Categories
D.I.Y.convenience foods dinner freezing gluten-free slow cooker zucchini

Freezer to Slow Cooker Ratatouille Pack

freezer to Slow Cooker Ratatouille Pack
1 medium eggplant, cut in 1-inch pieces
4 large tomatoes (l lb), cut in 1 ½-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini or summer squash (l lb), cut in1-inch pieces
3 bell peppers, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled and diced
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup olive oil
1-2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Ratatouille Pack ingredients

ASSEMBLE A MEAL KIT:
Label your bag before filling.

Prepare the veggies and add to 1 gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag in the order listed.

Add tomato paste, olive oil, dried basil and salt to bag.

Seal the bag, squeezing as much air out as you can. Flatten the bag to an even thickness. (Place on a cookie sheet to help it freeze flat.) Freeze up to 3 months.

COOKING DAY DIRECTIONS:
Thaw bag overnight in fridge or float in warm water for 1 hour. Pour contents of bag into 5-6-quart slow cooker and cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. If you want to reduce the amount of liquid in the Ratatouille, cook uncovered the last 30 minutes.

Taste and add additional salt if desired. Serve as is in bowls or over rice or pasta. Top with grated Parmesan or mozzarella for extra flavor. You can add red pepper flakes or hot sauce for zing.

Categories
dinner grilling pizza

Pizza Margherita ~ on the Grill!

When the weather heats up, grill your pizza!
One of the easiest and more authentic versions is Pizza Margherita. Simply top the dough with sliced garden tomatoes and small chunks of mozzarella cheese. After grilling, add a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves. Mmmm…

There is a way to make great pizza; pizza with a crackling crust and the tang of smoke, cheese that bubbles in pools around bits of garden veggies laced with fresh basil.  The BBQ grill!  I developed this method several years ago during a hot, hot week in August when Cameo and Miriam each had a friend over for the week-end.  They’d spent the day playing at the river at a nearby park, and wanted our traditional Friday night pizza for dinner.  “Oh no, girls, it’s way too hot to turn the oven on,” I remember protesting.  And Sam said, “Why don’t we try cooking them on the brill?  You make the pizza; I’ll take care of grilling them.”

Categories
dinner pumpkin & winter squash

Fettuccine with Pumpkin & Sage Butter

 Elegantly simple prep brings pasta and pumpkin together


People are invariably surprised by how delicious this dish is.  I first tasted it at the home of my friend Claire, who was hosting a dinner for a large group of Master Food Preservers gathered to plan the next year’s classes at OSU Extension, or I thought I did!  I made mental notes as Claire prepared the dish and later went home and wrote down what I remembered.  In talking with her recently it turns out my memory was not very accurate, but the dish sure is delicious! Such is the nature of recipes; they change with each cook.  

Cubes of sweet pumpkin (any type of pumpkin or winter squash is suitable) are sauteed in a bit of butter until tender.  Fresh sage leaves are cut in ribbons and sizzled in more butter, and the two are tossed into a pound of al dente spinach fettucchine.  Divine!

Categories
dinner soup

Chicken Noodle Soup with Roasted Garlic

Ah, the restorative powers of homemade soup…


This is the soup my family requests when someone is feeling “under the weather.”  It has Campbell’s beat by a mile!  By keeping a supply of homemade stock and boneless chicken in the freezer I can put it together without too much effort.  And, yes, I do make my own noodles.  My German Grandma, Emma Blumhardt, taught me to make “knoephla” (pronounced k-nip-fla) a thick, fluffy German egg noodle made with a bit of baking powder.  I occasionally make up a large batch, divide it into portions, and freeze them.  My mom, on the other hand, buys dried egg noodles and that works, too.


1 quart Thrifty Stock (or store-bought chicken 
    or vegetable broth)

3 quarts water
2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
3 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small head of white cabbage, shredded

Heat stock in large soup pot with 3 quarts water.  Add vegetables and simmer, lid tilted.  

1 head garlic

1 Tbs. olive oil

Trim off pointed end of garlic, exposing the individual cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, and roast in 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 50 minutes, until soft.  Let cool.

