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Archive for the ‘Make Your Own Mixes’ Category

Peanut Butter, a household staple and when you have children often a must have necessity for when they go through their food fussy stage.  We are all so use to buying it off store shelves that we forget how truly easy it is to make at home with two ( three max) ingredients and a food processor or blender.

I will admit I chuckled typing the title of this post, however, while this shows the making of peanut butter, other nuts can be substituted and create similar results.  Hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, feel free to experiment.

Now some might be asking why make your own peanut butter when it’s so simple to just buy it off shelves.  Well for one, buying peanuts in bulk is far cheaper and goes farther.   Secondly you can control what goes into your food rather then be forced to deal with over salted, sugar or saturated in unhealthy fats and additives.  Thirdly, FDA allows a certain amount of “Filth” to be found in processed foods.  I’m not speaking of a bit of field dirt here which, if you lived on a farm you probably sample at least one time or another. I’m certain that’s part of the list but  I’m speaking of worms, bugs, and other things that might slip their way through the commercial machinery.  Call me what you will but I really do prefer to know what is in what I am eating.

Alright, enough chatter.  The recipe to make you own.  You need …peanuts (or other type of nut), some form of oil  (I prefer olive or peanut) or water.  That’s it…now you can also put a little sugar or honey in if you would like yours a bit sweeter.  That is fully up to you.

Pour your peanuts in your blender or food process and slowly pour in a couple drops of the oil, and I do mean drops it is very easy to over due and get runny peanut butter rather then creamy.  Start blending to break down the nuts until fine chopped.  If you want crunchy peanut butter, now is the time to take about 1/4 of the nuts back out to stir back in later.

With the remaining nuts SLOWLY pour in the oil.  This step is easier with a stand blender or food processor but if you do it a little at time, blend, check, tiny bit more, blend, check..you will reduce chance of over liquifying.

When you finish you should have a nice creamy base.  At this point you can choose to leave as is, stir in your retained peanut bits to create crunchy, add a little honey or sugar to sweeten or add salt if you desire.

In this house there is of course the final step in the creation process. That is to look at the counter beside you where a little one is perched, finger inching towards the creamy delight laid before them.  The one last final step giving the go ahead to taste test and make sure it’s passing the pint size judges stipulations. I’m pleased to say this batch passed the test.

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Bacon, love it…the taste, the smell it’s just the wonder food.  I wonder how many know that they can make their own bacon quite easily from their own homes without needing to subject themselves to all the preservatives and additives thrown into commercial bacon found on the store shelves.

Many are afraid to attempt making bacon at home. The element of needing to either hang it for months or put it in a smoker filled with wood chips sets the fear in so many individuals they avoid it.  You don’t need either of these to make your own bacon, your kitchen oven works just fine and even the apartment dweller can make it.

Bacon does not need to be made only from the stomach of the pig either, pig jowls make excellent, and, in my opinion, flavorful bacon.

To make your own bacon you need the following ingredients:

Pork belly or Pork Jowls.  (See your butcher)

2 oz kosher salt

2 tsp pink salt  (often sold online or some butchers carry this also)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple sugar

2 tbsp liquid smoke

Combine ingredients in a bowl and pour over your pork inside a Ziploc baggie.  Rotate to coat well and place baggy in your refrigerator.  Turn it three times daily, (when you get up, get home from work, before you go to bed) for a total of seven days.

On the seventh day, remove your bacon and place on cookie rack atop a cookie sheet and bake in oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  (You will need a meat thermometer, these are cheap and can be found in most grocery stores).

That’s it….when ready to use simply thick cut (or thin if you are talented enough to) your bacon and fry as you would normally.  Enjoy!

