Homemade Chocolate Wafer Cookies

diy chocolate wafer cookies

Since scratch baking is such an important aspect of what I do in my kitchen, it’s really no surprise that I should find and fall head over heels in love with homemade chocolate wafer cookies that perfectly mimics the packaged varieties.  You already know my feelings on packaged graham crackers, Wheat Thins, and Oreos to name a few so to that end, these light and crispy cookies don’t need much of an introduction.  They are made with dark unsweetened cocoa that lends to a richly flavored chocolate cookie that is even deeper and darker in color than I expected they could be.  Ground up for a cheesecake’s cookie crust or the base of a peanut butter pie, you won’t be sorry you spent a few extra minutes making these slice and bake chocolate gems.  I’ve made two batches in the past two weeks and foresee a few more happening before Christmas!

diy chocolate wafer cookies

Looking for a fun no-bake dessert to try with these cookies?  Try these peppermint icebox cupcakes.

Homemade Chocolate Wafer Cookies

Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: about 6 dozen 1 ¼-inch (diameter) by 1/8-inch (thickness) cookies

If you plan to use these cookies in place of a certain brand of chocolate wafer cookies for a chocolate cheesecake or pie crust, cut out 1 to 2 tablespoons of the suggested amount of melted butter in the crust recipe; these cookies contain a fair amount of butter and too much added butter to the ground up cookies crumbs will yield an absurdly wet mass of crumbs. Trust me. Nine ounces of these cookies (or about 2/3 of the recipe) will yield as much as the packages of wafer cookies contain.


  • 1 ½ cups (6.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (2.4 ounces) dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey’s or King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tbsp (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 3 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pulse the ingredients a few times to combine thoroughly. Dollop the butter around the dry ingredients and pulse a few more times until the butter starts to incorporate and large chunks begin to form. Mix the milk and vanilla together in a small bowl. With the mixer running, pour the milk mixture into the feeding tube in a slow and even stream until the cookie crumb mixture starts to form together and ball up on the sides of the bowl.
  2. Transfer the cookie dough to a work surface and knead it a couple of times to fully incorporate all of the ingredients. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a long and narrow log, about 1 ¼ inches to 1 ¾ inches in diameter. Depending on how large you want your wafer cookies to be will determine how thick to form the log. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to a week.
  3. Position the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Slice the dough logs into approximately 1/8-inch thick slices and lay the dough rounds on the baking sheets about 1 inch apart. I formed my dough into 1 ¼-inch diameter logs and was able to fit 24 cookies on each of my baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating pans from back to front and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. The cookies will be finished baking about 1 ½ minutes after the puffed-up dough deflates so try to keep an eye on them. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes then transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely – they will crisp up as they cool. The cookies will keep for up to a week at room temperature if kept in an airtight container. Supposedly the freeze really well too but I haven’t tried it myself.


adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich via Smitten Kitchen

Homemade Wheat Thins

About once a month I take stock of my to-make list.  This usually means a pretty big overhaul is about to happen.  This last time I crossed a few things off that I was kind of iffy on from the start and moved a few things to the summer to-make list for next year (major sadness that summer tomatoes are long gone).  And since I’m putting together ideas for how I can top my Thanksgiving appetizers and desserts from last year (I’m not sure that I can), I had no reservations about putting these homemade wheat thins to the test.

At the very basic level, these are wheat crackers from a dough that you’ll roll out reeeeally thinly.  And made with just 5 pantry ingredients, they are a pretty close match to what you’d buy boxed up.  I get the convenience of boxed crackers but again it goes back to me thinking that if I can make it at home, then why not just do it?  Why not cut out the ingredients I can’t pronounce and make something super fresh to enjoy?  These crackers took maybe 40 minutes to make from start to finish – maybe – and with a little salt sprinkled on top and baked up crisp, we enjoyed some late afternoon cheese and crackers with my homemade wheat thins.  How’s that for satisfying?  I don’t want to give away what I’m thinking about bringing to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving but if my appetizer idea makes it there, these crackers will for sure be right there by its side.

DIY: Soft Flour Tortillas

I’m so excited to tell you guys that I’ve got this big item to cross off my ever-daunting and always-growing to-make list!  These flour tortillas were major for me.  We eat a lot of Tex-Mex food that requires soft flour tortillas (and I always use them in place of corn tortillas) and when we have leftovers, I bring wrap sandwiches to bring to work.  And if you’ve been around these parts long enough, you’ll know that in the past couple of years, I’ve been DIY-ing more and more in order to cut out ingredients we can’t pronounce (check out the short and basic ingredient list below!) and to save a few bucks in the process.

