We’re in New England. Hot Chocolate is an absolute “must” for us. And with four kids, I go through a lot of it. The only trouble is, because we grow nearly all of our food here (with the exception of those staples like flour and sugar, etc.), I don’t actually go to a store all that often. In fact, I hardly ever do even for those things; I actually order most of my staples online from WalMart.com. I know we all have a love-hate relationship with Wal Mart but let’s face it – their prices beat almost everyone else, they employ large numbers of Americans, and if you spend $50 you get free shipping – so my staples cost me no more than a trip to the store; probably less considering the time I don’t lose and the gas I don’t burn.
But I digress. The short story is that I always seem to be out of hot cocoa mix. And then there is the added issue that I am buying something with unnecessary ingredients like dry milk, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors, amongst other things that you personally may or may not be concerned with (for an example of what you’ll find in a leading brand hot cocoa mix like Swiss Miss, check this out).
And then there is the issue that I have this abundance of milk from those over-achieving little backyard Jerseys. An awful problem to have, I know. At any rate, it seems silly to me to be paying for a product with dry milk in it, which I’m not overly thrilled about, and wasting the perfectly good, healthy that milk I need to do something with anyway. And so I decided to go old-school and find an easy homemade hot chocolate recipe that is made with milk and minimal extraneous ingredients. After tweaking a few, below is what I came up with. It’s great for homesteaders, but of course it’s great for anyone who is just looking for a simplified homemade hot cocoa recipe. It uses only a couple common pantry staples, so odds are excellent that you already have everything you need at home.
Homemade Homestead Hot Cocoa Recipe
What we’re basically looking at here is a 2:1 ratio of powdered sugar to baking cocoa (powder). Using this basic ratio, you can make up your hot chocolate mix ahead of time in as large or small a quantity as you want for easy make-ahead use (a great recipe to add to your Make-Ahead Mix arsenal!).
The following recipe is enough to make a prepared half-gallon batch of homemade hot chocolate with milk. But what I like to do is crack out a quart or half-gallon mason jar and just keep alternating and filling until I have a jar full of mix ready for later use.
An easy, creamy homemade hot chocolate made with real milk and a couple common staple ingredients.
2 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1 cup powdered baking cocoa
½ gallon milk
Pour milk into a large saucepan. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Heat and stir over medium heat until steaming. Do not boil!
*You may also prepare this in a crock pot (on high or low, but obviously low will take longer and do keep an eye on it so that it does not boil when on high) and keep warm on the "Warm" setting.
**You may also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract if desired.
Make-Ahead Creamy Homestead Hot Cocoa Mix
If you want to make a prepared make-ahead homemade hot cocoa mix, simply combine 6 cups of powdered sugar and 3 cups of powdered baking cocoa in a large (2 quart) canning jar or large container (yes, it will fit, but you may have to shake gently as you add ingredients to settle them). Shake to combine through until the mixture appears evenly distributed throughout.
Alternatively, if you are giving as a gift and you like the “sand art” appearance of the layers, alternate the cocoa and the powdered sugar, but do not shake. Do be sure, though, to include shaking as the first step in any attached instructions you give. You can cut the recipe in half to prepare in one-quart canning jars.
To prepare hot chocolate by the cup from the prepared mix, add 2 to 3 large teaspoons cocoa mix to a cup of hot milk. To make a batch, use 3 cups mix to each 1/2 gallon hot milk.
The paperback version has all of the same great mason jar mix recipes and also includes an appendix of copy-ready labels (two per page for each recipe). Just in time for Christmas, and Christmas jar mix gifts!
Mason jar mixes are ideal for holiday gift-giving, especially when you have a long list of people to whom you care to show your appreciation. Gift jar mixes have the advantage of being affordable, appreciated, useful and attractive, all at the same time. They can fit the bill for a long line of gift recipients from coworkers to coaches, teachers, instructors, service providers, extended family members, and many more.
To be sure, having a variety of jar mix recipes to choose from is nice, but considering how busy and expensive the holidays can very easily get, it’s nice to have something a bit more versatile that can be worked up and packaged in short time, yet still deliver a number of excellent gift-giving options.
It’s All In How You Look At It
Take, for example, the homemade all-purpose baking mix in Make-Ahead Mix Day. This recipe requires a minimal amount of ingredients (a couple cups of shortening, a standard five-pound bag of flour, a bit of salt, sugar, and baking powder), but it yields better than five quarts; and it only takes about five minutes to do it. Cheap and easy. Exactly what the budgeting gift-giver needs. The thing is, this mix can be used in numerous ways. So while you might not really want to give someone a dressed-up jar of “all purpose baking mix”, you’ll feel good about giving a nice homemade “Country Quick Mix” or “Sunday Morning Waffle Mix” with a nice label and instructions attached.
If you take my meaning here, it’s all in the presentation and the suggestion. You’re still giving a great-tasting mix that you’ve put your own time, money, and effort into, but you’re giving it with style in a way you can afford.
