Monthly Archives: November 2011

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Really, this isn’t a food blog. But ever since I was pregnant with #2 I’ve had to really watch my sodium intake because of high blood pressure. When I dramatically decreased the amount of table salt I was using, my blood pressure dropped enough to safely eliminate my BP medication.

One of the ways I did that was to stop buying prepackaged foods – soups, seasoned noodles and rice, etc. But I kept on using the packages of taco seasoning because I just couldn’t find a recipe that tasted like the store-bought kind.

When I went gluten-free a few years ago, I didn’t even THINK to look at the ingredients of those packages of taco seasoning. Why would there be FLOUR in taco seasoning?! Well, surprisingly, many store-bought taco seasonings are not gluten-free. I found out the stuck in the bathroom hard way.

So I started looking for homemade taco seasoning recipes again. And finally found one a couple years ago on that is almost identical to store-bought ones. Except I think it’s better.Homemade Taco Seasoning

Here you go: 9 ingredients I guarantee you already have in your cabinet.

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Add to 1 pound ground meat (beef or turkey) with 3/4 cup water, bring to a boil and simmer until thick (about 5 min).

The best part of making this seasoning is that you can alter the amounts of any of the ingredients. I always drop the salt to 1/2 tsp and I can’t tell the difference. I also sometimes add more cumin because I LOVE it. If you don’t like it too spicy, decrease the heat spices. (This is medium heat as-is.)Taco Seasoning


Camping out. And tents. And purple grape juice.

Cami wants to camp out on her floor tonight. On the hardwood floor. In a sleeping bag. In her little $2 rummage sale sleeping bag that has NO cushion.

I’m not sure why this is so appealing to her. It’s, well, HARD. How can that be comfortable?

I also don’t get why her and big sis Alaina always want to move their mattresses onto the floor. It’s another form of “camping out” they like to do. Isn’t that the same thing as just sleeping IN your bed? I don’t get the novelty of it.

What I do get is making forts. I used to do that all the time when I was growing up. At my best friend’s house, we would have her big sister help us set up chairs and gets TONS of blankets and turn their entire family room into a “kennel” – you know, because we were DOGS.

And then we’d get milk in bowls and lap it up, shaking our pretend tails. We were mostly talking dogs, but sometimes we’d bark and go crazy at the door like when the doorbell rang.

Once, totally unrelated to the tent/dog story, my best friend was pouring me a glass of grape juice. The good, dark, purple grape juice, you know? As she was pouring, she said “Tell me when” and when she got close to the top I said “Okay, that’s enough” but she just kept pouring, like she didn’t even hear me. I kept saying “Danielle! Stop!!! It’s going to spill!! Stop!!! That’s enough!!!” But she kept pouring.

Then I realized I hadn’t said “WHEN.”

She thought she was so funny.

And she was, apparently, since I still remember that story like it was yesterday, rather than 27 years ago. And I still can’t tell it without smiling like a fool.

(This really is going somewhere. I promise. Unless I keep getting interrupted by previously mentioned wanting-to-camp-out little girl.)

So when Cami just asked me if she could camp out on her floor tonight, my instinct was to tell her “No, that is not comfortable and it’s a school night.” And then I thought, it’s not comfortable for ME. But it’s GOT to be comfortable for HER if she wants to keep doing it. And really, the girl can sleep through/on anything.

So I’m going to let her. On a Tuesday night. Because I want her to have great memories of doing things like camping out on her bedroom floor or making tents that totally wreck our living room for days.

Hopefully the girls will grow up to tell stories of when they made tents too. Though I hope they don’t have a grape juice story. At least not one that happens at my house. Man, that made a mess.


linking up with Just Write.

Cranberry Sauce

Besides pumpkin, cranberries are one of my favorite fall/winter foods. I love cranberries for one primary reason: Cranberry Sauce.

I know the first thing that pops into your head is the canned cranberry sauce your grandma used to serve at Thanksgiving dinner. This isn’t your grandma’s canned cranberry sauce.

