Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Menu-a-Menu Mixes

Mmmmm….. Can you smell it? It’s the smell of comfort and love. It’s supper bubbling in a skillet on the stove or a roast slow cooking in the oven, full of beefy oniony aroma. Growing up, my mother always seemed to make the most flavorful, scrumptious meals using a small set of spices, along with fresh items such as onion, garlic, green peppers. She still cooks with her basic set of flavors, and I’ve never once seen her pull a package of taco seasoning or onion soup mix out of the pantry.

I have such good memories of Mom’s cooking. I remember my friends saying my mom cooked the best, but I remember ungratefully wishing my mom would cook Hamburger Helper like my friend’s moms did!   I was so jealous of their boxed food!  Can you believe it??? We still laugh about that.

Mom still cooks with her spice list, making her cooking long and slow. Everyone knows that my mom still cooks the best!  Her grandchildren and their friends are absolutely spoiled on her specialty, old fashioned tex-mex cooking.

In my kitchen, on the other hand, I am always looking for a fast and healthy way to get the same result, but in less time. I love the idea of packaged seasonings, but hate the idea of strange unpronounceable ingredients and mega doses of salt and msg. I'm not sure what "natural flavorings" are, and I'm not sure about "artificial colors or flavors" either.  I want to do what my Mama did, only faster! My mixes taste “almost” like Mom’s, are as fast as a package mix, are void of most harmful chemicals, and while they do have salt, it is much less than in a typical package. Give them a try! 

Tip #1: I buy the large containers of minced dried onion, sea salt, and beef or chicken-flavored bouillon at a wholesale warehouse such as Costco’s or Sam’s. Buying tiny bottles would definitely add up quickly and destroy your budget!

Tip #2:  Don't throw out those small jars from pickles, picante sauce, etc.  They are perfect for storing your mixes!  You can almost see (sorry this is a photo taken with a Blackberry) that I am using a former olive jar, a small pickle jar, and a Smuckers ice cream topping jar.
Here are a few mixes to get you started.  Use them just like you would a store-bought packaged mix. 

Onion Soup Mix
¾ cup dried minced onion
1/3 cup beef-flavored instant bouillon
4 tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. celery seed, ground
¼ tsp. sugar
Mix all items together and store in a jar.  5 Tbsp = 1 package of onion soup mix

2 cups flour
2 sleeves saltine crackers, crushed
2 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. paprika
¼ c. vegetable oil
Stir up very well until the ingredients appear mixed and the vegetable oil is completely mixed in.  Store in a jar, indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Italian Dressing Mix
5 tsp. dried minced onion
5 Tbsp. dried parsley leaves
1-¼ tsp. ground dried oregano, ground
2-½ tsp. dried basil leaves, ground
1-¼ tsp. dried thyme, ground
1-¼ tsp. dried marjoram, ground
2-½ tsp. celery seeds, crushed
1-¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried mustard
1 tsp. chicken bouillon powder
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of pepper
Mix everything well in a bowl. Store in a jar for up to 6 months in your pantry. Makes 5 recipes of Italian Dressing.
To make dressing: Mix 4 tablespoons of the mix with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, and ¾ cup canola oil.

Chili Seasoning Mix
3/4 cup chili powder
2 Tbsp. paprika
3 Tbsp. seasoned salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2-1/2 tsp. black pepper
2-½ tsp. red pepper, crushed
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1-½ Tbsp. ground oregano
1-½ Tbsp. onion powder
1/3 cup flour
Mix very well and store in a jar in your pantry. Use 5-1/2 Tbsp. per chili recipe of 1.5 pounds of meat.

Taco Seasoning Mix
5 Tbsp. Chili powder
3 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. salt
1-1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1-1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
1-1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1-1/2 Tbsp. paprika
Store in a jar in your pantry. Use 5 tablespoons per taco recipe of 1 to 1-1.2 pounds of meat.. Makes 5 recipes.

Peace to you all!
The Menu Maker Mom
Feeding the family ~ One menu at a time