Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Semi-Homemade is A-OK

Does anyone remember watching Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee?  Glen and I used to love watching that show - we got a lot of fun ideas.  We also used to like watching Rachel Ray - 30 Minute Meals back in the day!  I liked seeing anything that made cooking seem a little less complicated and fun!

It really doesn't have to be complicated at all.  Going semi-homemade is totally fine.  Not everything has to be 100% from scratch.  We all need a break now and then.  I think people are cooking more at home right now and maybe getting burned out a bit.  Have fun.  Use some mixes, canned goods, and packaged goods to jazz things up and speed up your cooking time.

I have given many ideas of meals using packages of Stove Top stuffing over time.  I had a few boxes I got on clearance and use them in different ways.  Add meat and/or veggies - maybe some eggs and/or cheese and make a casserole.  Add leftover meat/vegs and make patties to fry.  Use in a waffle iron and make stuffing waffles (crunchy outside & soft inside).  So may uses.

  • You can use corn muffin mix to make casseroles and fun fall dishes for kids and family.  Corn dog muffins and corn dog casserole are both yummy (see post of Sept. 17, 2019).   I like making corn casserole around special occasions using corn bread mix and canned corn.  Add chopped jalapenos to mix and make tangy corn bread.
  • Gravy in jars (always have on hand) great for coating meat in a crockpot to add flavor.  It works great for thickening soup or stews and adds flavor.  So many uses other than gravy.
  • Bean and rice mixes or dirty rice mixes - good as they are  - BUT, add ground meat and make it a meal.  Use these as soup starters - I do this a lot.  Add extra water/broth  and lots of veggies and meat and you get a nice tangy soup.
  • Cake mixes can make quick cookies.  Can be used to make a fun quick bread.  Sometimes you just need a cake in a pinch.  You can always add other ingredients and jazz it up.  Dump cakes are fun - fruit on bottom, cake mix, and butter & nuts on top - bake!  Ooey gooey yummy cake!
  • Never dismiss those flavor packets for making cheeseballs.  I receive a few of these each year as gifts.  Add to cream cheese or sour cream and make great spreads for cracker or bread.  Add to cream cheese and make fancy grilled cheese sammies!
  • Ramen soups (I know - not good for you) are always fun.  Not the healthiest thing in the pantry, but it is cheap.  The packs can be fancied up in so many ways, that you would never know that it is Ramen.  (see post of June 18,2019 for Cheap Eats) & (post of Mar.3, 2019 for Ramen salad).  Noodles can be made (w/o season pack) and used in any Chinese dish.  Sure makes for cheap pasta!
  • Keep canned meats on hand.  It is always wise to have all sorts of canned meats in the pantry.  Great in case power goes out - you have protein you can eat.  But nice to add to a pasta, rice, beans or a quick casserole.  No defrosting, easy to use, tastes good and plain old handy to have. 
  • REAL bacon bits are always, always, always in my pantry/frig.  So useful.  I don't always feel like making a mess frying or baking bacon - these sure are handy.  Great on top of a salad.  Great in cheeseballs or cheese spreads.  Super on pizza.  Top any cheesy topped casserole with bacon bits!  There is just something about the taste of cheese and bacon together for me!
  • Cinnamon rolls can be used in many ways.  You can use in making money bread.  Spread fruit or pie filling in a greased pan and top with  chunks of cinnamon rolls and bake.  Make them in a waffle iron - what a fun and yummy waffle that makes!!!!!  Place one roll per section of a muffin tin - press up sides (to look like a pie crust) and fill with pie filling - bake.  YUM.  There is no limit to fun ideas
  • Crescent rolls - quick and flakey pigs in a blanket!  Unroll each and add anything you want before rolling up - wedge of cheese, chocolate chips, fruit, etc.  Roll and bake.  Leave the rolls together (a solid sheet) and place over a homemade thickened stew for a yummy pot pie.
1 can Grands refrigerated biscuits (10)
6 Tbsp. butter - melted
3/4 C sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (mix with sugar)
1/3 C raspberry jelly (or favorite flavor)
Bake biscuits as package directs.  Remove from oven and immediately dip in butter and cover all sides and then roll in cinnamon sugar.  With a turkey baster - add jelly to the middle of the biscuit (insert in the side).  Oh my goodness!!!!!!!

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 small onion chopped
3/4 C ketchup
2 Tbsp. chopped dill pickle
salt - pepper
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 Refrigerated pie crust (softened at room temp)

Heat oven to 450*.
Cook beef and onion till done.  Drain well.  Reduce heat and add in ketchup and pickle and seasoning.  Heat 2-3 minutes.
Place mixture in an ungreased pie pan.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Top with pie crust.  Cut slits for steam.
Bake 13 - 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  During the last 10 minutes of baking cover the crust edges with foil strips to prevent it getting too dark. 

Don't use the notion, that you are burned out - for not cooking.  Look in the pantry and frig - and use what you have in a new way!
I am a huge semi-homemade cook.  
Have fun and get creative.  Look at ingredients with new eyes.  You will be glad you did.

**Sorry I had to just list dates for previous posts that contain recipes.  I am not sure how to do links - still working on that.  Hope the dates help you!!!!!



  1. I add slices of browned smoked sausage to red beans and rice mix and even did that for a meal for our neighbors once. She called the next day for the recipe and I had to fess up! She was so happy to hear how easy it was and could be a quick meal since all five of the kids loved it! Can cinnamon rolls are delicious made as sticky rolls and you can hardly tell they are not homemade!