It’s fresh. It’s simple. And something your kids will even want to eat.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Wash all the fruit.
  2. Throw the cranberries into a food processor using the medium shredding blade. This will chop the cranberries very fine, but won’t puree them.
  3. Core and slice the pear and apples.
  4. Put those into your food processor with the same shredding blade. I don’t even peel them.
  5. Combine all the fruit into a bowl and add the 1/4 cup sugar. Stir well.
  6. Refridgerate for at least an hour to let the flavors blend. Serve cold.

This recipe makes 4 cups of cranberry sauce. And it’s seriously cheap to make. I think cranberries are on sale at every grocery store right now. I bought a 12 oz. bag for $1.50 at Meijer yesterday. You can make this for less that $5 total – it’s a great side dish to take along to the office pitch-in or Thanksgiving dinner with family or friends.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does. My girls have already requested it in their lunches tomorrow. 🙂

Have a recipe you’d like to share? Leave a link in the comment section. I’d love to check it out. I’m always looking for new ways to prepare old favorites. (Like, if you have a green bean casserole recipe that does NOT use a can of soup…)


One year ago, right now.

My contractions started one year ago, right now. Since I’m remembering that time right now, I thought I’d share a post I wrote on our family blog shortly after Lucas was born. This is his birth story.

We have now been living with little Luke for 3 1/2 weeks. It’s been a great transition – the girls are totally in love with their baby brother and things are really going well with us learning to be a family of five. Of course there are struggles, but that’s to be expected right?! 🙂

I wanted to write about Luke’s birth story right away, but have been a bit occupied with getting accustomed to living life with a newborn again! I’ll start at the beginning…

It took 10 months for me to get pregnant this go ’round, so I was very ready for Luke to arrive way before he was due. And he tricked me several times, giving me hours of contractions that ended in false labor. So when my contractions started again around 5:30 Tuesday evening (Nov. 9th) I assumed they’d stop in a few hours like all the times before. By about 10:30 pm I was pretty sure this was the real deal and called my mom first (to give her a heads up) and then my doctor. My doctor told me to go to the hospital and if it truly was real labor, then I’d be admitted and they’d let her know.

I was still pretty calm at this point and felt very in control of the contractions and the situation. I called my friend and neighbor to come stay with the girls until my dad arrived to relieve her. About 11:15 pm Adam and I headed to the hospital while my mom and dad were driving in from Ft. Wayne and my brother from Purdue!

Once I was in triage, they checked me and I was 5 centimeters dialated! This was great news since I was still waiting for them to tell me it was false labor and to go home. 🙂 I was so happy and ready to meet this little guy that the midwife said “Are you having an epidural? Because you seem pretty happy for being 5 centimeters along!”

We got to the labor and delivery room around midnight. My mom arrived around 1:30 am and I was still feeling pretty in control, much more than with either of the girls’ labors. I had each of them naturally, as I was planning on doing with Lucas as well, but they were both posterior, meaning they were face up, rather than the normal face down. This causes a ton of back pain during labor. I’m sure this is the reason I felt more comfortable during my labor to this point.

About 3:30 am, my water still had not broken and my contractions were getting much stronger and closer together. The nurse called my doctor and she said to check my progress again and if I was far enough along she’d come in and break my water. I was 8 centimeters dialated, so around 4:00 am my water was broken.

My water broke naturally with both of the girls, so I didn’t know what to expect. The actual breaking of the bag wasn’t painful, but the amount of pressure that I immediately started to feel was nuts. I think that with the girls I wasn’t as dialated when my water broke, so my body had more time to transition. Well, not with Luke. I felt like I was ready to push almost instantly, but I wasn’t dialated enough and my darn doctor wouldn’t let me push. 🙂 This was one of the hardest parts of my labor – not pushing…

Around 4:30 my doctor finally gave me the go ahead to push. (My mom made a quick call to my dad to get the girls up and bring them to the hospital at this time.) Up to this point my contractions were so close together that I was getting so little rest between them that I was completely worn out. Plus, I was so tired from being up for almost 24 hours that I felt too physically tired to do so. This is the point where I see God stepping in to help me. After my first round of pushing, I started having longer breaks between contractions. At one point I joked that I thought my labor was stopping because of the time between my contractions! It probably was only a minute or so, but it felt like forever, which provided me with some great rest time between contractions and pushing.

