Tortilla Crepe Stacks

To some of us, Mexican food terms get a little confusing. I mean there is the taco, burrito, quesadilla, enchilada and taquito just to name a few. Before anything, one needs to know what a tortilla is. Simply put, it is wheat or corn plain bread that is used as a wrapping material around different types of filling ingredients to make the various Mexican dishes. 

Masa Harina is a traditional flour used to make corn tortillas and tamales as well as other Mexican meals. To make masa harina, field corn (or maize) is dried and then treated in a solution of lime and water called slaked lime (or wood-ash lye). This loosens the hulls from the kernels and softens the corn. In addition, the lime reacts with the corn so that the nutrient niacin can be assimilated by the digestive tract.

The soaked maize is then washed, and the wet corn is ground into a dough called masa. It is this fresh masa, when dried and powdered, that becomes masa harina. Water is added again to make dough for the corn tortillas or tamales.

Cornmeal and masa harina are very different preparations of corn. Do not try to substitute cornmeal or regular wheat flour in recipes calling for masa harina as they will not produce the same results.

Today, I want to make some tortilla crepe stacks. Crepes as we all know, have always been a hallmark of French cuisine. So the question is, ‘how did they come to be in Mexican cuisine’? In the 1860’s, French forces invaded Mexico. They came, they conquered, they cooked and then they got kicked out. Cinco de Mayo commemorates that victory for Mexico from 1862. However, it took another five years before the French left Mexico for good. During their stay, the French left their mark on the country’s cuisine.

One of the reasons I have always loved crepes, is that they are so easy to make and taste so good. You can either roll the filling inside or just stack them with their fillings and make a ‘cake’.

These tortilla crepes are made with half masa harina and half white flour. Next, I made a mushroom rice & barley pilaf and some guacamole. You can pick and choose when it comes to the extra filling add-ons. I guess it did get a bit more involved but worth it —.

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Tortilla Crepe Stacks
Tortilla Crepes
  1. In a blender, beat eggs with milk & oil. Gradually add masa harina, white flour & salt, beat until smooth. Allow to stand for 1 hour or longer. Heat an electric griddle to 350 F. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter onto griddle. With bottom of 1/4 cup, make circles in the batter, gradually enlarge to size of tortilla you wish to make. I made 3 for each crepe stack. Cook each crepe for a few minutes on each side then remove to a wire cooling rack.
Rice & Barley Pilaf
  1. In a saucepan, saute onion, garlic & mushrooms until tender crisp. Add chicken broth & bring to a boil. Add all remaining pilaf ingredients & reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until barley & rice are cooked & liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; place in a dish & set aside to cool.
  1. Mince onion & sun-dried tomatoes & mash avocados. In a small bowl, combine avocados, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, & remaining guacamole ingredients. Blend well, cover & refrigerate.
Crepe Stack Fillings
  1. Cook chicken & shred, Grate cheese & prepare all filling ingredients.
  1. Spread 4 tortillas with guacamole, reserving a bit for 'decorating' the top of each stack. Over the guacamole, put a layer of rice/barley pilaf. Top each of them with chicken, green peppers, olives, corn, red onion, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, black beans & a sprinkling of cheese. On 2 serving plates, place one filled tortilla topped by a second one. Complete each stack with another corn tortilla. 'Decorate' each with remaining guacamole, salsa, sour cream & remaining cheese. Heat each crepe stack for a few minutes in the microwave before serving.

Sun-dried Tomato Parmesan Chicken Breast

The true origin of sun-dried tomatoes is unclear. Italians originally dried  salted tomatoes on their ceramic roof tops in the summer sun. This process removes all the water content, resulting in the tomatoes becoming richer in color and taste with more concentrated minerals and vitamins. On the other hand, it is possible to oven dry tomatoes but the difference in taste is enormous. The fast drying process will not allow the natural acidity of the tomatoes to disappear, giving them a sharp acidic after taste. True sun-dried tomatoes have a sweet taste from beginning to the end. 

The popularity of sun-dried tomatoes in North America surged in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s. At that time they were classed as a gourmet ingredient  found only in the specialty isle of the grocery store. Today that is no longer the case. Their very unique flavor pairs well with a variety of dishes making them staples in our everyday cooking. My choice today, is to use them in stuffing for chicken breast.

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Sun-dried Tomato Parmesan Chicken Breast
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all stuffing ingredients. Make a pocket in the center of each chicken breast, divide stuffing mixture between them. Close with a toothpick or small wooden skewer.
  3. On a sheet of aluminum foil, place chicken breasts. If you have extra stuffing, place it around the breasts. Bake for 60 minutes. If necessary 'float' a piece of foil over top chicken if it is browning to fast.

Savory Pesto Chicken Breast

No matter how many times my mother served our family chicken it was always incredibly good. My parents were ‘dry land’ farmers so mixed farming  was truly a necessity. Success was totally  dependent on ‘Mother Nature’ when it comes to grain crops. Although my folks raised chickens, pigs and cattle, the kind of meat we ate the most was chicken. The reason being, whatever brought the best price when taken to market was raised for the family income.

Today we have so many spices, fruits and vegetables to enhance the meals we make. Its hard to imagine being able to cook so well without them as my mother did. SAVORY PESTO CHICKEN BREAST  requires minimal ingredients and preparation but the flavor is great.

Today, March 28th was the birth date of my mother. She was taken from us far to early, as she passed away in 1978 at the age of 60. Our mother had the patience of a saint, always making sacrifices, putting my siblings and I up front and center while living her life with courage and compassion. She was strong willed and had a sense of self confidence in all that she did. She was very loyal to my Dad and a very devoted mother.



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Savory Pesto Chicken Breast
A nice savory entree.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine stuffing ingredients. Place chicken in a heavy freezer wrap bag. Pound breasts until about 1/4" thickness.
  2. Mound stuffing on flattened breasts & fold over, tucking in ends. Place a small amount of stuffing on bottom of baking dish & lay breasts on top. Any extra stuffing can be placed around & on top of chicken as well.
  3. Cover with foil & bake 15 minutes. Remove foil & continue to bake another 15 minutes or until chicken tests done.