Today is my day off and I’m using the time for some kitchen prep work which will make the next week run smoothly. I was planning to send my son to school with a homemade taco salad in his lunchbox tomorrow. I was out of the seasoning mix I use for any of my Tex-Mex dishes (chili, fajitas, tacos, etc). I’ll have to remember to write a little about our adventures in packed lunches at some later time. For those of you struggling to keep your children’s lunch menu interesting, I should share some of our packed lunch menus.
Unlike many of the taco seasoning recipes floating around on the web, you will notice that my recipe lacks onion and garlic powder. I like to use fresh garlic and onion when I cook up my chili or taco meat, so it’s not necessary in my spice blend. Once I’ve cooked up my ground beef and added my spice mix, I add two or three tablespoons of flour to the meat and cook it for another minute. I then add a little water and simmer to create slightly saucy meat mixture. I finish the whole thing off with a few squeezes of fresh lime juice to brighten up the flavor and give it a little extra zing.
I try to use as many whole spices, and herbs that I grow myself in my kitchen. The flavor of freshly toasted and crushed herbs and spices is far superior to the stale pre-ground seasonings found in the grocery store aisles. In this particular spice blend I use oregano from my herb garden, and whole cumin seed that I toast in a cast iron skillet (until the seeds start to pop and smoke slightly) and grind with a mortar and pestle. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to do everything the hard way. The chili powder used is a matter of personal taste. I use a mild chili powder because my husband can’t handle spicy food. If I had my way I’d be using a wonderful rich, smoky chipotle powder that lurks in the back of my spice cupboard.
All Purpose Tex-Mex Spice Blend
8 Tablespoons chili powder
4 Tablespoons toasted cumin seed powder
1 Tablespoon good quality Hungarian paprika
1 Tablespoon crushed oregano leaves
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
Blend all spices together and store in a jar. I recently began using Weck canning jars, which are so popular in Germany and Europe. These 1/5 l deco jars stack perfectly in my spice cupboard.