Simple Recipes

Simple Recipe: Zesty, No Salt Taco Seasoning

We LOVE tacos at our house, and this recipe is so easy, you’ll never want to buy those prepackaged versions (full of salt and additives) again!

SSD Taco SeasoningZesty No Salt Taco Seasoning 

(Adapted from Rachel Ray recipe)

  • 1 Part Chili Powder
  • 1 Part Ground Cumin
  • 1 Part Garlic Powder
  • 1 Part Onion Powder
  • 1/3 Part Tumeric
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Part Crushed Red Pepper (I used ground red pepper)

Combine all the parts into a good container with a secure, air-tight lid and shake until combined. Enjoy! Feel free to play with the amounts – maybe you like more red pepper, or you want more cumin!

Consider using fresh spices in this mixture for a more potent flavor. One of my favorites is to order through The St. Augustine Spice and Tea Exchange. You can check out their website and wonderful spices by clicking here. (Though nothing beats going into one of their stores and just inhaling the aroma!)

Thank you to WTLV-TV’s First Coast Living for inviting me on to talk tacos and taco seasoning!


St. Patrick’s Day Fun

St. Patrick’s Day can be so much fun – especially if you have some great foods and pranks to serve up on the big day!  Check out these really easy ideas from Simple Solutions Diva:

Morning Fun:

Those leprechauns can be so silly! And they just LOVE to play pranks to let little kids know they were there!

Magic Milk: Surprise the kids when you pour them their milk, the milk suddenly turns green! This silly surprise happens when you place a drop or two of green food coloring in the bottom of a glass, then pour milk into the glass — instant green!  As an alternative, you can add green food coloring to the entire jug of milk, but be prepared to drink green milk for a while!

Bathroom Surprise:

The Leprechauns have been everywhere!
The Leprechauns have been everywhere!

Yes, this is a little gross, but I think it is Oh So Cute!  I accomplished this sneaky prank by dropping green food coloring in the toilet (I used 4 drops). I then added an additional cup of water to mix it without having to put anything in the toilet. The footprints are made with hand lotion mixed with food coloring. You make a fist with your hand. If you notice, the side of your fist (side with the pinky) looks a lot like a foot! Place that edge of your hand into the colored lotion, then press onto toilet seat. Take a finger and dot on toe prints (note four toes instead of five!); repeat on other side with other hand!  I had to do it a couple of times to make it look right.

Be sure to wipe off well once the kids have seen it!

Snack Ideas:

Leprechaun Cookies:

Leprechaun Cookies
Leprechaun Cookies

These are probably the easiest snacks, and they pack well in lunch boxes (once the chocolate hardens)! Melt 1 cup white chocolate chip morsels according to the microwave instructions. Using either plain or Cool Mint Oreos, dip the Oreo into the melted white chocolate, covering half of the cookie. Sprinkle with green sprinkles. Place in fridge to harden the chocolate.

Rainbow Fruit Platter:

Rainbow With A Pot 'O Gold Fruit Platter
Rainbow With A Pot ‘O Gold Fruit Platter

A healthy, fun treat! Wash and cut up a variety of colorful, fresh fruit. I used strawberries, clementine wedges, pineapple, green grapes, blueberries, red grapes, and bananas. Arrange in an arch fashion, just like a rainbow. On one end of the rainbow, pile mini marshmallows (like clouds!). At the other end, place a small bowl filled with banana slices (the Pot ‘O Gold!).

Dinner Fun:

-Consider serving Green Spaghetti! Simply add green food coloring to the water as you cook the pasta.

-Or serve up Spinach Raviolis on Skewers, with a side of pesto sauce for dipping. It may help convince the kids they like things with spinach!

Shamrock Chips: Try this simple recipe for homemade chips. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using large Spinach Wraps from the grocery store, fold one wrap in half. Use a Shamrock Cookie Cutter or trace a shamrock form on foam (I used pre cut foam pieces from Dollar Store).  Using the form as your guide, cut a shamrock out of the spinach wraps using a sharp knife. You can get about four large shamrocks out of one large wrap.

