Ultimate Whole Wheat Tortillas

I have been on a mission to master my whole wheat tortilla recipe. I love tortillas because of their diversity. They can be wraps, tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, flat breads, chips, you name it! We are trying to eat very little processed food and store-bought tortillas are definitely processed, not to mention filled with preservatives. Plus they cost almost $4.00 for 10! I knew I could do better.

I’ve spent the last month playing with my recipe. I have tried a few different combinations of flours and oils.  I am happy to announce that I have officially perfected it! These tortillas are whole wheat and still very pliable, not to mention delicious! All of the whole wheat tortillas I have bought at the grocery store crumble when you try to fold them, even if you warm them up. That doesn’t make a very good taco. This recipe fixes that problem. The best part is that I can whip up a batch of these in about 30 minutes (maybe 45 until you get a system down). So here it is!

Amanda’s Ultimate Whole Wheat Tortillas20130129-180629.jpg

Servings: 14 Soft Tortillas
Time: 30 minutes

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp coconut oil (room temperature)
1 cup warm water

  1. Combine the both flours and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the coconut oil to the flour mixture. The coconut oil should be room temperature and be the consistency of shortening. Combine the flour mixture and the coconut oil with a fork or pastry blender. You want to fully incorporate the oil into the flour until it is about pea size or smaller.
  3. Stir in the water until the dough forms. You may want to use your hands at this point. If your dough seems too dry, add a little more water, about 1 tbsp at a time until it comes together. If the dough is too wet, you can add a bit more flour.
  4. Form balls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Set aside.
  5. Warm a frying pan or griddle to medium low heat (about a 3-4 on my stove). DO NOT add any oil to the pan. Your tortilla dough has plenty of oil.
  6. To roll out the tortilla balls between two pieces of aluminum foil. If your dough is sticking, slightly flour. I use a rolling pin to roll them out, slightly rotating between each pass. Roll them as thin as you can. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a wine bottle will work.
  7. Remove the top piece of foil. You can either make rustic tortillas (odd-shaped) or make round tortillas like I did. I used a salad plate to cut mine. Place the salad plate upside down on your rolled out dough and use a knife to cut around. Remove the excess and set aside.
  8. Peel the dough off the foil. I do this by placing the dough in my hand and peeling off the foil. It should come off fairly easy.
  9. Lay the dough flat in the warmed pan. Cook on each side for 30 seconds. It doesn’t take long. Once you get a system down, you will be able to roll your next tortilla between flips.
  10. Remove your tortilla and set on a cookie sheet or cooling rack. Repeat until all of the dough is used up! I used my scrap dough to make mini tortilla for Ava.

After my tortillas cool, I stack them and store them in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator. One batch lasts us about a week.

Have you ever made homemade tortillas?

It’s Giveaway Time

That’s right, I’m giving away a copy of my Zero Based Budget Excel Documents.  You will have your choice of color!  Check it out over on Etsy!

Zero Based Budget

The giveaway begins Tomorrow (1/21/13) at 12:00am, AKST (That’s 4am for you East Coasters).  Enter below or click on the Giveaway link at the top of our Facebook page.  Feel free to share with all of your friends on Facebook!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Swimming in a Frozen Lake

For those of you who may have missed it on Facebook, I thought you might enjoy these photos of my husband Tony jumping into a frozen lake in December.  He did the Polar Plunge as part of a fundraiser.  I also took a video, but it just ends with me yelling at a lady (who I thought was a dude) because she walked in front of my camera.  Rude, I know.  Enjoy!

polar plunge 2012 Tony Scacchi

In case you are wondering what he’s pointing at… it would be me.  The couple that jumped before him had just gotten married (really! right there on the ice!).  The host was asking him if he was married, hence the pointing.

polar plunge 2012 Tony Scacchi

I think his face says it all.  Did I mention that the air temperature was in the negatives that day?

polar plunge3

I love you Tony!  I’m proud of you for jumping.  Maybe I will join you next year. (not!)

