DIY Bisquick Pancake Mix

I used to buy Bisquick all the time so I could make a quick batch of pancakes for breakfast.  I was almost out one morning, and instead of buying another box I decided to make my own (with the help of Google).  I make up this mix and keep it in an airtight container.  Remember not to over mix the batter, if there are a few lumps, and there will be, don’t try to work them out. Over mixing will make your pancakes tough, not tender.  You want tender pancakes right?  I promise, you’ll be glad you did, maynard:) Enjoy!

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Ingredients
4 C All Purpose Flour
3 T Baking Powder
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 T Sugar

When you’re ready to use it, just beat up one egg in bowl…add one cup of the dry mixture and one cup milk.  You can also add 1 Tablespoon of melted butter or oil.

Freezer Friendly Meatballs

The best week nights are the ones you can pull out a freezer meal and have dinner ready in minutes.  I found this true a few nights ago when I wasn’t feeling well and needed a miracle to happen in my kitchen.  HA!  I’m sure any mom can relate to this dilemma.  Below is a great recipe for freezer friendly meatballs I found from RecipeGirl.com  but you can make up meatball mixture using your own favorite recipe if you have one.   Also, make sure you check out our Sweet and Sour Meatballs for another great recipe!

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Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
splash of milk
olive oil
6 cups marinara sauce or our homemade pasta sauce 

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For the meatballs… they are a simple combo of ground beef, garlic, fresh parsley, eggs, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, salt/pepper and a splash of milk.  Form them using an ice-cream scoop; place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.

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Place sheet with meatballs in freezer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

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Transfer frozen meatballs to labeled freezer bags, and freeze.

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On cooking day, brown meatballs toss them in marinara sauce and top a pile of freshly cooked noodles with them, or stuff them into a roll to create a meatball sub sandwich with melted mozzarella.  Make your own hot dog buns by going here!  Enjoy!

Cake Flour Substitution

A few months ago I posted about substitutions in recipes when you realize you are missing an ingredient.  This little chart is very helpful!

I have a new one for you today…. Cake Flour.  Cake Flour makes a big difference when you are baking cakes.  The problem is, I don’t like having to keep several different types of flour on hand.  Wheat flour, all-purpose flour, bread flour, cake flour, 100% White whole wheat flour.  SERIOUSLY…. That is way too many bags of flour!

Today you can reduce that count by 1.

Here is what you need:

2 cups of all-purpose flour minus 2 Tablespoons

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

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Dump your 2 cups of flour into a sifter over a bowl.  (OK, Okay…I realize that this is NOT a sifter.   I don’t own one so I always just use a colander!)

20130818-191209.jpgAdd your cornstarch.

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Use a fork to mix in the corn starch.

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Shake your sifter over a bowl until it is empty.  Do this at least twice.

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Ta Da!!!  Cake flour!  Now go make an awesome, delicious cake. 🙂

Bread Crumbs

Every now and then I come a cross a recipe that calls for bread crumbs.  I have purchased tubes of them in various flavors and decided that next time I was going to make them.  WOW…they are super easy!

Here is what you need:

Bread.

That is it!  No other ingredients required.

20130729-162458.jpgI just use the heels of my bread.   I put them in the freezer in a baggie and when I need some bread crumbs I pull them out.   Toast them either in the toaster or in the oven.  You don’t want them to get very brown, just enough to dry them out and make them crumb easily.

20130729-162505.jpgToss them in a food processor or blender and pulse for a couple of minutes.

20130729-162513.jpgWha….Lah!  You have fresh bread crumbs!

If your recipe calls for Italian bread crumbs, you can add a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.  I put these in my sweet and sour meatballs and they are perfect!

 

Granola Bars

Granola bars are a staple in our house.  I always have a batch on hand.  Making your own is great because you can customize them to the preferences of your family.  The girls in my frugal household prefer as many nuts and seeds as we can pack in, where the  boys would rather have just the oatmeal.  (I just replace the    ins with additional oatmeal.)   You can make them chewy or crunchy just by adjusting the baking time.

Here is what you need:

4 cups oats

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup honey (or corn syrup)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup nuts (any variety)

1/4 cup seeds (any variety)

1/4 cup dried fruit

For the batch I made today, I used cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and craisins.   I have used both quick oats and uncooked oats.  If you use the quick oats, be sure to stir quickly when you add the butter so they do not absorb all the butter in one spot leaving the rest of the oatmeal dry.

