Puff Taco Strudel

Today I pulled some ground beef out of the freezer and had a pastry dough to use up, so I went to my Pinterest board for savoury baking and decided to go with “Puff Taco Strudel”.  Obviously, I adapted the recipe – I refuse to use pre-mixed, chemical-laced products; making them myself is just as fast and a whole lot healthier.  So here’s my version (photo, courtesy of Pinterest):

Puff Taco Strudels

450 gr. ground beef

1 stalk of leek, thinly ringed

1-2 beefy tomatoes, finely diced

Black olives (amount to taste), coarsely chopped

Taco spices to taste

———————-

~100 gr. grated cheese

1-2 puff pastry doughs, rectangular OR Bisquick dough, rolled out

2 eggs

a bit of milk, egg, or Ranch dressing diluted with a bit of milk for a dough wash.

Combine the first ingredients into a frying pan, until the meat is browned (no butter or oil is necessary unless you’re using lean meat; then I would recommend a bit of virgin coconut oil).  Remove from heat.

Stir in the cheese while it’s still warm, and then the eggs.  Spoon along the centre of a rolled-out puff pastry sheet or rolled-out Bisquick dough; fold over and pinch to close, then flip the strudel seam-side down.  poke a few air holes along the top, then brush with your choice of wash – I used a bit of the Ranch dressing with milk.

Pop into a pre-heated oven at 210°C for 20-40 minutes (depending on your oven), until golden brown.  Serve as-is, or with the typical Tex-Mex side dish of guacamole, salsa, or a salad of your choice.  Enjoy!

Puff Taco Strudel

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Kitchen Craft Idea: Tea Caddy & DIY Mod Podge

Until recently, our tea corner was looking fairly, shall we say, “lived-in”.  I’d wanted to neaten it up for awhile, but hadn’t found the right solution.  Then the idea came that, if I couldn’t find anything in the shops, it was time to make it myself.

If you’ve never done paper maché before, it can look a bit daunting; but it’s all about steps:  First you get an idea of what you need, and begin building up the “armature” – the skeleton of what you want as an end-product.  That can change as you go; you can add on in basically any phase you want.  The armature, in this case, was made of boxes and masking tape:  I took square and rectangular tissue boxes; the square, I cut in half across the middle, cutting top from bottom.  I slipped a piece of cardboard into the top’s hole to make a solid base. The rectangular boxes, I cut down to be a bit shorter – these are the side drawers.

I’ve learned to get crisp edges on box projects by pre-cutting the papers I use to the width, length or height of the piece to cover with Mod-Podge & paper.  I used a book I’ll never read, but find that paperback pages are a good thickness, and don’t get my fingers as black as working with newspaper does.  Afer they were dry, I painted them; the drawers are white, the caddy, black.

If you’re interested in getting the metal drawer pulls, I found them at Aliexpress – a great source for craft items, especially for those of us in Europe (which tends to have very little choice of craft items)!  If you type in “Plum handle metal antique vintage”, they’ll pop up.

Below are a few photos to inspire you; I didn’t photograph every stage; if you want to learn more about what you can do with paper maché, just click here to go to my Pinterest board for crafts using paper & cardboard.  I made the “Life is like a cup of tea” image from a few different images; the label was also made from a banner I found on Pinterest; these kinds of things can be found on my Vintage board.

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I lined each drawer with a different pattern of scrap material; you could use paper – it’s up to you, but I think the cloth will be more durable.  I painted it with a layer of homemade Mod Podge, so here is the recipe for that:

DIY Mod Podge

You’ll need:

  • Glass Jar or container
  • Any kind of generic household glue
  • Water
  • Acrylic gloss/glaze paint if you want a glossy finish

Into the container, pour 3 parts glue and 1-2 parts water, depending on how thick you want it.  Add the glaze if you want; depending on how much glue and water you use, you’ll need to adjust how much gloss you add, but I would guesstimate 1 part gloss.

