For the most part ML and I try to/have to stick to a fairly healthy diet which includes avoiding processed and/or packaged foods. This includes boxed dinners such as Hamburger Helper, deli meat, and packaged seasoning. (To learn more about our diet and how it has eliminated my migraines, see here.)
Mexican dishes are a favorite in our house, but there are a few store bought items we have to avoid when fixing a Mexican dish. One of these is packaged taco seasoning because it often contains MSG which is a trigger for my migraines. Thankfully, I have a recipe for an all natural taco seasoning mix. It is super easy and tastes as good if not better than the store bought stuff. Another plus is that you probably already have the needed spices on hand, so it costs practically nothing to make it.
I can’t take credit for the recipe because I found it on Allrecipes.com, but I wanted to share it with you because it is so easy and good! I did end up tweaking mine a little.
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika (I didn’t have any on hand so I left this spice out.)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I added this for a little extra kick.)
On a spice level it is probably a mild to medium. So add a little extra chili powder or cayenne pepper for more spice.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then use as a substitute when a recipe calls for a packet of taco seasoning mix.
I told you it was easy! And by making your own, you avoid all the unnecessary chemicals and flavor enhancers. Plus it’s all natural and spices are loaded with tons of health benefits.
I made up a taco seasoning batch the other day and used it for this wonderful Taco Dip Dinner recipe I found at 2 Crafty 4 My Skirt.
I ended up pinning it to Pinterest and had to give it a try. Check out the link above for her recipe. It is really easy… perfect for a quick meal after work. I will definitely be using her recipe again. It also incorporates one of the healthy alternative/ less expensive techniques I have learned… adding a can of beans to the meat mixture.
Do you make your own seasoning mixes or stick to the store bought ones? Have you found any amazingly delicious Mexican dishes on Pinterest lately?
Christmas time brings lots of opportunities to give gifts. A few years ago, I started making Peppermint Bark for friends and family. It’s not much, but I love the idea that it is homemade and tastes yummy.
Last year, with the change in my diet (more on that here), I couldn’t eat any chocolate for Christmas. It’s one way to not gain any weight during the holidays! So when I made the Peppermint Bark for everyone, I wanted to make some for myself too. With chocolate out of the question, I decided to use butterscotch in place of chocolate for the bark. It became a hit!
I wanted to share how to make it, but I accidently over heated the butterscotch last night and had to resort to Chocolate Peppermint Bark. Oops! Basically, anywhere chocolate is used substitute butterscotch to get delicious Butterscotch Peppermint Bark.
The recipe I used is from the Joy of Baking. To get two times the goodies, I double the recipe as shown below.
What you will need:
One 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate (Nestle was all I had on hand, but I recommend Ghiradelli.)
One 12 oz package white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli.)
2/3 cup crushed candy canes
4 teaspoons vegetable oil (not recommended if making Butterscotch Peppermint Bark)
9″x13″ Baking dish lined with aluminum foil
double boiler (I just use a small pot placed inside a larger pot with hot water.)
First, pour two teaspoons of vegetable oil and the package of semi-sweet chocolate into the small pot. The vegetable oil adds a little shine to the chocolate. Then, place the small pot in the double boiler once the water gets hot, not boiling. Let it sit for a minute or two and begin stirring once the pieces become a little shiny. You can see pieces starting to melt along the edges. I like to continue stirring once the pieces start to melt to keep from burning the sugar in the chocolate.
Stir until melted…
…then pour into the baking dish.
After all the chocolate is poured, tilt the dish from side to side. This helps to get rid of all the ripples in the chocolate. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Next comes one of my favorite parts… licking the spoon! You gotta make sure the chocolate is going to taste good. Right?
While the chocolate is setting, crush the candy canes. The easiest and cleanest way I have found to do this is to take a wrapped candy cane and lightly pound it a few times with a hammer on your cutting board.
Then break the plastic open and pour crushed candy canes into a measuring cup. I have found it usually takes around seven candy canes to get 2/3 of a cup. You don’t want to mash it until it becomes powder… just small pieces.
Clean the pot and (licked) spoon and prepare to melt the white chocolate. When the chocolate lacks about 10 minutes in the refrigerator start heating the water again.
Pour two teaspoons vegetable oil and white chocolate into small pot and place in double boiler. Stir until melted.
Once melted pour on top of chocolate layer. Then tilt dish back and forth to spread white chocolate.
You can see where a little of the chocolate was starting to mix with the white chocolate… that’s ok. Once it is covered with the peppermint, nobody will ever know. It’s also ok if all the chocolate doesn’t smooth out. Those imperfections will be covered up.
After the white chocolate is evened out, sprinkle the candy cane pieces on top. I like to use my fingertips and lightly press on some of the bigger pieces. This will give them a little bit of chocolate to grab onto so they won’t fall off.
Place the dish back in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. After all the chocolate is cooled remove from dish and break into pieces and enjoy!
Note: This is not a picture of my Peppermint Bark. The batch I made last night was for Michael Luke to take to work today. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to break them for him before he left for work this morning. But it basically looks like the bark in the picture.
Do you have any candy you make to give as gifts?
FYI: I am not sure if I will have a new post at the beginning of next week. I will be attempting to update and make back-ups of the website to prevent any future problems. Considering my lack of computer skills this could take a while. If everything works out well, I plan to have another post by the end of next week. Until then I hope you have a Merry Christmas!