Friday, July 29, 2011

Faux Rice A Roni Mix

These days I'm always trying to think of new ideas for mixes to create and the best place to look is always in the grocery store. It seems like every time I go shopping they have come out with new packets of side dishes (like side kicks or noodles and sauce) and judging from the number of them for sale they must be pretty popular!

Today was another one of those days where after a doctor's appointment for my daughter, grocery shopping for her birthday party this weekend and a play date with one of her little friends when it came time to make dinner I realized I had forgotten to defrost the meat. Whoops.

We already did Thai take out once this week and I'm going out for dinner tomorrow night so I wanted to keep the cost down- which meant chicken from the deli counter at the grocery store and home made side dishes. What a perfect chance to try out a new mix.

I decided my first one should be the original starchy side dish mix....

Faux Rice A Roni Mix (single use)

2/3 cup uncooked rice
1/3 cup broken uncooked spaghetti pieces
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried garlic flakes

Nutritional yeast can be purchased in any health or bulk food store and is the key ingredient in another mix of mine: Low Sodium Bouillon Mix. If you can't find any you can replace the yeast flakes and salt in this recipe with 2 tablespoons of bouillon, but this allows you to avoid MSG or other chemicals found in store bought bouillon.

What else you'll need

2 tablespoons butter or oil
2 cups water

Combine mix, butter, and water in a saucepan and simmer until rice and noodles are tender. I used a rice cooker to make mine because I wanted to run out and buy the chicken while it was cooking without burning our house down. It came out perfectly in the rice cooker.

I quickly tossed a salad to go with our chicken and noodles. Not bad for the last second is it?

I don't think I've actually eaten Rice A Roni since I was 10 years old but it tasted exactly the same and it tasted GOOD!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Italian Mocha Espresso Mix

After weeks of unbearable heat we've finally had a couple of nice, comfortable cool days. Last week I couldn't even stand the thought of a hot drink, but this morning it sounded pretty good.

Italian Mocha Espresso Mix (Single Use)

4 teaspoons powdered milk
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder

Big Batch (makes 12 uses)

1 cup powdered milk
¼ cup instant coffee
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

What else you'll need

2/3 cup of boiling water.

Combine 2 tablespoons of mix with boiling water and stir well.

Mixes like these are good to serve to people who come over for dinner, especially in a family like mine where nobody drinks coffee. They can be made decaf or regular and everyone can have a different kind if they want. They're also a lot cheaper than going to Starbucks!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Corn Dog Batter Mix

A couple of weeks ago I went to see the movie 'Bad Teacher' with a friend and when I saw Cameron Diaz eating a pogo in the movie it actually looked pretty tasty.

Then this afternoon we stayed late at the pool with some friends and when we finally got home it was WAY too late to defrost and prepare anything proper for supper. So I thought... why not?

Corn Dog Batter Mix (single use)

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon dry milk powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

What else you'll need

1/2 cup water
6 uncooked hot dogs
oil for frying

Combine mix with water and stir until smooth.

Coat hot dogs in batter and fry in a deep fryer or frying pan. I tried my first dog on a skewer to make it more like a pogo but I found it hard to cook it evenly and the batter was sliding down and making it lumpy looking.

We dipped them in mustard. They were very very tasty, way better than I expected. Although I won't make a habit of it....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Garden Herb Dip Mix

Sometimes you just want a simple dip to serve with your veggies, either to please a picky eater, someone who doesn't like spices, or because it needs to be vegetarian. This dip has no weird flavors, hot spices or bacon! It tastes great when made fat free, low fat or full fat and is a good thing to serve at functions when you're not sure of people's tastes.

Single Use

1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon tarragon
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried lemon peel

Big Batch (makes 6 uses)

2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon tarragon
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons dried lemon peel

What else you’ll need

½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream

Combine 4 teaspoons of mix with mayonnaise and sour cream and stir well. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving to let the flavors infuse. As with most dips you can use any combination of sour cream, mayonnaise or yogurt to make this.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Greek Salad Dressing Mix

My husband has this thing about salad, he says 'it's a whole lot of chewing for nothing'. But I recently discovered it's the lettuce he doesn't like, not salad in itself. So bring on the lettuce free salads!

