Category Archives: kitchen staples

6 Real Food Kitchen Staples

In an effort to both save money and cut out processed food further I learned to make my own kitchen staples. In this post I will share a few recipes for items I like to make at home instead of buying the bottled-version in store (for less cost to boot).

*Here’s a tip: save your old condiment and spice containers to use as storage. 

Homemade Ketchup 

I love ketchup; it could be considered it’s own food group in my opinion (If I could live on ketchup and cinnamon I would… not necessarily mixed together). The ingredient list for Heinz actually isn’t that bad (especially if you buy the simply ketchup version, which doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup) but this homemade version is much cheaper.

Six in the Suburbs

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dry Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 pinches of Ground Clove
  • 2 pinches of Allspice
  • 1 pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 4 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Store in an airtight container overnight for maximum marriage of flavors.

Homemade Mustard 

As much as I like ketchup is about the amount that I don’t like mustard. But I’m told that other people like mustard for some reason so I decided to include it. It’s actually fun to make mustard because you can use really whatever spices you like.

My research actually didn’t turn up any store-bought mustard’s that contain “bad” ingredients (even the store-brand) but I’m told that the better the mustard the higher the expense so now you can make gourmet mustard for a fraction of the cost.

Relishing It

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds 
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar 
  • Your pick of spices (to taste), optional

Directions:
Soak the mustard seeds in the vinegar and water, making sure the seeds are covered by the liquid. Leave soaking for 2 days.

Add the sugar and spices (allspice and turmeric are boyfriend’s preference) to the seeds mixture. Begin with about 1 tsp. of each spice. Blend mixture until it reaches desired consistency, adding water if needed. Let it sit in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two before trying it out.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

This Old El Paso Taco Seasoning isn’t actually representative of the whole market. You can buy McCormick’s if you don’t want to make your own spice mix. I’m always partial to making it myself because I can use more or less to suit my own taste. In addition to being perfect for tacos, this mix is great for flavoring burgers and chili. See how I used this mix in Rainbow Chicken Fajitas.

Homemade Barbeque Sauce  

I also a huge fan of barbecue sauce. I like it like I like my men: hot and smoky (haha just kidding, sorta). My favorite brand is Stubb’s which is tangier (and less unhealthy) than most. Barbecue sauce, in general, has a lot of sugar in it so making your own can really cut down on this. You can also, as with everything else in this list, customize the flavor profile.

Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (you can use your homemade ketchup or store-bought) 
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika 
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper 
  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce  

Directions:
Combine all ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Store in an airtight container. To make it smoky tasting add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke per 1 cup sauce. For a spicier sauce add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper per 1 cup of sauce.

Homemade Salsa

For me, making salsa is more about flavor than anything else (including ingredients or cost). I’ve just about had it with the stuff you can buy at the grocery store. Click through to the tutorial for my favorite salsa recipe.

Homemade Ranch Dressing 

Ranch Dressing is one of those sauces that we like to put on pretty much everything. As you can see above the list ingredient in store-bought variety is pretty extensive. Here is a recipe for ranch in which you can really customize every piece of it.

You can use fresh or dried herbs. Depending on how you like your ranch (more creamy or more tangy) you can play with the quantities of mayonnaise (creamy) and yogurt (tangy) or you can use sour cream in place of yogurt. I’ve tried this recipe with buttermilk (which further enhances the tanginess), 1% milk (which is somewhat of a non-flavor), almond milk (my favorite, it rounds out the flavor in my opinion) and soymilk (sort of adds a sweetness). Finally, I have listed just a few optional ingredients you could use to further personalize your ranch; really there are probably hundreds.

Barefeet in the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 Clove (to 2 Cloves) Garlic 
  • Salt (to taste) 
  • 1/4 cup Italian Flat-leaf Parsley 
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives 
  • 1/2 cup(Real) Mayonnaise 
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt 
  • Milk (to desired consistency) 
  • Other optional ingredients (to taste): White Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, Fresh Dill, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Fresh Oregano, Tabasco etc.

Directions:
Crush garlic into a paste with a fork. Finely mince parley and chives. Whisk together the mayonnaise and yogurt. Add milk to desired consistency. Next, stir in garlic, parsley and chives. Add mix in seasonings to taste. Store in an air-tight container in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Well there you have it. Six new condiment recipes to add to your arsenal of real food eating. Happy Friday!

Homemade Any-Nut Butter

 
Nut butters are quick and easy way to make a meal, but unfortunately the cheaper one are packed with sugars that gives you an sugar spike in energy and then a super crash shortly after. The ones with less sugar are more expensive and sometimes it is hard to justify that cost. Lucky for you, now I’m going to let you in on a secret: nut butters are the easiest most mindless thing you can make in your kitchen as long as you have a food processor or blender. Making nut butter at home is so simple and cheap, you seriously won’t believe it’s this easy.

You can use this recipe for walnut, hazelnut, almond, peanut, cashew, pecan, etc. butter. Now my plant nerd is going to come out real quick so bear with me: not all of these are actually “nuts,” for example a peanut is actually a legume and an almond is a seed inside what is called a drupe. But in the world eating, we don’t specify such things and refer to them in an umbrella category of nuts… and I’m NUTS about each and every one… groan I let out my bad joke side too, sorry.

Ingredients:

2 cups of your favorite nut
Mix-ins such as salt, honey, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place nuts in one layer on baking sheet and roast for about 12 minutes. This time may vary depending on oven, so keep an eye on it between 8-15 minutes. For raw nut butters: skip the roasting. Add nuts to a food processor and pulse. You will have to scrape down the sides about every two minutes or so. It starts out making a meal, but will eventually turn into a paste. Just continue to process and scrape down the sides. Add any mix-in you like and enjoy!

Peanut Butter

 no extra ingredients, just peanuts…

 A few pulses later,

and a few more,

starting to look like peanut butter,

Perfect! Took about 10 minutes. I keep old containers and rinse them out so I always have a few peanut butter jars around but any airtight container in the fridge is fine. Estimated cost: $2.00/12 oz (Average jar holds about 16 oz and cost around $5.00)

Almond Joy Butter

 Almonds… mmmm…


Add some cocoa powder and coconut flakes to taste

 Pulse…

 If it’s dry or chalky add some almond milk (about a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency)

 Looking good keep pulsing.

Done! This one took about 20 minutes of pulsing and it smells heavenly without any added sugar. Yay! Estimated cost: $7.00/24 oz (Average jar is about 16 oz and cost about $9.00)

Save money: check
Improve health: check
Winning

Tell me about nut butters you’ve made in the comments 🙂