Hints From Heloise: Holiday meals start early

November 12, 2013

Dear Heloise: Starting in early fall, I begin buying a few extra items each time I GROCERY SHOP. I buy an extra bag of sugar or flour. I catch canned pie filling on sale, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, boxed gelatin and spices such as sage or pumpkin-pie spice.

I buy anything that will keep until Thanksgiving or Christmas that I normally use to prepare holiday meals. By doing this gradually, my holiday grocery bill doesn’t hit me all at one time. -- Evelyn T., Abilene, Tex.

You are one smart cookie! Or should I say “cook.” This is the good way to not bust the budget! -- Heloise

TACO SEASONING

Dear Heloise: You once shared a recipe for taco seasoning. I loved that recipe, but somehow lost it. Could you please reprint it? -- K.S. in Nebraska

Sure I can! One nice bonus is this is VERY cheap to make, so why not mix up a big batch and save a bundle of money?

All you need is:

2 teaspoons chili powder

Salt, pepper and onion powder to taste (starting with just a sprinkle)

A dash of crushed, dried oregano

Mix together all the ingredients and start using this seasoning on all your favorite foods. I like it best with my Heloise Taco Casserole made with taco shells/corn chips, salsa and ground turkey or shredded chicken cooked in the seasoning for flavor.

Use nonstick spray or grease a casserole dish (you pick the size depending on ingredients you have). Put some salsa on the bottom, then a layer of broken-up taco shells/chips, followed by the cooked, flavored meat. Next, layer with your favorite toppings: beans, cheese, onions, etc.

Bake until heated through and cover with sour cream, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., before serving. For this recipe and more, order my pamphlet Heloise’s All-Time Favorite Recipes by sending $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Recipes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. When mixing your own seasonings, make sure to store in an airtight, sealed container (away from heat and light) to maintain freshness. Save your old spice jars, wash and dry well, and use them. Just add a label. -- Heloise

BAG BOWL

Dear Heloise: Many people who have watched me do this think it’s a great hint. When eating chips directly out of the bag (like potato, tortilla, pita, etc.), I open the bag and roll the top under the bottom to form a “bowl” out of the bag. As I eat the chips, I continue to roll the bag under from the bottom. -- Matt G., via e-mail

SERVING DISHES

Dear Heloise: We love our dishes for individual ears of corn on the cob, but I’ve found them useful in many other ways. They are perfect to use as a serving dish for asparagus, hot dogs, brats or even broccoli spears. At parties, they can be used to serve pretzel rods, licorice strips or candy sticks. -- Tina C., via e-mail

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

, King Features Syndicate

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