Tag Archives: homemade

Recipe: Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing by Melissa McKinnon


  • 2 Tbsp. Smart Balance mayo
  • 1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
  • ¼ tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • ½ Tbsp. capers

Making the salad:

  • Whisk together dressing ingredients from above vigorously (so as to emulsify the oil).
  • Combine shaved parmesan, shredded carrots and/or peppers, sunflower seeds and slivered onions (or whatever your favorite salad toppings are) to crisp salad greens.
  • Toss salad with dressing to coat.
  • Top salad with grilled chicken, fish, shrimp, or beans for an added boost of protein. Or, if you’re not in the mood for salad, try using the dressing as a marinade on fish or chicken before baking and serve over rice or couscous.
  • Serve salad within one hour of coating with dressing; store in fridge if necessary. Or make the dressing ahead and keep in your fridge for a week or so.

DIY All-Natural Dish Detergent

Picture from New Nostalgia (click on picture for alternate recipe for DIY Dish Detergent by Amy)


  • 1 c. Arm & Hammer All-Natural Baking Soda (or Washing Soda)
  • 1 c. All-Natural Borax
  • 1 Tbsp. dried orange peel (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS: Mix the above ingredients together until evenly distributed. You can do this in a gallon ziploc bag or your mixer. Store in a pint size jar.

TO USE: For wash cycle, use 3-4 tsp. of the above mixture in the same place you would put your liquid detergent. Fill the rinse cycle with white vinegar.

TIPS:  1) I use the dried orange peel because citric acid is also a natural cleanser and it helps me know if the mixture is evenly mixed. 2) Add lemon and/or lime juice to the pre-wash cycle, if desired. 3) White vinegar also works well to clean your dish washer. Just throw a cup in the bottom of the washer and run a short cycle. 4) As a final tip, it’s always best to rinse your dishes prior to loading your dishwasher.

For an all-natural anti-microbial spray and an all-natural disinfecting spray, check out Frugally Sustainable’s post here.

DIY Lavender and Honeysuckle Laundry Detergent

I’ve been reading up on various recipes and tips for saving some money and making my own laundry detergent. Here’s what I came up with for my first attempt:

100% Natural Ingredients: 2 bars of Clearly Natural Honeysuckle Glycerin Soap (yield: 4 c. grated), 2 c. All Natural Borax and 2 c. All Natural Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (both found in your laundry detergent aisle at your local grocery store),  30 drops lavender essential oil. (Note: This is WAY cheaper than normal laundry detergent!)
Grate the soap. I started with a box grater, but it took a while, so I used my food processor to start and finished with the box grater. Measure Borax and Washing Soda.
I poured too much Borax. Hint: Use a flexible funnel if you do this.
Mix all ingredients together (you can use your hands if you want). Add 30 drops of lavender essential oil. Optional: add 1-2 c. OxiClean at this point.

Seal in a labeled, air-tight container. Use 2 Tbsp. per load. (Optional: add up to 1/2 c. white vinegar in rinse cycle for natural fabric softener.)

Here are some more websites with other Homemade Laundry Detergent recipes:





What’s up next? Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

Wash: Equal parts Borax and Baking Soda (NOT Washing Soda; 1-2 Tbsp. each)

Rinse: white vinegar (+ lemon juice), optional

Yep, it’s that simple.

Gift Giving on a Budget

Christmas is rapidly approaching. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe it’s December already! This year we’re living (and giving) on a single income. So, we’re being creative and giving gift baskets. After all, Christmas isn’t about how much someone spends on you (or how much you spend on someone). We give gifts as a reminder of God’s greatest gift, His Son Jesus, to us on that first Christmas!

I came across this page on the Whole Foods Market website and can’t wait to try some of these ideas out! The majority are simple and contain budget-friendly ingredients, so you can customize each package. You could do themed gifts, like BBQ rubs and sauces for the guys on the list, home spa package for the ladies (see bath salts and oils recipes, or search for a homemade soap recipe), and “visions of sugarplums” package for the kids (check out the Mexican Hot Chocolate Buttons and Candied Cranberries recipes on the site).

Visit your local flea market, consignment shop, or Goodwill for baskets or containers to put your jars in (or just dig around in your closet or basement). Make sure to sanitize them, and maybe even line them with a pretty piece of fabric. If you sew the edges, the cloth can be used as a centerpiece napkin later on! Add a handmade piece of jewelry or a pretty ornament to brighten it up. And let your kids get involved, if you have them. Lots of these recipes are just mixing ingredients and require little to no heating elements.

