Easy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Do you still make the boxed kind of Mac & Cheese? We did for the longest time. It was just so quick and easy to pick it up at the store and fix it as a quick side dish or a something for the kids to eat. But then I started to think about all the extra preservatives and colors in there … and let’s face it, that yellow powder that comes with the box kind is not cheese.

I started playing around with some homemade recipes and came up with this version.

The recipe is from the Homemade Convenience Food eBook.

Macaroni and Cheese
  • 1½ cups elbow macaroni
  • • 1½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • • 3 Tbsp butter, cut up into little pieces
  • • ½ cup milk
  • • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil macaroni until it is just tender, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray.
  3. After draining macaroni, pour ½ macaroni into casserole dish. Arrange ½ of the pieces of butter on top of the macaroni, then top with ½ of the shredded cheese. Repeat layers again. Pour milk over the top and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes.
  5. No more need for boxed mixes. This is just as easy, if not easier; you don't have to stand and stir a pot.

While this takes a little time, it is well worth it. If you are in a hurry, just boil some pasta, drain it, put it in a bowl and add a little butter and grated cheese. Stir it all up and serve. It’s not as good as the recipe above, but much tastier and healthier than the box kind.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese dinner with noodles



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Creamy Queso Dip

Since the last two recipes were so well received, I thought I’d share another one from the “My Best Dip Recipes” cookbook with you.

This one is always a big hit at potlucks and of course when you have a bunch of people over to watch the ballgame. It’s a delicious and flavorful cheese dip. Cheese, sausage, tomatoes and more cheese … what’s not to love.

Don’t tell anyone, but we’ve also had this for dinner. Yep… it’s that good.

By the way, if you’re not a big fan of cream of mushroom soup, feel free to substitute any other flavor or make your own “Cream of Anything Soup Mix“.

Queso Dip Recipe
  • 1 (32 oz.) package Velveeta Cheese, cubed
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (10 oz.) can Rotel
  1. Brown sausage, drain and set aside.
  2. Add cream cheese and Velveeta to a crock pot. Pour in the cream of mushroom soup and Rotel, stir. Turn the crock pot on low setting for an hour. Then add the sausage and continue cooking, stirring as needed, until all ingredients are well combined and creamy.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips.


Bowl of  queso dip and nachos

Ready for more delicious dip recipes? Take a look at the “My Best Dip Recipes” Kindle Cookbook for lots of yummy recipes including:My Best Dip Recipes

  • Artichoke and Spinach Dip
  • Bacon Cheeseburger Dip
  • Bacon Ranch Dip
  • Horseradish and Cheddar Spread
  • Cheesy Chili Dip
  • Creamy BLT Dip
  • Pumpkin Dip
  •  Queso Dip
  • Creamy Bell Pepper Dip
  • Cucumber Dill Dip
  • Shrimp Dip
  • Fruit Dip
  • Tuna Cheese Spread
  • White Pizza Dip

Honey Mustard Dip Recipe

Since it’s Football season (and Friday), I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes from the “My Best Dip Recipes” cookbook with y’all today.

This dip is great with cut up veggies, but to be honest, I love it with some fresh baked pretzels.

Or try making up a batch to use as a chicken dip, add to your hot dogs, or go all out and make some pretzel dogs. Yum!

Honey Mustard Dip
  • ¼ cup spicy brown mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Whisk together mustard, honey and mayonnaise in a small bowl until well combined. Transfer to a covered bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.



Honey Mustard Dip and a Pretzel Dog

Ready for more delicious dip recipes? Take a look at the “My Best Dip Recipes” Kindle Cookbook for lots of yummy recipes including:My Best Dip Recipes

  • Artichoke and Spinach Dip
  • Bacon Cheeseburger Dip
  • Bacon Ranch Dip
  • Horseradish and Cheddar Spread
  • Cheesy Chili Dip
  • Creamy BLT Dip
  • Pumpkin Dip
  •  Queso Dip
  • Creamy Bell Pepper Dip
  • Cucumber Dill Dip
  • Shrimp Dip
  • Fruit Dip
  • Tuna Cheese Spread
  • White Pizza Dip

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

It’s September and that means Fall’s almost here and it’s time for all thinks pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavored.

I don’t know what it is about the end of summer, but even though it’s still hot outside, I’m in the mood for that fall flavor. I can’t wait to have my first pumpkin spice latte and bake up some pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie. Yum!

The base of it all is of course one of the handiest spice mixes around – the pumpkin pie spice. I used to get one or two large spice containers of this stuff and use it throughout the fall and winter. I finally realized that it would be just as easy and much cheaper to mix it at home.

