Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Surviving the Storehouse: Italian Chicken Soup

Soup sounds SO good to my tired, sick, stuffy-runny, coughing body right now!  I started running out of broth and needed to find more flavor options, so I came up with this recipe.  You can make it more Italian by adding the optional ingredients (and make it more nourishing!), but it's good without, too.

May it warm you body and soul!

Italian Chicken Soup

1 onion, diced small or sliced thin (diner's choice)
Butter
2-3 Chicken breasts
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can tomato juice -or- 3 1/2 cups broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional:
Cooked rice or pasta or diced potatoes (about 1 cup)
Oregano, basil, dried kale (1-2 Tbsp)
1 head garlic, peeled and pressed

In large soup or stock pot, saute onions in butter until transluscent.  Add chicken, tomatoes, and juice or broth (even water would work).  Also add potatoes if using and not cooked yet.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken and chop or shred.  Return chicken to pot.  Stir in rice or pasta, spices, and seasonings to taste.

A note on the garlic:  Fresh garlic is NOT expensive, and when you're sick, TOTALLY worth the small amount of money.  Garlic has fantastic immune boosting and sickness-fighting powers.  The closer you eat it to raw, the better.  However, I realize that might be too intense for some of my readers, and that's okay.  So if you are really sensitive to flavor, add the garlic with the onion.  Or you can add with chicken and tomatoes for a little more flavor.  Personally, I like to stir it in at the end, though that is not for the faint of heart.  Oh, and make sure your significant other has a little too, or they might not enjoy your company afterward. ;)

Bon appetit!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Surviving the Storehouse: Cream of Vegetable Soup

It's getting colder, or at least it's supposed to be.  Sunlight goes away, kids bring home every virus and bacteria they can find.  Winter is on the way!  And there's nothing more comforting, warming, and nourishing than soup!  This is one of my favorite ways to use the vegetables from the storehouse, because you can use practically anything, which helps for those mysterious in season vegetables you never know you're going to get until you get there (though there are some standards).  You can serve soup with rolls or crackers if you have them, but it's not necessary at all to have a delicious, filling meal.

Here's my number one go-to soup recipe:

Cream of Vegetable Soup

3 cups vegetables of your choice (Good options in any combination: potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, onions, green beans, corn, and sweet potatoes/yams and canned pumpkin for the holiday season specials)
1-2 chicken breasts (optional, but helps with the flavor if you don't have broth)
4-6 cups water or turkey broth (see, it's going to come in handy!)
2 cups milk or evaporated milk (if not using, use more water)
1/4 cup butter (optional, but SO yummy)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add vegetables, chicken and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through.  Remove from heat. 

Add some vegetables, 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time, with enough cooking liquid to help the blender do its job.  Continue to add more vegetables as the blender blends until all vegetables have been added (or your blender gets to full to do the job properly, then transfer to a bowl and start again with the rest of the veggies).  Return puree to pot over medium heat.  Add butter (if using) and enough water, broth, or milk to make it the consistency you desire.  Heat through, but do not boil if you used milk.  Season to taste. Serve hot.

If you happen to have leftovers, or you can tell this will make too much soup for your family to eat all at once, or you just want to store some extra for another rainy (or snowy) day, this freezes will prior to adding the milk.  Freeze it without and add the milk when you reheat it.

More soup recipes to come! (We've had a run of colds this week, thank goodness we have the turkey broth!)

Bon appetit!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Survivng the Storehouse: Thanksgiving Part 3: Leftovers

Sorry this is so late! We were having too much fun giving thanks! Ha ha ha.  If this doesn't help you for this year, I hope it helps for Christmas or whenever you cook a big bird again.

The first thing to do is use that turkey's dead bones to their utmost capacity!  This is your only chance to make broth to have on hand, and it is TOTALLY freezeable, or even can-able! (Not too be confused with cannibal... Hehehe...)

Turkey Broth

1 turkey
Water
Carrot, onion, celery, and/or garlic ends and trimmings and peels

Congratulations, you made it through dinner!  When you've recovered from your food coma, pick that bird clean of all meat.  Save it for later.