You can search this site or the ‘net for different ideas and potential presentations, or go with one of your own favorite tried-and-true classics. Any recipe that uses Bisquick(R) or another biscuit or baking mix will work just fine with this recipe, so simply print the recipe to include with your festively-decorated jar mix (a nice parchment or holiday paper is a nice touch). To get the creative juices rolling, here is a list of ten great ways (in no particular order) to repackage this one simple mix and have a variety of gifting options:
Morning Pancake Mix (what busy Mom or Dad wouldn’t appreciate that?)..top it off with a half cup of chocolate chips or dehydrated fruit and now you have flavored pancakes, to boot.
The aforementioned “Sunday Morning Waffle Mix” (to which the same doctoring methods above apply)
Home Style Country Biscuit Mix
Quick & Tasty Cinnamon Roll Kit (gifted in a basket with a small jar of powdered sugar and nicely-tied baggie or small jar of cinnamon sugar)
Quick Bread Mix (with or without additions)
Cornbread Mix (just add in the 6 TBSP of corn meal – especially nice with a bean mix for soup or chile)
Tea-Time Coffee Cake Mix (throw in a sealed baggie with topping ingredients on top of the mix in the jar)
So you see with a little imagination giving a quality homemade gift does not have to be overly costly or time-consuming. You can feel good about giving gifts to everyone on your list without stressing yourself or breaking the budget.
You can find both an easy all-purpose baking mix suitable for these and many other recipes and a variety of other equally good jar mix recipes for Christmas gifts (or just healthier, more affordable pantry-stocking!) in Make-Ahead Mix Day: Complete Recipes and Instructions for On-Hand Homemade Quick Mixes. It’s available for Kindle and compatible eReader apps as well as in a downloadable PDF.
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Of course all the recipes are there ready to be printed, too, but the biggest advantage of the printable Companion PDF, and the sole reason it was designed and made available, is to deliver to you an easy-to-use set of labels for every homemade mix recipe in the book. When it comes time to actually use your mix and bake your goodies, you don’t want to have to go searching for the instructions.
Convenience is the first motivation behind the book, and convenience is what you have with your shelves stocked with wholesome, homemade baking mixes complete with labels and instructions. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll get!
These labels couldn’t be easier to use – just print them on your printer, trim the circle with any old pair of scissors (old school!?) and they will fit between the lid and the ring on two-piece canning jar lids. No need to glue them, and they if you save them when you use your mix you can use the same labels again and again.
Ready to buy the PDF? You’ll find all the Make-Ahead Mix Day purchasing options here:
One of my family’s favorite Bisquick recipes that I make with my homemade all-purpose baking mix is this one for Beer Batter Chicken Nuggets. I made it as a weekend treat one Saturday and it’s become a fast favorite. I was actually surprised by that because my husband is no fan of fried foods, but this one he loves. So it’s got to be good, right?
This recipe can be pretty quick to prepare (although the deep frying takes some time, I won’t lie). The batter itself is extremely easy to make with the homemade bisquick mix recipe here on this site (see link above). If you buy boneless chicken breasts and cut them to size it’ll be fairly short work. Here on the homestead, though, we try to use as much of our own home-grown meat as possible. We process and freeze between 60 and 80 meat birds every year so when I make these I bone out and chunk up the meat from some of my own. When I do this I use the whole bird – light and dark meat all goes into the mix and comes out delicious.
You, of course, should use whatever you prefer. Even if you do not have your own home-grown chicken on hand, buying a roaster and boning/cutting off the meat will still save you a lot of money and will give you a big batch for much less. Don’t worry about making too much, either. I’ve never had leftovers go past the next day, they reheat easily and deliciously in the oven, and once cooked they would be great to freeze and reheat later, too…a great make-ahead convenience treat!
A sure family favorite that will leave you shunning freezer-aisle chicken nuggets.
2 to 3 pounds Chicken, cut into approx 1½ inch cubes (or approximate shapes)
1 Cup Homemade All Purpose Baking Mix or Bisquick
½ Cup Beer
¼ to ½ tsp Garlic Powder (to taste)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Beat egg slightly, then add beer.
Add egg and beer mixture to measured baking mix.
Stir to combine, until most of the lumps are gone.
Cut chicken to desired size and add to wet batter mixture as you go.
Let chicken chunks stay in the batter until you are ready to fry.
Heat shortening, lard, or cooking oil in a deep frying pan or dutch oven.
When oil is ready, add chicken chunks and fry until golden brown, turning when the first side is browned (about 3 minutes in 365 degree fat).
I generally do a lot of nuggets when I do make these, and I usually triple or even quadruple the batch. If you are planning to bone a roaster, plan for one recipe of batter for each whole bird you bone out (so if I bone 3 of my birds, I triple the batter batch). If the chickens you bone are large, you may need a triple batch of batter for every 2 birds. (No worries, though, it’s simple to mix up a bit more batter if you think you need more–takes just a minute!).
These chicken nuggets are also an excellent base for sauces either for dipping (we like honey mustard barbecue sauce) or to coat with for things like Buffalo Chicken Nuggets or Chinese foods like Sweet and Sour Chicken or General’s Chicken (just add sauce & accompaniments & toss).
As always, I hope you do enjoy!
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