Spray the shamrocks with olive oil spray, place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and bake for 5-7 minutes until lightly brown (watch them so they don’t burn). Serve with guacamole or green salsa.


Thank you to WTLV-TV’s First Coast Living for inviting me on to share these ideas!

Simple Recipe: Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salsa

I love flavorful, mexican-inspired food! When I was preparing for a Super Bowl Party, I wanted to create something that was tasty, not full of fat, and was made with fresh ingredients.  So I made this Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Salsa!  A friend of mine had made this years ago for a party and I never got the recipe, so I decided to wing it! And this stuff is addicting!

TryMe Tiger Sauce
TryMe Tiger Sauce

The key to the flavor of this salsa is a product called TryMe Tiger Sauce – I had never heard of this before, until I moved to the South.  According to the website,

“The original tiger sauce is an exotic, moderately spicy blend of ingredients in a cayenne pepper base. With a touch of sweet and sour, it’s perfect for meats, seafood and poultry. Delicious on sandwiches, in dips and soups.”

Well, delicious it is!  And don’t be frightened by the “moderately spicy” comment. It is really quite mild. I would describe it as a low heat that builds in the mouth. And it is perfect in this recipe! Try making the salsa without the sauce, try it, then add the sauce to it – you will taste a more complicated flavor.



Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salsa 

Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salsa, From
Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salsa, From



  • 1 can Bush’s Reduced Sodium Black Beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed and rinsed
  • 1/2-3/4 cup red pepper, diced small
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 Tablespoons green chilies, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (use as much or as little)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (use as much or as little)
  • Juice of one fresh lime
  • 2-3 splashes of seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 3-4 splashes of TryMe Tiger Sauce (to taste)
  • Sea Salt, to taste (optional)


Combine all ingredients in a bowl; refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour to allow flavors to blend. This is so much better the next day! Enjoy with tortilla chips, as a condiment on tacos and burritos, or as a side dish.


Mom’s Natural Cold Remedy: Ginger Chicken Noodle Soup With Vegetables

Ginger Chicken Soup With Vegetables, photo from Real Simple Magazine.
Ginger Chicken Soup With Vegetables, photo from Real Simple Magazine.

All the best “Dr. Moms” out there know there is nothing better for a cold than rest and a warm bowl of chicken soup! One of my favorite ways to alleviate cold symptoms is a soup recipe that also includes ginger, a natural way to increase circulation (to help ward off the chills) and help loosen the congestion of a cold. This yummy recipe for Ginger Chicken Noodle Soup With Vegetables is adapted from a recipe from Real Simple Magazine. It uses rotisserie chicken, so it is a really easy recipe to assemble.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger 
  • 2 32-ounce containers low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped 
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped  
  • 1 1/2 cups egg noodles
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1  2-to 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken  
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas 
  • 4 scallions, sliced


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add the broth. Stir in the parsnips, carrots, celery, turnip, and ½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add noodles and cook until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, using a fork or your fingers, shred the chicken meat, discarding the skin and bones.
  4. Add the chicken, peas, and scallions to the saucepan and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

To see the original recipe on Real Simple Magazine, click HERE!

Simple Super Bowl Recipe: BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza


  • 1 Stonefire Authentic Flatbread Pizza Crust, reserve packet of pizza sauce that comes with crust
  • 1/3 cup favorite BBQ sauce
  • 4 tablespoons favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (use as much as desired)
  • 3/4 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded (use as much as desired)
  • 1.5  (approx. ) cups rotisserie chicken, cut into small pieces (use as much as desired)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced (use as much as desired)
  • Cilantro, chopped for garnish


Preheat oven to 450 degrees (if using a pizza stone, place pizza stone in while preheating).

Take 2-4 tablespoons of BBQ sauce and toss with the chicken and set aside.

