Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Homemade Life, February 28

For A Homemade Life this week, I thought I would share another English muffin recipe, a whole wheat one this time, and also some of the spice and seasoning blends I use.

First, a recipe for


1 cup milk
2 Tblsp. sugar
3 Tblsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup lukewarm water
Pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour

Heat the milk until just below boiling. You can do this in the microwave or on top of the stove. Put sugar, butter in salt in a large mixing bowl and pour the hot milk over them. Stir and let stand until mixture is lukewarm.

In a small bowl, combine the lukewarm water, the yeast and pinch of sugar. Stir well and let stand for 5 minutes, until the mixture looks bubbly.

Add the yeast mixture, the whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour to the milk mixture in the large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer (a hand one is fine) at medium speed, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out on floured surface and knead about 2 minutes.

Wash and dry the mixing bowl, then grease the bowl. Place the kneaded dough into the mixing bowl and turn it so that the top is greased too. Cover bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide dough in half. Roll out one half to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut dough into 3-inch circles with a floured biscuit cutter. Place the rounds, about 2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets which have been sprinkled with cornmeal. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet. Place the English muffins, cornmeal side down, on the hot griddle and bake over medium heat until well browned, about 10 minutes on each side. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 18 English muffins.

We liked these a lot. I actually got about 20 or 21 English muffins, but my biscuit cutter is slightly smaller, so that may be why. I don't like the flavor quite as well as the oatmeal ones, but these wheat ones are very good -- and they rose a lot higher, for some reason. I also found that they burned more easily, so I would recommend turning them every five minutes, and I also suggest not putting a muffin in the center of the griddle, but just placing them in a ring or square around it. If you happen to own two griddles, or a large rectangular type, that speeds things up. I think an electric griddle would also work very well.

Now, for the seasoning blends. First,


2 Tblsp. oregano
1 Tblsp. basil
1/2 Tblsp. onion flakes or onion powder
1/2 Tblsp. garlic powder
1/2 Tblsp. thyme
1/2 Tblsp. fennel seed, crushed
1/2 Tblsp. paprika
1/2 Tblsp. coarsely ground black pepper

And the recipe also called for 1/2 Tblsp. ginger and 1/2 Tblsp. dried lemon peel, but I left these out.

Combine all spices and place in an airtight tin or plastic container or a glass spice bottle.

The following recipe is great when recipes call for an envelope of Italian salad dressing mix as a seasoning.


1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. each: pepper, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, sweet red pepper flakes
Pinch of paprika

In a custard cup or small bowl, mix all together. Whirl briefly in a blender if you like a finer texture (I skip this step). Makes the equivalent of 1 packet Italian dressing mix. May double or triple the recipe if you need more than one packet of mix in whatever you’re making.

You often find recipes that call for a packet of ranch dressing mix, too. This is the homemade substitute I use:


2 Tblsp. plus 2 tsp. dried minced onion
1 Tblsp. dried parsley flakes
2 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container -- a jar, tin, or small plastic container would work well. For each packet of ranch dressing mix called for in a recipe, use 1 Tblsp. of this mix.

Sometimes recipes also call for onion soup mix as a seasoning, or a can of cream soup as an ingredient. Here is what I do instead:


3/4 cup dried minced onion
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. celery seed, optional

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. When a recipe calls for onion soup mix, use 5 Tablespoons mix for each envelope of onion soup called for. So many recipes seem to call for a package of onion soup mix, and this is far more economical.

Do you hate buying canned soups for use in recipes? This recipe makes a perfect substitute for 1 can of soup.

3 Tblsp. margarine
3 Tblsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk or other liquid (as specified in variations)
Melt the margarine in heavy saucepan; blend in flour and salt and cook until bubbly. Remove from heat and gradually stir or whisk in liquid. Return to heat and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened.


Cream of chicken: Use 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 c. chicken broth as the liquid. Add 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning or sage.
Cream of celery: Saute´ 1/2 c. chopped celery and 1 T. finely chopped onion in the margarine before adding flour. Use milk for liquid.
Cream of mushroom: Saute´1/4 c. finely chopped mushrooms and 1 T. finely chopped onion in margarine before adding flour. Use milk for liquid.
Tomato: Use tomato juice as liquid. Add a dash each of garlic salt, onion salt, basil, and oregano.
Cheddar cheese: Use milk for liquid. Stir into the finished sauce 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 1/4 tsp. dry mustard.
Cream of shrimp: Drain the liquid from a small can of tiny shrimp into a measuring cup. Fill cup with milk to measure 1 cup of liquid. Add a dash of pepper, onion salt, curry powder, and paprika to the finished sauce, and stir in the shrimp.

And now for some baking spices:


1/2 cup cinnamon
1 Tblsp. nutmeg
1 Tblsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Blend ingredients. Store in a tightly covered container -- I use an old International Coffee® tin. Use along with sugar in apple pie, applesauce, baked apples, etc. Use 1 1/4 tsp. for each 6 cups of sliced apples. You may find that cookie or muffin recipes call for apple pie spice as well; it’s a convenient blend to keep on hand in your pantry.


1/2 cup cinnamon
1/4 cup ground ginger
2 Tblsp. nutmeg
2 Tblsp. ground cloves

Blend ingredients. Store in a tightly covered container; again, I use an old International Coffee® tin. Use as your recipe directs; in pumpkin pie, use 3 1/4 tsp. per can of pumpkin. Again, many other recipes for cookies or desserts may call for pumpkin pie spice, so it’s a useful spice to keep on hand.

I just used some apple pie spice in my granola this week. It was very tasty in granola.

Well, there are some of my favorite homemade ideas. Hope they will be helpful to someone else!

To see more homemade ideas shared by others, go to Life on a Back Road. You will find lots of inspiration there!


  1. Thanks for all the neat spice recipes...

    Warm wishes,

  2. You're welcome, Susie! 😊


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