Monday, December 26, 2011

Honey Garlic Sauce Mix

Chinese take out= delicious, overpriced and so so bad for you. Especially honey garlic spare ribs. Making them at home doesn't make them all that much healthier, but it does make them a lot cheaper, and without MSG.

I ordered some beef short ribs from the farm recently and wanted to do them in the slow cooker, but I'm not a big fan of BBQ sauce so I thought that honey garlic sauce might be nice. I also thought it was something I might be able to make into a mix.... and boy was I right!

Honey Garlic Sauce Mix

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes

What else you'll need

1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water

Combine mix with other incredients and stir well. The mixture will fizz and froth a bit when the baking soda meets the vinegar.

Pour the sauce over what you're cooking (ribs, wings, tofu, chicken breasts, ect) and use the sauce to cook in for full flavor.

I used ribs but am going to try it with wings as well. I used my slow cooker but I'm sure it would work well to bake it in the oven in a pyrex dish as well. I slow cooked my ribs on low in the sauce for 8 hours and they were fall off the bone tender.

I served mine with steamed baby carrots and 'David Hasselhoff potatoes' (they are really called hasselback potatoes but somehow the other name stuck).

The ribs were amazing, they tasted exactly like Chinese take out but at a tiny fraction of the cost. I can't wait to try the sauce on wings next!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Marshmallow Hot Chocolate Mix

I am so sorry for not posting at all last week, but I had strep throat. To make it even worse it went untreated for quite some time because I was trying to convince myself that it was just the same cold that everyone else had and the reason I was so much sicker was because I was pregnant and already felt terrible to begin with.

Anyway, some penicillin later and I'm feeling much better. A tiny bit of morning sickness lingers but I know it will be gone very soon, just in time for Christmas! I have missed this blog very much, so I'll be posting regularly again very soon!

While I was sick certain things were put off... like preparing for Christmas! So this next few days is going to be an insane rush to shop, cook and mix it up before we're hit with back to back family events and house guests.

Yesterday while finally Christmas shopping I was standing in line in the store when something caught my eye. A gift box with some mugs and a jar of hot chocolate mix... with marshmallows! I have done hot chocolate mixes before with my basic hot chocolate mix and my mint hot chocolate mix. I've also done other beverage mixes like chai tea mix (which I've also been using as a gift this year), and Italian mocha espresso mix. But.... hot chocolate with marshmallows is so.. fun! It's such a great gift.


Marshmallow Hot Chocolate Mix

1 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Combine 1/4 cup of mix with 1 cup of boiling water and stir well.

This mix recipe makes enough to fill about one 2 cup (500 ml) Mason jar to give as a gift (or keep for yourself). Each jar will make 8 cups of hot chocolate. I made a double batch knowing I would want a couple to give as gifts.

There was a little bit of mix left over after making up the jars, just enough for a sample... delicious!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mix It Up Christmas Gifts

It's here, that gluttonous time of year that everyone enjoys but regrets come January. It would be fine if it just meant a big Christmas dinner (or even three). But it's not. It's a month of food laden parties, baked goods at work, and the one that keeps on going long after you've had your Christmas fill- token gifts.

Token gifts are the ones you ones you give and receive with people you like but don't know extremely well. Teachers, neighbors, extended family, casual friends. It's a way of saying 'Hi, I think you're nice. Merry Christmas!' And while the feeling is there, the problem is these gifts can't be all that personal. That's why they usually end up being edible. Either boxed chocolates or baked goods.

Everybody loves chocolates and baked goods. But the timing is just so WRONG. Anyone who gets a box of chocolates or a plate of cookies randomly in say... May, would be overjoyed. But in December when you've spent the entire month stuffing your face with high calorie foods and cooped up indoors, sometimes MORE sweets make you feel a little green. It also doesn't help that in reciprocating you're usually baking something yourself- which involves a bit of taste testing- both batter and finished products.

This year I decided to do away with holiday baking. I am going to give something that is impersonal, edible, yet more PRACTICAL than the rice crispee squares of last year and the cookies of the year before. This year I'm mixing it up!!!!

Because the first 'exchange' is in less than a week, I decided to get myself started today. I ventured to the dollar store and stocked up on some pretty glass jars.

I have decided to make salsa mix for people this year because it's one of my favorite mixes and is perfect for holiday entertaining.

This one cup glass jar fit exactly one 'big batch' recipe of salsa mix, which is enough to make a 2 cup batch of fresh salsa six times.

Depending on how 'big' the mix is you can use different sized jars or containers. A seasoning mix might only require a regular sized spice jar, while a baking mix might fill up a bigger plastic container used to store flour or sugar. Pick your mixes depending on personal taste- a diabetic isn't going to want something sugar laden, while someone with an ulcer isn't going to want something spicy. The best thing about mix gifts is you can somewhat personalize the impersonal gifts.

