Thursday, December 22, 2011

As promised - Homemade Mix Recipes

Why buy it when it's so easy (and healthier) to make it from scratch?

This is my largest mix recipe.  If you don't want a gallon of it, I suggest you scale down the recipe!

8 Cups powdered milk
6 Cups corn starch
1-1-2 Cups powdered chicken or vegetable bouillon (or 64 bouillon cubes that have been pulverized - I use my Magic Bullet and it works great)
8 TBSP onion granules
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
3 tsp ground black pepper

Mix well and store in airtight container.  To use:  Combine 1/3 Cup mix with 1-1/4 Cups or cold water.  Put in pan and whisk while heating until it thickens.  Soup will be thick as if it just came out of a can (thus the 'condensed' part of the name). At this point, just use it as you would use a can of condensed soup.  You can also add ingredients to make flavored soups.  The first time I made this, I sauteed some celery and added it to the soup with some milk and it was delicious cream of celery soup.  Other times I have added mushrooms, chicken, or nothing if I was just using it in "Special Chicken".  Some people call it "crock pot chicken", let me know if you want the recipe.  It's my kids' favorite meal, and it's super easy to make!

Time saving tip: I write the name of the mix along with the usage directions right on the jar - either on the lid or on a label on the side.  Yes, masking tape does make a pretty good label!

4 TBSP chili powder
4 TBSP paprika
2 TBSP ground cumin
2 TBSP coarse sea salt
1 TBSP ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp granulated onion
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (this is for mild taco seasoning, add more if you like it HOT)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp granulated sugar

Mix well (I whirl it in my Magic Bullet) and store in airtight container.  To use:  Add 2 TBSP plus 1/2 Cup water per pound of cooked meat and simmer until water evaporates.

Money saving tip:  To stretch ground beef, turkey, etc. -  Reconstitute 1/2 Cup TVP in hot beef or chicken broth and add it to the meat.  Just make sure to add a little more taco seasoning, too.  I have been doing this for years in tacos and spaghetti, and my kids don't even know!

5 TBSP garlic powder
5 TBSP granulated onion
5 TBSP granulated sugar
5 TBSP dried parsley
3-1/2 TBSP coarse sea salt
3 TBSP dried oregano
5 tsp lemon pepper
5 tsp dried basil
1-1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp celery SALT

Mix well and store in airtight container.  To use in recipes:  2 TBSP equals 1 packet of store bought mix.  To make zesty Italian dressing:  Combine 2 TBSP mix with 1/4 Cup vinegar, 2/3 Cup vegetable oil, and 2 TBSP water.  Shake well.

This is my smallest mix recipe.  I find that it works better to make this in individual batches, so I either make it as-needed, or I make up several batches, each in their own small zipper baggie.  If you like the old "Uncle Dan's Southern" mix, you will like this.

1 TBSP dried parsley
1 tsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp MSG
1/8 tsp garlic powder

To use as dressing:  Add mix to 1 Cup mayonnaise and 1 Cup milk or buttermilk.  Mix well.
To use as dip:  Add mix to 1 Cup mayonnaise and 1 Cup sour cream. Mix well.

5 Cups all purpose flour
2 Cups powdered milk
1/2 Cup cornstarch
13 pulverized chicken bouillon cubes
1-1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp cracked black pepper

Mix well and store in airtight container.  To use:  Combine 1/3 Cup mix with 2 Cups milk or cold water.  Put in pan and whisk while heating until it thickens.  This is good on mashed potatoes (and chicken fried steak - yum!) or add cooked sausage and serve this over biscuits (also yum!).

This is basically the same as my country gravy mix, but without the spices.  Use it in place of a roux when starting a white sauce.  I love it for bechamel, cheese sauce (think: macaroni and cheese), and Alfredo sauce, especially.

5 Cups all purpose flour
2 Cups powdered milk
1/2 Cup cornstarch

Mix well and store in airtight container.  To use:  Combine 1/3 Cup mix with 2 Cups milk or cold water.  Put in pan and whisk while heating until it thickens.  Add salt, pepper, and other spices to taste.