Place pizza crust on work surface. Mix 1/3 cup BBQ sauce with 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved packet of pizza sauce. Spread mixture all over pizza crust. Add all three cheeses, alternating layers. Add chicken to top of pizza, spreading out to cover. Sprinkle red onion and cilantro over pizza.

Place pizza in oven for 10-15 minutes (until cheese is melted and bubbly). Enjoy!

Simple Tip: For a crowd, make 2-3 of these, keep them in fridge until ready to cook!



Super Simple Game Day Recipes For A Crowd

Part of the fun of a Super Bowl Party, besides the game and the commercials, is the food! But you don’t want to spend your entire day in the kitchen and be exhausted when guests arrive. I like to prepare a main dish that cooks in a crockpot, where people can serve themselves when they feel like it. Then I supplement with simple appetizers and finger foods.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Crockpot Beef Barbacoa

Crockpot Beef Barbacoa from
Crockpot Beef Barbacoa from

Barbacoa refers to a way of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean, and eventually was adopted in Mexico and the Southwest.  It is where the term “barbecue” came from, but this has nothing to do with an open flame! It is meat, slow cooked with wonderful spices, then shredded and served in a flour tortilla. In this recipe, I’m using chuck roast cut of beef.


  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 Cup beef stock
  • 3-4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped  (The amount depends on the heat level you like)
  • 3-4 pound beef chuck roast


Combine vinegar, onion, lime juice, garlic,cumin, oregano, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper, beef stock in a blender and puree.

Place roast (trim off excess fat from roast) in crockpot and pour puree over the roast. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 6 hours. Shred beef in crockpot and serve in soft (and warm) flour tacos. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, beans, or whatever else suits your tastes!

Un-Sloppy Joes

I loved sloppy joes as a kid, but they were always so messy! Well, a simple solution to that is serve them in pita bread halves! Use your favorite sloppy joe recipe (or use mine below!) and serve them in pita pockets! In this recipe, I use Stonefire Authentic Flatbread Pitas (yes, I love their products and use them a lot!). Stuff shredded cheese on top, add a dash or two of hot sauce and you have the neatest sloppy joes on the block! You can make this up ahead of time and put the beef in a crockpot to keep warm – guests just help themselves! Double the recipe for larger groups.


  • 1.5 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 Cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 Cup ketchup
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 6 oz. water
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Stonefire Authentic Flatbread Pitas, halved to create 6 pockets


In a large pan, cook beef, onion and green pepper over medium high heat until beef is cooked.  Drain off liquid.  Add garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, tomato paste, salt, pepper, water and brown sugar. Stir until thoroughly blended, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Serve in pita halves with shredded cheese and hot sauce as desired.

Thai Chicken Flatbreads

Thai Chicken Flatbread from
Thai Chicken Flatbread from

For a flavor change, try making a variety of flatbreads! Since I am a SIMPLE Solutions Diva, I used pre-made flatbreads by Stonefire Authentic Flatbread Naan because they are light and have a variety of flavors;  you can make your own flatbread dough if desired. Prep the flatbreads in advance, then toss in the oven as needed!

This is a nice spicy recipe with an asian twist:


  • 1 Cup cooked chicken, cut or shredded into small, bite-sized pieces (I used store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 6 Tablespoons thai peanut sauce (I used House of Tsang Bangkok Peanut Sauce)
  • 2 Tablespoons shredded carrots
  • 1 1/4 Cups shredded mozzarella (use more or less, depending on how cheesy you want your pizza)
  • 1 Tablespoon green onions, sliced on bias, for garnish
  • 2 Stonefire Authentic Flatbreads Naan, original flavor.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees (if using a pizza stone, place stone in oven before preheating).

In a bowl, toss chicken with 4 tablespoons of thai peanut sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella on both flatbreads. Divide the chicken mixture between the two flatbreads. Sprinkle with carrots and green onions. Drizzle each flatbread with 1 tablespoon of remaining thai peanut sauce.  Place flatbreads in oven for 5-10 minutes until cheesy is melty.

Serve warm!

