The other day I made BBQ Popcorn for the Surprise Recipe Swap. It was good — really good. I think that was because of the homemade BBQ seasoning mix I prepared. While the original recipe called for a prepackaged mix, I decided to go with what I know and prepare a homemade seasoning spice straight from the supplies I have in my pantry.
Last week I tried my hand at making homemade salsa verde. Oh my God! It was SO easy and so yummy. I could eat this stuff on everything. It especially tastes good on burritos, tacos, enchiladas.
When Stephen took me out on our date to see Third Day in concert, we decided to stop in at Tumbleweed and eat dinner. I opted for a salad since I had eaten Mexican earlier that day. Since it was a Tex Mex salad, I chose their Cilantro Lime Dressing. First bite of that salad with THAT dressing on it was phenomenal. I knew right then and there I was going to have to recreate that dressing.
This dressing tastes great on salad, on grilled chicken, beef, and even goes great as a dip for pitas or tortilla chips.
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Puree all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Chill until ready to serve.
What is your favorite homemade dressing for salads?
I love making things homemade. I have found recipes for homemade condensed milk, homemade boxed cake mixes, and more. I recently discovered that I can also make homemade brown sugar at home. I don’t know about you, but I am always running out of brown sugar. Now I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
The flavor of fresh, homemade brown sugar doesn’t even compare to store-bought brown sugar, especially in cookies or on top of fresh fruit, or delicious coffeecakes. The flavor is more intense and more — richer.
Here is how you can make your very own homemade brown sugar as well.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons molasses (depending on how dark you want it)
- In a medium bowl, add molasses to sugar and mix with a fork or using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, working up to high speed, until no big clumps of molasses remain.
- It may take several minutes, but it will work out the clumps. Just be patient.
- Store in an airtight container and use when you need brown sugar for a recipe!
Like I said, it is super simple, delicious, and so amazingly richer than that stuff in the bag!
What is your favorite homemade kitchen staple?
Last week Kayla and I decided that we would try our hand at making homemade mozzarella cheese. We had heard how easy it was to make, and we both love fresh mozzarella, so we decided to give it a try!
Making the cheese was really easy. We purchased a kit on Amazon that had all we needed. The only thing we had to buy is a gallon of milk. Within minutes we could see things happening in our pan.
Honestly, when I cook with my daughter like this, I am thinking to myself — who needs textbooks? With making cheese, we studied Science (the how and why behind it) and then the history (how the cheese got started in the first place). Really — if you are thinking about using the unschooling method (which we are considering for next year), it’s things like this that make that a good choice
Once all the curds come together, you have to remove them from the whey and get all the liquid apart from it. We used a mesh strainer which worked really well. They whey can be saved (which is the liquid) and used in things like breads and creams, but we just decided to discard ours.
After you have all your curds, then you get to stretch it and pull it for a bit, and then roll it into a ball.
Before long, you will have a beautiful ball of mozzarella cheese that is shiny and delicious! This was such fun and took about 40 minutes from start to finish.
I used it on pizza one night and it melts so smoothly. Here is the recipe for making your own mozzarella cheese at home.
- 1¼ cup water
- 1½ teaspoon citric acid
- ¼ rennet tablet or ¼ teaspoon liquid rennet
- 1 gallon milk, whole or 2%, not ultra-pasteurized
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Measure out 1 cup of water. Stir in the citric acid until dissolved. Measure out ¼ cup of water in a separate bowl. Stir in the rennet until dissolved.
- Pour the milk into the pot. Stir in the citric acid solution. Set the pot over medium-high heat and warm to 90°F, stirring gently.
- Remove the pot from heat and gently stir in the rennet solution. Count to 30. Stop stirring, cover the pot, and let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- After five minutes, the milk should have set. It will look kind of like tofu. If it is still liquidy, re-cover the pot and let it sit for another five minutes. Once the milk has set, cut it into uniform curds: make several parallel cuts vertically through the curds and then several parallel cuts horizontally, creating a grid-like pattern. Make sure your knife reaches all the way to the bottom of the pan.
- Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat and warm the curds to 105°F. Stir slowly as the curds warm, but try not to break them up too much. The curds will eventually clump together and separate more completely from the yellow whey.
- Remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring gently for another 5 minutes.
- Ladle the curds into a microwave-safe bowl with the slotted spoon.
