Reorganizing My Life in the Kitchen: Nightshade Free Taco Seasoning and Nightshade Free Barbecue Sauce


One of the issues I have been fighting for the last couple of years seems to have found its cause. I have an allergy to peppers. Not peppercorns, which are not the same thing at all, but peppers. Bell peppers, chili peppers, cayenne peppers, ancho peppers, Anaheims, poblanos, jalapenos, and much to my dismay, paprika. I have a sensitivity to tomatoes as well, but nowhere near as severe. Potatoes seem to be okay. So I’ve had to eliminate peppers and reduce the use of tomato products. This has, as you can imagine, turned my kitchen life upside down. And my garden planning as well, because my garden for the last couple years was built around tomatoes and peppers, and now it can’t be.

One of the things that made me wonder about this early on is the fact that my hands would hurt so much after simply dealing with tomato and pepper vines. Especially if I was pruning tomato vines and the juice leaking from the stalk got on my skin. The joints in my fingers would be painful and the skin would erupt anywhere the vines or the peppers touched. The outsides of the peppers. This had nothing to do with the seeds or membranes at all as I always wear gloves when dealing with those. Even bell peppers were a problem now.

I’ve been working to discover ways to try to eat some of my old favorites, using herbs, spices, and different peppercorns to try to come up with new recipes. I have had some successes and some failures, but I thought I’d share a couple of the successes with you today. The first is a nightshade free taco seasoning and the second is a nightshade free barbecue sauce. The taco seasoning is mild and if you want to kick it up a notch you can add 1/2 teaspoon of ground Szechuan peppercorns. I also cook my taco meat with 1 cup of diced yellow onions and I used to add in a pint of diced tomatoes with the juice, as the juice would be what would help the seasoning spread all around. Haven’t quite found a substitute for tomatoes there yet, but it is good without and I just use water instead for the liquid.

Taco Seasoning Ingredients:

1 Tbsp (or less) of salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
1 Rbsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Optional: 1/2 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns for heat (measure after grinding)

Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:

For sweet sauce–
1 cup honey
1 cup apricot jelly (or preserves)
1/2 cup coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper

For spicy:
Add 2 tsp Szechuan pepper to the above ingredients. Adjust to your heat tolerance from there.


Almost Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Earlier in the week, I brought you one of my homemade meatball recipes. This is the sauce I make whenever I make spaghetti or lasagna or ravioli and it is the sauce I simmered the meatballs in. It’s not fully homemade because I don’t make my own tomato sauce or paste. I have never grown enough tomatoes to be able to afford the luxury of making all of my own sauce and certainly not enough to make my own paste. I have made sauce once, and until I can grow dozens of tomato plants in a summer, I won’t be doing it again. Not when even organic tomato sauce and paste is relatively inexpensive. I’d much rather just can the tomatoes I grow when I’m limited to eight fairly mediocre producing plants like I was this past summer. Other than that, though, it’s homemade.

2 pints of tomato sauce (or 14.5 oz cans from the store)
1 8 oz can tomato paste
1 pint of canned tomatoes or 1 pound of fresh roma tomatoes (or a 14.5 oz can from the store)
1 large yellow onion, diced (not a sweet onion)
6 garlic cloves, crushed (yes, you can cheat and use minced out of a jar. I recommend Christopher Ranch if you are going to)
Extra virgin olive oil (adds to the sauce flavor, so do not substitute)

Cover the bottom of a 4 quart pot with just enough oil to coat. Add diced onions and minced garlic and saute over medium high heat for 2 minutes.

Add your pint of tomatoes and stir together. After 1 minute add your tomato sauce and then your paste. Mix the paste well into the sauce. I have found that smooshing it down against the bottom of the pot with a large spoon helps break the paste apart and incorporate better into the sauce.

Turn the heat down to medium and keep an eye on it, stirring it when it bubbles up for about ten minutes.

Add a handful of dried basil, a handful of dried oregano, and a palmful of dried thyme. Add twenty grinds of pepper and then add salt to your taste preferences. It will depend on whether or not your tomato sauce has salt in it already or not. Stir.

Turn to as low as the heat goes. Cover. Simmer for ten minutes (with or without meatballs). Serve over hearty spaghetti noodles. This will overpower angel hair or other tiny stranded pasta.

This sauce recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of spaghetti, with enough left over for a homemade pizza and meatball sandwiches. It also freezes well.

