Crispy Chicken and Spinach Flautas

We arrived home from NYC a couple days ago. It was our last trip to the city that never sleeps (and where I don’t sleep much either because of the street noise), at least for a few years. Our kids who lived there for the last three years are moving back to our corner of Texas at the end of September. My excitement is matched only by the same feelings I had when my oldest son and his family recently moved to a house only about 5 minutes from ours. Mimi and Papa are in grandparent heaven!

(Now you know the real reason why I haven’t been blogging so much here lately.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to work off the damage done by the fabulous Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies and the Oatmeal Raisin cookies we always pick up from Levain’s Bakery on our way out of town. Have you tried them? To begin with, they are huge. But they are also buttery, chewy, and downright addictive. Almost thankfully, they cost a lot at $4 apiece, so that helps to tame the temptation.

So… more sweets for awhile. I’m sure it won’t last, but here’s a recipe that’s so easy and tasty, I usually have no room for dessert when I’ve had my fill.

It’s similar to the Crispy Egg and Sausage Breakfast Flautas I wrote about here. Start with my favorite TortillaLand uncooked flour tortillas (available dependably at Costco and other grocery stores not so dependably.) Any brand of flour tortilla will work, but I can’t recommend the uncooked flour tortillas enough. I like the TortillaLand tortillas because they bake up flaky and crispy. Stuff the tortillas with shredded rotisserie chicken and fresh sauteed spinach. The choice of cheese is up to you. I prefer Pepper Jack cheese for the heat and flavor it adds. Monterey Jack would be a milder choice. Cheddar cheese also works.

Make some fresh guacamole or use salsa as a dip for your flautas. They aren’t the same without condiments. By the way, I recently discovered I peel avocados all wrong. Check it out here.


Crispy Chicken and Spinach Flautas.jpg

Crispy Chicken and Spinach Flautas
Recipe type: Entree or Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8 flautas
  • 4 flour tortillas (8-inch diameter)
  • 4 oz. (3 cups) chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2.5 oz or 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese or Pepper Jack, shredded
  • Olive oil or coconut oil spray
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. If you are using uncooked tortillas, go ahead and cook them per directions on the package. Otherwise, cut cooked flour tortillas in half.
  3. Place fresh spinach into hot skillet and heat just until wilted. Drain any excess liquid.
  4. Distribute equal amounts of chicken, spinach, and shredded cheese onto long side of each tortilla half. See picture above.
  5. Starting with the long side, tightly roll each tortilla and place onto cookie sheet seam-side down. The cheese will melt and stick, so I recommend lining cookie sheet with non-stick aluminum foil, parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat for easy removal of the flautas and quick clean-up.
  6. Spray both sides of rolled tortillas with olive oil or coconut oil.
  7. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes or until flautas start to brown. Carefully flip flautas to seam-side up and continue to bake for another 5-8 minutes until flautas are golden brown and crispy all over.
  8. If seams start to pop open after you flip flautas, gently press them back together with your tongs while flipping. Flautas are done when they are golden brown and crispy.




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CPK's Honey Wheat Pizza Dough adapted for the bread machine

Will you look at that fabulous texture? …compliments of my bread machine.

  Thank you for the advice. Many of you told me to take it easy on myself after my mom passed away back in March. So I decided to put my camera away for awhile and take a blogging break. Meanwhile, both of my married sons along with their families have or are in the process of buying homes and moving back to our town. These changes have been a blessed distraction.

One of the original reasons for starting this blog was the convenience of having all my recipes organized and in one place. I discovered a new pizza dough recipe a while back and haven’t added it to this space yet. I’m getting tired of hunting for the recipe every time a pizza craving hits, and I’ve been too lazy to memorize it. So finally, I’m inspired once again.

