Homemade Taco Seasoning

Something happened when I moved to Texas. The part of my brain that was just ok with tacos seemed to switch on and now I've become one of those people who can always go for one. Last year during my Whole 30 rounds, we introduced to the idea of making our own taco seasoning.

I'm not sure why it didn't occur to us earlier. It's incredibly easy and it tastes so much better than the pre-made packs (plus, it's healthier too). After a good while of comparing recipes and experimenting with our favorite spices, we finally settled on this recipe for our taco nights. 

 

XMS_0612.jpg
XMS_0620.jpg

HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING

Ingredients

  • 2 tblsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tblsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in airtight container for up to 6 months.

Recipe Notes

This is perfect for about 1.5lb of beef/chicken. I personally tend to go heavy handed when it comes to smoked paprika because I just love it so much. If you're not as much of a fan, simply cut back. This is also a pretty mild recipe. If you'd like a little more heat, add 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper to the recipe.

Toddler Friendly Spinach Muffins

Well, it was great while it lasted. We look back now and sort of cherish the times when James would eat whatever was on his plate without question. Gone are those days. Luckily, he isn't fully repelled by vegetables, but we have found it harder to make sure he's getting all the nutrients he needs.

I am not an expert on toddler foods, but these little spinach muffins have been a lifesaver for us. They're the perfect afternoon "treat" and make me feel a little better about the fact that he throws most of his veggies from his meal on the floor. 

XMS_0591.jpg
XMS_0593.jpg
XMS_0607.jpg

I ran across this Organic Coconut Nectar in my pantry which was clearly a Costco impulse buy that I had forgotten about. You can use any sort of sweetener you prefer. I've tried the recipe with both this and granulated sugar. There wasn't a huge difference between the two batches, in my opinion. I would always recommend using ingredients you already have on hand and are familiar with. 

XMS_0620.jpg
XMS_0630.jpg
XMS_0654.jpg
XMS_0653.jpg

Don't hesitate to branch out from this recipe! Maybe add in some coconut extract next time or see if you can sneak just one more handful of spinach into the recipe without your little one becoming aware of how healthy these actually are. Play around with it and let me know what fun concoctions you come up with! 

 

TODDLER FRIENDLY SPINACH MUFFINS

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. (or larger) bag of spinach
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sweetener of your choice (agave syrup, maple syrup, granulated sugar, etc.)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Puree the spinach. I emptied the bag (and added some handfuls from another bag) into my steamer for a few minutes before blending. Add the wet ingredients in with the already pureed spinach and blend again. The heat from the spinach brings the coconut oil to a liquid making everything a lot easier to mix together.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the blended wet ingredients. Stir to create a dough-like texture. Fill a cupcake pan until it's about 2/3 of the way full, allowing room to rise. This is the cupcake pan I use and I love it.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350F or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes about 15 muffins. I also want to stress that you can use any sweetener of your choice.

Whole 30 Favorites

Today is day 30 of my Whole 30! I weigh in tomorrow and will share then all about what the past 30 days did for me. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some of our favorite recipes. These have each been approved by Kyle who although didn’t do the full Whole 30 with me, had a huge say in what we ate everyday.

 

So, onto the recipes!

No-Fuss Salmon Cakes

Ingredients

  • 3 6 ounce cans wild-caught samon (boneless)
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes (mashed/canned/steamed/baked)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (in a pinch I used onion powder)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill minced (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash of paprika (I prefer smoked paprika)
  • dash of black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ghee

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425F. Drain the liquid from the salmon and crumble the fish into a large mixing bowl. Add sweet potato, egg, almond flour (which, for the record we used coconut flour once and it turned out just as great), scallions, parsley, dill, salt, paprika, pepper and mix together. Brush the pan (or parchment paper on pan) with the ghee. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop the caked and drop them onto the pan. Flatten or round the patties with your hand until they are uniform in thickness. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip them and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.

Directions

We made this every week. Since we were trying to go easy on the red meat, this was one of our favorite go to meals. We would steam 2-3 sweet potatoes to have on hand for James and for making these.

Recipe from The Whole 30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

 

Dump Ranch

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light olive-oil or avocado oil
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk
  • ½ cup packed fresh herbs (I used cilantro, parsley and rosemary)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp onion powder
  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Directions

In a wide mouth quart-size jar, combine all of the ingredients. Blend with an immersion blender for 1 minute. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

I put this on almost everything. Seriously, it goes so well on everything. Neither of us are really into ranch but this tasted so good. You can use any combo of herbs. I love rosemary, so of course that had to end up in the recipe.

Recipe from The Whole 30 Cookbook

 

Prosciutto & Rosemary Baked Apples

Ingredients

  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 5 pieces of prosciutto, cut in half into long strips
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil (melted)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap each apple slice with prosciutto and place on baking sheet. Combine melted coconut oil and cinnamon in a small bowl and brush onto apples, reserving half for later. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove, flip, and brush with remaining brown butter mixture. Sprinkle with rosemary. Bake an additional 10 minutes until apples are cooked and prosciutto is crispy.

