taco seasoning as art

foodwithpictures taco seasoning (2)

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.

foodwithpictures taco seasoning (1)

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

 

foodwithpictures taco seasoning (3)

 

mexican chicken casserole goes to college

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (13)

 

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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 my son 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 little olive oil on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Then, a layer of crushed tortilla chips:

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (1)

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.*

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (2)

About 2 cups of frozen corn:

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (3)

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:

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (4)

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

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (5)

Then more crushed tortilla chips on top:

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (6)

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.

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (9)

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

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (13)

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.

foodwithpictures mexican chicken casserole (16)

Now he has 4 dinners ready to go!

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!)

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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).

dessert party

 

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My daughter graduated from high school in June. (YAHOO! YIPPEE! WAHOO!) On that Sunday we had a dessert party to celebrate her graduation. She and I love to bake, so instead of typical luncheon foods and/or party snacks, it made sense to serve only desserts. A graduation open house dessert party!

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In order to not have too much to do the day of the party, we started a few days prior. Here is the rundown of what we did:

Two days prior to the party my daughter baked the cupcakes, both cinnamon chocolate and vanilla bean. We kept them in the basement fridge until Sunday morning, when she made the corresponding frostings, and she then frosted all the cupcakes about one hour prior to the party.

 

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With some of the cream cheese frosting, my daughter piped it onto the edge of oreos, then rolled them into color sugar. She did this right after frosting the cupcakes. It took longer than expected, and required a steady hand, but they were worth it! Cute and delicious!

foodwithpictures frosted oreo cookies

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Three days prior to the party I made the cookie dough for the chocolate kiss cookies, rolled each teaspoon of dough into blue sugar (her school color), then put the balls into silicone ice cube trays so that they wouldn’t form one large ball by sticking together, then those trays were put into a large plastic zipper baggie. This was stored in the freezer until the morning of the party. On party day it sat out for about an hour, then the cookies were placed on parchment lined cookie sheets into the preheated oven. Cooking time was about 1-2 minutes longer than usual. These were baked about two hours before the start of the party.

 

foodwithpictures chocolate kiss cookies

 

 

foodwithpictures kiss cookies with blue sugar

 

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The other cookies made ahead of time were the m&m cookies. I used the dough from our favorite chocolate chip cookies, but used a large bag of m&m’s instead of chocolate chips. Each teaspoon of dough was rolled into a ball, then placed into a mini-muffin paper liner, and then stored in the freezer in a covered 9×13 pan. The cookies also had an additional minute or two added to the baking time, but one batch came out a little too brown, so in the future, if baking from frozen dough, I would only add 1 minute to the baking time, not 2 minutes.

foodwithpictures m&m cookies

 

 

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The night before the party I melted semi-sweet chocolate and in a separate container I melted milk chocolate.  I dipped some pretzel rods into each of these (not both chocolates on the same rod), then placed them on wax paper. Once on the wax paper, I quickly sprinkled a bit of sea salt on them. These were stored in airtight containers until just before the party was to start.

 

foodwithpictures pretzel rods dipped in chocolate

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When I had the melted milk chocolate, I pierced marshmallows with decorative toothpicks (either one regular size marshmallow or 3 minis on each stick), dipped them in the melted chocolate, then rolled them in crushed graham crackers to create Smores-on-a-Stick. (These were very cute … but in my opinion almost too sweet!)

foodwithpictures smores on a stick

 

 

foodwithpictures smores on a stick

 

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Shortly before the party started I washed strawberries, then cut a store-made pound cake into one-inch cubes. These were put onto wooden skewers, placed on a serving tray, then drizzled with chocolate sauce.

foodwithpictures pound cake and strawberries

foodwithpictures strawberries and pound cake

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For my party guests who are gluten-free we purchased gluten-free pretzels and dipped half of the pretzels into melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, and the other half were dipped into melted milk chocolate. We also dipped marshmallows into the melted chocolate, such as for the Smores-on-a-Stick, but without the graham crackers. Also, strawberries and grapes were put on wooden skewers and served on another tray. And we made hot air popcorn, added butter and salt, and put that into individual paper cups.

foodwithpictures gluten free

foodwithpictures popcorn

 

 

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In addition to the desserts, we had individual milk boxes (chocolate milk and white milk), juice boxes, water, iced tea, and lemonade. I meant to make a pot of coffee, but completely forgot! I also had some wine, sangria, and beer, for those that wished to drink that kind of beverage.

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Can’t forget the decorations! I wanted the kitchen to look festive, colorful, and whimsical, but didn’t want to spend a lot of cash making it so. I purchased two rolls of crepe paper, and two packages of inexpensive paper lanterns.

foodwithpictures decorations 2

foodwithpictures decorations 1

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For the paper products, I have been keeping a keen eye on the clearance section of Target for the past year and as I found bargains I purchased a few packages of plates and colorful napkins. I was also lucky to acquire some plates, paper straws, and bowls from a friend who had extras after purchasing too many for a large school party she planned. The dollar store was my final stop for the plates that said “Congrats 2014 Grad”.  Total cost for all the paper products was less than $10.

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The party was fun. And sweet! The vanilla bean cupcakes were the first to go, and the m&m cookies and the cups of popcorn were also scooped up quickly.

