, reading the reviews of the aluminum, and even cast iron, tortilla presses, the handle breaks off within the first 60 days!!!!  And the handles seem to be a pretty key component!! Why would I put myself through that?!! So, until I can show you my super fantastic press, this is how I make them – for now.

Here’s the lineup of what you’ll need:

 

  • all purpose flour
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • vegetable shortening
  • hot water (not boiling, just hot from the tap)

Note: The onions behind the shortening are not part of this recipe. They’re just hangin out.

I need to say something about measuring your flour. Before you start to measure, use a large spoon and stir the flour in the canister a few times. This will aerate the flour to help you get a more accurate measurement.  Flour “settles” over time and it will pack more in the measuring cup. That’s not for just this recipe, it’s for all recipes. Don’t roll those eyes at me; it’s an important fact. This has been a Public Service Announcement. Now, after the flour has been carefully measured, add the salt and baking powder.  Use a whisk to get everything combined well.

Now, one more thing; listen to your prairie godmother. I’m just sayin, I think it’s TERRIBLY important for EVERY home cook to have measuring scales in his/her kitchen. Did I say TERRIBLY important, I meant REALLY TERRIBLY IMPORTANT. The reason for this is, there are times like this, when the volume (measuring cup) of something is a little weird. Like a hair more or less than the measuring cup holds. The accurate measurement for the shortening in this recipe is actually 3.5 ounces. This, in measuring-cup-world, is a tiny dollop more than 1/2 cup. Now, is that tiny dollop more going to make or break this recipe, will your kids be stunted from exposure to a mis-measuring of this magnitude?!! Hey, it could happen, but not this time. I’m just sayin that scales should be included in your kitchen equipment inventory. And on that note, I’m not talking about the little $10 scales that measure in whole ounces only. I’m talking about perhaps a scale made by Salter (great RELIABLE brand. There was no compensation to the owner of this website for the promotion of this product – much to my dismay). You want a scale that measures in pounds/ounces, ounces and grams. Ask for it for Christmas!! Put a real gilt trip on your kids and ask for it for Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, for ALL you do for your kids, and have everybody pitch in!!! You can thank me later.  Once the shortening is measured just add it to the dry ingredients.

Next, add the hot water. This should NOT be boiling by any means, just hot from the tap. Just pour it right in there.

 Now stir it all together with a wooden spoon (or you can dive right in with your hands now) until you need to start using your hands anyway (and pardon my “man hands” in this picture). Mix it really well.
The dough comes together very nicely and really doesn’t stick to your hands much at all. Turn it out onto a countertop or table. Use ONLY  the slightest amount of extra flour should it start sticking to the counter. What’s on the counter here is PLENTY!
 Now we knead! We won’t knead this as vigorously as we would bread dough. Just kinda gently, even with one hand, knead it around for 3 minutes so set your timer. T-h-e wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, ’round and ’round, ’round and ’round . . . second stanza – girls only this time!
……….early in the morning! There! Our three minutes are up and look at the dough, it’s nice and smooth and very supple!! Nicely done!
Now we let it rest. Roll it into a ball and put it back into the same mixing bowl, cover it with a towel and let it rest for 15 minutes. DO NOT CHEAT by rushing this step. This resting time is really gonna make the rolling out nice and easy (or the pressing if you have a press that still has the handle on it.).
After the 15 minute rest, it’s time to divide the dough into individual portions. Using your scale (I know you went out and bought one since we last talked about this), if you’re making the 6″ tortilla wrappers (what anybody can do with just a little ol’ 6″ wrapper is beyond me!!!), you’ll need a portion of dough that weighs 1.5 ounces (or a dough ball about the size of a walnut). I made the large tortillas, between 9″ and 9 1/2″, which started out as 3 ounce dough balls (this size is bigger than a ping pong ball but a little smaller than a billiard ball. It’s been a while since I’ve played either but I think that’s pretty close.).
 Here’s the 3 ounce size for a better idea. Again the “man hands” show up!
As you weigh them, put them back into the original bowl and keep them covered or they’ll dry out – that’s a bad thing.
 Make the ball as round as possible before you start to roll them out or press them. Put the dough on the counter (make sure there’s no flour on the counter) and cup your fingers around it, not too tightly but touching all around at the bottom. Move your hand in a tight circle making sure the ball doesn’t so much roll around but is kinda pulled tightly as it moves in the circle, making itself round and smooth. This takes a little practice but you’ll get the hang of it. I have no idea where my wrist went – must be break time.
 And . . . ta da!!!  Oh man, that’s just beautiful!!
As you become more and more comfortable making these, you’ll get the rhythm of rolling out (or pressing) and cooking. An electric griddle is really the best tool to use, but ours is a pain to reach in the back of the corner cabinet so I use a stove top griddle, which works well. A nonstick skillet also works well. For the electric griddle I would suggest a target temp of about 325 to 350 degrees. Experiment with it but stay close. For the stove top griddle and the skillet, medium to medium high is a good place to start but again, stay close! Remember to lift an edge often to check for browning. Before you start rolling out or pressing, get your griddle or skillet ready as well as either a tortilla warmer or a couple of kitchen towels to cover and keep them warm as they come off the heat.  For those of us who don’t yet have our press, flatten the dough ball slightly so it’s more of an oval. I know, after all that to get it so perfect and to just flatten it. Those of you who do have a press, celebrate that you get to keep your perfect sphere just a little bit longer – until you close the lid. Back to the manual labor of the rolling pin; apply gentle pressure and roll over the oval 4 or 5 strokes until it becomes an elongated oval. Try not to roll completely off the ends of the dough as you’re rolling – you don’t want the edges to be smashed to “see-through”.  Turn the dough a quarter turn and roll across it 4 or 5 more times. It’ll be a weird shape at this point but as you continue to rotate the dough a quarter turn, it will eventually become a circle. You may have to exert a little more pressure because they should be getting bigger and thinner. Rotate the dough a quarter turn, 2 or 3 more times and repeat rolling 4 or 5 times with each turn until you have a thin, flat circle measuring either 6″ to 6 1/2″ or 9″ to 9 1/2″, depending on the size of the original dough ball. These should be a little thinner than the finished product of the store bought tortilla wrappers. The circles will shrink a bit when cooked and they will become about the thickness as the store bought when done. Don’t worry about how thin the dough is; it’s really resilient to tears and won’t stick like glue to the counter – maybe like Velcro, but just be kinda gentle and it’ll come right up. And remember, these are homemade which translates into they’re not all gonna to be perfect circles. If it makes you feel better, call them “rustic”. Rustic describes anything that didn’t turn out too purdy.  For you tortilla press people, you may now gloat over your perfect flat circles. Move the tortilla over to the griddle. Do not add any oil to the griddle!! These are cooked on a dry griddle (or skillet). As they cook, you’ll see bubbles (some will get pretty big) as the steam builds up and the tortilla separates inside. Don’t worry, they won’t split in two. Use your spatula to gently and slowly flatten them. Be careful getting too caught up in flattening them because they may burn on the bottom. Just take my word for it. Keep lifting the edge and checking frequently so they don’t get overly browned. You can flatten the bubbles from the other side as well. The lighter colored areas in the picture below are where the bubbles are starting to form.
 When the bottom side is nicely browned, flip it to brown the other side. Ahhh. Nicely browned!
 Voila!!  Now look at those!!! Any burrito, taco or fajita meat would be proud to be wrapped up in something that looked like those!!  And you made them!!! YOU made them!!!! Your family and friends will marvel over your culinary expertise!! So say good-bye to missing out on burrito or taco night just because you forgot to buy wrappers!! Don’t even put them on your grocery list any more! Walk with your head held high next time you walk down that tortilla aisle (well, unless you need the hard shells, or taco sauce, or a seasoning packet). But anyway, you can walk past the flour tortillas and say, “Oh, I’ll just make my own”. Oh, heads will turn!!!
 Here’s the whole recipe in quickie form. I hope you’ll give these a try!!
Your Prairie Godmother

