Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Copycat Hamburger Helper Lasagna Mix

I love lasagna but it's too much work to make it. I've been tempted by boxes of hamburger helper lasagna in the past but could never get past the scary ingredients, so I've been working on my own version for a while now. The other night I finally got it perfected!

Copycat Hamburger Helper Lasagna Mix

2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

What else you'll need

5 lasagna noodles broken into pieces
3 cups water
1/4 cup tomato paste (about 1/3 of a can)
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Brown beef and drain. In a saucepan combine mix and water and stir well, then add beef and noodles and simmer on medium heat until sauce thickens and noodles are tender.

Stir in mozzarella until it melts, then serve. Top with Parmesan cheese if you like (I don't!). This was delicious and lasagna like and so easy but without any scary chemicals. I loved it!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Guest post from FillMyRecipe: Curried Cauliflower and Carrots Spice Mix

Today we have Sara from FillMyRecipe guest posting for the blog.

Curried Cauliflower and Carrots Spice Mix (single use)

Contributed by Sara Parthasarathy, co-founder, FillMyRecipe LLC

Fresh cauliflower and carrots are a delicacy flavored with genuine Indian spices. This popular recipe of North India is relished as a side dish with rice or Indian bread.

I learned to cook from my mother, who treated cooking as an art. Married to a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force, my mother was used to throwing elaborate parties at our house and would labor lovingly over the hot stove in 90 degree weather, whipping up exotic dishes, and relishing every moment of her cooking experience! No wonder I grew up appreciating the Indian cooking process wherein one introduces each spice at specific stages during the cooking process, releasing the aroma of each spice individually…. Ummmm….heavenly!

Here is the recipe for one such dish – Curried Cauliflower and Carrots – an all time favorite of many Indians! You can acquire pre-measured, individually packed spices for this recipe and others from my growing list of recipe mixes from – a web store that sells Ethnic Spicery spice mixes for pre-determined or custom Indian recipes. (You send in your recipe, the web store ‘fills’ it for you – get it?)

So here is a simple recipe for Curried Cauliflower and Carrots. Enjoy your cooking experience!

Recipe pack contains:

½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp asafetida
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp rice flour

What else you'll need:

½ medium size onion cut into small pieces
½ lb (2 cups) cauliflower broken into small florets
1 medium carrot cut into 1” long and 1” wide pieces
1 tbsp cooking oil
¼ tsp salt
10” non-stick skillet

Serves 2

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

1. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat, sputter mustard seeds
2. Lower heat, add cumin seeds and asafetida
3. Add onions, stir fry 1 minute on medium heat until brown
4. Add cauliflower, carrots, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt
5. Stir and cook covered on low heat for 5-6 min, stirring every 1-2 min so the vegetables absorb the flavors of spices
6. Uncover, stir-fry on medium heat for 5-6 min until moisture evaporates
7. Sprinkle rice flour and stir fry for 3-4 min on medium heat till brown

Serve hot with rice or Indian bread (naan)

I received a sample of this dish from FillMyRecipe this week and tested it out in the Mix It Up kitchen.

I pre-chopped and assembled all my ingredients in advance, a must for Indian cooking:

My mouth watered as I smelled it cooking...

The finished product looked, smelled and tasted amazing:

This dish was VERY spicy (my husband's exact words were 'It's burning a hole in my brain'). Authentic Indian food is generally very hot, and as we are a family with wimpy taste buds and small children we need to cook milder foods. The fact that the spices are separated makes this possible because you can choose to omit (or use less of) the red chili powder packet to make it a milder dish.

I have many Indian friends who have taught me how to cook authentic Indian foods, but I could never get them to turn out as well in mix form. I know now because the spices need to be added in at different times. Making a 'mix' package with separated spices can allow you do save time without sacrificing taste.

FillMyRecipe is a great company because it allows you to try out new recipes once without the commitment of buying several large packets of spices before you know you like the recipe. I plan to try out many more of her products in the future.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Onion Salt Mix

This is a simple seasoning that I like to sprinkle on whole chickens before roasting them. It's also amazing on fries and other potatoes.

Onion salt mix

3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon onion powder

I poured the ingredients directly into a dollar store spice jar.

And shake!!!

Done! Easy and delicious!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Mix

This year we ordered 20 weeks of farm share produce from a local farm and we've been getting some amazing salad greens from them. I'm burning through bottles of salad dressing faster than I can buy it so I've been making a lot of my own. My old recipe for Italian salad dressing tasted 'too herby' and strong for me so I came up with one that tastes more like the store bought kind.

Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Mix

1 teaspoon dried garlic flakes
1 teaspoon dried red bell pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon nutritional yeast

Xanthan gum is a thickener used in commercial dressings and other foods. You can omit it if you don't have any. Nutritional yeast enhances flavor but can also be omitted.

What else you'll need

1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar

You can also add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice if you want the dressing to be more sour.

This salad dressing has the same garlicky tang as the store bought dressing without too much overpowering herb taste, but can be made at home using healthier oils for much less money. It was delicious on our nice fresh salads.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Omelette Filling Mix

My husband has been eating gluten free/semi paleo for a while now, which can make breakfast difficult. For the longest time I was cooking up huge packages of sausages and freezing them in baggies so he could microwave them every morning. This worked, but it's both expensive and unhealthy (so much sodium!!! Especially with all the BBQ sauce he uses!). I've discovered that eggs are much cheaper and better for him, so I started making him little 'omelette cupcakes' to freeze and reheat. The only problem with them was that they were more labor intensive- having to chop and cook all the veggies for them every week. So I came up with this!!!

Omelette Filling Mix (makes enough for 2 dozen eggs)

1/4 cup dried red or green bell peppers
1/4 cup dried mushrooms
1/4 cup dried apples, chopped
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons dried chives
1 tablespoon onion flakes
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon dried garlic flakes

I made most of these dried veggies in my oven using surplus produce that would have gone bad, so this saves me even more money. You can modify this recipe to include any dried veggies, fruits or herbs you like in your eggs and have on hand.

What else you'll need


Combine mix in a small jar and shake well before each use as smaller contents will settle on the bottom.

Use one tablespoon of mix for each egg you're cooking. I made my husband a 2 egg omelette as a treat since it was Sunday.

With the rest of the carton of eggs I made egg cupcakes for the work week. You just pour the omelette batter into muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

This mix makes a great gift in a jar and is perfect for those times you feel like eggs but are in too much of a rush to do anything too fancy.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tomato and caramelized onion tuna seasoning mix

In general we just eat dinner leftovers for lunch the next day, but on the times we don't have any (because we've gone out the night before or just eaten them all) I like to make tuna sandwiches since it's quick and easy and always in the house. I buy a bunch of plain tuna on sale on in bulk at Costco and then mix it up with different flavors like...

Tomato and caramelized onion tuna seasoning mix

2 tablespoon sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

What else you'll need

1 can of tuna, drained
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon vinegar

Combine mix with oil and vinegar and stir well. The sugar will taste grainy if you don't mix it well enough first. Stir mixture into the drained tuna and mix it well. If it's too dry add more oil or vinegar (depending on how high/low fat you want it use one or the other).

You can serve right away or store chilled until you want to use it. Spread it on your sandwich or wrap or top a salad with it and enjoy!