Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nut Free Trail Mix

I went back to work recently as a supply teacher and the biggest problem seems to be what to pack for snacks. I'm used to packing things like Larabars or dry roasted almonds to snack on when I'm out, but these days almost every classroom has at least one child with a deathly allergy and all schools are now peanut and tree nut free. Gone are the carefree lunches of peanut butter sandwhiches and nutty granola bars. Now kids eat Cheez whiz on their bread instead.


It's a little known fact that SEEDS are neither nut nor legume and therefore very few people are allergic to them. Knowing this you can make delicious trail mix using pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. This is great because seeds are also a lot cheaper! Especially with all those Halloween pumpkins people are about to carve next month!

Nut Free Trail Mix

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Dump each ingredient into a bowl and then stir.

The other ingredients were picked based on what was on sale at Bulk Barn this week, but the combination tasted exceptionally good. You could easily substitute any other dried fruit of your choice, or use M&M's, butterscotch chips, or whatever sweetie treat in place of the chocolate chips, but I suggest you try this exact mix as it's GOOD.

This tasted even better than regular trail mix, yet it has the added bonus that it won't kill any of my students. And even though my husband can eat whatever deadly foods he wants in HIS lunch, I can send it with him anyway because it's an inexpensive and healthy way to fill him up.

I have to teach all day tomorrow but that's ok. I've already got my recess treat packed!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Meatball Seasoning Mix

My husband has been asking for spaghetti and meatballs for a while now and while I've never actually made meatballs I figured they would make a good mix.

My first test run included pepper and WAY TOO MUCH garlic. This overpowered the rest of the meatball and even though my husband said they were really good I wasn't satisfied. A second test run made for much better results (he said they were both equally good).

Meatball Mix (single use)

1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons parmesan
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried garlic flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt

What else you'll need

oil for frying
1 pound ground meat
1 jar of pasta sauce
1 pound of spaghetti noodles, cooked

Combine mix with ground meat and mix well. I used ground turkey because we had some in the freezer. Finish mixing it with your hands and form it into golf ball sized balls.

Fry the meatballs in a frying pan until they looked fully cooked.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and let it simmer for a bit while your noodles are cooking. If you don't have spaghetti sauce you can make some easily by adding spaghetti seasoning mix to a can or jar of crushed tomatoes.

Add the cooked spaghetti noodles to the sauce and toss it, then let it cook for another couple minutes. This will infuse the noodle with sauce and make it taste like it's from a really good restaurant.

Enjoy your meal! If there is any left over (and there might be, because it makes a lot) it tastes great for lunch the next day.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Crab Dip Mix

So my husband bought a drum set this summer, which means a lot of noise not just from him, but from the band practices he's been hosting at our house. But I like band practice, because it means more people over here to taste test my mixes. The last time he held one I decided to try something fancy...

Crab Dip Mix (Single Use)

2 teaspoons onion flakes
1 teaspoon chives
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon garlic flakes
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon pepper
Pinch thyme
Pinch ginger

Big Batch (makes 6 uses)

4 tablespoons onion flakes
2 tablespoons chives
2 tablespoons celery seeds
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon garlic flakes
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne
1 ½ teaspoons pepper
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon ginger

What else you’ll need

1 small tub/block of plain cream cheese (250 g)
½ cup mayo
1 small can of crab, drained

Combine 2-3 tablespoons of mix with cream cheese, mayonnaise and crab and mix well. I skipped the mayo since I can't eat it so the dip was thicker, but the mayo would make it smoother I imagine.

I served it with carrot sticks, but it would be great on pitas or as a topping or filling for hors derves. It's the kind of thing you can make when you want to be a little bit fancy for guests. We all loved it, including my daughter, who called it 'hummus'.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mint hot chocolate mix

I am LOVING this fall. It's the cool and sunny kind, not the grey and rainy kind. We can still spend our days at the park, yet I can enjoy a hot drink in the morning or evening without sweating the way I might have a month ago. So it was the perfect time to create....

Mint Hot Chocolate Mix (single use)

1 tablespoon powdered milk
1 tablespoon crushed peppermint candy
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder

The peppermint candy can be any kind, like those random dinner mints in your purse that you got at the restaurant, or in the near future-those annoying tiny candy canes that appear on your kitchen counter because they are taped to every Christmas present and are offered in every waiting room you enter.

I crushed up my candy with a small mortar and pestle we received for a wedding present (and I was given an even bigger, amazing new one for my birthday this weekend that I can't wait to try out!). If you don't have a mortar and pestle you can put the candy in a ziploc bag and smash it with a hammer or other blunt object. Make do.

Combine mix with 1 cup of boiling water and stir well. If possible, cover cup with a plate and let it sit for 5 minutes and stir again. Once the peppermint flakes have fully melted the hot chocolate will take on an even sweeter, mintier taste. If you reheat this it's even better, so any parents with very young children will appreciate this. Everyone with small children knows that you never get to drink an entire hot beverage all the way through before you're interrupted by some disaster.

Whenever you get to enjoy this drink... well enjoy... I got two delicious sips in the morning... and the rest 10 hours later when my daughter was safely in bed...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Caribbean Fish Rub Mix

We got a new camera! When I see how much better the pictures and videos are I'm kicking myself for not doing it two years ago when our daughter was born. But we joke that if we have a second child we can always say 'yes, there are way less pictures of you, but they are much better quality! Anyway, now I can take closer shots of the mixes and food without them being blurry or overexposed.