1 lb. chicken thighs or breast tenders
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
4 oz. thick cut egg noodles, homemade (see Knoephla, German Egg Noodles) or store-bought
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet.  Sear the chicken on both sides, season with salt, onion powder, garlic salt.  Cool slightly, then chop chicken and add to soup.  Squeeze garlic from wrappers, mash well with a fork and add to soup.  Simmer 1 hour to marry flavors.

Meanwhile, boil 8 oz. noodles in separate pot of water according to package directions until al dente.  Drain and rinse.  Add to soup during last few minutes of cooking time.

Taste and add salt or additional water to correct seasoning or thickness of soup.  Serve garnished with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Roasted Garlic:
just what Doctor Mom ordered.

 

Categories
dinner soup

Cheeseburger Chowder

 A substantial soup for the man of the house


If your man prefers his soup extra thick and hearty, Cheeseburger Chowder will surely win his approval.  It’s loaded with all the goodies you’d expect to find on a cheeseburger at your favorite diner.  Do add the chopped pickles or sauerkraut as suggested; they really add an authentic, flavorful crunch.

Potatoes from the garden; well-scrubbed and diced.

2 Tbs olive or vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1 1/4 lbs. extra lean ground beef
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 medium potatoes, diced (scrub well; no need to peel if organic)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
2 cups Bone Broth or 1-15 oz. can Beef Broth
1 1/2 Tbs GMO free corn starch or 2 1/2 Tbs all purpose flour
1-15 oz. can evaporated milk or 2 cups fresh milk
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup diced dill pickles or chopped sauerkraut, for garnish

Heat medium soup pot (3-4 quart) over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and swirl to cover bottom of pan.  Add chopped onion and celery and saute until tender, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once onion and celery have softened, add ground meat. Sam hunts, so we often use ground game meat.



Increase heat to medium-high and crumble ground beef into the pot.  Season with garlic salt and pepper and cook until browned but not completely done, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and broth.  cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, 30 minutes.

Stir cornstarch or flour into milk and add to the pot.  Simmer, stirring constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add cheese and stir just until melted.  Do not allow the soup to boil, particularly if you used fresh rather than evaporated milk.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.  Garnish individual servings with cold chopped pickles or sauerkraut.

A hearty pot of Cheeseburger Chowder; husband-approved!






Categories
dinner freezing soup

Knoephla (German Egg Noodles)

Knoephla (German Egg Noodles)


Knoephla (pronounced k-nip-fla; the “k” is not silent) is of German-Russian origin.  My Grandma Blumhardt made knoephla with potatoes as a side dish with her home-fermented sauerkraut and German sausage every time we came to visit.  I also love them in soup (see Chicken Noodle Soup with Roasted Garlic).

For the Knoephla:
   3 eggs
   water
Beat eggs in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup and add water to the 1 1/2 cup mark.

   4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus  more for rolling
   1/8 tsp salt
   1/2 tsp baking powder 
Sift or whisk ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Gradually add liquid to flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon and then working the dough with your hands until it forms a semi-firm, non-sticky ball.  (Add additional flour or water if necessary.)

Place dough on a floured work surface and knead 20 times.  Divide into 7 balls.  Place one ball of dough on a heavily floured work surface and cover the remaining 6 with inverted mixing bowl.  

Generously sprinkle flour over a 2 standard cookie sheets with sides. 

Roll 1 ball of dough at a time into a circle 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.  Cut into 4 strips.  Sprinkle or dredge with flour and stack pieces, matching size/shape.  Cut with knife into 1/4 to 1/3 inch wide noodles.  Toss noodles generously with flour as you work to keep them from sticking to each other and sprinkle them over the floured cookie sheet.

To Cook for Soup:
   2 tsp salt
   one-third to one-half batch of knoephla
Bring a large pot of water (4 quarts) to a boil and add salt.  Drop noodles in boiling water and boil gently until tender; 5 – 7 minutes if fresh, 10 – 12 minutes if frozen.  Watch carefully to prevent boiling over.  Drain without rinsing when done and add to soup just before serving.

To Cook as a Side Dish:
   3 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
   2 tsp salt
   2 Tbs vegetable oil
   4 Tbs butter
   8 – 10 soda crackers
   one-half batch of knoephla
Bring a large pot of water (4 quarts) to a boil and add salt.  Add potatoes and cook until tender.  Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to heavy warmed crockery bowl, reserving cooking water.  Add more water if needed and return to a boil.  Drop noodles in boiling water and boil gently until tender; 5 – 7 minutes if fresh, 10 – 12 minutes if frozen.  Watch carefully to prevent boiling over.  Drain without rinsing when done.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan, heat oil and butter together over medium-low heat until foamy.  Crumble the crackers into the butter mixture and saute until golden brown and crispy.  Toss noodles and potatoes together.  Drizzle with buttered crumbs and stir well.

