Lunch Time

A big part of saving time and money goes into planning your meals.  The world likes to show us the convenience of grabbing on the go, but look what that has done to our waistlines and our wallets!  Yikes!  The best plan is to plan, prepare and work in your meals during a less busy time of the week.

I’ve said before that I like to do my meal prep on Sunday afternoons.  I do work outside of the home during the week so I understand when there is the argument of time.  However, packing lunches does not need to be a time hog.

The benefits of packing lunches greatly outweighs the time argument.  Whether you are packing for yourself, your spouse and/or your children, the benefits are all the same.

  1. You control the portions.  Everything from fast food to sit down is all greatly increased in the area of portions.
  2. You control the contents.  When you make, pack and measure, you know exactly what is going into your body.  If you or a family member have allergies, you no longer have to worry about ingesting something bad for them.
  3. The cost is greatly less.  The cost of putting together a lunch is greatly less then buying on the go.  Journal it and you will see it for yourself.
  4. Less waste. This is a huge item, you aren’t added to the garbage issue and if you pack wisely, you will cut down on your own disposables!

What you will need:

  1. A Lunch Box.  I know the picture shows a brown paper bag.  But I really do not advise using one for many reasons.  You will want a stable lunch bag/box that can hold some time of cooling pack, easy to carry or put into a backpack (good idea for kids and adults alike), but big enough to carry what you need for the day.
  2. A Reusable Cooling Pack.  These are very inexpensive and can be used over and over again.  I have one that is very thin and does a great job of cooling my lunch bag very well.  Just put it in the freezer every day when you get home and it will be ready for the next day!
  3. Reusable item containers.  You can pick these up at the dollar store.  Make sure you get microwaveable safe ones if you are planning to need to reheat items.  A Soup Thermos is also a great item to have so you don’t have to use a microwave!  I am not in favor of using disposable wrappings and bags, trash is trash, whether it comes from home or from somewhere else.
  4. Reusable Coffee/drink mug.  Avoid buying bottled water or coffee.  Make and bring your own and refill for free during the day.
  5. Reusable utensils.  Have a specific set for your lunch box(es).  Again, avoid disposable.

But what do I pack?

This is where it gets fun.  You are only limited by your imagination!  For kid lunches those are just super fun!  You can make your own “lunchables” of crackers, bread cut out using cookie cutters, meats, cheeses… but we will get to that.  Here are some ideas, adults enjoy the fun stuff too, sometimes even a little more!

  1.  Sandwiches do not need to be boring!  Use a large shaped cookie cutter to cut bread, meat, cheese and stack together.
  2. Afraid your sandwich will get soggy?  Pack the bread in one container and the items in another as and use a small condiment container for your ketchup, mayo or mustard.
  3. Subs.  Hot and cold subs are so simple to prepare at home with what you have on hand when you plan ahead!
  4. Hot Dogs.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Hot dogs.  My kids would love it when we would have “Hot Dog” week.  I would grill up hot dogs ahead of time and each day they would get a different type.  Monday, Pizza dog; Tuesday, Chicago Style Dog; Wednesday, Taco Dog (Chili dog with taco seasoning) and so on.
  5. Do not fear the dinner left overs!   When I make casseroles, I will make enough to put aside for some lunches for myself.  Especially in the winter to have a nice hot lunch.
  6. Soup and Salad.  How often to you pay $12+ for soup and salad at a fast food place?  So inexpensive and easy to do at home and pack!  I will make a pot of soup during the week and set aside portions for my lunch (and even freeze some like chicken noodle).  Salads, easy peasey.  Toss in some mixed lettuce, tomato and cucumber and whatever else you like and use a condiment container to carry our dressing.
  7. Chicken nuggets.  Chicken nuggets are so easy to make at home.  Do not buy the frozen ones.  Pre-make a batch by taking chicken thighs and or breasts and cutting into bite sized cubes.  sprinkle with fine bread crumbs if you like and cook in a skillet.  They freeze up perfect and you have a much better nugget.
  8. Sweet Tooth.  There is nothing like a sweet treat in the middle of the day.  The best thing is to bake and portion out a cookie a day.  Make a healthy sweet treat, or better yet, add in some fresh in season fruit!  My children when they were young liked something called “dirt pudding” which was simply chocolate pudding with crushed a crumbled cookie on top and I would put in a gummy worm or a gummy flower in each little cup for them.
  9. Homemade Lunchables.  These things are expensive in the store.  Make your own.  Using small cookie cutters, cut shapes out of cheeses and meats and add to a decorative container.  Add in grapes, pretzel sticks and other finger foods as a side.  Avoid the bad preservative packed snacks!
  10. Pizza.  I’m not talking about left over take out.  If you don’t make your own pizza and save some for lunch, make mini pizzas by using biscuit dough (I make my own), and putting on toppings and bake.  You can store these for the week and even freeze them after baking for later.
  11. Burritos.  My husband is responsible for getting me to love burritos for breakfast and lunch.  The possibilities for fillings are endless.  My favorite is a breakfast burrito with chorizo, eggs, potatoes and green chilies.  I enjoy it for breakfast and lunch.
  12. Egg Bites.  These are great for breakfast and for lunch!  Here is how you make them.  Breakfast Egg Bites