Homemade Flour Tortillas

3 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

3.5 ounces of vegetable shortening (that’s just a tiny dollop over ½ cup)

1 cup hot water (not boiling, just hot from the tap)

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder with a whisk. Add the shortening and hot water. With a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients until it becomes too difficult, then use your hands. When fully combined, drop the dough onto a clean dry countertop or table. Knead the dough (no need to be as vigorous as for bread dough) for 3 minutes. Add as little flour as you absolutely need to keep it from sticking to your fingers and the work surface. At the end of the 3 minutes, return the dough to the original bowl, cover with a damp dishtowel and let rest for 15 minutes. DO NOT SKIP OR RUSH THIS STEP. Divide the dough into 1.5 ounce balls for small tortilla wrappers (6” to 6 ½”), or 3 ounce balls for large wrappers (9” to 10”). As the dough is weighed, return them to the bowl and keep covered with the towel. Roll one portion of dough into a ball, then flatten it with your hand into an oval. With a rolling pin, roll it into an elongated oval, then turn the dough 1/4 turn. Continue rolling and turning the dough until you have a thin circle. The dough should be rolled just a little thinner than the store bought wrappers. Carefully lift the dough from the work surface (no need for extra flour – the rolled dough will release easily – just be gentle) and place onto an ungreased hot griddle or nonstick skillet. Stay close, it won’t take long. You will see bubbles start to form. If a very large bubble forms, gently press it down but keep an eye on the bottom side so the tortilla won’t burn. Flip the tortilla when it has golden brown “spots”. The entire surface will not brown. Check the bottom side frequently. You’ll notice that only the raised areas are getting brown – that’s good. Flip one more time to the first side only for a few seconds. Remove from the heat and place in either a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a couple of slightly dampened warm towels.

Yields approximately 18-20 small or 8-10 large tortilla wrappers.

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Indoor Smoked Pulled Pork BBQ

I AM BACK and do I have a BUNCH of things to share!!!

Our oven has been on more than off lately. I LOVE this oven. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this oven!!! Several of us were talking about the things we would grab first if our houses ever caught on fire. While everybody else was talking about grabbing photo albums and this keepsake and that, I said the first thing I’d do is figure out how to strap that oven onto my back and get out!!  Of course then my hubby explained that’s what insurance is for – for replacement, then he further explained I’d have to go in the basement (shudder) to shut the gas off or else the stove might beat me out the door!! Well, ok, so then maybe the pans – hey, they’re perfectly seasoned pans now!!

Let’s see what I’ve been workin on lately.

INDOOR SMOKED PULLED PORK BBQ

If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you probably saw, back in December or January, where Tommy and I made Indoor Smoked Pulled Pork BBQ, a recipe I saw on America’s Test Kitchen. I HAD to try it!! As I posted on FB, I’m not a fan, at all, of liquid smoke but, I have to say this recipe is absolutely FABULOUS!!! Three exclamation point worthy.  It is time consuming so it’s not something you want to start at 3:00 in the afternoon for dinner that night. Noooooo, no, no. You gotta start while breakfast is cooking. Well ok, maybe you can wait until after your third or forth cup of coffee but then get crackin. WAIT!! Before you decide you’re not interested in this recipe because of the time involved, its about 80% waiting; waiting while the pork is brining, waiting while it’s baking covered and waiting while it’s baking uncovered. There really isn’t that much involved as far as hands-on work BUT, the whole process is very rewarding. This recipe also has the best of both worlds as far as rubs: both a wet and a dry.

The recipe calls for pork butt roast. A pork butt is not located anywhere near the, well, let’s just say its terribly confusing (or someone was when they named this portion) because it’s the top portion of the FRONT legs. It’s also called pork shoulder which is so much more accurate and certainly less confusing!! I prefer to ask for help finding a good pork “shoulder”  rather than asking for help finding a good pork . . .  well hey, have a giggle. If possible, you want it boneless. If you can’t get it boneless, that’s not a problem, we’ll address that in a little bit.

Ingredients: Water, Natural Hickory Smoke Concentrate. Nothing more.

Liquid Smoke. There are several brands out there. The brand ATK recommends is Wrights. You want a liquid smoke that, when you read the ingredients it says: water, natural hickory smoke concentrate, the end. Don’t buy one that has anything else in it. We found it at County Market and it was under $2!! Yay!!

I HIGHLY recommend this recipe. It’s good for summer or winter.  So now, if you don’t own a smoker, you no longer have to wait for your neighbors to go on vacation to sneak over to use theirs.  You can make easy and delicious smoked pulled pork BBQ, rain or shine, right in your own kitchen. Expand your culinary horizons and prove to yourself you CAN do this!!!  Trust me! It really is very basic, very simple. So, with no further ado, I present the recipe and step-by-step instructions.