Take all those bones (even the ones from the legs and thighs that other people eat off of... You'll boil away the cooties) and put them in either a large stock pot or your handy dandy slow cooker.  Add any vegetables and/or trimmings you have on hand.  Cover with cold water and just a pinch of salt.  You'll flavor it more later, but a little helps pull out all the goodness from the bones.  Cover and bring to a boil in your stockpot, then turn it down to a simmer. If you're using a slow cooker (my favorite way), cover and set on low.  You can speed it up by putting it on high to start, but you must remember to check on it and turn it down! If you can't handle that, just use the low.

Check every hour or so.  When the liquid level starts to get lower, remove from heat and let cool a bit.  If you can fit it in the fridge, that's nice, or set in a cool room or the basement, covered.  When it's cool enough to go in a plastic freezer bag, do it!  Strain through a fine mesh strainer or think flour sack towel.  Use quart size bags for smaller recipes and gallon size for larger recipes and/or families.  Now return those bones and veggies to the pot, cover with more water, and do it again! Yes, you can use the bones more than once!  Sometimes, even TWICE.  You know you're done when the thickest bone falls apart when you squeeze it.

Use this wonderful, wholesome, healthy bone broth in soups, stews, gravies, or even just in a cup, seasoned with salt to taste.  Great for those colds and flus that go around this time of the year.


Turkey Tostadas/Haystacks
This is what we did this year.  Our leftovers only lasted one day.  Don't worry, I'll include other options!

Leftover cooked turkey
Leftover gravy
Hot cooked rice
Tostadas or corn tortillas (optional for haystacks)

Optional:
stuffing
cranberry sauce
cheese
sour cream

Chop up as much turkey as you need for your family.  Mix with the gravy.  Top each tostada with rice, then turkey mixture, then the other toppings as you desire (probably not all at once, but hey, to each their own).  If you like, you can broil them for a few minutes to heat them up or melt cheese or whatever.

Turkey Salad and Fried Mashed Potato Cakes

Leftover turkey, chopped
Sour cream or mayo
Chopped celery
Chopped onion
Spices on hand

Leftover mashed potatoes, chilled
Fat of choice (I prefer butter or sausage/bacon grease)

Mix it all together and turn yourself around... Oops, wrong directions! Ha ha ha. I like to add curry, but chili powder works well too, or just plain is fine.  I've also added chopped nuts and dried cranberries to this mixture with great success in past years.  Chill.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium high heat.  Form mashed potatoes into flat circles about the size of your hand/palm/preferred spatula-flipper.  Place on greased, heated skillet.  Let cook about 3-5 minutes or until browned on one side, then flip and do the hokey pokey again.  Just kidding.  Remove when browned, keep warm.  Top with turkey salad. Enjoy!


Leftovers Shepherd's Pie (also good for leftover pot roasts)

Leftover turkey
Leftover mashed potatoes
Leftover gravy
Cheese
Leftover stuffing and vegetables (optional)

Combine turkey and gravy, and vegetables if you're using them.  Add more liquid if necessary (where's that broth? make more gravy!).  Pour into baking pan, top with stuffing then mashed potatoes, then sprinkle cheese on top.  Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, covered. 


 Still have some turkey? Try this last recipe:

Turkey Enchiladas

Leftover cooked turkey
Corn tortillas
Tomato sauce (2-3 14 oz cans)
Chili powder (if you have it)
Black olives, chopped (if you have some leftover, I don't!)
Cheese (about 1 cup, more if you REALLY like cheese)

Sides and toppings:
Hot cooked rice
Pinto beans
Chopped lettuce
Sour cream
Salsa

Chop turkey.  Soften tortillas in micro, a stack of 10 takes about 1 minute.  Put a couple tablespoons turkey into each tortilla, roll and place seam side down in a baking dish.  Mix chili powder with tomato sauce if you're using it.  When dish is full, pour tomato sauce over the top, sprinkle with olives and cheese, cover and bake in a 325 F oven for 30-45 minutes.  Serve hot with rice and beans (topped with more cheese!) and sour cream, salsa, and lettuce on the side.  It's just like the restaurants, I promise!

Hopefully this gives you some ideas of what to do with all that food!  And I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Surviving the Storehouse: Thanksgiving Part 2 Sides

What is a turkey without sides? A flat turkey.