Some mix ideas....

Beverage Mixes

Hot chocolate mix
Chai tea mix
Italian mocha espresso mix
Mint hot chocolate mix

Snacking mixes

Dill pickle popcorn seasoning
BBQ popcorn seasoning
Ranch popcorn seasoning
Nut free trail mix
Falafel Mix
Brushetta mix

Dip Mixes

Lemon dill dip
Pesto bread dipping oil
Herb and garlic bread dipping oil
Herb and garlic cream cheese
Spinach dip
Crab dip
Bacon chili cheese dip

Meal mixes

Fajita seasoning
Teriyaki seasoning
Taco seasoning
Lemon chicken sauce

Later on I'm going to either buy some sticky labels or cardboard tags to attach with ribbons. These will give the name of the mix and any instructions for preparation (for instance you use 3 tablespoons of salsa mix for every 2 cups of chopped tomatoes). The good thing about these mixes is you can also give instructions on refills. Just give them a link to my blog where they can find the mix recipes :)

If you're tired of the calories consumed from eating batter and broken cookies from holiday baking, or the green half smiles from your recipients, try mixing it up instead this Christmas. Be unique, give a tasty mix.

(ps... to the neighbors who bake us cookies- we don't mean yours! WE STILL WANT THEM! YOUR COOKIES ARE LEGENDARY!)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Herb and Garlic Biscuit Mix

It's December! Comfort food weather! I'm really into homemade soups at this time of year and I like something hearty to dunk in them. Crackers just won't do, I need... BISCUITS!

Now most biscuit mix recipes and boxed biscuits mixes are made with shortening, which is loaded with enough trans fat to kill you twice. My recipe uses only oil, which is not only healthier, it's also cheaper! Yet my biscuits still have that crispy biscuit taste that makes them so delicious.

Herb and Garlic Biscuit Mix (single use- makes 6 biscuits)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/8 teaspoon sage

What else you'll need

1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup water

Combine mix in a bowl and stir, then stir in the oil until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Mine is a bit lumpy because I was pressed for time but it still turned out ok.

Add in water and stir until a dough forms. Spoon the dough into 6 portions on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until tops start to look a bit golden in places.

Serve hot or cold. I find they go well with any messy crock pot food- chili, stew, gumbo, ect. They also make a great topping crust for pot pie casseroles. I like to make a big batch of mix and quickly make biscuits right before dinner whenever I want. It's so easy and so fresh!

I ate two right away and although my poor pregnant tummy is now regretting the garlic, it was totally worth it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pasta Salad Mix

Well I'm in limbo these days, feeling great some moments and terrible others. Still more terrible moments than great ones, but the balance will slowly start to shift in the upcoming weeks.

When I do feel great, I feel HUNGRY, and no amount of food is enough. I'm still having trouble even looking at meat, so I've been eating a lot of meatless foods lately. Like....

Pasta Salad! (single use)

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon chili pepper flakes

What else you'll need

1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar
4 (or more) cups of cooked pasta noodles
Several cups of chopped veggies (tomato, onion, peppers, beans, ect)

(What I used)

1 chopped tomato
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped red pepper
1 can kidney beans drained

Really, you can pretty much throw anything into it that you feel like. It's a great way to clean out your fridge. I skipped the onion due to pregnancy issues and added a can of beans to bulk up the protein I'm not getting from meat these days. I also made the ratio of veggies to pasta much higher because I'm trying to get as many nutrients into me as I can and I find it tastes better. But the great thing about pasta salad is that it's hard to ruin it- it doesn't have to be exact, it just has to have a reasonable combination of ingredients.

Combine mix, oil and vinegar in a bowl and stir.

Using the pasta pot, combine cooked noodles and veggies and then stir in the seasoning mixture. Serve chilled and enjoy!

This turned out very delicious and is proving to be a great mid-day grazing food. It's a good thing to pack in your lunch, it's just filling enough to keep you from eating junk food and healthy enough to be a good choice.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Corn Bread Mix

I'm back! I'm still pretty queasy but have actually been able to get out of bed and do a few things around the house the past few days. Which includes a bit of cooking. My poor husband has been starving!

I decided I was ready to start mixing it up again today, and to thank my husband for doing EVERYTHING for this past month, I made one of his favorite things ever- Cornbread!

Corn Bread Mix (single use)

1 cup flour
3/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder

Big Batch (makes 4 uses)

4 cups flour
3 cups corn meal
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons baking powder

What else you'll need

1 cup cold water
1/3 cup oil
1 egg (or substitute)

Combine 2 1/4 cup of mix with the water, oil and egg (I used applesauce instead) in a mixing bowl and stir until smooth.