Food Waste Friday 1/11

FoodWasteFriday

After years of wasting what could have fed a small Ethiopian village, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

I’m fairly bummed about this week.  I made an entire crock pot full of vegetable soup and it all ended up in the trash.  It was disgusting!  It was a recipe I found on Pinterest.  I figured I would give it a try.  It had one major problem.  The recipe said to add the uncooked pasta in the beginning and let it cook with the soup all day.  I should have known better.  By the time I got home to check the soup, the pasta had cooked down to mush and ruined the entire soup.  Needless to say, it went straight into the garbage.

I also let a little bit of leftover potato and broccoli soup go bad.  I don’t know how I forgot about it.  It was actually really good and I would have eaten it.  I guess we just got busy.  Hopefully next week will be better.

How was your week?

See how last week went… Food Waste Friday 12/28

Cloth Diaper Basics

Let me start by saying that I am no cloth diaper expert.  When Ava was about 2 months old, I was interested in cloth diapering.  I searched all around the internet and everything I found used all kinds of lingo that I didn’t know.  I want this to be a guide to cloth diapering that you can actually understand.

How did I begin cloth diapering?

I knew I wanted to try cloth diapers.  I didn’t know anything about them and I honestly didn’t even know if I would like them.  I didn’t want to invest a bunch of money we didn’t really have to end up hating them.  I decided that  I would find the cheapest way to get started.  This is what I found.

I purchased 10 of these Babyland pocket diapers with inserts on eBay for $38.00.

20121204-150955.jpgCotton Diaper Insert

Basically, a pocket diaper is a waterproof cover with “pocket” that you put some type of insert in.  These came with microfiber inserts.  I found out quickly that this one insert was not enough (after pee leaked on me a few times) and I needed to double up.  I chose to wrap the microfiber insert with a cotton pre-fold that I found at a garage sale.  You can buy them just about anywhere.  A lot of people use them burp cloths.  If I am short on microfiber inserts, I will just fold up two pre-folds and stuff the pocket with that.

Cloth Diaper InsertPocket Diaper

So, would I recommend these cheap Babyland diapers?  It depends.  You definitely get what you pay for with cloth diapers.  These diapers are one size.  This means that there are snaps all over the front to make the size grow with your baby.  I actually like these diapers better now that Ava is bigger.  They fit her better now.  They don’t quite have enough elastic to hug a small baby, which explains why we had so many leaks in the beginning.  If you like the idea of a pocket diaper, try Bum Genius.  I recently acquired 5 of these on Freecycle.  They are very used and need some work.  I will post more about those later.

When Ava was about 6 months old, Tony’s mom sent a huge package of random cloth diapers and covers.  It was awesome!  It gave me the opportunity to try a few different styles without having to spend a fortune.  This is where most of my stash came from.

Here is a picture of our entire stash (minus a few of the pockets that were in the wash and the 5 new Bum Genius I just got).  Our stash consists of:

Cloth Diaper Stash

  • 10 Babyland pocket diapers with inserts
  • 4 Snap to Fit all-in-one diapers
  • 2 Kushies all-in-one diapers
  • 2 Gerber covers
  • 3 Nikky covers
  • 6 Bottoms diapers
  • 8 cotton pre-folds
  • 5 Bum Genius pocket diapers with inserts
  • 26 cloth wipes

Don’t be overwhelmed.  I will explain.

What exactly is an “all-in-one”???

An all-in-one is a cloth diaper that has an insert attached.  You have to use a cover with an all-in-one.  This is a Snap to Fit brand all-in-one.  This style has adjustable snaps to fit your baby as it grows and has a velcro closure.  I find this particular brand hard to fit just right because it does not have any elastic in the legs or back.  They work, I just prefer the next brand better.

Snap-to-Fit DiaperSnap-to-Fit

The other all-in-one diaper brand we have is Kushies.  These are very similar to the Snap to Fit diapers except that they have elastic for a better fit and they are only one size.  I think these are a medium or large.  We had a few smaller ones that we have already retired and put into storage for baby #2 (maybe).

Kushies AIOKushies AIO Diaper

Again, you need to use a waterproof cover with an all-in-one.  Here is what it looks like with one of our Nikky covers.

