Okra

It has been a hot, rainy, humid summer here in Ohio.  The garden has loved it, but the one plant that has truly loved this year’s weather is our OKRA!  I grew up loving this vegetable which is widely used in the southern states, my family is very southern.  Waves at my Great Aunt Meg, who REALLY taught me to enjoy southern cooking back in Mentor, Tennessee!

I planted two varieties this year, one the shorter ruby and the other is the heirloom green, which by the way, grows taller than me.  Its a good thing my husband and I both LOVE, and that is an understatement, okra.  Because this year, I have harvested baskets of it and every day it seems that I have a new big basket to harvest every afternoon.  Yes, I am still harvesting well into September!  Okay so I may have planted 100 plants, but well, we love okra.

Now, what do you do with this odd, spiny, plant that when cooked creates what I call “Okra Boogers” or “Okra Snot” depending on who you want to shock and gross out at the time.  My husband refers to the okra peas as “rat eyes” especially in soups and stews.  Can you tell that we just love to have fun!  Oh, here is a warning.  Some people are very allergic to the fuzz that grows on okra, it causes almost a poison ivy affect to their skin.  I’ve never had this problem, but I do know some who do.

Okra is highly nutritious and it is filling as well as easy to grow in warm temperatures, which explains why you find it a lot in the southern states.  It’s very high in fiber as well as containing potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content. Recently, a new benefit of including okra in your diet is being considered. Okra has been suggested to help manage blood sugar in cases of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.  So in short, what’s not to like.

My husband’s absolute favorite for okra, is pickled okra.

Pickled Okra

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of okra
  • 1/4 clove of garlic for each jar (6)
  • 1 dill flower head for each jar (6)
  • jalapeno pepper diced fine or red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups of apple cider vinager
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard seed
  • 6 half pint canning glass jars with lids and rings

Directions

  1. Clean your okra removing the tips and caps only (I keep some of the cap on).  Leave whole.
  2. Add 1/4 clove garlic in each jar.
  3. Add 1 dill flower in each jar.
  4. Pack your okra tightly in each jar leaving 1/2 inches head space.
  5. In a large pot on your stove.  Combine your Vinegar, water, salt, peppers, mustard seeds.
  6. Stir and bring to a full boil.  Do not stop stirring, your salt will burn.
  7. Ladle liquid into jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
  8. Water bath process for 15 minutes half pints 20 minutes for pints.

 

Another way we like them is pan fried as a side dish.

Pan Fried Okra

  1.  Melt about a tablespoon of lard in a frying pan.
  2. In a bowl I whip up 1 egg and set to the side.
  3. I prepare the okra by taking off the tips and caps and slicing into thick rounds.
  4. I put all the okra into the egg batter and stir in some red pepper flakes, or some diced jalapeno.
  5. Next I add enough cornmeal to the egg and okra and stir it in the bowl to cover it all, you don’t want it corn patty thick, but just enough to give a nice coating.
  6. Once the lard is melted, add your mixture into the pan and “separate” the pieces and move around often in the hot lard to cook.
  7. You will want to watch it because it will cook fast and is easily burned.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

All this is fine and well until you realize you are becoming over run with okra, so how do you store it to enjoy later and in the winter when it is no longer in season?  In addition to the pickling, we also store two other ways.  Freezing and dehydrating.

Dehydrating your Okra

I like to dehydrate our okra because it takes up very little space, it gets rid of the “Okra Boogers” and it works fantastic for gumbos, soups and stews.

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  1. Wash your okra and remove the caps and tips.
  2. I flash steam my okra whole.
  3. Slice into rounds or wedges.  I like the wedges because they don’t shrink to itty-bitty pieces.
  4. Place in your dehydrator on low heat/vegetable heat and run until they are crispy and no sign of moisture.  You can also do this in the oven on the lowest temperature, door cracked upon, placing the okra on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Vac-Seal or store in an air-tight/moisture resistance container.

The final way is to freeze the okra.  I try not to do this because I don’t like to fill up the freezer with vegetables that can be stored other ways, but I will freeze some.  You can use this as fried okra, or in soups, stews and gumbos when you need it in the off season.

Freeze Store Okra

Warning you will be dealing with lots of “Okra Boogers” in this process.