Pour into a greased square baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until the top just starts to brown. 20 minutes will make it like cake, 30 will make it dry like 'real' corn bread. I make the cake style because then I can pass it off to my daughter as dessert.

My husband likes to eat his with butter and honey on top but it's also great to dip into chili, stew or other messy meals.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mix It Up-Date

I apologize for not posting a recipe today, but we've been mixing something else up around here lately- our DNA. The next little taste tester is due to join the family next June.

In the meantime I have been suffering through the most horrendous morning noon and night sickness, just like I had with my daughter. Knowing this was likely, I created and photographed a bunch of recipes before it kicked in so I could post them in the blog when I wasn't able to cook. This worked just great- until I ran out.

I normally love food. I spend so much of my life dreaming of food and talking of food, reading cookbooks and shopping and cooking and creating. But these past few weeks I can't even THINK about food without feeling incredibly ill. Even posting some of my pre-made recipes was hard on me, the pictures were making me woozy.

I'm in the worst of it now, where even getting out of bed is a struggle, but if this is anything like last time I'll soon be in the 'in love with starch' phase of things. I have some plans in the works already for when I'm feeling up to it- bread dipping oil mixes, baking mixes, instant potato mixes, oatmeal mixes. There won't be any meat for some time, but it's fall, with winter quick on its heels. It's time to get your carb on.

Be patient with me for now, great things are coming soon...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sweet Chili Rub Mix

I discovered sweet chili sauce for the first time in Alaska. The boat I was living on had a giant bottle on every table at meal time and I discovered that it made the most delicious dipping sauce for chicken fingers. Later on in Australia I learned how they used it as a dipping sauce for potato wedge fries, which was equally tasty.

Recently I've been toying with the idea of creating a sweet chili rub for chicken and fish. I figured it couldn't be too hard. I was right! I got it on the first try!

Sweet Chili Rub Mix

2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic flakes

What else you'll need

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 fish fillets or chicken breasts (I used fish since we have a giant bag of fillets from Costco in our freezer).

Combine mix and oil and stir into a thick paste.

Coat your meat with the paste and broil or grill it.

I was feeling lazy so I served mine with oven fries and frozen green beans. My husband was blown away by how tasty it was though and requested it on chicken next time.

I'm pretty sure this can be made into a dipping sauce as well, just substitute the oil with vinegar or water (or both). Buying the sauce itself isn't too expensive, but the mix is good for when you only want a little bit, especially if you're like me and don't like your fridge cluttered up with bottles of condiments!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seasoned Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix

Since we've been eating a lot of fish lately we've also been eating a lot of potatoes. Because what side goes best with fish? I started getting sick of potatoes though and tried to think of a rice dish that would taste good with fish. I knew wild rice was often paired with it, so a new mix was born.

Seasoned Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix (single use)

2/3 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1/3 cup uncooked wild rice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

What else you'll need

2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter or oil

Combine mix, water and butter/oil in a saucepan or rice cooker and simmer until rice is fully cooked. I used a rice cooker because I didn't want to burn it. If you cook it in a saucepan you have to check it and stir it and I don't have that kind of attention span when I'm trying to cook other things.

I served it with the fried fish mix from the previous post.

It paired very nicely with the fish and was a nice change from potatoes!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fried Fish Coating Mix

My husband really likes when I cook fish, but recently told me that it's just not filling enough. How do you make something more filling? Bread it and fry it!!!

Fried Fish Coating Mix (Single Use)

1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika
/14 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon oregano

What else you'll need

4 pieces of fish (I used sole)
I egg, beaten (optional)
oil for frying

Combine the mix in a large bowl, stirring well. Coat each piece of fish in egg (if desired. I skipped this to avoid eggs) and then dip in the mix until fish is well coated. Pan fry each piece until both sides are brown and fish is properly cooked.

I served mine with a seasoned wild rice mix I created the same day (coming soon) and some salad. Delicious! (Filling too!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chocolate Cranberry Muesli Mix

We've been on a big muesli and granola kick in our house lately, but it bothers me that those tiny little boxes cost so much money when most of the ingredients are so inexpensive. I also don't like how much added sugar some of them have, so I decided to have a go at making my own using my favorite ingredients!

Chocolate Cranberry Muesli Mix (single use)

1/4 cup bran flakes
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup corn flakes
1/4 cup rice crispees
2 tablespoons almond slivers or bits
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons semi sweet chocolate chips

Big Batch (makes about 8 good sized bowls)

2 cups bran flakes
2 cups oats
2 cups corn flakes
2 cups rice crispees
1 cup almond slivers or slices
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix it well

Serve with milk. I used almond milk for mine!

I created this mix by copying the main ingredients listed on the box of my favorite store bought kind but even though some costly (or unhealthy) ingredients were left out my version still tasted far better! It only took moments to make but the money saved and improved taste were certainly worth it!