Cloth Diapers

We have 6 Bottoms brand diapers.  Some companies call this style an all-in-two, because you need a separate liner.  I actually like to use our Babyland microfiber inserts in our Bottom diapers.  These diapers have a velcro closure and are not adjustable, but they have fit Ava great since the day we got them and we still use them daily.  This has a lot to do with the elastic around the legs and the ability to fold down the back of the diaper if it’s too tall.  In this style, the insert just sits on top of the diaper.  You need a cover over this style.

20121204-151156.jpg20121204-151203.jpg

We have a few covers.  Currently we have 3 Nikky covers.  I have retired a few Bummis covers (I loved them!) that Ava grew out of and I just retired our Gerber covers last week.  I think I’m going to sew a few covers myself.

A diaper cover is made of waterproof material and has either snap or velcro closures.  All of mine currently have velcro closures.  When I’m in a pinch, I will use one of my Babyland pockets without an insert as a cover.  Be creative!

My number one piece of advice?  Just go with it!  Don’t be afraid to mix and match.  I found cloth diapering very intimidating when I began, but it shouldn’t be.  The rules are… there really are no rules!

What “equipment” do I need to cloth diaper?

You really don’t need much.  We use cloth wipes.  I made our wipes.  They are just two flannel squares that I ran through the sewing machine.  Nothing fancy.  For my wipe solution, I just use water mixed with a pea size amount of natural baby wash.  To hold our wipe solution I use a spray bottle for the diaper bag and that peri bottle they gave you after you delivered your baby.  Yes, that bottle.

Cloth Wipe Spray

You will also need cloth diaper safe rash cream.  Some mothers notice that their baby has less diaper rash with cloth diapers.  We use California Baby that we get at Target.  It smells nice!  There are many other brands that are cloth diaper safe.

California Baby Diaper Rash Cream

You will also need some sort of diaper pail and a wet bag.  We use this Thirsties wet bag that I got on Amazon recently.  Before that, we just used a plastic bag in the diaper bag.  You really just need something to put the soiled diapers in when you are on the go.  Do what works for you.

Thirsties Diaper Wet Bag

When we lived in Florida, I used our washing machine as our diaper pail.  I just tossed our wet diapers into the washer and washed whatever was in there at the end of the night.  Since moving to Alaska, I made this diaper pail liner to put inside of a trashcan I bought.  I would recommend this, it makes washing them so much easier.

DIY Diaper Pail Liner 4

How do I care for my cloth diapers?

I read so many websites that said I needed to soak, pre-wash, soak again, etc.  It’s all a load of…. laundry.  I thought I was being a rebel, but after talking to a few other cloth diapering moms, I’m not the only one.  I don’t follow any special steps when caring for my diapers.  You should read your manufacturer’s instructions, but most of them are the same.  Here is what I do.

  1. After your child soils a diaper, place wet diapers in your pail.  If the diaper contains solids, shake and swish in the toilet.  Some people have diaper sprayers, but I have found this unnecessary.  Some people put the poopy diapers right in the washing machine after shaking, but I like to get off as much as possible.  Again, do what works for you.
  2. This is where the rebellion begins.  I do not soak or pre-wash my diapers.  I take my bag out of my diaper pail and shake all of the diapers out into the washer.  The pail liner goes in with them.  I wash them in warm water with a simple detergent.  In Florida, I used my homemade detergent, which worked great.  I haven’t made any up here yet.  Right now I’m using BabyGanics 3x concentrated laundry detergent.  It was BOGO at Babies R Us.  I have no complaints.  You really don’t need special detergent.  The only problem you may encounter with regular detergent would be some buildup on the diapers.
  3. In Florida, I would have line-dried my diapers.  The sun will help remove any stains that remain on the diapers.  I don’t really want frozen diapers, so I put them in the dryer now.  DO NOT use any fabric softener on your cloth diapers or wipes!  If you do, they will repel moisture.  I dry them on normal heat.  Sometimes I will air dry the covers.  Also, try to velcro the diapers to themselves, otherwise you may end up with a big tangled mess.

I try to take a very informal approach to cloth diapering.  If you are interested, don’t be afraid to dive in.  Also, don’t be afraid to look for used diapers on Craigslist or eBay.

I hope this helped.  Do you have any questions?

How to Potty Train an Infant

My grandmother told me that my aunt was potty trained at 9 months old. I couldn’t believe it! A lady I once worked with told me that her son was potty trained before he could walk. So if it can be done, why are people telling you to not even introduce the potty until 2 1/2 or 3?

