Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco Seasoning 1

How pretty is this colourful group of seasoning?

Ever noticed how many ingredients you can’t spell or pronounce on those premade taco seasoning packs??  Stop the madness with this mixture.  A little bit of flour makes the ground meat have a wee bit of a saucy texture.  Don’t stop at ground meat for goodness sake (pun? word play?)..  Sprinkle this over vegetables and roast them up – drizzle with a little lime crema and you’ve got an amazingly tasty dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (use less if you aren’t keen on the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix all this up in a small bowl, and then have it on hand to season meat or vegetables.  You’ll be so glad you took a few minutes to get this ready.

Taco Seasoning 2

To use this for ground meat tacos, brown your meat in a fry pan, then add 2 tbsp mixture for each pound of ground meat and add about 2 tbsp water, stir and cook just until meat is cooked through.

If you want to leave the flour out altogether that is just great, that makes it even more versatile:

Salad Vinaigrette:  1 tbsp mix to 2 tbsp lime juice and 7 tbsp olive oil.

Vegetable (or chip!) Dip: 1 tbsp (or to taste) with 1/4 cup each plain yogurt and good mayonnaise.

Grilled Shrimp:   Sprinkle a generous amount over shrimp before grilling.

Taco Seasoning 3

I like to mix up 3 x this recipe and just keep it on hand.  Try it, you’ll do the same thing!

Basil Chive Vinaigrette

Nothing smells like fresh basil – definitely my favourite herb.  Summer is the only time of year I make this vinaigrette, when the basil is plentiful and salads grace every meal.

Basil Vinaigrette 1

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients, except for the olive oil.  Give it a good whiz, until all the herbs are bright flecks of green, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.

Basil Vinaigrette 2

I really think this needs either an immersion blender or food processor to get the consistency.  If you don’t have either, chop herbs very fine and whisk it all up.

This will yield about 1 pint jar, and I’d suggest trying it in a variety of ways …

Basil Vinaigrette 3

salad dressing   ~   vegetable dip   ~   blend with cream cheese for a spreadable bread topping   ~   toss with zucchini ribbons   ~   brush over grilled chicken or seafood

 

Pizza Pockets & Hand Pies

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Following is the recipe for a basic, soft and easy to work with dough.  I used this recipe for making pizza pockets for my granddaughter Sloan’s first week of Grade 1, and then turned leftover dough into meat hand pies for 93 year old Auntie Elsie, who is kind of tired of cooking these days. Leftover dough you say???  Well I didn’t think 8-10 small pizzas would give me enough dough so I doubled the recipe … which yielded 25 pizza pockets, 10 hand meat pies and 1 pizza for our dinner.  Significant yield!!!

Pizza Crust: (makes 8-10 small pizzettas)
Ingredients:

  • 750 g white flour (use Tipo ’00 flour if you can or a strong bread flour)
  • 200 g semolina flour
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (or 1 x 8 oz packages) yeast
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place your flour(s) and sea salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Create a well in the center.
  2. In a large measuring cup, mix together your lukewarm water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes, until the yeast starts to ferment.
  3. Pour the water/sugar/yeast mixture into the well along with the olive oil and stir together with a fork or large spoon until it is well mixed. Once it becomes too difficult to mix together with your fork or spoon, sprinkle extra flour on the dough and your hands and mix with your hands until the dough comes together in a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a well-floured flat surface and knead, pushing the dough using the palms of your hands, for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and stretchy. You may need to add extra flour as you go, being careful not to add too much to keep the dough from being too stiff.
  5. Place the ball of dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, dust the top of the dough with flour, and cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm draft-free area for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down.  At this point you can either refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 2 days, covered with plastic wrap and occasionally punched down) or divide the dough into 4-6 portions (depending on how big you want your pizzas).  I highly recommend making your dough in advance and letting it sit in the fridge as the longer ‘proof’ really makes a difference.   Ensure that your pizza dough comes to room temperature before cooking (bring it out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before you are ready to cook).
  6. Once ready to cook, heat your oven to the highest heat setting (500F for most ovens) and place your pizza stone in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Portion the dough into 8-10 balls and place on a well-floured surface. Using your hands, with your knuckles, (dusted with flour, along with the counter to prevent the dough from sticking) form your pizza crust 15-20 minutes before cooking your pizza on a flat surface dusted with semolina flour until it is nice and thin. Keep stretching it with your hands to make a flat pizza base (it doesn’t have to be round or perfect!).
  8. Remove the pizza stone from the oven, lay your rolled dough on the stone, and add your ingredients ….

If you are using this dough for pizza pockets or hand pies, after step 5 skip to step 7 and form circles of dough.

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For pizza pockets, layer on pizza sauce, your chosen ingredients and cheese, closing the pockets with a fork.  Make sure to prick the top surface with the fork so steam can escape.