In other news, today is my 45th birthday. It was a nice day, nothing spectacular, but the flowering cherry trees at the high school are blooming and spring is in the air. The dogwoods and forsythia, the crocus, tulips, and daffodils, are not far behind. My fingers yearn for the dirt. About two months to go until the last frost and it will be safe to plant outdoors.

flowering cherry tree 2

flowering cherry tree 3

flowering cherry tree 1

In other, other news, I got 3 duck eggs today. It won’t be long now until I start getting 6 a day and we’ll be up to our eyeballs again.

Rabbit, Beef, and Pork Meatballs

So I made up a new recipe today for meatballs. It was based off a recipe that used beef, pork, and lamb, but a whole lot of bread. I didn’t like the idea of using an entire loaf of bread in a meatball recipe, but I definitely wanted to try something other than my old meatball recipe which works with beef, but leaves rabbit a little dry. This is what I did.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1 pound ground rabbit
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup of Italian style panko bread crumbs (I use Ian’s because it doesn’t have a ton of junk in it)
2 duck eggs
1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

In a large mixing bowl pull apart the rabbit, beef, and pork. Add the eggs and mix with your hands. Then add the bread crumbs and mix in. Then add the cheese. (You could add minced garlic if you want to, but the sauce I was making was heavy on the garlic so I did not).

Form into 16 3 oz meatballs. Place into a large baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Simmer for 10 minutes in spaghetti sauce. Serve over spaghetti, 2 to 3 meatballs per person. They were very tasty. I ate 2 and my two teenagers had three each.

I saved half the meatballs to use in meatball sandwiches for tomorrow’s dinner. Those ones I did not simmer in the sauce.

On the rabbit front, things are going well. Firefly has taken all four urine guards off her cage and stacked them neatly in the center two days running, so today we zip-tied them onto her cage. She wasn’t happy, but those need to stay in place, since there is no baby-saver wire on the cage walls. I want her to be used to them being there before she gives birth. Luna hasn’t messed with hers at all. Some of the does don’t seem to mind them. Others constantly try to take them off. The bucks have never messed with them at all. I need to get 4 more washed up and put into Persephone’s cage before too much longer.

I am consistently getting 2 duck eggs a day. I sold one dozen duck eggs to a new customer on Friday and I have my regular customer coming by for 2 dozen on Monday. The Barnevelders are laying every day. Gina has not started laying yet. George has shown more interest in the new nesting box than Gina has, though he is so big he can barely fit in it.

We had another big wind storm this week and both the new turkey coop roof and the repaired duck coop roof stayed in place. Also the turkey pen roof that was also repaired stayed in place. I was very pleased because all kinds of things were flying around from people’s yards.

I treated Leo with Ivermectin paste for fur mites on the 4th. A rabbit gets a pea sized lump of it. I got the apple flavored stuff and he gobbled it right down. Within 24 hours I saw an improvement. He has perked up so much. He is a happy bunny again. He is no longer rolling in his poop and he has cleaned his fur very well. Each day since treatment he looks cleaner than the day before. He is coming out of his cage and running around on the shed floor which he has had no interest in doing for a long time.

I will have to treat him again on the 18th and then again on March 4th. The first dose kills the mites, but not the eggs. The second dose kills those that hatch out of those eggs and should kill them before they can lay eggs, but just in case some get through, the third dose ends the problem. He is also getting daily coat brushes. He is shedding so I am getting a lot of fur when I do it, but he loves to be brushed and always has. None of the other rabbits have any signs of mites. I don’t know how he got it without anyone else getting it, but I am glad.

I bought layer crumbles for the ducks and chickens this week, a couple of rabbit chew toys, and an egg pail for collecting eggs. Once the girls kick into gear again, I won’t be able to hold all the eggs in my pockets and hands, so figured a cute pail would be worth the investment.

It’s been a busy week here outside the farm stuff. I had a doctor’s appointment and physical therapy and my son had a dentist appointment. Tomorrow I go in for a blood draw and I also have a dentist appointment. I’ve scheduled my yearly mammogram. I have to get them young and yearly since my mother had breast cancer at 30. Although yearly sometimes turns into 1.5 years, but I do try to stay on it. My doctor’s appointment went well. He’s happy with my weight loss and my cholesterol numbers have improved so much he’s halved the dosage on that medication. After 6 months at half dose if they continue to improve based on my blood work, I’ll get to go off the cholesterol drug entirely, though we will monitor with blood work. I don’t know if it will, since high cholesterol runs in my family, but he seems hopeful that if I continue to eat how I am eating now, I can get off it.