It’s great sprinkled in coffee or hot chocolate. I mix it into my oatmeal and of course bake with it.

Another great idea is to sprinkle a little of this mix into your freshly carved pumpkin before you light it. It smells wonderful.

Ready to mix up a batch of this yourself? Just get some good fresh spices, mix them up and store them in an air-tight container. I just use an old glass spice bottle that I cleaned really well.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
  • ⅓ cup ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg or mace
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  1. Mix all spices and store them in an airtight container.


Homemade Pumpkin PIe Spice Mix

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Do you need a quick appetizer recipe that’s sure to impress? Oh and did I mention that it smells absolutely delicious. This dip is quick to put together and you an keep everything you need in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Perfect for unexpected guests and the holidays when you’re busy cooking other stuff.

Just throw this together, stick it in the oven and you’re good to go.

The recipe is from my latest Kindle Cookbook “My Best Dip Recipe” available on Amazon.com.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been known to have this with some crackers or veggies for dinner. Nothing like snacks for supper when you’re by yourself.

Artichoke and Spinach Dip
  • 1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 10 oz. prepared alfredo sauce
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix together parmesan cheese, ½ of the mozzarella cheese, cream cheese and alfredo sauce until well combined. Add in pepper, garlic, spinach and artichokes, stir well.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  4. Cook for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
  5. Serve with pita strips, crackers or use as a bread topper.


Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Homemade Creole Seasoning

I love making my own seasoning mixes. Not only do they allow me to tweak things to my family’s liking, I can also make sure all ingredients are fresh and of course it’s a lot cheaper to mix your own than to buy prepared mixes.

This creole seasoning mix couldn’t be simpler. It’s great for seasoning rice, soups,stews and meat dishes. My husband also loves to use it on chicken and pork when he’s grilling.

Creole Seasoning Mix
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  1. Mix all ingredients and store them in an airtight container. Use them to season your dishes to taste.


Creole Seasoning being sprinkled into a chicken dish

Homemade Pizza Bread

We’ve had pizza bread for dinner around here for as long as I can remember. We’ve made it with toast, English Muffins, tortilla pizza etc. My  personal favorite though is French Bread Pizza. My friend Christine – The Menu Mom was kind enough to share this recipe with us.

French Bread Pizza
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 loaf French bread
  • ½ C pizza sauce
  • 1-2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
  • favorite pizza toppings
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice a loaf of French bread in half, and arrange the halves on a cookie sheet. Brush a small amount of olive oil on each half of bread, and bake for 4-5 minutes until lightly golden.
  2. Spread ¼ C of pizza sauce on each half of the bread, and sprinkle each half with ¼-1/2 C mozzarella. Arrange your favorite pizza toppings on top of the cheese. Top with remaining mozzarella.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.


For the pizza bread below I used some leftover spaghetti meat sauce and sliced up some roma tomatoes. These are great for using up left overs.

French bread pizza with hamburger pepperoni tomato and melted cheese

Onion Ring Recipe

I love fall. It’s getting cooler and of course there’s football. I’m not the worlds biggest fan, but it’s nice to curl up on the couch with my husband to watch the game. A few weeks ago he mentioned that he missed hanging out with a beer and an order of onion rings to watch the game, I decided to make up a batch for us. It took some trial and error, but I finally came up with something that’s just as good as the onion rings you get at your favorite pub or sports bar.

Homemade Onion Rings
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 1 to 2 onions
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • salt
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. Start by heating the oil. You can use a deep fryer or a sturdy pot and a thermometer. Heat the oil to 365 F. If you don't have a thermometer, you can heat the oil over medium heat and once the better is ready, drop a little bit of it in the oil. If it fries up quickly, bubbles and turns golden brown it's the right heat.
  2. While the oil is heating, slice the onions into thick slices. About ¼ of an inch is good. Separate them into rings.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Drop each onion ring in the flour mixture and turn it over to make sure it is well coated. Set the onion rings aside.
  4. Mix the egg and milk in with the flour and stir everything together to form a smooth batter.
  5. Dip each onion ring into the batter. I use a fork for this. Let any excess batter drip off, then coat the onion ring in bread crumbs. From there gently side the onion ring into the hot oil and work on the next one.
  6. Keep an eye on the onion ring that's frying. You want to let it go for about a minute and then flip it over and fry it for another minute or so. When the onion ring is golden brown, take it out of the oil and set it on a plate lined with paper towels.
  7. Keep frying the onion rings a few at a time until the whole batch is done. Sprinkle them with a little salt and serve right away.