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For the meat pies I used an ice cream scoop to get a consistent amount of the meat mixture – centered on the dough, and then brought up the edges to crimp over the middle of the circle.  Brush with beaten egg and poke with a fork.

Bake pizza pockets or meat pies at 400 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

FILLING FOR MEAT PIE

1 onion, minced finely

1 garlic clove, grated

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

1/2 cup each frozen corn and peas

1 small zucchini, diced

1 lb ground beef

1 tbsp each dried oregano and basil

Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is lightly carmelized, add the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are almost cooked through, then add zucchini and saute for another few minutes.  Remove from heat and place in bowl.  Add frozen corn and peas.  Return pan to heat and stir in ground beef – cooking until lightly browned, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add beef to vegetable mixture and season with dried herbs, adding more salt and pepper if needed.  At this point, if you feel like it needs a bit more flavour, add 1 tbsp of tomato paste.  Stir well and set in fridge to cool down.  When cool, continue on with forming your hand pies.

These pies are only limited by your imagination – use whatever you feel like to fill the pies, making sure to taste the mixture before filling the dough rounds.  Made in a smaller size they make a great appetizer too.

Mexican Chopped Salad

Leafy green saladThis is the best, most refreshing light and lively salad dressing whenever you are having a Mexican style meal – salad may not be something often on a Mexican comida menu, but we usually want a bit of a green, fresh vegetable element on our dinner table!

We love this as a salad dressing on a variety of greens, but also fabulous on an assortment of chopped vegetables, i.e. jicama, cucumbers, radish, red onion, carrot … you get the idea!

¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
taste and add salt if needed

Blend all ingredients well and dress your salad only when ready to serve.

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Panzanella Salad

When tomatoes and basil are this fresh you can’t go wrong with a Panzanella salad, so simple, few ingredients and yet the flavours are just bursting with freshness.

Juicy tomatoes, bursting with flavour, basil out of the garden and naturally, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while preparing it all.

Juicy tomatoes, bursting with flavour, basil out of the garden and naturally, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while preparing it all.

These amounts are rough, use whatever you have on hand that is fresh:

Grilled bread, cut into bite size pieces (or use home made croutons – well seasoned)
fresh tomatoes, cut into about the same size piece as the bread
1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/4 cup roasted red pepper slices, diced
fresh basil, torn

Dressing:
1 tbsp capers
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In serving bowl mix dressing ingredients together, taste and adjust seasonings ….

Stir in all the other ingredients, mix well and allow to sit for 30-45 minutes to allow flavours to blend.

The combination of olives, capers, and fresh tomatoes along with the texture of crispy crunchy bread is absolute summer perfection.

The combination of olives, capers, and fresh tomatoes along with the texture of crispy crunchy bread is absolute summer perfection.

Warm Kale Salad

I wanted to credit Joni for this delicious salad – served warm or at room temperature, but she insisted I give the credit to her sister Brita, who originally came up with this – regardless of who gets credit, I will happily take it now as I post it and recreate it in my own kitchen! So delicious, and like lots of salads it is easy to adapt with whatever you have on hand or in your fridge.

This delicious salad is equally great served warm or at room temperature.

This delicious salad is equally great served warm or at room temperature.

Kale (chopped and massaged)
spinach
pears (bite size pieces)
dates (diced)
almonds (roasted and roughly chopped)
feta

onion, garlic, asparagus & cherry tomatoes

Saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and asparagus and cook only until asparagus is tender crisp, add cherry tomatoes, stir and remove from heat.

Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Bragg’s
salt and pepper to taste – be cautious with the salt tho as both feta and Bragg’s will be a bit salty

Combine all ingredients – tossing in a large bowl with warm onion/garlic mixture and dressing.

This salad is so delicious and packed with nutritious bites that it can easily be a full meal – if you like add shrimp or cooked chicken, maybe a little quinoa??

Jewelled Salad

The key to this salad is colour and texture. Make sure you use some fruit (pomegranate seeds are awesome), and lot of different textures. Try a variety of techniques in your vegetables also – some grated, some julienned, some sliced – you get the idea.

Beautiful, right??

Beautiful, right??

Add a cooked protein and you have a simple, whole meal.

We’ve been lucky enough to have Lorellei bring this to a few family dinners now, and it has definitely become one of our requested salads. If you can’t get sumac in your area, grate in a little extra lemon zest.

DRESSING

1/3 cup very good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (juice of)
3 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp honey
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Blend all ingredients well and taste – adjust seasoning if needed.

SALAD

Just suggestions really, come up with your own ideas ..

spinach
kale
red lettuce
colorful peppers
cucumbers
beets
carrots
radishes
red onion
toasted slivered almonds