Prior to the party I had plans to make whoopie pies, and made the cake part two days ahead, but I made the mistake of using a new recipe and they didn’t turn out as expected. They were very tasty, but LARGE. More like cupcakes rather than easy to hold and eat whoopie pies. After the party I sliced each one in half, then put in the filling, and my kids enjoyed them very much.  Here is a pic of those.

foodwithpictures whoopie pies 1

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foodwithpictures plate

garlic lemon baked chicken

garlic lemon chicken step 5

In my recipe binder, I have an old recipe that was torn from a newspaper. The recipe is called Bainbridge Island Vineyard Greek Garlic Chicken and it was printed in the Washington Post. I’ve had it in my binder since cutting it out of the newspaper in 2007 yet have never made it. Over six years and it just sat there… waiting.

A couple days ago, as I was planning my weekly meals and making a grocery list, I searched through my binder to get inspiration and to remember old forgotten favorite recipes when I saw this one. Why hadn’t I ever made it? It’s got all the ingredients I love and that I use often: Garlic, olive oil, chicken. I added it to the weekly menu, purchased the chicken and the lemons, and today was the day. This chicken was what’s for dinner.

I didn’t follow the recipe 100%, since I am who I am and find it impossibly hard to follow a recipe exactly as it’s written (thanks Mom!). First of all, I didn’t use 5 pounds of chicken. I’m not sure I’ve ever used 5 pounds of chicken in one recipe. Also, when squeezing the lemons, after the second one I didn’t think it would need the juice from the third lemon, so I left it out (though next time — and there will be a next time — I will try it with three lemons). And then when I finished the sauce, before coating the chicken pieces, I realized it was a lot of sauce, so I put half of it aside to try in another recipe (maybe on a pork tenderloin for souvlaki … yum!).  Finally, instead of using just water, I used milk and some flour to thicken it. (See note below regarding these additions.)

The recipe below is what I made, which is based on the original.

P.S. When I finished the sauce I cut a bite-sized piece of chicken, dipped it in the sauce, and pushed it into my husband’s mouth. Was it good? Did he like it? Did it need anything… more salt or pepper? Here’s what he said after moaning with happiness, “You could put this sauce on a shoe and I’d eat it.” Yeah, so it’s pretty good.

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Garlic Lemon Baked Chicken

3 heads garlic, peeled and chopped and/or crushed (I did half each way)

the juice from 2 lemons

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon course ground sea salt

1 1/2 to 2 pounds chicken thighs and/or legs (skin on, bone-in) or boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon flour* (optional … see note below)

1 cup milk or water* (see note below)

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Heat oven to 375F.

In a bowl, stir together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, pepper, and salt. *You’ll only need half of this sauce, unless you decide to use double the amount of chicken that is listed above.*

garlic lemon chicken step 1

garlic lemon chicken step 2

garlic lemon chicken step 3

In a large baking dish, place the chicken pieces coated with the sauce in a single layer. (You can coat the pieces in a deep bowl, or by placing the chicken and the sauce in a plastic zipper bag.) If using pieces with the skin on, place them skin side up.

garlic lemon chicken step 4

Bake for 20-30 minutes if using skinless, boneless chicken. Bake for 45-55 minutes if using chicken with bones and skin.

Remove chicken from baking dish to serving platter.

Pour sauce from the baking dish into a small sauce pan over medium heat. *Note: If you don’t want all those bits of garlic in the sauce, use a mesh strainer for this step of the process.

If you’d like a thickened sauce, in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, add the flour to the milk or water, and whisk well. (If you want it thinner, or to keep it gluten-free and dairy-free, use water only.) Pour this into the sauce pan and whisk to combine. Heat thoroughly while whisking often. It should thicken quickly.

Serve sauce on the side or drizzled over the chicken on the platter.

*Note: If you omit the flour, this meal is gluten-free. Use water instead of milk, and it’s dairy-free.

Thanksgiving turkey

Last year’s Thanksgiving turkey post … getting ready for tomorrow!

food with pictures

I am not posting pictures of my Thanksgiving turkey from this year, because I don’t find pictures of turkeys all that appetizing. Or maybe it’s only the photos I took don’t look that appetizing. Anyhoo, the turkey today tasted great. It was tender and delicious. But no photo, sorry.

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I am thankful to have been given my mother’s oval roaster. Amazing results every time! This roasting pan is one of my favorite things.

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Remember that bag of onion, celery, garlic and carrots from the other day? That’s what goes into the bottom of the pan when I make my Thanksgiving turkey. Then I add a cup of chicken broth.

The washed and dried bird goes on top, then a generous dusting of Bell’s. That stuff is awesome! Now, sure, you could make your own poultry seasoning using a combination of rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and…

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orange cranberry sauce

Once again, now that Thanksgiving is just days away, my favorite cranberry sauce recipe.

food with pictures

cranberry sauce


I was not a fan of cranberry sauce when I was young. Growing up, on our holiday table we’d usually have the jellied cranberry sauce that came from a can — you know, that popular unappetizing red blob. No thank you. I was happy with all the other foods on the table except for that one. But as the years went on, the can was no more and my mom experimented with cranberry sauce recipes. Unfortunately, I had no intention of trying any of them after experiencing that red blob for so many years.

Then I got married and my husband is a huge cranberry sauce guy. He prefers the whole berry cranberry sauce, and is used to the canned variety. Okay, not as bad as the jellied version, but still not anything I’d eat. So the can of whole berry cranberry sauce was part of our Thanksgiving table for…

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