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Dump your oatmeal, nuts, seeds and dried fruit into a large bowl and stir together.

20130717-222204.jpgAdd brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Stir until all the sugar clumps are incorporated.

20130717-222256.jpgPour your butter and honey in and stir until everything is evenly coated.  Make sure and scrape the bottom of the bowl so you don’t end up with dry oatmeal.

20130717-222309.jpg 20130717-222318.jpgUsing a rubber spatula spread the granola evenly into a well-greased pan.  (This picture shows a 9X9 pan because I split it to make two pans.  You can use a cookie sheet or a 9X13 pan.  I personally prefer mine a little thicker so I use a 11X7 pan or a 10X10 pan.  It is up to you.  Just keep an eye on them when you bake them if you do thinner bars, they will cook faster.)

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Bake on 450 for 10-12 minutes.  If you want chewier  bars don’t cook them as long.  If you like them crunchy you can cook them longer.

Here are some variations:

You can drizzle the top with peanut butter, or add it into the mix!  YUM!

If you want them extra chewy, add a little more honey.

Add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or butterscotch chips.

Drizzle melted chocolate over the top.

Dip the cooked bars in almond bark.

If you come up with some add ins that I haven’t mentioned, PLEASE SHARE!!!

Freezer Friendly Creamy Chicken Casserole

I have a confession to make.  I’m not a fan of cooking on weeknights.  I used to make excuses, and my family would end up grabbing fast food at least once a week – and many times eating PB&J or cereal for dinner. (which happend to be our favorite)  Let’s not even talk about the money we would spend in the process of these habits…Ouch.

So in a moment of truth after looking at our budget, I wanted to put more effort into changing this bad habit.  And so my quest for creating the perfect freezer meals began.  The great thing I like about this casserole, is how quick, easy, super delish and frugal friendly it ends up being. It ends up being the perfect meal for busy weenkights as well as lazy weekends.  It’s also great for a meal swap!  thanks for sharing this wonderful meal Tried and Tasty!  Another favorite freezer meal in our house is Easy, Cheesy Spaghetti Casserole.  Do you have any favorite freezer meals?

casserlole

Ingredients:

4 c. uncooked egg noodles 4 c. cubed cooked chicken
1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen peas and carrots (I used Birds Eye – Steamfresh mixed veggies)
2 c. milk
2 cans (10-3/4 oz. each) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
2 cans (10-3/4 oz. each) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 c. chopped onion
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Drain noodles; add to chicken (I boiled my chicken in water with a chicken bouillon cube) mixture. Transfer to two greased 8-inch square baking dishes. Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake remaining casserole at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer until heated through.

To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Cover and microwave on high for 10-12 minutes (assuming it’s not in the foil pan), or until heated through, stirring twice. Or cover and bake casserole at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer until heated through.  This yields 2 casseroles, 5 servings each!

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Blueberry Bread

Yes!! It’s finally blueberry season!  As a frugal gal, I typically try to choose fruits and vegetables that are in season to use in making our meals. If you’re not quite sure what’s in season, check out our grocery sale cycle to learn more!

In my house, I can sit a container of blueberries out on the counter and before it even seems possible, they’re gone!  While these are great to eat by themselves, I decided to try a new recipe for our breakfast this morning.   It was really good right out of the oven and extremely moist (the yogurt must have done that?).  I’ve tried many recipes in the past and this will defiantly be one I will do again.  The most important part, it went over great with the kiddos!   Thanks to Baking Bites for this wonderful recipe!

blueberry bread

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups blueberries (12 oz)
2 tsp lemon zest
½ cup plain yogurt, regular or low fat

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt.

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Add the blueberries and lemon zest and toss to combine.

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In a seperate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yogurt then the dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated and being careful not to crush the blueberries.

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Scoop batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting gently onto a plate.

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I’m thinking this would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side for a perfect after dinner snack.

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If you want to make it super simple and bite sized for the kiddos, after refrigerated (it’s a bit difficult when hot) a few hours, use sharp, serrated knife and make long strokes to cut each slice.  And slice again down the middle.

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