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You’re busy and sometimes picking up pre-packaged items at the grocery store just makes life easier.  However, cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming.  You just have to know which foods are worth the effort.  Here are some food staples you can easily make yourself instead of buying in stores.  All of which can be made using ingredients you probably already have on hand.

Granola

Crunchy, sweet and delicious homemade granola is a great option for a guilt-free snack.  It can be eaten on its own or used as a topping for yogurt, cereal or fruit slices.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dried fruit
  • ½ cup nuts or seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Then stir in the honey, oil and vanilla extract making sure the oats are evenly coated.
  3. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet in a thin even layer.
  4. Place in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done with it turns golden-brown and dry.
  5. Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
  6. Add in your fruits and nuts then toss to combine.
  7. Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Mayonnaise

Although mayonnaise is commonly added to sandwiches and salads the store-bought version tends to be bland.  The next time you plan to prepare a dish that calls for the condiment, give this flavorful version a try.

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup canola oil

Instructions

  1. Whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and salt in a bowl until combined.
  2. Start adding ¼ of the oil a few drops at a time, stirring constantly.  At this point the mixture will start to thicken.
  3. Add the remaining oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until incorporated.

Salad dressing

Jazz up your bowl of leafy greens by whipping a batch of your own homemade dressing.  Here are two options to get you started.

  • Vinaigrette – Combine ½ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  • Creamy Italian – Blend ¼ cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons sour cream, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1 garlic clove and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.

Chocolate chip cookies

The next time you find yourself craving chocolate, satisfy your sweet tooth with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  This is the Nestle Toll House recipe most people have grown up on.

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, mix the butter, both sugars and vanilla extract together until creamy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Then add the flour mixture.  Once it’s combined, stir in the morsels. 
  3. Scoop out tablespoons of dough and place it on a baking sheet.
  4. Place in the oven for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

Buttercream frosting

Cake tastes better with frosting.  If you agree, give this quick and delicious recipe a try.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whip the butter until it’s smooth. 
  2. Gradually beat in the sugar. 
  3. Stir in the vanilla and milk.  Whip until creamy.

BBQ sauce

Ever wondered how to make your own barbecue sauce?  Well we have the answer and it’s dripping with flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

Instructions

Add all the ingredients to a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Let it continue simmering until the sauce thickens then remove it from the heat.  Allow your sauce to cool then store it in a container.

Pesto

There are a bunch of delicious things you can do with pesto aside from eating it with pasta.  Pesto can be used as pizza sauce, a sandwich spread or combined with other ingredients to make a salad dressing.  Here’s a tasty recipe to get you started.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Combine the basil, nuts and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped. 
  2. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil and process until smooth.
  3. Add the cheese and process just enough to combine.

Whipped cream

Once you see how easy it is to make whipped cream from scratch, you’ll ditch the store-bought one for good.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Chill your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add all the ingredients into the bowl and whip until peaks form.  Don’t over-whip or it will get lumpy and start turning into butter.

Guacamole

Forget waiting for Taco Tuesday, use this recipe to make your own guacamole and enjoy it whenever you want. 

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Place the diced avocados in a medium mixing bowl and mash until it’s your desired texture.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and enjoy.

Hummus

This Middle Eastern dip is a fan favorite among many people searching for a healthy snack.  Although traditional recipes call for tahini (sesame paste), we found an alternative you can use in a pinch.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

Place the beans, 2 tablespoons of water, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt in a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Add additional water if you want it thinner.