To Freeze Uncooked Noodles:
Be sure the noodles are evenly distributed over the cookie sheets.  Sprinkle additional flour over the noodles.  Freeze uncovered until solid, about 2 hours.  Working quickly, package frozen knoephla in zipper top freezer bags, label, and return to the freezer.  Use within 3 months.  Drop frozen noodles directly into rapidly boiling water; do not thaw before cooking.




Categories
D.I.Y.convenience foods dinner freezing gluten-free

Skillet Meal-in-a-bag

033cropped
Or a jar if you prefer


The freezer case at your local grocery store is brimming with quick skillet or stir-fry type meal ideas.  Stock your freezer inexpensively with Skillet Meals that are tailored to your family’s taste.  This recipe is easy to prepare in quantity and such a godsend when you’ve had a busy day and need to get dinner on the table NOW.   G.F. pasta or cooked brown rice can be substituted for spiral pasta to make a gluten-free dinner.

Categories
D.I.Y.convenience foods dinner freezing slow cooker tutorial

Cooking Dry Beans

From dry beans to convenience food – here’s how!


Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Refried Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Great Northern Beans, Kidney Beans, Cannellini Beans, Black-eyed Peas, Lima Beans.  Canned beans are infinitely useful.  They are also inexpensive and easy to prepare from scratch in quantity.  I love having a variety of ready-to-use cooked beans in my freezer for recipes.  The method outlined below utilizes two important principles.  The first is brining, which according to America’s Test Kitchen, tenderizes the seed coat.  The second is fermentation, which according to Sally Fallon Morell in her book Nourishing Traditions, improves digestibility of the beans, which reduces gastric upset.  People often ask, “How can I reduce the gas-causing effect of eating beans?”  Eat small amounts of beans often until your intestines develop the necessary flora to easily and properly digest them – and preparing them this way makes it simple!  Related recipes:  Mexican-Style Pinto Beans, Un-Refried Beans, Cuban-Style Black Beans, Confetti Bowl.  Tip:  Use your water bath canner to cook 4 pounds of beans at one time.  Thank you to my friend Beverly for the idea to package pre-cooked beans for the freezer in 2 cup packages – just like a can of beans from the store!

1 lb. dry beans (2 cups)
4 quarts room temperature water, 70-75 degrees F
1/4 cup whey or lemon juice 
2 Tbs sea salt

Place beans of choice in a large bowl, pot, or other container.  Add water, whey, and salt. Soak at room temperature overnight or up to 24 hours. 


Drain beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly.  

Transfer beans to a large pot, add 8 cups hot water, and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat, tilt the lid on the pot, and simmer until desired tenderness is reached, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  

OR cook in a slow cooker on HIGH heat for 3 to 4 1/2 hours.

Test several beans to determine doneness.  Older beans will take longer to cook, and really old beans may not soften.

Remove beans from heat, uncover, and let cool in their liquor for 1 hour.


Use immediately or package for the freezer.  Drain the beans and transfer to wide-mouth pint jars , freezer containers or freezer bags.  A pound of beans yields three 2 cup packages, equivalent to 3 cans of beans.  

Thaw frozen beans in one of the following ways:

  • defrost overnight in the refrigerator
  • thaw in the microwave on the defrost setting (not jars)
  • thaw tightly closed container in a large bowl of warm water (not jars)
  • set out at room temperature for an hour, then slide beans from their container into a small pan for heating.
If you can’t source organic dry beans locally, try   www.azurestandard.com    Your order is delivered once a month via truck to a designated “drop point.”  Products are regionally produced and reasonably priced.

 




Categories
D.I.Y.convenience foods dinner freezing

Cuban-Style Black Beans

Cuban-Style Black Beans
Garlic and bay leaves, both from the garden, add flavor.