These tortillas are my latest feat and when I tell you that these soft flour tortillas are soooo worth the little bit of effort, I’m not kidding.  After only 30 minutes, I had a warm stack of these guys ready to use for multiple meals.  And as far as quality goes, there is just no comparison with store-bought tortillas; where store-bought are rubbery and dry, the homemade version yields soft and always pliable tortillas.  You don’t have to worry about the bottoms splitting in your hand and you can fold them and roll them without any cracking.  Basically, for the Tex-Mex lovers that we are, these DIY soft flour tortillas couldn’t be more perfect.

DIY: Soft Flour Tortillas

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 (8-inch) tortillas

I rolled my tortillas out into 8-inch rounds and they yielded some pretty hefty-sized tortillas, even for soft tacos. So in the future, I'll reduce the size to 6 inches by cutting the dough into approximately 1 1/2 oz pieces (or about 16 pieces). If you want larger tortillas, like for burritos, cut the dough into fewer pieces and roll them out to 10 or 12 inches in diameter. If you don't have a food processor, you can make these tortillas by hand, using a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the ingredients into each other and a wooden spoon to mix everything up.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaping tsp table salt
  • 5 tbsp shortening, lard, or softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup warm water


  1. In the bowl of the food processor fitted with the dough blade, pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt a few times to stir up the ingredients. Add in the fat and process in quick pulses until the mixture starts become crumbly. With the food processor on, slowly stream in the water through the feeder at the top, just until the a cohesive ball forms and starts traveling around the sides of the bowl.
  2. Turn the food processor on and let the dough knead for about 30 seconds. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and be soft but not overly sticky.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board or countertop and divide it into 12 equal-size portions, 2 oz each if you're weighing them. Cover the dough pieces with a kitchen towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large, dry saute pan (cast iron works great here) over medium-high heat.
  5. One at a time, roll the dough balls into thin rounds (about 8 inches each), dusting the top with just enough flour to keep the tortilla from sticking to the rolling pin. Try not to roll out too many at a time or they will start to dry out while they wait to be cooked.
  6. Lay one tortilla flat in the heated pan and cook on each side for 20-40 seconds, until the tortilla starts to bubble in places and the bubbled areas start to brown. While each one cooks, you can roll out the next tortilla to get it ready for the pan.
  7. Keep the finished tortillas covered with a kitchen towel to keep them warm and pliable until you're ready to use them. Unused tortillas can be cooled completely and refrigerated in a large zipper bag for up to 5 days.


source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Take Out Fake Out: Shrimp Lo Mein

take out fake out shrimp lo mein

It’s no surprise to me that when we tried this recipe for the first time about 6 months ago, we loved everything about it…well, except the noodles.  I had been searching for probably a year and half for real lo mein noodles for this recipe and finally just bit the bullet and made the recipe with spaghetti.  It just wasn’t right, people.  Thin spaghetti may have worked better but I wasn’t going to chance it.

So when I was perusing Whole Foods with Josie, Courtney, and Annie back in February while stocking up to cook dinner that night, Annie found lo mein noodles for me.  I had searched high and low (no pun intended) in my Whole Foods and local grocery stores to no avail.  I snagged the package and now I wished I had grabbed a few extra because I still can’t find them here!

take out fake out shrimp lo mein

Noodles issue aside, this shrimp lo mein was a perfect departure from heavy and oftentimes greasy Chinese take out lo mein.  The flavors perfectly mimic what we know take out lo mein to be but there’s just something about controlling all of the ingredients of a dish that make it so satisfying.  We went with a vegetarian version, swapping out the original chicken broth and chicken breast for vegetable broth and shrimp, respectively, and I love the fact that the list of vegetables in the recipe is versatile enough to use up whatever you have hanging around in the fridge.  After some minimal prep work, the whole recipe comes together rather quickly, so make sure you’ve got everything washed, chopped, and ready to go before you start.  I saved the other half of the package of noodles for a “rainy day” which may come sooner rather than later because now I’m craving these noodles again!

