Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

I’m at church camp this week, loving life, swatting bugs, and trying to stay hydrated. While I’m gone, you can enjoy a re-posting of some of our most popular time-saving, money-saving, healthier eating mix recipes


Originally posted April, 2010

Save money by making your own taco seasoning mix. It is SO easy! And healthy!  And you can put it in a jar (my favorite part)! Actually, even if you don’t have a jar obsession like I do, I recommend putting this mix in a jar as the flavors are strong and will absorb into a plastic container, or mingle with other items it may be sitting beside in your pantry.

Homemade Taco Seasoning MixYum

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
  • ½ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup onion powder
  • ⅛ cup ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  1. Put all ingredients into a jar and shake!

Um, after you put a lid on…then shake. The jar. Shake the jar. With the lid securely on the jar.

Taco Seasoing Mix

Three Tablespoons of Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix is equal to one 4-ounce package of taco seasoning mix. I would recommend adding 3 Tablespoons of mix to one pound of browned ground meat for tacos.

I would also recommend shaking again before each use to make sure the spices are well distributed throughout the mix.

The jar. Shake the jar. You can shake all you want, but if you don’t shake the jar, your spices won’t be distributed evenly.

Just wanted to be sure I made the instructions clear in regard to the shaking.

Great. I can see it now. Husbands everywhere will walk into the kitchen and see their wives shaking (boogie down).

He will look questioningly at his wife, smile and say,

“Taco night again?!”


Recipes that use Taco Seasoning Mix

As you can see, having this seasoning mix on hand is super helpful. Just grab it, shake it, and stir it into whatever you are cooking. Love it!

More Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes! Italian and Thousand Island

I’m at church camp this week, loving life, swatting bugs, and trying to stay hydrated. While I’m gone, you can enjoy a re-posting of some of our most popular time-saving, money-saving, healthier eating mix recipes

Originally posted June, 2009

After sharing the Ranch Dressing Mix recipe, several of you asked for different varieties of healthy salad dressing recipes. I’m excited to share my recipes for Italian Salad Dressing and Thousand Island Dressing!

What makes these salad dressing recipes better?

  • These use real food ingredients – choose to use healthy oils and other ingredients you feel good about feeding your family. I use olive oil for these.
  • These save money – they cost much less than buying them pre-made! The price of Italian Dressing Mix can add up!
  • You can make Italian Dressing Mix ahead of time so all you have to do when you need dressing is mix it up!

Italian Dressing MixYum

More Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes! Italian and Thousand Island
  • 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried celery flakes
  1. Shake ingredients together and store in a jar.
  2. To make Italian salad dressing: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with ¼ cup vinegar (I prefer red wine vinegar), 2 teaspoons water and ½ cup olive oil.

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing

Besides salad dressing, use the Italian Dressing Mix to make:

Use Italian Dressing to marinate chicken for the best grilled chicken!!

And now for another of our favorite salad dressing recipes:

Thousand Island Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hain Safflower)
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup pickle relish
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1 hard boiled egg, chopped (optional)

Mix ingredients, cover and chill.

Homemade Thousand Island Salad Dressing

So…what’s your favorite kind of salad dressing? (mine’s ranch)  Have I come up with enough healthier dressings (aka dressings with NO high fructose corn syrup or MSG) to tickle your fancy…or should I keep playing?

I’m determined to come up with Caesar and Blue Cheese. But my attempts at these so far are not share worthy!

Healthy Homemade Salad Dressing Ideas

I’m at church camp this week, loving life, swatting bugs, and trying to stay hydrated. While I’m gone, you can enjoy a re-posting of some of our most popular time-saving, money-saving, healthier eating mix recipes

Originally posted March, 2009

Lookie what’s growing in my garden! Those cute little lettuce leaves will soon be cute big lettuce leaves. I can’t wait! I’ll be needing my homemade salad dressing before we know it.


I don’t actually have an exciting salad recipe for you. I’m not terribly creative like that. My salad recipes almost always look something like:

  1. Wash and tear up a bunch of lettuce or spinach and put it in a bowl.
  2. Add whatever other raw veggies you have.
  3. If you’re feeling especially crazy, throw in some dried cranberries or raisins.
  4. If you want your salad to be your main dish, add some chicken, cheese and hard boiled egg.
  5. Grab a fork.

