Don’t Get Mad, Get Cooking

One day I’m going to write an in-depth post about our weekly shop — how we strategize, prepare, and, eventually attack our local Trader Joe’s like a bunch of Navy SEALs. But for now, all I’ll say is that we have it down to a pretty precise science, so when I open the fridge or pantry and can’t find what I’m looking for….well….I get mad. That’s what happened a few weeks ago when the girls were nice enough to suggest grilled shrimp tacos for dinner. (You know how much I love it when someone else dreams up the menu.) This meal is a classic go-to in our house because it’s so fast and also because the ingredients called for are all items we would never dream of leaving Trader Joe’s without: scallions, tomatoes, cilantro, limes, greens, sour cream, tortillas. All we have to do is stop by a fish market at some point to pick up some (preferably peeled) shrimp. On this particular occasion, however, I had fired up the grill, knocked back at least half my dark & stormy, whisked lime and sugar into sour cream, and skewered up the shrimp before realizing that we were all out of tortillas — in our house a crime punishable by I-thought-you-got-them-no-you-said-you-did. But I set aside the blame game for the moment in order to make some frontline decisions. I could easily abort mission and go with a southwesternish salad. Or I could channel my inner Alana Chernila and — get this — make my own tortillas from scratch. I know the last two words of that sentence strike fear into the hearts of many a new parent, and so of course, you should feel free to go ahead and click on the “Quick” category over there in the margin, while making a note to return to this page in 2019. (Please please come back!) But emboldened by my cocktail and a few willing little partners, this was the route I decided to take. And wow did our dinner taste good. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that “from scratch” can be as simple as mixing together flour and water. And also that it’s usually the simplest things that make all the difference.

Flour Tortilla Recipe
Adapted from something I found on squidoo. Makes about 6-8 eight-inch tortillas. (PS: No one is keeping score here. You should definitely skip the from-scratch version and just go with storebought if it’s going to be the thing that crushes you and your dinner spirit.)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for flouring the board)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water

Combine flour and salt. Add vegetable oil and mix lightly. Add the warm water and mix with a wooden spoon until you have a soft dough. Divide into equal pieces of 6-8 balls. Brush with a little vegetable oil and cover with a dish towel and let sit for 15 minutes.

Roll out each ball on a floured surface. Preheat an ungreased griddle or cast iron pan. Add tortilla and cook until it begins to puff with a few browning spots on the bottom. Flip and press down to release the air pockets. Cook for about 1 minute. Remove and keep warm on a platter under foil until ready to fill.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos

About 20-25 pieces of medium shrimp, peeled
olive oil
2 teaspoons-ish chili powder
salt & pepper
tortillas (homemade, see above; or your favorite storebought ones prepared according to package directions)

Prepare grill. Thread your shrimp on skewers and place on a platter. Drizzle a little olive oil on top, then, using your fingers, rub chili powder all over shrimp, turning them on skewers as you go. Grill for about 3-4 minutes, flipping them along the way, until they are cooked through. (You could also saute the shrimp — un-skewered in a skillet.) Remove shrimp from skewers into a bowl. Place shrimp on the table with your tortillas and other fixings such as shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, chopped scallions, lime wedges, chopped cilantro. Have everyone assemble their own.

I serve these with my usual sauce: 1/2 cup sour cream whisked with 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. You could also just do sour cream.


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Dani C.

Hi Jen! I’m not sure if I’m just not reading the ingredients right or if there is a typo. How much flour is needed for the tortialls? I read i read it as one 12/2 cups, which would just be 6 cups..


Oh you know, that’s about right give or take six cups of flour! SORRY! It’s fixed now, 1 1/2 cups of flour!!!! that is, one-and-a-half cups of flour. Sorry for the confusion and thank you for your eagle eye. A couple of other tiny tweaks, too.


I have 2 little ones, but I also have a tortilla press that’s been sitting unopened for like 6 years. I think you’ve inspired me to bust it out! Btw – I just finished your book and loved it!


