Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Onion Soup Mix

by Denise at Better Than My Best

A few weeks ago I made "Nature's" seasoning (click here for the recipe). In addition to using it in a salad dressing, I've used the seasoning on grilled chicken, chicken salad (the kind with the mayo), grilled steak, and pot roast. It made me wonder how many other seasoning mixes could be homemade. I went on a search for one that I use often, onion soup mix. I use this to make a veggie dip, spinach and artichoke dip, and crockpot pot roast.

There were several options, but most of them called for ground beef bouillon or powder, both of which contains MSG. (The regular packets of onion soup mix also contain MSG). After a lot of searching, I found one at www.heavenlyhomemakers.com without MSG that looked worth trying.

2/3 cup dried minced onion (this is slightly less than the 2oz McCormick bottle)
3 tsp parsley flakes
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sucanut or sugar
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Mix it all together!

4 TBLS equal 1 packet of soup mix. It is recommended that you shake the bottle before using it. I noticed the ingredients don't mix very well. I also noticed that turmeric smells awful.

I mixed 2 TBL into the sour cream that Shannon made and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. I put the rest of the mix into the empty Minced Onion bottle and wrote on the bottle 4TBL=1 Packet.

Then I got a carrot...

...and decided that it was pretty good! It made a good dip! I expect that it will also make a good pot roast, but I'm not too sure on the spinach and artichoke dip. It tastes close to the Lipton version, but not exact. It did seem to leave a celery aftertaste, so I may put a tad less in next time. It also looked less appealing than the Lipton version (more yellow and chunky) so it may need to be stirred more often if using it for a dip.

If you don't have all of these ingredients, the first time around will be expensive. Turmeric, Sea Salt, and Celery Salt are more expensive spices (think $6-$7 a bottle depending on size), while the others are only $1-$2. However, for the amount you can make with these spices, I believe overall it will be cheaper.

Heavenlyhomemakers also has an italian seasoning mix that looks worth trying. See the recipe here.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

5 Months Old

I'm 5 months old!!  I am getting really big.  I weigh 15lbs 12oz.  I wear the same size diapers as my big bro and I'm starting to stretch even my 3-6 month clothes!  I have one more appointment at the hematologist but I've been off my meds for 6 weeks and I'm doing great!  I love to smile at people REALLY big.  I'm a pretty happy guy most of the time.  I've started rolling all over the place and I think I might start crawling in the next month or so, we'll see.  I've started noticing that everyone else gets to eat food.  I think I might want to try that soon but Mommy says I have to wait a little bit longer.  I'm still super, super nosy.  I can't help.  I just like to see what's going on!  

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Pickles

by Denise at Better Than My Best

This year, for the first time, my husband planted cucumbers in our garden. I don't know if it's the kind of year for cucumbers, or we have the right soil, sunlight, and water for them, but apparently, we can grow some cucumbers. We have a ton. In an effort to try to use all the cucumbers, I looked up some pickle recipes.

I love what my family calls a "Jewish" pickle. (Don't worry, it's not offensive, I'm a 1/4 Jewish and I'm not offended). It's the kind of pickle that you would see in a barrel at a real Jewish deli. It tastes like a dill pickle, but better.

I looked up Jewish Pickle with no results. I looked up dill pickles, but didn't have all the ingredients (including dill). I looked up barrel pickle, and this is what I came up with (from Mr. Food):

7 cups sliced cucumbers (this was about 4 of my cucumbers)
1 cup sliced onion
1 green bell pepper, finely sliced (also from my garden!)
1 cup sugar (I only used 3/4 cup)
1 cup white vinegar
1 Tbl salt
1 tsp celery seed

Combine cucumbers, onions, and peppers
combine the rest of the ingredients, then pour over the vegetables.
cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours

I put the pickles in a shallow glass baking dish so the vinegar mixture could mostly cover the cucumbers.

The result? They were delicious. They did not taste like a barrel pickle, but more a less sweet bread and butter pickle. I jarred up about a third of this batch for Shannon, then my husband and I ate the rest within a couple of days. (The recipe says this will last three months in the fridge, but seriously, they are so good there's no way it would last that long). I felt it was very refreshing!

I'm so excited that I have 3 newly picked cucumbers just waiting to become pickles!

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Crunchy Step: Homemade Sour Cream

Post by blog administrator Shannon.

I've shared before how much our family loves tacos.  Now that we have our own taco seasoning and Denise has taught us how to make tortillas there are really only 2 things left to make:  Cheese and sour cream.  Sour cream is so much easier than cheese making so I went with that of course.

In fact it was so easy I didn't take pictures.  My bad.

