Category: Cooking

Homemade Taco Seasoning – Forget the Packets!


We’re a big fan of taco seasoning in this house. If we don’t have tacos on Tuesdays, or some variation of tacos, the children will mutiny. So, taco seasoning is used at least once a week. For years I would just succumb to buying the little packets, not even thinking twice about all of the added sodium, preservatives, and numerous other ingredients I can’t pronounce. In my ongoing quest to eat a little better and save money in the process, I decided to start making my own taco seasoning. I was leary, at first, thinking there’s no way the homemade stuff could be as tasty as the store-bought wonderful-ness. I was pleasantly surprised, and very pleased with the result. Here’s the recipe I use:

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 1 part chili powder
  • 1 part cumin
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 part crushed red pepper

Note: a part can be whatever unit of measurement you’d like to use. I generally add 1 or 2 tablespoons of each ingredient (except for red pepper flakes), depending on how much I’m making at the time.

Mix all ingredients together, and you’re done! I make it up in batches and keep it in a mason jar. And yes, that is the top to a parmesan cheese bottle that I have on my mason jar in the picture above. It fits perfectly!

To Use:

– Add 2 1/2 tablespoons to 1 pound of browned ground beef; stir in 2/3 cup of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer until water is cooked off, stirring regularly.


Get Crockin': Slow Cooker Lasagna

I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, especially new slow cooker recipes . My old friend Jennifer posted photos of this recipe on Facebook a few weeks ago, and I knew I had to have the recipe so I could try it myself. Sidebar: When I say my old friend Jennifer, I mean old friend. I’m talking way back in the day at Carroll Elementary School in Shermans Dale, PA. Funny story: in first grade I broke my leg on the playground (don’t ask), and Jennifer’s mom was the one who carried my 6-year old self, screaming, into the school office. It was awesome. The internet is a powerful thing, and I’m glad Jen found me after all these years! Anyway, now, on to the recipe! I haven’t tried this, yet, but it’s on the menu plan for next week. I’ll update this post with my thoughts, and most importantly, how the kids liked it.


Slow Cooker Lasagna

-originally from Crockin’ Girls


  • 2 Pounds Hamburger Meat, fully cooked
  • 2 Jars Marinara or regular spaghetti sauce
  • 1 Package Uncooked Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 Pounds Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • Fresh Baby Spinach
  • Italian Seasoning to taste


  • Brown hamburger meat and add marinara sauce. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • While simmering, in a bowl combine your ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and egg, Italian seasoning to taste and mix well
  • Spray the crock with cooking spray, and start your layers of 1) meat sauce 2) uncooked lasagna noodles 3) ricotta cheese mixture 4) spinach.
  • Repeat layers one more time.
  • Top with remaining meat sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Cook on low for three hours, any longer will overcook the noodles!

Your kids may not be thrilled with the addition of spinach, so you can leave it out if you choose. Jen made this in a 6-quart slow cooker, but assured me that a 5-quart should be just fine.


Friday Finds: A Fancy New Bread Machine



I’ve always been nuts for small kitchen appliances. I don’t know what it is, but if it’s a kitchen appliance, I absolutely love it, and want it. The fancier the better! When we were registering for wedding gifts, my poor husband-to-be just kept rolling his eyes over my excitement at Bed Bath & Beyond. But he knows me well. Throughout our almost 10 years of marriage, he’s kept me happy with appliances (among other things, of course). A Cuisinart Griddler made an appearance last Christmas, and I was thrilled! We use that a lot.

This past Christmas, he upped the ante, and gave me something I’ve been wanting for a while. A Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme! If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a fancy bread machine. And when I say fancy, I mean, this sucker will make meatloaf. What other bread machine can do that? The instruction booklet has a ton of recipes, including many different breads, of course, but also jams, cakes, meatloaf, and even sourdough starter. So far, I’ve only made the cinnamon raisin bread, and it was a huge hit with the family. I also like to make pizza dough in the bread machine, and the recipe for that was quite tasty as well.

The main reason I wanted this particular bread machine is that it makes a horizontal loaf, instead of a vertical loaf which many other bread machines make. I borrowed a bread machine from my mother-in-law for a while to make sure I would use it before investing in one, and it did a great job, but the loaf was just funny-looking. Here’s a brief rundown of what else I love about this machine:

  • normal-looking loaf
  • easy to use
  • programmable/delay start (fresh bread in the morning!)
  • gluten-free setting, if we ever need gluten-free bread
  • 2-lb loaf, perfect family size
  • versatile – it will make just about anything
  • 10 minute power failure backup
  • crust choices: light, medium, or dark

Anyway, I’ll stop gushing about my fancy new bread machine, and wrap it up. But seriously, this machine came with an instructional DVD. Now THAT’S fancy.

Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken


If you’re a Crockpot nut like me, you’re going to love this. This recipe is so super-easy and fast to throw together in the morning before starting your day.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 jar of salsa or picante sauce (regular size jar)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained, or about 2 cups of frozen corn

Combine ingredients in slow cooker and set on low. Cook for about 4 hours if your chicken is fresh, or 8 hours if the chicken is frozen.

After cooking, I like to shred the chicken while it’s still in the slow cooker. Just take two forks and pull apart the chicken until it looks good to you, then mix it all together with the other ingredients.

I like to serve this dish over white rice and top with sharp cheddar cheese, or it also makes excellent burritos with a little cheese and sour cream.


Menu Plan Monday: January 13 – 19, 2014


Menu planning is something I started a little over 2 years ago in order to help with the crazy weeknight routine. At that time, both my husband and I were working full-time jobs, both kids were in daycare all day, and we were spending way too much money on take-out and pizza. Something had to give! It was so nice to come home from work and not have to worry about what we were going to eat, where we were going to get it, or how much money it would take.

Now that I’m no longer working outside of the home, I have more time for cooking, but the budget is more of a concern. Planning out each week’s menu is a huge help when you’re working with a budget. I typically do all of the shopping for the week on one trip, whereas I used to pop into the store after work up to 4 times a week to get what we needed, spending more money each trip. If you plan your menu around what’s on sale at the stores, you can save even more money, but I’m still working up to that.

Now, on to this week’s menu!

January  13 – 19

What are you cooking up this week?

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Tasty Tuesday: Montreal Chicken

It’s Tasty Tuesday! Each Tuesday I’ll feature a favorite recipe that’s been approved by my family. I try really hard to cook most nights, and it’s always fun to try something new.
This week: Montreal Chicken. My friend Jennifer discovered how easy and delicious this dish is, and I had to try it.

Here’s what you need:

  • McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – I used three rather large pieces for the 4 of us
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • About 2 tbsp of butter or margarine



First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease your baking dish with Pam, just in case.

Coat both sides of each chicken breast lightly with Lawry’s, then again with the Monterey Chicken seasoning. Place in dish.


Put a little splap (it’s a technical term) of butter or margarine on each chicken breast.


That’s it! Put them in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the juices run clear, then serve and enjoy! Tonight we had rice and veggies on the side, but of course any side will do.


Check back each Tuesday for a tasty new recipe! Do you have a new recipe? I’d love to hear it!