Making my own tortilla's... sort of.

Once I got into my later teen years by brother 'J' and I (he's younger by 2 1/2 yrs) started having some of the same friends. We went to church a lot - which included both Sunday morning and evening services. A big part of the 'raison d'etre' around especially a Sunday evening service for me (and eventually my brother) was so that we could all pile into a car and go out after church and enjoy ourselves whilst eating junk food. For both J and I, our junk food of choice became Taco Bell. What could be better - cheap food that was tasty (ok, I know... but really, it kinda is), great hot sauce and it filled the car with ridiculously hilarious sounds and smells on the way home after. I recall on more than one occasion having hot pepper packet eating contests - Gross!
Anyway, thus began my fascination with Tex-Mex. Lately, here in T.O. I've given up trying to find something that is really well-done (if anyone has some good suggestions, PLEASE pass it on) and taken to either making my own thing or once a year or so making a homage back to the nasty fast food joint (making sure to load up adequately with hot sauce!)

I do make 'taco's' here at home for the kids but haven't really tried to do much with it - ground beef, beans, spices. Well, I finally discovered that it's really not that hard to make reasonably adequate flour tortilla's. AND I actually really like them. So, with my new tortilla recipe under my belt, I ventured successfully into veggie bean/corn and rice taco filling which was really good. Add to that the awesome chipotle powder from my 'Big Carrot' extravagance last weekend and the veggie rice just knocked it out of the park. Serve with some sour cream (no low fat stuff... ok? We've had this talk) and salsa and you'll be making these puppies at every available opportunity... YUM

Flour Tortilla's
adapted from Homesick Texan
makes about 8 large tortilla shells (double this recipe if you are having a crowd, or are really hungry)

2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 cups warm milk

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
Slowly add warm milk. Stir until a loose ball forms. Knead for a couple of minutes on a floured surface until the dough is firm but still soft. Place dough back in the bowl and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Separate the dough into 8 sections and roll each into a ball. Cover each of the balls with a damp cloth while you roll one out into a large circle. Let it be thin and about 8 inches around.

Place the tortilla into a heated caste-iron skillet, I didn't use any oil but you could lightly brush with butter or oil if you would like. Cook each side for about 30 seconds. Store the cooked tortilla's on a plate covered with a cloth until you are ready to use it.

Bean and Corn Rice
(adapted from 'Taste of Home Magazine - my Mom awesomely gets me a subscription every year)
serves 6

3 cups cooked rice
1 large can of black beans or kidney beans, drained mostly
1 1/2 cups of corn (frozen or canned - just not creamed corn!)
2 tbsp oil of choice
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1/2 green pepper, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp smoked chipotle powder (!)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander
(you could also use a premixed taco seasoning instead of all of this - it would turn out just fine.)

In a heated Dutch oven saute the veggies in oil for about 4 min. Once the veggies are wilted add in the beans and mix well. Add in the corn and mix well and allow the mixture to cook over a medium to low heat for a few minutes. Add in all the spices and check for taste. Once you are happy with that then add in the cooked rice and mix well. Check tastes again and serve!

I think that stuffed green pepper would also be really nice here - some cheese on top, a little salsa on the side. Nice 'no-carb' option (not that I give a rats ass about 'no-carbs' ;-)

Spicy, Peanutty Bok Choy Stir Fry

I just got back home after an awesome yoga class. I read a book a while ago ('Skinny Bitch in the Kitch' - not the greatest read but there are some good morsels in there) which stated that if everyone in the world practiced yoga there would be world peace. I thought that it was a gross over-exageration at the time but now... I almost believe it myself. I'm ravenous though - I know 'biker-chic', Ms 'yeah-I-run-10k', ravenous after a little 90 min. yoga class. But, there it is.

I could have gotten something down in Greek town where my class was but I've been craving veggies lately. To be honest, I haven't been eating well lately. Little snacks really more than anything. Today I needed veggies and protein. So I picked up some beef at the health food store and rode home (yeah - I biked to my class - total hippie) and pulled out the bok choy that came in this weeks food box.

I was psyched. Originally a simple bok choy/beef/soy sauce thing was in my mind. Somehow though all these other veg's made it out of the fridge and landed on my cutting board. The next thing I knew I was pulling out the peanut butter and goin' to town with the pepper sauce.
What resulted was still pretty simple but absolutely just what I needed. Right now I am totally and utterly satisfied. Serve this by itself or with whatever grain you prefer. I have only just discovered that I'm out of quinoa, otherwise that would have been my grain of choice with this puppy. Brown rice would hold up nicely to these bold flavours as well.

Bok Choy and Beef Stir Fry in Spicy Peanut Sauce
serves 4

2 - 3 tbsp oil
1/2 red onion, sliced thin in rings (this is huge for me!!!)
2 medium carrots (sliced through the long blades on the box grater)
1/2 zucchini (that's all I had, you could use more), sliced long and thin
2 medium sized bok choy, ends cut off then cut it like celery
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 lb of beef sliced thin for stir-frying (You could use 3 scrambled eggs instead)
3 - 4 tbsp of soy sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 tbsp pepper sauce
red pepper flakes (I sprinkle it on top of my serving)

In a heated wok pour the oil. Add in the veggies and saute about 5 minutes until the veggies are kind of cooked but not too wilted. Add in the beef and let it brown. Add in the Soy sauce and then add in the peanut butter. Mix it together (yeah, right in the wok) until it's all mixed together. Add in the hoisin and pepper sauce and check the taste.

Serve with grain of choice and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Summer... Chocolate Ice Cream

That's right my peeps. Summer! Well, not quite... but it feels like it here in Toronto, ON. Look, here's how I see it. We only get summer for a couple of months here - 3 to be utterly exact. I think that when we get great weather in May, it's as good as begun. Derek and I were able to enjoy our first 'terrace' experience this season, people watching out on our favourite patio on our date night. As if the great weather wasn't enough, we're all starting to catch World Cup Fever here in the house. The excitement is building. So, See... there are many indications that summer has indeed begun.

As soon as summer hints at making an appearance, I'm pulling out my ice cream maker. A most beloved gift from my mom-in-law. I've tried many recipes but always come back to this one.

Derek is a big ice-cream guy. Me, not so much. I've got a couple of recipes nagging at me though this season which I will get on soon... trust me. But really, the tried and true Chocolate ice cream. I found this on a search at and at really has never failed. Delish! The better quality the chocolate, the better the ice cream. I use Callebaut 60% choc chips (which incidently I've seen on ocassion at Bulk Barn for those interested). If you have an ice cream maker just trust me on this one. You won't be disappointed.

Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream (from

2/3 cup of dark chocolate (about 60% cocoa solids)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3 large egg yolks

Make sure that the chocolate is chopped small. Combine the sugar and cocoa in a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add in the cream and milk and whisk until combined. Bring the mixture just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks until smooth. Take large spoonfuls of the cream mixture and whisk it into the egg yolks until combined (about 2 large spoonfuls). Then add the yolk mixture into the cream mixture. Place it all back on the heat and let a food thermometer get to 170 degrees F. (usually I just keep it on for maybe 5 min., do the back of the spoon test - if you can run your finger down the back of a spoon and the mixture doesn't immediately flow back together then it's ready). Once heated remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Make sure that the chocolate is complete melted into the mixture and then run the whole mixture through a seive into a large bowl. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap - make sure that the wrap is right on top of the chocolate mixture otherwise a film will form on the top of the chocolate custard. Cool off to at least room temperature then put it into an ice cream maker until it firms up (about 20 - 25 minutes.

Place in a container and put in the freezer until it completely firms up.

Let it melt just a bit before serving and totally enjoy!

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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