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  1. Clean your okra, remove the tips and caps.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a full boil and turn off the water.
  3. Dunk your okra (whole) in the hot water for about 3 minutes.  This is a quick blanch.
  4. Dump the hot water out from around the hot okra and now fill the pot with ice cubes.  This prevents the okra from continuing to cook from the blanching process.
  5. Now take out each okra spear and cut into rounds.
  6. For large and woody spears of okra, discard the green pod and keep the okra peas (the white seeds), these are great in soups.  These are what my loving husband refers to as “Rat Eyes”.
  7. Once your spears are cut into rounds, put them in your vacuum seal bags and seal.  Make sure all air is out of the bag, then freeze.  I usually store in 2 cup quantities which is about a serving.

I hope you have enjoyed this post about all things Okra!  Feel free to share your recipes and questions.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

Meal Prepping 101 Class: Cranberry Chicken

One of our freezer meal recipes for our class on February 16, 2017 will be Cranberry Chicken.  This recipe is also very easy to make in a casserole crock pot fresh that day as well, as with any of our freezer meals.  This recipe is also great with pork or turkey as well as Chicken.  This is one of our freezer meals that we will be working with raw meat so it is very necessary to prepare and take precautions for food safety.

Ingredients for each meal/bag:

  • 2 pounds of chicken
  • One 14 ounce can of whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup of French salad dressing (yup you read that right)
  • 2 tablespoons or 4 fresh cloves of garlic
  • 1 packet of dried French onion soup mix (however, I choose to make my own using a bouillon cube of the type of meat I’m using, boiled with a small onion)
  • It wouldn’t be a “Rice Household” recipe without a kick, so we like 1 tsp of ground chipotle pepper.
  • a 1 gallon bag with the name of the recipe and date you created on it, if you are going to freeze this for later, you will need this for the class as well.
  • You will also need cutting boards, knives, spoon, latex gloves, can opener for the class.

Directions before class:

  • Please label your bag with the recipe name, the date of the class and cooking directions (at the end).  This will be for the bag if you are creating the freezer meal.
  • Please take the time to prepare your chicken before the class and place in a bag to transport, keep this cold and fresh, PLEASE.
  • you will want to cut each chicken breast into quarters, follow the directions below.
  • Prepare and label your final bag.
  • When transporting to and from class, please make sure you have a cooler WITH ice packs.  Now, on with the directions.

Directions:

  • Put on your latex gloves.
  • Prepare your chicken breasts.
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  • Take your large chicken and slice in half by placing it on the side and slicing down the middle (making the breast thinner).
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  • Now slice each of your halves in half.
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  • This will give you 8 pieces of chicken.
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  • If you are attending our class, you will want to put these in a secure freezer bag until you come to our class, if not, carry on.
  • Now, since I prefer NOT to use the French onion soup dry mix, I make my own, to do this I dice one small onion and put in a pan with 1/4 cup of water and a bouillon cube of the meat I’m using (chicken here) and boil until the onions are soft. If prefer to use the dry soup mix, add this to your gallon bag if you are freezing or to a small mixing bowl if you are not.
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  • Open your can of cranberry sauce, and put into your bowl/bag.
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  • Now measure out your French Salad Dressing and stir it in with your onion mix and cranberry sauce.
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  • At this point I add in 1 tsp of crushed Chipotle Pepper.  If you don’t like heat, you don’t need to do this, we like heat.
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  • Stir your mixture together to the point that it looks like a sauce.  If you are putting it directly in a freezer bag, squish the items together until mixed.
  • Now, add your chicken (pork or turkey).
    • If you are doing this fresh: lay your chicken slices in a casserole style crock pot and pour the sauce over top of the chicken.
    • If you are doing this for a freezer meal, add your chicken slices in the bag with your sauce.
      • In your freezer bag, carefully press out extra air and seal.  I normally double seal items with this much liquid.
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Cooking Directions:

  • If you are cooking “FRESH”.
    • Turn your casserole style crock-pot to LOW and cook for 5-6 hours, the chicken will be cooked through and tender.  The sauce cooks into the chicken and is great to put over sides like mashed potatoes.
  • If you are cooking from a freezer meal packet:
    • The night before stand up securely in your refrigerator and thaw.
    • The day of cooking.  Dump the contents of the bag in your casserole style crockpot.
    • Turn on LOW and cook for 5-6 hours.
    • The chicken will be cooked through and tender.
    • The sauce cooks into the chicken and creates a wonderful gravy/sauce to go over sides like mashed potatoes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Please feel free to leave me comments!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Rice