Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gift in a jar: Oatmeal bread mix

Yeah. So when it rains it pours. Our car is dying, our dryer crapped out this weekend, the rain gutters are falling off our roof in a dangerous way, we just had to hire a plumber to unclog a floor drain in our basement, we got our ducts cleaned and we just went on vacation this month. Oh and yes, Christmas shopping...

As I often do in times like this I have myself on a strict no spending policy. I'm eating what I have in the freezer and cupboards and staying away from the stores. But... this is also the time of year I always make my jar mixes for people and I can't make all of them using what I already have here. Or can I?

This summer I purchased a case of extra large mason jars which are perfect for baking mixes. And we literally have about 50 pounds of oatmeal after a big sale at Costo (my oldest daughter LOVES oatmeal). So I thought what can I do with this?

Oatmeal bread mix

3 cups flour
3/4 cup quick oats
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

In a separate sachet, add 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast. It's much cheaper to buy in bulk this way. The baggies can be found in the craft section of the dollar store, the small size come 80 in a package for a dollar.

I like to layer my ingredients in a jar to make it pretty, then put the yeast sachet at the top before screwing on the lid.

What else you'll need

1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons oil

To make dissolve the yeast in warm water until it's frothy, then add in oil then the mix and stir. Once it's well mixed you can knead it. Then leave it in a large mixing bowl covered with a cloth in a warm place to rise. Because there is no 'warm' place in our house I left it in my oven with the light bulb on to warm it up a bit (the way I do when I dry food in there).

One the dough has risen (it's at least doubled in size), take it out, knead it again and put it into 2 greased loaf pans. Cover them and let them rise again.

Bake at 350 F until the bread starts to brown on the top and bottom.

I fed the test run bread to my daughter for her after school snack and put more in her lunch today. Both my kids couldn't get enough of it so I think I'll be whipping up some more mix for myself as well.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Guest post from FillMyRecipe: Curried Green Beans Spice Mix

Today we have Sara from FillMyRecipe guest posting for the blog. Back in June she posted with her delicious curried cauliflower and carrots spice mix. I still make that recipe all the time to serve with tandoori chicken , chana masala, or masoor daal.

Curried Green Beans Spice Mix (single use)

Contributed by Sara Parthasarathy, co-founder, FillMyRecipe LLC

Fresh green beans delicacy is flavored with genuine ethnic spices included in this package. This popular recipe of South India is relished as a side dish with rice and lentil soup.

Whenever I dine at an Indian restaurant, I look forward to savoring the salivating curries, flavorful rice dishes and soft breads. While these dishes from North India are popularly served in Indian restaurants in United States and Canada, there are many more interesting dishes prepared in other parts of India that are healthy, tasteful, and unique. You see, India is a land of many states, and each state has its own culture, its own cuisine, and yes, its own language! Imagine driving to the next province or state and experiencing a different culture, different food, and speaking a different language!!

I hail from Tamil Nadu, one of the South Indian states, and, the dishes I make are way different from those generally available in local Indian restaurants. Born a vegetarian and living life as one, I have collected a variety of South Indian dishes that have been passed down through the generations. Many of these dishes fall into the vegan category as well, since they don’t include dairy products.

Here is the recipe for one such dish – Curried Green Beans – an all time favorite of mine, that my great grandmother used to cook! My great grandmother was a culinary master, whipping up exotic South Indian curries with aplomb, cooking for a family of no less than twenty hungry youngsters. To this day, her culinary skills are unrivaled – and I am sure you will love her simple recipe.

Add a unique twist to this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner with this new Curried Beans casserole! You can acquire pre-measured, individually packed spices for this recipe from .

Enjoy the experience of cooking this flavorful dish!

Curried Green Beans recipe pack contains following ingredients for 2 servings:

Prep time: 5-10 minutes, Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients assembled in the Spice Mix packet

1 tsp splitblack gram lentil
1 tsp chick peas lentil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafetida

You need

1/2 lb (2 cups)fresh green beans cut into 1” pieces (Tip: you could use frozen beans as well)
1 tbsp cooking oil
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
10” non-stick skillet

Cooking Directions: (Remember to stop and savor the flavors!)

