Homemade Tortilla Chips

Yesterday’s refried bean post had me thinking about something that goes great with refried beans and guacamole… homemade tortilla chips.  They’re really easy to make – even easier than making the beans.  I love how simple it is to control the ingredients in the chips, and how yummy they come out.

Start with good quality corn tortillas – you might find them in the bread aisle or the international section, depending on where you live.

Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Cut the tortillas.  It saves time if you cut more than one tortilla at once; I usually cut a stack of five or six at the same time.  Make three intersecting cuts across the diameter of the tortillas to create six triangles from each tortilla.

Arrange the triangles on the parchment in a single layer with no tortilla edges touching each other.

Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, flipping with tongs halfway through.  Make sure that when you flip them, you put them back in a single layer.

Remove from the oven when lightly golden brown.  Use tongs to remove the chips from cookie sheet, and enjoy while they’re still warm.

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*Just a disclosure about how La Banderita tortillas did not compensate me in any way, I just took a picture of the tortillas I used to help you guys see what kind I used.

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Refried Beans, Round Three?

A lot of you may know that I’ve been struggling with refried beans for a while.  I don’t think my other attempts are worth linking back to, because you won’t even want to try the beans however I made them once you try them the way I made them yesterday.  I always want to make them, but they never come out quite right.  My result has always been on the firm side of al dente, if that can even be a bean measurement, and pretty much disappointing.  However, I think I finally nailed it.  It might not be a traditional refried bean recipe, but it’s one that I’m embracing because it worked.

Instead of dry beans, I used canned, because that was what was in the house.  The fact that these beans came out a lot better makes me think that my problem lies in the cooking of the dry beans and not the refrying process.  I still want to take on refried beans from dry beans, but in the meantime, this is pretty good.  If you’re looking for an easy-peasy refried bean recipe that works, here ya go:

1 14 ounce can black beans

Half an onion (I used Vidalia)

Olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

About a third to a half black bean canful of water.

 

Rinse your beans.  Canned beans can be super salty.  To save washing a colander, I like to use a can opener to open the can of beans most of the way and then carefully dump out the liquid inside while reserving the beans.  Just don’t peel up the lid once it’s mostly opened.  Leave the opened lid down on the closed can, and your beans will stay inside, although it’s a good idea to hold your hand under the can in case any beans do fall out. Your palm, open but with fingers touching, will work better than any colander. Once the liquid is gone, run your can under a stream of tap water, shake the can to get the water evenly distributed, and dump out.  Rinse like this as many times as needed to get clean beans.

In the meantime, heat a pot on medium heat.  Add a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Chop half an onion into normal sized cut pieces.  Not microfine, but you should also have more than three pieces of onion.  Heat in the oil until translucent.  Add your tomato paste and stir.  Add the beans.  Fill the empty bean can about halfway with water (saves using a measuring cup) and add enough water to the beans to cover them.  Cook until heated through.  I pulled my beans off the heat just before all the water had evaporated.  Mash up with a potato masher, and then give them a good stir to get the onions and the moisture evenly distributed, and there you go.

I like to think this recipe is at least a wee bit healthier than most refried bean recipes, because I used olive oil instead of bacon fat or another veggie oil, and they still turned out really well.  As testimony, a non-bean-lover in my family even told me how good they smelled.  So grab a can of beans, and make them refried.  You won’t be sorry.  You can throw them on top of nachos or even eat them as a standalone dish.

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*Refried beans just don’t photograph well.  I tried, though.  I was going to add sea salt on top for texture, but the canned beans were salty enough without it.  Despite how they look, you’ll love how they taste!

More Corn, and a Weekend Update

Hey you guys!  How was your weekend?  A lot has been going on over here lately.  I’m still in the process of moving out of my apartment, and weighing the pros and cons of moving my furniture home.  As in, I love it all, but it’s also all IKEA furniture, so is it worth the schlepp?  Anyone in Montreal need a bed/futon/dresser/etc?  Let’s talk please. {Seriously, it’s all in really good condition…}  I also have a bunch of Montreal foodie pictures that I have to share with you guys in another post before I leave the city for the foreseeable future, so stay tuned on the Montreal front!