Homemade Salad Dressing Ideas

This is why I’m so excited about the above carnivals. However, I do have a fun idea for a salad dressing that I discovered one day when I was dinking around in the kitchen. Are you ready? It’s a novel idea.

Orange juice.  The juice from an orange. Fresh squeezed orange juicy goodness.

It’s refreshingly simple. And yummy. And it contains no high fructose corn syrup or MSG.


Now that I’ve shared that enlightening salad tid-bit, I’m very excited to share another healthy homemade salad dressing idea!

Rhonda sent me a wonderful Ranch Dressing Mix recipe!! I used to use Simply Organic brand because I trust it more than other brands. But now, thanks to Rhonda, I can make a super healthy (and much, much less expensive) Ranch Dressing any time I need to!

Ranch Dressing MixYum

Healthy Homemade Salad Dressing Ideas
  • 5 Tablespoons dried minced onions
  • 7 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Mix together and store in an air tight container.
  2. For dressing: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.
  3. For dip: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups sour cream or kreme fresh.
  4. Mix up a few hours before serving, so the flavors all blend nicely.

I use Hain Safflower mayo and Homemade Buttermilk.

Ranch Dressing and Dip Mix
The jar on the right is the mix, which costs pennies compared to a packaged mix! The jar on the left is the ranch dressing all made up and ready to go on our salad.

You HAVE to try this dressing! It tastes so…so real. And fresh. And pure. It’s delicious, simple and healthy! Obviously, you eat it on lettuce and other veggies – so that gives you wonderful, healthy…healthiness. (And of course, great servings of more fruits and veggies!)

Rhonda even suggested using this ranch dressing mix in my Ranch Potato Wedges recipe. It works GREAT!

I shall never buy another ranch dressing packet again. Rhonda – you rock!

And try squeezing an orange onto your salad sometime! See what you think! (Ever tried it before?) 

Homemade Onion Soup Mix (with No MSG!)

Save money and use real food ingredients when you make Onion Soup Mix!

I’m at church camp this week, loving life, swatting bugs, and trying to stay hydrated. While I’m gone, you can enjoy a re-posting of some of our most popular time-saving, money-saving, healthier eating mix recipes

Originally posted March, 2011

So far in this Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge, we’ve come up with recipes for Homemade Tator Tots, Healthier Chocolate Milk and Teriyaki Sauce. I attempted a recipe for corn tortillas and while they tasted pretty good…they were NOT easy to make, they fell apart and looked ugly. I’m going to keep working on that one until I come up with a corn tortilla recipe that doesn’t take the whole afternoon to make. :)

This new recipe in The Challenge was super easy to put together! Vicki, one of our readers, sent me an Onion Soup Mix recipe to try and WOW is it simple! I tweaked it a teeny tiny bit, but really, this recipe is more Vicki’s than mine.

What I love about this recipe is that I didn’t have to look high and low for the ingredients.  Many onion soup recipes I found call for some sort of bouillon. Almost always, bouillon has MSG. There are MSG free bouillon varieties out there, but what if they aren’t easily accessible to you? And so…I was very happy to see this recipe that contained just dried herbs and spices!

Onion Soup MixYum

Homemade Onion Soup Mix (with No MSG!)
  • ⅔ cup dried, minced onion
  • 3 teaspoons parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sucanat (or sugar if you prefer)
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients in a jar, then give the jar a good shake.
  2. I'd recommend shaking the jar to mix the ingredients well before each use.
  3. Use 4 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix.  (I actually found that 2 Tablespoons was plenty in a beef stew recipe I tried.)
  4. Store this in a dry, cool place.


I used the Onion Soup Mix in this simple, one dish stew and YUM!
Find the recipe for Simple One Dish Meat and Potato Meal here.

And with that…I have to ask:

SO many of you requested this recipe that I’m guessing you all must have tons of wonderful ways of using Onion Soup Mix? I would LOVE for you to share what you do with this mix!!! I have exactly two recipes that call for Onion Soup Mix. I’m so excited to use this mix in those recipes because I’ve not made them for years. But what else??? What do you make with Onion Soup Mix??