My great babysitter from Mexico just made homemade tortillas today. She stuffs them with mashed potatoes and then fries them. Open while hot and stuff in a little shredded cheese, salsa and sour cream. They are called dobladas de papa, and while I would like to say I made the tortillas, I didn’t. But, I did eat them (my kids devoured them and kissed her many times). Highly recommend trying out homemade tortillas at home(and will contemplate doing the same!) Coach A


I have had this EXACT dinner experience. Only my tortillas did not turn out nearly as well as it looks like yours did…I think my recipe had no oil, so that may have been the culprit. Maybe I’ll try again someday… I would imagine the 3 year old in my house would get a blast out of rolling out the tortillas!


It’s always the rolling out that kills me with flatbread-type things. I can never get them thin and even, or even vaguely round. Any tips on that, by any chance?

erinn johnson

Honestly, there is nothing better than homemade tortillas. I started making them from scratch a few years ago, I even got a press. We make both flour and corn. The corn are really good with fish tacos.


My three year old loves making tortillas! We have tried many recipes, and have yet to find ‘the one’ – though some have definitely been better than others! Will give this one a whirl next time … and lime cream is a favorite here, though we usually don’t add sugar (but sometimes DO add cilantro!) It is also surprisingly good on Indian food, black bean soup, and fresh berries! Yum. Thanks guys …


Please DO write a post about how you organize/tackle the list. I like to break mine down by aisles in our local grocery, but man oh man do I love hearing other’s share their tactics.


Hi Jen! This is my first time reading your blog (I’ll definitely be back on a regular basis). I learned about you from Megan of Honey We’re Home. The other day I was all ready to make stuffed poblanos, had every last ingredient laid out and (seriously?) NO cornmeal. Enter the blue posole I recently purchased in Santa Fe + blender = problem solved. Looking forward to reading more (and making my own tortillas for sure).


Making tortillas is on our “summer to-do” board in the kitchen – it will happen this week! Thanks!


And if you take that exact same recipe but roll them out very thin and bake them for about 8 minutes at 400, you’ve got enormous, flaky and delicious crackers. Bonus points for sprinkling them with herbs or seeds before baking.


I need more pep talks like this one for making things from scratch. I would have slugged down the rest of that cocktail and improvised with lettuce!


PLEASE, PLEASE do the shopping list post. Have read your book which I loved ( all the way in London, UK!) and now just need to learn how to organize the food shopping xxx


We meant to stop by the store today for tortillas, and promptly forgot. I remembered reading this post a while back, and looked it up today. Homemade here we come! Thank you!


Do you think I could sub out about half the flour for a fine cornmeal, or do you think they would fall apart? I love corn tortillas, but can’t find a store-bought one lacking terrifying ingredients. Somehow I find myself baking elaborate cakes, but too nervous to make tortillas.


I tried making these, but couldn’t do anything with the resulting dough- way too gooey. Couldn’t roll it out with any amount of flour, it still stuck like tape to the table and the rolling pin.

Couldn’t even hand-shape them, as they just wouldn’t hold together to get them in the pan from my hands. Any part not in my hand just dripped until it tore off to fall onto the floor.

Can it really be 3/4 cup liquids to 1-1/2 cup flour?


Halved the tortilla recipe just to try it out as an appetizer and the family wanted more! Slapped a bit of whipped honey butter on em while they were still warm, oh yea, yummmmy!

Laura S

I Liked Bodum on Facebook! Do I Win the Newsletter Prize? Sidebar: this was Delicious! Thanks for giving me the courage to try this!


I love the look of homemade tortillas – so rustic, in a good way. I have yet to make my own from scratch {which is kind of funny, considering my husband is Mexican and a tortilla connoisseur of sorts}. I don’t really know why I haven’t. They are, after all, so simple. Thanks for inspiring me today!


I have been reading your blog for a year now and just finished your book. I loved it. I have never read a cook book cover to cover before! So far we have not met a recipe from here that we didn’t love! Keep up the great writing and cooking!