Easy Kitchen Gift: Seasoned Salt

Home made seasoned salt

When you are maxed out on fudge and brittle and candy canes – it is a real treat to get a jar of home made seasoned salt.

No! It’s not too late to whip up little jars full of one of your kitchen go-to seasoning mixes! Just think of the seasonings you use most: some of my favorites are cumin, smoked paprika and garlic powder. Then, whip up a batch and hand it out to friends and family.

I use 3 parts salt, one part pepper (use the fresh-ground, multi-colored peppercorn good stuff here), 1/2 part garlic powder, 1/2 part onion powder – and nothing else.

I use this seasoning most every time I cook, and it is magic, I tell you. You can use it in most any savory dish – meats and vegetables alike. I like to use it on meats and let them sit for awhile at room temperature before cooking – and then saute the meat in cooking fat. The outsides of the meats turn out crispy and the insides are still moist.

Just get some pretty little jars at a local kitchen or container store and fill them up with this magical mixture. I put labels on mine that say “Kelly Family Kitchen Magic Dust.”

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Last Minute Kitchen Gift: Seasoned Salt
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 1½ cups
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup freshly ground pepper (I like to use multicolored peppercorns)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  1. MIx up and bottle!


Compound Coconut Oil “Butters” – Easy Homemade Gifts for All The Foodies On Your List

Compound Coconut Oil “Butters” are perfect homemade gifts for all the foodies on your list
– including the vegan ones!

Compound Coconut Oil "Butters" #Homemade gifts for all the foodies on your list - including the #vegan ones!

Compound Coconut Oil “Butters”

The time of year has come when all my people are figuring out what special homemade foodie treats we’ll be making for the foodies on our list.  This year: the basic concept of compound butter (such a great flavor enhancer for so many things), but made with coconut oil instead. Perfect for all food lovers, including the vegan, paleo, or otherwise dairy-free ones, and they last for ages on the shelf, too!

Really easy as can be. Pick one or two (or all) of the flavor combinations laid out below, and play around with other variations if you like, of course! I like the sturdiness of small mason jars, but you can use any container you desire.

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Homemade Banana Ketchup

Hot, sweet, tangy: A homemade version of the condiment I’ve been looking for all my life, basically.

Banana Ketchup

Banana Ketchup: Good on almost ANYTHING.

Since discovering it for myself (how did I manage to miss out on it all these years?) at Portland’s fantastico Cuban restaurant Pambiche, this is my favorite condiment, currently being slathered onto everything I possibly can. It originated in the Philippines during WWII, but has been travelling ever since, including to the aforementioned Cuba, where it fits just gloriously.

Try it on grilled dishes, beans and rice, tamales, sweet potato or yucca fries – on any Latin American or Caribbean dish, it’d be hard to go wrong. I particularly like it on the tostones I fell in love with in Costa Rica years ago, as pictured above. This homemade version has no refined sugar, and save for bit of honey, the sweetness comes only from (of course) bananas. …

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Roasted Almond Butter

almond butter

The most delicious almond butter ever.

So, why make your own almond butter? I give you this recipe as The Answer.

I couldn’t find almond butter at the store with roasted almonds as an ingredient. So, I bought a bag of almonds and decided to do my own roasting. The recipe I found called for olive oil, but I had just a bit of coconut oil in the bottom of the jar, so I decided to use that instead. Adding a splash of vanilla is what really makes this recipe special – adding that home baked taste and sweetness without sugar!

This is a beautiful flavor combination, I must say. The coconut oil and vanilla add flavor and just a hint of sweetness without any sugar. So, so good. And healthy, too.

This should stay in your fridge for a few weeks, but I really can’t verify that because mine was completely gone after two days. I’m not saying that you should just sit and eat yours with a spoon, though, so yours might last longer. Just sayin.

(NOTE: The coconut oil will make the mixture very solid after it has been in the fridge, so let it sit out awhile to loosen up before spreading.)

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Jalapeno Relish: Your New Favorite Condiment

Jalapeno Relish: As easy as falling off a log, yet jazzes up just about any savory dish you can think of. 

Jalapeno Relish

Turkey Taco, featuring 3 Nanosecond Jalapeno Relish

I won’t even pretend to call this a Recipe, but simple as it is, it’s turned out to be my favorite new condiment and the best easy tip I’ve heard in a long, long while. So how could I not share it with you?  Tiny backstory: I had a major board exam to prepare for at the end of July, and my study buddy Elka and I did a lot of snacking and quizzing and snacking some more. One day we decided to whip up some fajitas, and she introduced me to this idea. ARE YOU READY? Here we go:


1 jar pickled jalapenos, drained

Pour into food processor. Pulse until mixture reaches relish/spread consistency. Transfer into smaller jar and add to sandwiches, fajitas, crackers, hotdogs, burritos, canapes, hamburgers, tacos, tostadas, flatbreads – you name it.

— posted by Anne


Quickles – Quick Garlic Pickles Recipe

Sassy and crunchy pickles – pronto.

Quick Pickles

Crunchy and sassy pickles you can make in minutes.

Home made pickles are surprisingly easy to make. Just pickle them in the fridge – not on the stove top – and you’ll be amazed at how easy, fresh and crunchy they are. These beauties take just a few minutes of prep time and are ready in just 2 hours of chilling.

I have tried for more than 30 years to find a pickle recipe that is easy and also has the perfect balance of flavors and textures – and THIS it it.

