DIY Taco Seasoning!

FullSizeRenderTaco night is always a big hit in our house. My son, particularly enjoys it which makes for a happy mommy, plus I know he’s going to bed with a full tummy. Usually I pick up one of those little seasoning packets and sprinkle it on top of the ground beef for seasoning. But recently I actually read what was inside one of those packets, apart from many different things you can’t pronounce there’s a ton of sodium. So here’s a little DIY taco seasoning mix to save you from small, packets that are filled with crap.

2 tsp of chopped onion

1/4 tsp of chopped garlic

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of chili powder

1 tsp of cumin

1/4 tsp of oregano

1 tsp of cornstarch

1/2 cup of water

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Cook your ground beef (or any other ground meat you are using). Once the meat is cooked add the seasoning along with 1/2 cup of water. Cook meat until most of water has evaporated.

Easy Peasy Focaccia (I promise)

IMG_5964Have you ever wanted to try making focaccia but thought it was a daunting, time consuming task? Well, fear not, this recipe here is not only easy but quick to make. Our teen cooking class was able to finish the bread in under an hour and it was absolutely delicious.

FullSizeRenderIngredients

  • 2 34 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 12 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 12 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes – halved
  • 1 handful of basil – chopped
  • 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
 Directions
  1. Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes (until bubbles begin to form).
  2. In large bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, and black pepper.
  3. Add the yeast mix and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients.
  4. When dough has pulled together, turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat with oil.
  6. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm place 25 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  8. Punch dough down, place on greased baking sheet.
  9. In a small bowl, toss cherry tomatoes with basil, white wine vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  10. Pat dough into 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil, then place cherry tomato mixture on bread.
  11. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.IMG_5976

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough!

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Whole Wheat Pizza

We decided not to leave our house on New Years Day, which was an easy decision since it was cold and grey outside. Since we were home all day, homemade pizza seemed like the best thing for dinner. The dough was easy to make and then I made all sorts of toppings, sorted into little bowls. A great way to get your kids involved in making dinner as they can make their own pizzas. I used this recipe for making the dough, I substituted half a cup of brown rice flour instead of a full cup of white flour. The pizza was delicious and the crust was perfectly thin. I couldn’t get over how many slices my little guy ate, little did he know how many vegetables he was eating.

Pumpkin Recipes

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Pumpkin Recipes

We had a ton of leftover pumpkins from our Haunted House and we just couldn’t bear to throw them all out, so we cooked them up and made as many pumpkin things we could think of, seeds, bread, muffins, soup and of course pie! Click on the titles to see the recipes we found.

Pumpkin Muffins

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Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Pie

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Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Soup

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Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Bread

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Pumpkin Bread

Fall Mushroom Risotto

Fall Mushroom RisottoJust in time for the first day of Fall! This easy and delicious risotto was such a hit with the family! Some people veer away from trying to make risotto because it is said to be one of the harder dishes to master. I found this method (cooking in the oven) so simple and the risotto came out perfectly.

Ingredients

1 cup of Arborio rice

1 pint of mushrooms (your choice on type, I used button mushrooms)

3/4 cup of stock

1 cup of Parmesan Cheese (optional)

1/2 an onion (diced)

1 handful of thyme chopped

2 tbsp of butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Use a “stove to oven” casserole dish, I used a Le Creuset casserole dish which worked perfectly for this recipe. Start by putting the casserole dish on the stove, melt the butter. Add the onions and mushrooms and fry for about 5 minutes.

Once the onions and mushrooms have cooked, add the rice and stir around until the rice begins to turn brown. Then pour in the stock.

Place the lid on the casserole dish and put in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until all the liquid is drained. Remove from oven and add fresh thyme and cheese.

Peach BBQ Sauce (for sugarfree September)

Peach BBQ Sauce

This month, my husband and I are trying to be sugar-free, it’s turning out to be a lot easier than I anticipated. At first, it was definitely a struggle, especially giving up dark chocolate. However, as time as progressed I find myself craving it less, I have more energy and feel less hungry. The one time of day I still find the hardest is after dinner, I’m so use to having a little something sweet and I really crave it. With each passing day the cravings are getting easier and as long as I get myself out of the kitchen fast I seem to forget about them.

We’ve been making ribs in our slow cooker a LOT and usually dump a bottle of Diana’s in there, with some onion and garlic. Well, Diana’s isn’t going to make the sugar-free list that is for certain! So I made up a batch of this, smothered the ribs in it and cooked them on slow for most of the day. Easy Peasy!


Ingredients
3 slices of bacon
3 peaches peeled and diced
1/2 red onion diced
2 tbsp of tomato paste
1/4 apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sugarfree molasses
1/2 cup water
1 tsp of salt and pepper
Put bacon in a large pot and fry until it starts to brown. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil. Then let simmer for 2 hours. Mash ingredients at this point and continuing simmering for another hour.

Summer Salads

Do you find that your appetite is less during the summer? I certainly do! Summer salads are the way to go! Here are two quick and easy salads that you can make. Not only are they filling but they are also delicious!

