basics from scratch

No Salt Taco Seasoning

Taco SeasoningI know I’m a bit late here but I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and new year celebration! I find it hard to write 2017 on anything without wondering where 2016 went. Thinking back, this past year has sure been one to remember. Travis and I suddenly transformed from a couple to a family of 3 in a blink of an eye when our little guy arrived in August. There have been so many sleepless nights and diaper changes and too little time for cooking but we’ve made it so far!

Taco SeasoningOur first 2017 adventure involves wondering if we need a larger house. It’s funny how a house that seemed to work so well with the 2 of us gets loaded down so quickly with endless things for a tiny human being. He’s SO little…yet he requires SO MUCH stuff. My mind is baffled by that. Between looking what seems to be nonstop at houses online and a couple houses in person, I have to admit that I haven’t had a lot of extra time to come up with new and exciting recipes. What do I do when I have no time? I revert to my “go to” dishes that are simple and quick. Tacos are just that. And this taco seasoning can’t get much more simple!

My favorite part of this seasoning is that if I have ground meat (which is usually something I have in my freezer), I can make tacos with the spices already in my pantry! Don’t have tortillas?? What to do, what to do? I make them with this also simple but *amazing* recipe!

I’m sorry that I’m making it hard for you to come up with excuses not to make tacos. I’m not really sorry though because it’s hard to be sorry for something like that. I mean, they’re delicious. Top these tacos with a little salsa, guac, lettuce, and cheese and you’re on your way to an amazing meal. If you’re feeling fancy, make some rice or beans as a side and then it’s an extra special taco night!

So whether you’re busy like I am, or have all the time in the world, here’s to a new year with new adventures and more cooking!

No Salt Taco Seasoning
Easy homemade no salt taco seasoning
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Prep Time
1 min
Prep Time
1 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons chili powder
  2. 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  3. 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  4. 1 teaspoon paprika
  5. 1/2 teaspoon onion flakes (or powder)
  6. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in airtight container or spice jar.
Notes
  1. To use with taco meat, brown 1 pound of ground turkey or beef in a skillet. Drain the excess fat. Add 1.5-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and a splash of water (about 1/4 cup) to the skillet along with the ground meat. Combine until the meat is coated with seasoning.
Adapted from A Chookie Chookie
Adapted from A Chookie Chookie
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Peanut Butter

Peanut ButterAny recipe with an ingredient list of 1 item seriously deserves a shot. Peanut butter is one of those recipes! What’s the 1 item? Peanuts, silly! This is so simple it’s barely a recipe. However, it’s so delicious it would be a crime for me not to share it.

Peanut ButterYou may ask, what’s so different about this peanut butter? Well, it’s hard for me to say exactly but the peanut butter just tastes fresh. It tastes more like peanuts than any other peanut butter I’ve had. That sounds ridiculous but if you try it you’ll know what I mean. Plus, it has a little texture to it. It’s not like crunchy peanut butter with larger chunks in it. It has a smooth and yet a tiny bit crunchy texture. Yeah…sorry if I lost you there. Just trust me that it’s good.

Peanut ButterYou can make this more of a crunchy peanut butter if you leave out a few peanuts and add them in last minute. Also, feel free to add in some honey or cinnamon or other flavorings as you wish. Just make sure to update me on any delicious combos so I can recreate it and eat all of it promptly. *Warning: Don’t actually eat all of this in one sitting. That would be bad.*

Peanut ButterThe other great thing about it (minus the fact it takes 5 minutes to make) is that you actually have a good idea of what’s in it. I’ve done a pretty good job of finding peanut butter with limited ingredients at the store. However, there’s something about actually making it yourself. At least for me it makes me feel like I have a part in what I’m putting in my body. 

Peanut Butter
Super simple peanut butter recipe
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups roasted peanuts
  2. salt, to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place peanuts in a food processor and blend on high for 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides every 1-2 minutes. Season with salt to taste and blend.
  2. Refrigerate for up to 2 months.
Notes
  1. The roasted peanuts I bought were already salted, so I didn't add any salt.
  2. The mixture will look chunky at first but keep blending and it will smooth out! If it's looking really dry, you can add a tablespoon of peanut oil.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Naan

NaanI have a confession. I do believe that when I made and ate this naan, it was the first naan I ever ate. EVER! Can you even believe that?? I am so ashamed. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. If you’ve never eaten fresh naan before, I think it’s safe to say you’re living under a rock too. A very sad rock…with no naan. Don’t worry though, I was right with you there until recently.

NaanWhether you’ve had naan many, many times or whether this is your first time, you won’t be disappointed. These little guys are fluffy and light and chewy. Oh, and the garlic butter. Yeah. Enough said. I actually forgot to put the garlic butter on my first few naan because I didn’t know any better. Add the garlic butter. It’s wonderful either way…But trust me, add the butter.

NaanNaan is the perfect pair for many dishes! Try it with chicken tikka masala. Hello wonderful Indian food. I made mine with some lentil dhal (dahl? I’m still figuring that one out. HELP!). However you spell it…it was AMAZING! I think I even ate some leftovers with some hummus. Yum yum. 

NaanI’ll be honest, the naan is best within the first day or two but you can store it a couple of days in a plastic bag or wrapped in foil. Just make sure to wrap it up tight. If it starts to get a little hard, microwave for a few seconds and it should soften up a bit!