Here is a hint.  If you see it “prepackaged” in the store with cute enticing packaging, you can make it at home cheaper, with less preservatives and much better for you!  Another thing to remember that buying individually wrapped is much more expensive then buying a larger size and parsing out on your own.   Apple slices are just as easy to slice yourself, and a boiled egg is just as easy to do yourself instead of buying it boiled, and honestly, probably safer.

With all the food health warnings coming out in regards to fast food chains, take the time and responsibility over your own food.  Buy in season, enjoy variety and enjoy the health and saving benefits!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

 

Breakfast Egg Bites

I promised several dear friends my recipe for my Breakfast Egg Bites. These are a great go to for busy mornings and a great way to budget and eat healthy. I normally make a batch of 12 for the following week. These also freeze very well.

You can change up the ingredients for your preference and what you have readily available.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 smallish potatoes diced or shredded
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 cup of diced peppers of choice
  • 1 jar (4 ounces) jalapeno diced tomatoes
  • A hand full of mushrooms
  • Meat of your choice. I like chorizo.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray your muffin pan with Bakers Secret, or coat with grease and flour like you would for a cake.
  3. In a skillet add some oil of your choice and fry up your meat. Once done set aside in a bowl.
  4. Add your potatoes and veggies and fry up as you would hashbrowns.
  5. In a large bowl whip up your eggs.
  6. Once the meat is cool, add in your meat to the eggs.
  7. Once the veggies are done and cooled down add the veggies to the eggs.
  8. Fold everything together.
  9. Now add the egg mixture to your muffin pan spots. Not quite filling them to the top.
  10. Place in oven to cook for approximately 15 to 20 min. You want them completely done but not over cooked. I check mine with a toothpick test. You want a clean toothpick.
  11. I let cool for 20 or so minutes then remove them from the pan. They shouldn’t need much help to come out if the pan.
  12. Refrigerate or freeze.

Enjoy.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Bread Crumbs…

I don’t like wasting hard earned money on things I can make myself, especially on groceries.

I use breadcrumbs in many dishes, from meatloaf to chicken breading. Store bought is not only ridiculous in price it normally has additives.

I like using left over bread I’ve baked, but any stale (not molded) bread works fine.

I use my dehydrator to completely dry the bread after cutting it up into cubes. You can use an oven on the very lowest heat. You want to make sure there is absolutely no moisture left in any of the bread.

Next I toss the cubes into my ninja blender and pulse until the crumbs are the texture I prefer. You can also add in dried herbs or dehydrated onion, ramps and or garlic if you like for seasoning.

I keep one jar with an easy access Los for immediate use and other jars I will vac-seal to store in the pantry.

I hope you enjoyed this frugal tip for your kitchen.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Alphabet Soup Mix in a Jar

Meal-Prepping and filling your pantry doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  Utilizing dehydrated veggies and herbs works great to have a quick grab and prepared home cooked meal.  These also have a great shelf life to have on hand during emergency and disaster situations.

Today I am sharing a fun kid friendly recipe.  Alphabet Soup.  And it tastes so much better than store bought condensed.

First to prepare your jars.

