Self-Made Seasoning: Homemade Taco Mix

Self-Made Seasoning: Homemade Taco Mix

Hello, folks! We’re back from New York and completely tuckered out, so this’ll be a short little entry with a simple little recipe: Homemade Taco Mix!

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Mancktastic!

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a weird sensitivity to cumin, so I have to make my own taco mix so my belly doesn’t get angry. Even if you don’t have a sensitivity like me, I highly recommend making your own taco seasoning! It’s cheap, easy and way lower sodium than the commercial stuff.

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Mancktastic!

This seasoning is a little spicy, a little peppery and really well-balanced in the flavor department. We use it sprinkled on chicken before we grill it, on ground beef for taco night and as a final garnish for nachos! Try it in Taco Burgers, Mexican Pork and Grits Bake, or my favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup!

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Mancktastic!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  1. Combine all ingredients in a lidded container and shake to combine. Store in pantry for 3-6 months.

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Mancktastic!

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Oh My! The F-A-B- Sandwich

Oh My! The F-A-B- Sandwich

I’m going to be honest with you: I named this sandwich before I’d even finalized the ingredient list. As soon as I thought of feta and bacon together, I knew it needed to be FAB so apple joined the party 🙂 Thank goodness it did, because this sandwich is all that and a half when you put it all together!

The FAB Sandwich from Mancktastic!

We start with a solidly delicious base of sourdough bread, then add creamy and perfectly herby mayonnaise to brighten up the sandwich. Next comes the saltiness of bacon and feta, then we cut through it with crisp, fresh apple and spinach so your palette isn’t overwhelmed. All the ingredients play together nicely: the complimentary creaminesses of feta and mayo, the clear and light flavors of the herbs and apple.

The FAB Sandwich from Mancktastic!

This sandwich can be easily translated into a cold sandwich or salad without toasting, but the heat does do magic for this dish. The herbaceous mayo melts into the bread and bacon as they crisp and the feta releases an extra punch of creaminess. This is a great picnic or lazy Saturday sandwich!

The FAB Sandwich from Mancktastic!

The FAB Mancktastic Sandwich!

  • Sourdough Bread
  • Apple, thinly sliced
  • Bacon, fully cooked
  • Spinach
  • Crumbled Feta Cheese
  • Garlic-Herb Mayonnaise
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350◦ F.
  2. Spread garlic-herb mayonnaise on 2 slices of bread, set one aside and place the other on a baking sheet.
  3. On set aside piece of bread, add spinach and thinly sliced apple.
  4. Add bacon and feta to your own specifications on the baking sheet bread.
  5. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until feta is slightly melty and bacon is crisper.
  6. Construct your sandwich and enjoy!

The FAB Sandwich from Mancktastic!

Bill’s Favorite Sandwich

Bill’s Favorite Sandwich

As I write this, Bill and I are Albany-bound to visit his wonderful parents (my in-laws) via a good ol’ fashioned road trip! Since we’re going up to the great cold North as a pre-30th-birthday celebration for this husband, I figured this would be a great time to share Bill’s most favorite sandwich so you can enjoy it with us!

Bill's Favorite Sandwich from Mancktastic!

This sandwich is based on one we first enjoyed at the always-mentioned-HEB as part of their World of Sandwiches celebration last month. They combined Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and some sort of proprietary spiced mayo on a baguette, then toasted and served it my salivating husband.

Bill's Favorite Sandwich from Mancktastic!

To recreate this tasty lunchtime treat at home, we used prosciutto and balsamic mayonnaise, along with melty Manchego and crispy baguette. The balsamic mayonnaise adds a wonderful hint of sweetness to the salty, cured flavor of the ham, while the Manchego’s distinctive goat cheese flavor ties it all together on a crusty base of baguette. A simple toasting in the oven brings it all together.

Bill's Favorite Sandwich from Mancktastic!

Bill’s Favorite Sandwich

  • Prosciutto
  • Thin-sliced Manchego cheese
  • Balsamic mayonnaise (the one I found was from Hellman’s)
  • Split Baguette
  1. Preheat oven to 375◦ F.
  2. Spread balsamic mayonnaise on both sides of a split baguette. Layer Manchego cheese and prosciutto to your taste.
  3.  Place sandwich(es) on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!

Bill's Favorite Sandwich from Mancktastic!

Fresh, Fast and Refreshing: Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad

Fresh, Fast and Refreshing: Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad

You’ve got no idea what to make for dinner, you’re staring at a half-empty refrigerator with a rumbling belly and hungry family to satisfy, but inspiration suddenly strikes! Tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic and a little pasta? Sounds like time to make a simple, delightful pasta salad. You’ve got everything you need on hand to make a quick bruschetta while pasta bubbles and balsamic vinegar reduces, so dinner will be done in just 10 minutes. With the hot summer definitely upon us, fast and fresh is definitely the way to go!

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad from Mancktastic!

I cannot stress enough how simple this dish is to make. Do you know how to boil noodles? Can you watch liquid bubble away? Can you quarter cherry tomatoes? Then you, too, can make this delicious pasta salad that’s way better than anything you’d grab at the deli or salad bar. The secret is the depth of flavor the reduced balsamic vinegar imparts into the pasta, combined with the pops of mozzarella and the fresh herbaceousness and brightness of the quick bruschetta. When you use a small pasta, you can create the perfect bite of fresh tomato, tangy coated pasta and chewy mozzarella. If you’re in the mood for even more savory flavors, try oven roasted tomatoes in place of the bruschetta and top with melty broiled mozzarella rounds.

