Category Archives: Basics

Taco Seasoning

I have been inexcusably absent the last couple of weeks.  But, I’m back today – and, it’s Taco Tuesday!  I reference taco seasoning in a lot of my recipes.  Sometimes, I’ll be honest, I grab a packet at the store – especially if I don’t have any mixed up and the brand with a box top coupon is on sale.  Really though, I prefer to mix up my own.  It’s simple and stores well and you can use it to liven up just about any southwestern dish.  What I like best is that it allows me to control the amount of salt and eliminate the sugar (yes, commercial mixes typically have sugar in them, who knew?).  It couldn’t be easier to mix this up.  Just measure out your dried spices, toss them in a container and stir to combine.  Then use as little or as much as you want to season up a pan full of meat for tacos. I like to add my seasoning as the meat is cooking.  Serve with a tortilla shell (these are crispy corn tortilla bowls), some lettuce and cheese and whatever else your family likes on tacos..

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Recipe:

1 Tablespoon chile powder

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Place all spices in a container and stir to combing.  Store, tightly sealed, for up to 6 months.

Whipped Cream

Sometimes you just need something simple.  And, adding a simple home-made element can transform even the most mundane dessert.  My husband loves chocolate pudding pie.  For me, it’s kinda eh.  If I’m going to spend all that time cooking and cooling a custard, I’d much rather have banana pudding or coconut cream pie.  So, a compromise.  I par-bake a store bought graham cracker crust and whip up some instant chocolate pudding.  Then, I top it with home-made whipped cream.  The result is a simple dessert that is far superior than the ones topped with frozen whipped topping and almost as simple.  We took this pie to a church potluck a couple of weeks ago and it was gone before I even made it to the dessert table (and there was plenty of competition).  This whipped cream subs nicely into any dessert calling for frozen whipped topping, just remember that it isn’t as stable.  After 3 or 4 days in the fridge it will start to loose it’s whip.  You can extend that a little by using powdered sugar as opposed to granulated, but I don’t like the mouth feel quite as much when I make that substitution.

First, chill your mixing bowl and whisk.  Everything comes together faster if the cream and tools are super cold.  I just toss mine in the freezer for about 5 minutes or so.  Then, pour the cold cream into the cold bowl and set your mixer on medium to medium high speed.  You don’t want it too high just yet or you’ll cover your kitchen in liquid cream.  Not fun, trust me.  When the cream starts to thicken and little bubbles show up, add the sugar and vanilla and kick up the speed. It took about 2 minutes for my mixer to get it to this point.

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Continue whipping on high speed until stiff peaks form.  I like my cream nice and stiff.  Some people will stop at soft peaks and that’s fine, just realize your whipped cream will fall flat even more quickly.  However, be careful to not whip too long.  If you do, the solids and liquids will separate and you’ll have some delicious sweetened butter.  I stop just when the cream starts to lose its shine.

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Use anywhere you’d normally use whipped topping.  This is only mildly sweet.  If you like your whipped cream sweeter, by all means, add some more sugar.

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Recipe:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chill a mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Pour cream into chilled bowl and whip at medium speed until frothy but not set (about 2 minutes).

Sprinkle in granulated sugar and vanilla.  Increase mixer speed to high and whip until cream is set and just starts to lose its gloss.  Cream should hold its shape when you lift the whisk.

More Than Microwaving – Roasted Acorn Squash Puree

Halloween and fall Box Tops submissions kept me way busier than I planned last week.  Postings this week will be much more consistent.  Thanks for your patience.

Remember when we roasted that Acorn Squash and I promised to share how I use the leftovers? Well, it took longer than a week.  In fact, it’s been almost 2 weeks since I shared that recipe.  Better late than never.

Take your leftover squash, remove the skins and put it in the blender with some cumin, chile powder, cinnamon, salt and water. Puree until smooth and creamy.

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Now, I’m sure you could eat this puree just like this, but why do that when you can make it even more delicious.  If you’ve got some leftover roasted meat (pork, beef or chicken will all work just fine), shred it up and put it in a skillet with hot oil.  Fry until the edges are crispy and golden (this is beef, in case you’re wondering).

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Then, layer some meat, sauce and cheese (or cheese stuffed green chile) on a steamed corn tortilla and enjoy a fantastic fall taco.

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Recipe:

1 roasted acorn squash

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

pinch cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

Remove skin from acorn squash and discard.

Place squash, cumin, chile powder, cinnamon, salt and water in blender. Puree until smooth.

Use as a side dish, a sauce, a thickener in soups or as a topping for tacos.

Red Chile Honey Butter

I like to cook with butter.  I also like to butter breads and vegetables.  Real butter just has so much good flavor.  That’s no excuse to just use it plain though.  Oh no.  Compound butters are way too simple to make.  I whipped this, but, if you don’t have a stand mixer, just stir it all together.  The flavor will still be fantastic.

Start with a stick of room temperature butter.  I used unsalted and added salt just because unsalted is what I keep on hand.  If you have salted butter, skip the salt and go from there.  Put the butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Using the whisk attachment, whip for 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides halfway through.  Your butter will be lighter in color and have slightly more volume.

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Add good quality honey and red chile powder.  Whip another 5 minutes. Again scraping down once.  I know it seems like a long time, but it makes this butter so light and fluffy!

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Serve on rolls, cornbread or a variety of vegetables.  I particularly love it on baked sweet potatoes.

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Recipe:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon chile powder

Place butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Using whisk attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes.  Scrape down sides once about halfway through.

Add honey and chile powder to the bowl.  Whip another 5 minutes.  Scrape down sides once about halfway through.

Use anywhere you would use plain butter to add a little sweetness and a little spice.