Taco Seasoning

The last time I needed a taco seasoning packet, I called a neighbor and they were out of the seasoning. I started digging for a good recipe, so that I could keep it on hand. What I found is that it is simple and fresher tasting. Add a pound of hamburger meat or ground turkey with this recipe and you will immediately notice the difference. If you prefer a slightly milder flavor, use a little less. I use ground turkey, flavored with this recipe (you can’t tell the difference from hamburger) on a salad with the Homemade Salsa on this blog as my go to meal. You can also use this recipe to flavor turkey for the Taco Soup recipe found on this blog.

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
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Quick Cheddar Cheese Fondue

We had so much fun with Truman in town seeing us last week. After doing a little indoor skydiving, we went to Dave & Busters and had chocolate fondue. It was such a hit that the next night, we decided to make cheddar cheese fondue. It was loved by all! We served it with three kinds of bread (pretzel rolls, ciabatta and wheat bread), roasted potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli and squash (the veggies we had on hand) and chicken apple sausage. Do this with your kids for a really fun night!

Fondue Ingredients:
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Fondue Accompaniments:
Any kind of bread
Veggies
Chicken sausage

Toss the shredded cheddar cheese with cornstarch in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk the milk, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg, stirring occasionally, until it is hot and begins to gently bubble. Using a whisk, gradually add in the cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth and bubbling. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Pour the mixture into a fondue pot or bread bowl. Serve immediately with accompaniments on fondue forks or skewers.

Guacamole Hummus

Looking for something new and different? Watching college basketball equals great food and company We decided it was healthy (without piling it on a chip). Thumbs up for games well played and even a bigger thumbs up for great new appetizer. Mandy is new to Texas and is 2 for 2 with great recipes.

1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 garlic clove

3 cups cilantro, chopped

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 T. lemon juice

1 avocado, chopped (use two if they are small)

course salt and pepper to taste

lemon wedges, garnish

Blend all ingredients in a food processor (with the exception of the lemon wedges) until is the perfect consistency for dipping. Once blended, put in a bowl and drizzle with a little more olive oil (approximately a tablespoon) and garnish with lemon wedges.

Marinated Green Beans

Healthy can be yummy!  Lyn served these at a party as an appetizer.  She was gracious enough to share her recipe about a year ago and it has been a great addition to several menus.  I love the color, the crunch, and the simplicity.    Green beans a finger food?  Why not.  

Using a wire wisk, mix the 4 ingredients well.

1/2 cup sugar  (you can use sweetener)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper flakes (I add a little extra)
1 clove garlic – chopped (I use 1 large or 2 if they are small)

Mix above early in the day and refrigerate.

Cook 1 lb. green beans for 3 minutes in boiling water. Remove and plunge in ice
water. Refrigerate beans.

About an hour before serving, pour marinade over green beans and allow to reach
room temperature. Serve. It makes a great appetizer or a side dish.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

I’m crazy about butternut squash, especially when I find it already peeled and cubed. This recipe isn’t exactly quick, but it makes 2 pretty big ones, so  you have an extra for the freezer or for a friend. It’s another Cooking Light recipe, with only 254 calories per portion. But don’t hold this against it. It’s delicious!

Cooking spray
3  cups  chopped onion
10  cup  fresh spinach
3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese
1/2  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2  large eggs
1  (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
1  (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
3  cups  diced peeled butternut squash
6  cups spaghetti sauce
12  oven-ready lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
1  cup  (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 1 1/2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Combine provolone, parsley, salt, pepper, eggs, and ricotta cheeses in a large bowl.

Place squash in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and cook on high 5 minutes or until tender.

Coat the bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch-square) baking dishes with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup Smoky Marinara in the bottom of one prepared dish. Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups squash over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over squash.

Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over the noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups onion mixture over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over spinach mixture.

Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup Smoky Marinara evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients in remaining pan. Cover each pan with foil.

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.

To freeze unbaked lasagna: Prepare through Step 6. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked lasagna: Thaw completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover lasagna with reserved foil; bake at 375º for 1 hour. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Garlic-Mushroom Saute with Fontina Pizza

This is another great pizza topping from my Portland wine tasting group. Simple, delicious and a bit fancy, depending on the mushrooms you use.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 wild mushrooms, sliced
4 t. chives, chopped fine
4 t. parsley, chopped fine
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/4 Parmesan cheese
3/4 lb. shredded fontina cheese
1 pizza crust

Preheat oven to 450. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil with garlic over high heat. As soon as it sizzles, add the mushrooms and saute until their edges begin to turn golden, 3-4 minutes. Stir in chives and parsley and remove from heat.

Spread mushrooms and their juices on top of crust up to 1/2 inch from the edge. Season with black pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan and fontina.

Bake the pizza until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and cut into slices with kitchen shears.

Gorgonzola, Pear & Almond Pizza

This pizza is so unique, you won’t believe it. It is for serious pizza lovers and foodies only. If you have a pizza party, serve it last, since it has that sweet/salty/crunchy texture that would be a perfect finish. Just make sure you leave room; it’s definitely rich! The toppings are for a 12″ pizza; no need to measure, just eyeball it. Oh and our family always uses kitchen shears to cut the pizza – so much easier!

3/4 cup marscapone cheese
1/2 pound gorgonzola cheese
1 medium firm but ripe pear
6 oz. shredded fontina cheese
6 oz. sliced almonds
1 pizza crust

Preheat the oven to 450.

Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spread marscapone on crust up to 1/2 inch from the edge. Crumble gorgonzola on top. Halve, peel and core the pear. Cut lengthwise into thin slices, and arrange them on top of the pizza, gently pressing them down. Scatter the fontina and almonds on top.

Bake the pizza until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into slices.

Fioravanti Pizza Sauce

My friend Kara is Italian and a great cook. Here’s the pizza sauce she uses. Easy and yummy.

4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 can tomato paste
1 can peeled tomatoees

Put in pan and saute for 5 minutes or much longer. Blend. Freeze extra if you like.