pantry basics – taco seasoning

We don’t buy a lot of seasoning blends.

It’s less expensive (and really easy) to make them.  It gives us control over how hot or spicy or sweet or savory the blend is.  We can decide how much (if any) salt is in it.  Plus, we get to avoid any MSG or preservatives or additives or any extra whatnots that might be floating around in that packet on the shelf.

So I figure it’s worth one dirty spoon and the minute and a half it takes to pull the spices from the cupboard and open the jars.  Why else do you have all those jars in the cabinet?  I mean … they look nice … but if you don’t use them, they go bad.  So making your own seasoning blends only makes sense.

And Taco Seasoning is a staple.

We use it to season taco meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork … whatever).

We use it to make “Mexican Rice.”

We use it in something we call “Dirty Quinoa,” (which is a protein rich alternative for tacos if you happen to be vegetarian, or vegan, or just in the mood for a taco that doesn’t have meat in it).

taco seasoning


  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder.
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder.
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin.
  • 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chili Powder.
  • 2 teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper.


Combine all the ingredients in a small non-reactive jar (perhaps the jar you plan on using for storage?).  Put the top on and shake until ingredients are well-combined.

One and a half tablespoons of this taco seasoning (plus a teaspoon of salt) is enough to season one and a quarter pounds of ground meat or 2 cups of rice/quinoa.  Put the rest in your cupboard to use next week.

– Jeanne

We’re linked up on The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday.

not your grandmother’s Italian meatballs

Jeanne here.

My Jersey-born-Italian brother-in-law Neal will attest … I am not Italian (not that you could tell, what with me being a six foot blonde).

But I’ve got a few Italian-inspired dishes in my repertoire that your grandmother from the Old Country might not love, but our motley crew seem to like well enough.

Like this spicy-basily-delicious tomato sauce.


Even my tomato-hating sister Teri likes this sauce.

And it takes all of about 15 minutes to make.

And then there are these meatballs.


These easy slow-cooker meatballs.

That taste good over cooked pasta.

Or in a sandwich.

Or sliced and piled on a homemade pizza.

They’re not very big (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) … I don’t dig big meatballs.  Every time I’ve tried to make them bigger they end up dried out or undercooked.  This size keeps ’em juicy … and manageable … and that makes this recipe yield about 30-32 meatballs … and feeds us for dinner and sometimes 2 or 3 meals after.

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  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 cup panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup asiago cheese
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons Italian parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 5 cups tomato sauce


Combine beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, parsley and egg in a lagre bowl. (I take off my rings, wash my hands and get into it … it’s a sure way to make sure the ingredients are good and blended.)

Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and stack gently in the crockpot.

Smother with tomato sauce.  Set on “Low” for 6-8 hours and serve ’em up.