Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe

The last time I went grocery shopping was about two weeks ago. Oops. We are getting to the absolute dregs of our pantry. And refrigerator. And freezer. I keep seeing tumbleweeds weave between the ketchup and the hot sauce when I open the fridge to look at the nothingness. Still nothing.

Then, the car broke down. Hurrah! So, I walked the kids to a playground that is close by (we were going to go to a different one, since it was almost freezing and the one within walking distance is in the middle of open farm fields…also known as 20 degrees colder than the rest of the world, no lie). As we were walking home, Little Girl said, “Can we have hot cocoa when we get home, please?”

If you have ever actually heard Little Girl speak, her voice is incredibly sweet. At least, I think it is. She really got me with the “please.” You know that scene in Shrek where Puss in Boots gives him The Eyes? That’s what Little Girl’s polite asking voice is like.

“Little Girl, remember how we have almost no food at home?” There was most certainly nothing resembling milk in the house. “You can have tea instead.” From the one remaining packet of mint tea. 

At this point, Little Guy starts yelling “HOT COCOA! HOT COCOA PLEASE!”

(as if he doesn’t talk loud enough as it is.) And Little Girl starts the lawyer business. “But mommy, you know we both love hot cocoa when it’s cold outside. Can’t you figure out a way to make it?”

See what I’m up against? She already knows how to flatter me into action. Well, MacGuyver is my middle name. Or something. Go, go, Google gadget!

Thanks to Frugal Mama – It turns out I did indeed have enough stuff in my pantry to make hot cocoa! (Sort of.)

I only had 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, so I started from there and changed the proportions to suit my purposes. This batch makes about 11 servings if you are an evil mom like me and only put 2 Tbsp of mix in to the kid’s cup. One good thing – there are no weird ingredients in this!

Instant Hot Cocoa Mix

1/4 c Cocoa Powder – mine was partial dutch process, Frugal Mama suggests dutch process. Partial worked fine.

1/2 c Powdered Sugar

1/2 c + 2 Tbsp Nonfat Dried Milk (Frugal Mama says whole dried milk will coagulate)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp corn starch

Whisk ingredients together and store in an airtight container. If you are down to the last 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and want to be totally lazy like me, you can mix the whole lot in the empty cocoa powder container and store it that way. Pour approximately 4 oz hot water over 2 Tbsp dry mix, stir and enjoy!

You know what, Pinterest? I'm a real mom, and this is what real moms do for packaging.

You know what, Pinterest? I’m a real mom, and this is what real moms do for packaging.

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Perfect Salt Dough

The kids want play-dough, and yours is dried up or moldy. You’re out of Cream of Tartar and your recipe calls for a small boatload. Or, your teen has a school project and suddenly needs to make a replica Ganesha statue (stranger things have happened). Enter Perfect Salt Dough, the solution to all your problems. This dough dries completely in a couple of days if you want it to, or you can dry it out in your oven at 250 for an hour (or more for big projects). It dries bright white, and the high salt content makes it sparkle (which is very popular with Little Girl). You can also keep it in an airtight plastic bag, theoretically indefinitely. This was an old standby in my family’s house, probably because we never had enough Cream of Tartar hanging around to make the other kind.

salt dough for little girl

Little Girl got to playing right away, of course.

Perfect Salt Dough

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1 cup iodized salt (small grain – large ones do not dissolve and cut your hands)

1/3 cup water

Dissolve cornstarch and 1/3 cup water in a bowl. In a pan, dissolve salt in 1/3 cup water and heat to a boil. Remove from heat and pour in the cornstarch water. Stir vigorously until it thickens to the consistency of mashed potatoes. If it does not start to thicken after 2 minutes, return to low heat and stir constantly (scraping the bottom of the pan) until it begins to thicken. Turn the dough onto the counter until cool enough to touch. Knead until pliable and put in a plastic bag.

Who’s Afraid of Chicken?

15 days into our “No TV” experiment and going strong, if you were wondering. Maybe at the 31 day mark I’ll have a little celebration. Little Girl seems to have again forgotten about the existence of the television. Of course, she had a lot going on today; someone in her Sunday School class had a birthday and there were cupcakes with blue frosting. Little Girl on sugar is too busy to watch television.Image

So, who is afraid of chicken? Raw chicken gives me the creeps. I’m not the only one, apparently. At Denny’s, my husband worked with a cook who was so afraid of serving raw chicken that he would fry it, microwave it, grill it and then serve what was left of it. Before getting married, I had never cooked a chicken (and was somehow thinking I might be able to avoid it). However, Wegmans sells roasting chickens for $.88/lb. Eighty-eight cents a pound! You can tell me the health benefits of vegetarianism all day if you want, but I need meat in my diet (at least once in a while) and you can’t beat the price. A roasting chicken can feed us for a week and be boiled down for chicken stock afterward, so it’s the ideal budget meat.

winner, winner

Serving suggestion. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

My mom makes a delicious roast chicken. I happened to be cooking it at 11 PM (long story), so I didn’t call her, but I tried to recall what she said she did to hers and I think it came out nicely. You don’t have to be afraid of this recipe! It will turn out edible, and probably even great! By the way, it is SO easy. You have to think about 2 hours ahead of when you want dinner, but that’s the only problem.

Lemon Herb Roast Chicken

Roasting chicken

Olive Oil

Lemon

3-5 Garlic cloves, peeled

Onion, roughly chopped

Kosher Salt

Pepper

Herbes de Provence (equal parts marjoram, savory, thyme, lavender or rosemary, fennel seed, oregano and basil – I used 2 tsp of each and saved the extra in an empty spice bottle).

Preheat oven to 350. Forget about washing the chicken. It makes you have to touch the raw chicken more (gross), it doesn’t actually clean the chicken (grosser) and it can spread bacteria to your sink and counter (grossest). If it has a giblet packet inside the body cavity, take it out and throw it away. (Unless you’re one of those hardcore people who uses them for something. I am not). Place the chicken, flat side down, in a roasting pan. Wash your hands, because you just touched raw chicken. Pour olive oil over the chicken and massage until covered in a thin layer. Wash your hands again, because you just touched raw chicken. Cut lemon in half and squeeze lemon juice all over the chicken. Stuff the body cavity with the used-up lemon pieces, garlic cloves and onion. Wash your hands again, because you just touched raw chicken. Hey, you’re done touching the chicken! (The rest is my favorite part). Sprinkle the whole thing with kosher salt, pepper, and a generous helping of Herbes de Provence (I like my chicken to be pretty crusted with herbs. If you’re not into that, skip them altogether and it will still be good). Roast in the oven for 18 minutes per pound of chicken, or longer until a meat thermometer registers 165 when inserted into the breast of the chicken (don’t touch the bone). Let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to set, then carve and enjoy.