Thursday, August 4, 2016

LEFTOVERS - Homemade Micro Meals - Meals in Jars

In my office at work lots of people, young and old, are standing in line for the microwave!  They are often warming up those tasteless little boxed meals you find in the freezer section of the grocery store.  Eek.  There are better options out there than those things!

I found a great money and time saver that gives me better food and more bang for my buck.  Also, no trash since I reuse the jars!  Another winner-winner, chicken dinner... or stir fry dinner, chili dinner, or pasta dinner...

Leftovers make great frozen dinners!  Here's all you need to do it AT HOME MY WAY:

Frozen Micro Meals in Jars

  • Leftovers, such as meals with rice, pasta, chili, soups
  • Jars with lids.  I use pint canning jars because those offer similar amounts like Lean Cuisine type dinners, but if you are a big eater, by all means use quart jars.
  • Lids.  I keep a stash of recycled peanut butter lids which are plastic for using with freezer/fridge food.  They fit perfectly on standard mouth canning jars.  Lots cheaper than buying those Ball plastic lids since they are FREE!
  • Permanent marker for labeling

Place leftovers directly in jars, leaving an inch or so of head space.  I use a canning funnel which helps but you don't have to have one.  Rice and pasta warm up great!  Mashed potatoes, not so much.  Sauces and gravies would be great as are stir fries, chili, soups.  You could even freeze restaurant food in jars.  Yes, vegetables won't be perfectly crisp, but are they in other boxed, freezer meals? It will be hot, delicious, and your own cooking.  YUM! 

Screw on a lid.

Write the meal and the date on the lid.  You could use masking tape to re-use, but I find that nail polish remover removes permanent marker so I do that sometimes for a fresh start.

Let cool somewhat before freezing so they don't heat up the other stuff in your freezer.

For lunch, grab and go.  It doesn't get much easier than that!

To reheat, heat two minutes or so with the lid loosened until hot to your liking.

Dig in.

(Yes, glass jars work great in the freezer! )



Friday, July 29, 2016

When life gives you zucchini - make jam! Surprise Zucchini Jam - NO PECTIN NEEDED! Must-Have Garden Recipe!!

This fantastic Surprise Zucchini Jam will be a great way to use up those ever-growing zucchinis in your garden.  It turns out fantastic and uses no pectin!  Ding-ding-ding - money saver!  (Jello is lots cheaper than pectin!)  

I ate mine on some bread/toast and it was amazing!  I just couldn't imagine what it would taste like??  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  Great for biscuits, toast, even over cream cheese/served with crackers as an appetizer!  It would make a fun homemade Christmas gift, too!

I am making lots more varieties of this recipe.  My husband's grandma always used apricot jello. Strawberry jello is supposed to be great! Also, I thought it would be good to use pineapple jello and include some ground jalapenos for pepper jelly.  Lots of possibilities here!

Since this recipe uses no Surejel/pectin, I was very skeptical. However, after a sit overnight, it was all set up.  In the fridge, it was the perfect "jam" consistency.  (Prior to that it looked like relish.)  Don't stress.  It's will work!

(NOTE:  I didn't peel my zucchini and wish I had.  I'm fine with it but picky family members are more likely to eat it without dark green flakes in it LOL.)

Here's how I made Surprise Zucchini Jam AT HOME MY WAY:

Surprise Zucchini Jam

  • 6 cups PEELED and finely grated zucchini (seeds removed)
  • 5 to 6 cups sugar (I used about 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (16 ounce) can CRUSHED pineapple (juice included)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 (3 oz) or 1 (6 oz) box jello (apricot, peach, strawberry)

Place PEELED and finely grated zucchini (seeds removed) in a pot large enough to incorporate (eventually) all of the ingredients.  Cook for 20 minutes or so - so that it actually boils for total of 10 minutes.  I carefully did this since my zucchini didn't have a lot of juice.  I covered it with a lid and stirred often.

Add sugar, pineapple (including juice), and lemon juice.  Cook so that it boils again for 10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat.

Add jello.  Stir for 1 minute so jello completely dissolves.

Place in sterilized (I use my dishwasher) canning jars and add lids/rings.  Water bath 10 minutes according to standard canning instructions.



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pumpkin Bread - NO EGGS - Delicious, frugal, & VEGAN!

Last night I tried a recipe for pumpkin bread that was a complete SUCCESS!

I like to try to incorporate vegan recipes into my menu whenever possible.  My niece makes mostly vegan or vegetarian dishes and I have enjoyed learning to make some really good food that doesn't incorporate meat or animal products.  Am I a vegan?  No.  But, I have discovered that vegan dishes leave me feeling wonderfully full and satisfied without feeling stuffed and sluggish.  The other part about vegan cooking that I like is that the recipes I have tried are simple, and less expensive to make.  I love having a few vegan recipes in my files for when I run out of eggs or need a meal and don't have any meat.

This recipe for pumpkin bread turned out fantastic!  Seems like pumpkin recipes always have increased amounts of eggs so I wasn't sure how this would turn out??  I found this recipe HERE (Hell Yeah it's Vegan!)  (I'm anxious to try lots more of her recipes by the way!)

The texture of this pumpkin bread is light.  The crumb is fine.  It's really amazing!  I will probably only make this recipe for pumpkin bread from now on.  Hmm.... I'm not sure what the eggs could have added to this recipe??  

I added raisins to my recipe for this loaf but plan to incorporate nuts, chocolate chips, dried cranberries??  I found the recipe a little overly sweet so I'll probably cut back on the sugar.  I might also increase the cinnamon because I love really spicy pumpkin bread.  

Try this recipe out for yourself!  You will be so glad you did.  And when you run out of eggs and need something to make, you'll be so glad you can make this Pumpkin Bread - NO EGGS - At Home My Way.  

Pumpkin Bread - NO EGGS - 
Vegan Recipe
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar (Next time will cut this in half to 1/2 cup) 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Next time will increase to 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup pumpkin purree
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used olive.)
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • Optional:  Nuts, raisins, chocolate chips (1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease and flour one loaf pan (or spray)

Mix together dry ingredients into a bowl.

In another bowl, whisk wet ingredients together, including pumpkin.

Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring just until blended.

NOTE:  This batter will be thick!  That's OK!

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 50-55 minutes or until top is browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool 20 minutes and loosen edges with a knife to remove from pan.

Cool completely before covering or placing in a baggy for storage.




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