taco seasoning as art

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I make taco seasoning almost weekly. It’s used for more than just tacos around here! Today I was putting the ingredients into a new little 3 ounce jar and I just had to grab my camera. Remember sand art? Well, this was spice art! Even my hard to impress adult son said it was cool. That’s high praise right there.

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Here’s what it looked like after adding the ingredients exactly as listed below. Next time I’ll double everything first off, but this time I didn’t know if it would fit so I did one set at a time.

Taco Seasoning

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

 

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hello again …. it’s been a while!

Haven’t had time to post in a very long time. Life, you know. Crazy. and busy. Crazy busy!

 

So here’s what I’ve been making lately … most of our favorites … simple meals (and treats) to make life a little less crazy in my kitchen!

Latin Chicken

latin chicken

Enchiladas

sour cream chicken enchiladas

 

Turkey meat balls

turkey meatballs served

 

Banana muffins

banana muffins

 

Fish

cod (4)

 

Granola bars

granola 11

 

 

Garlic lemon baked chicken

garlic lemon chicken step 5

 

Creamed chicken with drop biscuits

creamed chicken

 

Pork tenderloin

pork tenderloin

 

And, of course, cookies!

chocolate oat cookie

 

my favorite fall soup

food with pictures veggie barley soup (12)

I’ve posted a couple other versions of this vegetable barley soup in the past few years, and now I’m posting what I consider the perfected version. I love this soup so much. Since the temperatures dropped this fall I’ve been making it weekly. So easy and delicious. If you’re a soup fan, give it a try! I hope you like it as much as I do.

***

Vegetable Barley Soup

In a large soup pot, drizzle olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Chop one onion, many stalks of celery, lots of carrots, and a few cloves of garlic.

Put that all in the pan over medium-low heat. Stir often.

 

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When these veggies are starting to get tender, season with salt, pepper, dried basil, and garlic powder.

Note: I use lots of black pepper. Also, you can omit the garlic powder if you’re not a huge garlic fan.

 

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Turn the heat to low.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water.

 

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Add 1 cup barley, half a bag of frozen chopped spinach, and 6-8 ounces of tomato paste.

Stir well.

 

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Cover and cook over low heat for a long time. I usually let it cook for well over an hour.

Stir often.

When the barley is tender, it’s ready to serve.

This reheats well, and freezes well too.

Note: If you substitute white or brown rice for the barley, this will be a gluten-free soup.

 

one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had

breakfast

Was this one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had because it was so delicious? Maybe. It was very good. Though one huge factor that made this one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had is that I was eating breakfast alone, in a hotel restaurant. I didn’t have to cook it. Or clean up after it. Or share it with anyone. Or talk to anyone while eating it. I also wasn’t in a hurry. I drank cup after cup of coffee while sitting all by myself at a very nice table for two in a very nicely decorated hotel restaurant. The staff was friendly and just attentive enough. I enjoyed every minute of it.

The balls of butter made me smile. I don’t know why. They’re just butter rolled into balls. But seeing a cute little cup of butter balls — all for me! — pleased me. Maybe it was the jet lag or the fact that our six hour trip turned into twelve hours and we still weren’t at our destination (hence the hotel in Denver that the airline provided for us while waiting for our next flight). While eating breakfast (alone! … did I mention I was alone?) I knew we still had hours left before we would reach our destination. I wasn’t happy about the travel situation, but I made the most of it by enjoying this lovely breakfast.

Where were my traveling companions? Oh, they were back up in the hotel room. They had been up earlier and had already enjoyed their breakfast. While they did that I was on the phone trying to get someone to wave a magic wand to create a flight to our destination (it worked!). Once those new flight plans were in place, and my husband and son had returned to the room, I was free to enjoy breakfast alone.

And that I did. And it was delicious.

mexican chicken casserole goes to college

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It seems as if only days have gone by since I posted about preparing foods for my son as he arrived home from college for the summer. Now I’m preparing food for him to take back to his off-campus apartment. Since this is his senior year, he’s going to be very busy, and sending him with food will ease his schedule a little bit, for a little while.