  • 1 half pint canning jar with a tight lid.
  • 1 cup alphabet pasta
  • 2 tablespoons dried vegetable flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granuals or powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions for jars.

  1. Make sure your jar and lids are clean and dry!
  2. Layer 1/2 cup of pasta, then 1 tablespoon of dehydrated veggies, then the boullion and Pepper.
  3. Layer the second tablespoon of veggies then the second half cup of pasta.
  4. The layering just makes it “pretty”.
  5. Tightly screw on your lid and label.
  6. Alphabet Soup Mix
  7. Add 4 cups water + 1/2 cup of tomato pasta sauce.

When you are ready to use.

  1. Place water, pasta sauce and contents of jar in a large sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, or until pasta and veggies are tender.

Easy peasy!

Place in a cool place to store that isn’t prone to high humidity, your pantry.
Until next time!

Kay L Rice

Winter is Coming… Preparing your Pantry

The purpose of home canning and meal prepping is to prepare for times when fruits and vegetables and meats are not as abundant naturally.  When an item is in season, it is more abundant and less expensive, this is the time to prepare for winter, especially when you live in the northern and Midwest areas.  Winter can be harsh.  We believe in canning what is in season, naturally, to help with budget costs, health benefits and being more ‘God sufficient’ than man sufficient.  The other side point to preparing and budgeting your food storage is to better understand what a REAL portion of food is.  America has gotten really bad at ‘super sizing’ and over convenience everything.  We’ve gotten into the mindset of “getting our money’s worth” instead of planning and looking at what our body needs.  The sugar and preservative addictions are just as bad as the “bad addictions”.  Look at the rise of obesity, health issues, enabling etc.  If we are stressed, we head strait for the candy jar, if a child is crying we hand them a sweet treat.  I could go on and on about this subject, because I myself suffer from stress eating and weight issues.  I come from a long line of Southern Cooks.  I love my butter, gravy and I melt with Shrimp and Grits.  Which is all fine, IN MODERATION.

But, back to preparing your pantry.  Each year it is essential to take stock of what your family will need for the upcoming year until the next season arrives with more goodies.  Also knowing crop rotation years help too.  One year may be a great corn year, the next nothing.

Now the big thing I want you to really take notice of is the PORTION of each item.  If we ate this way, I’m willing to bet, the weight loss programs out there would loose a lot of money and we would have more in our savings!

The Canner’s Pantry Planner:
Food Times/Week Serving Jars/Person Jars/Family(4)
Meats, Poultry, Fish 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 36 Pints 144 Pints
Soups 2x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Jams, Jellies, Preserves 6x week, 52 weeks 2 tablespoons 40 1/2 pints 160 1/2 pints
Relishes 3x week, 52 weeks 1 tablespoon 5 pints 20 pints
Greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Pickled vegetables 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons 13 pints 52 pints
Juices and Tomatoes 7x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 63 quarts 252 quarts
All Other Fruits and Vegetables 14x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 76 quarts 304 quarts
Pickled Fruits, Pickled Eggs 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons/ 1 egg 13 quarts 52 quarts

Did you slightly freak out over the portions? Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Here is the thing I have discovered, when you utilize the mentality of using what you have on hand, you waste less, you eat less, and you have that pride of providing. It’s amazing how the world’s perspectives dissolve when you start living like this.

There are other items to consider as well, the meat covers what you should have in your freezer as well as canning, but there are dry goods to consider:  Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda/powder, yeast, dried beans, rice, powders.  Then your wet goods such as honey, syrups, molasses.  Also your perishables, eggs & milk.  There is also cellar storage to consider, potatoes, sweet potatoes, hard squash, apples.  But all in all the portions stay the same.  Now my favorite:  Cheeses.  I love real cheese, love it!  But a portion is only 2 ounces.  That’s the size of 2 dice.

I credit the knowledge of this from my Grandma Inez and my go to book “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.

So learn to enjoy and appreciate what you have and you will find that your body and your savings will thank you!

Enjoy and let me know of your thoughts.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

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Meal-Prepping: Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

The month of July has been a very busy month.  Our class unfortunately was cancelled due to everyones schedules. But I wanted to make sure these very simple and yummy recipes got in your hands.

The same ingredients can be used for both the chicken or the eggplant parmesan. Substitute one for the other.