At 4:52 am, little Lucas was born. I thought he was going to be my biggest baby (he sure felt big when he was inside!) but he weighed in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 20 in. long which was 3 oz. and 1/2 in. less than Cami (but a whole 1 lb. 2 oz. and 1/2 in. more than Alaina!!).

The girls rushed in (still in PJ’s) to be the first ones to meet him. Alaina instantly was in love. Cami just acted like it was any other day. 🙂

Unfortunately, because of my gestational diabetes and required insulin, they had to take him to NICU very shortly after he was born to monitor his blood sugars. This was really hard – I only got to hold him for about 2 minutes before they took him and Adam didn’t even get to hold him. They did allow Adam to go with Lucas to NICU 30 minutes later, so that was nice at least for Adam to be able to sit with him there. We also were able to spend some time with him there when I was being taken to my post-partum room, but that wasn’t until about 7:15 am.

Luke was in NICU until 9:45 am and then he was cleared to leave NICU and to stay with us. Thankfully his blood sugars were stable and they didn’t need to do anything to him during his stay in NICU. Mine were also stable right away without insulin, so I’m quite thankful for that.

It seems so long ago already. Luke is already changing – being purposefully alert and making sounds. He knows our voices and intently studies our faces. The girls are so great with him – they hold him and care for him when he cries. Cami likes to sing a song she made up for him called “You’re fussy” which he actually really likes. 🙂 Alaina is wonderful at holding Luke and really wants responsibiliy with him more and more. It’s nice to see her so in love with him, since it was really hard for her when Cami was born.

I can’t wait for all of you to meet him. Here’s a glimpse of what I see when I look down at my little man…

Isn’t he perfect?

He’s still perfect. And tomorrow we’ll celebrate the first year of his life. He has brought me so much joy. And I am thankful.

Must-see Movies

My husband’s new thing is getting movies from the library. And since HE is the one reserving the movies, I’m seeing all sorts of movies that I would never pick out on my own. (Primarily because I’ve never heard of most of them.)

Since the weather is starting to get colder, and now that it’s dark at 6 o’clock, you’ll be spending more time inside. Hence, you need some new movies to see! So I’m sharing some movies that have made an impact on me.

Most are documentaries – which I’ll add, I never thought I’d enjoy. Boring, basically homemade, movies? Not for me. But I was completely wrong with these. Not all, I’ll admit, have been must-sees. But I won’t share those with you. I’ll just hold them over my husband’s head as he chooses new movies to reserve. 🙂

Drum roll please…

  1. Waiting for Superman: Okay, if you stop reading right now and only watch this one movie, I’ll be happy. This is an amazing and informative movie about the US educational system. It’ll make you mad and inspire you to know more and do more. It is absolutely the number 1 must-see in my opinion. Plus, it’s got music from John Legend. What more could you need?
  2. Inside Job: This movie is a very well-done, non-partisan documentary of the global economic crisis of 2008. I had NO IDEA of the relationships of the people in the financial industry and the government. Infiltrating BOTH political parties. It’s outrageous. And it’s narrated by Matt Damon – so it’s easy on your ears.
  3. Restrepo: I’ve written about this one before, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s about the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. It’s such an eye-opener. Hard to watch, but really good. Interesting tidbit, the co-director of the movie, Tim Hetherington, was killed in April while covering the conflict in Libya.
  4. The Tillman Story: This is about the death of Pat Tillman, a professional football player who left the NFL to join the military because he felt it was the right thing to do. The movie states that the military manipulated his death in the line of duty into a propaganda tool. It’s pretty crazy. Like, crazy what probably happens more than you know and don’t WANT to know.
  5. The Pursuit of Happyness: Finally! Not a documentary! And you may wonder why I included this one. But seriously, it’s an amazing look at what a parent would do for a child and how one man could overcome SO. MUCH. to become something. It’s heartbreaking and inspiring. Caution: I cried through nearly the whole movie. So get some tissues.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these movies if you’ve seen them (or once you do). Do you have any must-see movie suggestions for me? I keep reverting back to the goodies when I’m bored with TV – you know, like Pretty Woman and Hitched, so I’m sure my husband could use some help here.