Ha ha ha. Just kidding. But it IS pretty boring.

The storehouse provides cranberry sauce, olives, and pumpkin for the gluten free among us.  Cranberry sauce and olives are self-explanatory (I think... I hope!).  The pumpkin can be used with other storehouse ingredients to make a wonderful pumpkin custard, which is what you would put in a pie shell.  I will admit that my family splurges a little on this holiday and gets some all-purpose gluten-free flour for pie crusts, rolls, and stuffing.  And cornstarch for gravy.  It IS a holiday after all.  But whether you can splurge or not, you can still have a wonderful feast!

Here are a few recipes for my favorite sides on a storehouse budget.

Mashed Potatoes

2-3 medium russet or large red potatoes per person
Salt
Butter (at least 1/2 cup)
Milk
Sour cream (optional)

Cut the potatoes into chunks, quarters or sixths should be fine.  You can peel if you want.  I don't usually, because it is more work (I don't have time for that!) and the peel has nutrition in it. But for special occasions, I often will peel them.  Bring to a boil in an appropriately sized pot with about 1/2-1 tsp salt per person.  Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the chunks break apart when you poke them with a fork.  Drain.

Put the pot back on the burner on the lowest setting.  Add back the chunks, top with butter. Start mashing.  If it is a particularly large batch (like I have to do ALL the time, ha!), it helps to start mashing half, and then add the rest when you've got the first half mostly mashed. 

One fun way to mash potatoes is with a mixer.  A stand mixer works best, as it has the most power, but I've used electric beaters with success as well.  To do it this way, put the hot potatoes in your mixer bowl or a large mixing bowl and start the machine on low speed.  When they break apart, add the butter.  When that seems well incorporated, add milk to your desired consistency.  This is hard to quantify because it depends on the potatoes and how much butter you use and lots of other things.  But just add a couple tablespoonfuls at a time.  When everything is added, turn up the speed to the highest you can manage without either killing your machine or splattering the taters everywhere.  Voila! Creamy, smooth mashed potatoes.  Salt to taste, or leave the salting to the diner.


Au Jus

Meat drippings
Salt to taste

If you can't get any gluten free thickener, you can make a concentrated juice that is also delicious.

Strain the juice and meat drippings through a fine mesh sieve if you can.  Pour into saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Let boil until the volume is about half of what you had to start.  Season to taste, and serve with your meat and potatoes and anything else you want to put it on. He he he.

Pumpkin Custard

I cheat and use the recipe on the can!  I did, however, lose the label once, so for good measure, I'll type it up here.  All credit goes to the brand on the can. *Non-storehouse ingredient, and quite optional

4 eggs, beaten
1 29 oz can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp ginger *
1/2 tsp cloves *
2 12 oz cans evaporated milk
2 pie shells *

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Mix ingredients in order given and pour into pie shells (*or any baking dish you desire without a crust).  Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. *Another recipe I've used just has you bake it at 375 degrees F for an hour.  This might be better for the busier crowd.  Do what works for you.

Yummy with ice cream!!!

Bon appetit! And happy Thanksgiving!  Tune in Friday for some great ideas for leftovers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Surviving the Storehouse: Thanksgiving Part 1 Turkey

Nothing says Thanksgiving more (to me at least) than a delicious, crunchy-skinned, tender and moist meat turkey.  Mmm...

Not sure how to handle a turkey?  No problem! Here's how I cook my bird; it comes out flavorful and juicy EVERY TIME!

Turkey

1 turkey of your size and choice (I'm on the Storehouse brand)
1 cup butter (softened) or oil (not as yummy, but doable)
1 Tbsp salt
Any herbs/spices you might have laying around (I like garlic powder, sage, oregano, and even basil)
Uncooked stuffing (optional)
Carrots, celery, onion, cut in chunks (double if not using stuffing)

Make sure your bird is thaw!  This can take a few days in the fridge, or overnight in a water-in-the-sink kind of deal.  Otherwise your hands are going to be VERY cold... Brrr!

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.  Take half of your vegetables and place in the bottom of your roasting pan.  On a cookie sheet, place your bird, starting with breast up.  Wash your hands!

Mix up your butter, herbs, spices, and salt.  I love using my hands for this; they're going to be messy in a bit anyway!