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As everyone knows, things down here have been extremely hectic with the fires blazing in my County as well as two adjacent ones, another between Austin and Houston as well as those to the North of us.  So many people are evacuated from their homes and so many firemen and emergency personal haven’t been able to go back to theirs.  The out pouring of the people of the Community to pull together and pull up from their bootstraps to get things done, help and assure everything is being taken care of  in this Community has been amazing. People came from all over, not just our County but others as well to donate their time and services where and how they could.  Trailers and vehicles stuffed full of supplies have filled parking lots.  Not from known corporations or Government, but from your “Good ole’ Joe” who heard and wanted to help.  I could not be more proud of so many.

But, that experience is another story.

This weekend I made a bunch, and I do mean a bunch, of Pork Dumplings.  Most Chinese restaurants have these on their buffets and my children love them.  They are easy to make and highly forgiving on ingredients you choose to put inside.  Chicken and Pork are the traditional, however you can also use sea food such as crab.

Won-ton wrappers are amazing, they can be filled with chicken, pork, rice, beef, crab and seafood, cream cheese, cream cheese and crab, pepperoni and pizza sauce (I know not traditional but oh so good).   You can boil them in water or fry them up in oil.  Cut the wrappers into strips and fry in oil, delicious over salads.  My children even like them cut in strips, fried and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. The options are numerous.  Made larger they are what are used to wrap egg rolls in.

Another wonderful thing about these little packets of goodness, they are easy on the pocket book.  Oh, and did I mention also extremely low in calories?

To make Wonton Wrappers.

1 egg

1/3 cup water

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1.) In medium bowl beat egg,  gradually add water and beat water into the egg mix.

2.) In large bowl add flour and salt, mix together and create well in center.  Add your egg/water mix to well and mix.  If to crumbly gradually add water a small dab at time until mixture forms a pliable dough.

3.) On lightly floured surface, knead dough until elastic.  Cut into two separate balls and cover each with damp towel for at least 10 minutes.

4.) Cut each ball into four equal pieces.  Roll out each piece into a 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch square (approximately).  **if you have a pasta machine, this works perfect to get it thin enough, if not…it’s good old fashion hand rolling**.   Cut each square you rolled out into nine 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch squares for wontons….for egg roll wrappers you want 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 inch squares.

 

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My children love Ramen noodles, while I agree they are cheap food source, they are not exactly good for you being packed full of sodium and MSG. I’ve played around with trying to figure out how to make them from scratch for a while now.  The noodles were simple, it was the flavor packet that always was stumping me.  I think I finally have figured it out, or at least close enough that it’s not noticeable and still very flavorful.

Making your own homemade pasta’s is rather simple, once you have made your various pasta’s they can be dried and stored.  True it’s not as simple as just opening a plastic wrapped bag, but if you truly want to get away from hidden ingredients and to know what you are putting in your families bodies it is worth it.  I would highly suggest putting the money into purchase of a pasta machine.  They are wonderful for making a variety of pasta’s and you can purchase one to suit your daily needs for under $50.00.  A food processor also can come in handy for making the dough if you don’t want to try the “well and hand” method.   Here are the steps I take.

Make Noodles.

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs

1 tbsp water

Combine your flour and salt in large bowl and make well in center (or food processor bowl).

Stir together your egg and water and add to well (or food processor bowl).

Combine with large spoon, or side of your hand until dough forms a crumb texture (or use food processor on low).

Remove dough onto floured rolling surface and kneed by hand for 10 to 15 minutes or until it feels elastic.

Return to bowl, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough thin on floured surface (or use your pasta dough maker with angel hair or spaghetti fitting).  Pause between rollings if doing so by hand as you want this pasta to be VERY thin.

Cut into thin strips 6 inch long by 1/8 inch thick if doing so by hand.  The pasta maker will do this all for you.

Twirl strips together into little nest bowls and set to side to let dry at least 2 hours if using that day.  Leave dry 12 to 24 hours if you plan to store for later use.

**Difference is in making this.  Rather then 3 minute boiling you need 6-8 minutes to cook fully.**

Seasoning (Bulk)

Oriental – 2 tbsp each :  Onion powder,  ground ginger,  garlic powder, black pepper.

Chicken – 2 tbsp Onion Powder, black pepper, garlic powder and chicken bouillon.