Our daughter Ava is now 13 months old and goes on the potty regularly with help. She just began walking in the past week and now she walks to the potty when she needs to go. I’m going to break down a few steps to set your infant or young toddler up for successful potty training.

  • Buy a potty!  This may sound like a no brainer.  Don’t start your baby on the adult toilet.  This is the potty we had in Florida, which I loved.  I couldn’t find the same potty here in Alaska without paying a crazy amount for shipping, so we have a different style now.  Check out garage sales or consignment shops!
  • Put your baby on the potty. Don’t wait until your child is almost 3 to introduce the potty, at which time they may find it scary. As soon as Ava could sit up on her own (around 6 months), she began using the potty.  They will use the potty if you put them on it!
  • Take your child to the potty.  If you hear your child pooping, pick them up and run to the potty. This helps them realize that they can go on the potty. It’s easier for them to go in the potty than in a diaper, and easier for you to clean up too!
  • Make a big deal out of it. Sing songs, clap, and talk about how awesome the potty is when your child is on it. Make the potty fun.
  • Don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m not contradicting myself. If your child doesn’t go, put their diaper back on and move on. Positive reinforcement only!
  • Give a treat! Your child will react to a treat. We have a small Tupperware container of milk chocolate chips in the medicine cabinet. If your child goes, give them a potty treat! And don’t forget to clap, dance around, and cheer. Get them excited about using the potty.
  • Try sign language. Since your child is most likely non-verbal, try teaching your child the sign for potty. Use the sign any time you say the word potty or they are using the potty.
  • Take your child to the potty as soon as they wake up. They will go, almost every time.  At about 7 months old, Ava would wake up dry.
  • Be consistent and don’t get discouraged. Keep at it, there will be good days and bad. As long as you keep taking your child to the potty, they will succeed.

I have had a lot of naysayers. I have even had people tell me it’s not good to potty train that young (explain that one!). Talk to your grandmother, she will say otherwise!

Ava has tried to go in a big potty at church or wherever, but I think she’s scared of falling in. I’m going to pick up one of those travel potty seats.

We use cloth diapers, so Ava knows when she’s wet. She hates being wet and hates getting her diaper changed, so that has been a huge helper.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  Your child CAN be potty trained before age 2 (and maybe even 18 months)!

Do you have any potty training tips?

Copycat Arizona Green Tea

Copycat Arizona Green TeaTony’s favorite drink is Arizona Green Tea with Ginsing and Honey.  I remember the first time I tasted it after I met him.  It wasn’t bad!  After each of his surgeries (two knees and a shoulder) over the past few years, I would bring him a few bottles of his favorite green tea and a package of Harbo Gummy Bears.  Harbo’s are one of the only candies he will eat, he’s not a fan of sweets.

I was tired of paying $3-4 for a gallon of tea.  I mean, it’s only tea, how difficult could it be to make?  So, I set out to make a gallon of my own homemade green tea with honey (and lemon, after reading the ingredients).  Here is what I came up with:

Copycat Arizona Green Tea

  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 2 teabags green tea
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 lemon, depending on size
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  1. In a pot, bring the gallon of cold water to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, remove from the heat and add the two tea bags. Let them steep for an hour.
  3. After an hour, remove the tea bags and add the sugar, honey, and lemon. Make sure not to get any seeds in it.
  4. Pour it in a gallon jug (we use a recycled Arizona Tea jug) and its done!
  5. Served chilled, over ice, or even hot.

Notes: I said 1/2 – 1 lemon because I used a jumbo lemon and half was perfect.  For a small lemon, use the entire thing.  I’m estimating my cost for one gallon to be about $1.50.  It could be less.  I used mostly organic ingredients.  Definitely worth it!

How did you like it?

2012 in a Nutshell

A lot has happened here at The Scacchi House in 2012.  The blog was born and then we became self-hosted.  Here is a list of interesting facts from 2012.