The other day I made a pasta bake with Italian sausage, and put two servings into a freezer-safe container. Today I’m cooking two other favorites. In the crock pot I have Latin Chicken cooking and in the oven I made Mexican Chicken Casserole. This is a casserole I made for him last year, by adding a few ingredients to our family favorite Mexican Chicken. It turned out very well, and since then he specifically requests this casserole instead of the regular chicken-only entree.

***

Mexican Chicken Casserole

Okay, this is pretty simple. So simple that the pictures can do most of the talking!

Because I was only making enough for him to take to his apartment, I didn’t use as much chicken or other ingredients. I used a small-ish casserole dish. It measures about 7×10-inches.  I started by putting a small amount of olive oil on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Then, a layer of crushed tortilla chips:

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About 2/3 of a can of black beans (drained and rinsed): *I could have used the whole can, but decided this looked like enough.*

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About 2 cups of frozen corn:

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In a large plastic zipper bag, I combined 1/4 cup flour with the following taco seasoning spices:

  • cayenne
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • paprika
  • oregano
  • sugar
  • salt

*If you want this to be gluten-free, omit the flour.*

 

Since this is being made into a casserole, I cut 2 large chicken breasts into pieces. These pieces were tossed in the flour and spice mixture, then placed in the casserole dish:

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On top of the chicken went about 1 cup of salsa:

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Then more crushed tortilla chips on top:

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I put a few bits of butter on top (about 2 tablespoons total) or I could have drizzled 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I covered with foil then baked at 350F for 30 minutes. After that time was up, I removed the foil then continue to bake for 10 minutes. Then I removed it from the oven and topped with an additional cup of salsa and a few handfuls of Mexican cheese. This was returned to the oven for about 5-10 minutes, until the cheese melted.

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I then removed it from the oven and admired the glorious melted cheese!

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I waited for this to cool a little while, then divided it into 4 equal sections. Each one was put into a freezer-safe container.

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Now he has 4 more dinners ready to go!

***

And here’s the Latin Chicken. This container is larger, and holds about four servings.

foodwithpictures latin chicken

 

So with these eight meals, and the two servings of pasta bake already in the freezer, he’ll start off the semester with ten meals ready to go. This will reduce the need for him to shop, prep, and cook right away. Once classes start he’ll eat some meals on campus (mostly lunches), and once he adds in pizza and burritos from the local places he frequents, as well as cooking eggs and tacos (his two “go to” meals), he may be set until Family weekend next month, which is when I’ll arrive with more frozen meals. This boy has it good, doesn’t he? ;)

 

lemon garlic pork

foodwithpictures lemon garlic pork

 

This post is unlike most of my other posts in that there is only one photo. About a month ago while making this I took lots of photos of each step in the process, but the photos were of such bad quality that I could not post them here. I do make this often (almost weekly lately) so I will try to remember to take more pictures next time. (I made it tonight for dinner, but completely forgot to grab my camera. Bad food blogger…. Bad.)

 

P.S. This recipe is super similar to the garlic lemon baked chicken I posted a few months ago. That one has much more lemon and oregano, and the chicken is baked rather than grilled like this pork. (Have you realized yet that I love the flavors of lemon, garlic, and oregano? Yes … yes I do!)

***

Lemon Garlic Pork

A few hours before dinner, combine these ingredients in a shallow baking dish or pan:

about 1/4 cup olive oil

the juice of one lemon

lots of minced garlic

salt

a generous amount of black pepper

lots of oregano

Place 2 pork tenderloins in this mixture and roll them around to coat well.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour.

When ready to cook, remove from fridge, then grill the pork.

Slice and serve on a pocketless pita with tomato, lettuce, red onion, and feta. Or, skip the pita and serve over a large salad of romaine, tomato, red onion, cucumbers, and feta (this makes it gluten-free).