My Adventures in Making Homemade Nutella

Homemade Nutella, anyone?


It all began at Asa’s graduation party with two other graduates last May. The moms and I planned it together and they decided to go all out. One of the items on our menu was “crusty bread with different topping options” like meats, cheeses, and nutella (though probably not all at the same time). My friends and I set out a lovely buffet. I was the one in charge of purchasing the condiments, sauces, and Nutella.

grad party 4

Not knowing how many hundreds of people might show up and how many of those hundreds would want to spread Nutella on their bread – I bought four enormous containers of it. We went through exactly 1.5 of those huge tubs, so guess what we’ve been eating since May?

My boys have been so sad about this.

We finally finished them off, and now the boys are having Nutella withdrawals. I can’t stand to buy more, so I determined to figure out a healthier option that I can feel better about. Some of you might remember that I attempted Homemade Nutella a few years ago. That was tasty, though still had quite a bit of sugar. I had a terrible time actually finding Hazelnuts this go around – but part of my problem was that the price was throwing me off.

The good news is (now that I’ve attempted this recipe and learned a few tricks) – it takes only a few hazelnuts to make a batch of nutella. So my purchase will go a long way to providing a healthier nutella option for the fam.


Malachi’s been my chef-in-training the past few weeks and was very excited to enjoy Nutella again. He joined me in putting together this recipe. Here he is pushing a button. (Cooking is so hard.)

I’m excited that this version of Homemade Nutella is lower in sugar than most. If you prefer, use expeller pressed coconut oil since it is flavorless and won’t effect the taste.

Make Your Own Nutella

My Adventures in Making Homemade Nutella
Serves: half pint
  • ⅔ cup hazelnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½-2/3 cup real maple syrup
  1. Lay the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast them in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove skins if necessary.
  3. Whirl toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until smooth.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and blend until creamy.
  5. Store in a half-pint jar for up to three weeks.

Make Your Own Nutella

Have you tried making Nutella before?

It’s fun, easy, and yummy – and unlike Homemade Peanut Butter Captain Crunch – this one is worth the small time investment. :)

Homemade French Onion Dip

I’m getting ready to write this recipe for you, but suddenly I’m in a panic because I don’t know what makes French Onion Dip French. I get my onions from America and I don’t do anything Frenchy to them. Am I somehow supposed to Frenchify my onions? If so, what does that look like? My once super simple recipe has now become completely stressful.

french onion dip

I therefore decided to do some research on the matter since I have plenty of time to waste, but mostly because I don’t want to steer you wrong with a recipe. The first thing I came across online was a packet of Simple Organics French Onion Dip. Its tagline? “America’s Most Popular Dip.” Well that clears all the questions right up.

I couldn’t let it go, so next I did an online search for “what makes French Onion Dip French?” Because the internet never lets us down, an actual article titled Why Is French Onion Dip called French? came up. It said a few things and some other stuff, but my favorite sentence was this:

“There are now recipes for French onion dip that combine actual caramelized onions with the usual dip ingredients (mayonnaise, sour cream) and other flavorings, but this is not a dip you’d find in France.”

What?? Well, we it appears that in our quest to discover the origin of this dip, we can conclude that this dip is not French at all. The dip has nothing to do with France or French people or French food. French Onion Dip is a made up name, just because it sounded good for marketing purposes. In defense of Lipton, I would concur that French Onion Dip is a better sounding title than White Onion Dip or the obvious, Just Onion Dip. The name French Onion Dip sounds more fun and fancy. Either that or I’ve gotten sucked into the marketing ploy.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can move on with life and learn the recipe.

Homemade French Onion DipYum

Homemade French Onion Dip
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons dried minced onion
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Stir the ingredients together.
  2. Chill for at least two hours before serving (or serve right away because who actually follows that instruction?).
  3. Serve with fresh veggies or potato chips.

You can’t really mess up this recipe, so don’t worry about measuring exactly. Life’s too short to use (and wash) measuring spoons. Feel free to add a touch of garlic powder or black pepper. And about the potato chips mentioned in the recipe? I find the kind with the fewest ingredients and the healthiest oil (usually safflower) and go with it. Potato chips with this dip make a great party food.

