Homemade Taco Seasoning

During our weeks of staying at home and lots of experimenting in the kitchen, I decided to make my own taco seasoning. If I’m being honest, I ran out of taco seasoning and I needed taco seasoning. After a few times of playing with seasoning and measurements, I found a combination that made my guys say “throw out the pre-made stuff.” Complete Win in the Kitchen.

When I make tacos, I usually prepare 2 lbs of ground beef, turkey or chicken. I DOUBLE the following recipe to add to our tacos. BUT, when you have time you need to make up extra just to sprinkle on your black beans, scrambled eggs, popcorn, you see where I’m going. This has such a yummy flavor you will add it to lots of things.

Happy Taco Tuesday,
Amanda

Make your own Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (you can use plain paprika)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you want more kick)

Combine all the seasonings.  Add to your ground beef for tacos.  Add a few shakes to your black beans.  Add to your scrambled eggs.  Yum!!  Store in a sealed container if you don’t use all.

Business/Party Nacho Cheese Dorito Chicken

The last ten weeks have been like nothing we have ever experienced.  I have used the words “quarantine”, “shelter-in-place”, “Covid19”, “Coronavirus” so much that even my 6 year old understands everything is completely different because of one of those words.

I have been introduced to Zoom calls.  While not my favorite thing, I understand it is a way to connect and get to “see” others.  I also understand like many that you only have to be presentable from the waist up!  Business/Professional/Put Together on top and Party/Whatever/PJ pants I have been wearing for three days on the bottom.

During this ten weeks of our “Corona Chronologicals”, Will (14.5) and Chris, my hubby, have talked about the idea of a Mullet.  (Like “Business in the Front, Party in the Back” haircut.)  Will had no where to be and why not go for this look during his time off.  Chris watched a few Youtubes and felt confident that he could make this look happen.  So, a couple Saturday nights ago, on our outdoor deck, Chris and Will proceeded to make a memory with hair clippers. Within a few minutes, Will was ready for business and party!  I will admit that Will could pull off any haircut.  (The kid has good hair!)

This whole experience of Zoom calls in PJ pants and teenagers with mullet reminded me of a meal.  A meal that says, “I look like a hot mess with the ingredients I bring to the table but trust me.  I mean business!”  A meal that says, “Yes, I have Nacho Cheese Doritos all over me but guess what Fancy Pants?  You are going to be drooling over the business I bring to your mouth.”  

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In all seriousness, my boys loved that this momma brought a little party to the dinner table.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  Seriously, we are all trying new things right now.  Go for it!

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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Nacho Cheese Dorito Crusted Chicken 

4 chicken breasts, pounded
1 cup mayo
1 t Italian seasoning
2 cups Nacho Cheese Doritos, crushed
¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put chicken breasts in a zip-lock bag and pound to flatten.
Combine mayonnaise and Italian Seasoning in a pie plate.
Crush Doritos in a zip-lock bag.  You want chips small.
Dip chicken breast into mayo mixture and then roll in Dorito crumbs.
Place in a casserole dish and drizzle with melted butter all over the chicken.
Bake uncovered for thirty minutes.

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

Have you ever made a meal and then you feel like you completed cheated because it was so easy? Those are my favorite meals! Let me introduce to Rotisserie Chicken Tacos. Guys, this is so easy. First off, I am the girl that will always pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store. I mean all the work is done for you for 5 bucks.

Now you will take that magic chicken you bought and create chicken tacos that will have your family thinking you are a goddess in the kitchen. Chop up your favorite toppings and you are ready to roll. You have just changed the Taco Tuesday Game.

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Rotisserie Chicken Tacos
2 cups salsa (I used Mateo’s Salsa)
1 cup water
2 T tomato paste
½ t coriander
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 small rotisserie chicken (picked up from Costco), meat removed from the bones (you’ll want about 1½ pounds of picked chicken meat)
6 T vegetable oil
12 white 6” corn tortillas
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce (I cheated and bought the bag)
8 ounces Monterey jack cheese or Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Toppings

Guacamole Homemade or My go-to
Sliced pickled jalapeños
Diced tomatoes
Thinly sliced red onion
Avocado wedges
Sour cream
Lime juice
Fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Use baking sheets with high sides ready that can hold 12 completed folded tacos (or 2 pans with 6 each). Brush both baking sheets with oil. This will prevent sticking. Lay out the corn tortillas, 6 per tray and brush the tops with the other half of the oil. Set pans aside.
In a large skillet, place salsa, water and tomato paste. Using medium heat, stir and combine. Add the coriander, chili powder and cumin seasonings. Stir together completely.
Shred the cooked chicken pieces into the salsa mixture and heat to hot then hold to keep warm.
Beginning working on taco assembly, divide the pepper jack between the 12 tortillas.
Divide the warm chicken mixture between the 12 tortillas, on top of the pepper jack. Leave some room around the edges so your tacos will not be too full (yet!) Now top the tacos with Monterey jack cheese.

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Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the edges start to get a little crispy and the mixture is hot and bubbly. Rotate halfway through for even browning.
Remove tacos from the oven. Then pick up each tortilla, fold in half and place in the reserved dish or pan, letting each taco stay folded by leaning on the one next to it. Add the lettuce at this time.