The list of characters:

Brining:

5 pound pork shoulder/butt roast

4 quarts water, cool to tepid

1 cup table salt (not Kosher on this one folks)

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons liquid smoke

Wet Rub:

1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard

2 teaspoons liquid smoke (don’t worry – it’s not over the top)

Dry Rub:

2 tablespoons cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt (either regular or Kosher)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

Finishing BBQ Sauce: (NO COOKING)

1/2 cup of juices from the roasting pan

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)

1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

As I mentioned earlier, a boneless roast is preferred. However, if you’re like us, the sale was for “bone-in”.

The reason boneless is better is because the first thing you need to do is cut the roast in half width-wise.

If you have a bone-in (like below – the start of it is right below my index finger), just cut up to, and roughly around, the bone just to get the two halves to spread apart so you can see it.  Using a paring knife, cut it out as best you can. If you have a boneless roast, just cut straight through as straight as possible. It doesn’t have to look purdy so don’t worry about it.

You should have 2 equal size slaps o’ pork.

There you have it. It’s not rocket science but you just need to try to cut them as close to even thicknesses as you can so they’ll cook evenly. The reason these are halved in the first place is so the liquid smoke will penetrate the meat all the way through. If we left it whole, just the outside would be smokey. When you actually smoke meat in a smoker, both the inside and out are smokey. Can I say smokey a couple more times?

The Brine:   Salt, sugar and liquid smoke.

You’ll need 4 quarts of water, cool to tepid is fine, just not hot and not cold. Be careful when deciding what size container to brine the roast in because by the time you add the roast halves, it will significangtly raise the water level. Add the salt and sugar into the water and stir until dissolved. It’ll be cloudy but just make sure there’s no “puddles” of salt and sugar sitting anywhere on the bottom.  I admit, I was surprised that it dissolved so easily.

Stir in the liquid smoke,

Everybody in for a long soak. They will float, however. That’s not a good thing.

Use a saucer or a plate to keep it completely immersed.  Nothing too heavy; it needs to allow enough room so the brine can get in between all sides of the pork.

There you have it. It looks a little weird but you can see there’s plenty of room to move about the cabin. It’s now ready for the fridge.

Set your timer for 2 hours. That’s enough time to get into a really good book, take a nap, do a couple of loads of laundry, ya know, 2 hours worth of stuff. When your timer goes off, pull the pork from the pool and put it on a kitchen towel for a good patting to get them all dried off. Be sure to dry them well so the wet rub will stick. No need to get the hair dryer out but just do the best you can.

Begin preparing the rubs. First the wet. Add the liquid smoke to the prepared mustard,

and stir well. Set aside.

Now for the dry. Add the pepper, sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika,

and mix well. Set it aside too.

Using a spatula, just for this part, scoop out only half of the wet rub on the first side of the pork.

Now for the really messy part. This should explain why I didn’t suggest a manicure during the 2 hour wait. With your hands, rub that mustard mixture all over, get it nice and schloppy, make it extra schloppy even. Make sure you get the edges too. I know it looks like I’m almost afraid to touch it in this picture but I was just getting warmed up. It’s actually fun. Call the kids in and let them try it! Oh, well I did say there wasn’t much hands-on for all the time it takes but, involving the kids, well that may take the full baking times for clean up. Yikes!! Never mind.  Oh, and I’d suggest letting your phone go to voicemail.

Then, flip the halves over and repeat with the remaining wet rub. Don’t forget the edges!

Sprinkle half of the dry rub right on top of the mustard rub. Massage it in. Now THIS is messier ye!  But it’s still fun. The first time I did this I wore my kitchen gloves; they’re still stained. Its a given that your nose will itch or that you’ll sneeze during this part. Just wear something with sleeves.

Flip the halves over and massage it “real good”!!! Again, don’t forget the edges. Make sure those flavors are everywhere!!

Our pork has now gone from the pool to the massage table and now is ready for the sauna!! Hey, I think I’m missing out here!!!

Move the oven racks to the middle, with plenty of clearance above. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Choose and prepare your pan. There are a couple of types of pans to use. You could use a cookie sheet with sides or a roasting pan.  We’ve actually used both and the jury’s still out as far as which we liked best. Whichever you use, be sure to line the bottom with foil. You’ll need a piece of foil wide enough to cover your pan without just overlapping it (that’s a MUCH bigger clean up job). To do that, use 2 sheets of foil and lay the first sheet on the counter.  Put the second, same size sheet, directly on top of the first, making sure both shinny sides are facing each other.   Along one of the long edges, using both sheets as one, fold the sheets over, about 1 1/2″ to 2″ deep. Use your finger and slide it along the fold to secure it. Then fold it over itself again, same direction, same width. Run your finger along that fold as well. Gently open the sheets and VIOLA!!! You now have a very wide “single” sheet of foil. Keep in mind that lining the pan won’t keep all the juices from running onto the bottom of your pan or cookie sheet but it’ll sure make clean up a whole lot easier!

A rack is a must. Nonstick cooking spray is a must as well. Whether it’s cooling racks or a rack that came with the pan, just make sure they’re long enough to fit both halves of the roast.

Place the halves side by side. Don’t let them overlap. If they don’t want to fit, scrunch them up a bit but do all that you can not to overlap them. I know, I know, they gotta a lot a rules about baking a pork roast!

Because you want these to stay moist while baking, we’re gonna cover them TIGHTLY with foil to make the sauna effect. However, before the foil goes on, you’re gonna need a barrier between the roasts (with the acidic rub on them) and the foil – the rub will pit the foil against the roasts – not a good thing. ATK suggests using parchment paper, which we did the first time. It still pitted the foil but not the parchment paper so it was all good next to the roasts.  What pitted the foil was that the acidic liquid from the roast soaked through the parchment paper and touched the foil. It didn’t affect the parchment paper, just the foil. This time however, we used a nonstick silicon liner like what you bake cookies, rolls or biscuits on. It worked great! It didn’t hurt it at all and no liquid penetrated the liner so no pitted foil! And, the liner wiped right off!! It’s not good to have anything pittin on your food! That’d just be the pits. Sorry. That was pit-iful. That’s it, I promise.

Now for the wrapping. Just as for making one big sheet for the bottom, do the same for the top sheet. Try to fold the top and bottom foil sheets together around the edges. You want the absolute best seal you can. If the top and bottom sheets won’t reach, just get the top foil sealed around the outside of the pan as tightly as possible, especially at the corners. You want to keep that sauna as air tight as possible. Now into the oven for 3 hours. Go finish that book!