1 Cup Cream (or 1/2 cup cream & 1/2 Cup Whole milk) $1.15
1/4 Cup Buttermilk $.15

Pour both into a glass container with a lid.  Shake a little (just to get them mixed).  Set on the counter for 24 hours and poof, sour cream.  You should chill it before eating it.  If you are worried about leaving the dairy on the counter don't be!  The enzymes in the buttermilk take care of all that!

The total cost was $1.30 which is about the same as a container of sour cream depending on what brand you get.  However mine was also organic and organic sour cream cost about $1.60-$2.00 for 8oz.  So still a savings of $.30- $.70 and actually more convenient than running to the store if I forget sour cream (which of course I use a list and never forget anything but if I did that would be really inconvenient)

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Peanut Butter

By Denise at Better Than My Best

Last weekend my Church hosted a Phamily Phillies Tailgate Party. It was a blast! There was food, carnival games, a water blob, paintball, a water balloon fight that ended up being "get Pastor Randy," and we raffled off a baseball bat signd by Richie Ashburn to help support our missions team to Guatemala (who is there right now, say a quick prayer for them please!). For the party, I planned to do a game where I would throw out a ton of unshelled peanuts for the kids to gather up, only there were several peanuts that were colored, and if the child found a colored peanut, he/she could turn it in for a prize. Unfortunately, it poured before I could play this game, and although it only rained for about 10 minutes, I decided to nix the game because of the wet ground. Fortunately, right after the rain, we got to see a beautiful rainbow over the steeple of our church.

I was therefore, left with a ton of peanuts. I decided to make peanut butter.

First, I shelled the already roasted peanuts. (A bowl of shelled peanuts is really fun to play with).

Then I put them in my Magic Bullet, as I don't have a blender. If you have a blender, use the blender. I had to reduce the amount of peanuts I put in the Bullet, and it took forever to get through the peanuts. I actually quit half way through the bowl.

Once blended up, the peanuts will look like this:

I added a little salt, and then I felt like it wasn't as creamy as I would like, so I addd a little oil.

Overall, I think this is a work in progress. I think it would be a lot smoother in a blender. I am also wondering if I will have to get used to it being a slightly different texture than Jif. I am willing to try it again, it really wasn't a hard process!

On another note, is everyone planning to "Boycott Hunger"? Click here to read Shannon's "Boycott Hunger" post!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Bug Spray

All the chemicals in bug spray really freak me out.  DEET at best causes eye and skin irritations.  At worst some studies have linked DEET to neurological issues and even death.  I've tried various ways to not use any bug spray on my children, including making them eat a pickle everyday for the vinegar, but nothing has been successful.  I've purchased really good all natural sprays but they are expensive.  So finally I have made my own.  Unfortunately I haven't tested it out a ton.  We put it on for a little bit this afternoon and had descent results but I'll need to send everyone out in the evening and see what happens.  I will update when I do.

1 8oz spray bottle $1
4oz of boiled or distilled water $0
4oz witch hazel $1.75
10 drops tea tree oil $.10
15 drops lavendar oil $.25
15 drops peppermint oil $.25
10 drops cedarwood oil $.10
(You could also use Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary,Cajeput, Eucalyptus, or Catnip according to Wellness Mama)

Mix it up.  Spray it on.  Obviously very easy and the total cost was $3.45 ($2.45 if you already have a spray bottle.)  An 8oz bottle of regular (DEET filled) bug spray cost $4-$5 depending on brand.  An all natural bug spray could run you $6 or more for 8oz so the cost is definitely less to make your own

A bonus to this bug spray is that it smells wonderful!  If it doesn't work well I'll have to mess with the oils and maybe make it not as nice smelling but I'm hopeful that this combo will work!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Boycott Hunger

No matter which side of the Chick-fil-a debate you fall on I hear one thing being cried, "This is about rights!"  Ok then people, put your money where your mouth is (not literally of course because money is dirty but you know what I mean).  Defend the rights of the hundreds of millions who went to bed hungry last night. Let's all come together.  Join me boycotters.  Join me buycotters and let's make next Wednesday "Boycott Hunger Day".  

I challenge everyone regardless of religion or sexuality to skip one meal next Wednesday and donate the money you would have spent to a charity to end world hunger.  There are many, many organizations with that goal in mind both secular and Christian.

If you care about the rights of others to not be hungry will you share this challenge on facebook, twitter, blogs, email and every other social media out there?  In addition to sharing will you commit to Boycott Hunger next Wednesday, August 8th, and in your share (and on this blog!) let people know what organization you are donating to (include a link so others can easily donate to the same organization)?

There are hungry people, hungry children, all over the world.  Please defend their rights with the same passion that you defend your own.  Let's stand together and say, "The right to be feed is something we all agree on!"

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