Category Archives: spices

Pumpkin Spice Bread

It’s October and pumpkin is everywhere. In the past two weeks alone, I’ve had two pumpkin spice latte, 4 cups of sweet harvest pumpkin tea, a bag of pumpkin spice kisses, five varieties of pumpkin beer (including one from Fate) and this bread… (and no, these companies are not my sponsors).

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil, applesauce, yogurt and eggs. Beat until well mixed. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves in another bowl and stir until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Beat until smooth. Grease two 5×3 inch loaf pans and dust with flour. Evenly divide the batter between the three pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pans by inverting onto a rack and tapping the bottoms. Slice and serve plain, buttered, or with cream cheese.

6 Real Food Kitchen Staples

In an effort to both save money and cut out processed food further I learned to make my own kitchen staples. In this post I will share a few recipes for items I like to make at home instead of buying the bottled-version in store (for less cost to boot).

*Here’s a tip: save your old condiment and spice containers to use as storage. 

Homemade Ketchup 

I love ketchup; it could be considered it’s own food group in my opinion (If I could live on ketchup and cinnamon I would… not necessarily mixed together). The ingredient list for Heinz actually isn’t that bad (especially if you buy the simply ketchup version, which doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup) but this homemade version is much cheaper.

Six in the Suburbs

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dry Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 pinches of Ground Clove
  • 2 pinches of Allspice
  • 1 pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 4 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Store in an airtight container overnight for maximum marriage of flavors.

Homemade Mustard 

As much as I like ketchup is about the amount that I don’t like mustard. But I’m told that other people like mustard for some reason so I decided to include it. It’s actually fun to make mustard because you can use really whatever spices you like.

My research actually didn’t turn up any store-bought mustard’s that contain “bad” ingredients (even the store-brand) but I’m told that the better the mustard the higher the expense so now you can make gourmet mustard for a fraction of the cost.

Relishing It

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds 
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar 
  • Your pick of spices (to taste), optional

Directions:
Soak the mustard seeds in the vinegar and water, making sure the seeds are covered by the liquid. Leave soaking for 2 days.

Add the sugar and spices (allspice and turmeric are boyfriend’s preference) to the seeds mixture. Begin with about 1 tsp. of each spice. Blend mixture until it reaches desired consistency, adding water if needed. Let it sit in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two before trying it out.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

This Old El Paso Taco Seasoning isn’t actually representative of the whole market. You can buy McCormick’s if you don’t want to make your own spice mix. I’m always partial to making it myself because I can use more or less to suit my own taste. In addition to being perfect for tacos, this mix is great for flavoring burgers and chili. See how I used this mix in Rainbow Chicken Fajitas.

Homemade Barbeque Sauce  

I also a huge fan of barbecue sauce. I like it like I like my men: hot and smoky (haha just kidding, sorta). My favorite brand is Stubb’s which is tangier (and less unhealthy) than most. Barbecue sauce, in general, has a lot of sugar in it so making your own can really cut down on this. You can also, as with everything else in this list, customize the flavor profile.

Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (you can use your homemade ketchup or store-bought) 
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika 
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper 
  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce  

Directions:
Combine all ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Store in an airtight container. To make it smoky tasting add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke per 1 cup sauce. For a spicier sauce add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper per 1 cup of sauce.

Homemade Salsa

For me, making salsa is more about flavor than anything else (including ingredients or cost). I’ve just about had it with the stuff you can buy at the grocery store. Click through to the tutorial for my favorite salsa recipe.

Homemade Ranch Dressing 

Ranch Dressing is one of those sauces that we like to put on pretty much everything. As you can see above the list ingredient in store-bought variety is pretty extensive. Here is a recipe for ranch in which you can really customize every piece of it.

You can use fresh or dried herbs. Depending on how you like your ranch (more creamy or more tangy) you can play with the quantities of mayonnaise (creamy) and yogurt (tangy) or you can use sour cream in place of yogurt. I’ve tried this recipe with buttermilk (which further enhances the tanginess), 1% milk (which is somewhat of a non-flavor), almond milk (my favorite, it rounds out the flavor in my opinion) and soymilk (sort of adds a sweetness). Finally, I have listed just a few optional ingredients you could use to further personalize your ranch; really there are probably hundreds.

Barefeet in the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 Clove (to 2 Cloves) Garlic 
  • Salt (to taste) 
  • 1/4 cup Italian Flat-leaf Parsley 
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives 
  • 1/2 cup(Real) Mayonnaise 
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt 
  • Milk (to desired consistency) 
  • Other optional ingredients (to taste): White Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, Fresh Dill, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Fresh Oregano, Tabasco etc.