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 frozen lg boneless skinless chicken breasts or 1 medium eggplant sliced thick.
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried or fresh basil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (Optional)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (OR 2 cups of rice krispies)
  •  1 gallon bag
  •   1 quart bags

Directions:

  1. Write the name of your recipe on the gallon bag as well as cook 8 hrs low.
  2. On the small bag write ‘Toppings’.
  3. Put your bread crumbs or crushed rice crispies in the small bag, add your Parmesan cheese and squish it through. If you want mozzarella cheese add it in this bag as well.
  4. Seal pushing out all air and set aside.
  5. Put your frozen chicken 🐔 or sliced eggplant in the big bag.
  6. I also will sprinkle fruit fresh or a little lemon juice on the eggplant to prevent Browning.
  7. Now add in your basil, garlic, pepper, olive oil and tomatoes over your chicken.
  8. Carefully add your topping bag on top.
  9. Seal pushing out the air.
  10. Put in the freezer.

Day before cooking, that in the refrigerator.

Day of cooking. 

  1. Carefully remove topping bag, set aside.
  2. Dump contents of the large bag into your Crock-Pot. I use my casserole Crock-Pot for this recipe.
  3. Evenly spread everything out.
  4. Sprinkle the contents of the topping bag over top.
  5. Cook on low for 7-8 hrs.
  6. NOTE: You can also wait to put your toppings on about an hour before serving.
  7. Serve over pasta if you like.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Meal-Prepping: Maple Glazed Chicken

Crock-Pot cooking and meal prepping doesn’t need to be tedious and boring.  The idea is to plan ahead so you can enjoy meal time.  Here is a very quick and delicious meal.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of Dijon or Spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 Cup of REAL Maple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic thin sliced
  • 1 gallon freezer bag

Directions:

  1. Write on the bag Maple Glazed Chicken with your date. Also write 8 hours low.
  2. Put your frozen chicken 🐔in your bag.
  3. Add in all of your ingredients and squish the bag to cover the chicken.
  4. Seal bag pushing out as much air as possible.

Day before cooking that in the refrigerator.

Day of cooking put contents of the bag in your Crock-Pot.  I use my shallow casserole Crock-Pot for this recipe.  Cook for 8 hours on low.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Homemade Biscuit & Dumpling Mix

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As by now you all know, I do not like to rely on boxed items for any reason to feed my family.  Nearly every thing that is mass produced can be made from scratch easier and less expensive at home.  One of the more common items in the kitchen is a box of “Bisquick” or biscuit mix.

As many of you know this is an awesome concoction which can be used for anything from biscuits or dumplings to pancakes or waffles…. yea, you get the idea.  For me we love dumplings.  My husband and I have this ongoing discussion on what a “dumpling” is.  For me there are 2 kinds flat dumplings and drop dumplings.  To him there are only one drop dumplings (the other are short noodles).  Drop dumplings are the fluffy dumplings primarily made from Bisquick type mixes.

Now, here is how you can leave that yellow (or white) box at the grocery store and always have this mix on hand!

INGREDIANTS:

  • 2 Cups flour (sifted)
  • 4 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (or shortening)
  • 3/4 cup milk

DUMPLING DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl sift your flour and your baking powder together.
  2. Add in your salt
  3. Add in your butter (or shortening) softened
  4. Add in your milk
  5. Knead together until nice and firm
  6. If too sticky add in a tad of flour
  7. IMG_20170501_152829672
  8. Now roll into balls and drop it into your boiling soup
  9. Turn the heat of your soup down
  10. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on low
  11. Finally enjoy!

Sometimes I will keep this on hand for quick grabs.  To do this find an air-tight bag, container of your choosing.  Sift in all of your dry ingredients together and label your container ‘Baking mix’.  Then make sure you make note of the wet ingredients to add later.

 

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

Meal-Prep 101: Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken

Meal-Prep 101: Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken

THIS CLASS WILL BE HELD ON APRIL 20, 2017 at Quest Community Church (Westerville, Ohio) in the back kitchen area at 6:30 PM Quest Meal-Prep Class

The following recipe is for our class on 04/20/2017 at Quest Church.  This versatile recipe is is great to have as a go to in the freezer.  It can be used as a main dish served over rice, as burrito filling, soft taco filling, added to a casserole or soup, pretty much anything you can imagine.  Even if you can’t join us in person, I hope you enjoy this recipe.

