Saturday, 18 February 2012

Crackers, granola bars, hummus, and tzatziki: Homemade cooking and comedy

So my latest cooking venture has taken me far away from my usual culinary endeavors. Generally, I love to try unique and quasi-exotic recipes that take ordinary ingredients and make them extraordinary.

However, of late, I have been striving to bring the grocery bill down. This is certainly an exercise in balance. While I attempt to spend less, I am hoping to avoid sacrificing how is this done?

Well, I'm certainly not an expert. In fact, I'm sure many of you have a myriad of ideas on reducing the grocery bill that I haven't yet thought of (please post!). One thing, however, that I've realized, is that packaged foods take a heavy toll on the monthly expenditure.

With that in mind, my first step to reducing the monthly grocery bill is to replace some of our family's favorite packaged food with homemade.

So what do I generally buy that's pre-made? Usually it's snack foods for my daughter's lunch and dipping sauces for crackers/chips/veggies.

So here's what I did....

Made homemade crackers

This is super-easy, but there are two things I should tell you from the get-go.

1. Make at LEAST two batches. They will go quick!
2. Inform your family members to go easier on these crackers than they usually do. These crackers (while amazing!) are a lot heavier than your Ritz or saltine.

So here's the recipe:

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup white flour
2 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup veggie oil
1 cup water
salt for sprinkling

Mix all the ingredients and knead into a tough dough. Roll out to 1/8 inch or less. Place the dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Score in small squares and prick each square twice with a fork. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. If necessary, broil for a couple minutes to toast the top evenly. Once the dough has cooled, break along scored edges into cracker shapes.  Enjoy!

Made homemade garlic hummus

2 cups canned chickpeas
2 tbsp tahini
3-4 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Blend in food processor till smooth. Done!

Made tzatziki

500 grams of Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 peeled and seeded English cucumber (grated)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp dill
salt and pepper to taste

Strain the grated cucumber through cheesecloth or paper towel and strainer for several hours. Ditto with the Greek yogurt. Once both have been strained, mix all ingredients. Done! :)

Made granola bars

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix all dry ingredients then make a well in the middle and add wet ingredients. Grease your hands, then hand-mix the mixture, and press into a 9 x 13 baking sheet. Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool for 5 minutes and then cut into bars. Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan before removing. Store in an airtight container.

These recipes all turned out quite well, and I'm pretty excited about substituting some of my kid's packaged snacks with homemade, good quality snacks for school lunches.

And on that cheerful note, here's a great post of a spoof on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

A must see!

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