The house sale continues to chug along. Their bank has gone out to see it on Friday. I haven’t heard how it went, but they may not even know yet. As far as I know we are still on track to close on or before the 26th of February. I am still a little afraid to believe it is entirely true, but I so hope this sale goes through. I really don’t want to be disappointed again.

The Antibiotics Seem to Be Working and Rabbit Stew

Or at least the antibiotics seem to have started to work. I’m still pretty sick, but it’s just not as bad as I was before I started them on Thursday. The underside of my nose would still rival a certain red-nosed reindeer and it hurts, but I’m not having to blow it as much, thank goodness. I’m also a little more with it. I was able to do all 8 minutes of my time pedaling for physical therapy without getting winded. And I made dinner tonight, rabbit stew. My husband has been making dinner for the last few days, so we’ve had a lot of burgers and toasted ham and cheese sandwiches with fries. My husband can make a great burger and I swear his toasted cheese sandwiches are the best, but it was nice to have something different.

I made the rabbit stew much like I make beef stew, but didn’t include the carrot water this time. I used 1 quart of canned carrots, 1 quart of canned rabbit plus it’s juice, 1 quart of canned potatoes plus their juice, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of flour and 20 grinds of pepper. I mixed the rabbit juices with the flour until it made a roux, then turned on the heat to medium and when it came to a boil, added the potato water stirred it in and added the water. Then when it boiled I dumped in the potatoes, carrots, and rabbit meat that I’d taken off the bone. I added the pepper and let it cook until it no longer tasted floury, about 20 minutes stirring every 5.

I don’t like not using the carrot water, as I don’t like to waste things, but my kids insist that it makes the stew a little too sweet. It definitely wasn’t as sweet and I think they are right, it is better savory, so I will live. I do like that everything but the flour is something I grew and canned myself. The carrots are from last year.

The husband and the father-in-law got the duck coop raised. It took the ducks a couple of minutes to learn to use the stairs. Addy and Wade, who have used stairs before got it right away. The gold girls took a little bit longer, but figured it out after a little bit. Flock harmony continues to be good with all six ducks hanging out in a group. I really don’t miss Tucker being gone, though he was a very pretty boy, he was a bully drake.

I’ve got all but two of the kits separated from their mothers and they will be moved tomorrow. I could not believe it tonight when I went in the rabbit shed and Serenity was nursing those last two small kits. They are 10 weeks old for Pete’s sake! And she was letting them. One of them was the bunny whose eye we were having such trouble with because it had ingrown eyelashes. Well, she finally has gotten it straightened out and the eye is staying open and no longer crusting up. She is blind in that eye, like I feared she would be, since it just wouldn’t stay open for long, even with twice daily treatments, but at least the eye is well and the infection is cleared. I call her my David Bowie bunny since her eyes are two different colors, one eye is ruby and the blind eye is blue.

One of the red kits has a little white spot the size of a pea on her cheek. It is very cute. I am hoping it does not make me grow attached to her. She’s a super friendly kit. I am trying to steel myself against falling in love with her. We can’t keep another rabbit right now and certainly not one that isn’t pure red.

Of the 18 kits, 4 of the reds are boys, 2 of the reds are girls, 7 of the whites are girls, 1 of the whites is a boy, and 2 of the whites are undetermined. It is not always easy to tell, but I’m leaning towards the undetermined ones being boys. I’ll check again in a week. Not that it really matters as they will all be butchered in 3 to 4 weeks. It will be nice to just have to deal with the adults after that for a few months.

Simple Beef Stew

So I’m doing a challenge on my other blog of no eating out for a month. It started last night. I wanted something hearty, but also something that was fast and easy, so I turned to my pantry shelves and chose to make beef stew from my home-canned foods. I have never made beef stew before, though I have made chili numerous times from scratch. I didn’t think it would be that hard and it wasn’t.

Ingredients needed:

1 quart of home-canned beef cubes
1 quart of home-canned potatoes
1 quart of home-canned carrots

I poured all of the beef juice off the beef cubes and into a pot. Then I took about 4 tbsp of flour and mixed it into the cold juice for the start of gravy before turning the heat on. I poured the juice off the carrots and the potatoes and into the pot. I then brought the heat up to high and whisked it all together. Once it boiled I let it go for one minute before adding the beef, carrots, and potatoes to the pot. I turned the heat down to medium and let it come up to a slow boil. Once it began boiling, I turned the heat down to low and let it simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes, stirring a couple times.

