Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tapenade Seasoning Mix

I am a toast girl and so is my daughter. When she sees the bread coming out she yells 'toooooooast!' We spread all sorts of things on it- butter, jam, nut butters, avocado, cream cheese. We make brushetta, or melt cheese and top it with things like olives, tomatoes or cucumbers. Toast is our favorite breakfast food... and snack!

I wanted something new to put on our toast and since we like olives I thought it might be good to make some...

Tapenade Seasoning Mix (single use)

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic flakes
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

What else you'll need

2 cups pitted olives (I used one green, one black)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine mix, olives, oil and lemon juice and blend. I got a magic bullet for Valentine's Day so I used that. Some women want flowers and diamonds, I'll take kitchen gadgets any day!

Don't over blend. I made mine a bit too smooth but I realize now that it could have done with a few more chunks in it. The best way to do this is not to blend it all at once. Add some, blend it smooth, then add more and don't fully blend it.

We ate it on toast like we planned, but it's a great thing to serve with crackers at a party. You can use it as a sandwich spread or a pasta sauce or as a dip.

We will certainly be adding this one to the toast topping rotation!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Apple Pie Filling Mix

I can't refuse a good deal, which includes those 8 pound bags of apples that go on sale for ridiculously low prices in the winter. The problem with 8 pounds of apples in my fridge is that only my daughter really eats them, and she still needs them peeled which I'm too lazy to do half the time. So I end up with a whole pile of sad looking apples after a while.

Spring is here, and produce is improving. I wanted room in my fridge for tastier things, but I couldn't just throw out all those 'perfectly good' apples. Not with Ukrainian blood! So I needed to make them into something appetizing like..

Apple Pie Filling Mix (single use)

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt
pinch allspice
pinch ginger powder

What else you'll need

8 cups of apples, peeled and chopped (about 8 medium sized apples)
2 tablespoons melted butter
pie crust or pastry dough

Toss apples in melted butter and then stir in mix until evenly coated.

Use filling to stuff pie shell or other pastries. I bought some tarts thinking it would be easiest, but they were much tinier than they looked on the box so I had a lot more filling left. I whipped up a batch of pastry dough to make turnovers with, although my pastry skills are very lacking so they ended up looking more like baked mangled lumps.

Bake your pie/tarts/turnovers/ect at 350 degrees F until golden brown (about 15 minutes for tarts, 20 for turnovers, 45 for a whole pie).

Let me just say, the tarts were good. The lumpy looking pastry things that were supposed to be turnovers? They were AMAZING! Even though I had eaten dinner and two tarts, I had two turnovers as well and then had to lay down because I couldn't breathe! Who knew I could make a sad looking bag of apples taste so good??

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lemon Chicken Sauce Mix

Our favorite Thai restaurant went out of business! We were heartbroken! The night we planned to get it as a treat we ended up having to order Chinese take out instead and I noticed afterwards that I felt... icky. MSG. Oil. Syrup. Ug.

But it tastes good when you're eating it, and the best way to enjoy Chinese food without consequences is to make your own. So I tried to mix it up with our favorite take out dish...

Lemon Chicken Mix (single use)

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

What else you'll need

juice of 2 lemons (up to 1/2 cup lemon juice)
1 pound chicken diced
oil for frying
flour and salt for dusting (optional)

Combine mix with lemon juice and stir well. Fry chicken in a wok (I coat my pieces in a mixture of 1/2 cup flour plus 1/4 teaspoon of salt first to give them that deep fried take out flavor) until fully cooked. When chicken is cooked stir in lemon sauce and simmer for a few minutes until sauce thickens and chicken is well flavored.

I served mine with rice and steamed stir fry veggie mix. It tasted just like take out without the added nausea afterwards.

We miss our little Thai place, but we need to save money anyway, and this is a very good way!

*I have shared this recipe in the $5 dinner challenge here*

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creamy Chicken Fusilli Mix

I am TIRED of potatoes. Especially baked potatoes. My husband would eat them every day if it was up to him. No thank you! I'm glad I'm the cook here and can decide on something else.


Creamy Chicken Fusilli Mix (single use)

2 tablespoons dehydrated vegetable flakes
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
pinch pepper

What else you'll need

1 cup uncooked fusilli (or other shaped) noodles
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter

Combine mix with cold water in a saucepan and stir well. Turn burner to medium heat and begin to simmer, adding butter and noodles to the pot.

Stir occasionally until noodles are tender and sauce thickens.

I served this with delicious roast chicken and baby carrots. It paired perfectly and we gobbled it all up.

The only problem with this recipe is that it was TOO good. There was nothing leftover to eat for lunch, so I had to make a second batch. I took that batch and mixed in some leftover chopped chicken and carrots to make it into more of a casserole, which was also very delicious.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spanish Rice Mix

I have been very VERY into side dishes lately. Rice, noodles, potatoes... whatever I make it's my favorite part of the meal.

I wanted something different yesterday so I decided to try my hand at..

Spanish Rice Mix (single use)

1 cup uncooked rice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

What else you'll need

2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Combine water, oil and tomato paste in a saucepan and stir until the paste dissolves.

Add mix and stir, then turn heat to medium, cover pot and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

When rice is tender, turn off heat, fluff with a fork and serve.