Homemade French Onion Dip - Three Ingredients!

It goes without saying that the next item on my agenda was to see why fries are French, or if in fact they actually are at all. Low and behold, fries originated in the U.S. but were called French because they were “served in the French manner.” Huh.

Are you doing something fun for New Year’s Eve? I’ll probably make this dip. Then we can sit around with our friends and talk about the origin of food and where different foods got their names. I’ll be the life of the party.

Spicy Ranch Dressing

I just met something wonderful called Spicy Ranch Dressing.

spicy ranch dressing 1

Remember when I went to the Women of Faith conference with my girlfriends and got super silly? It may have been in part because of the meal we ate across the street from the arena before the event. Yes. I blame it on the specialty pizza. It was that good.

Who knew you could put thin slices of red potato on a pizza and turn out something amazing? The pizza had some sort of red-ish sauce drizzled all over it, and that very sauce is what made that pizza taste so good. Well, that and the bacon. Everything is better with bacon.

Of course I came home determined to replicate the sauce. Every potato needs that sauce, whether it’s on a pizza or not. So I looked it up on the restaurant website. It described the pizza blah, blah, blah “with spicy ranch dressing.” Bingo.

So I played. The result is too easy. Make this and forever drizzle it over your baked potatoes, your chicken, and sure – even your pizza.

Spicy Ranch DressingYum

Spicy Ranch Dressing
  • 1 cup homemade ranch dressing (because it is good for you and delicious)
  • 1-3 Tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce like Tabasco, Cholula, or Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  1. Mix together, and enjoy.

See how easy that was? You’ll need my homemade ranch dressing recipe.

Want it to be spicier? Add more hot sauce, chili powder, or cumin. Want it to be less hot? Cut down the hot sauce, chili powder, or cumin. Really, it isn’t difficult.

Spicy Ranch Dressing

Later this week, I will share a fun new Baked Potato Casserole I came up with to use with this Spicy Ranch Dressing. You will love how simple it is. And yep, there’s bacon on it. (And all the husbands everywhere said, “Yes. Keep reading that one lady’s blog – the one who gives you recipes that use bacon.”)

Give me more ideas besides potatoes, chicken, and pizza for this dressing. Think it would taste good on a salad? (Yes.) Ooh, maybe with Sweet Potato Fries. Oh my goodness, yes. What else??

How To Make Almond Butter

Almond Butter recipe? Yeah, I’ve got an Almond Butter recipe. I think.

Confessions of a scatter-brained homemaker:

On Monday, I decided to try making a new variety of No-Bake Cookie Bites. I was out of Almond Butter, so I considered that it was probably as easy to make as Peanut Butter, which I make all the time. Heading to my computer to search for how to do it, I realized: I think I have done this before and maybe even already have a post written about it. So I searched my own website. Sure enough. I told us all how to make Almond Butter back in 2012.

This makes me wonder what else I’ve already taught us how to do that I don’t even remember. Maybe I’ve told us all how to save thousands of dollars or how to save hours of time. What else have I forgotten?!?

Well anyway. I am loving the No-Bake Cookie Bites so much that I will be actually using homemade Almond Butter more often, which will likely help me remember that I know how to make it. In case you also forgot that I have already taught us how to make this easy spread, I am re-posting the tutorial for us all here today. May we all remember and use these instructions often. May our brains be for us instead of against us. May we never forget when we walk into a room, what in the world we walked in to get.

Homemade Almond Butter

So here we go, loud and clear so that we don’t forget:

Here’s How to Make Almond Butter!

Step One: Pour 2 cups of almonds into a food processor. I have found that 2 cups of almonds creates one full cup of almond butter. I don’t recommend putting more than 2 cups of almonds into your food processor at one time. The process takes a while, and the more almonds you have, the longer it will take.

Step Two: Place lid on food processor and turn it on. Plugging it in is always a plus as well. This will be very loud at first, so warn your household.

Step Three: After processing almonds for two to three minutes, use a spoon to scrape down the sides of your food processor and shift around the almonds.

