Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Inspiring Couple: Amy Smart and Carter Oosterhouse

{how cute are they? I can't take it!}

I recently caught a Rachael Ray episode featuring newlyweds Amy Smart and Carter Oosterhouse. Not only are they the cutest couple alive, but they are also seriously into green living. During their interview, they noted how they used local bakers for their cake as well as local chefs for their food. In addition, they used the natural elements as inspiration for their wedding details. You can read about their DIY green ideas here . A particularly interesting tidbit of the interview was when they mentioned how they had over 200 wedding guests and had ONE BAG OF GARBAGE!?!?!?!?!?! I am in serious awe of this. I thought long and hard about this and figured, if you use china, glasses, wine glasses, silverware, table linens and cloth napkins, composted all leftover food that was just might be possible. So now I am sitting here asking myself, "what's my excuse?" They have inspired me to produce less garbage here at home. Especially during the upcoming holidays. Cheers to Amy and Carter! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Easy Peasy Taco Seasoning

{taco seasoning from scratch. how gorgeous are these spice colors?}

Tonight, my quest was to make seasoned taco meat with ingredients from my own pantry. Turns out, my husband liked the homemade version better than the packaged! I omitted the red pepper flakes because we have other family members who do not like spicy foods, but even just a little dash would probably have added the "zip" that it really needed.

In the future, to save on time (not that it's not easy enough!), I might measure out a batch, then make a few batches and put it into a mason jar or spice jar for storage. On the outside of the jar, indicate the recommended serving amount. With the holidays coming up, it's a great idea to whip up a few batches and put it in a beautiful spice jar, decorate it and give it as a small gift! In fact, one of the best (and unique) gifts we received as a wedding favor was a  Montreal Steak spice rub! I personally love the simple, cute look of the following labeled jar:

{link for these decorative jars can be found here}

The following recipe (taken from here) was so easy, it's ridiculous! Please note, I did make a few additions.

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper 
Dash of flour
2-3 Tbsp water

Mix all spices together. Cook desired taco meat in skillet, drain oil. return meat to skillet. Add 2-3 Tbsp water, a dash of flour and the spice mixture. Continue cooking on medium heat until thickened.

Compare the above ingredients to the packaged seasoning (who shall remain nameless):

Yellow corn flour
Modified corn starch
Garlic powder
Citric Acid
Autolyzed Yeast Extract
Natural flavor
Caramel color (sulfites)

I can imagine that you can also season black beans or vegetarian refried beans with the above seasonings if you are vegetarian.