Go back to your turkey.  You're going to separate the skin from the meat.  Take off all your rings and bracelets.  Wear gloves if you have a sketchy nail polish job, or better, remove it entirely!  Nail polish flecks are not good eats.  Also, take out any timer that might have come with your bird. You can stick it back in later if you like.

Starting at the neck, carefully lift up the skin and break the mucousy stuff that connects the skin to the meat.  Keep your fingers close to the meat so you don't puncture the skin.  Work all the way back to the legs, then do the legs! Don't worry about getting your whole arm in there... Once separated, the skin is VERY stretchy and flexible. It can take it!  When you've separated all the skin from the breast, thighs and legs, flip the bird over and do the back side the same way.  If having your entire forearm under turkey skin freaks you out, you can often come from the tail end for part of the process.

Once you've separated all the skin, it's time to butter up Old Tom!  Take a few fingerfuls of the butter mixture and put it on the meat under the skin.  Get it all over under there.  When you're done with the backside, flip it back over and to the top side.  When that's done, take your greasy hands, and give that bird a massage on top of the skin.  Now take either your stuffing or the rest of your veggies and stuff them inside the old bird.  Not too tight with the stuffing! You want it to cook all the way through. You can put the timer back in if you want.

Now stick that bird in the oven!  Check on it in an hour or so.  When it's browned, you'll want to tent it with foil.  Then leave it in until the time is up, or your timer pops, or the thermometer reads the right temperature (follow the directions on the wrapper, or look it up online!).

When Tom's all cooked, set him out on a platter on a counter to rest a bit. (Being cooked is exhausting!)  Strain the cooking juice through a fine mesh strainer or possibly a flour sack towel, and start making that gravy (recipe to follow).  Toss the veggies, unless they look really appetizing to you.  Pull out the stuffing and keep it warm in the oven.  When the bird has rested 30-45 minutes, you can start carving.  I like to pre-carve as much as possible so I can just concentrate on eating.

Watch how the bird drips with juice as you cut through. Taste the moist white meat, and the tender and extra flavorful dark meat.  Best bird ever!  Give thanks, and enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Surviving the Storehouse: BBQ Pork

Mmmmm...

Barbecue...

Tender, juicy meat surrounded by sweet, tangy, spicy sauce.

Think you have to go without when living from the Storehouse?

Think again!

I won't pretend this is the BEST EVER barbecue, mostly because that is pure opinion, but it is pretty darn good!

P. S. I had to triple this recipe to feed my family for two meals, but it still worked out deliciously!

Storehouse BBQ Pork

1 pork roast (I'd guess around 3-4 pounds, for you non-storehouse people)
1 cup catsup
1/2 cup honey or brown sugar
3 Tbsp yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook your roasts in a slow cooker or in an oven set at 200 degrees F for at least 12 hours.  When it is fork tender, remove from oven or slow cooker and transfer to large pot.  Add sauce ingredients.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 hours.  Shred pork with forks and cook for 2 hours longer.  Stir well and serve hot.  It's delicious by itself or over rice or on a tortilla. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Surviving the Storehouse: Sauerkraut

 Cabbage is delicious!  I hope you're starting to feel that way now, at least.  One fabulous way to preserve and eat this under-appreciated veggie is to ferment it. Fermented cabbage is called sauerkraut.

Oh, and don't turn up your nose if the only kind you've ever tried is the canned stuff from the store.  Homemade is a totally different animal!  Also, fermented is good for your gut, you know, helps your digestion processes... Ahem.  And your gut will need the help after you eat all of your kids' Halloween candy.

Sauerkraut

1 head cabbage
2-3 Tbsp salt (your favorite kind)

Optional:
Carrots
Onions
Garlic

You'll also need:
Wide mouth Mason jars with lids and rings (old are fine)

Shred cabbage finely.  In large bowl layer cabbage and salt.  If using other vegetables, layer those in, too.  Using a meat tenderizer, thick handled ice cream scoop, plastic wrapped can, or your husband's hammer, pound away on that sucker for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage is limp and has released most of its juice.  Spoon into jars, pounding down as you go.  You should have enough to fill 2 quart size jars to full, and maybe have some left over, all depending on the size of the cabbage.  Press the cabbage down until it is all under the juice. Add a little extra water if necessary.  Secure lid firmly, and place in a warm spot away from sunlight for 3-7 days.  You'll have to experiment with how fermented you want your sauerkraut.  The uninitiated will probably want to stick with 3 days. 

