Category Archives: Sides

Taco (or whatever) Seasoning-Make your own!

Seriously, friends, those little taco/fajita/whatever seasoning packets are such a waste of money.

Also they kind of taste like…I don’t know…preservatives?

I get it.  They’re easy and convenient. Fine.

But pretend you want a taco.


((It happens. Don’t act like it doesn’t.))

Now pretend you have everything you need EXCEPT the darn packet that makes it a taco.

(Because the vast majority of foods could become a taco when placed in a tortilla, ((which you can make at home anyway)) this happens often)

Should you run to the store, pay more in gas than the packet costs, wait in line, wait in traffic wait wait wait wait wait


Make your own and have tacos now.

I choose the second one. Always.  Because those little packets are gross. Also, I’m impatient when I’m hungry.

The same rule applies, maybe even more, for sudden fajita cravings.

Plus I have all the seasonings that go in taco seasoning in my pantry right now.  They don’t have to be mystery ingredients. They aren’t difficult to find.  They’re spices for delicious real life. Get with me here.

All you need is: [love] and…

Now, I’m calling this taco seasoning because that was its original purpose but let’s get real here…

it goes on anything.

Sprinkle it on things you’re gonna roast, toast, saute, scramble, slow cook, soup or sandwich and anything else you can think of.  It tastes just as delicious on vegetables or beans as it would on meat.

Maybe keep it away from ice cream, though.

If you throw together a bunch of it and keep it in a little jar/tupperware container/plastic baggie (I don’t care) you’ll save a step and some brain power when dinner time sneaks up on you.

Seasoning dinner doesn’t take long but this way you don’t have to think about it and that’s just one delicious container you need to reach for.

I know they already did this “blend of spices in one container” thing.  But do it yourself and it’s cheaper, tastier and gives things a vague Mexican flavor.  What’s not to love?

This isn’t really a recipe.  More like an idea. You’re allowed to change the spices and proportions to suit your needs and tastes.

In fact, please do.

I would be lying if I told you I followed the measurements I listed in the recipe every time…they’re close enough, though.  Basically it’s just nice to have a favorite blend of spices on hand.

  So uh…try it and stuff.  Bet you’ll like it better than a foil envelope.


❤ Ellen

p.s. homemade ketchup coming up next. DIY FTW!

Seasoning Blend for Tacos…and so much more!

I’m giving you the guide I used…it’s a great base to adjust to taste!

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 paprika1 1/2 HEAPING teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix it all together (and you feel better).

….lime and coconut? anyone

((3 tablespoons to a packet))

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Filed under Appetizer, Dips, Hodge Podge, Main Dish, Sides, Slow Cooker, Snacks, Soup, Uncategorized

Smashed Potatoes










Crispy, tender, heavenly.

Time consuming?

….yeah kinda.

As long as you strategically plan it’s all good.

Definitely more of a special occasion thing but good grief they’re delicious.

So simple too!

And now, some words about red skin potatoes:





Kinda like….mashed potato chips?

Figure that one out.

Serve as a side to some other less important food.

Obviously, they’ll steal the show.


❤ Ellen

Smashed Potatoes

A recipe of sorts

Some potatoes
Some olive oil
Salt n’ Pepper
Other flavors if you want (I used oregano and a littttttttle garlic because of the meal they went along with.  Anything goes though…don’t be shy)

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add potatoes and cook until very tender (for easy smashing!)

2.  Drain and transfer to a cookie sheet.  Smash each potato with the back of a large spoon…they’ll fall apart a little…it’s ok

3. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, whatever you want

4. Place cookie sheet under the broiler until they get crispy golden brown…keep an eye on them….broilers are sneaky.  Once they start to brown they’re a blink away from burning


Filed under Sides, Uncategorized

Cheesy Spicy Corn Muffins

ENOUGH with the cookies and sweets!!

We’re going the opposite direction now….

We’re going spicy.

Also cheesy.

Yes, salt is involved.

Sugar plays a minor role.

Make mini muffins for an awesome appetizer tonight!

They’re spicy and fun.

Don’t worry, though, you can control the heat level-from none at all to “help my face is on fire”.

I made pleasantly sneakily spicy!

We’re talking thin crunchy outer layer, moist, cheesy inside, just the right amount of heat to finish it off…

You want these. Let’s do this thing.

The requisite bowl o’ flour

Oil, sugar, eggs in a different bowl.  Then cornmeal comes to play! Man I love cornbread.

Now…let’s talk about peppers.  Peppers can be tricky.

I used serrano because that’s all they had at the store and let me tell you what…I was nervous.

I was nervous because I’m used to jalapeno peppers. I know how spicy they are, I know how much seed-age to include so my muffins are nicely spicy instead of flaming little balls of lava.

I looovveee spicy food. But you know…there’s a limit.  At some point it’s just not enjoyable.

Luckily, we have this thing called the internet.  You’re on it right now in fact.

So I did a little research and kind of took a guess..

and it was a winner!

Spicy levels are tricky because something that is flaming out of control spicy to one person could be barely anything to the next person.

I found a site that uses a little chili pepper rating system.  I like it because I can compare spicy levels of peppers I’m familiar with.

Jalapenos got 3 little peppers.  Serrano got 4. Habanero (the crazy ones) got 5.

Got it.

Peppers get their heat from their seeds.  If you take the seeds out you take the heat out.  I needed 4 serrano peppers to make 1/2 cup but including 4 peppers worth of seeds would have been straight up batty.  I included only 1/2 of 1 pepper’s seeds in the batter.  That gave the muffins a hint of heat that kind of sneaks up on you.  Totally manageable.

Honestly…I like things spicier…I would have liked a whole pepper’s worth of seeds.

Half a pepper is a good crown pleaser, though.  Choose your own adventure.

(Side note: I hate those choose your own adventure books.  I used to get so overwhelmed because I wanted to read every possible version of the story and I would lose track of what decisions I had already made.  Terrible. Also not at all relevant.)

Now that you’re finished agonizing over your pepper seeds (sorry to do that to you)…throw them in your batter with some cheese.

This is another choose your own adventure situation.

The specific amount of cheese I added comes to about “2 big handfuls”

I should have measured but…I didn’t. Sorry.  1/2 cup is skimpy I’ll tell you that.  You need at least a cup.

Also, I used sharp cheddar.  You can use whatever you want! Or none at all! Or green onions instead of peppers! Or herbs! Or just cheese! Or shoot…throw some honey in there instead of savory! Add in some bacon! Chop up a hot dog and make them corn dog muffins!

Whoa…things just got weird.

Anyway…fill some well greased muffin tins about 3/4 full, bake and voila!

Mine aren’t mini but yours could be!

Savory muffins tonight then sweet muffins tomorrow morning?

I think yes.


May all your resolutions come true.


❤ Ellen

Cheesy Spicy Corn Muffins

Recipe slightly adapted from here

1½ cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole or 2% milk
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup diced serrano pepper, including 1/2 of 1 pepper’s seeds
1- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

**Oven 400 degrees F

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and set aside
  2. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, eggs and milk.
  3. Add  cornmeal and flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.  The batter will still be lumpy, that’s ok.
  4. Fold in the pepper and cheese (or whatever you’re adding if anything)
  5. Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full and bake at 400 degrees F for 17-20 minutes until cooked through and lightly brown on top

Enjoy as an appetizer or with a hot cup of chilli or soup! Makes 1 dozen regular sized muffins


Filed under Appetizer, Sides, Snacks, Uncategorized