1. Heat oil in pan, sputter mustard seeds
2. Add cumin seeds, asafetida, split black gram lentil and chick peas lentil fry to golden brown
3. Add green beans, salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder
4. Cook covered for 10 mins stirring every 2-3 mins.
5. Remove cover, stir fry on medium heat until moisture evaporates
6. Stir in shredded coconut (optional), remove from fire

Variation: substitute ¼ cup green beans with carrot cut into 1” cubes

Serve hot with rice and lentil soup

I tried out her spice packet in the Mix It Up kitchen. First I assembled my ingredients:

I stir fried all the spices in order, then added the green beans. I omitted the red chili powder which I suggest anyone with small children do as well. Use it if you like spicy food!! When I make the recipes from scratch I substitute the chili with paprika to keep the red color/mild pepper flavor. Also if you can't track down asafoetida you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon onion powder for 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (I know this doesn't add up, but it works. I use it all the time in my Indian cooking).

I served them with some basmati rice. I ate the whole thing myself because it was so good and I didn't want to share.

FillMyRecipe is a great company because it allows you to try out Indian spices in small quantities without buying huge packets of spice right away. They have many pre made packets but can also 'fill your recipe' by providing the spices you need in a recipe you find in a cookbook or online.

You can also 'like' their Facebook page.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lemon cranberry cookie mix

Halloween is long gone and we're already in the full swing of the Christmas season. This weekend we went to the Santa Claus parade, took the girls to the mall to meet Santa (where our youngest daughter kicked him in the kneecaps), and went for a walk to see the lights on the local outdoor Christmas tree.

People around me are starting to inquire about teacher and office gifts, they were hoping for some new ideas for gifts in a jar. Today is was rainy and grey so I decided to skip my afternoon walk and bake instead. I wanted something a little bit different, so I made...

Lemon Cranberry Cookie Mix (in a jar)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

This mix fit perfectly into a 2 cup (500 ml) mason jar. I would have done a much prettier job layering it but I had an impatient baby snacking in her high chair and didn't have a lot of time to mess around before she protested her captivity.

What else you'll need

1/2 cup butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Blend butter, egg and lemon juice until smooth, then shake mix and stir into wet ingredients and stir.

Drop batter by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until cookies just begin to brown.

These were delicious and a nice change from the usual chocolate chip. You can make them into orange cranberry cookies by using dried orange peel instead of lemon peel and orange juice instead of lemon juice.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gift in a jar: M & M brownie mix

It honestly went straight from summer to winter weather here, and now it's COLD. I've been packing away the bathing suits and sun hats and digging out all the coats and mittens and hats. I've also been thinking about... Christmas!

We mostly keep Christmas for the kids in our family- our daughters and nieces. But for the few adults- teachers and neighbors and family friends we stick to mix gifts in a jar. Last year we gave fajita mix and marshmallow hot chocolate mix, and the year before salsa mix and chai tea mix. This year I wanted to do something different so...

M & M Brownie Mix

Using a 2 cup (500 ml) mason jar, fill the jar with either 2 cups of my regular brownie mix or my gluten free brownie mix. If you want to make an individual jar, put in:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

I like to layer my ingredients in the jar to make them pretty.

On the outside of the jar, tie a small bag of M & M 's with a ribbon. If you are using bulk candies, tie 1/2 cup of M & M's into a baggie. Attach a tag or sticky label with the directions:

What else you'll need

1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend wet ingredients and stir in mix. Pour batter into a greased square baking dish. You can top with batter with M & M's before baking if you want them melted into the brownies, or halfway through if you want them more intact.

Bake at 350 for about 20-30 min (until brownies start to harden). Cool before cutting!

Easy, inexpensive and impersonal. The perfect gift for anyone you sort of know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tandoori Seasoning Mix

Our thirteen year old car is due for an emissions test in January and there is no way it's going to pass. In the meantime we're frantically saving our money for the new car we're going to have to buy when the time comes. This means... no more take out!!

One of the most tempting and expensive forms of take out I crave is Indian food. We can easily blow $40 on just one meal for the two of us and right now that's not an option. So if I want Indian I have to make it myself. And yesterday I really, really wanted it...

Tandoori Seasoning Mix (single use)

1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
3/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon tumeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
pinch cardamom powder

What else you'll need

1 cup plain yogurt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken cut into cubes

You can use this as a dry rub too, but it tastes more authentic if you marinade the chicken in yogurt first. Combine the mix and yogurt and stir well, then mix in the chicken. Marinade in the fridge for 8 hours.