At the end of the 3 hours, CAREFULLY remove the top foil from the pan.  It’s gonna look kinda drab, nothing too exciting, certainly nothing like a smoked pork roast. Don’t worry, it’ll transform in this next baking time. Drain the liquid from the bottom of the pan into a bowl (or a fat separator if you have one). You wanna keep 1/2 cup for the sauce. Return the roast to the oven to bake, uncovered, for about 90 more minutes. The inside temperature of the roast should reach 200 degrees. The outside of the roast should have a “bark” on it and it should look kinda dried. IMPORTANT: (but difficult to do) Allow the roast to rest on a cutting board, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes. But, that will give us time to make the barbecue sauce.

Remove the separated grease from the drippings and measure 1/2 cup of that devine sauce. In a medium mixing bowl pour in the drippings, ketchup, molasses, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (optional) and salt and pepper. Whisk until combined and set aside. That’s it. No cooking!!!

Using 2 forks, start shredding the pork. You’re wanting kinda thin strands. Doesn’t that look FANTASTIC!!!!!! But it’s not finished yet!!! It needs to be dressed!!

Depending on how saucy you like your pulled pork, start with just a cup. Reserve the remaining to add to your sandwich, or if you’re like us, throw it all in there!!! The messier the better!!

And there you have it! It’s ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!!  See, that’s not much hands-on, huh?!!  Ya just gotta trust me!!!!  You’ll love it, you’ll invite your friends over and they’ll love it!!  They’ll suggest you do it again next weekend and every weekend. Careful, they’ll probably be calling to let you know that pork shoulders are on sale!!

Enjoy!!

My Momma’s Banana Bread

This is another absolutely wonderful and easy recipe! No mixer, just a fork, spatula, a few bowls and a couple of loaf pans. Now I ask, is that easy enough for ya?!

I have to confess however, I’ve never called my mom “momma”;  I just like the sound of it for the title of the recipe. This bread is so moist, so tender and so full of flavor you’re just not gonna believe you made it! Ok, what do I always tell you?!  Trust me!! Have I steered you wrong yet?!

So here’s the ingredient line-up:   This recipe will make 2 loaves.

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 6 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and make sure your oven rack is in the middle of your oven. Both loaves can go side-by-side on the rack, just leave an equal amount of space in the center as at the side. Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying them with cooking spray and “flour” them with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar – the same mixture you’d put on your toast, or bagel, or English Muffin, or well, that kinda stuff.

 Let’s get started! In a large bowl, use a fork or whisk and beat the eggs.

Add the sugar to the beaten eggs.

. . .and the butter  (an angel choir is singing, can you hear it?!)

With a spatula, stir the mixture only enough to fully combine it. DO NOT stir until the color gets lighter, DO NOT stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, DO NOT collect $200! This is nothing that complicated.

In a medium bowl, peel and mash the bananas using a fork. Give this a little bit of time. Big chunks of banana in the bread are nasty, but small bits are ok. I used to use my stick blender to do this but it liquified them, made for a wetter batter, and made a really dense bread. So back to manually smashing I go.

Add the mashed bananas to the egg mixture, again just stir it with the spatula until they’re combined.

Add all of the dry ingredients into a fine mesh strainer or a sifter. SIDE NOTE: I didn’t use to sift the dry ingredients for this recipe until one day I found some lumps in my flour (the bag of flour got wet when I defrosted the freezer). Since I started sifting I found I have a consistently better final “product” when I’m finished. Didn’t that sound chefy!!

 Sift the dry ingredients into the egg mixture.  I had to laugh when I saw this picture. It looks like I sift by slamming the strainer on the rim of the bowl!! I think I just lost my chefy points.

Using the spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Treat this like you’re mixing brownies; as few strokes as possible, just until combined. This will give you a nice tender crumb. Make sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl while folding to make sure there won’t be any “leftover” flour surprises.

Pour equal portions into the 2 prepared loaf pans.  Bake for 35-45 minutes for large loaf pans (check after 35 minutes and set the timer in increments of 3-4 minutes after that) and 45-55 minutes for the smaller loaf pans (check on them the same as the large loaves after 45 minutes.). When a cake tester comes out clean from the center, remove them from the oven, run a knife around the edges and immediately turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack. When the loaves are cool, wrap them with a combination of wax paper and aluminum foil (I just lay the wax paper on top of the dull side of the aluminum foil, then place the loaf on top of the wax paper and fold both sheets as you would if it was just one.). This keeps the bread moist. Just a warning, if you slice and eat the bread while it’s still hot, you may not think it’s all that great. However, if you wait a little bit longer, warm is great!! It just doesn’t taste sweet enough to me if I eat it hot. Warm bread with soft butter and a cup of coffee, oh now we’re talkin! Cold bread with soft butter and coffee, oh now we’re still talkin! When the loaves are completely cooled you can freeze them – or take one loaf and hide it under your side of the bed. Did I say that out loud?

SIDE NOTE: This recipe can be cut in half very easily.  These can also be made into muffins. If you don’t want to use cupcake wrappers in your muffin tins, liberally spray with the baking spray and use the cinnamon and sugar to “flour” each cup.  Also, you can freeze ripe bananas (peel them first) if you don’t have time to make the bread before the bananas liquify on your counter. Yeah, they’ll do that after several days of “I’ll make the bread tomorrow.”  When you get ready to freeze them, try to make sure they’re lying on a flat surface, in a single layer (takes less time to thaw). Make sure you write, on the outside of the bag, the number of bananas you’re freezing just in case you might not be able to recognize them later. Just sayin.

Now wasn’t that EASY?!! And I promised no mixers!! Your friends will love this and will be asking for the recipe and you’ll honestly be able to say “Oh there’s nothin to it!”

My Momma’s Banana Bread

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 6 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and make sure your oven rack is in the middle. Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying them with cooking spray and “flour” them with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. In a large bowl, use a fork or whisk and beat the eggs. Add the sugar and melted butter to the beaten eggs. With a spatula, stir the mixture only enough to fully combine. In a medium bowl, peel and mash the bananas using a fork. Do not use an immersion blender, regular blender or a food processor to  mash the bananas. It will liquify them which will make your batter too wet. Add the mashed bananas to the egg mixture and stir with the spatula until combined. Add all of the dry ingredients into a mesh strainer or a sifter and sift onto the egg mixture. Using the spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Use as few strokes as possible, just until combined.  Make sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to fully combine the flour on the bottom. Pour equal portions into the 2 prepared loaf pans.  Bake for 35-45 minutes for the larger loaf pans (check after 35 minutes and set the timer in increments of 3-4 minutes after that) and 45-55 minutes for the smaller loaf pans (check on them the same as the large loaves; after 45 minutes.). When a cake tester comes out clean from the center, remove them from the oven, run a knife around the edges and immediately turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack. When the loaves are still warm (not hot), wrap them with a combination of wax paper and aluminum foil (lay the wax paper on top of the dull side of the aluminum foil, then place the loaf on top of the wax paper and fold both sheets as you would if it was just one).