Chipotle Ranch Dressing

I can’t pinpoint when it happened but all of a sudden, I want to dip everything in ranch dressing.  Well, maybe not everything – just dippable things like sweet potato fries and broccoli.  And tortilla chips.  And even though I was truly mortified when I first saw my girlfriends dipping pizza in ranch dressing back in college, I realize now they were totally on to something.  Buffalo chicken pizza?  Oh heck yes.

It’s not hard to love homemade ranch dressing, especially since it’s low in fat (i.e., low in guilt) and doesn’t reside in a bottle from the grocery store.  It’s even more difficult not to love a kicked-up version of this dressing: chipotle.  Smoky chipotles immersed in cool ranch dressing?  I love it almost as much as the original but when the right food calls for it (like honey-lime marinated chicken salad or plain ol’ garden tomatoes), this version certainly delivers.

Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: about 2 cups


  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup (about 6 oz) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 small bunch of chives
  • Medium handful of cilantro (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ to ½ cup buttermilk


  1. In a blender or bowl of a food processor, combine all of the ingredients, starting with just 1/4 cup buttermilk. Blend for 10 seconds. Check the consistency and if you’d like it thinner, blend in additional buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dressing reaches desired consistency. Use less buttermilk if you’re looking for chipotle ranch dip and more buttermilk for dressing.
  2. Store in a sealed container or jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.


source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

DIY: Cinnamon Graham Crackers

DIY cinnamon graham crackers

Oh those horrible teenage years with a mouth full of braces.  Eating Oreos was devastatingly embarrassing.  The time I got hit in the mouth with a softball trying to tag out a stealing runner at 3rd base was a pretty horrific event.  And for me, it always seemed like the two days following the orthodontic visits where my braces were tightened were worse than dealing with teenage-PMS.  Imagine when they occurred together?!

DIY cinnamon graham crackers

Yet, I had a solace aside from the inordinate amount of Advil I consumed during those years: mush.  Broken up graham crackers soaked in a bowl of ice cold milk.  To the unfamiliar “palate” it probably sounds horrible.  But when your mouth hurts so much to even close your jaw, you’ll try almost anything.  I hated Carnation.  Smoothies were almost unheard of in my neck of the woods (bagel- and egg sandwich-centric Long Island) and yogurt wasn’t considered a full breakfast for an active teenager in my house.  This mush is actually what my mom ate when she had braces and I fell in love with it.

DIY cinnamon graham crackers

But I won’t go on and on about the mush.  It’s my general love for graham crackers that made me want to try a homemade version for so long.  I don’t typically buy them any more unless I need to make a crust for a cheesecake so it’s been a true delight having a stack of fresh graham crackers at home…and that include a list of ingredients that I can pronounce.  This version uses all dark brown sugar (that’s why they are so dark in the photos – I didn’t burn them) which really helps to develop a deep caramel-ish flavor in the grahams.  After cooling, they crisp up perfectly and can be eaten as they are (I love a schmear of peanut butter on them), ground down into crumbs for crusts, broken up to mix into strawberry cheesecake ice cream, or used for homemade s’mores (more on that soon).  I haven’t tried them soaked in milk yet, but maybe that’s in my future this weekend…you know, for old time’s sake.

Homemade Peppermint Patties


When I set out to create my holiday treat packages last year, I knew I wanted to make treats I’d never made before but that had been on my to-make list for a while.  Like marshmallows.  And hot chocolate.  And these peppermint patties.  And let me tell you, these little minty treats probably made me the most proud I’ve been in the kitchen in quite a while.  The filling is easy to put together, but dipping them in chocolate will require some patience.  You’ll need to dip them in batches and keep the extra little rounds of filling really cold (like frozen) while you dip because as soon as they start to come to room temperature, dipping them in warm chocolate is impossible.  And impossibly messy.  Trust me.  The chocolate will harden but make sure all of the filling is covered by chocolate – otherwise it will ooze out.  But needless to say, my peppermint patty connoisseur (Kyle) LOVED these (so did I!), as they are waaaay better than the store-bought version.  You’ll find that they will be gushed over and will certainly be worth the little extra effort it takes to make them.

Top 9 Favorites of 2011

Here’s to a fabulous 2011 and even better 2012!  Thank you all of your love and support this year – it’s been a great one for me and as Kyle and I transition into our new home in the next few weeks, I’m looking forward to sharing all kinds of great recipes that I’ve been holding out on until I have more space to work with.  Until then, enjoy a few of your favorites from this year…the Top 9 most popular posts, to be exact!

1. Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Frosting

2. DIY: Ranch Dressing

3. Baked Fontina

4. DIY: Taco Seasoning

5. Chunky Hubby Cupcakes

6. Take Out Fake Out: Orange Chicken

7. NY-Style Crumb Cake

8. Pizza Bites

9. Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Baileys Marshmallows

Baileys Marshmallows

I swear my candy thermometer has gotten more of a workout this past week than in all of the past year!  As I mentioned a couple days ago, I’m not making a whole lot of cookies this Christmas and have opted instead for candies, confections, and other treats for my treat boxesHot chocolate mix and homemade marshmallows were the first items to go on my list and it wasn’t until Shawnda posted these Baileys marshmallows was I sold on a recipe.


This was my first time making marshmallows for the sake of actually making marshmallows (i.e., not marshmallow filling in other recipes) and I’ve learned from this attempt that my mixer is more powerful than I thought.  While the recipe instructs to beat the mixture for 15 on high, I think my mixture was finished at about 7 minutes because it only deflated from there, leaving me with semi-flat marshmallows.  Regardless of how they looked, they tasted fabulous and if I wasn’t already a Baileys Irish Cream fan to begin with (which I was – yum!), these marshmallows would have sealed the deal.  The flavor of the Baileys really comes through since it isn’t cooked and the combination of the melted marshmallows in a mug of rich hot chocolate is certainly the perfect way to end a harried winter day.  Dessert anyone?

DIY: Homemade Dulce de Leche

DIY: Homemade Dulce de Leche

How many times have you come across an ingredient in a recipe that you just can’t find in your regular grocery store?  For me, it’s been countless times, and dulce de leche is one of those elusive ingredients that continues to confound me.  I often think that my grocery store has a fairly extensive selection of ethnic food but then again, I can’t find things like decent lo mein noodles or Thai chili paste…or dulce de leche, a product as common in Latin American markets as peanut butter is in any traditional grocery store in the U.S.  The first time I needed dulce de leche for a recipe, I foolishly spent over $10 on a jar from a specialty food store.

DIY: Homemade Dulce de Leche

Well, never again.  Never.  Ever.  Because I have found the secret to this elusive ingredient: a $2 can of sweetened condensed milk.  Yup, that’s all you’ll need!  Prick a tiny hole in the top of the can (this is a must!!), boil the heck out of the can for about 3 1/2 hours, and you will end up with simply gorgeous and over-the-top amazing dulce de leche.  It’s deeper, richer, and thicker in consistency than caramel and is fantastic in frosting (or this recipe), over ice cream, as a dip for apples or pretzels, as a filling in cupcakes or cookies, swirled into hot chocolate or a latté, spooned into mason jars for Christmas treat packages (it does need to be refrigerated though!)…I’m sure you guys could come up with a 100 more uses aside from eating straight off a spoon.  I have two more uses for it that I’ll share with you before Christmas so you may want to pick up a can or two sweetened condensed milk this weekend!

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

With the bustling and chronically insane holiday season upon us, sometimes all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket (which usually involves a fight with the cat for usage rights), a book I can get lost in, and a steaming mug of hot chocolate.  OK, maybe it’s more like that’s all I want to do this time of year but life always seems to get in the way of these things.

Regardless of your crazy schedules, I urge you to take a few minutes in the kitchen to whip up this homemade hot chocolate mix and treat yourself to a divine mug of it.  I can guarantee that this homemade mix surpasses any of the higher quality mixes you can buy and what’s even better is that you control what goes into it.  Not a huge fan of bittersweet chocolate?  Replace some or all of it, if you’re feeling adventurous, with milk chocolate.  I added a few tablespoons of instant espresso powder because I love a shot of espresso in my hot chocolate but I don’t have an espresso maker at home.  If you’ve made enough chocolate recipes, you’ll know that coffee in one form or another amplifies the chocolate flavor and that’s what I was going for here.  This is also the time to consider making a big batch of vanilla sugar in advance of making the mix since you can use it quickly rather than having to wait 24hrs as this recipe instructs.  The recipe makes a huge amount of hot chocolate mix (almost 2 quarts, dry) and because it lasts up to 6 months, it will make the perfect addition to my Christmas gift packages this year.  I love my cocoa with a heaping spoonful of whipped cream but perhaps some homemade marshmallows are in my future as well…