Greek salad is the perfect 'man salad'. No lettuce, tasty olives, feta cheese. My cousin Mike loves it so much that he was spending every cent he had on overpriced take out salads until he learned how to make his own.

Greek Salad Dressing Mix (makes one cup)

1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/4 teaspoons oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons basil
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar

What else you'll need

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Greek salad ingredients (cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese)

I used an old bottle from BBQ sauce that I make all my salad dressings in. I use a funnel to make it easier. Forgive my rusty old stove. The mix it up kitchen is not a beautiful one.

I used about half the dressing for a salad made with one cucumber and 2 tomatoes.

I served the salad with two of my other favorite mixes: chicken souvlaki and seasoned roasted potatoes. I can't think of a more delicious dinner for a beautiful summer night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crispy baked shrimp coating mix

My husband really loves those breaded shrimp that you bake in the oven, but he can eat the whole ten dollar box in minutes, so I don't buy them very often. Well this week plain shrimp went on sale for $2.99 a bag, and since the bag holds about 2-3 times as much shrimp as those little boxes, I had an idea...

Crispy baked shrimp coating mix (makes enough for about one pound)

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme

What else you'll need

1 pound raw shrimp, defrosted
oil or melted butter for drizzling
1 egg beaten (optional)

I defrosted my shrimp in a bowl of cold water to save time.

I didn't use the egg since I can't have them but if you coat the shrimp in a beaten egg first more batter will probably stick to them.

I put the shrimp in a bag with the mix and shook it until the shrimp was nicely coated, then spread it on a baking sheet and drizzled it with canola oil to give it that fried shrimp taste. I baked it for 15 minutes at 375 F.

The shrimp came out delicious and was so nicely seasoned that my husband didn't need to drown it in seafood sauce. I had a plate of it, he ate until he was stuffed and there was still even more left for him to take for a snack in his lunch today. Not bad for a $2.99 bag of shrimp.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pizza seasoning mix

I've got a serious pizza addiction, I read pizza fliers the way some women read romance novels. Lactose intolerance doesn't even stop me, I'm willing to pay the price.

But pizza is expensive, especially when you get it delivered. Pick up isn't always possible because sometimes the craving hits while my daughter is napping and I can't go anywhere. Then I need to make do with what I have on hand.

Pizza seasoning mix (single use)

1 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon garlic flakes
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes

What else you'll need

1 cup of plain tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
Pizza crust

I didn't like the idea of all the leftover sauce from only needing one cup so I created the perfect way to make a cup of plain tomato sauce- I mixed one can of tomato paste with 1/2 cup of water and stirred it until it was smooth, then I added the seasoning mix to it. It was perfect!

For crust I like to use those thick pocketless Greek pitas and make mini pizzas with them. I find they bake really well and are much cheaper than those pre-made pizza shells and much easier than making your own crust.

I topped my pizzas with jarred artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers because that's what I had in my fridge. Very tasty!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pancake Mix

We had my husband's family over for brunch on Canada Day, so I made my specialty- pancakes!

Most people these days use boxed pancake mix to save time, but those mixes are full of terrible things like hydrogenated fats and chemicals. Making your own batches of pancake mix is much healthier and allows you to make them with whole grain or gluten free flour. You can even make your own shake and cook containers of mix like they sell in the store.

Single Use

1 cup flour
¼ cup dried milk powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt

Big Batch (makes 4 uses)

4 cups flour
1 cup dried milk powder
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt

What else you’ll need

1 ½ cups water
Oil for frying

Combine 1 ¼ cups of mix with water.

Heat skillet or pan to medium, drizzling plenty of oil before spooning pancake mixture. These pancakes contain neither eggs nor oil so they need a bit of oil to cook. But you can always use cooking spray for those watching their weight, moderate amounts of oil for most people and a big puddle for those who want a treat. My sister likes then I make the kind of pancakes that she calls 'fritters'. They are practically deep fried!

I flip my pancakes when plenty of bubbles form in the batter.

Delicious! Always a hit!