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Last year I started with a post called “2014 from scratch”

I was extremely successful for the first 2.5 months, making bread every week from scratch, buying relatively nothing in a package, and cutting my grocery budget to around $250 for a family of 3 including diapers and garbage bags…!

Then I got put on Bed rest with my 2nd and all hell broke lose… we ate out… Lots… I bought easy pre-packaged everything… it was horrible. But if my family was going to eat while I was off my feet I needed to.

Then our daughter was born and we had 2 weeks of blissful newborn snuggles, and I had SO MUCH ENERGY after being so restricted and I baked up a storm!…

Then she started screaming…and screaming…and continued to scream till 12 weeks.

SO needless to say, I completed 2.5 months of what was supposed to be a 12 month challenge, so I’m back to it, to try again.

I’ve built an arsenal of ideas off Pintrest (check out my board here!)

I’ve already tested a few new recipes I’m going to post shortly, and I am So excited to try this again!

A few things I did learn last year though:

1) Bagels are 10x better made from scratch (and easy peasy)

2) Lots of make ahead recipes (especially breakfast wraps, and sandwiches etc..) need a toaster oven to remain “convenient” I tried microwaving so many things that ended up being so soggy… and really, who has time to turn on the oven in the morning when you are trying to run out the door! So I have a toaster oven en route from Amazon right now to make sure I’m best equipped this year for success!

3) Sometimes Pintrest sucks… many peoples ideas of “An amazing recipe” is NOT the same as mine… maybe I’m picky… but I can tell you that panko crusted zucchini (and a number of “amazing” recipes) are not worth the effort HA!

I hope you all have fun reading my posts and adding some great, staple recipes to your arsenal of meals!

Thanks for reading!

-A-

Cornbread Mix

Trying to do 2014 from Scratch so far has been fairly successful. I’ve purchased a few “non ingredient” items this month but about 80% less then normal.

I’ve tried a couple of the base Mixes I intended to make so far, and this one will definitely be staple in my kitchen.

I love cornbread, and have an excellent recipe I’ve been using for years… but this one takes 80% less time to make, and tastes just as good. It produces moist cornbread that isn’t too crumbly and you can bake it into muffins or in a pan cut in to squares.

Cornmeal Mix:

4 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Tablespoon Salt

3/4 Cups Sugar

1/4 Cup baking powder

4 1/2 Cups cornmeal (make sure you get finely ground stuff rather then stone milled med ground our your cornbread will be very crunchy… I’ve made that mistake before)

1 Cup Shortening

Mix all dry ingredients together and stir. Mix shortening in with pastry cutter till it’s evenly distributed and resembles little crumbs.

Makes about 10 1/2 Cups of mix, that will last 10-12 weeks in an airtight container in your cupboard.

 

To use the mix add 2 1/2 Cups cornmeal mix with 1 egg and 1 1/4 Cup Milk. Mix together till smooth. Bake at 425 for 15-20 min

Alternatively to regular muffins or cornbread, you could use this cornmeal mixture poured over tomatoes, hamburger and peppers for a casserole

or add in scrambled eggs (cooked), Cooked bacon pieces, and peppers and make breakfast cornbread muffins… or sausage… or cheese…

Again this is a base mix, so you can be creative and add most anything to the mix to fancy it up.

Enjoy!

-A-

White Sauce Mix

At the beginning of January I posted about doing 2014 from scratch (see post in link)

So far I’ve tested half a dozen new recipes, including 2 “Mixes” from the Make a mix cookbook I linked in that post.

I made one large shopping trip to a grocery store and picked up a long list of dry ingredients for making up most of the recipes…

Side note* Bulk doesn’t always mean cheaper! I made the mistake of purchasing powdered milk in the bulk section and accidentally bought $30 in dried milk, when the prepackaged bag of it was half the cost (thankfully the store let me exchange it). So do your due diligence and check the prepackaged area first (and bring a calculator if you are buying bulk)

The first Mix I tried out is a White Sauce Mix. My Mom Raves about this mix… and from year of listening (and not) to her I figured this would be a good one to start with!

Mix Makes Aprox 8 Cups total dry mix

2 Cups Instant non fat dry milk, or 1 1/2 Cup Regular non fat dry milk

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 Cup butter or margarine

In large bowl combine all dry ingredients, mix together. Add in butter/marg and cut in with a pastry cutter till the mixture resembles little crumbs.

