Mix It Up

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making Your Own Mixes Can Save You Big


For years I purchased packaged mixes. You know the ones – chili, salad dressing, marinades and drinks. They may be quick and easy to use, but who needs all those chemicals so often used in processed foods coursing through your veins much less the increased cost of buying in small qualities. In just a few minutes on a slow evening you can create all of your family’s favorite mixes. Most ingredients will be in your stocked pantry and the ones you need to buy will cost a fraction per serving over the mixes you’re already buying.

Take for instance, Pumpkin Pie Spice. A container that weighs less than an ounce can cost between $3 and $4. But, if you have a well stocked pantry you probably already have all the ingredients you need to make your own – minus the preservatives that are added to commercially made mixes.

So take a few minutes and whip up your family’s favorites or most often used mixes. When stored in air tight containers they will last for months. Recycled pint-sized jars make the perfect container for most mixes, and have room for labels and recipes so they can be refilled later.

Hot Cocoa Mix

This recipe will make enough hot chocolate to keep you warm all winter long.

10 cups dry powdered milk
4-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1-3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1-3/4 cups powdered non-dairy creamer.

In a large bowl mix all ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine. Store in an airtight container. Makes 15 cups of mix, enough for 45 servings.

For one serving, place 1/3 cup cocoa mix in a mug and add ¾ cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Top with mini marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Chai Tea Mix

½ cup – instant tea
½ cup – dry milk (use what you prefer, non-fat or whole)
¼ cup – powdered coffee creamer
½ cup – brown sugar
1 Tbsp – instant vanilla pudding mix
½ tsp – cinnamon
½ tsp – ginger
¼ tsp – ground cloves
¼ tsp – ground cardamom
1/8 tsp – black pepper

Mix and store in airtight container.

To Prepare: combine 3 Tbsp Chai Mix with 1 cup boiling water. Stir well to dissolve.
Cardamom is the ingredient that gives this recipe an authentic Indian flavor. But truthfully, it can be expensive and hard to find. You can omit it completely or replace it with an equal amount of allspice. It will not be authentic Chai at that point, but it will be authentic Spiced Milk Tea, which is pretty much what Chai means.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Use this spice mix for all your seasonal baking

4T – ground Cinnamon
4t – ground Nutmeg
4t – ground Ginger
3t – ground All Spice

Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Label and store in airtight container.

Taco Seasoning Mix

Great when used for burritos!

6 tsp – chili powder
5 tsp – paprika
4-1/2 tsp – ground cumin
3 tsp – onion powder
2-1/2 tsp – garlic powder
1/8 to ¼ tsp – cayenne pepper (adjust to suit your taste)

In a large bowl mix all ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine. Store in an airtight container. Makes 21 teaspoons of mix (7 tsp equals a 1.25-ounce package of purchased mix).

Poultry Seasoning Mix

Great for roasted or grilled poultry

1 Tbsp – dried rosemary
1 Tbsp – dried sage
1 Tbsp – dried thyme
1 Tbsp – dried marjoram
½ tsp – celery seed
½ tsp – dried parsley
¾ tsp – ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in airtight container.

Onion Soup Mix

This makes a great seasoning for onion dip.

¾ cup – dried minced onion
1/3 cup – beef-flavored bouillon
4 tsp – onion powder
¼ tsp – celery seed, crushed
¼ tsp – sugar

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Makes 18 tablespoons. 5 tablespoons equals a 1.25-ounce package of purchased mix.

Ranch Style Salad or Dip Mix

1 tsp – dried parsley
¾ tsp – ground black pepper
1 tsp – seasoned salt
½ tsp – garlic powder
¼ tsp – onion powder
1/8 tsp – dried thyme

In a small bowl, stir together ingredients until well mixed. Mix equals one package of purchased Ranch mix.
For Dressing: mix this recipe with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk.
For Dip: mix this recipe with 1-3/4 cups sour cream and ¼ cup buttermilk.

Chili Mix

¼ cup – all-purpose flour
4 tsp – chili powder
1 Tbsp – crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp – dried minced onion
1 Tbsp – dried minced garlic
2 tsp – white sugar
2 tsp – ground cumin
2 tsp – dried parsley
2 tsp – salt
1 tsp – dried basil
¼ tsp – ground black pepper

In a bowl, stir all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

All Purpose Baking Mix
Replacement Bisquick Mix

This recipe will make the equivalent of a large box (about 40 oz) of baking mix, which can be stored on your pantry shelf. The trick here is to use a fat or shortening which is stable at room temperature. When you do, you have a combination that will keep for several months.

9 cups – (about 2 pounds, 6¼ oz) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
5 Tbsp – baking powder
1 Tbsp – salt
¼ cup – granulate d sugar
1 cup – vegetable shortening

Mix well, using food processor to evenly distribute shortening throughout dry mix. Use for pancakes, biscuits or anything else you would use Bisquick.

Vanilla Extract

10 – Vanilla beans split lengthwise
1 liter – vodka

Place the vanilla beans in the bottle of vodka and seal. Store in a cool, dark area for 3 weeks, shaking the bottle every week. Three weeks is the minimum, store it 6 months for the best flavor. After using, replace with more vodka. The same beans will continue to flavor the vanilla for up to a year.

Pancake & Waffle Syrup
This is the best syrup ever!

½ cup – butter
1 cup – brown sugar
1 cup – buttermilk
1 Tbsp – vanilla extract
1 Tbsp – corn syrup
¼ tsp – ground cinnamon
½ tsp – baking soda

Bring butter, sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, corn syrup and cinnamon to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once simmering, whisk in baking soda, and cook for 10 seconds before removing from heat. Serve warm. Store in fridge, reheat needed amount for each use.

Creative Commons License photo credit: theajnabee.comhttp://3.bp.blogspot.comhttp://cache3.asset-cache.net, http://farm3.static.flickr.com

One Response to “Mix It Up”

  1. Suburban Girl says:

    The timing of this article was perfect. I’ve noticed over the last year that the cost of pre-packaged mixes has gone sky-high (along with everything else!).

    I think the reason most “cooks” have relied on these mixes is because the art of cooking has fallen into decline with the general population. People don’t know the ratios of spices, how much baking mix will make how many pancakes, etc. Pre-packaged mixes tell them exactly what to do — that is, “mix this packet with 1 cup of water,” and so on. No thinking involved.

    It’s nice that you provided these instructions for us along with these substitution recipes.

    P.S. While the pancake syrup looks fabulous, it seems like a lot of work. Think I will stick with good old fashioned maple syrup. Nothing beats it.

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