Stocking Your Pantry and/or Freezer

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I’ve had a hard time thinking of things to post lately. Then, I got into a conversation at work about people calling me a “prepper”. Normally, this “title” would bother me, but the more I think about it, the less I care.

I can easily say that I have 2 months or more worth of food stocked in my home. Easily. I’ve resorted to using an extra tv cart as a makeshift pantry until I can purchase a stand-alone pantry. After that, a chest freezer.

I don’t want my family to go hungry if something should happen & I couldn’t purchase food. So, here are my tips for stocking up on non-perishable items

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Shepard’s Pie

This is my take on shepard’s pie. A favorite of mine. Too often I get extremely bland & flavorless food when I order this at a restaurant.

My family of three loves this, so my recipe is quite large in quantity. Remember, leftovers are always easy to portion out for lunch to take to work or a quick dinner later in the week.

I also use my crock pot for this, but it can be done on the stove too. It needs to cook for 8hrs (you want tender meat) on the 4hr setting in the crock pot, so you may have to reset it to that after the first 4hrs.

2 packages beef stew meat (about 5lbs)
1 box +1 cup beef broth
2tbsp corn starch
milk
10 large russet potatoes
2 packages frozen peas & carrots
Salt
Pepper

Put all of the meat in the crock pot, liberally salt & pepper the meat, & add the whole box of beef broth. Turn the crock pot on the 4hr setting or high if you don’t have that setting. With 2hrs left on the cook time, add the bags of peas & carrots. With 1hr cook time left, peel & dice the potatoes. Place then in a pot of cool water and bring to a boil.

Mix the cornstarch & milk together, then pour into the crock pot. If the “sauce” is too thick after it cooks for a bit, add more beef broth. If it’s still too runny, mix together 1tbsp corn starch & 1tbsp milk to add. When the potatoes are cooked through, drain them. Add 1 stick butter & milk, then start mashing with a whisk or potato masher. Add salt to taste. Add milk until the potatoes aren’t dry. Don’t make them runny. Taste the liquid w/the meat, add more salt & pepper if necessary.

To serve, put a scoop of mashed potatoes in a bowl or on a plate. Then spoon the beef/vegetable/”gravy” mixture over it.

Homemade Salsa

We all love a certain restaurant’s salsa. Some wonder how to make it. This is my own recipe for a salsa that is SUPER close to a restaurant my family frequents. I leave any peppers out because my two year old LOVES salsa.

2 small cans whole tomatoes
Half a medium-sized sweet yellow onion
Salt
Pepper
Garlic
Cilantro
1 container grape tomatoes
1lime

Get a food processor (I use my Ninja) & put the container of grape tomatoes, 2tsp salt, 1 clove minced garlic, the juice from the lime, & 1tbsp cilantro in. Then put 1 can of the tomatoes in. Drain the other can & put that in.

In a small sautee the diced onion with a little salt until slightly soft. Then add to the food processor.

Pulse the food processor until almost smooth. Taste it. If you can’t taste the cilantro, add another tablespoon. If you can taste a little bit of salt, you’re good. Continue to pulse the mixture until well blended.

It will look similar to this when done.

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Lemon-pepper Chicken

This is my own recipe. No powders that you buy at the store. Once you try this, I think you’ll leave that awful seasoning you buy at the store behind. You might even throw it away if you have it in your spice rack or pantry.

4 lemons
1 package chicken tenders (1-2lbs)
Salt
Pepper
2tbsp vegetable oil
Foil

Preheat you oven to 350º. In a 9×13 glass baking dish, coat the bottom with the vegetable oil. Lightly sakr & pepper one side of the chicken tenders & place them in the dish seasoned side down. Lightly salt & pepper the unseasoned side.

Roll two lemons & then cut them in half. Rolling lemons before juicing them makes it much easier. Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken tenders from both of the halved lemons. It’s ok if the seeds come out.

Slice the other two lemons in thin slices about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Place the lemon slices on top of the chicken tenders. Cover the pan with foil & place in the oven.

Bake the chicken for 20-30mins depending on the thickness of the tenders & your oven. Be careful when removing the foil as steam will be released.

CrockPot Pot Roast

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Need an easier way to have dinner ready when you get home from work? Here’s your solution & a good one at that.

What you need:

1 roast (chuck, top round, bottom round – take your pick)

Potatoes – new potatoes or russet potatoes work, dice the russet potatoes

Carrots

Celery (optional)

1 package onion soup mix (optional)

Salt

Pepper

2-3 boxes beef broth

Large crockpot

 

Place your roast, carrots, potatoes, beef broth, & soup mix in the crock pot & turn on high or 4hrs, cover & leave to cook overnight. In the morning, stir & break up the roast, & add more broth if necessary. Then cover & turn it back on to 4hrs or leave on high. You can go to work & come home to a delicious meal that’s ready to be served. Happy eating!

Stove Cooked – Pot Roast

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One of my favorite winter (or anytime for that matter) meals is pot roast! It makes your home smell wonderful & is even better as leftovers. If you have any, of course.

