Friday, 28 September 2012

homemade taco seasoning

Anyone else have this problem....your spices in your spice CUPBOARD are overflowing to your tea cupboard...yes cupboards....Apparently I like spices and teas.  I was recently on a spice blend kick and purchased some good quality mixes like Spice de Provence, Chinese 5 spice and Fajita mix....That is all good but I am constantly running out of one mix that I use quite frequently...

Taco Seasoning Mix.  I am always throwing packets of the stuff into my cart at the grocery store and grumbling at how overpriced it is.  I mean really...its only about 2 Tablespoons of the the stuff, and they charge you an arm and a leg for it.

BUT NO MORE!!!  I am happy to say that Pinterest has saved the day again!  Another such blogger also had the same frustration with the price of Taco seasoning that she did something about it.  She made her own......for fractions of the price. WELLL, of course I had to try it....It is amazing!  Even my husband noticed how good it tasted.  So no longer will I be purchasing packets of overpriced, sodium boosted Taco seasoning. I will make my own.  And you can too!

Taco Seasoning Mix

adapted from - My Baking Addiction

What you need:

4 tablespoons of chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons black pepper

What you do: 

1. Combine all ingredients in a small mason jar or air tight container.  

2.  Shake to mix thoroughly.  

This seasoning mix will last up to a year in an airtight container.

***When using with ground beef, use 1-2 tablespoons per pound of meat. 

Also great with chicken!

Monday, 24 September 2012

pumpkin chocolate chip snacking cake

Yes, I am totally on a "Pumpkin" kick!  I wholeheartedly embrace the orange squash and I hope to make many wonderful treats with pumpkin this fall season.  You'll either love me or detest me....I do hope you love me...:)   Did you know that I actually tried growing pumpkins this year....

As you can see my success wasn't great.....Oh well.  Thank goodness for grocery stores:)  But my tomatoes are still coming in vast amounts!!!

I am so proud of these.. I grew them from seed and everything!!  Anyways....back to pumpkins...

Recently I was introduced to this beautiful and easy snacking cake recipe.  At a family gathering my husband's, cousin's wife Melissa brought this delightful brownie to eat as dessert. was heavenly and my husband promptly asked me to add it to things I WILL make sooner than later list. 

So here is the sooner:)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Snacking Cake (aka brownie)

- adapted from Pennies on a Platter

 What you need:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 - 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

What you do: (sooner than'll thank me, and I thank Melissa, who also thanks Pinterest...:)

1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray

3.  In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs and oil until smooth.  Set aside.

4.  In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and brown sugar.

5.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thouroughly, but try not to overmix.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

6.   Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 15 – 25 minute.  You want a toothpick to come out clean when you poke into it. Then you know its done.

7.  Cool completely and then devour!!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Pumpkin pie granola!

The leaves are turning their colors up here, and one can really feel a shift in the weather.  Fall is coming.  We've survived our first week of kindergarten and Joshua loves it!   I am so glad.  My everyday will be a bit different now with a youngster in school every day.  My youngest is adjusting alright though he wishes he could go to school too.  Thank goodness all our favorite local programs are starting up right away here!

I've been perusing all the fun recipe blogs that I follow and I have noticed a certain trend happening....everything has nothing on pumpkin....Pumpkin brownies, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, cupcakes, cakes, pies, soups....EVERYTHING!!!  It's a good thing I like pumpkin :) because I made a delightful little granola with pumpkin spice.

Yep, I am on a granola kick right now.  I am really enjoying making my own.  This one is by far my favorite!  I started off with with this granola earlier this summer....  It's good, but this one is even better...and its even fall-like with the pumpkin spice.

Immerse yourself in Pumpkin this fall and enjoy this lovely recipe!!  I wasn't able to do step-by-step photos (forgive me - busy life right now) but here she goes!