SIDE NOTE: This recipe can be cut in half very easily.  These can also be made into muffins. If you don’t want to use cupcake wrappers, liberally spray with the baking spray and use the cinnamon and sugar to “flour” the muffin tins.  Also, you can freeze ripe bananas (peel them first)to use later. When you get ready to freeze them, try to make sure they’re lying on a flat surface, in a single layer (takes less time to thaw). Make sure you write on the outside of the bag the number of bananas you’re freezing.

Thanks again for spendin time with me.

Enjoy!!

Even if You Don’t Like Egg Rolls, You’ll Like These

I don’t say this bragging; I say it because it’s true. And no, I’m not conceited but I’ve had more people than I care to count tell me, and my family, that they don’t normally like egg rolls but they like these. What’s so different or unique about these that nay-sayers try them and like them? I don’t have a clue but it’s remarkable. You’ll have to try them, regardless of whether you, or somebody else makes them using this recipe. You won’t regret it. And what have I told you before? Trust me.

There’s personal history to this recipe and it all started with a flat tire. Seriously. Warm up your coffee and I’ll tell you about it.  Several years ago, Randy, a member of the congregation (also a member of the Missions Ministry), was traveling on I55 when he stopped to help a guy with a flat tire.  Lazarus was from Myanmar and spoke very broken English. As the two guys worked to get the car drivable again, they began to get acquainted. Lazarus was here in the states with his family attending Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, IL, just a few miles from the church. As they talked, Randy told him that the church was looking for a missionary to sponsor,  and from there was formed a wonderful bond between Lazarus Fish and the Elkhart Christian Church family. No, the guys didn’t exchange recipes right there – hold on I’m almost finished. One Sunday the church had a potluck that Ocha, his wife, brought a cookie sheet stacked high with egg rolls. Before the meal was over, every last egg roll was gone. During the course of Lazarus’ training, he was required to attend a class for three months in Kentucky. It wasn’t feasible for the whole family to go so Ocha and the kids stayed in Lincoln. While he was gone, the ladies of the church tried to come up with some social activities for them to help time pass a little more quickly. Since Ocha spoke only a few words of English, our choices were really limited. We finally came up with the idea to ask her to teach us to make her egg rolls. To get the recipe, we watched and wrote feverishly, getting measurements and instructions as the process unfolded.  Even though Ocha didn’t speak but a few words of English, when it comes to cooking and sharing food, there are no communication barriers. It’s a special form of communication – one that requires no words, just the act of sharing.  A special bond was formed that night between Ocha and the ladies of Elkhart Christian Church, all because a guy’s tire went flat. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

I want to preface this recipe by saying the instructions look far more daunting than they actually are. Believe it or not, these instructions are shorter than War and Peace. Don’t feel overwhelmed or ill-equipped to do this. You can do it!! There are actually only 3 steps; making the filling, the rolling, the frying and eating. Well, okay, 4 steps. This is a great get-together recipe to make with friends.  Everybody can have a job – or not – and reap the benefits from the labor of several or a few. This recipe can make roughly 60 egg rolls; it depends on how fat or skinny you fill them. We make both fat ones (for the veteran egg roll lovers) and skinny ones (for the skeptics and newcomers of the egg roll world). Certainly you could cut the recipe in half with not much trouble, however, most packages of wrappers come in quantities of 20. We make these quite frequently to be honest. We’ve made them for our family Christmas Eve get-togethers for years, my hubby gets requests for them periodically from the guys at work and sometimes we make them for our family and give the rest away.  These can be the whole meal or you can serve them with an entree – we do both. I made just the filling by myself when I did the pictures for this posting. We like to make the filling the day before – if time allows – so the flavors have time to marry (and enjoy their honeymoon) before we roll and fry them. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time to do that – it’s not a big deal.

Here’s your ingredients:

  • 1 large head cabbage, shredded
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced (including green part)
  • 1 small to medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 full size carrots, shredded
  • 1 pound sausage (mild or hot), browned and drained
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 4-5 large garlic gloves
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, divided
  • 3 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2-3 budles of green bean threads (see picture)
  • 3 packages egg roll wrappers
  • 2 eggs whites
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Oil for frying
  • Dipping sauce of your choice
Whether using the slicing blade on your food processor, a mandolin or slicing by hand, you want the cabbage to be sliced fairly thin – oh, and NOT chopped. Chopping the cabbage will give it a nasty consistency – don’t go there. Also, be sure to cut the center of the cabbage away. The center is too dense and takes too long to wilt in the short time the filling is in the skillet. Just wanted to give you an idea of how thinly the cabbage should be sliced.  After the head of cabbage is sliced, put it in a LARGE bowl.
You can, or not, peel the carrots before you shred them – it won’t change the taste of the filling. If you don’t peel them, be sure to give them a good rinse. Again, the carrots need to be shredded rather than chopped or sliced. I just had to show off my Christmas present from my hubby last year. I love, love, love this food processor! It’s a 14 cup capacity Cuisinart with the 3 bowl sizes. This is where I make the Tim the Toolman grunt noises.
Add the carrots to the cabbage and, using your best tools – your hands – thoroughly mix the cabbage and carrots. Also, be on the lookout for any rogue chunky pieces of cabbage and carrot. You want to make sure everything is as close to the same size so it will wilt evenly. Oh, and don’t get confused by the other bowl of cabbage sitting there. That’s for cole slaw later. It’s not even really there!
Cut the sweet onions (if you don’t have sweet onions on hand just use what you have – except purple) into a small dice. Nothing microscopic, just not too large. The green onions should be kinda thin. If by chance you forgot to pick up the green onions at the store – like I did when I made these – just use a little bit more of your regular onion. The green onion does, however, give the filling more color (and you eat with your eyes first). This is just an example of the size dice I’m referring to with the onion and garlic. You’ll see what might look like some long pieces of onion but actually, they’re “tall”. They’re just still layered together.
Add the onions and the garlic to the cabbage and carrots. It really is better to mix after each new addition for a couple of reasons. 1) The carrots are an aggravating bunch that like to stay in little globs and are hard to separate, and 2) The more you mix, the more you will find those thick cabbage pieces that need to be tossed out. I know, seems like there’s a lot to look out for!
Now it’s time for the green bean threads. These are, in their dehydrated state, very thin little noodles wound in a bundle. They’re becoming more and more widely available in major grocery stores like County Market, Meijer and Schnucks. They’re in the Asian food section and pretty inexpensive.  We buy them in bulk when we go to our local Asian food store. When you call your grocer and ask for green bean threads, you can let him know they’ll be in a bright pink mesh bag  in the Asian food section. This is the only brand we’ve ever seen in all 4 places.
Just in case you don’t have your computer glasses on I thought I’d give you a close up. Actually I wanted you to see the ingredients.
I think there are 8 bundles in a bag. I don’t know what’s up with the bright pink mesh bag, but like I said, it’s a great way to help someone find/identify them. Side Note: We don’t usually replace the pink mesh on our packages of the green bean threads once we’ve opened them. We’ve been fortunate I guess ’cause we’ve never had any escape. Just sayin. These need to be hydrated in very warm water. There are no measurements for the water, just enough to amply cover them.  You can use between 2 or 3 of these bundles. They’re basically a filler and take on the most prominent flavor. It’ll take about 10 minutes to hydrate.
While the green bean threads are in the spa, you’ll have time to prepare for wilting the veggies (we’ll come back to the green bean threads in a little bit). You’ll of course need a large nonstick skillet, a strainer set inside a mixing bowl to drain the filling, as well as the ingredients that we’ll add to each “batch” of the veggies. Here’s what the line-up looks like.
To the far left is the colander set in a bowl. After the veggies are wilted, they go into the colander to drain. We’re adding salt to the veggies so that will make them release some of their water. Liquid is NOT a friend to an egg roll wrapper. I’m left handed and this is my setup but it’s whatever works for you. Gee whiz I’m impressed with how organized I look here! Please, show this picture to your family and friends!
Here are the accoutrements for the veggies. In the back row on the plastic mat are (left to right): canola oil (veggie oil is fine too) and kosher salt in the ramekin. Kosher or table salt, either is fine – same measurement. In the front row (the black stuff) is oyster sauce. This too is something that’s easy to find in the larger grocery stores. It’s about $3.00 for a small bottle. You’ll need a total of 9 oz for this whole batch. In the second bowl is ground ginger. I just noticed that the red measuring spoon I have in front is the teaspoon rather than the tablespoon, which is what you’ll need. Follow the recipe rather than the picture. The veggies need to be done in 3 batches. If you try to do it in 1 or 2  batches (unless you have a ginormous skillet) it will take as long as 3 batches would and you’ll have a huge mess on your stove top. Been there/done that. It ain’t purdy.  You need the extra room for stirring; this needs to be mixed very, very well. Believe me, you don’t want a bite of a pocket of any of these things you’re adding!!
After adding the oil in the skillet, yes even if it’s nonstick, add a third of the veggies, then add the salt, oyster sauce and ginger. You don’t have to make a face in your veggies with the oyster sauce but I just think it’s a little entertaining. You’re cooking, you might as well have fun with it. Stir, stir and stir some more. The heat should be about medium high.
While you’re stirring, be on the lookout for these guys. These are the tougher pieces of cabbage I was telling you about earlier. They have a stronger taste but most importantly they won’t be wilted by the time the rest of the veggies are ready, which means, they’ll be tough when you bite into one in the egg roll. Another reason is that if it’s on the outside of the filling, it might tear the wrapper. Just get rid of them; have them for a snack while you’re stirring or give them to the dog. He’ll love you.
This is a comparison of the veggies that are “done” to what they look like raw.  These are now ready for the colander. Just dump them in and let them rest to release their extra liquids.
I said we’d come back to the green bean threads, well, here we are. Now they’re plump and limber. They do hold quite a bit of water and need to be drained. After they’ve been in the strainer for a few minutes, take them to the sink, cover them with your hand, and give the strainer and threads, together, a couple of quick shakes to get the excess water off.
With scissors, cut the threads into about 2″ long strands. You can either hold them up over the colander and trim them from the bottom up or do like I’ve done here and just go all ninja on them. Show no mercy. Just don’t end up with rice-size pieces. These too will need to be added to the colander after you cut them in the strainer.
Do not adjust your computer screen. This picture is messed up on just about every level but at least you get the idea. Ok, I admit it. I didn’t have a picture of frying the sausage but you’ll be ok on your own. Just make sure it’s browned completely. You can see what I browned that’s just under the green bean threads that are going on top. See how much filling there is?!
Ahhh, light! This is the filling after it’s been thoroughly mixed. Stirring every once in awhile is really good because it rotates the veggies and allows even more liquid to drain. Let these go until they’re completely cool IF you’re not going to roll and fry them right away. As I said earlier, they taste better the next day (like spaghetti) but it’s not always the plan to wait. If you’re going to roll and fry them the same day, allow them to continue to drain. It’s time to get your rolling and frying supplies ready.