After the fermentation period, store in the fridge.  The rumor is it will last in the fridge 3-6 months, unopened, but I wouldn't know because it never lasts that long in my house!  Serve it with any meat dish you prepare, though it seems tastiest with the heavier meats like beef and pork roasts.  Also delightful on hot dogs, baked potatoes, or eggs.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Surviving the Storehouse: Beef and Cabbage Stir-fry

Ah, cabbage.  It's cheap, it's filling, it's... bitter.  Can't handle it raw? Try this recipe!

Bonus? It's a great way to stretch that meat a little further.

Beef and Cabbage Stir-fry

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, sliced or chopped
1 head green cabbage, sliced or chopped
Salt and pepper
Optional:
1 Tbsp oregano, basil, or thyme

Cooked rice

Brown ground beef in large skillet.  Add onion, and stir around a bit.  Add cabbage a large handful at a time, waiting for it to wilt before you add more.  Season each layer, and gently turn it over as best you can.  The heat from the bottom layers will help wilt your cabbage.  It's done when your cabbage is wilted to your preference, whether you like it "al dente" or super soft.  Serve over hot rice. Also scrumptious with sour cream.

Bon appetit!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Freezing the Storehouse: Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage is kind of a weird vegetable.  It is sometimes hard to think of what to do with it.  It also has a weird, kind of bitter taste that can be less than palatable to more choosy diners.  I have discovered a few ways to handle this. One of my favorites is Cabbage Rolls.

Cabbage Rolls are great for many reasons.  First, there is just something fun about a little ball of yummy goodness that you get to open like a present before you eat.  Second, they are very filling so you can feed a large family on not very much food.  Third, the prep and cooking processes are flexible so you can choose the way that is best for you.

Without further ado, here is the recipe!

Cabbage Rolls

2 lbs ground beef, thawed
1 cup cooked rice
1 onion, shredded or chopped very fine
Salt and pepper
1 head of green cabbage

For sauce:

2 14 oz cans tomato sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Optional:
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

-or-

1 28 oz jar spaghetti sauce

 In medium mixing bowl, combine beef, rice, onion, and seasonings.  Mix until well combined (it's best to use your hands! Squish, squish!).  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (add 1-2 Tbsp to the water before boiling).  Carefully peel the leaves of the cabbage off the head, doing your best to keep from tearing them, though it's not a hopeless situation.  Put the cabbage leaves in the boiling water 2 or three at a time for 2 minutes.  Remove from water and put in strainer or on dish towel while you do the rest.  Bring water back to boil between each batch, adding more water as necessary.  While you're waiting for the cabbage leaves, mix up the sauce ingredients if you're cooking right away.  If you're freezing these babies, hold off on the sauce.

Basic assembly instructions are as follows.  Take one prepared cabbage leaf.  Put about 2 rounded Tbsp of the beef mixture on the stem end of the leaf.  You're looking to give the roll substance but not overfill it; larger leaves can handle more filling, smaller leaves will need less.  Carefully roll the cabbage around the mixture, tucking in the ends as you go, like a burrito.  When totally rolled, place seam side down in your dish of choice.  Which dish do you choose? Well, pick one of these!

To freeze, place seam side down on foil lined cookie sheet (one that will fit in your freezer).  Try not to let them touch.  Freeze at least 4 hours, then transfer to gallon size freezer bags.  To cook, thaw overnight, or just use them like fresh and cook just a little longer, as described below.

To cook in the oven, mix up your sauce and lightly coat the bottom of your pan with it.  How big a pan? However big a pan you need to fit the number you're cooking!  I find I can usually get enough rolls in one 9x13 pan. Put in the rolls.  Feel free to squish them together, they don't mind.  Cover with the rest of the sauce, cover pan with foil, and cook in a 400 degree F oven for about an hour.