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad from Mancktastic!

This would be a great side dish for Bruschetta Chicken on a hot summer’s day. I’m also planning to prepare a big batch of this for potluck dish to enjoy with family and friends at the Fourth of July! If I stick it in a big ol’ blue bowl, it’ll be extra patriotic 🙂

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad from Mancktastic!

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad

  • 8 ounces mini penne
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 8 ounces fresh ciliegine or other small mozzarella balls, drained
  1. Pour ½ cup of balsamic vinegar into a small pot over medium heat. Allow vinegar to reduce, stirring occasionally, until it coats the back of a spoon (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Cook and drain pasta to package directions and set aside
  3. While the balsamic vinegar reduces and pasta cooks, combine cherry tomatoes, 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, olive oil and dried oregano. Stir until all tomatoes are well-coated and place in refrigerator.
  4. Combine pasta and reduced balsamic vinegar, stirring well to coat the pasta. Add tomato mixture and mozzarella balls, stirring to distribute well. Serve topped with additional oregano.

Bruschetta-Caprese Pasta Salad from Mancktastic!

A Simple Side: Creamy Oven Risotto

A Simple Side: Creamy Oven Risotto

I’m sure cooking purists would beat me left and right if they heard me call today’s recipe “risotto”. Sure, it has the traditional arborio rice and white wine, but it involves basically no time tediously stirring while hovering over the stove top. Instead, this simple and tasty dish starts on the stovetop but finishes its creamy work in the oven, freeing you up to cook your entree or, like I did, watch Firefly and drink red wine with your husband : )

By letting the oven do the evaporation work and finishing with parmesan and butter, you get the thick and creamy texture of risotto with much less hassle.

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First things first, preheat your oven to 450° F, nice and toasty. Combine olive oil and a couple cloves of minced garlic in a large oven-proof pan or dutch oven (with a cover) over medium heat. When olive oil has been heated and the garlic is fragrant, add two cups of arborio rice to the pan and stir so every grain is well-coated with oil. Add one half cup of white wine to the pan and huff the fumes, I mean, stir and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add four cups of water to the pan and let come to a boil. Once you’ve achieved a healthy boil, cover the pan and into the oven it goes! Let this bubble away for 25-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed, then remove from the hotbox. Add 2 Tablespoons of butter and (at least) half a cup of Parmesan cheese to the pan and stir until it’s all creamy and delicious. Add salt and pepper to taste as a finishing touch.

We served our oven risotto with fresh feta, spinach and chicken sausage that we skillet-cooked while the risotto bubbled away. The pan juices from the chicken sausage added a really nice savory touch to the creamy risotto; it would also be a great accompaniment to a hearty grilled steak or fresh fish.

Creamy Oven Risotto

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup white white
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large oven-proof dutch oven. Add rice and cook for about 1 minute, stirring so that it gets coated in oil. Add in wine and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add in the water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and move pot into the oven. Bake until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese, stirring so that everything is incorporated. Serve immediately.

Based on a recipe from PoppyTalk

CreamyOvenRisotto

Simple and Quick: Turkey Pizzadillas

Simple and Quick: Turkey Pizzadillas

I went into making last night’s dinner with wraps as the plan; delicious wraps filled with melty cheese, toasty pepperoni and lean, filling deli turkey. I hit a wall when I realized the tortillas I’d gotten on sale (score!) were way too tiny to fold, bummer! Bill and I were in a hurry so he could make it up to school for Parent-Teacher conferences, so I needed to make do with what I had. Thus, the Turkey Pizzadilla was born!

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As I reflect on it now, Turkey Pizzadilla sounds a bit like some sort of rare endangered animal doesn’t it? I’d make up a fake Latin name for it now, but that gives my classics scholar husband migraines 😉

The hybrid of pizza, sandwich and quesadilla, Turkey Pizzadillas are a quick and simple dinner that kids especially will love! Simply heat a grill pan or griddle to medium, slap down a tortilla, top with your pizza sauce, thin-sliced turkey, cheese and toppings of choice, slap another tortilla on top and voila: Turkey Pizzadilla!

We used teeny-tiny pepperoni and mozzarella on ours last night, but you could also use an Italian mix cheese, Canadian bacon, or whatever pizzalicious toppings your heart desires.

Enjoy!

TurkeyPizzadillas

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

It is safe to say that my husband is a pizza addict: he can easily blow through 3 frozen pizzas a week if I don’t try to get some other nutrition into him, so he loved these fluffy little Pepperoni Pizza Puffs, handily finishing off the whole tray! I feel a little better about this dish originally from Lick the Bowl Good since it’s fresh and almost as quick as a frozen pizza. A simple batter of flour, baking powder, egg and milk puffs up beautifully, full of cheese and pepperoni, ready for you to pop in and enjoy.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mini pepperoni
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Whisk in milk and egg until well-combined. Add the mozzarella, parmesan and mini pepperoni and mix until evenly distributed. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Give the batter one more good stir and distribute into the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffy and golden, 22-25 minutes.
  4. Heat pizza sauce and serve along with puffs.

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These would be great as an appetizer or as finger food for a big game! They have a smooth, fluffy texture without being weighted down by too much cheese. Since the sauce is on the side, the puffs aren’t soggy or messy. You could also add different pizza toppings to customize these little guys to your family’s taste!

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!