 A platter or plate is needed to hold the wrapped egg rolls. It’s really important to keep the platter or plate completely dry. Remember I said, liquid is NO FRIEND to an egg roll wrapper. There are several wrappers on the market. There are some that are thin, almost like phyllo dough, and others, like these, that are more bready. We prefer these, which are like what you get in a restaurant.  The filling here is in a ziplock bag because I’d made it the day before. If you’re rolling and frying them the same day, keep the filling in the colander to allow it to drain while you use what’s on top.
When buying wrappers, BE SURE to check for freshness. Omitting this step could be an expensive mistake. The edges of the packages are clear so you can see the layers of wrappers. There is also extra space between the wrappers and the top and bottom of the package. You should be able to easily fan the wrappers. Granted these are being fanned outside the package but they should be able to separate that easily inside the package as well. If the edges are stuck together, either bring it to the attention of the produce person or set them aside but don’t buy them. If you do buy them, most likely they’ll tear trying to get them apart. As I said earlier, that’s an expensive mess. The white powder between the wrappers is cornstarch. There’s just a dusting in between the wrappers to prevent them from sticking; it won’t change the flavor.
Use just one wrapper at a time.  Since you’re just starting out, it’s probably best to leave the other wrappers in the package; they do dry out. Turn the wrapper so it’s a diamond shape. You’ll see that it’s not and exact square but that’s okay.
Put a spoonful of filling on the lower part of the wrapper. The spoon I’m talking about is a regular serving spoon. Don’t put the filling at the very bottom of the wrapper; we’ll need that area. When you’re starting out learning to wrap the egg rolls, don’t exceed the serving spoon size. The more filling you add the less wrapper you have. You can add more as you get better at folding.
Get ahold of the bottom point of the wrapper and bring it up and over the filling going past it just a little bit. Now press down, just slightly, and drag the flap back until you hit the filling. You want to apply just a little bit of pressure against the filling so it’s snug – not too tightly because you’ll tear the wrapper. Hold it in place.
Remember I’m left handed so this is just how I do it. With your right ring finger, or pinky, swoop up the right corner of the wrapper and bring it to the center, covering the flap you just brought up from the bottom. This is now your new center. Hold it in place.
Now switch sides! Use your left ring finger, or pinky, and swoop up the left side and bring it to the center, and hold it. This is now your new center.
This is how it should look after both sides are brought in. Keep it snug.  Look at those hands! Such a “ta-da” pose, don’t ya think. That’s glam baby!
Now roll it forward. Roll. And roll. Lookin great! Two more. One more. Bring it home!! Oh, sorry. I guess I’ve been watching my new exercise video too much.  Nicely done!! Wooo-hooo!!  You’ve now completed rolling your first egg roll!!!!!  And repeat . . . . . 59 more times!

After you finish rolling the egg roll, put it on the platter seam side down. It’s very important to make sure the platter is kept dry. Liquid and a wrapper are not friends!!! They’ll stick to the platter and tear when you try to get them to let go. Oh yeah, by the way, if the wrapper of an unfried egg roll tears, unroll it, take the filling out and start with a new wrapper. It may seem wasteful but, take it from me, it’s a grease trap and it’s gross. Not worth it. Toss the bugger. Also, do not brush the egg wash on the egg rolls until you’re by the skillet and ready to put them in the hot oil. If you wrap them and set them down on something other than the oil, you’re doomed!! They’ll stick and do what . . .? TEAR!!  There are times when an egg roll will stick in the skillet. If that happens, don’t pull on it with tongs or anything else; you’ll tear it. Use a spatula (pancake turner) to get underneath it and scoot it over.  Tom and I wait until we have a platter full before we start to fry. Then, while Tom’s frying, I have another platter I’m loading up for him.

The egg wash is 2 room temperature egg whites and 2 teaspoons of tepid water.  Room temperature eggs are pretty important because the whites will be looser and will mix faster and more easily with the water. Use a whisk to mix it very well. Side Note: If the egg whites and water aren’t mixed well, when you get mostly water on the egg rolls and put them into the hot oil, the oil will really spit and spatter which means you get burnt. To brush the egg wash onto the egg roll, hold the egg roll in your hand, flap side down, so the flap can unfold just a little bit onto your fingers. Brush the egg wash on the top part of the open flap, then using the brush from underneath the flap, bring the flap back up into place and continue brushing the rest of the egg roll. This will seal the flap and keep it from unrolling in the oil as it bubbles. Don’t be too stingy with the egg wash but don’t be too liberal either. You don’t want them soppy but they will be slick so be very careful when putting them down into the oil.

I know this isn’t the best picture in the world but you can see how glossy the egg wash is on the egg roll. Not too much, not too little. But again, be careful because they’re slippery lil rascals!

Just be careful not to “drop” ’em in so you don’t get splashed. Don’t brush more than you’re going to put in the skillet at one time. Depending on the size of your skillet, on average, Tom puts in 5 or 6 at one time in a 12″ skillet. You don’t want to crowd the pan and you need to keep an eye on the oil temp. It doesn’t take but just a few minutes before they start to get brown.

The egg rolls at the top of the picture are ready to turn while the ones closer to the bottom have about a minute more to go. Those are some happy egg rolls in that pool!!!

 
When they’re brown on the second side they’re ready to exit the pool. Drain them in a colander lined with paper towels for a few minutes. You wanna be sure to stand them on end. If there’s any oil/liquid to drain, it’ll come out the end rather than staying inside the egg roll – that would be a bad thing.

And there you have it!!!! Print yourself a Certificate of Achievement (with the fancy gold-foil border) for successfully making egg rolls!!! Congratulations – now go throw confetti all throughout the house!! Enjoy them – you’ve earned a huge celebration!!!

SIDE NOTE:  These can be frozen after they’re wrapped but BEFORE you put the egg wash on them. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and fill the pan. Be careful they don’t touch. Put them in the freezer for a couple of hours then in a ziplock bag. Later you can pull out however many you want to thaw, brush with egg wash and fry.  I personally have not done this but my friend Susan did and she said they did great.

Now you’ve made something you thought you’d never be able to do!! One more culinary accomplishment in your repertoire!  See, all you had to do was trust me!!

Thanks for spendin’ some time with me and congrats again!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream So Good You’ll Slap Your Momma

I’m not one that readily resorts to slapping anyone, my mom in particular, but it becomes an involuntary reflex after tasting this homemade ice cream for the first time!!! I’m merely making this public safety warning to maintain family relations! This is, BY FAR, THE BEST flavored homemade ice cream I have EVER tasted and I’ve tasted a LOT of homemade ice cream!!! This is so SIMPLE and so WONDERFUL you’ll have to share the recipe with your friends just to convince them it’s not from a carton!!!

