Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Since our family has been making transitions to eat better*, I've been trying to make a lot more of our own pantry staples. An easy transition has been to make our own taco seasoning. I've tried a few recipes and didn't really care for them... the recipes that had chili powder as the main ingredient just didn't seem to taste all that great. Then I found one that used mostly cumin... and I tweaked it to fit our tastes... and we loved it. It's the only one we make now! 

[terrible phone picture, but oh well!]

2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

(sometimes I add a little bit more of the "spicy" ingredients depending on how hot we want it, and sometimes I add red pepper flakes. It all depends on our mood... or my pregnancy nausea!)

I always double it, though. Throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix it up. You can put it in an old spice container or whatever you have. I've been asked several times "how much do you use?" and honestly, it depends! I usually make 1 lb of ground beef when we have tacos (so Jake can have leftovers for lunch the next day), and when the meat is done browning (with diced onions) and has been drained if needed, I add a bunch of this seasoning and some salt and a little water... and I taste it. If it needs more, I add more. Simple as that. :) 

What other home made pantry staples should I give a try? Any suggestions? 

*we generally eat pretty "healthy," but I've been trying to reduce the amount of processed foods (even though we don't eat very much), things with MSG/GMOs, etc. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

{ 22/23 weeks }

Yes, another combined week post... my apologies. Last week was... eh. It was a hard week, to be honest. Jake was at work a lot because they were harvesting at the farm... he put in 90 hours, and I hardly saw him the entire week.

Also, on Saturday, my grandma passed away. It was kind of expected; she had emergency surgery for a life threatening bowel obstruction earlier that week, and she has just been really frail for a while from a lot of other health issues. Being expected sure doesn't make it hurt any less, though. The only thing that DOES make it hurt less is the hope that I have in Christ, and the assurance that I will see her again when I'm blessed to be called home. I'm so thankful that she was a believer. But my selfish and human heart hurts at her passing. Both she and my grandpa have greatly influenced my life and have definitely impacted my heart towards missions.

...and I keep typing and erasing everything I write because none of it makes sense when it is written on the page. Please just pray for our family... my grandma was a very special and precious woman, and she will be very dearly missed. I'm so thankful that Ryan got to meet her back in March when we visited. He won't remember it, but I will, and they will be special memories.

I don't even feel like I want to continue writing with the pregnancy update, but I guess I will anyways. I know  I didn't update after my last appointment on the 12th. It went well; my midwife reviewed the ultrasound notes from the radiologist and said everything looked good. It was a really "boring" appointment because we didn't have a lot of stuff to discuss. Still, the appointment lasted an hour and 45 minutes long, just because we looked at scrapbooks and chatted about stuff. I seriously love the attention I'm given with a home birth midwife... the relationship we've been able to build in such a short period of time is awesome. I'm really excited to meet our little one, even though labor/delivery has to come before the meeting... I'm actually looking forward to that experience as well.

A fun thing from this weekend was being able to go to garage sales and get a bunch of baby clothes and some clothes for Ryan, since he needed a few things to complete a fall wardrobe. He looks so cute and snuggly in his warm sweatshirts. I love this cooler weather and have looked forward to it for a long time... unfortunately coffee still doesn't sound all that appetizing, but I love hot drinks in the morning, so spearmint tea it is.

I guess that's all I have for an update today. Pretty boring and melancholy... sorry :[ It's just been a rough week. Thanks for your prayers and support.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Salsa Making

Well, I canned for my very first time on Saturday :] It was really only the first time I've done it MYSELF, but I've done it with my mom several times and a friend last year. So I kind of knew the gist of it, but it was fun to do it on my own and figure out how it works best for me! Here are some pictures from our day. I only started taking pictures after the huge mess was cleaned up (only because I forgot to take pictures before; I didn't care about the mess)... straining the tomatoes through the Victorio thing was a mess when you had a little helper! ;]

[cooking the salsa and heating the jars!]

[this was my "filling" station... once the salsa was done cooking, I would bring the jars over here one by one and fill them with salsa. Then I would put the lid on and throw 'em back in the water bath.]

[30 cups of tomatoes, 4 cups of cilantro, 5 cups of onions, 6 cups of peppers, and a whole lotta other good stuff... YUM!]

[my first batch... it was SO great to hear the "pop" when they started to seal!]

[the finished product... YAY SALSA!]


It was really fun to do this! It felt like it was a long process, probably because of all the cutting and dicing you have to do. It probably would have taken FOREVER if I didn't have one of these. That baby was my life saver, especially with cutting the onions. I used this with the peppers, too.

I'm still getting more tomatoes from my garden, so I think it would be fun to do some pizza sauce and maybe spaghetti sauce too. I want to can everything! But since our garden didn't give us much of a crop this year (being sick + pregnant will kind of make your garden less of a priority...), it's not the most efficient thing to go out and BUY stuff to can... so I have better plans for my garden next year. My mom and I are going to can applesauce and apple jelly in a few weeks. I'm excited! 

{ 20 / 21 weeks }

Here is my weekly update... combined this time, though, because I got busy last week! I have a few photos to share this time, too... so it will be a fun post ;]

Here's the discussion question for this week from the blog link-up: "What is the one must-have baby item that you can't live without?" For me, it's definitely one of my baby carriers... I have a soft jersey wrap and also an Ergo carrier. I want to buy the infant insert for the carrier so I can use it when this one is littler than when I started with Ryan. But I really like both of them! I've been looking into a few other options too because I think I'll be wearing this one more than Ryan, just because since Ryan is here, I will need my hands more often!

On Wednesday, it was Jake's birthday... and we also had our ultrasound! It was a really fun day. We dropped Ryan off at my grandma's house (my sister lives there right now, so she watched him), and Jake and I went to my ultrasound appointment. It was really fun to see the baby :] Everything looked great; everything was there that was supposed to be there. Baby was a week or two small, but has plenty of time to grow, so that's okay. Obviously we haven't heard the "official report" from the radiologist yet (and probably won't until my appointment with my midwife on the 12th), but the tech said things look great. We had her write down the gender on a piece of paper for Jake and I to look at later over dinner. :]

After a quick stop at Gander Mountain to look at some hunting stuff because Jake is getting into bow hunting, we went back to my grandma's house and to pick up Ryan. Apparently he had a blast with his auntie and didn't miss us at all ;] It felt so weird to be without him, though! I love having him around :]

Then, we went to Pizza Ranch. Since it was Jake's birthday, and we had our ultrasound, we decided to celebrate a little bit. All I wanted was a huge salad... and Jake likes Pizza Ranch, so that was his decision. Thankfully they have a pretty good salad bar :] It was busy, but not as busy as when we left... there was a huge line of people waiting to get in as we were leaving.

[Ryan really enjoyed his food, he ate more than I did.]

[my love... so happy to be blessed with another year of his life!]

[me and my two little people; one internal, one external]

And now... for our big gender reveal... 

It's... a.... 

...oh, sorry. I'm going to be a meanie and not tell. Don't worry, it's not just you; this news is staying just within our little family :] But it's a BABY and we are super excited!! 

Everything else is going well. I've been starting to feel the baby move more this week, which is fun.

And lastly... a baby bump (or lack of) picture. All I have is a lumpy tummy, thanks to my jeans. Haha. And this picture is totally awkward, because it appears that I am missing my right arm... but it's there, really. 

Linking up with My Joy Filled Pregnancy...