It had thickened nicely, but not too much. It was really the perfect consistency. It was enough for five of us to have one bowl each and the male teenager and the husband to have two bowls each, with one bowl leftover for my lunch today. It was even better the second day.

I was surprised at how delicious it was. I added no seasonings. The only salt in there was from when I canned the ingredients. It had a good beef flavor with undertones of carrots and potatoes.

My son declared it the best stew he’d ever tasted. Everyone else really liked it, too. My daughter was happy to finally find a replacement for Dinty Moore, which we gave up on buying 2 years ago, as they had futzed with their beef stew ingredients and ratios so many times it no longer tasted like the original recipe and the texture had become unappealing to us. I was bummed because they were the only brand that didn’t put junk in their stew. But now we have a good go to recipe for it that doesn’t take much time or effort on my part.

I will try this again next week with canned rabbit meat instead and hopefully it will be just as tasty. My son thought I should make pot pies with the beef stew in the future. I may consider it when I am feeling well enough to do pie crusts.

Rabbit Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada Sauce

3 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 cups of rabbit broth (or chicken broth, or even water)
1 cup of tomato sauce

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add enough rabbit broth to make a paste. Pour remainder of broth into a pan and turn on high heat. Dump the paste into the broth and whisk it together. Add tomato sauce and whisk again. Bring to a boil. Turn down to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For enchiladas you will need:

About 4 cups of cooked rabbit (or chicken) meat
1/2 a batch of enchilada sauce
Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
Tortillas (10 inch)

Makes 7 to 8 enchiladas


Put a thin layer of enchilada sauce down on the bottom of a glass baking pan.


Lay out a tortilla on a dinner plate. Add 1/8 of the rabbit or chicken meat starting at one end and stopping 2 inches from the other end of the tortilla.


Spoon some enchilada sauce over the meat. Not too much or it will make the tortilla get wet.


Add cheese. Roll over once and then fold empty two inch end towards center of tortilla. Continue to roll up enchilada and place seam side down in baking pan.


Continue until you have finished rolling 7 to 8 enchiladas or whatever will fit in your baking pan.


Pour enchilada sauce over top of enchiladas.


Sprinkle cheese on top, as much or as little as you want. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve.


Back to School Breakfast–Omelet Muffins

Tonight I made up a batch of pancakes and some individually-sized omelets in a muffin tin. This gives the kids their breakfasts for the next couple of days and allows me to be completely spaced out in the mornings while I adjust to their new schedule. They have both chosen to go to high school this year, instead of being home schooled, which means I have to be up by 7 and they have to be up by 6. They just have to warm up their food in the microwave, but they still have something home cooked to eat and not junky frozen breakfasts from the store.

Mine were made with my homegrown eggs and zucchini from my garden.

Omelet Muffins

9 duck eggs (or 12 chicken eggs)
1 cup of diced ham
1 cup of diced leftover roasted zucchini (or whatever leftover cooked veggies you have)
1 cup of cheddar cheese
Seasoned salt or regular sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an extra large muffin pan, the kind that has 6 cups instead of 12, with butter. Divide zucchini, ham, and cheese evenly between each muffin cup. Whisk your eggs with pepper and seasoned salt to taste. Divide evenly into each cup. Bake for 30* minutes.

*Start checking at 20 minutes. Your oven may vary from mine, it is the top part of a double oven on a gas stove. Omelets are done when a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center of each “muffin” comes out clean.

Run a knife around the edges of each omelet to loosen from pan (wasn’t necessary in my pan) and either serve immediately or remove to a cooling rack and when cool, individually wrap in saran wrap and place in a Ziploc bag.

The great thing about this recipe is you can use whatever meats you want, cooked diced bacon, cooked crumbled sausage, leftover crumbled meatloaf, even diced bits of steak or chicken. You can use broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, onions, tomatoes, what have you, as long as it is diced and already cooked. You can vary the cheeses. You can add herbs. You can use whatever eggs you have, be it duck, or chicken, or quail (lot more quail eggs, obviously). You can change it enough to not be bored week after week, but still easily throw it together. And it’s low-carb. Not doing low-carb? Add a pancake or two like my son will.