A BIG THANK YOU to Stonefire Naan for providing me with a large selection so Stonefire Naan Flatbreads to use in this post!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Love Buffalo Chicken Wings but want to avoid the mess and the bones? Try this simple recipe, courtesy of my sister-in-law, Jennifer.  This stuff is truly addictive! Serve warm with corn chips or pita wedges.


  • 1 Rotisserie chicken, shredded and cut into bite-sized pieces (approx. 2.5 cups)
  • 1 6 oz. bottle of Texas Pete Hot Sauce
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 Cup Ranch Dressing
  • 1 8 oz. bag mexican shredded cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9 pan. Place shredded chicken in bottom of pan and pour hot sauce over the chicken, covering the chicken in sauce.

In a microwave safe bowl, place cream cheese and microwave for 30 seconds (until the cream cheese is softened). Add the ranch dressing and stir well. Pour mixture over the chicken; top the dish with the cheese and place in oven until the cheese is melted and the entire dish is bubbly (approximately 15-20 mins). Serve with chips.

Magic Cookie Bars

Magic Cookie Bars from
Magic Cookie Bars from

A blast from childhood, these scrumptious bites of chocolate and coconut goo are so sweet, just one or two will do! Make them the day before and store at room temperature.


  • 3/4 Cup butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 Cup graham cracker crumbs (about 18 crackers)
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 Cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 Cup butterscotch flavored chips
  • 1 Cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 Cup chopped pecans (Not everyone likes pecans, so I use 1/2 cup and place pecans on one side)


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Coat 13×9 inch glass baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (I actually used a 9×9 pan, made the layers thicker, and cooked them longer.)

Melt butter in the glass dish, and add graham cracker crumbs. Mix thoroughly and press into bottom of prepared pan. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, and nuts. Pour sweetened condensed milk over mixture, making sure it covered entire surface of the pan.

Bake approximately 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature, well hidden so everyone does not eat them all at once!


More Simple Super Bowl Recipe Ideas:

Looking for other simple, crowd pleasing recipe ideas for Super Bowl?  Try these:

Crockpot Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Chicken or Pork) – Perfect to serve on yellow rice, in tacos or burritos!

Creamy White Chicken Chili – Crowd pleaser!

Simple Flatbread Appetizer Done Four Ways

Chipotle Chicken and Rice Soup – Warm and spicy!

Taco Cupcakes – Perfect for kids to make AND eat!

Toasted Coconut Refrigerator Cake – A wonderful sheet cake serves a crowd.

Simple Cocktails Round Up – Several recipes to choose from!

Roy’s Hawaiian Martini -Large Batch!

Sangria Di Cava – A White Sangria made with champagne

Thank you to WTLV-TV’s First Coast Living for inviting me on to share these yummy recipes!

Cold Weather Calls For Warm Soup: Beef and Barley Soup

I love making a hearty soup on a cold winter’s day. This Beef and Barley Soup is easy, flavorful and really warms you up! I love it when my kids ask if I made this from scratch, and I can say “YES”!

Warm and Hearty Beef & Barley Soup from


  • 1 pound sirloin tip steak, cubed
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced
  • 1 can (16 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup barley (I used quick cooking)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)


Place cubed steak and flour into a gallon-sized zip-lock plastic bag; close and shake, thoroughly covering steak with flour.

Heat olive oil in heavy soup/stock pot over medium heat. Add flour-covered steak to oil and brown meat.  Add water to pot, covering the meat and let simmer until meat is tender (approx. one hour). Note: Do not drain off fluid – this is the homemade beef stock for the soup!

Add thyme, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, tomatoes, and carrots to pot (add salt, if desired). Simmer until carrots are tender (approx. 1 hour).

Add barley and let simmer until barley is cooked (with quick cook barley, takes approximately 20 minutes).  Feel free to add 1/2 cup water if soup is too thick.

Serve with crusty bread!

Note: I let this simmer all afternoon, then add the quick cooking barley in the last half hour of cooking.