    1. Love the ideas. SO many things you can do with the beans and rice mix. That sounds good.
      Mmmmmm stocky rolls.

  2. What a neat post! I think this kind of thinking keeps us all from eating out so often....or, not at all with Covid present. And each thing you mentioned was personalized and tweeked to make them very yummy and special.
    For an extremely quick meal, take a can of Chunky Soup and serve over noodles. Sirloin Beef was a favorite before I retired.
    Multi cans of beans and soup or tomatoes makes a wonderful crockpot soup.
    Cooked noodles, a package of refrigerated chipped beef sauteed in butter then add two three beaten eggs and cook til set up served with garlic toast. My kids used to beg for me to fix this.
    I really enjoy cooking from scratch but most weeks we eat all twenty-one meals at home. A little break with some convenience items like you mentioned keeps me enjoying the cooking.
    I would love to hear what others do also. I know I do lots of others but kinda blank at the moment. Usually I stick my head in the pantry or freezer and come up with these type of!

    1. Same here - I always eat at home. I am not picky at all. I am not a planner either - whatever sounds good.

      That noodle/beef over toast dinner sounds good. I have done that with the chunky soup and noodles or mashed potatoes.
      Heck even the Pioneer Woman has a 5 can dinner she fixes!!! Nothing wrong with mixing up things to make life easier!
      Thanks for the ideas.

  3. I'm being lazy this week. Last night, I grilled 3 burgers and 4 dogs. That's what I'm eating until they are gone. I have some lemon cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden for a bite of freshness.

    I have some cooked/chopped bacon in the freezer I can throw in an omelette or scrambles. (We have a local plant that packages 3# of bacon ends/bits and they are super cheap like $7ish, not always available. So last time I saw them, I bought 3 packs and oven cooked it. Defatted the big chunks and froze.)

    I'm among the "tired of cooking" crowd ;-)

    1. That all sounds fine and yummy to me. I often eat the same thing for several days. A little fresh veggie and I am good!
      That is a great price for the bacon pieces. I would get that all the time too if I could.
      Heck, we all get tired of it. That is why I often just have a sandwich!

  4. I remember Sandra Lee’s kitchen and the open shelves behind her that were decorated with a different theme every show- so pretty!
    I cook from scratch but I use store made too with zero guilt.

    1. Yes, her set was always so pretty! I cook from scratch too - but some days I like a little help!

  5. Cheryl you are such a star! What great ideas, really got me thinking. So many good ideas with what we have in the pantry already.
    Cookies from a cake mix sounds good, guess there might be instructions on the box?
    I will look up your recipes on previous posts.
    You are such a source of inspiration, please keep on posting.
    Thank you, Pam in TX.x

    1. I don't think the instructions are on the box - although it could be. Usually most take 2 eggs and 1/2 C soft butter or oil and a box of cake mix - bake 350*. You can add chips or nuts. Pretty easy and great way to use up all those extra cake mixes. I have made them dozens of times and they are good.
      It is always nice to have options! No need to color in the lines here!!!!!

  6. Good ideas. I don't like cookery programs nowadays as their ideas are too expensive and too complicated. One of my favourite tv cooks years ago was Delia Smith. I have her basic cookery book but she also wrote one with shortcut ideas using shop bought bits. Also Jack Munro wrote "tin can cook" recipes with canned goods mainly for people using food banks.

    1. Those sound like neat shows - never heard of either of them.
      I agree - many shows now use lots of fancy stuff and complicated stuff. I want normal, inexpensive and easy. The closest I see today is The Pioneer Woman and I like Girl Meets Farm. Both use basic pantry ingredients.
      I will look up Jim Munro. Thanks

  7. Those raspberry donuts sound so good. Thanks for the ideas

  8. I see there are Youtube videos for Tin Can Cook---will check them out!

    I loved this post, and ideas from everyone. My Mom used to make chipped beef gravy from the little jars of chipped beef and we loved it as kids. Served over toast or mashed potatoes. I think it used to be called S.O.S. too!!

    I make Pioneer Woman's 7-can soup all the time and love it. Dump in a pot: 1 can of each, undrained....chili no beans, corn, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, rotel, and diced tomatoes. Then cut up 1/2 lb Velveeta and simmer till melted (I use the Aldi brand called Cheese Melt.) I get all these cans from Aldi=very thrifty!! Makes about 10 servings. I freeze it in 2 cup glass Pyrex. Thaw and nuke 2 minutes. Eat from the same bowl!

    1. Thanks I will check out the You Tube. I still like chipped beef gravy and make it every once in a while.

      Glad to see I am not the only one who buys Aldi Velveeta! It is so good and much cheaper. I love it in any cheesy dish.
      The soup sounds yummy!

  9. Thank you for this post. I look forward to your posts and sure miss them the days you're not here!. Thanks for the ideas, I made a Dump cake last night so yummy!

    1. Aahhhh thank you. I would post every day - but run out of ideas! I try not to make this a diary kind of place - but one with info.
      Dump cake is so good and easy!

  10. These prepared items are a good jumping off point for something really yummy! On their own, not so great...

    1. yes indeed. Add a bit of this and that and you have something yummy and easy!

  11. great ideas! We make pigs in the blankets with the crescents but like biscuits better. We also have a recipe for Runza Casserole (cabbage, ground beef, onion, seasonings)that calls for the sheet of crescents on top for the crust. Very good.

  12. oh, my, goodness...why had I never thought to try biscuits that way!!!! I am thinking you could fill with something besides jelly even. Of course that is not what we need...but it sure sounds tempting. I would be fine with the butter and cinnamon sugar. That is just the best idea.

  13. Of course the one that sounds really good is the doughnut recipe using the Grands!