Anyway, being back in NJ means more time for corn.  The second batch of corn went in Friday night.  These are from a different plant store, where they had blue corn and white corn.  The blue corn is a little bigger than the first batch of white corn was when it got planted, and the new batch of white corn is absolutely gigantic!  You know the saying, “knee high by the 4th of July?”  These guys are about a month early.  The nursery where I got them must have one serious greenhouse! {Sidenote, I just Googled that phrase, to make sure it’s actually a saying you might know, and not just something my family says, and found this neat article on Bon Apetit.  Yes, I just said neat.  And seeing how well the real farmed corn is doing, I’m getting some serious corn envy.  Maybe this will be the year it finally gets taller than me!}

I’m hoping both sets of new corn all settles in well with the first batch that was planted about ten days ago.  The first batch of corn is still smallish, but dark green and growing, whereas the new corn is huge, with some definitely yellow leaves.  Hopefully this morning’s constant downpour will help it out.  Planting the new corn also gave me an excuse to try an build up a mini-retaining wall.  I bordered the planting bed with rocks in a hopefully-not-futile effort to keep some of the good compost, nutrients, and water from all sliding downhill.  We’ll see how it goes.  Either way, the definition it gives the garden is quite pretty!

This weekend was great, with a trip down the shore for a double birthday party.  I was able to squeeze in a late night trip to the Boardwalk for Kohr’s ice cream, and the ocean has finally warmed up to above arctic temperatures.  The waves were calm and it was amazingly gorgeous.  I’m afraid the summer is going to fly by in an instant, so I’m really trying to make the most of it this year.

In the meantime, here are some corny corn pictures, plus a few weekend food/fun pictures thrown in.  Are any of you growing corn?  I’d love to hear about it!

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New white corn on the left. Blue corn on the right.

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Definitely already knee-high.

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Nocturnal planting, again. Thank God for flood lights!

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First big drink.

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Water droplets hanging on.

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Finally a shot in daylight. The blue are in the far back, and the big ones are the new white stalks. The smaller, greener ones, are the older white stalks.

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Birthday cupcake tower. I didn’t bake any, just helped arrange them on the cupcake tower. Four kinds – vanilla cake w/ vanilla frosting, vanilla cake w/ chocolate frosting, chocolate cake w/ vanilla frosting, chocolate cake w/ chocolate frosting! Had to try all four!

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The view at the gorgeous shore!

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New donut place opened up dts (down the shore), had to try it. Props and big thanks to the people who saved me a donut even though I arrived hours after breakfast 🙂 PS it was delicious!

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Half vanilla-half chocolate swirl with rainbow sprinkles. Nothing beats it. Somehow even sprinkles are better on the Boardwalk. Maybe it’s the salt air…

Super Easy Super Yummy Skillet Cookie

I don’t know about you guys, but I love a good chocolate chip cookie.  The recipe is on the back of every bag of chocolate chips, and it’s always super easy.  {I proved to myself once again last night that it’s really hard to mess up.  Because sometimes I mess up when I’m baking, and a lot of times it doesn’t turn out like I wanted it to, but this time it was a-okay.}  Sometimes, though, chocolate chip cookies get boring.  Which is when it’s a good time to bring out the skillet cookie.

I started out following Nestle, but it ended up more like this:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 sticks butter

2 eggs

1 tsp of vanilla

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 heaping cups chocolate chips (the more the merrier)

Cast iron skillet for baking the cookie

I creamed the butter with the eggs, which isn’t what you’re supposed to do, but it’s what I did.  And then I measured my sugars wrong, but it worked out anyway.  Ideally:

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  In a small bowl, mix your flour, baking soda, and salt.   In your large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together (Nestle calls for 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, and 3/4 cup white sugar, but that did not happen).  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla and stir.  Add the dry ingredients.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Grease your skillet.  Fill with cookie dough.  I used about 3/4 of the dough because I didn’t want it to take forever to cook.  Press down the dough for even coverage.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 350°.  The cookie might seem too gooey when you take it out, but it will continue cooking in the cast iron.

You can let it cool if you want to, but I found the hot cookie too tempting to let cool.  Slice like a pie and enjoy!  Repeat until the cookie is all gone, or your cookie craving is satisfied, whichever comes first.

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