Homemade Taco Seasoning

Originally posted September 2013; Updated February 2021

My early attempts at cooking from scratch were often born out of necessity – I’d often forget something at the store and then have to make my own homemade version at home. This happened with taco seasoning more times than I care to admit to.

At first, I found it daunting to make my own seasonings, but the more I did it, the more I relied on it instead of store-bought versions. I found it easier to adjust the seasonings to our personal taste (more spice before kids, less so now) and easier to adjust the amount in recipes. I always found it annoying that if I had a little more ground beef than called for, everything would be less flavorful – or if I didn’t want to make as much I’d end up wasting. Making my own was the perfect solution.

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Make It Yourself Monday: Pumpkin Pie Spice

Hello, September. Hello, pumpkin season! I’ve seen so much excitement over pumpkin-flavored everything that I thought it was appropriate to kick off September with this recipe.

Pumpkin pie spice is essentially in lots of pumpkin recipes and it’s super easy to whip up at home. Chances are, you already have everything you need in your pantry!


Pumpkin Pie Spice
(from Annie’s Eats)
Makes about 4 Tablespoons

2 T. ground cinnamon
1 T. ground ginger
1 1/2 t. ground allspice
1 1/2 t. ground cloves
3/4 t. ground nutmeg

Whisk together in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container.

Make It Yourself Monday: Fuddruckers-Style Hamburger Seasoning

Fuddruckers is our go-to place for burgers. Admittedly, we’re drawn in by the condiments bar – why wouldn’t want all that fun stuff on your burger or fries?! – but the burgers themselves are really tasty too.

Now that it’s grill season, we’ve been doing burgers at home a lot more often – and I’ve been dressing them up with this Fuddruckers-style seasoning. It’s pretty close to what you get at the restaurant!

I’ve mixed it into homemade burgers, and also rubbed it into the outside of store-bought burgers – both methods work well.


Fuddruckers-Style Hamburger Seasoning
(from Top Secret Recipes)
Makes about 8 Tablespoons

2 T. + 2 t. paprika
2 T. black pepper
1 T + 3/4 t. salt
2 t. brown sugar
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1 t. cayenne powder

Whisk together until well combined and store in an airtight container.

Make It Yourself Monday: Classic Hummus

When I introduced the Make It Yourself Monday series back in the beginning of January, I envisioned it to be a regular feature of the blog. I wanted it to be the push for me to make more “basics” myself. Since then, I’ve put up a whopping two posts. What happened? Well, I’m just really not doing as well with the cooking-from-scratch things as I hoped.

But, the beauty of a June birthday is that it’s like another reset button mid-year. I’ll be celebrating my birthday on Wednesday and this year there will be more cooking from scratch!

Hummus is something I’ve wanted to make for a while. I’d planned on trying it a few years ago and then couldn’t find tahini. I just happened to turn around in the grocery store a few weeks ago and noticed tahini on the shelf! It went into the cart immediately and I made this as soon as I got home.

The most tedious part of this recipe is peeling the chick peas, but it’s so worth it! The end result is the smoothest hummus I’ve ever had.


Classic Hummus
(from Branny Boils Over)
Makes about 3 cups

2 (15 oz.) cans chick peas, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. tahini
2-4 T. water, as needed to reach desired consistency
1/2-1 t. fine grain sea salt
1/4 t. ground coriander seeds

To peel the chick peas: drain them from the cans and rinse thoroughly. If you squeeze the chick peas lightly, they should pop out of their skins.

Add the peeled chick peas to a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until very smooth.


Make it Yourself Monday: Shamrock Shakes

For me, Shamrock Shakes appearing at McDonald’s are a sign that spring is coming. By the time you hit St. Patrick’s Day, the weather around here is starting to get decent again. And by decent, I mean you probably won’t need the scarf, gloves, hat AND your car warmed up so you don’t freeze on the way to work. I’ve grabbed two so far this season and have sipped them happily dreaming of warmer weather.

Of course, Friday morning we woke up to some unexpected snow – total buzz kill. I decided another dose of the minty goodness was what I needed to shake the snow blues. Luckily, these are ridiculously easy to whip up yourself at home.

I used low-fat ice cream and low-fat milk to keep these slightly healthier and it didn’t feel like I was missing calories at all. I also opted for the more generic mint extract over peppermint extract, which a lot of the Shamrock Shake recipes call for. I think the flavor of the mint extract is closer to what you get at McDonald’s. Add on some whipped cream, a cherry and a green straw and you’ve got a perfectly festive treat.


Shamrock Shake
(adapted from Number 2 Pencil)
Makes 1 Shake

1 1/4 c. vanilla ice cream
1/4 t. vanilla extract
2-3 drops mint extract
1/4 c. milk (plus additional if needed to thin the shake)
1 T. sugar
2-3 drops green food coloring
Whipped cream and cherry, for garnish

In a blender, combine the ice cream, vanilla extract, mint extract, milk, sugar and green food coloring. Blend until smooth. If too thick, blend in a little more milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Top with whipped cream and a cherry.