Something you need to keep in mind before you start making this ice cream is to be sure the insert to your countertop ice cream maker has been in the freezer for the recommended time. I’m not, by nature, an organized person. It was always such a bummer to want to try a recipe, but wouldn’t because I’d have to wait several hours for the insert to be ready. I finally got smart and started storing it in the freezer. Now, regardless of when I get a wild hair to make a frozen treat, I’m ready to rock n’ roll! That makes me feel so organized!! But if you’re using the old-fashioned crank or electric, no worries.  So with no further ado, I give you the line-up of ingredients:

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted

2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 – 1 teaspoon maple flavoring

Unless the pecan halves you buy are already toasted (cheater), be sure to toast them. It’s really easy to do and dramatically changes the flavor of the nuts – it’s a step you don’t want to skip just because you’ve never done it before. You can actually do this one of two ways; either in the oven or on top of the stove. To roast them in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans out on a cookie sheet (make sure it’s a single layer) and pop them in for about 5 to 7 minutes. To tell when they’re “roasted”, when you take them out of the oven and stick your nose up close,  you’ll get an aroma of the pecans. NOTE: There is a distinct difference between “aroma” of roasted pecans and the “smell” of burnt pecans. It takes only a second to take the pecans from “aroma” to “smell” so be careful. It’s not something you want to stick in the oven and go touch base with everybody on Facebook. Stay in the kitchen, set the time for 5 minutes and check on them. If you don’t get the aroma at the end of 5 minutes, stick them back in and reset the timer at 1 minute intervals. Keep in mind that all ovens are different. Don’t panic if yours takes maybe closer to 10 minutes. For the stove top, put them in a skillet (single layer) over medium heat and just stir them frequently. Don’t get distracted by something else – stay very close and stir them often. Stick your head over the skillet and fan the air up toward your nose with your hand. When the aroma hits you, they’re done. Regardless of how you roast them, as soon as they’re done, take them out of the pan immediately and onto a plate or cutting board to cool.  See, it’s easy and you’ll sound like a pro when you explain this process to your friends!!  You can do this – trust me. Our son, Tate, roasted these!

This is my “Equipment Corner”. Our countertop ice cream mixer is a Hamilton Beach. It was on sale at the end of summer a few years ago, and, since I didn’t get a countertop ice cream mixer for Christmas the year before, I grabbed this one up fast. Is it the best out there, you ask. Nah, but it suits our needs until, hopefully, this Christmas. I’d love to have the Cuisinart – ahem, hint, hint to my hubby. This H.B. is a noisy bugger, the motor seems like it needs to be a little more substantial and the paddle is a little too flimsy for my liking. The motor makes the paddle spin in one direction for a little bit, then reverses. As the mixture gets thicker, the paddle reverses more frequently until, when its ready to give up it’s luscious load, it just goes back and forth and back and forth like it’s possessed. It comes apart easily enough for quick clean-up. There really aren’t any areas that are hard to reach to clean. We’ve made sherbet in it and it worked really well. I don’t really have anything to compare it to, other than the crank kind, but with the H.B., the center is left, well, juicy. I’m hoping that after reading reviews, the Cuisinart doesn’t do that. If anybody has any suggestions or experience with other brands I’d love to hear about them. I like to make informed decisions – I need every opportunity to feel organized.

Whip the heavy whipping cream using either a stand or hand mixer, with the whisk attachment, on the highest setting. NOTE: Make sure the heavy whipping cream is very cold. Anything less than very cold could get you homemade butter. In other words, don’t use it right when you get home from the grocery store (except if you live REALLY close to the store, which is a totally foreign concept for me).  I put our heavy whipping cream, half-and-half and buttermilk in the very back of the top shelf; that’s the coldest spot in our fridge. And since you need to take out a small loan just to buy all three at the same time, I want to keep them as cold and fresh as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can.

The goal in whipping the heavy cream is to have less than stiff peaks but more than soft peaks, which I guess would be “stoft” peaks. I bet this new term will be in Martha Stewart’s next book on cookery.

In a separate bowl, pour in the sweetened condensed milk.  I was gonna edit out all the other “distractions” on the kitchen table so you’d think I was organized but then you already know better. When I get a wild hair to make something, I can always push things aside enough for a bowl. I’m so ashamed Flylady.

Combine the cooled, perfectly roasted, pecans into the sweetened condensed milk.  And no, the remote plays no part in this recipe.

Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly.  That’s my hubby helping. We’re a family that likes to cook together (along with the rule that if you don’t help you get stuck with the dishes is quite the incentive!).

This recipe calls for maple flavoring. Now I have to admit I haven’t been a fan of maple flavoring since I can remember, but, I’ve decided to revisit this flavor and give it another chance. We use this brand which is easily found at Wallyworld. I think that if you add the full teaspoon the recipe originally called for, the ice cream tastes more like it has coffee in it. However, by adding only 3/4 of a teaspoon, it tastes more like butter pecan ice cream from the store. Just sayin. It’s something you’ll need to experiment with to suit your own taste.

It’s really dark stuff, huh. It gives the ice cream that nice rich color.

Dump in all of the “stoftly” whipped heavy cream.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the pecan mixture. Try not to deflate the cream as best you can.

Ahhhh, here we go! That’s just about combined completely. Now at this point, a bowl of this would be just fine with me. But, we’re making ice cream so off to the ice cream mixer we go.

It takes about 15 to 20 minutes until the mixer acts like it’s possessed, which tells you it’s mixed and frozen as far as it can take it. In our mixer anyway, the center won’t be set. Either remove the insert, cover with plastic wrap and foil and set it in the freezer for about 1 hour.  Or, you can transfer the ice cream from the insert, put it in a container, mix it thoroughly and freeze. NOTE: I don’t particularly care to freeze it in the insert. For one thing, since the insert is already very, very cold, the ice cream sticks around the edge which makes it so hard to get out when it’s frozen solid. Additionally, the insert is kinda narrow which doesn’t give you a lot of room to scoop it out. Also, if you take it out of the insert you can incorporate the not so frozen with the really frozen before you put it in the container. Then there’s a spoon and spatula to lick too!!

I have to apologize for this picture. I couldn’t wait for it to freeze completely, hence it looks rather melted on the surface but it is SUPERB!!! It’s SUPERB before it goes into the ice cream mixer or afterward, even if it’s not frozen all the way through (that’s my favorite). This will last in your freezer for about a day, if you have a padlock! Anyway you dish it up, it’s fantastic!!!  NOTE: Just keep your distance from those with whom you’re sharing this, especially if your momma’s anywhere close!

SERVING SUGGESTION: I would recommend that if it is frozen solid, set it out on the counter about 15 minutes before serving or, if the container is microwave safe, you can nuke the whole container for a about 20 seconds or so so it’s easier to spoon out.

Enjoy!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted

2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 – 1 teaspoon maple flavoring

1. Toast the pecans

2. In a large bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until it reaches just a bit beyond soft peaks but before it reaches the stiff peak stage.

3. In a separate large bowl combine the sweetened condensed milk, cooled toasted pecans, melted butter and maple flavoring.

4. Fold the whipping cream into the pecan mixture.

5. Load mixture into ice cream mixer until machine quits.

6. If needed, freeze mixture until frozen completely, either in the insert or move to another container.