Blackened Seasoning

My daddy grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was raised on crawfish étouffée and red beans and rice. I’ve tried and tried, and I still can’t get my Mamaw’s recipes down. All through my childhood, we enjoyed Cajun and Creole food like you would not believe.

As I’m now raising a family of my own, I am teaching my sons to appreciate the kind of good cooking one would find in every part of Louisiana. This blackened seasoning rub is one that’s become a staple in our home these days. My advice to you would be to make a double-batch of this and keep it stored in an airtight container. It’s great on fish, chicken, and beef alike. I even go so far as to give root vegetables a light dusting before roasting in the oven. You do you, boo!

Blackened Seasoning


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Mix all ingredients together to combine. Sprinkle an even amount on both sides of fish, chicken, or beef before searing to preferred doneness. Store remaining seasoning in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for up to two months. Enjoy!

Christmas Punch

It’s no secret that I am pretty much obsessed with cranberries. From the color of the berries themselves to all of the delicious things we make in our kitchen with them, cranberries are all the things to me.

Today, I want to share with you our family’s favorite punch recipe, and the star of the show – surprise! – is cranberry cocktail juice! We make a big ole mason jar of this at the start of winter break and sip on it as we ease into the new year. And you can easily make this nice punch naughty by adding vodka, whiskey, rum or tequila.

Christmas Punch


  • 3 cups cranberry cocktail juice, chilled
  • 3 cups pineapple juice, chilled
  • 3 cups ginger ale, chilled
  • sliced limes and lemons and fresh cranberries for garnish


Pour first three ingredients in a pitcher or other beverage dispenser. Stir to combine. Serve over ice with lime and lemon slices and fresh cranberries. Enjoy!

Cranberry Sauce

Growing up, I couldn’t stand cranberry sauce… something about it being too tart and bitter, I think. But I remember thinking how pretty it looked in my Momma’s crystal dishes on the table at Thanksgiving dinner.

Wide Image

Years ago, I decided to try my hand at making this Thanksgiving staple from scratch so that I could have a bit more control over the sweetness and possibly convince my kids to give it a shot. I scoured the Internet for recipes and tried several of them, never quite landing on one that hit the mark. Until November of 2016.

This recipe checks all the boxes for our family: tart, sweet, not runny but not too jello-ey, either. (Clearly, the Talley fam has high expectations.) It can be made several days ahead of time, making Thanksgiving day a bit less stressful.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe adapted from Alton Brown (site)


  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice (not cocktail)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 12-oz. package fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • Dash cinnamon
  • Dash nutmeg


  1. Wash the cranberries and discard any soft or wrinkled ones.
  2. Combine the juices and honey in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cranberries and cook for about 15 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the berries burst and the mixture thickens, remove from the heat. (Do not cook for longer than 15 minutes or your end result will be too runny.)
  4. Add orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Allow to cool for five minutes.
  5. Spoon the sauce into a mold or container that seals. (I use a mason jar.) Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for at least six hours before serving.

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 20 minutes | Yield: 6-8 servings

Mama’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

We’ve gotten a lot of rain this week. Couple that dreariness with the shorter daylight hours this time of year and you get the want for some warm, comfort food, right? The boys’ answer to that in the Talley house is almost always “mama’s spaghetti and meatballs.”

Because the scratch-made meatballs cook in the sauce, they develop a delicious flavor and tenderness that can’t be beat. You don’t have to sauté or brown them in a skillet beforehand, which cuts out a lot of time and effort.

PROTIP: Freeze the extra sauce and use next week as a stand-in marinara for other Italian recipes or use it as a dipping sauce for crusty bread.

Even though this meal is ready in less than and hour, it checks off all the boxes for us. Don’t let the whole idea of making meatballs from scratch scare you away. This recipe is easy-peasy, and you’ll probably have lots of leftover sauce to freeze for your next spaghetti supper!

Mama’s Spaghetti & Meatballs | Yields 6-8 entree portions


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 8-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • 1 drop Vitality Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 lb. ground beef (I use 85/15 ground sirloin)
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for four to five minutes until translucent.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, two cloves of minced garlic, Vitality Oregano, basil, and bay leaves. Stir gently to combine and cover. Lower to medium heat and allow to simmer while you make the meatballs, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a large bowl, break ground beef up into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon or your fingers. add breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, the remaining two cloves of minced garlic, grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently combine all ingredients together, making sure not to over mix since that can make the meat too tough.
  4. Roll out meatballs that are about one inch in diameter and drop them one by one into the sauce. Simmer on medium-low for about 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of meatballs reaches 160 degrees or higher.
  5. Serve over fresh pasta of your choice (our family prefers linguine or spaghetti) and garnish with extra parmesan.

Note: If you aren’t yet cooking with Young Living Vitality oils, you should be! In the meantime, you can sub the Oregano Vitality with 1 tablespoon of dried oregano. :)

Teriyaki Marinade


Last night, Charlie and I hosted my sweet cousin and her husband for dinner. Rachel and I (pictured at left visiting the Tennessee Brewery a few years ago) share a bond that is hard to describe, and we have waded through some tough life mess together. I am so thankful that she and Clay live close by so that we can spend more time together. They are welcoming their first child in the next couple of weeks, so Charlie and I were anxious to get a little more time with them before a new season of their life begins.

When hosting friends and family for mealtime, I like to keep things as simple as possible. Usually, that means that I make a big casserole or lasagna, throw in a vegetable side and garlic bread and call it a day. Over the past few weeks, though, I’ve been looking for ways to clean up our meals while also not making my kids and husband hate me. It can be difficult to do when you’re cooking for more than four or five people and don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. My answer? Delicious grilled chicken thighs, garlic sticky rice and roasted broccoli with lemon and parmesan. (Recipes for those last two in posts to come.)

I don’t know about your family, but Charlie, the boys and myself can throw down on some Asian food. This teriyaki marinade takes about 2 minutes to assemble and is a healthier stand-in for the bottled stuff since you can control exactly what’s going into the recipe. The dark brown sugar in the marinade turns to a delicious glaze as the chicken grills over an open flame, making this one of Charlie’s favorite chicken preparations. It also features lime vitality essential oil, giving a burst of refreshing citrus flavor without the prep of juicing or zesting the fruit. This recipe can also be used as a sauce base if you go the vegetable stir-fry route. So many options with this one! Try it out and let me know what you think.

Teriyaki Marinade | Adapted from this recipe at


  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste (available in the produce section of most grocery stores)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 drops lime vitality essential oil


  1. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl or gallon-sized resealable bag.
  2. Add your choice of protein, making sure to coat evenly in the marinade.
  3. Refrigerate for at least twenty minutes (up to two hours).

Notes: This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in a larger mason jar. If you don’t use essential oils in your cooking yet, 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lime juice can be subbed for the vitality oil.