When I’m in the mood, or get a bad report about my cholesterol, I try to add more whole grains to my diet. For years, guilt about eating pizza has driven my search for an irresistible whole wheat pizza dough.  Mostly the texture and sometimes the flavor has been a disappointment so I kept going back to My Favorite Pizza Dough. Being a fan of California Pizza Kitchen, I have a couple of their cookbooks and thought it might be worth trying their recipe for Honey Whole Wheat Pizza Dough since they seem to know a thing or two about pizza. Turns out I loved it and think you will, too. I realize it is not 100% whole wheat, but it’s better than none. Right? Of course, the original recipe wasn’t written for a bread machine, but I simply won’t do it any other way. So, I changed the directions and adjusted the amounts to fit the size of most bread machines.

CPK's Honey Wheat Pizza Dough adapted for the bread machine

This recipe will make two 12-13″ pizzas.

CPK's Honey Wheat Pizza Dough adapted for the bread machine

A heavy, dark-colored pizza pan greased with olive oil will give you the nicest crust.

CPK's Honey Wheat Pizza Dough adapted for the bread machine

Please note the dough is best when made a day ahead, so plan accordingly.

CPK Honey Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Your Bread Machine
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 2 pizzas
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast
  1. Put all ingredients into your bread machine in order listed. Set machine on the dough cycle and press start. When dough cycle has completed, remove dough to a large bowl (cover tightly) or a gallon zipper lock bag and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Approximately 2 hours (less in my warm kitchen) before you plan to put together your pizza, remove the dough from the fridge. Divide in half and form each half into a smooth, rounded ball. At this point I place each ball into a well oiled pizza pan and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. When dough has warmed and looks puffy, preheat oven to 450 F. Use your hands/fingers to flatten the ball until it is the thickness you prefer. I use a 13" pizza pan and try to press it to the edge. If you tear it or make a hole, patch it with your fingers.
  4. Assemble pizza as you prefer. For me that would be sauce first, then cheese, then meat or other toppings. If I have enough, I usually sprinkle a little more cheese over the top.
  5. Pop into the oven and turn temperature back to 425 degrees. How long you bake the pizza will depend on how liberal you were with the toppings, and your specific oven so I hesitate to be specific about the time. My pizzas usually take around 12 minutes, but yours might be different, so watch carefully after the first 10 minutes.



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If you have ever cried over milk that didn't turn into yogurt like it was supposed to, read this.

“What can I do to redeem failed yogurt? I have made it before, successfully, but the odd time it fails, I hate to throw it out…”

If you have been making yogurt for very long, you have probably experienced a failure. Oh, the disappointment, not to mention the anguish over wasting all that money on milk that isn’t cheap these days. I cannot count how many times I get desperate emails seeking to recover and make good yogurt from the same batch of milk or recycle the non-yogurt-milk into something entirely different.

The answer to these questions can go several ways. If you know why your yogurt failed, you have a good chance at success if you try again with the same batch. Was your incubation temperature too high or too low? Was your starter too old or dead? Check out my yogurt trouble-shooting post if you aren’t sure. If you don’t know and do everything the same way again, as the old saying goes, you can probably expect the same poor results.

Here are some suggestions based on my own experience:


  • FIRST: Does the milk smell bad? 

If so, throw it out. No need to ask any more questions. If the milk still smells fine and you aren’t feeding it to anybody who is immuno-compromised such as the very young, the very old, or someone who is ill, then proceed to the next step.

  • SECOND: Assuming you have already heated the milk to 180 degrees and no higher the first time around, reheat milk to 100 degrees. 

I put mine back in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, but the time may vary according to the size of the batch and your microwave.

  • THIRD: Add more starter.

If you suspect the original starter was the cause of your fail, try a different starter.

