Let’s face it, life is busy and we all love convenience. Especially me. Instant anything works. Most of us have many bottles of something in the back pantry that we can pour over the chicken before we toss it in the oven or a can of sauce that we dump over warm pasta. Oh how I love dinners that I can just assemble instead of prepare! Sometimes I have made real homemade dinners, but most were semi homemade. That is how many of our family dinners have been most of my adult life. No one complained.
A few years ago, I slowly converted our family to eating food as close to the way as nature intended. Think of it as an “almost” whole food diet. You’ll notice I stated that it was a slow conversion. I did not want the family to notice too much and show resistance to the new menu. Much of the change was welcomed and easy to do. What became a challenge were the bottled items that we dip, dump, marinade and pour. Many of these foods have a high sodium and/or sugar content, which we were trying to cut back on. So began our endeavor to find recipes that we could make ourselves. We found recipes that were flavorful, easy to make and sometimes have more than one use.
Implementing these recipes with what I had in my food storage was also a consideration. I wanted to maintain a variety of foods that could be versatile in different recipes. For example, a can of tomatoes could be used for a homemade or a semi homemade dish. So a variety of store bought foods, along with more “whole foods” sit side by side in my pantry.
One item that is most helpful is my Kolder Salad Dressing Bottle. It has 8 different recipes on the glass bottle, along with the fill lines for each ingredient. No recipes to keep track of or measuring cups to clean. It is all on the bottle! There are other bottles available, the Charcoal Companion Marinade Bottle and Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Easy Stir-Fry Sauce Bottle. These are inexpensive and can be found on Amazon.com.
I am sharing some yummy recipes that are simple to prepare, that use common ingredients and are easy to store. In many of these, I have reduced the amount of salt or have used a sugar substitute. Experiment and tweak them to suit your personal tastes. Enjoy!
Homemade vs Store Bought: Simple Homemade Recipes
Homemade Creamy Avocado Dressing
1 large ripe avocado
1 large jalapeno, seeded
2 tablespoons fresh, minced cilantro
2 tablespoons sour cream
½ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
1. Skin and pit the avocado.
2. In a blender, add all ingredients together. Pulse until smooth.
3. It can be stored in refrigerator for 3-4 days. Makes 12 ounces.
Italian Herb Dressing
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1½ teaspoons honey or maple syrup (I used honey)
1. Add wet ingredients in a bowl and stir together.
2. Add the dry items in a separate bowl.
3. Add both wet to dry together and mix.
Notes: Some people mix the wet and dry ingredients together in a blender bottle or jar with lid and shake. Remember, the oil will solidify when kept in the fridge. Let it warm to room temperature before serving. Makes 1 cup of dressing that will last a few weeks in the fridge. Recipe can be found here.
Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic minced or pressed
¼ scant teaspoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients in a mason jar or other container with a lid. Shake it up. Let it warm to room temperature before serving. Makes ½ cup
Healthy Honey Mustard Dressing
½ cup plain Greek yogurt (vegans can try coconut yogurt)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1½ tablespoons raw honey (maple syrup to keep it vegan)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix ingredients in a bowl or jar. This will stay good for about 1 week. Makes 1 cup. Recipe can be found at this link.
Easy Homemade Fudge Sauce
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup heavy whipping cream or evaporated milk
2 tablespoons water
Pinch of salt
1. Melt butter and chocolate chips in sauce pan.
2. Add cream, sugar, water and salt. Mix together and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat, continue to boil for 9 minutes. Occasionally stir to prevent scorching.
4. Take off heat and allow the sauce to sit for a few minutes. While warm, drizzle over ice cream.
5. Left over fudge sauce can be stored in the refrigerator. Microwave to reheat. Recipe can be found here.
Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1. Mix brown sugar, butter, cream, and salt in a sauce pan. Cook over a medium heat until sauce boils.
2. Allow sauce to boil for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
3. Add vanilla and stir. Allow the sauce to sit for a few minutes. Great with ice cream or apples. Serves 12
Recipe can be found here.
Easy Semi-Homemade Recipes
Taco Salad Dressing
1 part French dressing and 1 part salsa. Shake and serve.
Semi-Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
4 cups powdered milk
21.8 oz. box Nestle Nesquik
16 oz. instant coffee creamer
1 cup powdered sugar
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into an air tight storage container. Fill mug (about 8 oz.) with warm water or milk. Add 3-5 heaping tablespoons of cocoa mix and stir. I found this recipe here.
Semi-Homemade Caesar Dressing
1 cup Ken’s Creamy Caesar Dressing
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Pulse all ingredients in a blender for 10-15 seconds. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Recipe can be found at this link.
Semi Homemade Enchilada Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons ground ancho chile pepper
2 tablespoons ground pasilla chile pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (28 ounce) RED enchilada sauce
3/4 cup beef or vegetable broth
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1. Heat oil in a large skillet.
2. Mix in onion, garlic and salt; stir for 2 minutes.
3. Then mix in the tomatoes, ancho pepper, pasilla pepper and cayenne pepper.
4. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
5. Pour ingredients in a blender or food processor.
6. Mix until smooth.
7. Pour ingredients from blender to skillet; stir in enchilada sauce, broth, chocolate and honey.
8. Simmer until sauce thickens (20 minutes).
9. Add salt to taste.
10. Take off from heat and allow to cool.
Sauce can be stored in a freezer bag or air tight container. Makes about 5 cups. Use for enchiladas, Spanish rice or any other Mexican dish.
Semi-Homemade BBQ Sauce
1 18 oz. bottle BBQ sauce – favorite brand or type
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Over medium heat, melt butter
2. Stir in remaining ingredients
3. For 10-20 minutes, simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally. It becomes thicker in consistency and develops a deeper taste the longer you simmer it. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Recipe can be found here.
1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise or our favorite brand
1/4 cup Heinz ketchup
1/4 cup chili sauce (DO NOT substitute Thai Chili Sauce)
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup light olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Stir together all ingredients and keep overnight in refrigerator. Use for a dip for veggies and chips, a dressing for salads, spread for sandwiches, or a sauce for seafood or chicken. Recipe can be found at this website.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Download this free mini-guide, Make the Switch From Store-Bought to Homemade, from The Survival Mom, for more recipes from scratch!