INGREDIENTS (for each meal bag):

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast (or thighs)
  • 4 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 fresh bunch of cilantro, chopped with the stems
  • 1 (16 ounce) bag of frozen corn
  • 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 can of jalapeno and tomatoes diced.
  • 1 can of green peppers or 2 jalapeno peppers diced (optional)
  • 1 tsp of cumin.

Other items you will need:

  • Cutting boards (two, 1 for produce, 1 for the chicken)
  • Latex gloves (2 pair, 1 pr for the chicken 1 pr for the jalapeno peppers if you are chopping)
  • Knives (1 for chicken, 1 for produce)
  • Can opener
  • teaspoons and tablespoons
  • garlic press or a use your produce knife
  • 1 large gallon freezer bag
  • 1 quart freezer bag
  • marker to label your bag.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Before we get started, Write on your Gallon freezer bag, Cilantro Lime chicken, thaw over night.  Crockpot cook for 6-8 hrs low.
  2. Prepare your chicken on your chicken cutting board, put on your latex gloves.
  3. Cut your chicken in half then in half again and then in quarters.
  4. Place the chicken in your quart freezer bag.

  5. Remove your “chicken gloves” & discard.
  6. Add in two tablespoons of lime juice in with your chicken.
  7. Remove the air from your “chicken bag” and seal, place to the side.  Now, clean off your chicken cutting board with hot soapy water and keep away from your produce.
  8. On your produce cutting board, chop your fresh cilantro.  make sure you use the stems, this is where most of your flavor comes from!
  9. Place in your gallon freezer bag.
  10. Dice your onion and place in your gallon freezer bag.
  11. Add in your frozen corn and rinsed black beans to your gallon freezer bag.
  12. Add in your small can of jalapeno/diced tomatoes.
  13. IF YOU WANT FRESH DICED JALAPENO PEPPERS, PUT ON YOUR LATEX GLOVES FOR PRODUCE.  You WILL thank me later.
  14. When you cut fresh peppers, keep in mind the heat is in the seeds, more heat, leave the seeds, less heat, makes sure you leave out the seeds.
  15. Add your Peppers to the gallon bag. (removing your gloves after working with your peppers.)
  16. Add in your cumin.
  17. Add in 2 tablespoons of lime juice.
  18. Gently roll and place your chicken bag on the top of your produce.
  19. Push out the extra air and seal the gallon bag.  (I like to double bag my items.)
  20. Flatten bag and freeze.

Day be before preparing instructions:

  • Set upright in the refrigerator (in a bowl in case it leaks) to thaw.

Cooking day instructions:

  • Open bag carefully and pull out your chicken bag.
  • Put the chicken in your crock-pot first.
  • Dump in the remaining ingredients from the gallon bag on top of the chicken.
  • Set crock-pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours.
  • Before serving, shred with a fork the chicken and stir into the cooked ingredients.
  • Serve over rice, with corn tortillas as soft tacos, in large flour tortillas as burritos, over corn chips as nachos anything your heart desires.
  • The shredded left overs are also great to freeze and have on hand for soups!

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

 

 

Meal-Prepping 101: Beef Stew

Beef (or any meat) Stew

On February 16, 2017 at Quest Community Church, Westerville, Ohio, we will once again be joining together to work on our meal-prepping skills.  The second recipe for this class is a traditional Beef Stew (The first recipe, is Cranberry Chicken posted on 2/11/17 on this site).  Stew is a traditional standby in the Rice Household.  It is perfect for meal-prep as a freezer meal before and after being cooked.  If you enjoy canning, it can also be prepped in individual and family servings by using a PRESSURE CANNER (please see the post on this site for Turkey/Chicken Stew, under the canning and preserving page).  But I digress.  The nice thing about stew is that it can be made with pretty much anything you have on hand as well as tweaks here and there for what you like and what you don’t like.  Example: Some people my love parsnips, others may not, some people think you are weird putting in peas in a stew, some say oh that’s a must have.  My Grandma and Mom would refer to their stews as “refrigerator stew”, that meant anything left over from previous meals got thrown in a pot and cooked as soup/stew.  In short the “waste not want not” method of country cooking.