The better you mix it in (ie the smaller the crumbs) the less chance of lumps you’ll end up with in your sauces.

Store in fridge for up to 2 months, or in your freezer for 6-8. If you decide to store in your freezer I recommend dividing it in to 1/2C or 1 C amounts (depending on family size) so it’s easy to use.

To use your mix simply add 1/2C white Sauce base with 1 C cold water, wisk on med heat till mixture thickens. For a thicker sauce reduce water by 1/4 C or for thinner sauce increase water by 1/4 C.

You can add Anything to this base! I have used it 3 times so far and each time it produced an amazing tasting sauce. I added chicken bouillon cubes, salt, pepper and garlic for a basic cream of chicken soup base, which I poured over perogies and baked.

The second time I did just the base and added salt and garlic and poured over pasta,

The third time I made Potato Corn Chowder with it…which turned out AMAZING! (Potatoes, Bacon, Onions, corn, and then make base out of chicken stock instead of water)

the variations listed in the original recipe are these:

1. Substitute milk, tomato juice or chicken/beef stock for all or part of the water

2. Add 1/2 to 1 Cup Shredded cheddar cheese after mixture has thickened, stir until mixed for Cheese Sauce (for homemade mac n’ cheese)

3. Add 1 teaspoon curry powder to thickened sauce for curry sauce.

So SO SO many more things you could add to this depending on what your taste is.

You will never again have to buy Alfredo or cheese sauce with this base in your arsenal of ingredients!

Have fun creating (and eating!)

Enjoy!

-A-

3 ingredient Sponge Cake!

I Love simple Recipes… Mainly for the reason that I tend to be a spur of the moment baker, so when I get and idea in my head I want to do it now! So many times I’ve gone to make something and been missing an ingredient.

Never again!

I have made this sponge cake probably 50 times and love it more each time I do. You don’t even need measuring cups! You just need Eggs, Flour, and sugar, and you can modify its flavor with whatever your heart desires!

This Recipe is a Finnish Recipe (Original post found here) I found on Pintrest.

Start with 2 identical see through containers. I use Mason jars, but you can use cups or Tupperware.

First crack 3 eggs and put them into the first container, Then in the second container add enough sugar to match the volume of the eggs (hence why you need to be able to see through them)

Dump the sugar in to a mixing bowl, (keeping eggs in the first container) then use the empty second container (that your sugar was in) and match the volume of the eggs again with flour.

Add the eggs to the sugar (keeping the flour separate in it’s container) and beat the eggs and sugar together like there is no tomorrow… so ideally with an electric mixer on high… unless you are like my Amish Aunts who can whip a meringue up solely with arm power!

Your egg/sugar mixture should start creating a frothy goodness, and start to thicken up. Keep mixing until the mixture is thick enough to draw on the top of it with the batter. (you should be able to see the pattern sitting on the top of the batter) This beating is what makes the cake rise. Alternatively if you are freaked out that you didn’t beat it enough you can add 1/4 tsp of baking powder to ensure if rises when you add the flour.

Once your eggs and sugar are beaten together, GENTLY fold* in the flour. if you mix the flour in to vigorously you will loose all the wonderful air bubbles you just frothed into the eggs/sugar mixture.

*by folding in I mean, take a spatula and dump the flour in slowly, gently mixing in starting with your spatula at the bottom of the bowl, bringing the sugar/egg mixture over the flour you added (in a large circular motion), till it’s all incorporated with no lumps

Pour mixture in to a lightly greased bunt pan (the round one with the hole in the center) or any type of pan you want aprox 8″x 8″ in size

Bake at 350 for 12-20 min

I’m sorry for the large variance in time, but it will totally depend on the type of pan you use, and how much you beat the mixture.

Variations:

You can add anything you want to this recipe! It’s such a good base.

for a citrus cake, add 1-2 tsp of lemon (or orange) zest and 1 tsp of lemon (or orange) juice

or

add 1-2 tsp of vanilla

or

add 1 tsp of cinnamon

or anything (just about) you can think of! (Please leave a comment if you tried something and it worked great, I’d love to know!)

My favorite way is to put some fresh or frozen fruit in the bottom of a lightly greased pan and dump the batter over top for the easiest cobbler ever!

you can increase the ratio to as large as you want. I typically do 4-5 eggs if I’m making a dessert for more then just my little family, and just match the volume of sugar and flour to however many eggs you decided to use.

Enjoy experimenting! (and eating!)

-A-

Never Buy a Bagel again!

