Homemade Taco Seasoning

Making your own taco seasoning is easy and once you’ve tasted the homemade version, you’ll never want the store bought kind again. Most of the ingredients you probably already have on hand and can be adjusted just the way you like it. If you and your family like it spicy, you can add more heat or less if you like just a little kick. I like to double the batch and keep it on hand. It’s great not only for tacos, but in pasta dishes, on chicken and even on beef. I’m sure that you can find many ways to use this versatile spice blend.

So grab your spices and here’s what you need:

*1 TBS chili powder

*1 tsp. cumin

*1/2 tsp. black pepper

*1/2 tsp. salt

*1 tsp. paprika

*1/2 tsp. oregano

*1/2 tsp. garlic powder

*1/2 tsp. onion powder

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Chili Flakes

Whenever I want to use chili flakes in a recipe or just sprinkle it on a few dishes for that extra kick, I usually reach for that little shakable container from the store. There is nothing wrong with that mind you, but sometimes it just tastes like the bottle might have been sitting on the grocery shelf for a while.

When my mother in law stayed with us for a few months, she cooked a lot with dried chilis. After she left to go back to Guatemala, she left behind a package of those tasty peppers.

I immediately started thinking what I could do with them. Then the idea came to me, why not make your own chili flakes? Yes, I do talk to myself a lot while I’m in the kitchen….don’t you?

I found that making homemade chili flakes out of dried chilis is quite easy. If you don’t have dried chilis, but fresh ones, no problem, you can dry them out in the oven. Another plus to making your own chili flakes, is that you can use any type of chili that you want. They are great sprinkled over pizza, in pasta or any dish that you want a add a little tasty heat to.

Here’s how you can make your own:

*Choose your chilis:
Most chili or red pepper flakes come from cayenne peppers, but you can choose any that you like. I used Puya chili peppers because that’s what I had on hand.

Using dried chilis:

Remove the stems. If you prefer less heat, remove the seeds as well but the seeds is mostly what gives chili flakes it’s well known punch.

Using Fresh Chilis:

pre heat oven to the lowest setting.

Wearing gloves, cut off the stem and split the chilis in half length wise. If you want less heat remove the seeds.

Place the chilis on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for approximately 6 hours or until the chilis look like they are dried out.

Cool completely.

Place chilis in a mini chopper or a coffee grinder. Just be sure if using a coffee grinder, it’s one that you will no longer use for grinding coffee.

Pule 3 or 4 times until the chilis are chopped into flakes, but are still a bit coarse.

*Note*

Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth after handling the chilis. Make sure to wash your hands after touching them.

Make sure all cutting boards and mini choppers are thoroughly cleaned afterwards to make sure there are no longer any chili oils remaining.

Place in a sealable container preferably with a shaker top. These can be stored up to 3 to 6 months before they start to lose their flavor.

Enjoy!

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Whiskey Sautéed Onions

These sautéed whiskey onions are so delicious and flavorful and so easy to make. Onions are slowly simmered in a mixture of whiskey, brown sugar, and butter resulting in a rich, sweet and savory mouth watering delicacy. They make a great addition topped on a burger….as I’ve done many times. They can also turn a boring sandwich into a flavor bomb. They can bring a new spin to a grilled cheese sandwich or a hot dog. You can even eat these straight out of the pan. That’s what I always seem to do when making these.

These do take a little bit of time, but do not be tempted to crank up the heat or you will lose some of that wonderful flavor and caramelization that happens while these beauties are simmering low and slow. This is what I use as a main base for my whiskey onions. You can use bourbon and even add in some cayenne or adobe chili powder to give it a sweet kick. Either way, I think you will enjoy these as much as we do. I’m sure you will find that by adding these whiskey sautéed onions to sandwiches and other savory dishes, they will bring on a new flavor that will have your crew wanting more.

Here’s what you need:

*1 large onion, chopped

*1 TBS. butter

*1 TBS olive oil

*1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

*3 TBS whiskey

*1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar or more to taste

*pinch of salt to taste

*cracked pepper to taste

*1/4 tsp. dried Thyme or more to taste

Heat a small sauce pan to medium heat and add the butter and olive oil.

When the butter melts add in the onions and the rest of the ingredients for the onions.

Stir well to combine. Continue cooking while stirring frequently. If onions start to brown too fast, turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook until the onions just start to caramelize, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve while warm over burgers, steaks or anything that strikes your taste buds.

Enjoy!