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Serve hot with whatever toppings you want including diced tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, thinly sliced red onion, avocado wedges, sour cream, guacamole, lime juice, fresh cilantro, etc.

Amanda’s Apple Crisp

Whether you have already been apple picking or it’s on your “apple bucket” list, you will want to save some apples for this crisp recipe.  All the ingredients play together to make fall come alive. My boys believe it must be topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This Apple Crisp is the perfect fall dessert.  

Keep Sing and Dancing in the Kitchen, Amanda

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Warm Apple Crisp

Yields: 12 servings

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (other varieties can be used)

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

1 tsp of vanilla

pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  Butter an 8×8 baking dish. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add chopped apples, granulated sugar, 3/4 tsp of cinnamon and lemon juice.  Stir to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish.

In a separate mixing bowl, add crisp ingredients (brown sugar, oats, flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and diced cold butter).  Use a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the oat mixture, using a slight downward twisting motion, until mixture is in small crumbs.  If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use two forks or even your hands to cut butter into the mixture.

Spread topping over apples in baking dish, and gently pat to even it out.  Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

Serve warm.  We like to add a scoop of vanilla ice to our Apple Crisp.  Enjoy!  

Make Your Own Pizza Night

One item on our summer bucket was “Make Your Own Pizza Night” We have done this several times but we jazzed it up with our head chef, Whitaker!

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You can buy pre-made dough or make your own. This is my go to Pizza Dough. If you want to try something different, Trader Joe’s has a great frozen Cauliflower Crust.

We are all about the ingredients in this house. Chop up what you want and add some variety. In my mind there can never be too many toppings. I love them all! Some our favorites: Mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced), pepperoni, olives, sausage (cooked ahead), bell peppers, onions, jalapeños, and mushrooms.

We use pre-made pizza sauce to keep it easy. Once your dough is ready, start adding all the fun. It’s a great way to get everyone on the kitchen.

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Lemon Sugar Cookies

It is clear that I live in a house of cookie monsters.  My boys love to see the cookie jar filled with cookies.  This past week we created a new sugar cookie.  I love adding lemon to desserts.  Lemon makes foods taste fresh.  These cookies were easy to make.  The boys loved them and we have decided they will be part of the cookie rotation.

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1 cup Butter cold, cut into cubes

2 cups Sugar

2 Eggs

1 t  Vanilla Extract (I used Mexican Vanilla)

1 1/2 Fresh Lemon Juice

1 T Lemon Zest  (you can add more to add extra flavor)

3 cups Flour

1 1/4 Baking Powder

1/4 Baking Soda

1/2 Salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar for 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest and stir to combine.
Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix just until combined.
Spoon about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.
Drop dough onto a prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle the rolled dough balls with white sugar.
Bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on cooling rack.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo is easy to put together.  It’s a great addition to so many meals.  We add Pico (for short) to fajitas, tacos, omelets, and sometimes just love it by itself with chips.  The freshness of the flavors add something to each entree.  This is my simple recipe you can add to or take away.  I make it early in the day to let flavors sit for a little while.  This recipes make a lot so feel free to divide ingredients if you want a smaller batch.

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3 white or red onions

12 Roma tomatoes

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

2 to 3 jalapeños (soak in ice water before using)

1 lime

Salt

Chop up onions and tomatoes. I like to make sure the tomato and onion ratio is about the same.  Chop the cilantro.

Slice 1 or 2 jalapeños in half.  I always wear gloves when chopping jalapeños.  With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and membranes. (If you want it spicy, leave in some of the white membranes.) Finely chop the jalapeños.

Combine onions, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeños in one bowl.

Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice from half a lime the bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and stir together until combined.   Do a taste test.  You can make adjustments to your  pico de gallo by adding more jalapeños, salt, or lime.

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa

I love meals that I can prep and forget about for the day.  This recipe came out of Southern Living magazine.  I have tweaked it to fit our style.  The key is browning the pork prior to placing it in the slow cooker for the day.  It seals in the flavors and is delicious.  Your home will smell delicious and you will be so happy at dinner time.  The meat is so yummy and makes great leftovers.

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1 (4 to 5 lb) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt
1 T chile powder
1 T black pepper
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t granulated sugar
1 T plus 1/2 t kosher salt, divided
2 T Canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider
4 oregano springs
1 cup chopped tomato
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped (about 2 T)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 T fresh lime juice
12 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1 T smoked paprika
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cut pork shoulder into 2 pieces.  Combine chile powder, black pepper, cumin, cloves, sugar and 1 T of salt in a small bowl.  Sprinkle mixture over all sides of pork pieces.

Heat oil in a large skillet over high.  Add pork pieces, and cook until deep golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Place pork in a slow cooker; add vinegar and oregano.

Cover and cook on LOW until pork falls apart easily with shredded with a fork, 8 to 10 hours.

Stir together tomato, red onion, lime juice, jalapeno, and remaining 1/2 t salt in a bowl. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

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Shred pork in slow cooker with 2 forks; stir in paprika and cayenne.