Beef – 2 tbsp Onion Powder, black pepper, garlic powder and beef bouillon.

 

 

 

 

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Ranch dressing never last long in this house. Kids eat it not only on salad, but to dip raw vegetables, chicken, pork..it’s spread on sandwiches, ok it’s used a lot.  I always have liked the taste of Hidden Valley Ranch, but was never fond of the additives and most certainly not the price tag.  So I played around with various ways to make my own, they were all good but none of them compared to Hidden Valley, until I ran across a copy cat recipe and altered it just a bit. I’m quite pleased with the results and have been using it for some time now, it’s also friendly on the pocket book.

Oh, and don’t you just love the bottles? I am such a scavenger.  Work was just going to throw out empty ones at the Assisted Living home, I grabbed up about a dozen of these little beauties…as my daughter would chant…Reduce, reuse and recycle!!

Copycat Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

(Makes 2 quarts)

4 tbsp dry parsley flakes

1 tbsp onion salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic salt

1 quart mayonnaise (store bought or homemade)

1 pint sour cream (store bought or homemade)

1 pint buttermilk (store bought or homemade)

Combine all ingredients and allow to sit to blend flavors overnight.

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It’s that time of year again where I use up the remaining beef and pork to make room for restocking in the fall.  This also means it’s time to restock the staples shelf and spice cabinet, my mission this morning was to make up a large batch of Fajita Seasoning Spice Blend.  I offer a single serving recipe, but double or triple as needed for your personal storage need. For myself I make enough to fill a quart jar and then use 1/4 cup of the blend when making a meal. This is really simple and can be stored for a long time in a sealed container.  It also lacks the sodium found in the store brands which is always a plus in my book.

Fajita Seasoning Spice Blend.

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp black pepper

3 tbsp corn starch

Put in bowl and stir together to blend well.  Store in air tight container.

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My daughter loves to finger paint.  Getting her fingers in gloopy mess is a highlight of her day and if she can get that mess coating other parts of her besides her hands, all the better.  I tried the store bought paints but found we went through them exceptionally quick, that and she would paint other things also, front walk, walls, steps, nothing was skipped in her canvas finding. This created several problems as I learned “washable” on store brands does not necessarily mean washable when dried, or worse, sun baked.  This is a old recipe I used when my son was young and my daughter was still infant wanting to paint too. I never held fear of them putting it in their mouths as its perfectly safe to consume and clean up, even if the oldest dried on mess just takes hot water.

MYO Finger Paint

2 cup flour

3 cups water

1 tsp salt

Food Coloring

Microwave safe containers

Mix flour with water, beating well to remove lumps.  Divide into dishes and add drops of food coloring until desired color reached.  Place dish in microwave and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between, until thickened.

That’s all there is to it.

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Ever read the label on your sour cream container?  I love sour cream but I don’t like mystery fillers.  Did you know you can make your own sour cream from home very simply and with only two ingredients?  In fact one of the ingredients you can make at home also and is another very versatile item to have on hand in your fridge.

Sour Cream

2 cups light cream

2 tbsp buttermilk

Combine the cream and buttermilk in glass jar with a lid.  Cover jar and shake to evenly distribute then sit jar in a warm location for several hours to overnight to set and thicken.  Once thickened store in refrigerator and use at your leisure.   It’s that simple.

Buttermilk

1 cup buttermilk

4 cups fresh milk (Store bought)

You need a glass jar with lid also.

To make buttermilk it is very simple to do if you just remember this ratio.  1 to 4.   One part buttermilk to four parts milk.

Pour buttermilk into jar, fill with milk and seal with lid.  Shake well to distribute.

Let sit in warm location until clobbered (Thickened). This process takes about 24 hours and should take no longer then 36 hours.

To make additional buttermilk, save 1 cup of your batch of buttermilk to use as starter for a new batch.

