Life Happens and Taco Seasoning Mix

Here I am again, months after I should have written a new post, finally taking the time to do so! Oh well! Life happens!

We had a wedding since I wrote last! If you have ever been the parents of the bride or groom, you will know that there is this flurry of activities leading up to a busy weekend when every moment is itemized so that nothing is forgotten. And then you have the days following where you crash and wonder how it all got done! Yes! That was us!

Friday held a bridal luncheon hosted by a very special friend of our family. It was a relaxing time in between the decorating of the church and setting up the centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner.


The rehearsal dinner went off without a hitch, but the time spent setting up the centerpieces did not! Let’s just say that I dropped a box of glass vases which broke into a gazillion pieces and leave it at that.

The wedding went great, though, and we are thrilled with our newest family member!


Little Miss Mia performed her responsibilities as flower girl very well! Her first time down the aisle during rehearsal left a lot to be desired (she ran the whole way!), but after quite a bit of practice her confidence grew and she knew exactly what she was to do. She did an amazing job during the wedding! Shortly before the seating of the mothers and the processional, she worked her way out of position by the bride and ended up near the front of the line where she loudly proclaimed, “I’m getting married today!” It definitely gave us the laugh we all needed and helped us to relax!


Several weeks (months??) ago, my sister and brother-in-law were in town for a week, and I had done some meal planning and shopping in advance of their visit. I had decided to have tacos on Tuesday, and for the sake of time and convenience, decided to purchase 2 packets of taco seasoning mix. I remember getting them off the shelf and crossing it off my list. However, those packets evidently did not make it to my house. I was already browning the beef for the tacos when I realized that the packets were missing. Here we are weeks (months?) later, and I still haven’t found them. Who knows where they ended up.

Any way, I found myself in need of some taco seasoning very quickly! Thankfully, I found a recipe and had all the necessary ingredients on hand. I used the entire recipe for about 1-1/2 lbs of beef. Everyone thought that the tacos tasted much better than when using the purchased seasoning! And it is so incredibly easy, I really don’t know why I ever bothered using the ready-made seasonings in the first place!

Mix all these ingredients together and store in an air-tight container. Use in recipes to taste.

  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper–more if you like it spicier
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

You can also use dried red pepper flakes if you prefer.


Family News and Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Three weeks have passed since I last posted here. I can’t believe it has been that long! I seriously try to write more frequently, but it seems like 3 weeks is the norm these days! Here is what’s been happening on the home front.

Last week we did indeed get the freezing temperatures that I was afraid of. Most of the gorgeous blossoms that I showed in the previous post froze when our spring-like temperatures dropped into the 20s for several nights in a row. Our plum trees had bloomed a few weeks earlier than the peaches and were already showing tiny plums. They also froze and turned black in the freezing temperatures.

We had a bridal shower for Ben’s lady. I am so glad my sister was able to come for it! And we had a birthday party for Little Miss Mia’s daddy! She really wanted to blow out all the candles by herself, so he had to discourage her!

But the best news of all was that my girl’s man came home safely from his deployment! I just love this picture!


Now for the recipe! I had never made stuffed chicken breast before this try, and the guys loved it! It was not as hard as I had thought it might be. I didn’t follow a recipe, but just went by what I have read online about stuffed chicken breasts. I am sure that there are people out there who know tricks to make it easier!

  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp. heavy cream
  • several large hands full of fresh spinach (sorry! I didn’t measure!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 12-16 slices of bacon

Carefully slice open the chicken breasts making a small pocket in the side of each.Be careful not to slice all the way through. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the two cheeses and the heavy cream and mix well. Lightly steam the spinach to soften. Squeeze all the moisture out of the spinach and stir it into the cheese mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the chicken breasts. Wrap each chicken breast with bacon, using about 3 slices per piece of chicken. The amount of bacon will depend on the size of each chicken breast. Place wrapped chicken in a slightly oiled pan. Bake at 350 degrees until juices are no longer pink and the bacon looks crispy, about 40 minutes. Again, baking time will depend upon the size of the chicken breasts. Thicker pieces will require longer baking time. Serve with a green salad on the side!




Egg Rolls

Well, I must apologize once again for neglecting this blog! Life was pretty busy last week with VBS at our church. We had about 160 children between the ages of 4 and 12 each morning!  Believe me, those kids produced a ton of energy!!  While I had this recipe ready to post here, I was just too tired to sit at the computer and get the post written.


The hubby actually found this recipe for egg rolls.  He just loves egg rolls and spring rolls and orders them every time we eat at a Chinese restaurant. Actually, I’m not sure whether this recipe is for egg rolls or spring rolls! Do you know the difference?  According to this article (the last sentence), these are egg rolls!   I do not know where he got the original recipe, and he doesn’t remember either! With the two of us working together to fill the wrappers, it went together in no time!

1 lb. ground beef

1 onion, chopped

3-4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 head cabbage, shredded

1/2 gallon peanut oil

Brown the ground beef and onion together, cooking until meat is no longer pink and onions are tender.  Drain off any fat.  Add garlic, soy sauce, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, ginger and shredded cabbage.  Mix well and heat through.

Place a spoonful of meat mixture on each egg roll wrapper. Top with a sprinkle of bacon bits. Wrap up following package directions. Make sure you seal the edge!