I am trying to cook more fish, partly because it's so healthy and partly because I want our daughter to grow up with more variety in her diet than we did. It's hard for me though considering I worked as a biologist in the fishing industry for several years and saw some NASTY stuff. I knew that the only solution would be A) a fish I never worked with and B) a really tasty seasoning mix!

Caribbean Fish Rub Mix (Single Use)

2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch cloves
pinch ginger
pinch nutmeg

Big Batch (makes 6 uses)

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons onion powder
5 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

What else you need

1 pound of fish fillets, any variety

Sprinkle and rub about 2 tablespoons of mix onto both sides of fish and lay in a glass baking dish. I used tilapia fillets because they were on sale and looked good.

Broil fish for 10-15 minutes until fish is fully cooked and flakes when pressed with a fork.

I served mine with steamed vegetables and cheddar and broccoli mashed potatoes.

My husband said it was the best fish he had ever eaten. Our daughter silently gobbled all of hers, then demanded the rest off of both our plates. I guess she's not picky about seafood like I was....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stir fry seasoning mix

We're a big stir fry family and one of my favourite meals in the world is a basic Chinese stir fry with lots of vegetables. Lately I've been seeing various packets of 'stir fry seasoning' in the grocery store so I knew I had to mix it up!

Stir fry seasoning mix (single use)

1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Big batch (makes 4 uses)

1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
4 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt

What else you'll need

1 pound of diced chicken, beef, pork (or shrimp, tofu, ect)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup water
2 cups frozen or fresh diced vegetables

Combine 3 tablespoons of mix with soy sauce and water in a bowl and stir. Set bowl aside for later.

Fry the meat in the oil. I used chicken.

Stir in the vegetables and cook until slightly tender.

Pour in the sauce and cook until sauce thickens.

Serve with rice or Chinese noodles.

BEST STIR FRY I'VE EVER EATEN! (Seriously, it really was!)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tzaziki Dip Mix

Why is it that if something sounds exotic it's more expensive? Tzaziki is a simple Greek dip made with yogurt, cucumbers and dill but a tiny little tub at the grocery store is always at least $4. It is often used as a topping for falafels, souvlaki, roasted potatoes and other Greek dishes.

Tzaziki Dip Mix Single Use

1 teaspoon dill
½ teaspoon garlic flakes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried mint
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon dried lemon peel

Big Batch (makes 6 uses)

2 tablespoons dill
1 tablespoon dried garlic flakes
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 ½ teaspoons pepper
1 ½ teaspoons dried lemon peel

What else you’ll need

1 cup plain yogurt
½ cucumber, diced or shredded
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Combine 2 teaspoons of mix with yogurt, cucumber, oil and lemon juice and stir well. I diced my cucumber on the first test run of this mix and shredded it on the second. Either way was fine.

It was great on our souvlaki on a pita, although most of our dips end up becoming baked potato toppings as well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fried Rice Seasoning Mix

My husband loves chicken fried rice but that stuff is ridiculously expensive considering how cheap the ingredients are. Can you really justify spending $8 on a plate of glorified leftovers? And why isn't the homemade kind as tasty? Recently I've seen seasoning packets for making fried rice at home and knew the secret must be in mixing it up.

Fried Rice Seasoning Mix

Single Use

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Big Batch (makes 6 uses)

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder

What else you’ll need

3 cups cooked rice
1 cup chopped or frozen veggies
½ cup cooked diced protein (pork, chicken, beef, eggs, tofu or shrimps)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Fry rice in the oil, then add 4 teaspoons of mix and soy sauce and stir until evenly mixed. Add veggies and protein choice and cook until fully heated.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can make it with all sorts of leftovers and cheap frozen veggies. I used leftover roasted chicken and frozen peas but you can just use whatever you have in your fridge that you want to use up. Somehow it makes your leftover food into something amazingly delicious. You can bet there won't be any leftovers from these leftovers!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Basic Muffin Mix

One of the reasons I was sad to see August go is because August means peaches. Lots and lots of peaches! I buy those baskets of them and eat several a day. They are still available for the next little while, but they are a bit old and even the most enthusiastic peach eater can't make their way through the basket without them getting a little mushy and bruised. But do I throw them out? No! I make them into muffins!

This basic muffin mix allows me to use up mushy peaches, squishy berries, bruised apples and pears, brown bananas or any other fruit that's gone slightly past its prime. But you can add anything to them- veggies, meat, cheese, chocolate, nuts. If you want to get rid of it or feed it to your kid in a sneaky way, hide it in this muffin mix.

Basic Muffin Mix Single Use

2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup powdered milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Big batch (makes about 4 uses)

8 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup powdered milk
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt

What else you’ll need

1 cup water
¼ cup oil
1 egg or egg substitute
1 ½ cups of chopped up fruit or other fillings

Combine 2 3/4 cups of mix with water and fruit/toppings and stir well. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or until tops of muffins are slightly brown. I also make this into a cake sometimes by baking it in a loaf pan or round cake pan and glazed with a mixture of sugar and water in the last 10 minutes of baking.

We ate them for dessert that night (my daughter thought they were cake!) and my husband has been taking them in his lunch all week. Not a single peach was lost...