3/29/15

Spanish Rice Master Mix

I make up my own bags of Spanish Rice Mix for the pantry. It saves money from those expensive store bought packets, and tastes great too!


You can create your own convenience packets. Let me share with you how I make mine.


Spanish Rice Mix:
(makes 1 packet)

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon minced dried onions
2 Tablespoons dried green pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (or 1 cube crumbled)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier)
1 cup white rice uncooked

Directions
Mix all ingredients together and store in ziplock bags or airtight containers. Label and use within 6-8 months.

To make Spanish Rice:
(Makes about 4 servings)

Ingredients:
1 spanish rice mix packet
1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 cup water


Directions:
In large skillet over medium heat mix all ingredients together.
Bring to a boil.
Cover and reduce heat to simmer.
Simmer 20 minutes.

3/24/15

Southwest Dump Chicken

This super easy to make southwestern chicken recipe is one of those really versatile recipes that makes dinner so easy.

You can make this as a dump and go crock pot recipe as you dash out the door during the day, or you can bake it in the oven too.

I also like that you can turn this into a freezer meal and dump it straight into your crockpot to cook!


With just a few ingredients, it is a budget friendly meal that does not taste budget!
Just serve it with some rice on the side and dinner is ready!
Not a fan of black beans? Just grab some pinto beans instead!

Printable Copy

Southwest Dump Chicken
serves 4-6

Ingredients:
4-6 Chicken Breasts (1 per person)
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 can corn drained

Choose one of the following:

1 (12 oz) jar salsa
or
1 (15 oz) can tomatoes w/ green chilis drained

Directions:
Place frozen chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot.
Dump drained beans and corn over chicken
top with salsa or tomatoes

Cook on High 3 4 hours or low 5-6 until chicken is cooked completely.

Serve with rice.

To Bake in oven:
Layer all ingredients in a baking dish.
Bake 350° for 1 hour until chicken is cooked through


3/22/15

Master Cake Mix

This Master Cake Mix makes about enough to equal about 4 store bought boxes of cake mix. It is a yellow cake mix, but can be made into all white cake as well.  I love that you can control the ingredients, cost and still have the convenience of s cake mix.


Jan's Tip: You can make this sugar free by using a sugar substitute that measures the same as sugar. For families like ours that have a diabetic in the family this is alot cheaper than the store bought sugar free cake mixes! 

Want a chocolate cake? I"ll share my tips below for converting this recipe to a chocolate mix both in bulk for the whole master mix, or just the individual batches you make.

I usually have a full batch divided into 4 gallon sized storage bags in my pantry.  Ready to go. I add the cocoa separately if I want it as a chocolate cake rather than the entire batch. i just want the flexibility better.

Printable Copy
Master Cake Mix
(makes about 17 cups mix)

Ingredients:
10 cups all purpose flour
6 1/4 cups sugar/sugar substitute that measures same as sugar
1 cup cornstarch
5 Tablespoons baking powder
1  Tablespoon salt
2 1/2 cups vegetable shortening.
Optional: For a whole batch of Chocolate Cake Mix: Add 1 1/2 - 2 cups cocoa powder

Directions:
Mix together dry ingredient in large mixing bowl.
Using a pastry blender or stand mixer, blend in the shortening till mix resembles cornmeal in texture.
Store mix in one large air tight container or divide by putting 5 cups each into gallon sized storage bags.
Use within 3 months.


To Make a Cake: (Yellow) 

Ingredients:
5 cups master cake mix
1 1/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
preheat oven to 350°
Grease baking pan (9x 13, two 8 inch rounds, bundt or line cupcake pans with paper liners)
In mixing bowl combine all ingredients, and mix well till very well blended and very creamy.
Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 35-40 minutes till done. (Test by inserting toothpick into center, and see if it comes out clean)
Cool and frost as desired.

For all white cake:
Use only egg whites, no yolks
follow remaining directions above.

For Chocolate Cake
If you made a yellow master mix (like I do and did not  already add cocoa powder to the master mix )
Mix 1/2 cups cocoa powder to cake mix.
Follow remaining directions above.

3/17/15

Saving Money on Girl Scout Cookies

Have you seen the price of those little boxes of girl scout cookies these days? They are getting to be quite expensive!  and at only one time of year, what is one to do with a Samoa craving say in September?

Let me share my secret tip for getting all the taste and flavor of girl scout cookies at half the price.

Dollar General stores has a line of girl scout cookie knock offs that are just as good and are under $2.00 a box!

Samoas, Thin mints and Tag-alongs any time you want! Just look for the Clover Valley brand of cookies at Dollar General and you'll have  the taste you have been craving at half the cost.
(And if you really want to support the girl scouts why don't you donate to them through their Operation Troops campaign, where they send care packages and girl scout cookies to our troops?)
Here is the  link: http://www.operationgratitude.com/tag/girls-scout-cookies/


3/15/15

How to Dispose of Expired Medicines

I was challenged by the American Recall Center to participate in the Medicine Cabinet Clean Out Challenge. I gladly said yes!  With Spring cleaning on everyone's mind, don't forget to go through your medicine cabinets!

The challenge was not only to go through my medicine cabinets and tell you about my experience but to do it by working in 3 areas:

1. Knowing my medications
2. Securing my medications
3. Disposing medications properly.

Let me share with you my awful medicine cabinets! I had not gone through my cabinets in FOREVER! After completely emptying my medicine cabinet, I went through it all one by one. I had an entire bucket of expired medicines, both prescription and over the counter!


Know your medications
  1. Do you take your prescriptions as prescribed?  My husband has Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes. so he has multiple prescriptions. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering everything he is on. I keep a  list taped to the inside kitchen cabinet so if he could not communicate the list to people, I could grab it and go.
  2. Do you understand all possible side effects?  Taking time with your physician as well as pharmacist to ask questions and go over all the side effects of your medications should be a regular part of your health care routine!



Secure your medications


  1. Are your medicines stored in a secured location?   We are new empty nesters, as well as new grandparents. Although our grandbabies live across the country. It is easy for us to just leave out our daily medications and supplies out on the counter since it is only the 2 of us. But it is important to remember that when family or visitors, or anyone (such as handymen) come to your home, they should be stored in a secure location.
  2. How do you monitor the amount left in each medicine bottle?  My husband has signed up for automatic reminders from the pharmacy when it is time to refill his medications so that he does not have a lapse on those important medications that are life saving.
Dispose your medications
  1. Do you know how to safely dispose of any unused or expired medications?

My favorite place to go for information on proper disposal of medications is from the FDA. Here are a few of their highlights:
A .Do NOT dump medications of any kind down the sink or toilet, unless the product directions tell you to do so! Who wants trace amounts of everyone's medications in their water supply?
B.  Look for community take back programs. Some communities have regular programs that will allow you to take your old expired medications to have safely disposed of.
C.  If you need to dipose of medications yourself here is what to do.
       1. Empty the pills from the original bottles into a sealable bag or container.
       2. Pour an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or coffee grounds into the container.
       3. Seal Container, shake to distribute and "hide" medications into the Cat Litter.
       4. Throw into your household trash.
       5. Peel off labels from your empty prescription bottles.    Or
           Mark through the labels with a permanent marker(For privacy and identity theft protection)
       6. Throw out or recycle your empty medicine bottles. Here is where I like to send ours!
           malawiproject.org

     2.  Have you checked to see if any medications are recalled?  Everyone should go to the American Recall Center and just check to make sure none of your prescriptions have been recalled! Here is where to go!  recallcenter.com
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