Recipe Notes

I went heavy on the coconut oil, cinnamon and rosemary . . . because, why not?

Recipe from Food and Sunshine Blog

 

Garlic and Paprika Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4-6 chicken drumsticks (thighs work great too)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Clean and dry the drumsticks and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. In a small skillet heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and the herbs. Cook for about 1 minute over medium heat, do not burn the garlic. Pour this olive oil mixture over the drumsticks and make sure the drumsticks are coated thoroughly with the olive oil/paprika mixture. Place the drumsticks in a 9x13 baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes or until chicken legs are cooked through.

Recipe Notes

We used thighs more than drumsticks and it still turned out wonderfully. For us, the chicken came out more blackened each time. I'm not sure how to go about fixing this and will be experimenting in the future to try and achieve that perfect red color.

Recipe from Jo Cooks Blog

Homemade Dairy-Free Mango-Peach Lassis

We had a small group dinner this week that was Indian themed. Kyle and I were so excited because I kind of dropped Indian in the first trimester and I'm ready to get back on the train. We volunteered to make dessert. I spent way too long looking for a good Indian dessert, but a lot of it was rice pudding or something similar in texture. Don't get me wrong, we love rice pudding. It's just that we were going to a dinner in Texas and the people here don't really strike me as ethnic food enthusiasts. 

I scanned a few different recipes for homemade lassis, but I wanted something dairy free. Eventually, I ended up making my own recipe where I kind of just threw everything together. 

It should be noted that this recipe filled a huge pitcher. You could easily cut it to the number of people you're serving or even just make your own with completely different fruit. 

HOMEMADE DAIRY-FREE MANGO-PEACH LASSIS

Ingredients

  • 5 mangos, peeled and cubed
  • 4 peaches, cubed
  • 2 cans organic coconut milk
  • 2 cups of Silk Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbls honey

Directions

Blend mangos, peaches, honey and both cans of coconut milk together. Use the Silk Coconut Milk to thin to the desired consistency.

Prep time: 20 minutes Yield: 10-15 servings

Blackened Chicken on Cilantro-Lime Quinoa with an Avocado Cream Sauce

I've recently developed a love of cilantro. Sure, it seems like an herb I would have developed a love for a long time ago, but it just hadn't happened. This recipe is easy, full of flavor and holy smokes is it healthy. Also, I'm not a fan of spicy food. I want to be. I really do. It just hasn't happened yet. This is a spicy combo for the chicken, plus the cilantro in the quinoa and the avocado cream sauce is a perfect pair to cool it down. 

What you need:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

½ tsp of paprika

¼ tsp of salt

¼ tsp of pepper

¼ tsp of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp of onion powder

¼ tsp of cumin

1 tsp of olive oil

2 cups of low sodium chicken stock

1 cup of quinoa

Juice and zest from two limes

2 tbsp of chopped cilantro

2 avocados

¼ cup 0% greek yogurt

 

What you do:

Combine all the dry seasonings in a small bowl. Mix them together and then season both sides of each chicken breast.

Add the teaspoon of olive oil to a large pan or skillet. Heat the olive oil for a minute over medium/high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the pan. Cook for seven minutes on each side with the lid on.

Add the chicken stock and (rinsed) quinoa to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium/low heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes with the lid on, until all the stock has been absorbed.

After the chicken breasts have cooked all the way through, remove them from the pan and let them rest for seven minutes before slicing them.

Add the warm quinoa to a large bowl. Toss in the lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper, and chopped cilantro. Mix to combine.

Serve the sliced chicken breast on top of the quinoa. If you find the blackened seasoning too spicy, you can add a quick and easy avocado cream sauce to cool it down. For the avocado cream sauce, add both avocados to processor and then add greek yogurt to taste.

 

Baked Brie

My ultimate favorite and super easy snack is baked brie. You can make it so many different ways and in so little time. I recently took advantage of a home sale at Chapters and purchased their little brie baker out of curiosity. Turns out, it's incredible. Looks like I'll be getting one of these for all my friends this year! 

Here's my favorite new recipe for baked brie. Olive oil, cracked pepper and rosemary baked brie. Sprinkle as much as you want on (go easy on the olive oil. It's easy to get too much and it mess with the texture of the creamy cheese). Put it in the oven for 10/15 min on 350 and boom . . . an instant crowdpleaser! 


Easy Banana Bread

Our grocery store only seems to stock huge amounts of bright green bananas. We prefer ripe bananas but hey, that's just us. This means that we usually have to buy bananas in larger bunches and hope we eat them when ripe. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don't. This was a week we didn't. Instead of throwing them out in the compost this time, I decided to whip up a quick loaf of banana bread. It was easy, quick and kind of fun. Who doesn't love a little afternoon baking?

 

What you need: 

·      3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed (I used four)

·      1/3 cup melted butter

·      1 egg, beaten

·      ¾ cup sugar

·      1 teaspoon vanilla

·      1 teaspoon baking soda

·      Pinch of salt

·      1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

·      ½ cup of chopped pecans

 

What you do:

·      Mash up the bananas in the medium sized bowl

·      Add the melted butter

·      Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla

·      Add the flour, baking soda and pecans

·      Bake at 350F for 45 minutes

·      Let sit in the pan for 10 minutes before putting onto cooling rack

 

* I actually ran out of regular sugar halfway through and so I did half of the 3/4 cup sugar as brown sugar which is what gives it that rich brown coloring.