Sweet Hot Dog Relish

Is there anything better than a nice hot dog fresh of the grill? It’s one of my favorite cookout things. Plus it’s frugal and easy to make. To me though what makes the dog is the toppings. You need some good mustard, a little ketchup and of course some relish. While the stuff from the store will do in a pinch, this homemade version is so much better. Make up a batch and put it out at your next cookout.

Sweet Hot Dog Relish
Recipe type: Condiment
  • 5 cucumbers
  • 2 onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Start by cutting off the ends of your cucumber. Then cut it in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice and chop the cucumber into very small chunks and scoop them into a glass bowl.
  2. Dice the onion and bell pepper into very small chunks and add them to the bowl as well. Add the salt and stir. Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge for a day. The salt will pull some of the moisture out of the veggies.
  3. Pour the veggies into a fine strainer or line a colander with cheese cloth (or a paper towel in a pinch). Let the salt water drain off, then rinse them with plenty of cold water. Let the water drain out and give the veggies a good squeeze to get as much liquid out as possible. The cheese cloth comes in handy here, but it works just fine without too.
  4. Get out a small bowl or a glass measuring cup (the 2 cup kind with the spout and handle... it makes pouring easy) and whisk the corn starch and vinegar together with a large fork. Add the spices and the sugar. Pour it into a medium sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir it quite a big while it's heating to dissolve all the sugar. Add the veggies and simmer everything for 10 minutes.
  5. Allow the relish to cool and scoop it into containers. I keep mine in the fridge. Unopened they last about 3 months. Once the relish is open, we do our best to use it up within 2 to 3 weeks.


Homemade Seasoning Salt

I love using a seasoning salt like what’s sold in stores as Lawry’s Seasoned salt, but I prefer to make my own. Not only is it more frugal, it also allows me to control all ingredients. That means that I know exactly what it is I’m sprinkling on my family’s food and I can control how much of each item goes into the mix (adjusting it for our personal taste and health requirements).

It only takes a few minutes to mix together your own seasoning salt. I recommend you start out with a small batch and tweak it to your own liking. Write down any adjustments you’ve made and then mix up a big batch and store it in a clean, airtight container. I keep mine in a mason jar, transferring what I need into a smaller spice jar that stays close to my stove for cooking.

I sprinkle this particular mixture on pork chops, steaks, and chicken.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Homemade Seasoning Salt
Recipe type: Spice Mix
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp corn starch
  1. Add each ingredient to a clean bowl. I use a glass measuring cup to make it easy to pour the finished mixture out later.
  2. Mix everything until it is well combined and transfer it to a spice jar.

You can easily make this in larger batches.


Spinach and Pasta

I love simple dishes that can be trown together in minutes. This particular one  is healthy and perfect for those days when you’re eating a little healthier and cutting out meat. It’s also quite frugal. Feel free to use any cheese you like with this dish.

This recipe comes from my good friend Christine – The Menu Mom. I highly recommend her meal planning service.

Spinach Pasta Toss

  • 1 can  (14-1/2 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups  multi-grain penne pasta, uncooked
  • 1 cup  water
  • 1 pkg.  (9 oz.) baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup  Italian cheese

Spinach pastaBring tomatoes, pasta and water to boil in large saucepan; stir. Cover; simmer on medium-low heat 10 min. or just until pasta is tender.

Add half the spinach; simmer, covered, 2 min. or just until wilted. Stir. Repeat with remaining spinach.

Serve topped with cheese.

Bill’s Classic North Carolina Style BBQ Sauce

I’ve often said that if the soldiers had tasted some of the recipes here on the Hillbilly Housewife, the only civil war would have been over seconds at meal time.

Here’s a North Carolina style barbecue sauce that is easy to make and will keep them coming back for more.

Bill’s Barbecue Sauce Recipe

4 cups cider vinegar
1 cup whiskey (optional-Old Grandad works well in this recipe if you do include it)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cup ketchup (Heinz is best)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 Tblsp Tabasco or generic
2 Tblsp lemon juice
2 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp corn starch

barbecueBring it slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook longer if thicker sauce is what you prefer. Allow to cool and refrigerate. Will keep for months, if you have any left, that is.

Serving size: 1 large bottle

Great on ribs or pulled pork: use 12oz of peach or apple wood in your charcoal to smoke the meat…makes one heavenly, frugal, bbq meal!

This recipe was submitted by reader William Wilson. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe Bill.

Freezer Pie Crust Dough

There are a lot of ways to use up leftovers, but one of the best ways I know is making a Pot Pie.  Why?  Because the leftovers are almost unrecognizable in a golden brown, flaky pie crust!