Heat peanut oil in a large pot to about 350*.  Gently lower egg rolls into the oil using a slotted spoon. Fry until golden brown.  Lift out and place on paper towels to drain. Oh, and make sure that your thermometer is totally cooled down BEFORE you try to wash it, because this is what will happen if you don’t:



Use a variety of dipping sauces for your egg rolls! We like sweet and sour as well as honey mustard.


1 pkg. of egg roll wrappers

Of Patty Melts and Potato Tots

Several weeks ago, the hubby asked the ages-old question that every husband asks the wife.  “What’s for dinner?”  Of course, since it was not even 3:00 in the afternoon, I hadn’t even given dinner a thought.  He, though, already had.  He found two recipes on line that he wanted me to make…that night…and it had to be those exact recipes that he had found, not recipes that were similar.   Often this doesn’t bother me, but I must have been stressed that day and really wasn’t in the mood to make such dishes that particular night.  I would have preferred to study the recipes, make sure I had all the ingredients, and make them another day.  Although I was a little grumpy about it, I did make him his recipes.

Both these recipes are very good, but a little time-consuming when making both of them for the same meal.  Next time, I will not serve them at the same time!!

Here is the link to the Patty Melts recipe.  The only changes I made were to use cheddar cheese instead of Swiss since I had no Swiss on hand, and  home made bread instead of rye since I had no rye.


The Potato Tots were amazing!  My son Sam said they were the best potato tots he had ever had!  They do take time to make, so make sure you plan accordingly!

Salisbury Steak

With grocery prices continuing to rise, I find myself trying to come up with new ways to serve foods to help stretch my dollars.  I remember my mom doing the same when I was young.  Salisbury steak is just a fancy name for hamburgers.  I have also heard it  called Poor Man’s steak.  Mom didn’t like calling it that, so she preferred Salisbury Steak. I used ground beef, but ground turkey would work well, too.  (sorry, no picture this time!)

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef

2 tbsp. minced onion

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. crushed marjoram

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1 envelope mushroom gravy mix (I used cream of mushroom soup)

1 can mushroom pieces, drained

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

In a large bowl combine ground beef, onion, salt, marjoram, and pepper; mix well.  Divide meat into 6 portions and shape into oval patties about 3/4 inch thick.  Broil steaks 3 inches from heat for 3-4 minutes; turn and broil the other side for another 3-4 minutes or until done.  Prepare gravy mix according to pkg. directions; stir in mushrooms and vinegar.  Heat through and pour over steaks.  Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.

Marinade for Pork or Chicken

Here is a quick and easy marinade that I saw in the newest Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine.  It is written to use with pork chops, but I used it for boneless chicken breast since I had no pork chops.  The guys all loved it!  Sorry, but no picture this time!

1/2 c. red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. honey

4 boneless chicken breasts or pork chops

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and oregano. Whisk in the olive oil and honey.  Pour into a resealable plastic bag and add the meat.  Seal and massage mixture into meat.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes up to several hours.  I refrigerated mine for about 40 minutes.   Cook meat on a grill just until cooked through.

Easy Baked Chicken

The main part of this chicken recipe came from one of  “The Best of Country Cooking” cookbooks that I have.  It is supposed to be a skillet chicken dish, but with the family I feed, a skillet is just not big enough!  I modified it to be able to bake it in the oven. Using my convection setting, I was able to have it finished in less than an hour.  I used 5 leg quarters cut apart to make 10 pieces.  Any cut of chicken would work just fine.

5 leg quarters cut apart

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 c. chopped onion

1/2 tbsp. minced garlic*

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. ground mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

In a small skillet melt the butter and gently saute the onions.  In a mixing bowl combine the tomatoes, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper.  When onions are tender, stir them into the sauce.  Lightly spray a 13×9 pan with oil.  Place chicken pieces in the pan and pour the sauce over them.  Cover the pan with foil.  Bake in 375 degree oven (convection bake) for about 45 minutes or until tender.   Serve over hot rice.

*if using fresh garlic, saute it with the onions before adding to the sauce.

Chicken Strips or Nuggets

Are you trying to save money on your grocery bill?  Are you trying to cut back on the fast-food trips yet still satisfy those hungry people in your family?  Are you wanting to get your family to eat a bit healthier?  Let’s face it! There is a lot of pressure on us moms these days!  The cost of food is always going up and some things just have to be cut.  For us it is fast foods.  We rarely if ever take meals out anymore.  And I’ve become a frugal coupon-shopper to help cut the grocery bill. But the taste for chicken strips/nuggets is still a favorite in my home.  Here is a recipe I developed that cuts out all the preservatives and tastes just as good, if not better!

5-6 chicken breasts*

1/2 c. corn meal

1/2 c. bread crumbs

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

olive oil

Wash the chicken breasts and pat dry.  Cut chicken into strips about 1 inch wide.  If you prefer, cut the strips into nugget-sized pieces.  In a mixing bowl, put the corn meal; bread crumbs; salt; ginger; and cayenne pepper.  Mix well.  Heat about 3 tbsp. olive oil in large skillet.  Toss chicken strips in corn meal mixture, coating all sides.  Place chicken in skillet.  Cook chicken until golden brown on both sides and tender in the middle.  Continue cooking chicken in batches until all is cooked, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.  Serve with your favorite sauces such as BBQ or sweet and sour; a tossed green salad; and fresh corn on the cob!    This recipe will serve 5-6, unless you are feeding 3 teenage boys.

*I purchase chicken breasts with bone because it is so much cheaper than boneless.  Use a sharp knife to cut the meat from the bone, then cut into pieces.