Toast individual tortillas in a skillet.

Serve pork on tortillas topped with salsa, cilantro, and sour cream.  We like to add black beans to our tacos.  And of course we like to have our chips and salsa.

Looking Forward,
Amanda

 

 

Cookbooks- My Favorites

I have shared before that I LOVE COOKBOOKS.  My collection is vast and eclectic.  Some of my cookbooks have tags and writing all through them as I have taken notes or made changes through the years.  I have special cookbooks that have been signed by the chefs. I take reading a cookbook very seriously.  I read my cookbooks from cover to cover before I will even cook one recipe out of it.  Cookbooks share stories from the chef.  You can understand the inspiration and influences as you read along.  You learn new techniques and terminology.  I love curling up with a new cookbook.  Page by page the stories and recipes unfold.

I know each Christmas (and other times of the year) that my husband, Chris, will search for the perfect cookbook for me.  He knows that he must write a little note on the inside cover complete with the date.  Over the years, I have grown to cherish many of my cookbooks but I wanted to share a few today in case you are looking for a last minute gift idea.

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Date Night In Chris gave me this cookbook last year.  I love it.  The book is organized by seasons and has a complete menu for your date night in.  We have looked forward to creating this meals together.  Each dinner has a dessert and cocktail to create.  Chris loves making cocktails so it is a win-win cookbook for us.

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The Southern’s Cookbook Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories– This is one of those cookbooks that is so fun to read.  The editors of Garden & Gun pulled together great stories and recipes all in one place.  You will love the “talk of the south.”

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Back In The Day Bakery Made With Love–  So true confession- I am obsessed with Cheryl and Griffith Day!  Their bakery in Savannah, Georgia gives me all the feels and is complete happiness.  When you visit the bakery, you will see Cheryl and Griffith in the back busy creating something yummy.  This cookbook is their second book.  I have own both  (obsessed) and both are signed (true obsession).

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Yes, I’m with Cheryl and Griffith Day at Back in the Day Bakery

The next time you are in Savannah, Georgia, you must stop by Back in the Bakery!  It does not disappoint and it is hard to make a decision. So do what I do, get one of each and share!

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Bread and Wine–  This is my favorite book to give as a gift.  One of my best friends gave me a copy and I fell in love.  Shauna Niequist tells beautiful stories of friendships that develop over food.  She encourages you to invite others over.  Break bread together and form relationship.  Shauna shares great recipes and wonderful insight on life.  She has many great books. Present over Perfect is her latest and it reminds us to present in every moment we have and don’t worry about the perfection.  I hope to meet Shauna one day. She is a true inspiration and mentor through her words.

 

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The Silver Spoon For Children is my favorite children’s cookbook right now.  The illustration are made where children can follow along and begin cooking like an Italian. Make pasta, meatballs, chicken Stuffed with marscapone, foccaccia, and the list goes on. I am a believer in having my children in the kitchen.

 

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Last recommendation is a cookbook that has been well loved that I did not want to take a picture of the front.  It has lots of battle wounds (in a good way) from the kitchen.  I have used my Gourmet Cookbook for the past ten years.  It is my kitchen buddy and has helped me cook some delicious food.

Let me know your favorite cookbooks.  I’m always looking for new ones.

Looking Forward,

Amanda

 

Lettuce Wraps in a Slow Cooker (WHAT?!?)

Welcome to Summer Break! I love not setting alarm clocks, hanging with my boys, and having a messy ponytail almost every day. In the summer, I still want to make good meals but want to soak up all the outside fun and adventures that we have planned. So welcome in Lettuce Wraps that you make in a slow cooker! Can I get an “AMEN!” These wraps are simple and very tasty. Chop a few things and forget about it. Throw some edamame on the side and you are ready for a pretty healthy meal that you did not give much thought to. I’m always looking for easy meals in the summer. So please share your go-to’s in the comments below. I would love to cook them up and share with our squad. Take it easy this summer and watch for recipes, summer ideas, books I’m trying to read while playing hot wheels, and random thoughts from my head.

Keep Singing and Dancing! We have so many reasons too!
Looking Forward, Amanda

 

20160218_195921 (1)Slow Cooker Lettuce Wraps

2 lb. ground chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 T soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained, rinsed, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1 T rice vinegar
1 1/2 t sesame oil
2 heads iceberg lettuce, cleaned, separate lettuce leaves

Sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 T soy sauce

Place ground chicken and garlic in a large skillet. Cook ground chicken throughly. Drain off liquid and pour mixture into a slow cooker. Add red bell pepper, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper and toss mixture. Cover and cook on low heat 2 – 3 hours until chicken is tender.
Stir in water chestnuts, green onions, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, cook until heated through. I give this about 10 minutes. Season with additional salt pepper if you as desire.

Mix additional hoisin sauce and soy sauce for sauce. This will add a little kick for those that want it.

Fill your lettuce leaves with the chicken mixture and top with extra sauce if you are feeling crazy. Serve with cooked edamame.

If there are leftovers, they are very yummy the next day.