Directions:
Crush garlic into a paste with a fork. Finely mince parley and chives. Whisk together the mayonnaise and yogurt. Add milk to desired consistency. Next, stir in garlic, parsley and chives. Add mix in seasonings to taste. Store in an air-tight container in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Well there you have it. Six new condiment recipes to add to your arsenal of real food eating. Happy Friday!

Yak Chili

My parents were vegetarian throughout my childhood and during my teen years they had added white meat (birds) back into their diet. Considering I was dependent on them very much for food my diet mimicked theirs. Therefore, when I started becoming interested in cooking, I watched my mom to learn from her by example. This meant I never really learned how to cook red meat (mammals).

A friend of mine has a yak ranch in Fairplay, CO and I bought a pound of ground meat. I had this meat that I didn’t know how to cook but was interested in trying. I scoured Pinterest for yak meat recipes. I found some ideas but in the end I used the recipes to teach me how to cook the meat properly and added it to a chili. Chili is the best.

To start you need to brown the meat. Yak meat needs to be cooked slowly in order to preserve the flavor. You can also use ground beef or turkey. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of a large pot. Heat up the oil on medium low and add a pound of meat with one chopped onion.

Cook at a consistent, medium heat until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent.

mmmm steamy!

Drain the liquid from the pan to cut the fat, or leave it in to increase flavor. Add a can of diced tomatoes with liquid.

Drain liquid from three cans of beans. Use some combination of chili beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans etc.

Then add the beans to the pot.

Add a can of tomato sauce, a cup of frozen corn,1 teaspoon paprika, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, 2 teaspoons garlic powder.

Let the liquid cook out for about 20 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with cheese with a side of bread or Fritos.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of ground meat
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 3 cans of beans (kidney, pinto, black etc.)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Directions:

Brown the meat in the bottom of a large pot in a tablespoon of oil with chopped onions on medium heat. Add diced tomatoes with liquid. Drain beans of liquid then add beans to pot. Add the can of tomato sauce, corn and spices. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. Add salt to taste after cooking (salt makes beans tough, add it later to prevent this). Enjoy 🙂

http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N963.148119.BLOGGEREN/B6527721.7;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000613802463511;pid=761699;usg=AFHzDLuMpPrXlDFG46H5rdPBGmOuA2-vOQ;adurl=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.kohls.com%252Fproduct%252Fprd-761699%252Ffood-network-5-12-qt-enamel-cast-iron-dutch-oven.jsp%253Fpfx%253Dpfx_shopcompare%2526cid%253Dshopping3;pubid=575791;price=%2484.98;title=Food+Network+5+1%2F2Qt.+…;merc=Kohl%27s;imgsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fmedia.kohls.com.edgesuite.net%2Fis%2Fimage%2Fkohls%2F761699_Orange%3Fwid%3D600%26hei%3D600%26op_sharpen%3D1;width=85;height=85http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N7433.148119.BLOGGEREN/B6693770.9071;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000613802464054;pid=1006527;usg=AFHzDLvesY0g9fGc9-8dFKie1rILLjtvAQ;adurl=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.surlatable.com%252Fproduct%252FPRO-1006527%252F%253Fmr%253AtrackingCode%253D97DAE051-3D76-E211-8D02-001517384908%2526mr%253AreferralID%253DNA;pubid=575791;price=%2419.00;title=OXO+Steel+Can+Opener;merc=Sur+La+Table;imgsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.surlatable.com%2Fimages%2Fcustomers%2Fc1079%2FPRO-1006527%2Fgenerated%2FPRO-1006527_Default_1_430x430.jpg;width=85;height=85http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N7433.148119.BLOGGEREN/B6693770.9075;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000613802464054;pid=1006550;usg=AFHzDLs7I7-TR5yp8JJrkAEN2qZo1GzysQ;adurl=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.surlatable.com%252Fproduct%252FPRO-1006550%252F%253Fmr%253AtrackingCode%253D9ADAE051-3D76-E211-8D02-001517384908%2526mr%253AreferralID%253DNA;pubid=575791;price=%2411.00;title=OXO+SteeL+Spoon;merc=Sur+La+Table;imgsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.surlatable.com%2Fimages%2Fcustomers%2Fc1079%2FPRO-1006550%2Fgenerated%2FPRO-1006550_Default_1_430x430.jpg;width=85;height=85