Tortillas to the Rescue Cookbook Review with Southwestern Caesar Salad Recipe

My family eats tortillas quite a bit.  Usually corn or a wheat/corn blend that we use for tacos and burritos.  However after receiving the new Tortillas to the Rescue Cookbook by Jessica Harlan, I’m definitely branching out.  Who knew tortillas could make a good spicy crouton or a cup for mexican chocolate pudding?  This is a handy guide for new foods with tortillas.  Recipes are good for quick mid-week breakfast, snacks and dinner.  Who doesn’t eat tortillas?  Tortillas are so accessible, my kids also enjoyed going through the book and getting ideas.  They were even able to help with making and assembling lots of the recipes.

My family made our own vegetarian version of the book’s Chorizo and Cojack Taquitos.  Because taquitos are generally fried I don’t think my kids have ever eaten them.  And I’ve never made them.  But these were rolled and placed on a baking sheet with a light brush of oil – so no frying.  I don’t usually buy flour tortillas so the kids were very excited.   You could stuff these with anything.  We substituted the recipe’s chorizo for vegan sausages – which worked great.  You could pick veggies or chicken or change the cheese – and they’d all be great.  These were a big hit.

With the taquitos I made the Southwestern Caesar Salad with tortilla croutons (see recipe below).  The croutons were such a hit everyone was wanting to eat them like chips before the salad was even dressed.  Kids for some reason usually like caesar salad.  I guess it’s the cheesy dressing.  This dressing was lighter and leaned toward the southwestern flavors which was nice.  I substituted veganaise for the mayonnaise.  The quantity of dressing was probably double what I needed but coincidentally we were invited to friends for a tamale dinner later in the week so I saved the dressing and made a new salad and croutons to share.


Book Review

Pros: easy recipes, creative ideas with a basic and accessible ingredient, tortilla info for storage and nutrition

Cons: no photos, may be too simple for some


Southwestern Caesar Salad from Tortillas to the Rescue by Jessica Harlan

Serves 4

Smoky Tortilla Crouons

4 small (6 inch) flour tortillas

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika teaspoon kosher salt


juice of 2 limes (about 4 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 head romaine lettuce


1. To make the tortilla croutons: Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Brush the tortillas with oil on both sides.  Cut the tortillas with a knife or pizza cutter into 1 x 2 inch strips.  Place them in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with paprika and salt, using a spatula to toss and coat evenly.  Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp about 10 – 12 minutes.  Let cool completely before serving.

2. To make the salad: In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, mustard, garlic, mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese until smooth.  While whisking drizzle the oil until dressing is smooth and emulsified.  Just before serving, tear the lettuce by hand into bite size pieces and place in a serving bowl.  Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat.  Top with tortilla croutons.


Quinoa Cuisine – Book Review and Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

My family is not new to eating quinoa, however I had no idea how diverse it really is.  We use it in pilafs, salads and frittata crusts.  But quinoa is a healthy ingredient not only in it’s whole stage, but as flakes and flours and with various colors and properties.  I received the Quinoa book by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser.  Reading the introduction there is lots to learn.  For instance quinoa is not a grain, it’s actually in the goosefoot family related to beets, spinach, and chard.  Nutritionists refer to quinoa as a “pseudograin”, like buckwheat and amarynth because it has a similar nutritional profile to true gains and prepared in similar ways.


My family wanted to try the baked goods from the book, so I bought quinoa flakes and flour for my pantry (actually needs to be refrigerated ounce opened).  The first thing we made was the Rich Chocolate Zucchini Bread (see recipe below).  The quinoa flour is more grassy smelling and tasting, so it makes sense to pair the baked items with maybe more sugar or spice or chocolate than you’d (actually I’d) usually use.  I went with the recipe and was glad I didn’t cut back on any chocolate chips, after tasting the dough – which is not as yummy as other zucchini breads I’ve made with all purpose or wheat flours.  However once baked this was delicious and satisfied everyone’s palate.  (While combining these ingredients in photo, I wasn’t so sure).  This is also glutten free, so a great recipe to have on hand for potlucks or occassions where gluten free baking may be needed.  Unfortunately I cut the bread when it was still warm (yes, I was impatient) and it crumbled.  I wrapped the slices in plastic to hold their shape better and store, which worked well.

Next we made the Ginger Biscotti.  These too were delicious and wheat free too.  However I cheated and used half wheat flour and half quinoa.  Both because I wanted to try it (they suggest if not baking for a wheat free audience) and because I didn’t want to go to the store for more quinoa flour.  These are heavy on the ginger, so be prepared.  My son loves candied ginger and thuse these were a big hit as he shared them on a playdate.  They get very hard – a true biscotti.  So are best enjoyed dipped in coffee, tea or milk.  These are great for packaging and gift giving (prettier than my bread above) as they travel well.

Book Review

Overall:  I like this book and feel like it is a valuable resource for adding this healthy ingredient to more dishes for my family.  I look forward to trying some of the savory options such as the Tabouleh Salad, Bacon Wraped Dates, and Thai Summer Rolls.

Pros: I enjoyed learning about quinoa and all the various uses.  Also great to know for wheat and gluten free recipes for potlucks and gatherings.   Easy to identify icons for gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, freezes well, healthy choice, etc (yes, if you have my books I’m a sucker for icons).

Cons:  Wish there were photos.  Some recipes have more sugars and fats than I’d like to overcompensate for bitter quinoa flake or flours.  Some quinoa products may be more expensive and harder to find than traditional grains.


Rich Chocolate Zucchini Bread

You’d never know that this dense, fudgy bread is (sort of) healthy! It was inspired by a favorite recipe from Cooking Light magazine that I make every year in the late summer when zucchini are bountiful. But luckily, you don’t have to limit this bread to a summertime treat, since most supermarkets stock zucchini year-round.—JH

Serves 8 to 10 (Makes 1 Loaf)

Freezes Well, Gluten-Free, Healthy Choice, Vegetarian


⅔ cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 large eggs

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups quinoa flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1½ cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter, shortening, or cooking spray. Place the brown sugar, canola oil, and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at low speed until well combined. Add the applesauce and mix on low speed until combined.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the quinoa flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the mixer bowl and beat, beginning at the lowest speed and gradually increasing speed, until the ingredients are smooth and well combined. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, fold in the zucchini and the chocolate chips.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the bread comes out with only a few crumbs clinging to it, about 1 hour. Let cool completely in the baking pan on a wire rack before removing and slicing.


Packaging Tips: To give it a professional look, bake this bread in a disposable paper baker (look for them in kitchenware or baking supply stores or online, such as at Or wrap it tightly in foodsafe cellophane or plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon. For a chocolate-lover’s gift, package the bread with a few packets of hot chocolate mix.