 

Goat Cheese, Bacon and Pistachio Truffles

I found this recipe a couple weeks ago and fell in love. This has been the year of food exploration for me. I'm learning what to eat, how much to eat and most importantly what not to eat. I served these up at a small group and they were gone fast. When one of my friends who is currently pregnant and has gestational diabetes was able to eat quite a few of these with no complications, I decided to make them again for her baby shower in a double batch. Gone again! 

What you need:

  • 8 ounces softened goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bacon
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios

 

What you do:

In a large mixing bowl, mix together goat cheese, bacon, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Make small (roughly 1 inch) balls with your hands. I used a round tablespoon to scoop.

In a small bowl, add the chopped pistachios. Roll each ball in the pistachios to coat then place on a plate. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

Strawberry, Basil & Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Good Lord, I hit the jackpot tonight with a simple recipe that was just as much of a hit as it was easy. One of the great things about this recipe is the simplicity. It has room to incorporate more of what you love. Next time, I'm going to mix in a tablespoon of honey with the goat cheese before I spread it on. This makes for a great snack or light lunch and I will definitely be making them again. 

unnamed.jpg

What you need:

  • 2 Tortillas 
  • Your favorite goat cheese
  • Strawberries
  • Fresh basil chopped (I threw a few leaves in my nutribullet for about 2 seconds and saved my arm a ton of work)

 

What you do:

  • Slice strawberries so that they lie flat (rather than in quarters)
  • Lay out tortilla and spread goat cheese over half
  • Place strawberries on top of goat cheese
  • Sprinkle chopped basil over strawberries 
  • Fold tortilla and place on skillet or grill for 2/3 min on each side
  • Slice into sections
  • Sprinkle a couple pieces of basil over finished product

 

Now just sit back and enjoy the compliments. 

Dinner Experiments

I bought a large pack of boneless chicken thighs and when it came ready to marinate it and grill it, my husband casually asked that I not make it the same way I had a few days earlier. I quickly jumped on pinterest and tried to find something quick, easy and healthy. Turns out that's not that easy. So, I decided to kind of make my own. Kyle and I love garlic, so we went heavy on it. If you want to add some of your own favorites and minimize others, go for it. This is my first time trying this recipe but it seems easily customizable to whatever you prefer.

What you need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 regular sized can of quartered artichoke hearts (I used two small 170ml jars)
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (we use a garlic-infused olive oil)
  • ½ lemon
  • salt/pepper
  • Bacon crumbles

 

What you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (176C)
  • Grease/spray baking pan
  • Put half of the chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic, half of the artichokes, and a couple thin slices of lemon on the bottom of the pan
  • Lay chicken over (we did half thighs, half breasts)
  • Put the other half of the fun stuff over the chicken
  • Drizzle olive oil over it all
  • Sprinkle bacon crumbles on top
  • Bake for 40min uncovered

 

It turned out great and will make excellent leftovers. Best of all is that it isn't heavy and won't have you feeling like you're about to explode after eating it.

 Note: these pictures are before it went to the oven. Everything is so colorful before it gets cooked!

Note: these pictures are before it went to the oven. Everything is so colorful before it gets cooked!

  Note: these pictures are before it went to the oven. Everything is so colorful before it gets cooked!

Note: these pictures are before it went to the oven. Everything is so colorful before it gets cooked!



Zucchini Pasta

I recently picked up this awesome tool at Williams Sonoma and may have fallen in love with veggies all over again. When I decided to make the switch from grain pasta to veggie pasta, I wanted it to fall in line with Kimberly Snyder's beauty pairing instructions (directly from her book The Beauty Detox Solution). What I mean by falling in line is that I am able to have an animal protein (in this case, chicken) with the veggies where I would not be able to have the protein with starches. Although I'm not following her diet completely, there are definitely some things I picked up from the book and want to implement into my daily diet. The beauty pairings is one of those rules. 

When thinking of a sauce, I wanted it to be just as healthy. I stumbled upon a recipe for avocado cream sauce that was a huge hit. Also, I threw in some chicken that was cooked over stovetop in coconut oil.



All About Artichokes

Lately I've been reminded of how much I enjoy artichokes but for some reason don't cook with them very often. So, I am challenging myself to start!

I was so happy to have found a few recipes for grilled artichokes. I chose the one I did mainly because it looked easiest and it just kills me when I have to read through a blogger's life story before we get to the recipe and this one was short and sweet with bonus photos for each step. We loved the recipe and I would consider it less of a mess than the oven roasted recipe although Kyle practically inhaled the roasted artichokes so fast I almost had to do a double take.

I'm not going to try and pass any of the recipes off as my own, but you can at least take know that if you try these out, they are very doable. Recipe links can always be found in the photo captions.