Monday, August 29, 2016

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Well, as you all might already know, my family loves Tex Mex food!  I learned how to make my own taco seasoning, and it's a welcome addition to the Z spice cabinet.

Here's how you can make your own, too.

Yield: Fills (1) 8-9 oz jar

1 3/4 t. garlic powder
1 3/4 t. onion powder or dehydrated onions
1 3/4 t. dried oregano
3 1/2 t. paprika
3 1/2 t. ground cumin
3 1/2 t. sea salt
3 1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 c. + 3 T. chili powder
optional: 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (shaker peppers - recipe two blog posts ago!)

Add spices to jar one at a time.  Close jar tightly and shake slightly to ensure spices are well mixed, evenly distributed.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A lot of rain and still sunny weather makes the Z Garden explode!!

Enjoy these last days of summer sun and warmth!  Fall is around the favorite season! :)


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pepper Power...Activate!

Pepper Power...Activate! :)

The Z Garden has exploded with veggie goodness...we are thankful.  In the explosion of goodness comes a nice variety of peppers: Thai red chili, Serrano, jalapeno, Hungarian red, green bell, and new this year: habenero.  What on earth do we do with all these peppers?  I typically freeze the green bell peppers that we aren't able to eat (in the next week it appears we will have an overabundance so this will be occurring soon!); I pickle a nice medley of the Hungarians, Serranos, and jalapenos with onions, garlic, carrots (see my previous blog post); I occasionally freeze the Thai red chilis for use in stews and curries; I use the habernos for a yummy homemade shui mai or dumpling sauce in combination with soy sauce, sesame oil, and other goodies (minced garlic and fresh ginger root) that I keep in the freezer; and now, just yesterday, I completed dehydrating a full variety of all of the peppers, as we had many bags in the refrigerator, for Crushed Peppers, aka what I call "Shaker Peppers" (good on pizza, in stews, etc).  We made these a few years ago and decided to make another batch this year.

Jen's Shaker Peppers:
1. Preheat oven at 170F.

2. Slice variety of peppers (I sliced the peppers by hand as some of the peppers are too pliable or soft for the mandolin) and place on wax paper/parchment paper lined baking sheets.  WASH HANDS thoroughly with soap afterwards, as the pepper oils can be very irritating to the skin.  If you have a face mask, feel free to wear one if you are highly sensitive.  Feel free to also wear gloves for handling and slicing if you wish.

3. Place in oven at 170F for approx 14 hours for full drying.  These pepper dehydrated overnight, during slumber! I began at 3:45 p.m. and removed the peppers from the oven at 5:45 a.m.

4. In a well-ventilated kichen - please use a face mask if you have one - or, in my case, I did this process outside, as the pepper "dust" and oils can be quite irritating to the eyes and skin, place dehydrated peppers in a food processor with chopping blade in place.

5.  Mix/whir peppers on highest speed for several minutes, pulsing to desired texture if needed.  The longer you whir the peppers, the finer the texture will be - if you desire a powder format vs. a more crushed pepper seed format you will need to mix/whir/pulse for a longer period of time.  Again, please be aware the the pepper "dust" can be irritating, even in a well-ventilated area.

6.  Take care in handling the crushed pepper mixture.  Pour into glass jar for spice cabinet storage and use.  This mixture will last up to a year or longer. (Yes, all of those peppers pictured yielded ONE Ball jar of shaker peppers!)

These "Shaker Peppers" liven up the flavor for sauces, stews, pizza, and many other dishes.  Remember:  A little goes a lllooonnnngggg way! :)