Naan
Yields 8
Delicious homemade naan that will leave your mouth watering!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup warm water
  2. 2 tablespoons honey
  3. 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1, 0.25 ounce package)
  4. 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  5. 2 teaspoons salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1 egg
  8. 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  9. cooking spray or olive oil to coat bowl
  10. 4 tablespoons butter
  11. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  12. cilantro, optional
Instructions
  1. Stir warm water and honey in your stand mixer bowl until the honey dissolves. Sprinkle yeast on top and stir with a fork. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture becomes foamy.
  2. Using a dough hook on your stand mixer, put mixer on low speed and gradually add the yogurt, salt, baking powder, egg, and flour.
  3. Mix on medium-low for 2-3 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky but smooth.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased (with cooking spray or olive oil) bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.
  5. While the dough is rising, melt the butter in a small saute pan. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Strain out the garlic and set the butter aside.
  6. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured surface and separate into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then use a rolling pin to roll into a circle about 1/4" thick.
  7. Heat a cast-iron skillet or sauce pan over medium-high heat. Butter one side of the rolled out naan dough and place buttered side down in the heated pan. Once in the pan, butter the other side. Let cook for about 1 minute on the first side, flip, and cook for another 30-60 seconds.
  8. Keep naan covered with a kitchen towel until ready to serve. Sprinkle with cilantro to serve, optional.
Notes
  1. You will know that the naan is getting ready to flip when large bubbles start to form.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Creamy Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate PuddingI hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with joy and happiness. And turkey. And mashed potatoes. And pie…certainly can’t forget the pie! Since we’re already on the topic of dessert, let’s talk pudding.

Boxed pudding is one of those mysterious things in life. Just about everyone who has made pudding in the past 50 years or so is bound to have made the stuff. It’s ridiculously simple to make…add some milk, mix, and refrigerate. Voilà! It’s done and ready to eat. Way too simple to even *think* about making your own. That’s where you’re wrong! I thought the same thing! It’s definitely not hard from what I have experienced.

Chocolate PuddingWhile my husband and I were devouring this pudding, he asked why we never made pudding from scratch before because it was so simple. Seriously…why hadn’t we? Besides just defaulting to the boxed stuff, probably because I had been brainwashed into thinking it would be the hardest thing in the world to make…that’s why. So stop being brainwashed by horror stories of homemade pudding gone wrong and give it a try.

Chocolate PuddingYou’re not convinced yet, are you? Well take a look at the ingredients. Nothing in there is the slightest bit scary. Sugar. Cocoa powder. Milk. Eggs. Butter. Need I continue?? I even had most everything in my pantry or refrigerator already! WIN!

For those of you that are on board with me, great. For those of you that are STILL not convinced, let me tell you how rich and creamy and smooth this pudding is. Not only that, but it has so much depth of flavor that the boxed stuff covers up with who knows what. You will be shocked and amazed at the deep chocolate flavor. Shocked and amazed. Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Chocolate PuddingThat’s all I have, folks. If you aren’t convinced, I am sorry for your loss of delicious pudding in your life. At least I can say I tried.

Creamy Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2/3 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  5. 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  6. 3 large egg yolks
  7. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  9. whipped cream, optional
Instructions
  1. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cocoa in a saucepan, off heat. Very gradually add the milk, whisking continuously, until the dry mixture is completely incorporated. Whisk in the egg yolks.
  2. Heat over medium heat, whisking continuously, until the first large bubble forms and pops. Reduce the heat to low and whisk for 1 more minute.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately pour through sieve into medium sized bowl. Stir in butter and vanilla until incorporated.
  4. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for 3 hours to 3 days.
  5. Whisk before serving. Serve with whipped cream.
Notes
  1. I topped my pudding with whipped cream. Pretty much a must. I also shaved a little bit of chocolate on top then chopped up some leftover mint chocolate patty Halloween candy to garnish. YUM!
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Pumpkin Purée

Pumpkin PureeFall is officially in full swing. Apples. Pumpkin patches. Corn mazes. Warm beverages. Cider and donuts. EVERYTHING pumpkin flavored. Literally everything. I’m a pumpkin fan so I really can’t complain. In fact, I’m going to celebrate the pumpkin craze by sharing this pumpkin purée “recipe” that is really just instructions on something ridiculously basic.

Pumpkin PureeFunny story. One time my husband and I were young and silly and decided to make pumpkin purée at his college apartment. We went to the store to find a nice pumpkin to roast and purée. We got back and cut it apart, like I do in this recipe. We roasted it for what seems like forever…much longer than the recipe we were looking at. We very slowly and with much effort scooped the flesh out of the skin and attempted to purée it. We eventually made it work only to realize later that you don’t just use any old pumpkin to make purée. You use pie pumpkins.

Pumpkin PureeTake this story as a lesson. Please, please, don’t use a regular pumpkin. You will be tired and sad and covered in pumpkin guts. It’s not a pretty sight. So when I actually tried this again with a pie pumpkin, I realized that there is a reason that the “pie” in “pie pumpkin” isn’t optional if you want to maintain your sanity. Or at least what’s left of your sanity. You don’t even have to scoop the flesh out because the skin actually peels off easily (see below)!

Pumpkin PureeOnce you try making your own pumpkin purée, you will realize the many cans of pumpkin purée you bought could have been made easily at home. Also, this freezes wonderfully to use after pumpkins are replaced with snow and Christmas trees so no excuses!!

Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin Purée
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 pie pumpkin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut of the top of the pumpkin then cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp (save the seeds to bake and snack on!). Cut pumpkin into large chunks. I cut mine into about 8 pieces total.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes on ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Peel off the skin and puree a few pieces at a time in a food processor. You can also use a blender if you add a splash of water.
Notes
  1. You can use this immediately or freeze for later. I split mine into about 1 cup portions and froze it. If it's too thick add a splash of water.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/