These well-seasoned beans are delicious as a side dish or wrapped in a warm Whole Wheat Tortilla.  We love them best in Confetti Bowls for a quick lunch or snack.  The method outlined below utilizes two important principles.   The first is fermentation, which according to Sally Fallon Morell in her book Nourishing Traditions, improves digestibility of the beans, which in turn reduces gastric upset.  The second is brining, which according to America’s Test Kitchen, tenderizes the seed coat.

Day 1
1 lb. dry beans (2 cups)
4 quarts room temperature water, 70-75 degrees F
1/4 cup whey or lemon juice 
2 Tbs sea salt

Day 2
8 cups hot water
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Place beans of choice in a large bowl, pot, or other container.  Add water, whey, and salt. Soak at room temperature overnight or up to 24 hours. 

Drain beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly.  

Transfer beans to a large pot, add 8 cups hot water, bay leaf, and garlic.  Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat, tilt the lid on the pot, and simmer until desired tenderness is reached, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  

Skim foam from the pot with a mesh strainer.


OR cook in a slow cooker on HIGH heat for 3 to 4 1/2 hours.  

Test several beans to determine doneness.  Older beans will take longer to cook, and really old beans may not soften.

Remove beans from heat, uncover, and let cool in their liquor for 1 hour.  Remove bay leaf.

Use immediately or package for the freezer.  Drain the beans and transfer to wide-mouth pint jars , freezer containers or freezer bags.  A pound of beans yields three 2 cup packages, equivalent to 3 cans of beans.  

Thaw frozen beans in one of the following ways:

  • defrost overnight in the refrigerator
  • thaw in the microwave on the defrost setting (not jars)
  • thaw tightly closed container in a large bowl of warm water (not jars)
  • set out at room temperature for an hour, then slide beans from their container into a small pan for heating.

Categories
D.I.Y.convenience foods dinner freezing slow cooker

Mexican-Style Pinto Beans

Well-seasoned pinto beans are tasty enough to be the main event


These pleasingly flavored beans smell sooo good when they are cooking.  They are great as a side dish or incorporated into Mexican recipes.  They are the basis for Un-Refried Beans.  We use them in Taco Chip Ole (our version of taco salad), Taco Soup, in Whole Grain tortillas with cheese and hot sauce.  They are so popular at our house I usually cook 4 pounds of beans at a time, in which case I use the food processor to chop the onions : )   The method outlined below utilizes two important principles.  The first is fermentation, which according to Sally Fallon Morell in her book Nourishing Traditions, improves digestibility of the beans, which in turn reduces gastric upset. The second is brining, which according to America’s Test Kitchen, tenderizes the seed coat.  Inspiration for seasoning came from Beth Hensperger’s ‘Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook’, a book I highly recommend.

Day 1
1 lb. dry pinto beans (2 cups)
4 quarts room temperature water, 70-75 degrees F
1/4 cup whey or lemon juice
2 Tbs sea salt

Day 2
8 cups hot water
2 dried New Mexican, California, or ancho chiles
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf


Place beans of choice in a large bowl, pot, or other container.  Add water, whey, and salt. Soak at room temperature overnight or up to 24 hours. 

Drain beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly.
  

Pull stems off of dried chiles and shake the seeds out.


Transfer beans to a large pot; add 8 cups hot water.  Pull stems off of dried chiles and shake the seeds out.  Smash the garlic cloves with the broad side of a chef’s knife and add them, the chiles, chopped onion, and bay leaf to the pot.  Bring beans to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat, tilt the lid on the pot, and simmer until desired tenderness is reached, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  

OR cook in a slow cooker on HIGH heat for 3 to 4 1/2 hours.

Test several beans to determine doneness.  Older beans will take longer to cook, and really old beans may not soften.

Remove beans from heat and let cool in their liquor for 1 hour.

Use immediately or package for the freezer.  Drain the beans and transfer to wide-mouth pint jars , freezer containers or freezer bags.  A pound of beans yields three 2 cup packages, equivalent to 3 cans of beans.  

Thaw frozen beans in one of the following ways:

  • defrost overnight in the refrigerator
  • thaw in the microwave on the defrost setting (not jars)
  • thaw tightly closed container in a large bowl of warm water (not jars)
  • set out at room temperature for an hour, then slide beans from their container into a small pan for heating.
Delicious dish; enjoy plain, topped with cheese and hot sauce, alongside your favorite Mexican entree, or pureed to make Un-Refried Beans.