Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Frugal Holiday Baking, Part I

If you are on a tight budget this holiday season, (And who isn't? The cost of food keeps going up!) you can still bake up all your special treats without it costing a fortune! The key is to stay away from boxed products. You can make many of them yourself for much less! In addition, the boxed versions all include artificial ingredients to keep the product fresh. Artificial ingredients aren't healthy and you can avoid them when you make these products yourself. Here are a few to start you off:

Homemade Bisquick Mix:  
6 cups all purpose flour
3 TBS baking powder
1 TBS salt
1 cup vegetable shortening

Sift flour, baking powder and salt three times into a large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Store mixture in airtight container in the refrigerator up to four months. Use whenever your recipe calls for Bisquick mix. You can see the original recipe here.

Homemade Yellow Box Cake Mix
4 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 TBS baking power
1 TBS salt
1 cup shortening (or butter)
1 TBS vanilla (I make my own, you can see how to do that here.)

Sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt at least once to remove lumps. Combine shortening with dry ingredients until it resembles fine crumbs. You can use a pastry blender or a Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment. Use in place of a box of yellow cake mix. While there are lots of homemade substitutes for a box of cake mix on the Internet, I don't think any of them are as good as this one! This one came from my friend Chef Tess, you can see the original recipe here.

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (I make my own. You can see how to do that here.)
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup flour
1 TBS seasoning mix (You can use what ever you like here or try this one: 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp parsley.)

Combine the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of the milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour and seasonings into the remaining 1 cup of milk. Whisk until smooth and thick. Pour the flour and milk mixture into the saucepan with the broth mixture over low heat and stir continuously, whisking until it simmers. Continue to simmer and stir until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 5 - 10 minutes. This makes the equivalent of 2 cans of condensed soup. You can see the original recipe here.

While this canned soup substitute seems like a lot of work, here is another one that isn't.

Homemade Condensed Soup Mix Recipe #2
2 cups powdered milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
2 TBS minced onion (dried)
1/4 cup chicken bullion
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme

Use 1/3 cup of the mix and whisk with 1 1/4 cups of water. Cook and stir until thickened. Use in place of a can of condensed soup. This recipe is in my food storage handbook that I created years ago. I didn't note the source! I copied it from somewhere because it is in my handwriting. My apologies to the author/creator!

I have additional recipes for homemade versions of vanilla pudding, stove top stuffing mix, and a few others. I will post those next week in Part II!

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