Autumn Garden Gallery

 

A Grow Camp update is long overdue. The only remnant from the summer vegetables are the bell peppers and they are still going strong, despite the cold evenings we have had lately. So far, my autumn plantings are doing great – red and green leaf lettuce, onions and arugula are all sprouted and growing. I just hope my onions get big and strong enough to last through the winter. Enjoy the gallery…mouse over for captions. I threw in a photo of one of our pretty yellow mums for good measure. Happy Monday!

5 Homemade Seasoning & Soup Mixes

In my ongoing attempt to eat less processed foods, I try to cook and bake from scratch whenever I’m able. Sometimes I veer off track, other times I purposely derail, but I’ve found that putting meals together from scratch doesn’t have to be as daunting and tedious as it sounds – especially if you have the right ingredients at the ready.

These pantry mixes (and one refrigerator mix) have quickly become staples in my cooking. By using these mixes instead of store-bought packets, kits, and cans, I am able to keep track of (and pronounce) each and every ingredient. I also have more control of the amount of salt and MSG in the final product.

I hope you find these as helpful in your kitchen as they have been in mine!

Chili Seasoning Mix

  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried, minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine these ingredients and keep them in an airtight container in your pantry. The beauty of this mix is that I can control the heat in my chili by adding more or less red pepper. You can do the same based on your tastes. Use 2-3 tablespoons of this mix in your chili recipe instead of a chili seasoning packet.


Onion Soup Mix

  • 2 ½ tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 4 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine ingredients. Store in an airtight container. If you’re nervous about sodium/MSG/etc. in the bouillon, you can omit it and use Better Than Bouillon base (which is like a paste) individually as you make your recipes. However, I noticed that the most recent canister of Herb-Ox that I picked up had no MSG added (besides what was naturally occuring.) Use this mix in any recipe where a packet of onion soup mix is an ingredient. 2-3 tablespoons should do it.


Spaghetti Sauce Mix

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup dried minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pepper flakes (I use Perfect Pinch Bell Pepper Blend)
  • ¼ cup dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced garlic

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. 1/4 cup of this mix, combined with a 6 oz. can of tomato paste and 2 cups of water makes a simple spaghetti sauce that you can tweak and personalize to your heart’s content. However, I use this mix in other recipes, like slow-cooked pot roast and my Heirloom Tomato Soup.


Cream Soup Mix

  • 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Combine these ingredients and store in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer. Take 1/3 cup of this mix, combined with
1 1/4 cup of water and warm on the stove until thickened. Use this soup any time you have a recipe that calls for a can of condensed cream of chicken soup. This recipe has been such a help to me when making casseroles for family events. I prepare the soup the day before making the casserole, pop it in the fridge, and overnight it gets good and thick, just like canned condensed soup. I omit the chicken bouillon and instead use Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base, which, at the time of this posting, is gluten free. That way, I can prepare my casseroles gluten free (contingent on the other ingredients in the recipe, of course.) If gluten free is not a concern for you, simply add the bouillon granules to the dry mix instead so that all of your seasoning is already incorporated. This makes a lot of dry mix. I sometimes half this recipe so that I don’t have to store too much.


Taco Seasoning Mix

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix and store in an airtight container in the pantry. No more taco kits! I just add a couple tablespoons to my ground beef with just a scant bit of water to help incorporate the seasonings. I add more or less depending on taste. This is also great when used in dips, on nachos, and in quesadillas.


Do you have a favorite homemade seasoning blend? Please share it! There’s always room in my pantry for one more yummy mix!