DIY: Vanilla Sugar


A few years ago I was in the middle of making a recipe when, due to my normal hastiness of not reading a recipe in full before charging into to it, I realized that I didn’t have the listed vanilla sugar in my pantry.  I couldn’t tell you what I was making at the time.  And I also couldn’t tell you that I had ever seen vanilla sugar in any of the stores I’d shopped in.  But I can tell you that since my first encounter with vanilla sugar as an ingredient, I’ve seen it listed in no less than a dozen other recipes.  I can also tell you that shortly after making that first recipe, I tracked this elusive sugar down and bought some.  Ugh.  It was expensive and I knew I could probably just use a little extra vanilla extract in its place but I felt like there was a reason why these recipes called specifically for vanilla sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

Well sure there’s a reason: because vanilla sugar is amazing.  And it’s even more amazingly simple to make.  I believe I “learned” how to make vanilla sugar from watching Bobby Flay; his emphatic instructions were to scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean out for whatever recipe you were using it for and “don’t throw out the pod!”  To make your own vanilla sugar, you’ll put your used bean pod(s) into a jar then cover the pod(s) with regular granulated sugar.  Every few days, shake the container to mix up the sugar and spin the pods around through the sugar to release the vanilla flavor and any remaining beans from the pods into the sugar.  After a couple of weeks, you’ll open up the jar and get smacked with all the loveliness that is the vanilla bean in sugar form.  As you use new vanilla beans, toss the pods into the same container…and as you use the vanilla sugar, add new granulated sugar to the container and continue the process of shaking and spinning.

Vanilla Sugar

So now if you’re wondering what you can use your homemade vanilla sugar for, I’ll tell you simply that you can use it in many recipes that call for vanilla extract in place of [or partially substituted for] the granulated sugar.  I wouldn’t substitute vanilla sugar for extract, but use the vanilla sugar to enhance the vanilla flavor in the recipe.  I use it in all kinds of ice cream, sugar cookies (both decorated and soft versions), pancakes, cakes, and biscotti.  It’s handy to have in your pantry, is a luxurious ingredient that costs virtually nothing, and would make for a fantastic addition to holiday gift packages.  How can you beat that?

Homemade Halloween Oreo Cookies


I really don’t think I’m unlike many food bloggers.  I make my way through the grocery store on the outer edges, starting with produce and ending with dairy with only a few random dips into the center aisles for things like dried pasta, canned tomatoes, sugar, and flour.  We’re increasingly using less and less bottled items since I’ve found it so easy to make my own dressings and bbq sauce (ketchup is next on my list).  But for some reason, when I don’t feel like making cookies, I can’t pass up Oreos.  It’s so rare that I buy them, though, that this usually only happens when the fun holiday colors show up or my hankering for a Double Stuf completely consumes me.  That said, I decided it was time to make my own and being that the Halloween Oreos have been taunting me for weeks, my timing was right.

Homemade Halloween Oreo Cookies

These Oreos may have been some of the easiest cookies I’ve ever made.  In a stand mixer or food processor in an unorthodox cookie-making manner, you’ll add the dry ingredients first (including the sugar), then beat in the butter and then the egg.  It’s almost like making a pastry dough but you’ll end up with a firm dough that will be scooped into 1/2-inch balls, lightly flattened, and baked.  And inside of about 17.5 minutes (give or take) you will have homemade Oreo cookies!  The recipe states that you can vary the amount of sugar but for these cookies, I feel like less is more where next time I’ll use closer to 1 cup of sugar rather than 1 1/4 cups since I feel like they were just a tad too sweet – if you think about it, those chocolate wafers on their own aren’t all that sweet.  Regarding the colored cream filling, I split the white filling into three bowls and added enough color gel to achieve my desired colors then piped them on the cookie halves.  Really easy and such a cute effect for any of those upcoming Halloween parties or potlucks – you’ll definitely turn some heads if you show up with these Halloween Oreos!

DIY: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

DIY: Pumpkin Pie Spice

I would venture a bet that at least 50% of the pumpkin recipes I look at each year (both old and new recipes) include pumpkin pie spice on the ingredient list.  And if it’s not specifically called pumpkin pie spice, it’s some combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and maybe allspice and/or ground cloves.  Does this sound familiar to you?  Frankly, I got tired of measuring out each individual spice for recipes like the pumpkin butterscotch blondies (in the photo above) and I refused to spend money on a pre-made spice mix that I could easily make at home.  And why not make it at home?  Aside from saving a few bucks on the pre-made mix, I already keep all of the necessary spices in my pantry so it was a no-brainer to just combine them all together to make a ready-to-use homemade pumpkin pie spice mix whenever I need it.