If you’re not yet familiar with Mod Podge, it can be used in so many ways!  I go through quite a lot of it, so I made up a large batch every 6 weeks or so.  I use it both to glue and seal paper maché projects.

 

Baked Apple Turnovers

I made these turnovers last week as I had a bag of frozen apple slices that wanted using, as well as a puff pastry dough that had been sitting in the fridge a couple days while I decided what to do with it.  These turned out delicious, and well worth keeping the recipe on hand for the next time – and so I share it here!  I found several recipes online, but most call for deep-frying; I don’t do grease.  Baking them is healthier, ecologically as well as medically, and they come out tasting like the apple pie pockets from a well-known fast-food chain restaurant – except I know exactly what goes into these, no chemicals or unpronounceable ingredients involved. They only take about 10 minutes to prepare and would be a great dessert for guests, or a quick toss-together when you’ve got withering apples to use up.

For a real treat, serve these warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  Enjoy!

Apple Turnovers

Baked Apple Turnovers

3-4 apples, peeled, cored and finely diced

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry

A bit of milk or cream for brushing

Prepare the apples as instructed; then toss together with the sugar and spices.

Roll out the pastry dough, and score with a knife to cut into 6 squares.

Spoon a bit of the mixture into the centre (off just a bit, as you’ll fold it at the centre), keeping it away from the edges.  Fold over corner-to-corner into a triangle, and press the open edges together with the tines of a fork.  Repeat until all are done, spreading them evenly on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Brush the tops with a bit of milk or cream (or egg wash).

Bake at 180°C (350°F) for ~30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 6 turnovers.

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Homemade Ranch Dip

We had a large party here this week, and this dip is a standard addition!  It’s fast, simple, and delicious.

The main ingredient is my homemade mix of Copycat Ranch Dressing Mix.  It’s a great mix to have on hand for making either dressing, dip, or adding to my Bisquick recipe for Ranch rolls.  If you need more than one kind of dip, grab your favourite dressing powder mix and replace the amount called for in this recipe.

Homemade Ranch Dip

Photo Credit:  Black Diamond Catering

Photo Credit: Black Diamond Catering

2 Tbs. Ranch mix

1 C. milk

1 C. Mayonnaise

Mix it up thoroughly about 20 minutes before serving, and chill; it will thicken up as the liquids are soaked into the ingredients such as the milk powder.  Give it a good final stir and serve with crudités (raw vegetables sliced for dipping).

Tip:  The catering photo above gives a great idea for serving the dip in a bell pepper.

Elvish Lembas Bread

In honour of Lammas Day, I’d like to share a recipe for Lembas Bread, the Elvish bread from Lord of the Rings.  This recipe is floating around all over the internet, so unfortunately I don’t know who the originator is to give them proper credit.  This type of bread is similar to Hardtack, which has a long history of being used as part of a pilgrim’s travelling provisions; sailors survived on it during long sea voyages when fresh bread had long gone the way of the “bargemen” (weevils), and pioneers travelling west through America took it along in their provisions for the journey.

Also attached is a template for a Mallorn leaf, which in LOR lore, the elves used to pack the bread for travelling.  To make the leaves, I’d recommend a forest green cloth, or a mesh-fibre table cloth.  I’d also recommend making the bread before cutting out the leaves, so that the latter fit the former.  Adjust leaf joints to the size of squares as you pack them.  Just copy the jpg, adjust the size for printing out your template, then cut it out and have fun!

By the way, if you love reading, and love Elves, check out my 2-part fantasy novel, The Cardinal!  Available in Kindle and Paperback.  Just click on the cover art to link to Amazon.  Enjoy, and be sure to write a great review to let other people know what you loved about the story!

This makes a delicately lemon-flavoured, lightly sweetened scone-type bread.

Lembas Bread in Mallorn LeafLembas Bread

2 ½ C. flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
8 Tbs. cold butter
1/3 C. sugar
2/3 C. milk
½ tsp. lemon extract

Preheat over to 425°F (220°C). Mix flour, baking powder, & salt in a large bowl. Chop butter into mixture with a pastry cutter or knead in with your fingers until you get a crumbly mixture. Add sugar & mix. Add milk & lemon extract & stir with a fork until dough forms.