To cook in the slow cooker, mix up your sauce and lightly coat the bottom of your slow-cooker with it.  Put in the rolls, nice and tight, and cover with the rest of the sauce.  Cook on low for up to 8 hours, or on high for 4.  Pay attention the first time!  Every slow cooker is different, and you don't want your sauce to burn.  If you're going to be gone a while and you worry for the sauce, add 1/2 cup water.

To microwave a frozen cabbage roll, heat on high 1-2 minutes until heated through. Top with sauce if you like, or eat plain, or just with sour cream.  It's all good.

To serve, serve hot topped with the sauce and some sour cream if you like, with more rice and some steamed or canned veggies on the side. Carrots go really well with this.

Bon appetit!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Freezing the Storehouse: Marinated Chicken Breasts

There are few things easier than marinating chicken.  Bag/bowl, chicken, flavor. Let sit.

Easy.

The trickiest part of it is deciding which flavor you'll use!  Here are two of my favorite flavors that you can do on a storehouse budget, Honey Mustard and Citrus Chicken.

Honey Mustard Chicken

1 3-lb bag chicken breasts, still frozen
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 cup white vinegar

Mix the liquids together until smooth, then add to chicken in a bowl.  Let marinate, covered and refrigerated, 12-24 hours.  Cook as desired, grill/broil/pan fry.

To freeze, transfer frozen chicken to gallon size freezer bag and add liquids.  Put back in freezer until you're ready to cook them up, then proceed as previously instructed.

Also, you can freeze the chicken after it has been cooked.  You can freeze whole breasts, or cut up into strips or cubes to be used for various other recipes.
 
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Citrus Chicken

1 cup vinegar
2/3 cup fruit drink mix
1 3-lb bag chicken breasts, still frozen

Mix the liquids together until smooth, then add to chicken in a bowl.  Let marinate, covered and refrigerated, 12-24 hours.  Cook as desired, grill/broil/pan fry.

To freeze, transfer frozen chicken to gallon size freezer bag and add liquids.  Put back in freezer until you're ready to cook them up, then proceed as previously instructed.

Also, you can freeze the chicken after it has been cooked.  You can freeze whole breasts, or cut up into strips or cubes to be used for various other recipes.

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These are both great by themselves alongside some rice and veggies.  Or you can add a sauce, like my Warm Peach Puree!

Warm Peach Purée

2 28 oz cans peaches
2-4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
Optional: nutmeg, clove, about 1/4 tsp each

Blend peaches in blender until smooth; add cinnamon and other spices, if desired.  Transfer to medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add sugar and butter. Stir until butter melts, then simmer until good and hot.  Spoon over chicken and rice or ice cream! Yum...

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Freezing the Storehouse: Roasted Tomato Soup

It's getting chilly here in Utah as autumn falls into town. (Falls, get it? Huh? No? Oh well...)

And there's nothing better than a nice hot soup on a chilly day.

Mother Nature is funny though.  The day you decide to make a soup, she decides she wants to warm things up a little.

Now what?

Or you're used to the warm, so you have a meal planned on that, and you wake up to frost on the trees.

Ah, women. (I can say that, I am one.)

Your freezer can help you!  Freeze that soup you made for later, and pull it out when Mother Nature pulls a cold, fast one on you.

Here's a soup you can have prepped and frozen, ready for that unexpected chill. Or have it ready for a day in a series of cold days that you don't feel like putting in the extra work. :)

Roasted Tomato Soup

5 lbs fresh tomatoes
2-3 onions
1 can evaporated milk
Water
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut up tomatoes into quarters, and peel onions and cut of ends, then cut in quarters.  Place on foil lined baking sheet and broil on hi 30-45 minutes until tomatoes and onions are black on the surface and tender inside.  Allow to cool.  In blender or processor, add some tomatoes and an onion quarter or two and blend until smooth, adding just enough water to encourage blending.  Repeat in batches until all tomatoes and onions have been blended.

To freeze, pour blended mixture into gallon size freezer bag.  Lay flat to freeze, then you can move it to the vertical position for long term storage as necessary.

To heat and serve, thaw in a bowl in the fridge overnight and put it in the crockpot in the morning, on low for 6 hours or so.  Or let it thaw all day, and just heat it on the stove to a boil, bring it down to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.  After it's all hot and cooked, remove from heat and stir in the milk, then season to taste.  Can be served with cheese or sour cream, or whatever fresh herbs you might have from your garden or dried herbs from your spice cupboard, like basil or oregano.  If you have some, add some bulbs of garlic to the roasting pan... Yum!