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Fig, Prosciutto and Avocado Salad (serves 1 as a full meal or 4 side salads)

1 avocado

5 slices of Prosciutto

1/4 cup of goat cheese

2 handfuls of pine nuts

1 container of arugula

4 figs

Dressing: Oil and Vinegar

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Chicken and Peach Salad (serves 1 as a full meal or 4 side salads)

4 thin chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into pieces (I did mine in soya sauce, maple syrup and a bit of sesame oil)

2 handfuls of pine nuts

2 Peaches

1/4 cup of fig goat cheese

1 container of arugula

2 plum tomatoes

Dressing: Agave Syrup, Sesame Oil and splash of Olive Oil

 

Summer Canning

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Yesterday I spent the afternoon canning with a friend. We made raspberry jam and an apple onion chutney. Both recipes were from Williams Sonoma’s The Art of Preserving cookbook. They were relatively easy to make, not all that time consuming (2.5 hours to do both recipes) and quite tasty. If you’re going to do both, definitely start with the Raspberry Jam Recipe as raspberries need to soak in sugar for about 2 hours.

Raspberry Jam Recipe

Apple Onion Chutney

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4 lbs of Apple, peeled, cored and chopped

2 cups of raisins

2 yellow onions diced

2 tbsp of butter

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 tsp of ground cloves

3 tbsp of fresh Mint – chopped

1 tbsp of fresh chives – chopped

4 pieces of lemon zest about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch in width

1 cup of brown sugar

In a large pot, warm up the butter and olive oil, once heated add in the onions and cook for about 15 minutes. In the mean time, in another smaller pot put the lemon zest, raisins, cloves and brown sugar add 2.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling pour the mixture into the pot with the onions and add the apples. Let simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes.

Ladle chutney into the jar to within 1/2 inch of the top. Using a clean, damp towel, wipe the rim clean. Using tongs, remove a lid from the water and place on the jar. Using tongs, remove a lid ring from the water and screw onto the jar until just tightened; do not overtighten. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Turn the jars upright and check for a good seal; the seal indicator should be depressed. If the seal is not good, invert those jars for 1 hour more and check again.

Strawberry Tarts

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Not only are these easy and delicious, there’s also the option of making them gluten free. You can purchase gluten free graham cracker crumbs and the rest of the recipe doesn’t include any gluten. The prep time takes about 20 minutes and they’re the perfect dessert to serve along side a scoop of ice cream at your next dinner party. You can also substitute the milk with almond milk for a healthier version.

Ingredients (for 12 tarts)

12 muffin cups

12 tbsp of graham cracker crumbs

12 tbsp of melted butter

2 tbsp of butter

8 squares (1 ounce each) of dark chocolate

1/4 cup of milk/almond milk

6-8 strawberries

1 handful of blueberries

Directions

Preheat your oven to 275F

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Line your muffin tray with muffin cups. Add 1 tbsp of graham cracker crumbs to each cups. Pour 1 tbsp of melted butter into each muffin cup. Bake the muffin cups in the oven for about 10 minutes (keep your eye on them, take them out when they turn to a golden brown).

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Use a double boiler (or a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water) to melt your chocolate. While the chocolate is melting, add the 2 tbsp of butter and pour in the milk. Keep stirring the mixture until the chocolate has turned into a thick sauce. Keep your eye on it as you don’t want the chocolate to burn.

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Scoop about a tbsp of chocolate sauce into each muffin cup, on top of the golden graham crackers. Cut your strawberries (or put them whole, depending on your taste for decorating) on top of the chocolate sauce and add the blueberries. Place the whole tray in the fridge for about 20 minutes, until chocolate sets.

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Enchanted Forest & Mexican Fiesta!

This past weekend we hosted two drastically different birthdays, an enchanted forest and a Mexican Fiesta! We had such fun planning and preparing, we made all the decorations ourselves and thought it would be great to share in case you are feeling so inclined to host your very own Fiesta Forest!

The Enchanted Forest

We found this great tree at DeSerres and it only took about 5 minutes to assemble. We hung the tree on the “birthday wall” and decorated around it using tissue paper butterflies and our birthday banner. To make the tissue paper flowers we found some great instructions on Pink Paper Peppermints.

ImageWe then used kraft paper to make another tree, we decorated the tree with butterflies and mushrooms. The butterflies were made out of tissue paper and the mushrooms out of Bristol board. ImageFor the craft we made Modeling chocolate the night before. When the kiddies arrived it was all ready to go and they made beautiful creatures. We also used water colour pencil crayons on canvas boards to paint backdrop scenes for our creatures.

ImageMexican Fiesta

IMG_3671 Decorating for our fiesta was loads of fun! We made maracas out of Bristol board and also made some more big tissue paper flowers. We hung streamers from every corner of the room and had them crossing on top and under each other.

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For our craft we made mini Pinatas! These were fun and easy to do. We made identical cardboard cut outs and then cut a 2 inch strip out of Bristol board. We taped the strip to one of the cardboard cutouts and then filled it with candy. Before taping on the second cutout we made sure to affix a string to the top of the Pinata. Then used glue and crepe paper to cover the entire Pinata.

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In the kitchen we made….take a guess! Yes, that’s right…Tacos!! The kids had so much chopping and dicing and mixing and then the best part was that they got to eat them. Tacos are actually a very friendly meal which lends itself well to world of allergy ridden children. Corn tortillas (no gluten) no nuts and no dairy if you choose not to put cheese on your taco. Everyone walks away happy and with a full tummy! IMG_3680