Step 4: Continue to process, but stop and scrape and stir almonds around from time to time to aid in the butter making process.

Step 5: You’re getting closer! Process, scrape, stir, and process some more. Continue until the almonds have become the almond butter you’ve always dreamed of. Because yes, we all do spend much of our time dreaming of perfect almond butter, do we not? (Not me, apparently, because I forgot the stuff existed.)

And there you go – lovely, smooth and creamy almond butter.

What other nut butters have you made? Did you remember that I’ve already told us all how to make this three years ago? I sure hope your brain works better than mine.

P.S. I order organic almonds from Braga Farms. They are a wonderful company to work with and offer high quality nuts. Almond Butter will stay fresh in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Have You Tried Making This Amazing Peanut Butter Yet?

You will love how delicious this Homemade Super Creamy Peanut Butter is. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it!  Our family eats it by the spoonful. :)

Here’s what D’Ann said about the peanut butter this week:

I am truly in love with this recipe!  I simply scoop the palm shortening into the food processor with an ice cream scoop that equals 1/4 cup, add the maple syrup, salt and lastly the nuts.  I whirl it for 5 minutes, and the end result is pure yummy magic!  I make 3 jars at a time and just store them in my pantry.  I’ve never had an issue with it going or tasting bad.  I also store mine in the cabinet, and it spreads and acts like brand name pb.  My family is in love. :)

Super Creamy Peanut Butter

Sounds like a great kitchen project for this weekend, huh? Find the recipe here.

How to Make Beef Broth

There’s nothing very beautiful about pictures of soup bones and vegetables floating in water. And yet, here I am again, just like the time I showed you all the pictures of my chicken carcasses. Some people create adorable collages of their children. Me? I spent time yesterday crafting a collage of my beef broth. Isn’t it precious?  Take note of the fatty bubbles floating along at the top of the jar. I’m so proud.

Homemade Beef Broth

Beef Broth is as fantastic for your body as Chicken Broth. There are so many minerals we need that we can get from beef bones, such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sulfur, and potassium – all in their natural, beneficial, and digestible form. The vegetables you add to the pot of broth are invaluable. And the best part? Making homemade broth is one of the most inexpensive ways to provide nourishment to yourself and to your family members.

Look into buying Beef Soup Bones. There’s still a little meat on the bones (more on that later), but mostly you’re just going to pay a small amount for a package of bones. Cook those mineral-filled-bones in a pot with water and veggies, and you’ve just created several jars full of nutritional goodness for a very tiny amount of money.

Here’s how I make Beef Broth. As you can tell from my collage above, my process is very fancy and exact:

1. Place thawed or frozen beef soup bones into a large kettle or stock pot.
2. Add, to your heart’s content, chunks of onion, carrots, leeks, celery and/or any other veggie you enjoy in your broth.
3. Fill your pot with water.
4. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt.
5. Cover and simmer pot of water/veggies/soup bones for 4-6 hours. Or more. Or less. Or whatever works for you.
6. Remove soup bones from pot. Pull cooked beef off the bones with a fork, and set meat aside for soup or salads.
7. Blend liquid and vegetables together until smooth.
8. Allow broth to cool, then refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to use it to make soup, cook rice, or add it to a recipe.

That meat you’ll pull off the bones? It tastes incredible because it’s right by the bone and has been cooked low and slow. I love it in chef salads. I also snack on it as I’m pulling it off the bones.

Why do I blend all the veggies into the broth? Because after 6 hours of simmering, they are mushy. When I blend them in, they just become part of the nutritious broth. Depending on the number of carrots I use, my broth might turn orange. No matter. It’s delicious.

Once you’ve made Beef Broth, what can you do with it? You can use it to make Beefy Vegetable Soup. You can also use it in any recipe that calls for chicken broth – like my Cheeseburger Soup or Pizza Soup. Cook rice in broth for extra nourishment and flavor in a side dish – or add that wonderful rice to Cheesy Beef and Rice. Follow my instructions for Chicken Noodle Soup, but instead use beef broth and the meat that came off the bones for Beef-n-Noodles.

What other ideas do you have? What ways do you use Beef Broth? 

Isn’t this a wonderful way to be healthy and save money at the same time?!