For our class on 2/16/17, I will be outlining the meal prep freezer way to put up stew before cooking, although here and there I will also outline other methods.  Ready?  Here we go!

Ingredients for each meal:

  • 1 lb of meat (beef, venison, pork, turkey, chicken…)
  • 1 1/4 cups diced onion (I prefer red onion but its your preference)
  • 2 tsps. (or 4 cloves) garlic, minced
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of Thyme
  • 1 cup of carrots diced/sliced (I like lots of carrots, so about 5 carrots sliced)
  • 2 cups of diced/sliced celery
  • 1/2 cups of frozen peas (do not get canned, they get squishy)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of APPLE CIDER Vinegar

Ingredients to be added the day of cooking:

  • 1 tsp of Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups of Broth (to match the meat you use)

Freezer Containers needed if freezing:

  • 1 quart freezer bag
  • 1 gallon freezer bag
  • Pen to write contents and cooking additions for day of cooking

BEFORE CLASS DIRECTIONS:

  • Label you large gallon freezer bag with the title of your recipe and date prepared:
    • example:  Beef Stew 2/16/17
  • Keep your quart freezer bag with your large gallon freezer bag.
  • Since we will be working with raw meat, please, make sure you keep your product fresh and sealed and COOL in transport to and from class and put in the freezer as soon as you return from class.  You also may want to prepare the meat and keep in your refrigerator at home and then add to your bag once you return from class.
  • Cube your meat into small pieces.  I will be using venison for my stew.
  • Make sure you trim off any grisly or large fat portions (and skin if poultry).
  • Put in your quart freezer bag and press out any air and keep cool.

Class Instructions:

  • If you brought the meat with you, keep cold in your cooler while we prep the rest of the items.
  • Chop all of your vegetables starting with your onion.  Add each to your gallon bag after you finish with them.
    • Side note here:  I also like to add things like parsnips, sweet potatoes, fresh beets, peppers, potatoes, spinach and frozen lima beans or black eyed peas.  I’ve even been known to throw in butternut squash cubes.
  • Add in your frozen peas (or other frozen veggies) to your bag.
  • Your bag is getting full now. Carefully add all of her herbs and shake so it flakes down over your veggies.
  • Add in your tomato paste and “squish” it through the bag.
  • Add in your Apple Cider Vinegar to your meat.
  • Now, we need to add our meat.  Since we have all these wonderful veggies in here, we do NOT want to taint them with raw meats!!!   Very carefully, put your meat in its bag sealed, in the large gallon bag on top of the veggies.  Meat is in the bag, but not touching your veggies.  If you cook your meats ahead of time, you can add them directly in the bag, however, your meat will be very shredded when you cook the stew (which is fine, its a texture thing).

NIGHT BEFORE COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Take out of the freezer and stand upright and thaw over night IN the refrigerator.

DAY OF COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Very carefully open your gallon bag and retrieve the meat bag.
  • Open the meat bag and dump the contents in the crock pot.
  • Dump the veggie/seasoning contents over the meat in the crockpot.
  • Add in your 2 cups of broth (to match the meat) to the crock pot.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  • Add your salt and pepper before serving to retain flavor and not needing to re-add.

FREEZING AFTER COOKING:

Stews and soups are great for freezing left overs for other meal preps.  Put in a large gallon bag or in individual sized freezer safe containers and place level in your freezer.  You can reheat later in the microwave or stove top quickly because everything is already cooked.

CANNING AFTER COOKING:

I enjoy canning left over soups and stews in half pint jars individual servings that I can grab and go for work or for a quick lunch and dinner.  ALL SOUP and STEWS must be PRESSURE CANNED.  The rule of thumb is the amount of time for the longest pressure cooking standard ingredient.  Example:  Meat and beans must be canned (half pint or pint) for 75 minutes and quarts need to be canned for 90 minutes at a pressure of 11 lbs.  If you are unfamiliar with a pressure canner don’t make soup your trial run.

I look forward to seeing you all in class and for those who can not attend, I hope you enjoy this recipe, and let me know what you think.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Rice