  • FOURTH: Re-incubate per my original instructions as seen here

I’ve had several failures through the years, mostly due to my forgetfulness. Just last night, I heated 3 batches of milk (2 quarts each), then set them on the counter to co0l down to approximately 110 degrees. Later in the evening, I went to bed without thinking about the milk ever again until I awoke at 6:00 this morning, and as I lay in bed, it hit me that I forgot to add starter and put the milk into the oven to incubate. Throwing out all that milk was unthinkable. It didn’t smell bad, so I heated the milk to 100 degrees, added a little more starter, and incubated as usual. Five hours later I had perfect yogurt.

Another scenario I often hear about is forgetting to turn on the heat for your incubation “system.” Again, if the milk still smells OK, reheat milk mixture to 100 degrees or so, turn on your heat source for incubation, and give the milk a few more hours to make yogurt.

Perhaps your “fail” could be better described as yogurt that didn’t get as thick as you hoped or expected. As long as it smells good, you could try the process described above, but I would recommend using it as is even if it is not what you originally planned. Try it in smoothies or substitute it for buttermilk in baked goods such as these cinnamon biscuits. I have not purchased buttermilk in years since I always have yogurt on hand. I usually have to thin it with milk to get the right consistency unless I have a batch of yogurt that didn’t get as thick as I wanted.

As one of my readers once told me, “The yogurt gods can be fickle.” Whenever you’re dealing with a live organism, the results can be somewhat unpredictable. But don’t be discouraged. The more experience you have, the fewer failures you will experience, unless you forget, like me, and go to bed without finishing the process. I have no remedy for that unless it would be a timer with a loud buzzer.



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Round Steak and Sausage Pinwheels--Meaty slow cooker recipe special enough for a celebration.

My younger son and daughter-in-law cannot recall a time when they didn’t know each other. Feels a little weird to me as I often think about my own life in terms of before-I-met-my-husband and after-I met-my husband.

We have gone to church with the very special Fisher family for somewhere around 30 years. I remember joining them for dinner after church one Sunday night at Taco Bueno when they first moved to Arlington from Oklahoma. At the time, their daughter was in or around first grade. Little did I know she would one day marry my son. That blessed event is just one of a multitude of reasons to take your kids to church. Agreed?

Since the marriage, we have celebrated many holidays and birthdays with the Fishers, most including our aging parents which adds a certain dimension. If you are nodding, perhaps you understand how things change as our relatives age–the logistical problems, the challenge of making interesting conversation, and even trying to play games during the napping hour.

On the flip side, we now share two granddaughters with the Fishers. Bridget, the newest one, is pictured below at 3 weeks of age. (I had to find some excuse to show off that amazing smile.) Come to think of it, we still have logistical problems (high chairs), the challenge of making conversation (baby talk?), and conflicts with the napping hour. But it’s all joy!

Bridget smiling at 3 weeks

We also share a love for this recipe as it has graced our celebratory dining table multiple times. In fact, this is the second appearance on this blog as the first time around was rather unremarkable, photographically speaking. These Steak and Sausage pinwheels deserve better.

You will be put to a fair amount of trouble to assemble this recipe although less so the more often you make them. But once you put the Steak and Sausage Pinwheels into your slow cooker or oven, you are free to carry on with your life for awhile. About 15 minutes before dinnertime, remove the toothpicks, slice the steak rolls, and stir together some gravy. Bring on the mashed potatoes for an unforgettable feast.