  1. We had 2,100 views in 2012.  That’s not a lot in comparison with some other blogs, but it means we’re growing!
  2. The busiest day here on the blog was the day I posted this picture.  It also happens to be our first day here in Alaska!
  3. Our most popular post from 2012 was Ava’s DIY Headband Holder.  It still continues to get daily traffic.
  4. Most of our readers come from the USA, with Canada and Sweden almost tied for second.Scacchi Family Photo

So tell me a bit about yourself.  Who are you?  What keeps bringing you back to The Scacchi House?  What would you like to see more of?

And most of all, thanks for reading and supporting us!

 

Changing The Way We Eat

Since moving to Alaska, I have drastically changed the way I am eating.  I’m not on a diet.  I haven’t had any meat in 3 weeks now and it hasn’t been hard at all.  I really wasn’t eating much meat to begin with, only bacon at breakfast, a turkey sandwich here or there, and sometimes if we ate out I would order a hamburger.

Let me start by saying that this move has been great for my health.  I have lost 8 pounds so far in the 3 months we have been in Alaska.  I’m officially back to the weight I was at when I met Tony in 2010.  The best part, I have not been on a diet.  I still have ice cream if I want it and I eat whenever I’m hungry.  I give credit to the fact that:

  1. I’m more active.  It’s hard not to burn calories when your out playing in the snow, walking to the store, and playing with your kid.
  2. I’m less stressed. I no longer wake up everyday to work at a job I hate.  I get to do what I love, stay home with Ava and work on my creative projects (crocheting, sewing, and I think I will start painting again too!)
  3. I’m eating better.  I have made a conscious decision to do this and it wasn’t hard.

So how exactly am I eating better?

I have decided to use the information that I have to make better nutritional decisions for my family.  What does that mean?  It means that I know processed foods are bad for us and fresh, homemade foods are the best.  It’s kind of a no brainer.  Essentially, I’ve stopped buying processed, pre packaged foods.  I try to shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  That’s where you find produce, meat, dairy, and whole grains, generally speaking.  My main goal is to only buy “real” food.  Real food, to me anyway, has minimal ingredients, all of which I can pronounce.  I also try to make as much of our food from scratch and buy everything organic whenever possible.  By doing this, I can control how much sugar, salt, and preservatives are in our food.  I’m sure all of this sounds overly complicated, but really, it’s not.  It’s so much easier than being on a diet.  I still eat whatever I want.  My body no longer craves sugar and junk.  I have actually been craving vegetables, as crazy as that sounds.

A few Sundays ago was the first time I ate out as a Pescetarian (don’t worry, I’m going to get to that).  We ate at Alaska Bagel, which is super good! I ordered the Mt. McKinley, which consists of a toasted bagel (I ordered everything), cream cheese, avocado, tomato, red onion, and sprouts.  I can’t even begin to tell you how good it was.  When you eat real food, you can actually taste what you’re eating.  It opened a new door for me.  Vegetables CAN be delicious! Raw vegetables at that!

So back to me being a pescetarian.  What exactly is a pescetarian anyway?  A pescetarian is essentially a vegetarian who also eats fish, shellfish, and eggs.  Again, using the information I have, I had to make a decision.  I know what happens to animals on big corporate farms.  All of the meat at the grocery store is pumped full of hormones to make them grow faster, so much so that a chicken’s breasts are so heavy that its legs can no longer support its body.  They are also packed so tightly into coops that some of them die.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my food living next to a dead chicken.  And don’t be fooled by the packaging that says “free range”.  Did you know that this only means they are given 3 feet of floor space?  And they still may never see the light of day.  To me “free range” means having room to roam outside, bugs to eat, and lots of fresh air.  Trust me, you can taste the difference.

I’m not a pescetarian because I think eating meat is evil.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with eating meat, IN MODERATION.  That being said, sitting down to eat a steak at every meal is surly not healthy.  If I do have a craving for meat, it will only come from local farms where I can see how the animals are raised and slaughtered.  I would also eat wild game (moose, deer, basically anything hunted here in Alaska) because it’s raised how nature intended it to be raised.  That being said, if you live in or near Marion County, Florida, there is an awesome farm that I will definitely buy meat from.  Check out Pasture Prime, if you haven’t already. They ship too!

How does Tony feel about this?  He thinks I’m crazy.  He’ll come around. =)

How do you feel about eating meat?