14 Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

See this picture? This is all you need to make your own taco seasoning.

The ingredients:  (starting at 8 o'clock and going clockwise)   Chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, sea salt,  and black pepper. 
Take a look at your taco seasoning mix label.

Does it have ingredients you can't pronounce?

Does it have sugar?

This empty jar of Costco size taco seasoning that I've had for about ...  um ... let me see ... three years?  prompted me to find a recipe and make it my own.  This particular brand of taco seasoning that you see above it just a touch too spicy for the kids, another reason to make your own seasoning.

So let's ditch the packets (or Costco sized jar) and make our own!

You can adjust the heat levels by adding more chili powder or red pepper flakes.  If you don't have red pepper flakes, you can substitute cayenne pepper.

It took me about 10 minutes to throw all the ingredients together.  Let's watch my 18 year old son make taco meat!

To the cooked and drained one pound of ground beef, add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.  Stir to coat the cooked beef.  Cornstarch is totally optional, but my family likes their taco meat "saucy."

Then add 2-3 Tablespoons of the taco seasoning.  We started with 2 T. and my family loved it.  Perfect.

Give the seasonings a stir over medium heat to allow the spices to "bloom" or become more flavorful.

You won't believe what a difference this little step makes...

Add 2/3 cup water and stir over medium heat until thickened.

He's a quick chef, isn't he?

See the pan next to him?  That's homestyle flour tortillas being cooked up by one of his friends.  

Isn't this great?

Homemade tacos were enjoyed in no time flat ...

The recipe I have provided will make 3 Tablespoons of seasoning, which is approximately one packet of commercial seasoning mix.  Feel free to do the math to make a large batch!

Want to make a taco dip?  Mix the seasoning with sour cream or cream cheese...

print recipe

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
Use simple spices that you can easily find in your cupboard to make this easy taco seasoning! Perfect for tacos, spaghetti, mac & cheese, or added to sour cream or cream cheese for a taco dip. This recipe makes 3 Tablespoons, which is the equivalent of 1 packet of commercial seasoning mix. You can easily triple this recipe and store it in your favorite spice jar.
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder (increase to 2 Tablespoons for more heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (cut down for mild or sub 1/8 teaspoon cayenne)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (no substitute!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. In a small bowl, mix together chili, garlic, onion powders, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.2. Store combined seasonings in an airtight container.
To use as taco seasoning for ground beef, add:1.1 teaspoon cornstarch to cooked and drained ground beef and stir over medium heat.2. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of Taco Seasoning Mix and stir over medium heat for 1-2 minutes to allow spices to 'bloom'.3. Add 2/3 cup water, mix and simmer till thickened.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 3 Tablespoons seasoning


11 Gyozas! Japanese Pan Fried Potstickers

I have had this recipe for Gyozas bookmarked forever, hoping for a day to make these.

The planets lined up when my neighbors called and asked if I wanted to help make gyozas over Memorial Day.

Woot!  Sharla, who makes these wonderful cakes, lived in Japan for a few years.  Imagine my surprise when she was making gyozas from the recipe I had bookmarked!

Are you ready to make these?

Let's go!

Four cups of minced Napa cabbage (use the frilly top half) is mixed in with salt in a large bowl.

Why?  Napa cabbage has a lot of liquid and the salt allows it come out and prevent the potstickers from getting mushy.

The cabbage is then squeezed between two hands or in a cheese cloth to remove excess liquid and transferred to another bowl.

Chopped green onion, garlic and ginger are added.

I use a microplane grater for my frozen ginger.  Sharla uses this one that she got from Japan.

Sesame oil, crushed red chili pepper flakes and a touch of sugar are added to the mix with ground pork. Red/Dark Miso paste is added to the mix.  You can find this in an Asian grocery store.

Your best mixing tool is your hand ~ you can make sure everything's evenly distributed and there's no major lumps of anything.

Time to assemble!  A bowl of water, a pile of dumpling wrappers and your filling is all you need...

Look at this cute family!  You can tell they have a lot of fun putting these together.

Mariko is a great teacher ~ she showed everyone how to pleat the gyozas....

Let's see if I can do it.

First, place a heaping teaspoon of filling onto your dumpling.

Dip your fingertip into the water and trace the outside of the wrapper with your wet finger...

Fold the dumpling in half and pinch it at the top/center.

Holding the dumpling in one hand, place a finger tip in between the two layers and bring the top layer of the dumpling toward the middle and push it down, forming a pleat.  (See Mariko, 3 photos above)

Continue pleating, creating 3-4 pleats on each side. 

Yay!  Once you get the hang of it, you won't be able to stop.  It's that fun!

A large skillet with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil is heated over medium-high heat.

The filled gyozas are carefully placed into the heated skillet, pleated sides UP. 

Cook for about 3 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom.

Use the skillet lid to shield yourself and pour in 1/4 cup water into the skillet.

Drizzle 1/2 t. sesame oil around the edge of the skillet.