Assembly of Round Steak and Sausage Pinwheels

Round Steak and Sausage Pinwheels
Recipe type: Entree
Round steak rolled up with sausage inside--fancy enough for any occasion
  • 2½ lbs. tenderized round steak, about ½ inch thick
  • 1 pound hot or mild ground sausage (I use breakfast sausage)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs, soft or dried, seasoned or plain
  • ½-3/4 cup chopped onions (I like frozen)
  • 1 chopped red or green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons bouillon concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet or Dale's Steak Sauce
  • bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Meat juices left over from cooking meat
  1. Lay steak out on the counter. Cut into pieces about 4-5 inches wide and 7-10 inches long. This is very approximate.
  2. Layer sausage on top of steak using your hands to spread evenly to the edges.
  3. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, then onions, peppers, and parsley. End with a light shower of salt and pepper.
  4. Starting from narrow end, roll up steak and secure with toothpicks. (Count the toothpicks so you will know how many you need to pull out after steak is cooked.)
  5. Brown rolls in a large skillet, if desired, but this step is not absolutely necessary. Place in a crockpot (I always use a crock pot liner) or a large dutch oven or covered skillet.
  6. Combine water, bouillon, and Kitchen Bouquet. Pour over meat.
  7. Cover and place in oven at 325 degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or cook in a crockpot for 7-8 hours. When tender, remove meat from oven or crockpot and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Remove toothpicks and slice. Set aside while you make gravy.
  1. Whisk water and cornstarch together. Add to juice from pot the meat was cooked in. Whisk well and cook until thickened. If there is not enough meat juice and gravy is too thick, you may have to add more water or beef broth to get a gravy-like consistency.
  2. Serve over steak rolls.
1. Alternate method for the gravy: Use a brown gravy mix from the store if you are not confident about your gravy-making skills. Use the juice from the cooked meat instead of water as called for on the package.
2. If the round steak has not been tenderized or is slightly thicker than a half inch, pound it with a meat tenderizer mallet.

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Street Corn and Zucchini--Side Dish or Quesadillas?

Spring is here, and I recently saw corn on the cob for sale at my local grocer. YES! Time for Street Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas. If you’re not familiar with street corn, it’s highly spiced and seasoned corn-on-a-stick that is often sold at festivals or fairs.

I love corn in all forms, except maybe canned which reminds me of elementary school, so this dish is one of my favorites. Back home in Indiana, we froze a lot of home-grown corn. When Mom finished cutting the corn from the cob, I would look for the largest pieces of stuck-together corn kernels to eat as my reward for helping. For some unexplainable reason, they tasted better than individual kernels. I occasionally still try to recreate those delectable little chunks as evidenced by the pictures on this post for Calabacita with Potatoes.

Street Corn and Zucchini Quesadilla

Street Corn and Zucchini makes a delicious side dish on day 1. I make plenty so I can recycle the leftovers to make quesadillas on day 2.

Cutting Street Corn and Zucchini Quesadilla

May I suggest kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter to divide your quesadilla into wedges for neater consumption. If you have neither, use a sharp knife. If you don’t have a sharp knife, you might consider eating these when camping where it doesn’t matter so much what your food looks like or what you look like when eating it.

Street Corn and Zucchini--Side Dish or Quesadillas
Recipe type: Side Dish or Vegetarian Main Dish
  • 1 tablespoon butter, vegetable, or olive oil (I use garlic olive oil)
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped (I always use frozen onions for digestive ease)
  • 1 pound fresh zucchini, finely chopped
  • 2 cups frozen corn (thawed) or 2 cobs of fresh corn (cooked and removed from cob)
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning or my homemade Cowboy dust
  • 1-2 tablespoon Feta cheese
Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • ¼ cup leftover corn and zucchini mixture from above recipe
  • ½ cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1-2 tablespoons bacon bits
  • Spray butter
  1. Heat butter or oil in large skillet. Add onions and saute until softened.
  2. Add zucchini and corn to skillet and continue to cook until vegetables have a few golden brown spots. Add taco seasoning and stir.
  3. Sprinkle cheese over top and serve.
Street Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas
  1. Spray or spread butter on one side of each tortilla. Sprinkle ¼ cup cheese on unbuttered side of tortilla. Top with bacon bits, then approximately ¼ cup corn and zucchini mixture.
  2. Top with remaining ¼ cup cheese, then cover with second tortilla with the buttered side on the outside.
  3. Place quesadilla in ungreased skillet set on medium heat. Cook until browned and crispy on first side, then flip and cook the other side until browned and crispy. Remove and cut in wedges with kitchen shears, a pizza cutter, or a sharp knife.



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