Hot Dog Chili

When I was a kid, there were a lot of weekends we had either hamburgers or hot dogs for dinner. Looking back, it was probably because it’s a cheaper meal, easy to fix on a busy day and we loved them. I mean, who doesn’t love a good hot dog with chili. Down here in the South, most restaurants serve hot dogs topped with chili or as we call it, a chili dog. I thought that’s how everyone ate their hot dogs…..hey, I was a kid what can I say. My hubby, who is from up North, wasn’t quite sure what to make of a hot dog with chili not to mention that it doesn’t contain beans. He pretty much loves them now. My mom and dad always made their chili from scratch. My recipe is pretty much they way they made it….and my mom still does to this day, but of course I’ve tweaked it a bit. It’s great topped with ketchup, mustard and even a sliced pickle or two. This also makes a great chili cheese sandwich…..but that’s for a later post so stay tuned.

Here’s what you need:

*1 LB or ground beef; I use a leaner beef for this

*3/4 cups ketchup or more to taste

*2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce or more to taste

*2 tsp. mustard or more to taste

*1 TBS chili powder or to taste

*1 tsp. onion powder or more to taste

*1/4 tsp salt or more to taste

Heat a large pan to medium high heat and add ground beef, break up into very small pieces as it cooks; drain if needed.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining ingredients.

Mix well to combine.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for abut 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve over hot dogs and add your favorite toppings.

*Note*

This can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Easy Salsa

My very first post on my blog was my Salsa recipe for some Super Bowl noshing. Now that football season is back….. much to my hubby’s uncontainable excitement…..I thought why not post my easier version, after all, watching all those games requires some all day football snacking.

Here’s what you need:

*2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes

*1 10 0z. can diced tomatoes with green chilies; if you like chilies in your salsa, just add another can of diced tomatoes.

*1 small onion, roughly chopped

*2 cloves of garlic

*1 tsp. garlic powder

* 1 TBS lime juice, or more to taste

* 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste

* 1/4 tsp cumin

* 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped; or more or less to taste

In a food processor, add all ingredients except for cilantro. Pulse a few times to mix everything together.

Add cilantro

Pulse until you have desired consistency. Taste to see if you need to add any more spices.

Pour into a serving bowl, grab some chips and commence snacking.

To store, place in a container with a tight fitting lid and place in refrigerator. This can be kept for about 5 days.

Shortcut Meat Sauce

I’m a big fan of making my own homemade meat sauce, but there are times when I want to put a dish together quickly or I’m just too tired to do all of the work it takes to make a great sauce. This is my go to shortcut sauce. I have used it in many dishes that require a meat sauce. With some added love and ingredients, no one will know it came from a jar…… just make sure you get rid of the evidence before anyone enters the kitchen. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.

Here’s what you need:

*1 LB ground beef

*2 jars or your favorite spaghetti sauce

*1 Tbs olive oil

*1 small onion, diced

*2 cloves of garlic, minced

*2 tsp. onion powder, or more to taste

*2 tsp. garlic powder, or more to taste

*2 tsp. dried oregano, or more to taste

*2 tsp. dried basil, or more to taste

*2 tsp. sweet paprika, or more to taste

*1 bay leaf

*1 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste; yes you read right, chili powder in a small amount doesn’t really add the heat, but it adds another depth of flavor.

*salt, to taste

Heat a large sauce pan to medium high heat. When the pan becomes hot add olive oil and onion and cook about 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add in the garlic and saute until onions are softened, but do not let the garlic burn. Add the ground beef, and break into large pieces while mixing it with the onion and the garlic; let it brown for several minutes. As the beef continues to brown, break it up into even smaller pieces. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, but not too often so all of the meat can brown; drain if needed and add back to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and add in the spices except for the bay leaf, cook for about 1 minute, stirring to mix spices into the beef. Carefully add both jars of sauce; stir to mix well and add in the bay leaf. Cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf. Use right away or refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. This also freezes nicely in an airtight container or zip top bag for 4 to 6 months.

Enjoy!

Creamy Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing

I love a good salad. One of my favorite salad dressings, besides Caesar, is Parmesan Peppercorn. I can never seem to find a good one at the grocery store. So I came up with this quick, easy one that tastes really delicious on just about any salad. Most of these ingredients you probably already have on hand and can whip this up in no time.

Here’s what you need:

*1/2 C. Mayonnaise

*1/4 C Sour cream

*1/2 Tbs. Lemon juice

*2 Tbs finely grated Parmesan cheese (I used the kind that comes from one of those shaker tops…. you know which one I’m talking about… don’t judge it’s good)

*cracked peppercorns, to taste

*1 tsp. Dill weed

*1 tsp. Garlic powder

*Milk, enough to thin out the dressing to the desired consistency.

In a small bowl or small glass jar add mayonnaise.

Next add sour cream.

Then add Parmesan

Cracked peppercorns

Lastly the dill, garlic and lemon juice.

Add milk a little at a time and stir until you reach the desired consistency. Serve on your favorite salad.

I like to store the dressing in a small glass jar.

Store up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!