What you need:

1 roast (chuck, top round, bottom round – take your pick)

Potatoes – new potatoes or russet potatoes work, dice the russet potatoes

Carrots

Celery (optional)

1 package onion soup mix (optional)

Salt

Pepper

Vegetable Oil (optional)

2-3 boxes beef broth

Large pot

 

Place your pot on the stove & turn the burner on high heat. This is also the time you put about 2tbsp vegetable oil in the pot & heat until it’s screaming hot. While waiting, liberally salt & pepper both sides of the roast. Place the roast in the screaming hot pot and let one side sear for about 3-5 minutes. Then flip the roast over to the other side for 3-5 more minutes. I recommend using tongs for this, especially when using vegetable oil so you don’t burn yourself. Once the roast is seared on both sides, place the potatoes, carrots, & onion soup mix first. After that pour the boxes of beef broth over the meat & veggies so there is about an inch of liquid above them. Bring to a boil, then cover & reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for about 4 hours stirring every hour making sure there is still an inch of liquid above the meat & potatoes. You can add more beef broth if necessary. Turn up the heat to medium & cook for another hour. The roast will easily fall apart by cooking it this way & you can enjoy the smells. Happy eating!

The Big What?

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Recently I watched a show put on by Food Network that opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t know. A whopping 40% of food is not consumed in America. Have you thought about where that 40% goes? If you said trash or composte, you are correct. This is food that can go to places that need it like shelters or food kitchens. America is obsessed with perfection, and this obsession has made its way into the way we shop for food.

Do you dig through the tomatoes to find the largest and/or perfect one? Do you know what happens to the tomatoes that you move and toss around? No? You bruise them. What happens when the next person goes through those same tomatoes? They are moved andd tossed around even more which causes more bruises. The cycle repeats itself over and over again. Eventually people find bruised tomatoes and scoff at them because they aren’t perfect. Those imperfect tomatoes are then put in bags and tossed out with the rest of the trash.

The date that’s printed on most dairy products that says “Best if sold by xxx xx xx” isn’t an expiration date as most people think. It’s a date that is suggested a product be sold by. That’s it. Yet, people bypass these products when it’s too close to that date. Or you have it at home and throw it out without checking it to see if the product has gone bad. I admit, I’ve been guilty of this. These too get thrown out with the trash.

We need to change our thought process on how we shop for food. It won’t happen overnight for most people. But change needs to take place. Remember that just because the produce isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean it’s not edible. Freeze what can be frozen so it doesn’t go bad. Only buy what you’ll use. If you have leftovers, portion them out for meals to take to work or a quick dinner later that week. Make a meal plan and stick to it. Think of how the food your brain is trained to bypass can help someone else. Above all, remember that we are an extremely wasteful country and that image needs to change.

I know what I’m doing to change my ways. What are you going to do?

Here is FoodNetwork’s blog about the show: Food Network: The Big Waste

Chicken Noodle Soup

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In winter, nothing sounds or smells better than a big pot or crock pot of soup. Especially one that freezes well. This one is super easy to make & extremely affordable.

What you need:
1 1/2-2lbs chicken tenderloins
1 package dry onion soup mix
3 boxes chicken broth
Salt
Pepper
Onion powder
6 large carrots or 2 cans sliced carrots drained
Vegetable oil
White or Reisling wine (optional)
1 package egg noodles

While your chicken tenderloins are still mostly frozen, dice them into about 1″ pieces. Put 2tbsp vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet & heat until hot. Liberally season the chicken pieces with the salt, pepper, & onion powder & cook through. Add enough wine for about 1/4″ liquid in the pan & cook for about 7mins so the alcohol cooks out. Slice the carrots (or use the drained, canned carrots) & place in crock pot or in pot on stove.

When the chicken is done, pour the chicken from the skillet into the pot or crock pot. Add the onion soup mix & two boxes of the chicken broth. Stir & cook on medium-low heat on the stove or on the High 4hr setting on your crock pot for 2hrs. Add half the package of egg noodles & cook for another 30mins. Add the last box of chicken broth & stir.

Tip: When the soup is done, place half in a freezer safe container & place in freezer. To defrost, let frozen soup sit out until completely thawed out & reheat on stove or in microwave.

Merry Christmas!

Since it’s the holiday season & it’s been awhile since I’ve made a post, I’m taking the time to wish you all a Merry Christmas. With the holidays, it’s been crazy. I’ve also started a new job as well. I have several recipes ready to blog about in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out! Also, if you do something fun for this holiday season & need a sweet treat to take, make some banana bread & slice it up ahead of time. Or make the chocolate chip cookie dough & refrigerate. Be sure to let it come to room temperature & give it a good mix before spooning it onto your baking sheet.

I hope everyone enjoys this time with their friends, families, & loved ones.

Merry Christmas!

Grandma Becker’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Everyone has cookie recipes, but I haven’t found one that tastes like my grandma’s. Every year around the holidays, my grandma would make these. Some were to give away to close friends & the rest were for the family gatherings. This makes about 4 dozen cookies. The recipe can be cut in half if you don’t need that many cookies. I find that I eat some of the cookie dough while baking them & sometimes I freeze the dough I don’t use for later.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 1/2 cups shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 12oz package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cream the shortening, sugar, vanilla, & brown sugar together. Add the three eggs & beat. Then add the flour, baking soda, & salt & thoroughly mix together. Finally, add the chocolate chips & mix together. Spoon teaspoon droplets on a cookie sheet & bake for 5-8 mins. Let cool on a wire rack or newspaper.