 

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I’ve been asked by people at work to post recipes for pancake mixes.  Pancake mix’s are probably one of the most simple mixes to create, store well and are cheap.  There is no need to buy store bought mixes which insert chemicals, coloring, bleaches or hidden sweeteners.  True they arn’t  “complete, just add water” style, but really cracking a egg and adding some milk takes such little time you won’t notice it.

From the basic mix there are many “gourmet” mixes that can be created also.

Basic Pancake Mix. (13 cups)

10 cups flour

2 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup baking powder

2 tbsp salt (optional, I do not use)

Combine in large mixing bowl. Place in airtight container or individual baggies (2 cups per bag). Store in cool, dry location for up to 8 months.

To make Pancakes

2 cups Basic Pancake Mix

1 egg, beaten

1 – 1 1/4 cups water or milk.

Combine ingredients, stirring to form a batter.  Drop by spoonfuls onto hot greased skillet or fry pan.  Turn when bubbles appear on cake surface. Cook until well browned.  Makes 12-16 pancakes depending on size.

Whole Wheat Pancake Mix

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup buttermilk powder

3 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda.

To make:   Add 2 eggs, 2 tbsp oil, and 1 1/2 cup water.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes: 1/4 – 1/2 cup chocolate chips to 2 cups basic mix.

Peanut Butter Chip Pancakes: 1/4 – 1/2 cup peanut butter chips to 2 cups basic mix.

Walnut/Sour Cream Pancakes: 1/2 cup walnuts (chopped) + 2 tbsp sour cream to 2 cups basic mix.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes: 1/2 cup grated fresh apples + 2 tsp ground cinnamon per 2 cups basic mix.

Cranberry Nut Pancakes: 1/2 cup dried cranberries + 1/2 cup walnuts per 2 cups basic mix.

Caramel Pear Pancakes: 1/2 cup diced pears + 1 tsp nutmeg + 1 tsp cinnamon per 2 cups basic mix.

Blueberry/Sour Cream Pancakes: 1/2 cup blueberries, 2 tbsp sour cream, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg per 2 cups basic mix.

Fresh Peach and Pecan Pancakes: 1/2 cup chopped peaches, 1/2 cup chopped pecans per 2 cups basic mix.

Raspberry/Sour Cream Pancakes: 1/2 cup raspberries, 2 tbsp sour cream, 1 tsp lemon juice to 2 cups basic mix.

Banana-Pecan Sour Cream Pancakes: 1/2 cup mashed bananas, 2 tbsp sour cream, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1 tsp cinnamon to 2 cups basic mix, add sliced banana’s to top.

Strawberry Pancakes: 1/2 cup sliced strawberries + 1 tsp lemon juice per 2 cups basic mix, add more sliced strawberries to top.

Gingerbread Pancakes: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground cloves per 2 cups mix.

 

 

 

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I admit it, I am addicted to steamy, creamy bowls of oatmeal on cold mornings.  Something about it just starts the day off right.  With the kids and I, buying it at the stores in pre-packaged bags can get costly and it doesn’t need to be.  Making individual single-serving baggies of instant oatmeal is amazingly easy and the cost savings adds up over time.

To make your own Instant Oatmeal Packets you need:

Instant Oatmeal Packets

1 box snack baggies – Ziploc style

1/4 cup oatmeal – Quick fix.

1/2 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt (optional, I do not use it)

to the above starter mix, add the following based on your flavor preferences.

Cinnamon Raisin – 1/4 tsp cinnamon + 2 doz raisins

Blueberries & Cream – 1 tbsp creamer + 2 dozen dried blueberries

Brown Sugar Raisin – 1 tbsp brown sugar + 1 tbsp raisins

Brown Sugar Cinnamon – 1 tbsp brown sugar + 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Apple Cinnamon – 1 tbsp sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp dried apples.

To make simply pour the baggy contents into a microwave safe bowl, add 1/2 cup water and microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes.

*If you like thicker oatmeal, powder some of the oats first in blender and add 1-2 tbsp of powder to each bag.

**Excellent “take along” meal for work.

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