I followed the basic recipe of Mountain Mama Cooks Refrigerator Pickles, with a few tweaks of my own. I added just a bit of sugar to give the sour just a little sweet balance. And I added in some sliced red jalapeños for a touch of heat.

Perfect nosh for your next picnic!

— Posted by Donna


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Home Made Whole Seed Mustard – A Gift from Your Kitchen

Give the gift of home made, whole seed mustard!

Surprise your friends and neighbors with this  home made mustard - a flavor packed gift from your kitchen.

Surprise your loved ones with this home made mustard – a flavor packed gift from your kitchen.

Cookies are nice to receive this time of year – especially for our family, since I really don’t do much baking. BUT. If you want to delight the taste buds of all your friends and family this holiday season – give this flavor-packed home made mustard!

Not only is this DIY mustard delicious, you will also be giving the gift of health – mustard seeds are a nutrient dense food – packed with all sorts of goodness that is anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer and anti-lots of other bad stuff.

I love the tang of this mustard – but if it is too tart for your taste buds, just increase the honey in the recipe to your liking. This mixture will be very hot and spicy at first, but will mellow – just let it sit for a few days on your counter before eating or giving as a gift.

I ordered crushed mustard seeds from Penzeys‘ and  you can find cute jars at any import type store – I got mine at World Market for 99 cents each.

This mustard will keep for about two months in your fridge – so go ahead and make lots of it and stash it. It’s great for any recipe that calls for mustard – I like it in Ina Garten’s Mustard Roasted Fish. We also  like to eat it as a snack – just spread on some crackers like you would a nut butter and enjoy!

Happy Healthy Holidays, Everyone!

— posted by Donna

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Lemon Zest Vinaigrette Recipe in a Shaker Jar


When I started making vinaigrette at home, my approach to food was evolving. I started to believe that almost all things we love to eat could be made at home.

As a kid, one thing I loved was Good Seasons Italian salad dressing. It was my job as one of six kids to make salad for our dinners, and this was my go-to. There was something just magical about pouring in ingredients to the ‘fill’ line – all in pretty layers in the clear glass jar. Then you shake it and – voila! – salad magic!

So, when Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, one of my favorite bloggers, raved about her Shaker Jar Vinaigrette with Sumac, I decided to start up the tradition again of making a jar of vinaigrette and keeping it in my fridge to re-shake each time I use it.

I love lemon zest in so many things, and so I decided to try adding it to vinaigrette. It adds a brightness and tang that works with any salad. The other unusual ingredient in all my vinaigrettes is soy sauce instead of salt. I stole this idea from Melissa D’arabian, who learned it from a chef at a bistro in France. It adds a richness and umami that is so, so good in any salad dressing.

Keep this magical elixir handy – it is good on so many things – grilled meats, salads, vegetables. Splash it on most everything!

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Marinated Artichoke Hearts from Scratch – with a Southwest Spin

Southwestern-Style Marinated Artichoke Hearts

I love adding marinated artichoke hearts to all kinds of recipes. Even as a kid, it was one of my favorite ways to dress up an otherwise drab salad. But lately I’ve been wanting make everything homemade that I can possibly pull off. Why not these? I’ve been playing with a few versions of my standard old standby brand, Cara Mia, but thought I might try using a different flavor profile altogether.

Since I seem to have inherited (thanks Donna!) a powerful preference for Southwestern fare, I ventured into that realm and came out with a new staple. I admit, this was most likely influenced by dreaming of attending BlogHer in Austin last weekend. Sorry I had to sit this one out – I always have such an excellent time. Anyway, these would be great added to a burrito, chopped up and added into a white enchilada sauce, or just on top of a bowl of black beans, rice and corn.  Simple, savory, from scratch.

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60 Second Garlic Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise Recipe

Homemade 60 Second Garlic Mayonnaise

“Mayonnaise is a food best made at home and almost never made at home. This has robbed us of something that is both healthy and an absolute joy to eat with gusto.” Tamar Adler

I love this 60-second mayonnaise made with a stick blender. A regular blender works great for this recipe, too. I use light olive oil, which gives the mayo a nice, light texture and taste. The raw garlic and lemon juice brighten it up, too. Let’s call it Summer Mayonnaise ~ so bright and sunny in your mouth.

This flavorful homemade mayo takes only 60 little seconds. It takes me less time to whip this up than it takes me to find that jar of half full mayo at the back of my fridge! Why wouldn’t you make this???

Bonus: you can make it and store it in the very same jar if you use a stick blender. So handy. Win-win, food fans!


3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/4 cups light olive oil

Bring all ingredients (including egg) to room temperature before beginning. I leave the ingredients sitting out on my counter overnight, or get them out in the morning and make when I get home 8 hours later. This will insure light, fluffy, thick mayo.

Place all ingredients except oil in a tall one-quart canister container – choose the container to be able to fit ingredients and the stick blender inside, preferably a container with a lid. A wide-mouth quart jar works nicely. Blend until very smooth with a stick blender.

While stick blender is on, slowly pour in oil in a very thin stream. Blend until mixture is very thick.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.

Other bloggers’ homemade mayo adventures:

Umami Girl used her food processor.
Gluten Free Girl uses canola oil to keep things light.
Real Food Loves Writing uses a whisk for garlic mayo.
Some folks make it with two oils – like Never Enough Thyme.

— posted by Donna