Place the lid on the skillet to trap in the moisture and quickly lower the heat to keep the liquid at a simmer.

Check the dumplings after 2 minutes.  They should appear slightly transculscent and the meat feels firm when pressed lightly.

Remove the lid and continue to cook till all the water has evaporated, and only the oil remains.

When you hear a sizzling sound, shake the skillet.  The dumplings should move about.

Remove the dumplings with a spatula.

I could eat every gyoza on this plate....

Serve with dipping sauce ~ simply made from soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili oil (or sesame oil and red pepper flakes).  Each person made their own dipping sauce to their liking.

These gyoza dumplings were served with dipping sauce, a bowl of rice, and miso soup.

Thanks Sharla, Kevin and friends!  We had a great time stuffing our faces with gyozas....

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Gyoza ~ Japanese Pan Fried Dumplings

4 c. minced Napa cabbage (frilly leaf)
1/2 t. table salt
9 oz. Ground pork
1/2 T. freshly grated ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 T. green onion, minced (only green part)
2 t. Aka Miso paste (dark/red)
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. crushed red chili pepper flakes
1/4 t. sugar
40 round dumpling wrappers.
Cooking the gyoza:
1 T. sesame oil
1/2 c. water
Dipping Sauce
6 T. soy sauce
3 T. rice vinegar
several drops chili or sesame oil, red pepper chili flakes, optional 


Mix cabbage and salt in a large bowl; let sit for 10 min. Squeeze liquid from cabbage with hands or cheesecloth and transfer to another bowl. 
Add pork, ginger, garlic, onion, miso paste, sesame oil, chili pepper flakes, and sugar.  Mix well with hands.
Place 1 t. of filling on middle of wrapper.  Dip finger tip into bowl of water and trace outside circle of wrapper.  Fold dumpling in half; starting in the middle and working toward the end, make 3-4 pleats on each side.
Cover pleated gyozas with plastic wrap until ready to cook.
Pour 1 T. sesame oil into a large skillet; heat to med-high. Place gyozas, pleated side up.  Cook for 3 min. or til browned.  Sheild yourself with skillet lid and pour 1/4 c. water into pan.  Drizzle 1/2 t. sesame oil around edge of skillet.  Cover and steam gyozas for 2 minutes or till slightly transcluscent and meat feels firm.  Remove lid and continue to cook till liquid has evaporated.  Remove dumplings with a spatula.  Serve hot with dipping sauce.

Feeling ambitious?  Wanna make your own gyoza wrappers?  Rachel will show you how!
     LaFuji Mama Homemade Gyoza Wrappers


11 Shredded Mexican Chicken: Converting a Crockpot recipe to Pressure Cooker

My friend introduced this crockpot recipe to me when I was first married.  When I asked her for the recipe, she said it was in the crockpot recipe book:  Mexican Turkey.

This is turkey??  Turkey thighs, to be precise.

I was surprised.  It was really good.

I wonder if I could use chicken?  It worked great!

I wonder if I could use this recipe in the pressure cooker?

The answer is, YES!

What takes 10-12 hours in a crockpot only takes 40 minutes from start to finish in a pressure cooker....


I used frozen chicken!  Talk about a time saver!

This is so fast and easy to put together; only takes 10 minutes to DUMP everything in:

2 pounds of frozen chicken
1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of green chilies (you can choose the heat)

Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker, Brushed Stainless and Matte Black

To save time, I use onion powder in place of chopped onion.

The recipe calls for 2 T. of chili powder, but I prefer my chicken mild.  1 T. is all I need. This is the chili powder I like to use: McCormick Dark Chili Powder, 20-Ounce

Garlic powder and to make it similar to a pork barbacoa, I added 1/4 c. light brown sugar.

That's pretty much it!

Put the pressure cooker lid on, set it on high, and the timer for 12 minutes.

It takes about 10 minutes for it to come to full pressure, cooks for 12 minutes, then takes about 10 minutes for the pressure to release naturally on its own.

Let's take a peek...

This is how it looks in a crock pot...let's check and see if it's done all the way through...

So far, so good!

When I make this recipe in a crockpot, the chicken shreds easily right in the pot.  This was not the case for the pressure cooker.

I had to take the meat out and shred it with two forks.

You can also use this TIP for FASTER shredding!

I put the meat back into the sauce.

It was only four o'clock and hubby wasn't going to be home for another hour.

What to do?

Try the Keep Warm setting on the pressure cooker.

Will it dry out?

Nope.  It was still tender and juicy.  The Keep Warm setting will keep cooked food warm for up to 12 hours (or so the instruction book says....)

We enjoyed this shredded chicken on a homemade tortilla with salsa, cheese, lettuce and sour cream.