Those Glorious, dense, wonderfully tasting beauties. Glistening golden brown and caked with cheddar cheese and slathered in Cream Cheese… Can you tell I like Bagels?

My mom Has been telling me for over a year that I’ve been wasting money on bagels. I should have listened!

I love Baking with yeast, but for some reason Bagels have always intimidated me like crazy… something about the “poaching” process has always made me apprehensive. But since I’ve committed to trying to make as much as humanly possible rather then buying, I thought I should give it a try. (Especially since those little “mini” bagels I love are freakin’ expensive!)

The recipe I used comes from a Good ole’ Jean Pointer Company’s coming Cookbook.

1/4 oz Yeast (just shy of a Tablespoon)
1 tsp Granulated sugar
3/4 C Water (around 100-110 degrees F)

Let sponge together in a bowl (no need to stir). When yeast is bubbly and top looks like a sponge add next ingredients. (about 5-10 min)

2 Large eggs
2 Tbls Cooking oil
2 C Flour
1 Tbls Granulated sugar
1 3/4 tsp Salt

Add to yeast mixture, Should be quite glopy looking.
Slowly add in an extra (up to) 1 1/2 C flour.

This will vary quite a bit depending on elevation and humidity. I only needed to add about another 3/4C flour.

Dough should feel sooth and elastic, not hard. If it starts getting too firm you’ve added to much flour and you can add a tiny bit of water to work in.

You can do the entire thing in a mixer, or by hand.
I usually mix in the first amount of flour and other ingredients in the mixer and then work the second amount of flour by hand on the counter, so I can control the dough better.

Take your dough and let it rise for 1- 1 1/2 Hrs till it has doubled in size.
Place your dough in a bowl and place a towel over it. Put it in a place that isn’t drafty to rise.

My favorite place to let bread rise is in this funny little cupboard in my kitched, I call my bread cupboard. Our heat duct runs right under it and it stays a wonderful temperature for raising bread.

If you don’t have a weird cupboard like me, Turn your oven to 350 for about 20 seconds then shut it off and put your bowl inside.

Poaching Liquid:
4 quarts water (16 C)
2 Tbls sugar

So 4C water to 1/2 Tbls sugar… you can use this ratio for whatever size pot you have. I ended up with 12C water and 1 1/2 Tbls Sugar for the pot I used.

Once your bagel dough has risen take it out of the bowl and kneed it a couple times.

Divide dough in to as few as 12 equal parts. (I made my bagels slightly smaller and did 16 parts, or you could make mini bagels and divide it down even more.)

I was a little put off when I started rolling them out because they looked so small! Don’t be fooled. They poof up A LOT in the water. So make sure to make them skinny enough if you want to have a hole in the middle when you are finished with them.

On a lightly floured surface (so the dough doesn’t stick to the counter)

Roll out your pieces in to about a 6-10″ rope (depending on if you are making minis or full sized bagels) Pinch ends together to make a circle and place on a cookie sheet to rest for 15min.

Make sure to REALLY really squeeze those ends together. My first few ended up coming apart in the liquid because I didn’t squeeze the ends together good enough.

Bring poaching liquid to a full boil over high heat, and then back it off to a steady boil over med heat for poaching.

Put bagles in a few at a time (don’t put too many in or they will stick together), poaching for 1 min on each side.
Remove from the water and place on cookie sheet.

Take 1 egg and beat in bowl. Brush on the egg on the top of the bagels before baking (this gives them their nice shiny golden brown look when they are baked)

At this point you can add whatever you want to the top.
I added Cheddar cheese** (grated) to the top of some of them, you can add poppyseeds, sesame seeds, or whatever your favorite bagel topping is.

**If you add grated cheese you will have to bake for 3-4 min longer as the grease in the cheese keeps them from crisping up as quickly**

Bake in 400 Degree oven for 20-25 min. This time frame is a guide. Some ovens are over hot, some under, start with 15-18min and see how they are looking then add extra time accordingly.

Bagels should be golden brown when ready to come out.

Place bagels on cooling racks (if you have them) as soon as they come out of the oven. This keeps the bottoms from becoming soft from the condensation their heat will create on the counter top.

Homemade Bagels

They aren’t the most beautiful Bagels I’ve ever eaten, but they certainly are the best.

This recipe makes amazing tasting bagels, that aren’t quite as dense as store bought ones.

Lesson learned. Listen to my mom. Don’t be afraid of poaching!