Catch Simple Solutions Diva On TV Every Friday In January

Join Laura Morey, your Simple Solutions Diva, every Friday in January on First Coast Living, WTLV-TV/Ch. 12 at 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.!

Tune in to see the following topics:

Friday, January 10:  Simple Ideas, Gadgets and Applications For Healthy Eating

Friday, January 17:   Simple Cleaning Ideas For The Home

Friday, January 24:   Simple Ways To Bring The Garden Indoors

Friday, January 31:   Simple Super Bowl Party Ideas

You can check this site every Friday at Noon to get all the details of each segment!
The Simple Solutions Diva herself, Laura Morey!

Simple Flatbread Appetizer Done Four Ways

Flatbread Appetizer Four Ways, by
Flatbread Appetizer Four Ways by

Flatbread is a great way to create a variety of easy appetizers! I used Stonefire Naan flatbreads from my supermarket to create these four appetizers; feel free to go crazy and make your own flatbread! I try to assemble all my ingredients prior to starting, then just go down the “assembly line” to make the variety of flatbreads!

Note: All amounts noted below in each recipe are variable, depending on your taste and the amount you plan to make! Each flatbread recipe makes approximately 16 appetizer-sized pieces.

General Preparation: 

Place a pizza stone inside the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a regular cookie sheet instead of a pizza stone, set the temperature to 450 degrees.

Lay the flatbreads on a clean, flat work surface.  Distribute the cheese slices evenly on the flatbreads;  assemble the remaining ingredients on the flatbreads (except for the finishing drizzles as noted!).

Place flatbreads on pizza stone and bake for approximately 5 minutes. Remove when cheese is melted. Remove from oven, drizzle with appropriate finishing drizzles (if called for), and slice into appetizer-sized pieces. Serve immediately.


Apple, Brie and Cranberry Flatbread Appetizer from
Apple, Brie and Cranberry Flatbread Appetizer from

Brie, Apple and Cranberry Flatbread Appetizer


  • 2 Stonefire Naan Flatbreads (They come packaged in twos)
  • Wedge of Brie, sliced into thin slices. (I try to remove most of the white rind on the cheese)
  • One apple – skin removed, cored and sliced into thin slices.
  • 1/2 cup (Approx.) Dried, Sweetened Cranberries (I used Ocean Spray Dried Cranberries)


Apple, Bacon Cheddar Flatbread with Maple Syrup Drizzle from

Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Flatbread Appetizer With Maple Syrup


  • 2 Stonefire Naan Flatbreads
  • One apple, peeled, cored and sliced thin.
  •  1/2 cup crumbled bacon (I used Boar’s Head Precooked Bacon – I like keeping things easy!)
  • Cheddar Cheese, sliced thin.
  • Real Maple Syrup (This is for a finishing drizzle on top of this flatbread)


Fig, Procciutto, Provalone
Fig, Prosciutto, Mozzarella with Honey Drizzle Flatbread Appetizer from

Fig, Prosciutto, Mozzarella Flatbread Appetizer With Honey 


  • 2 Stonefire Naan Flatbreads
  • 4 dried figs, chopped
  • 4 slices of Prosciutto, thin sliced
  • 8 oz. fresh Mozzarella, sliced
  • Honey (This is for a finishing drizzle on top of this flatbread)


Pear, Gorgonzola
Pear, Gorgonzola, Provolone, Caramelized Onion Jam With Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle Flatbread Appetizer from

Pear, Gorgonzola, Provolone, Caramelized Onion Jam Flatbread Appetizer With Balsamic Vinegar


  • 2 Stonefire Naan Flatbreads
  • One pear, peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup Gorgonzola Cheese Crumbles
  • 8 slices Provolone Cheese
  • Caramelized Onion Jam (you can find this in specialty food aisles of your supermarket, or specialty food stores)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (This is for a finishing drizzle on this flatbread)

A Big Thank you to Stonefire Naan for providing me with a wonderful selection of Naan Flatbreads for this post!

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