This is perfect dish for summer.  No slaving over a hot stove....

print recipe

Shredded Mexican Chicken - Pressure Cooker
What takes 10-12 hours in a slow cooker can be ready in 40 minutes or less? This recipe, which is literally a "dump meal." Dump all the ingredients into your pressure cooker and when it is finished, shred with forks or use your stand mixer with flat blade to quickly shred the meat in seconds. Serve with warm tortillas and all your favorite taco fixings.
  • 2 pounds of frozen, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 (4 ounce) can of diced chilies
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (or 1 teaspoon onion powder)
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (use 1 Tablespoon for mild)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, optional
  • 8-10 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • shredded lettuce
  • diced tomatoes
1. Place frozen chicken in the pressure cooker insert.2. Add next 7 ingredients on top.3. Close the pressure cooker and close the pressure valve.4. Select HIGH pressure for 10-12 minutes, choosing the longer time for larger chicken breasts.5. At the end of cooking time, allow for a 10 minute natural release.6. At the end of the 10 minute natural release, open the pressure valve to release any remaining pressure.7. Open the cooker and shred the chicken with two forks. If using an electric mixer, remove the chicken and put in mixing bowl and shred. Return shredded chicken to the sauce. Using fresh boneless chicken? Reduce the cook time to 7-8 minutes with a 5 min natural pressure release. Serve hot, on warmed tortillas with desired toppings. 
Prep time: 5Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings
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16 French Bread Deli Buns

We enjoyed our French bread hamburger buns so much, I thought, why not try to make a hot dog or deli buns?

The dough was divided into smaller portions (3 oz.), which made 11 hoagie or deli buns.

They were shaped into batards, or logs.  This is important to keep the bread from flattening out.  I found it much easier to shape a large loaf than a tiny bun!

After shaping, I rolled them into a 5" log.

After they had risen, I used an egg wash mix (1 egg + 2 T. water) on top and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  The egg wash keeps the seeds on better than spritzing with water.

I used a tomato knife to slash the tops vertically 1/4" deep,  along with 1 cup of hot water poured into an old metal pan in the bottom of the oven.

A perfect hoagie, deli or hot dog bun for your summer fun!

French Bread Hamburger or Deli Bun
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)


10 A Cookie for Your Heart...

Recently, my sweet neighbor had triple bypass heart surgery.  Many years ago, just days before my oldest son was born five weeks early, my dad required triple bypass surgery.

I popped in to visit my neighbor when he came home from the hospital and asked if there was anything I could do...or bake.

His wife immediately spoke up, "No more bread....sorry, Frieda.  Doctor's orders."

He looked at me with sad puppy dog eyes.

I knew that look.  I had seen it before in my dad's eyes.

After making a few suggestions, he again gave me the puppy dog eyes and said, "Cookies?"

Thank goodness for the Internet.  I Googled, searched, read reviews and finally found a cookie that sounded good.  Let's see if it tastes good...

This recipe begins with walnuts.

Did you know that walnuts rank as the healthiest nut to eat

These nuts are ground in a food processor...

with a couple of tablespoons of canola oil.  Canola oil is a heart healthy oil ...

This looks like a chunky peanut butter!

In a traditional cookie recipe, the sugars and shortening/butters are mixed and the egg is thrown in.

Guess what?

There are no eggs in this recipe.


A cookie with no eggs?  Okay, I do have a no-bake cookie that has no eggs, but this cookie recipe is baked!


The recipe says to whisk the brown sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.  You can use Splenda brown sugar for baking in this recipe.

Who am I to argue with a new recipe?

Okaaaaaay....here it goes! 

The boiled brown sugar is mixed in with the walnut "butter" and vanilla extract.

Next is oat flour.


I don't have oat flour, but I do have rolled oats that I pulsed in a blender.  It should work, right?

Oatmeal.  A grain that is healthy for your heart.   Have a gluten intolerance?  You may be able to find gluten free oats here.

This is mixed in with baking soda, salt, cinnamon and tossed with the brown sugar mixture.

Okay, the recipe says to let this cool for 10 minutes, fold in the rolled oats and mini chocolate chips.

If you don't let it cool, you'll melt those itty bitty baby mini chocolate chips!

They are dropped with a 2 T. cookie scoop onto a cookie sheet lightly sprayed, lined with parchment or Silpat.

I almost threw these in the oven, but I had to check the recipe one more time.

Whoops....there's one more step before baking!

Flatten the tops with a glass dipped in water.


That was a close one.

Okay, now I'm really nervous.

Are these going to spread out and make a huge mess?  There are NO EGGS holding this cookie together!!

The suspense was killin' me.

Fortunately, these only take 8 to 10 minutes to bake... and 3 minutes to cool on the baking sheet.

They did spread...but not to a crispy thin cookie.

The result?

A crispy, chewy center chocolate chip cookie with a hint of cinnamon.  Perfectly sweet.  These aren't baby size cookies, either.  They are over 3" across.

I was so excited to bring these over for an official taste test.  As he reached for a cookie and took a bite, I told them that each cookie was only 133 calories with NO cholesterol and 7 grams of fat (zero trans fats!).

He smiled and promptly reached for another cookie.

Heart Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(4x6 recipe card download)     (full page printable recipe)

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