I served the rice with broiled sole and steamed carrots, green and yellow beans.

This recipe is good because it can be used as a side dish, but you can also add cooked meat and vegetables to make it a one pot main course. It goes well with chicken, shrimp, sausage or fish.

Most recipes for Spanish rice call for WAY too many tomatoes, making it taste bitter and creating a real heartburn nightmare. This rice had a sweet tomato flavor and was easy on the stomach. We fought over the leftovers and long after they were gone our daughter was yelling for more rice. Next time I'll make a double batch!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Strawberry Fruit Dip Mix

Yogurt is considered a health food but really it's usually not very good for you. Because it's so sour a typical flavored yogurt has more sugar added to it than your average bowl of ice cream. The 'diet' yogurt is even worse, full of aspartame or other artificial sweeteners. Neither are things I want to be feeding to my daughter.

So every week I buy a big tub of plain yogurt and use it to make many things. I use my dip mixes to put baby carrots and dip in my husband's lunches. I make tzaziki to put on our souvlaki, or raita for our Indian dishes. I mix frozen berries into it and give it to my daughter for snacks. And sometimes I make fruit dip.

Strawberry Fruit Dip Mix

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup freeze dried strawberries (crushed as big or small as you wish)

Freeze dried strawberries are available at bulk barn and other bulk food stores. They are very light and a little goes a long way so they aren't as expensive as they might seem.

What else you'll need

1 cup plain yogurt

Combine yogurt with 2 tablespoons of mix and stir well. Let it sit in a covered dish in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving to let the berry flavor infuse.

The dip is perfect to serve with a fruit platter at a party or for dessert. I made one with our favorite fruits to test it out.

The best thing about this dip is you can eat it by itself for dessert as well. Sometimes I let my daughter have the rest of it as a treat despite the sugar. It still has less than the average commercial yogurt anyway.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings Mix

I made Gwyneth Paltrow's roast chicken last week and it was amazing! Anybody who clearly loves food as much as she does is okay in my book. My husband and daughter were banging on the kitchen table chanting 'we want chicken! we want chicken!' demanding more. But I cut them off at one point because one of the best things about roast chicken is all the fabulous things you can cook with the leftover meat!

I make a lot of different mixes with the chicken. Fried rice, gumbo, curry pasta casserole, pot pie, soup and more. But I wanted something new so I searched around and created this...

Chicken and Dumplings!!!

This is a two part mix. The first mix is for the chicken stew, which can be made on its own, and the second mix is for the dumplings which also can be made on their own to add to another dish. But together they are divine!

Chicken Stew Mix (single use)

1 chicken bouillon cube
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper

What else you'll need

3 cups cold water
3 cups chopped veggies (peas, carrots, celery, mushroom, whatever. I used peas and carrots because we like them and I had them).
2 cups cooked chicken

Combine mix with water in a saucepan and stir well. Add in vegetables and begin to simmer as you prepare the dumplings. Keep chicken aside for later.

Dumpling Mix (single use)

1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon powdered milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt

What else you'll need

1 tablespoon of butter
1/3 cup water

Combine mix with butter and mix well. Add water and stir until you have a thick dough. Roll out dough into teaspoon sized balls, about 15 in total.

Once stew is simmering well add dumplings and let them cook for about 15 minutes. Add chicken at the end and simmer for a couple more minutes until chicken is warm. Ladle out stew into bowls with a few dumplings in each bowl.

We all LOVED this dish. My daughter especially liked the dumplings. I'll be roasting 'Gwyneth chicken' again really soon and making this dish again the next day!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Double Chocolate Mug Cake Mix

People always ask me how someone who cooks and eats so much stays thin. It's two simple things really.

1. I walk most places. To the library, the dollar and bulk food stores, to pick up a few groceries, to my daughter's daycare. If it's close by, I go on foot.

2. I can eat junk food whenever I want, but I don't keep it in the house. We only have healthy foods and snacks here, so if we get an after dinner craving I either have to bake it myself or I have to change out of my comfy pj's and drag my butt out to the store. In winter this is even more unappealing.

It works great for me, but my husband has a sweet tooth and therefore stronger cravings. He often wants me to bake something for him, but I don't like the idea of messing up a nice clean kitchen before bed, or the idea of a whole batch of something laying around.

Then I heard about... microwave mug cakes! I tried a recipe, but it just tasted too bland and sponge like. I knew I could do better, so I modified it to taste more like real cake and not like the 'dessert' portion in a Swanson dinner.

So behold...

Double Chocolate Microwave Mug Cup Mix (single use)

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
1 tablespoon powdered milk

Big Batch (makes 4 uses)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered milk

What else you'll need

1/4 cup applesauce (or 1 egg)
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine 3/4 cup of mix with applesauce/egg in a large mug and stir well. Stir in water, oil and vanilla and mix until smooth. We have a couple of those large novelty mugs left over from the big Friends craze which work perfectly.

Microwave on high for 3 minutes, then let sit for a couple of minutes to solidify cake and keep yourself from burning your mouth off.

Delicious!!! I have found the perfect solution: my husband has a serving of cake for his sweet tooth, there are no leftovers to tempt us and this mama only has to wash one dirty mug in the morning. Everybody wins!