7.5 Cups all purpose flour
3/4 Cup vegetable shortening
1/4 Cup baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp granulated sugar

Combine all ingredients until shortening is completely incorporated.  You can use a pastry cutter, but I find that it's faster and easier to just use clean hands (take off your jewelry first!).  You'll know you're done when you can't feel any shortening and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it into a ball.  Store in airtight container.  To use:  use in place of store bought biscuit mix (ie: Bisquick) in any recipe.

I have more recipes, but they are on my old computer.  If you want them, let me know and I'll pull 'em up and do another post.


What I've been up to lately - Saving Money!

I have a blog.  I do not update my blog very often.  Why not?  I guess it's because I live a modest life and don't think people would be interested in reading about my day to day activities.  Once in a while something big will happen and I'll think "I should blog about that".  Then, if I happen to have some kid-free time to blog while Tom is taking a rare break from playing Words With Friends, viola!  A new blog post is born.  This is one of those times.

This post is about money, or the lack thereof, and how I have dealt with this challenge in the area of feeding my large-ish family.

First:  Where has all the money gone?  It's not just that the price of food has been steadily rising while package sizes have been shrinking.  There have been extra considerations in our house this year.  For instance, we put Em in full-day Kindergarten this year.  She is doing great and loving it, but it's been hard on the budget.  Between yet-another-pay-cut from Tom's job and Em's almost $300.00 per month tuition, well, did I mention it's been hard on the budget?

Second:  I am a stay at home mom.  I do not want to be a working mom (been there, done that!), and luckily at this time I do not have to work.  I am grateful for that and I don't want you to think I am complaining about our trials.  We have a good life and are very rich in other ways, just not the cold, hard cash rolling in dough way.  That being said, I do my best to stretch the money as far as possible, and that is what I have been up to lately.  My most recent discoveries?  Bountiful Baskets (see previous post), Smith Brothers Dairy, and homemade mixes.

Smith Brothers Dairy:  During the Summer I signed up for home milk delivery from Smith Brothers Dairy.  Their milk is hormone free and not ultra-pasteurized, and somehow it just tastes SO much better!  The downside to this it that it is more expensive than buying milk at the grocery store.  The unexpected upside?  Between all the fresh fruits and veggies we get from our Bountiful Basket (, Baking my own bread and having our milk delivered weekly, I have found that I hardly EVER go to the grocery store anymore!  We are also eating a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables these days than we ever did before.  Healthy!

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Having expensive milk delivered is saving me lots of money!  I spend approximately $45.00 per week on fruits, veggies, bread, and dairy products (6 gallons of milk per week).  I scour the weekly grocery ads for meat sales, and only go to the grocery store when there's a screaming good deal (like IQF BS chicken breasts for $1.49/lb at Safeway today), and then I stock up, because we eat meat just about every day around here.

Every couple of months we make a Costco run for essentials (flour, rice, pasta, etc.), but for the most part, I have cut my grocery budget to about $250.00 per month.  I don't really know what other families of 7 spend on food, but there is a show on the Food Network called "$10.00 Dinners", where the host promises you can feed your family of 4 a delicious and healthy meal for only 10 bucks.  I think this is funny, because I could feed my larger family dinner every night for $10.00, but then they wouldn't get breakfast or lunch!  

Homemade Mixes:  To combat this, I have been developing "mix recipes".  I already had some good recipes for things like ranch dressing and onion soup mix, but I wanted to be able to replace all the store bought mixes that I like to use in my cooking (taco seasoning, zesty Italian dressing mix, country gravy mix, etc.) as well as the canned condensed soups that have gotten so expensive over the last few years (cream of - you name it!). I have spent a lot of trial-and-error hours working on these over the last few months, and now I think I have finally perfected the recipes (at least for our tastes).  I will share the recipes with you in my next post, and if you are looking for ways to stretch your grocery dollars, I hope you will find them helpful.  Also, if you have any money saving recipes you'd like to share with me, I'd love to try them!