It's actually quite filling, but you could serve biscuits, crackers, or crispy quesadillas with this too.

Dairy free people: Skip the milk altogether; it's still good!  Or you can add some non-sweetened, plain flavored almond milk if you have it on hand.

Bon appetit!

What's your favorite soup?  Have you ever tried to freeze it?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Freezing the Storehouse: Freezing Vegetables

The Storehouse has a great selection of veggies most of the time.  But a lot of people don't know what to do with all of it, or how to use it before it goes bad.

Did you know you can freeze your own vegetables?  And it's a lot easier than you may have been led to believe.

The standard practice used to be blanching the vegetables before freezing.  It's supposed to help retain nutrients and color.  But it's not necessary!  Your vegetables will taste the same whether you do it or not, and you'll use a lot less time if you skip that step.

What can you freeze?  Almost any vegetable can be frozen!  Some from the Storehouse that I've frozen are zucchini, green peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.  I've heard you can also freeze cabbage, but I tend to turn my extra cabbage into sauerkraut (link to be added later), so I don't do a lot of that. 

Freezing is especially important for the vegetables that tend to go bad faster, like zucchini and green peppers.  One thing is they won't taste very good uncooked; it's best to use frozen vegetables in soups, stews, and stir-fries. 

To freeze the vegetables, simply chop or slice or shred your chosen vegetable into the shape you'll want to use it in eventually, and stick it in a freezer bag of appropriate size.  So easy! And less waste. Win!

What vegetables are available at your local Storehouse?  Have you frozen your vegetables before?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Chili Hot Beans

I didn't cook a lot growing up.  My dad pretty much owned the kitchen as far as cooking went.  I was only allowed in to clean up after him. ;)

But of the few things I cooked for myself, none have quite the power of Chili Hot Beans.

It was quite challenging.  Open the can of chili hot beans, add shredded cheese, cover and nuke for a couple minutes.  Occasionally I would add peanuts or crushed red pepper. Yum.

It was cheap, it was filling, it was delicious, and it was at least mildly nutritious.

Ah, the memories.

Fast forward *ahem* several years.  I'm more aware of the dangers of cans, canned tomato products, and mystery ingredients hiding in my food that through some loophole doesn't have to be listed on the label.  Some of those things can have a real deleterious effect on various members of my family.  But oh, how I missed the taste of those beans...  They became a splurge instead of a staple.

Then one day, I thought, Would it be so hard to make chili beans?  So I looked at a can just for the ingredients.  Seemed pretty simple.  So I bought the ingredients I needed and went home to experiment.

And I succeeded!  With very little tweaking, I managed to come up with chili beans that tasted just like the canned stuff I so admired... Only better!  And healthier to boot.

Now, there are various ways to adjust this to make it healthier or more convenient.  But making it at home will always be better than buying canned as far as taste goes, just because it's fresh. So come on, let's get cookin'!


Arienne's Homemade Chili Hot Beans

Yields 3-4 cups, serves up to 8 people (depending on size of people, meal, and servings!)

3-4 cups cooked pinto beans *See this post on beans
4 cups homemade tomato sauce (or about 2 15 oz cans)
2-4 Tbsp chili powder (McCormick is guaranteed gluten-free, and delicious too)
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt to taste
Water (optional, if you want the sauce to be thinner)

Put all of your ingredients in a large pot (or double the recipe and put it in a large crockpot set to low for a few hours).  Bring to a simmer, cover, turn to low, and prep the rest of your dinner, allowing about 30-60 minutes for the flavors to blend.  Serve it up and watch your clan devour it!

We like to have these with cheese and sour cream, kind of like a meatless chili.  We have also served it over rice, on tortillas, or with BBQ and cornbread.

My notes: It's possible to make this on a Storehouse Budget.  If you have a little money to spare, I just discovered that 5th Season spices are actually just old McCormick spices, and they cost a fraction of the original!  Now old means that the flavor isn't as strong, so you'll need to use more to make up the flavor difference. But that's what tasting is for!