String marinaded chicken pieces onto skewers and lay them on the grill to cook.

Grill until chicken is cooked through and marinade darkens in color.

I served the chicken skewers with basmati rice and cauliflower curry (seasoning mix found here).

Not only did this make a large and authentic meal inexpensively for my husband and I, it also made 2 small meals for the children and best of all?

2 big containers of leftovers for lunch today! Because everybody knows that Indian tastes even better the next day!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Copycat Chicken Enchilada Helper

The weather this month has been incredible and we've been outside soaking it all up, instead of inside cooking or cleaning or mixing it up for the blog. Who wants to do house work when you could be at the park or picking apples or on a long walk or boating on the lake?

I did manage to force myself inside one day last week and try something new. This meal was perfect for us because we generally eat chicken instead of beef and rice instead of pasta with my husbands gluten free diet.

Copycat Chicken Enchilada Helper

1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried red bell pepper
pinch cayenne

What else you'll need

1 pound diced cooked chicken breast
3 cups (or more) cooked rice
1 cup milk
1/2 can tomato paste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

I've started making my 'helper' mixes in a new way. I no longer use powdered milk and water because let's face it- most people, especially parents have at least some form of milk in their fridge, but very few have powdered milk in their cupboards. I also cook the meat, rice/pasta first and then whip up the sauce and add it all together instead of cooking everything in the sauce. This stops everything from sticking to the bottom of the pot while it's cooking and also allows you to add as much rice or pasta as you want to stretch out the meal. I find 'helper' recipes tend to be way too heavy on the meat, and they just don't feed enough people!

Combine mix with milk and stir well, adding in tomato paste and stirring until it dissolves. Cook on medium heat in a large pot, adding in chicken and rice and stirring until sauce thickens. Add cheese and stir until it melts.

I added some steamed broccoli on top to balance out the meal. Delicious and almost worth dragging myself away from the sunshine for!

Friday, September 6, 2013

58 meals using chicken breasts

(Honey Sesame Chicken)

I'm sorry for not posting anything last week but I broke my baby toe! It's been pretty impossible chasing a 1 year old and 4 year old around on one foot! One of the hardest parts of being injured has been getting a nutritious dinner on the table every night, because it's something that has to be done regardless. We have a lot of chicken in our freezer, so I've been relying on many old favorites using chicken breasts. Every morning I get out a frozen portion of chicken to defrost and decide what to make it into. Some of these recipes use raw chicken breasts, others are salads and side dishes that cooked chicken can be added to later. A few are also used on other cuts of chicken or fish, but work just as well on chicken breasts.

58 Meals using boneless skinless chicken breasts

Restaurant style grilled chicken
Blackened seasoning
Montreal chicken seasoning
Chili garlic stir fry sauce
Sweet onion teriyaki sub sauce
Mediterranean chicken and fish seasoning
Cajun pulled chicken
Honey sesame chicken stir fry sauce
Chicken chow mein
Chicken chop suey
Italian seasoning
Parmesan herb panko crust
Chicken noodle soup mix
Jamaican jerk seasoning
Schezuan sauce
Creamy bacon carbonara
Chicken and rice casserole
Chicken parmesan
Creamy garlic Raffaello
Creamy vegetable primavera
Fettuccine alfredo
Caesar salad
Creamy sun dried tomato and basil penne
Fattoush salad
BBQ chicken rub
Chicken shake and bake
Chicken pot pie
Lemon chicken sauce
Creamy chicken fusilli
Spanish rice
Chicken and dumplings
Teriyaki rice and noodles
Honey mustard sauce
Fried chicken coating
Honey garlic sauce
Sweet chili rub
Stir fry seasoning
Chicken fried rice
Poultry seasoning
Hunan seasoning
Satay sauce
Greek salad
Pulled 'pork' (made with chicken)
Pad Thai
Chicken souvlaki
Creamy curry casserole sauce
Lemon pepper chicken rub
Chicken teriyaki
Southern spice chicken rub
General Tso's chicken
Sweet and sour chicken
Buffalo chicken
Butter chicken
Chicken Shawarma

(Chicken chow mein)

(Fattoush salad)

(Chicken souvlaki)

(Stir fry)

I've posted pictures of some of my favorites. Chicken breasts can be made into so many things, we never get tired of them!