Enjoy!

-A-

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars, could you seriously get a larger mouthful for a title!

My husband and I aren’t huge breakfast people, we always seem to wake up late, dashing out the door starving!

My husband works a physically demanding job and grabbing a regular granola bar or something of that nature for a mid day snack (or breakfast) just doesn’t cut it.

I had been searching for a granola bar recipe when I stumbled on this recipe off pintrest (see all my time wasted on there HAS produced a few good results) and have made it countless times since!

Every time I make these and share them I am hounded for the Recipe.

The Original recipe (see here) is for Cookies but I made them into bars because I’m lazy most days and baking cookies takes more energy­čśë

I also Freeze these. They keep for a LONG time in the freezer. I cut them in to individual bars, wrap then individually in saran wrap and then put them all in a large ziploc bag in the freezer. They don’t freeze 100% solid, so you can literally eat them right out of the freezer if you want.

1C flour

1/2 t Baking Powder

1/2 t Baking Soda

1/4 t Salt

1/2 C Brown Sugar

1/2 C Sugar

2 T Butter or Margarine

1 Egg

1/2 C Peanut butter (smooth is my preference)

1 Medium to Large Banana (if you want them softer, more cake like, add more banana)

1 1/2 C Quick Oats

1 C Chocolate Chips (or more if you want)

Bake in greased 9×9 baking dish at 350 for 10-12 min

If you double the recipe (like I always do) it will take about 25-30min to bake.

Bars should look lightly to med Brown all around and the edges should be pulling away from the sides slightly. Check center by inserting a butter knife or toothpick. It should come out clean (minus the chocolate from choc.chips) when done.

Enjoy!

-A-

2014… The year made from scratch

New year, New adventures, New fun, New Recipes!

Our family is growing by 1 this year! Super exciting, and terrifying all at the same time. So I need to plan.

I used to pride myself of the amount of things we ate that I made from scratch. Everything from Jam to bread, to pizza and spaghetti sauce. Then I had a baby and started a thriving business all in the same year. Slowly my freezer and pantry full of home made goodness turned into Prepackaged and easy to use everything.

My husband changed jobs, and most days his scheduled “end” time fluctuates, sometimes by hours. I usually only have about 30 min notice that he’s on his way home, so unless meals are in the crock pot It’s incredibly hard to pre-plan much for dinner.

So I succumbed to jarred pasta sauces, easy made dinners, easy to feed toddler lunch food and fast food. Neither healthy, very tasty or budget friendly!

Now we have another baby on the way, I’m entering my “quieter” time of ┬ámy business year, and I have a huge urge to see just how far I can Slash my grocery budget by doing some back to basic, made from scratch recipes.

Over the Christmas Holidays We have gotten to spend 2 amazing weeks with my family while my husband did some work in their area! (have I said how much I LOVE his new job and boss?!) While at my parents, my mom showed me a few (VERY well loved) cook books she used when we were kids. These cook books saved them hoards of money and time with recipes for making base mixes and such from scratch. (for example, a cornmeal base mix that can be turned into everything from muffins to breakfast muffins, to topping for a casserole by adding 1 egg and a cup of milk to the pre-made base)

If my mom could make 90% of our food from scratch wen we were kids (there were 3 of us) and participate full time in ministry with my dad, I figure I should give it a solid shot.

So here starts 2014, 4 months till baby Wheels #2 is due, and loads of time to try stuff out, perfect some favorite recipes and do some food stockpiling if you will for when our precious little girl arrives!

My goal is to see what % of our food budget I can cut out by switching to made from scratch items, and keep you all updated on what recipes worked great, and which ones didn’t.

I love pintrest, but in the past few months I’ve had quite a few pintrest recipes fail hardcore, and has shook my faith in the recipes being posted, so Most of my recipes are being pulled from tried and true, very old school cookbooks my mom has.

So no, this isn’t my New Years Resolution, (because I hate them) but rather my Lets slash my budget resolution AKA the year from scratch… that just happens to start at the beginning of 2014…

Most of the gems I’m starting with are coming from the “Make a Mix Cookery” cook book by┬áKarine Eliason,┬áNevada Harward and┬áMadeline Westover. Here is a link to Amazon.com to take a look or purchase it

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I’m spending this week compiling recipes and mix ideas, and next week I’ll kick it all off.

I am going to compile a board on pintrest of recipes I will try out. You can follow my pintrest board here.

-A-