This recipe can also be frozen! Just cook as directed, and allow to cool.  Put in freezer safe bags or containers, and you're set! 

What ways do you like to eat chili beans?  What food sparks your childhood memories you wish you could reinvent in a healthier way?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Recipe: Tuna Quesadillas

Last night was one of those nights that I didn't feel like putting a lot of effort into making dinner, but I didn't have any freezer meals handy.  So I made this instead, and let me tell you, it was a hit!  The kids are talking about having it for lunch tomorrow, and they could totally make this on their own.

Storehouse peeps:  I confess I use tortillas in this recipe, and corn ones to be gluten-free.  A package of 200 only costs about $3, and to me, it is very much worth it.  It adds SO much to my recipe basics.  Dive in those couches for change, and go get some! You won't be sorry.

Tuna Quesadillas (GF)

4 cans of tuna, drained as well as possible
2-4 Tbsp sour cream (or salad dressing/mayo if that's your thing)
Salt and pepper
Opt. spices: Garlic powder, chili powder
Cheddar cheese slices
GF corn tortillas
Sour cream
Shredded lettuce

Start by mixing the drained tuna and a bit of sour cream together in a medium bowl.  You're looking for a relatively dry mixture, just enough sour cream to hold the tuna together.  Add whatever spices you might like.

Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium heat.  No need to add any grease if you use non-stick or cast iron.  Use your own experience to determine the necessity of fat with other pans.  When the pan is good and hot, add a tortilla, a couple slices cheese, and cover with some of the tuna mixture.  Let cook until the tortilla shrinks a bit, browns, and becomes crispy.  Add another tortilla on top and carefully flip over.  Cook until that side looks as yummy as the first.  Remove from pan, get another one started, then use a knife or pizza cutter to cut quesadilla into quarters.  Serve immediately with sour cream and shredded lettuce on the side (or on top!).

Bon appetit!

Have you put anything unconventional in your quesadillas? Did it turn out well?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Recipe: Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit,
The more you eat, the more...

Nutritionally balanced you are.

Ahem.

But seriously, which one of us grown ups remember that little ditty and wish it weren't quite so true?  What if we could change that so much that the new rhyme became "the more you woot"? (Or whatever similar rhyme you like.)

I'm here to tell you, it is possible!

Why do beans make us... do that awful stinky stuff? Why are they such a problem?  I can tell you, they didn't used to be.  It used to be common practice to soak beans for long periods of time before cooking them. No, not just overnight, and certainly not a couple hours after bringing to a boil!  Beans were soaked for DAYS.  And that's what I do, and what I'm going to recommend to you.

I was inspired in my method by the book, Nourishing Traditions, but I'll make a few notes and tips for you as I've discovered them.  Here is the recipe straight from the book, followed by my own comments.


Basic Pinto Beans


NT Page 496


Ingredients:


  • 2 cups black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans or black-eyed peas
  • warm filtered water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed (optional)
  • sea salt and pepper

Preparation:

Cover beans with warm water. Stir in baking soda and leave in a warm place for 12-24 hours, depending on the size of the bean. Drain, rinse, place in a large pot and add water to cover beans. Bring to a boil and skim off foam. Reduce heat and add optional garlic. Simmer, covered, for 4-8 hours. Check occasionally and add more water as necessary. Season to taste after beans are soft.

My notes:  I also add a healthy tablespoonful of salt to the soaking water.  It adds a lot of flavor to the final product, and as long as you rinse the beans well prior to cooking, it won't affect the cooking time or ability of the beans.  

To reduce the undesired effects of the beans, I've found that waiting 2-3 days (until the beans are fairly bubbly and almost start to smell bad) and skimming off the foam as you bring the beans to a boil helps A LOT.  

Also, you could conceivably cook the beans in the slow cooker, if that works better for you.  Make sure you have room for plenty of water for the beans to soak up and expand in without burning anything.  You'll likely have to experiment a little with your own slow cooker, as they each tend to be different.  

One more note, you can freeze these beauties.  I can fit about two cans worth comfortably in a quart size freezer bag, which is just right for most meals for my family.  So make a lot!

I swear, cook beans this way, and both the taste and the "after-party" (or lack thereof) will change your life forever.  And your friends and family will thank you.