It seems that no matter what ingredients I have on hand, when I remember I have pie crust dough in the freezer, I immediately know what to make.  And no one has complained yet.  Yes, I think we can credit the golden flaky crusts.

Of course, having the pie crusts ready and waiting in the freezer is also inspiration for dessert.  If you freeze fruit or berries, too, you can reach into the freezer in the morning and have a delicious pie cooling in the kitchen to enjoy after dinner.

Give this simple recipe a try, stock your freezer, and let me know if having pie crust dough ready when you want it helps you plan and prepare meals and desserts.

Freezer Pie Crust Dough
Recipe type: freezer, dessert, pie
Serves: makes 2 crusts
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 4 to 5 Tbsp ice water
  • plastic food wrap
  • 2 freezer bags
  1. Place the sifted flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl, add the shortening and cut in with a pastry cutter until mixture become crumbly.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the ice water at a time to the dough mixture and toss with a fork, add 1 tablespoon more, toss with a fork, until a dough forms that sticks together when pressed between your fingers.
  3. Form a dough ball, then divide it in half, reform the ball, and flatten slightly.
  4. Wrap each dough ball with plastic wrap, then place each in freezer bag, zip to seal.
  5. You can keep the dough in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  6. When ready to use, remove from freezer and allow to come to room temperature, then remove from plastic bag and wrap and roll out as desired.

If for any reason plans change and you don’t use the thawed pie crust dough right away, go ahead and store it in the refrigerator.  It will keep for about a week more.  Just wrap tightly again in the plastic wrap and freezer bag.

Uncooked Pie Crust

Strawberry Pineapple Freezer Jam

When strawberries are in season, I am always on the look-out for new recipes to use this family favorite.

We have plenty of regulars, even another strawberry freezer jam, but this recipe offers a little surprise – pineapple.  The flavors complement each other so well, and the texture is incredible.

If you’re looking for a new freezer jam to make with your strawberries, give this one a try.  I think you’ll be pleased.

Strawberry Pineapple Freezer Jam
Recipe type: fruit, jam, freezer
  • 1 to 2 pints fresh strawberries, washed, drained, and hulled
  • 2½ cups fresh pineapple, peeled and finely chopped
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 2 pkgs (1¾ oz) powdered pectin
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 pint size freezer containers with lids
  1. Place strawberries in a large mixing bowl and crush them with a potato masher. You'll use between 1 and 2 pints to get the 2½ cups needed for jam, depending on the size of the strawberries.
  2. Measure out 2½ cups strawberries and place in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the pineapple to the measured strawberries.
  4. Slowly add the sugar and stir until well combined.
  5. Place the cold water in a saucepan over medium heat and add the pectin.
  6. Stir continuously until water begins to boil; boil 1 minute, then remove from heat.
  7. Pour the water mixture into the fruit and stir well to combine; continue stirring 4 minutes.
  8. Pour into pint canning jars or freezer containers; cover.
  9. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours, then put in freezer.
  10. Jam will be just fine in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  11. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and allow to come to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  12. Always cover and refrigerate any uneaten portions; use within 3 to 4 weeks.


Chicken Teriyaki Marinade Recipe

You can buy Teriyaki marinade at the store, but I much prefer to make my own. Here’s the one I use anytime I make chicken teriyaki from scratch. It makes enough for one recipe and I recommend you prepare this fresh each time. If you want to work ahead, you can mix up the marinade and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days before using it.

•    1/3 cup soy sauce
•    1/3 cup water
•    ¼ cup sake
•    ¼ cup mirin
•    3 tbsp sugar
•    1 tsp grated ginger

Whisk everything together in a bowl. I like to use a fork for this. Sake and mirin are both a bit of a specialty item that give this marinade it’s authentic taste. You can easily substitute a little water and some more sugar (since mirin is sweet), or use a dash of Sherry or Marsala instead.

You can use this marinade in any recipe that calls for Teriyaki sauce. I mostly use it in chicken dishes, but it’s great for marinating pork too.

This homemade version is tastier and even with the investment in sake and fresh ginger less expensive in the long run than the store-bought versions. You can make it even more frugal (though not quite as tasty) with these modifications:

  • Replace the Sake and mirin with a little water and sugar… you may also want to add a dash of vinegar or lemon juice to add acidity.
  • Use powdered ginger instead of fresh.

How To Use The Teriyaki Marinade

You can use this marinade in any recipe that calls for Teriyaki sauce. I like to marinate chicken for at least an hour in it before either stir-frying it, cooking it in the oven or grilling it. As I mentioned above, you can also use it to marinate and season pork or even vegetables. It’s yummy brushed on veggies while you grill or roast them as well.

Discard any leftover marinade immediately or use it during the cooking process.