DIY: Pumpkin Pie Spice

Like most spice mixes, including this taco seasoning, you can play with the amount of each spice you use in order to get the right combination for you.   Your best tool for making DIY pumpkin pie spice is your nose – you’ll be able to smell if the you need to adjust the amounts for your own preference.  It’s especially easy with this spice mix because all of the spices have a very distinct scent independently so by taking a whiff, you’ll know which you may need more of.  Just be sure you are familiar with how each spice smells on its own before combining them together!  If you think it needs a little more cinnamon,  add a little more.  Or if you’re not a huge fan of nutmeg (like me), add a little less from the start.  When you’ve got the right combination, the mix should smell like a hint of pumpkin pie – it’s so easy!!

Recipes using this pumpkin pie spice:

pumpkin bundt cake with cream cheese frosting
pumpkin spice oatmeal
cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins
pumpkin butterscotch blondies
pumpkin spice biscotti
white chocolate pumpkin scones
pumpkin spice cheesecake brownies
caramel pumpkin pie cupcakes

DIY: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: about ¼ cup

Keep a batch of this homemade pumpkin pie spice in your pantry for a quick addition to just about any pumpkin recipe you plan to make.


  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves


  1. In a small bowl, stir together all the spices. Keep the spice blend in a sealed jar or container for up to 6 months.


adapted from Martha Stewart

DIY: Taco Seasoning

A homemade taco seasoning without packaged preservatives and artificial ingredients. Make your own in just 5 minutes with regular pantry ingredients and keep it on hand for when Taco Tuesdays roll around!

Taco Seasoning

After posting about my taco night dinner plans on Facebook this week, I guess I had forgotten how much people love tacos.  Of the 9 people who responded to my question, 4 of them were also having tacos that night.  Is it safe to assume that an exponential number of people in the U.S. eat tacos on any given night for dinner?  Are you eating tacos?  OK so because I’m writing this post, I’m going to assume that you are eating tacos at some point so my bigger question should be, how are you making them?

There are of course, enough versions of tacos to come out of my ears but our most basic and favorite are the traditional American tacos grew up on…except now we use ground turkey breast instead of ground beef. (I won that battle.)  Browned meat with taco seasoning (formerly from a packet), diced up fresh tomatoes, a mound of leafy green lettuce, shredded Monterrey jack and/or sharp cheddar cheese, a powerful hit of red onions, and a few dollops of cool heaven…errhmm…sour cream are what you’ll find in our house on taco night.  As far as the vessel goes, we’re split – Kyle loves crunchy corn taco shells while I lean more towards high-fiber flour tortillas.

Taco Seasoning

But what really makes tacos tacos is the seasoning and up until 2 or 3 years ago, we were using the packets from the spice aisle at the grocery store when I actually looked at the sodium content on the package and almost had a figurative stroke.  We immediately switched over to a salt-free mix from Penzeys which was ok but it was missing something – ummm, salt – and I found that I was just adding too much to achieve the right taste.  This taco seasoning recipe was conveniently attached to the creamy taco mac that we adore and it was only natural for us to use the seasoning on regular tacos since the taco mac is such a big hit around here.  The recipe below yields enough for four batches of tacos (using 1lb ground meat per batch) but you can easily double or triple the amounts to save yourself some time in the future.  You can find all of the ingredients in your local grocery store but I highly recommend checking out places like Penzeys or The Spice House to arm yourself with larger quantities at much lower prices than you’ll find in the grocery store.

DIY: Taco Seasoning

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: about ½ cup (enough for approx. 20 servings of tacos)

A homemade taco seasoning without packaged preservatives and artificial ingredients. Make your own in just 5 minutes with regular pantry ingredients and keep it on hand for when Taco Tuesdays roll around!


  • ¼ cup ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small jar or airtight container.
  2. To use: Use 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons of taco seasoning in place of a packet of store-bought taco seasoning. Combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1 cup cold water and stir to dissolve cornstarch. In a large saute pan set over medium-high heat, brown 1lb ground beef, turkey or chicken, add seasoning and cornstarch-water mixture, and simmer over low heat until liquid has thickened.


adapted from Delish and Allrecipes