Roll the dough out about ½ inch thick. Cut out 3 inch squares & transfer to a cookie sheet. Criss-cross each square from corner to corner with a knife. Bake for about 12 minutes or until set & lightly golden.

Mallorn Leaf

Vegetarian Lasagna

It’s been years since I’ve made traditional meat-based lasagna; currently we eat basically vegetarian because the young woman living with us is vegetarian, and it’s practical and healthy; there are so many great alternatives out there on the market today that meat really isn’t necessary to any dish – it’s just a matter of preference.  Here’s my recipe for vegetable lasagna; it can be made with ground beef by the carnivores or ground Quorn by the vegetarians, or with neither… the vegetable mixture is so good that you won’t miss meat!

Quorn Lasagne 2Veggie Lasagna

Meat(less) Mixture:

~450 gr. ground Quorn or ground beef (either are optional)

1 onion, peeled & finely chopped

1 aubergine (eggplant), diced into small cubes

1 zucchini, diced into small cubes

1 tin of stewed, chopped tomatoes

Italian spices, salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the vegetables; sauté the onion in a bit of your usual oil – I use either olive oil or coconut oil.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, and cook until the aubergine and zucchini are nearly done.  Set aside while you make the sauce.

Pre-heat the oven now to 200°C (400°C) and put the oven rack on the lower to middle rungs.

 

Bechamel Sauce with Cheese:

1/2 C. Pre-made Bechamel Sauce

~2 C. milk (or more)

200 gr. grated cheese (your choice)

Place the sauce mixture in a sauce pan, and with a whisk, whisk in  ~1/4 C. milk to a smooth paste.  Bring gradually to a boil, stirring constantly and gradually adding milk.  The flour in the mixture will thicken gradually.  When the sauce has reached a good consistency – a bit thick, not soupy – stir in the grated cheese and remove from the stove.  If you feel you’ve not made enough sauce for 2 layers of lasagna, you can add a bit of Ricotta cheese, stirring it in well, to expand the amount of sauce.

Additional Ingredients:

Lasagna noodles (dry; not necessary to pre-boil them)

200 gr. grated cheese

~1/2 C. breading crumbs

To Layer:

Spoon 1/2 of the meat(less) mixture into the base of a rectangular oven-proof deep glass dish, spreading to coat the bottom of the dish.  Top with a layer of lasagna noodles (single-layer, not overlapping); spread 1/2 of the bechamel sauce over the noodles, covering all the way to the edges.  Repeat these layers once more.  Sprinkle the top with grated cheese, and then top with a sprinkle of the breading crumbs.  Bake at 200°C (400°F) for ~30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

If you like wine, serve with a red wine such as Pinot Noir for a robust taste, or Chianti for a slightly fruitier addition.

 

 

Homemade Lip Balm

This was made here recently by the young woman living with us at the moment; it turned out really well, and I have a small pot of it sitting next to my computer that I use regularly.  The texture is smooth, and it’s long-lasting.  You may never want to buy lip balm again!

(illustration from wwwfoodrenegade.com)

(illustration from wwwfoodrenegade.com)

Homemade Lip Balm

1 oz. Beeswax
5 oz. Almond oil (or coconut, or olive oil)
1 Tbs. Honey
4 drops essential oil or extract (choose your favourite flavour)

Melt the beeswax in a pan over boiling water; remove from heat. Stir in the other ingredients, pour into storage containers and allow to cool.

[The cosmetic-grade beeswax “droplets” (I wouldn’t recommend using an old beeswax candle you’ve had standing around…) can either be found in a health food store or a pharmacy, as can the cosmetic-grade almond oil and essential oil.  For storage containers, I used small travel containers that originally had face cream in them; I keep such things for just such occasions.  Otherwise, look for small containers at your local shop, or improvise – be creative!]