What you need:

4 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

What you do:

1. In a large bowl, combine oats and almonds, set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, oil, honey, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

3. Pour over oat mixture; stir to coat. Spread in a large shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper.

4. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. The coating should be caramelized on the oat mixture and it should love a nice light brown.

5. Add dried apricots and dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container. I like mason jars!

6.  Eat it up.  It should last a month....but it won't because it is soooo good!!!



Monday, 10 September 2012

Apricot Ginger Sparkle Cookies

My oldest is starting his academic career today!!!  So crazy how fast time has flown by.  Kindergarten - where he will adore his teacher, learn much knowledge and many skills, and have his mother signed up for all class parties.....EEK!

I love classroom parties!  As a teacher I always had my parties near the end of the day so I wouldn't have to deal with 25 odd kiddos on sugar highs.... The kids and me loved the anticipation of what people will bring and the buffet of sweets to choose from.  Yes there is always the fruit and veggie trays, but the kids are scoping out the sweet stuff for sure!  We will see how busy this mommy gets and if she will resist the urge to go buy ready made cupcakes....(nothing wrong with that at all I have done it myself!!!!! - I am just like the kids...I just eat the icing....:))

So as us mommies are beginning the tiresome chore of filling up lunch kits day after day...O.K, I am just starting and I only have to pack a snack so far....but I am already tired of it...EEK!!! So here is a lovely little cookie ditty that will delight young ones and older ones as they open up their lunch kits and see what goodness mommy has packed them.  

Apricot Ginger Sparkle Cookies

- adapted from Joy the Baker

What you Need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup of apricot jam (you can use any thick jam you have on hand)

What you do:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

2.  Beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and beat for a minute.

 3.  Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes more. The mixture will be smooth. Add the milk and vanilla and beat just to combine.

4.  Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the jam and beat for 1 minute more.


5.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt.

6.  With the mixer on low add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix only until they are combined.

7.  Roll a tablespoon of dough into a ball and toss to coat in a bowl of sugar.  Place on baking sheet.  With a fork squish down the cookies to flatten them out a bit.

8.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cookies will be pale with a browned edge.  Allow cookies to rest a few minutes and remove to cooling racks.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Cranberry Orange Muffins


Can you feel it?  The coolness in the air, the sense of anticipation of change and the renewal of resolutions, programs re-starting and the smell of new plastic and rubber as you open up your pencil case full of NEW PENCILS!!!  Okay, I was a teacher not that long ago and I still get a thrill when September comes.  For me it is when the new year begins......January 1st means nothing to me....but September....that is a different story.

I always had my classroom set up early, full of apples, new organisational tools, cool pictures and the such.  I anticipated my new students coming....some with a little trepidation....:)  But September was a time of excitement, putting the reflections and plans one had over the summer into action!  My thoughts turn to the warmth of Tetley tea, the comforting smell of cinnamon and apples, pumpkin pies, pumpkin lattes at Starbucks......mashed potatoes and pot roast...Yep I am ready for fall to come. I think I ate my fill of grilled chicken and veggies....They were good, but I am just ready for the comfort of meatloaf........and muffins......

Here is a lovely little ditty to kick start your muffin making season for back to school lunches.  This comes from a friend of mine who makes these for scrapbooking weekends...YAHOO FOR SCRAPBOOKING!!!  Okay, here it is.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

-recipe adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook.

What you Need:

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup orange or peach marmalade
  • the zest from one orange
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Here's What You Do:

  1. Grease muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  2. Preheat oven to 400º.

 3.Combine dry ingredients and chopped pecans in a mixing bowl.  


4.  Beat egg lightly in a small bowl and add orange juice, marmalade, orange zest, oil, milk and dried cranberries.


5.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix only until completely moistened.


6.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups filling each two thirds full.

7.  Mix topping and sprinkle about 1/2- 1 teaspoon over each muffin.


 8.  Bake at 400º for about 15 - 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick to be sure they are baked through.

 9.  Makes 12 medium sized muffins.