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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Awesome Kitchen Staples



I've already done one post about making your own kitchen staples, but I realized that there were a bunch that I left out!  Here are some more basic food items that I make from scratch to save money and/or to cut out preservatives and artificial ingredients.  (The links to the sources are in the titles.)

Brown Sugar

I always laugh to myself when people talk about brown sugar like it's healthier than white sugar.  I think they believe it is raw sugar, which is not at all the same thing (and isn't really "healthier" anyway).  Brown sugar is nothing in the world but regular sugar and molasses.  That's it.  So simple.

As a side benefit, molasses is actually really high in iron, calcium, and potassium, so you are going to get more of those things eating it directly like this instead of the little bit you might get out of the bag of processed brown sugar.

The proportion is about one cup of regular sugar to 2 Tbs. of molasses.  Use more molasses if you want dark brown sugar, and less if you want lighter.  It does have a stronger flavor than the fake stuff, so you might want to start with less and see how you like it.  Just  keep stirring it until you get most of the clumps broken up.  It keeps pretty well in a canister.

*EDIT:  I should have mentioned that the least processed route would be to buy natural organic brown sugar, which is sugar before they take the molasses out in the first place.  It's more expensive, but definitely more natural.

Pizza Dough




I love this recipe for pizza dough, and I have used it to make breadsticks and calzones as well!



It is simple and tastes delicious, and I have started making it with whole-wheat flour, which makes it even better!

Bread Crumbs

I feel like such a dummy for buying bread crumbs for so many years after finding out how easy they are to make.  I always thought there was some secret to making them "taste right" or something.  No.

No no no.

You literally just put chunks of bread (stale works better) in the food processor and whirl away until it is crumbs.

That's all it is.

Somewhere, a Progresso CEO is swimming in a pool of money like Scrooge McDuck because I didn't realize that bread crumbs were literally just crumbs of bread.

Anyway, you can add spices like Italian Seasoning if you want, or just leave it plain.  Store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer so it doesn't go bad.  Ridiculously easy.

Instant Oatmeal



I got this recipe from one of my favorite blogs.  I make oatmeal for Cricket almost every morning, and this makes it so much easier, and without all the sugar and fake chemicals.  You basically just put some of the oatmeal in the food processor and blend it until it's a powder.  That makes it the right consistency.  You can add some powdered milk, salt, and sugar if you want too, although I usually leave most of that out.  I started making it for Brian to take to work, as well, and he loves it.

Salad Dressing

My favorite salad dressing in the world is a honey ginger dressing that you can only get in the refrigerated salad section of Publix.  It's a small bottle, though, and it's pretty pricey, so I went about trying to figure out if I could make it myself.

It was just the ginger dressing, though, and I think it would be better with honey.  It tasted pretty good, but it didn't keep terribly well, which was disappointing.

(And by "didn't keep very well" I mean that after about a week, it looked like something I cleaned out of the garbage disposal I wish I had, and it solidified to the point that it wouldn't come out of the bottle anymore.  It might still have tasted fine, but it wasn't something I was willing to eat, let alone serve to guests.)

If you know you're going to eat a lot of it soon, though, it's worth making.  Also, put peanuts on the salad if you use it.  You can write me a thank you note afterwards.

Chicken Stock

This is an awesome recipe.  I had made chicken stock a few times before, but it's such a pain and you have to let it cook for like, an hour or more.  This recipe is way better!  You use the leftovers from a rotisserie chicken:  bones, skin, everything.  Just throw it all in the crock pot with a few veggies, spices, and water at the end of the day and by morning, you have 12-14 cups of chicken stock!  I bag them in 1 and 2 cup portions and freeze them to pull out later.  Works great in a bunch of my favorite recipes!

Dried Herbs

I started drying some of my herbs from the garden, which makes me feel like Laura Ingalls.



I even had to buy a mortar and pestle for it!  How cool is that!?

Basil
Rosemary
I keep some of them on the stalk and crush some, since they are fresher before they are crushed.


My mom told me later that apparently you aren't supposed to use a mortar and pestle because it crushes them the wrong way (?!), but I think she is just trying to kill my joy.  Why do you want to kill my mortar and pestle joy, Mom?!

Tortillas




These are really easy to make, and way better for you than most store-bought ones.  I make mine with coconut oil most of the time, and they turn out great.  (Brian doesn't like coconut, so he would tell me if they tasted like it.)  I've also made them with almond oil and sunflower oil, and I think I like coconut oil best.  They are a little harder to work with when you use the thinner oils.  One batch makes twelve.

Speaking of tortillas...

Pitas



I also started making my own pitas, which are way cheaper to make yourself and taste great with homemade hummus!  It's another very simple recipe, and they freeze well, too, so I normally freeze half the finished pitas for later.


Hope you enjoy these!  Let me know if you try any of them, or if you have any kitchen staples you like to make.

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