Friday, October 11, 2013

Taco Seasoning, and more thoughts on convenience foods...

Today you can get basically anything as a convenience food. Many food advertisers are directing things at busy moms, working moms, businessmen on the go, etc. "Get dinner on the table in 5 minutes!" "Just add milk!" etc. They even (sometimes) advertise these products as healthy for you.

Then, there is the opposite end of the spectrum--especially when you are looking for recipes online. Many bloggers seem to advocate making everything from scratch-and I mean everything. From bread, applesauce, cream-of-soups, ricotta cheese, peanut butter, marshmallows....

Given that I am posting about making taco seasoning from scratch, you may think I am at the opposite end of the spectrum. And that's true--kinda. I think it's (in general) healthier to make some things from scratch. I've already posted about my lack-of-love for pre-packaged foods. It may have something to do with my mama, who generally doesn't buy foods like that. However, it's simply not practical to make everything from scratch, especially in a home where both parents are working. I work 4 days a week, and I do a lot of my prep/mealmaking beforehand, but there are times when I don't. If I get home from work and there are no leftovers and nothing prepped, I just want to get a meal on the table as fast as possible. (Well, Gabriel wants a meal on the table as fast as possible. I can usually wait; him not so much.) Sometimes those convenience foods really make my life a lot easier (and my boy a lot happier!). 

Sometimes it's fun to make things from scratch that you can get -easier & probably cheaper- prepared at the store. For example, oatmeal cream pies. (And yes, I've done that. It was fun!) And cheez-its. (Again, fun! But so time-consuming!!) It's just not practical to do it all the time.

Then, there are things that are easy, cheaper, and healthier than the storebought! For us, taco seasoning is one of those. When I was doing a not-so-great job at mealplanning, it seemed like we never had it when I wanted it. And, while it's not really expensive, the spices in taco seasoning are all things that I have on hand regularly. (Unlike nutmeg, which I apparently am destined to always run out of...) On top of that, you can change it up to suit your needs. Lower the salt, make it spicier, make it less spicy, etc. 

 See below the recipe for comments on it...

Taco Seasoning

  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (I hate paprika, so I never have it on hand. So, I sub with cayenne pepper.)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt (decrease as desired! I usually don't add this much, but I also don't usually measure it.)
  • 4 teaspoons black pepper
  • In a jar or small container add all the ingredients together and stir or shake until combined. (See how complicated this is? It's amazing I can handle a recipe with this many instructions.)

5 minutes

Source (for original): What’s That Smell

For tacos, brown one pound beef then add 2 tablespoons taco seasoning. Simmer with ½ – 1 cup of water until most of the water has absorbed, or to your desired consistency.

Note on the amount of taco seasoning to add: 2 tablespoons makes the tacos fairly spicy, especially if you sub out the paprika for cayenne. I can't get away with that for Gabriel; I usually decrease it to 1 to 1 1/2

I usually double or triple this when I make it; it stores well and then I don't have to worry that I don't have enough right when I'm ready to add taco seasoning to something.

What about you? What convenience foods do you do from scratch, and what do you think is worth buying at the store?  

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