- Microwave the curds for one minute. Drain off the whey. Put on your rubber gloves and fold the curds over on themselves a few times. At this point, the curds will still be very loose and cottage-cheese-like.
- Microwave the curds for another 30 seconds and check their internal temperature. If the temperature has reached 135°F, continue with stretching the curds. If not, continue microwaving in 30-second bursts until they reach temperature. The curds need to reach this temperature in order to stretch properly.
- Sprinkle the salt over the cheese and squish it with your fingers to incorporate. Using both hands, stretch and fold the curds repeatedly. It will start to tighten, become firm, and take on a glossy sheen. When this happens, you are ready to shape the mozzarella. Make one large ball, two smaller balls, or several bite-sized bocconcini. Try not to over-work the mozzarella.
- The mozzarella can be used immediately or kept refrigerated for a week. To refrigerate, place the mozzarella in a small container. Mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of cool whey and pour this over the mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate.
What types of foods have you been making homemade?
There is nothing like a delicious and yummy rack of bbq ribs on a plate. I honestly believe what makes them so good is not the BBQ sauce that is used, but the prep that goes on them before any sauce hits the meat. You see — I am a dry rub and wet rub kind of girl. YES– I use both and I truly believe that is what sets my BBQ ribs apart from everyone else’s. I can’t take credit for the dry rub though. I use the Neely’s version that I found on Food Network. It is SO good. Here is the recipe for Neely’s Dry Rub.
- 1½ cups of paprika
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3¾ tablespoon of onion powder
- Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container
You can also use this rub on chicken, pork, beef, nachos — the possibilities are endless. The Neely’s use it in everything and it is really a great seasoning for basically anything.
I have even taken some of the dry rub and mixed it with mayo to create a BBQ mayo and that is definitely delicious with some french fries or piled high on a burger (think BBQ burger with thick dill pickles and bbq mayo –yum).
So what would you put this rub on?
I love Olive Garden Salad — don’t you? It’s not the salad so much as it is the dressing. I have been all over the Internet comparing recipes and finally combining a few have come up with the perfect Olive Garden Salad Dressing.
This dressing tastes exactly like what you would get if you went to Olive Garden and had their salad. I now can have this delicious and yummy treat with my dinner anytime I want without leaving the comfort of my own home.
- 8 ounces of any vinegar and oil dressing mix (you can use Paul Newman, Kraft, etc)
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon of dried basil
- ½ teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- Put all ingredients into a bowl or bottle and mix together.
- Refrigerate for 24 hours before using
If you want to create a salad like Olive Garden’s, simply use a bagged American blend salad and add in black olives, croutons, tomatoes, red onions, and pepperoncini peppers.
Salads are a great filler when you don’t want to over eat and the best part is, if you put your dressing to the side and just dip your fork in your dressing, you will cut down on the calories majorly (because the dressing is where a lot of your salad calories come from.)
So what is your favorite salad and dressing?Pin It
If you love dry rubs for your food, then you will absolutely love my Ultimate Steak Rub.
For the longest time in my home when we fix steak, we have always used just lemon and pepper and garlic salt. While this is super delicious in and of itself, this steak rub is absolutely — hands down — the best rub ever!
Here’s the recipe. All the ingredients are straight from your pantry so you shouldn’t have to buy anything!
- 1 tablespoon meat tenderizer
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper
- Mix all ingredients together and sprinkle on steak before cooking.
What will be their first steak meal that you use it on?
We love making homemade pizzas. I shared my homemade pizza dough recipe with you the other day and now I get to share with you my super easy homemade pizza sauce.
- 8 ounces of tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey
- ½ teaspoon basil
- ¼ teaspoon of oregano
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Mix all together and spread on pizza dough or use for marinara sauce with mozzarella sticks
Making homemade pizzas are so much better for you than the store bought ones. If you keep ingredients on hand all the time, you can make a homemade pizza for literally pennies!
Cans of tomato sauce at the grocery store usually run anywhere from .25 to .50 each. All of the other ingredients are pantry staples, so your delicious and homemade pizza that will be so much better than frozen or takeout — will be totally inexpensive.
I love when I can create a meal for my family that costs literally nothing out of pocket.
I also love that this sauce uses honey to sweeten it instead of sugar. It’s really good for you and healthy and if you make your pizza dough with whole wheat flour, you can have a very delicious and good for you meal.
What is your favorite food to make for your family?