The possibilities are endless. Start planning now (if you haven’t already). Many of these recipes can be made weeks ahead, so you can relax and work at your own pace without having to feel the holiday hustle and bustle.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Candied Lemon Peels, Orange Peels, or Cranberries
  • Infused Oils and Infused Vinegars
  • Seasoned Salts and Sugars
  • Chocolate-Dipped Figs or other fruits
  • Biscotti, Cookies, and other Baked Goods
  • Pancake Mixes or  Cookie Mixes
  • Barbeque Sauces and Rubs
  • Jellies, Jams, and Marmalades
  • Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Marinated Olives
  • Mulling Spice Sachets

For more ideas, search the “Gift” Category on the Whole Foods Market website or check out this page on the Country Living website (picture above from Country Living site).

Happy Giving! And Merry Christmas!


Homemade Yogurt (Feb. 19, 2010)

I knew a girl in college who did this as one of her Advanced Food Prep class experiments. I’ve wanted to try it since but have never been brave enough. Well, the courage has grown and I am going to try this. I eat yogurt all the time and would love to save money on it!

Here are three sites on how to make your own yogurt. I’m trying the one using my crockpot!

Make Yogurt in Your Crockpot (http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html)

An Illustrated Guide (http://hubpages.com/hub/How_to_make_your_own_yogurt_-_An_illustrated_guide)

Make Your Own Yogurt – PDF available on this website (http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com/)

Here’s a note from my cousin’s wife, Rose, who makes her own yogurt:
Hi Melissa,
Here’s the comment that I was trying to post. Thanks for posting it for me.
I’ve experimented with a bunch of different methods but here’s a few things that I’ve learned. The basic method as you can see from other sites is to pasteurise your milk, cool it to within the lacto-bacteria happy range (90-120F), add commercial yoghurt, keep at happy range for 4-8 hours.

I’ve found that the microwave is much easier to use than the stove top for the pasteurising. The first time around you’ll have to watch that it doesn’t overflow but after that you’ll know roughly how long to put it in for and you don’t have to worry about burning the milk.

I like to use low-fat milk but I add skim milk powder before I heat it up. I add the powder as though I was reconstituting it with water so my end product is about double strength.

I usually add about 1 tbsp commercial yoghurt to 1 cup of milk but I don’t measure, I just guess.

I like to incubate my yogurt in jars, submerged up to their neck, in 120F water in a small cooler. I usually don’t have to heat the water at all but I do check it half way through the incubation and some hotter water if necessary.

These days I’m using a rice cooker on the “keep warm” setting for incubating. I have to keep the lid off or else it gets too hot. Because of that, the yoghurt develops a skin. I just pull it off and throw it out when it’s done. I just like how easy the rice cooker is.

You can freezer the commercial yoghurt in ice cube trays so that you have some healthy starter whenever you feel like making yoghurt. You simply thaw it in a little milk while your milk is cooling.

Yoghurt cheese is wonderful. When your yoghurt is finished dump it all into some cheese cloth (or a clean tea towel), bring the corners together, tie some string around the corners and hang it from a cupboard handle. In a few hours you have wonderful, low fat cream cheese substitute. It’s great on bagels.

I’m surprised how popular h.m. yoghurt is compared to sour cream. Sour cream is super simple because the ideal incubation range is room temperature. To make sour cream you dump about a 1/4 cup of sour cream into a litre (~4 cups) of cream. Twelve hours later you have sour cream. If you start with milk instead of cream you end up with buttermilk.

I find it so sad how nobody knows any of this stuff any more. My mom didn’t teach me this stuff. I’ve just made it a bit of hobby to pick up old skills.

Thanks for the tips, Rose!! I’ll let you know how it goes. ~Melissa

Homemade Sauerkraut (Feb. 17, 2010)

I am so trying this! Who knew natural fermentation could increase your B vitamins and probiotics!
Check out the link if you’re daring:

Homemade Sauerkraut (http://www.mambosprouts.com/2009/12/04/homemade-sauerkraut/)

Here’s a little note from my cousin’s wife, Rose, who’s actually done this before:
I make sauerkraut by following this recipe: http://www.wildfermentation.com/resources.php?page=sauerkraut . I love cooking but my favourite cooking is frugal, ethnic recipes. My next project is going to be perogies. I also like fermenting stuff. I’ve done carrots and turnips besides the yogurt and sauerkraut. When the carrots are pickled when fresh they end up amazingly tasty. It’s like a challenge to me to create yummy variety out of the simplist ingredients. Anybody can make a tasty meal with expensive stuff but only a pro can do it out of the mundane. 🙂

Thanks, Rose! ~Melissa