Monday, January 17, 2011

Do it Yourself Ideas

I enjoy cooking and enjoy trying to cook healthy things.  In an effort to cut out as much of the unhealthy "stuff" as I can I have started making some of my cooking ingredients myself.  Not only is it healthier, but saves money too.  Just thought that I would share a few ideas with you.

Homeade Chicken Stock

I do not really use a recipe for this.  I just kind of do it my way.  I normally buy a larger quanity of chicken every couple of months to stock in the freezer.  I cook and debone the meat, saving the bones.  The meat goes into freezer bags in 1/2 lb. servings.  I put those leftover bones into my slowcooker and cover with cold water.  I add salt (about 1/2 t.), pepper, carrots, celery salt (or celery), onion powder (or onion), dried parsley and garlic powder (or chopped garlic).  I just sprinkle some in (a good amount).  Just use your judgment.   My slow cooker is pretty full at this point.  Turn the slow cooker to high and let it simmer for several hours.  I usually just let it go all day.   At the end of cooking, pour the liquid through a strainer into a large bowl to get out all the bones and veggies.  Now it needs to cool in the fridge.  I usually just leave it in the fridge overnight.  The next day, all of the fat will have collected at the top.  Scrape this off and discard it.  Now you can divide up the stock into freezer bags.  I put 1 c. per bag.  This makes a good bit of stock and saves a ton of money. 

Taco Seasoning

We use a lot of taco seasoning in our house and you can make it healthier and cheaper by making it yourself.

Here is my recipe:
1 part of each of the following (I normally do 2 T. of each for a batch)  Use to taste:
chili powder
garlic powder
onion powder

Store in an airtight container.

I do not add salt to the mix.  I just add it to taste when I cook.

Cream of Chicken Soup

I use a lot of cream soups in recipes and this is a great alternative.  It tastes great in casseroles.  I don't think it would be that great eaten by itself as a soup.  I will tell you that the dry milk is a little pricey, but one box goes a LONG way and should last a long time.  It also has a long shelf life.

One recipe makes the equivalent of  9-10 cans of condensed soup.

2 c. dry milk
3/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. chicken boullion granules
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. basil
1/4 t. pepper
1 T. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.  To use:  Mix 1/3 c. of mixture with 1 1/4 c. wate in a small pan.  Heat on low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Use the same as a can of soup.  You can add cooked, chopped mushrooms to make it a cream of mushroom soup.

One thing that I am going to begin working on this spring,  is a hay bale garden.  I have always wanted to grow my own vegetables (without the room for a full garden), so we have been doing our research on a hay (or straw) bale garden.  I will document my progress here.  I am excited for warm weather so I can get started!

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