Friday, April 15, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Meal Idea and Tip of the Week

I’ve been doing a lot of baking and cooking this week. I’ve tried a couple of fun recipes can be made with fresh ingredients or with food storage and I’ll be posting those next week. I think it’s the spring fever that is doing it. It’s been too wet and windy to spend much time outside but I’m enjoying the idea that maybe spring is going to come soon. I’m sure many of you are already thinking gardening; I’ve been planting some herbs that I hope will grow well so I can have fresh herbs in my recipes. I’ve been rather lax about trying to grow many herbs – not because I wouldn’t like to, I just have not gotten it done. Maybe this will be the year! I think that vegetable gardens will be a beautiful sight this summer. I hope all your gardening plans go well also.

The tip of the week is a fun one too. One of my challenges, now that I’m cooking for two, is to cut down recipes. Seems like I am forever trying to cut a recipe in half or thirds to avoid waste. One of the biggest problems with that is when I need a can of beans. I have a lot of recipes for salsas and salads not to mention soups that call for a can of beans. I’ve been known to change my mind about making a recipe because I didn’t want to open a can of beans to use just a part of a can. Here is a great tip that will be of help to me and hopefully you as well.

Did you know that you can prepare dried beans in your crock pot? This is so handy and cheap! It is under a dollar for a pound of dried beans and you get several cans worth of beans. All you have to do is cook them and put 1 2/3 cup portions into a bag (and freeze) for whenever you need a can of beans. It is so simple and there is very little hands on time. First sort the beans and pick out any that look bad or any little rocks. Rinse them very well.

Next, put your beans in the slow cooker and cover the beans with water and let them sit overnight (with the slow cooker turned off). In the morning dump the bean water, rinse your beans and put them back in the slow cooker. Add water until the beans are covered- plus several inches extra. Cook on low for 8 hours and dump the water.

Bag the beans in 1 2/3 cup portions (a heaping ¾ c. for a half can) and freeze them. Now you have beans ready whenever you need some. So easy and a great way to save some money without much work. *Note: If you want to be able to pull out just a few beans, spread them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, plastic wrap or a silpat and freeze before bagging, then it is easier to pull out a handful of beans or however many you want to use without having to thaw the bag first. Important note: This does not work for kidney beans. They release some sort of toxin and need to be boiled hard instead of cooked slow.

The recipe this week was sent to me by Gayle P. from Utah. It is a fun casserole recipe that looks delicious and would be great served with a fresh green salad made with fresh veggies. I guess you can tell I’m anxious for some fresh garden produce. Thanks for sending the recipe in. Still would love more recipes if you have some you want to send.

Easy Lasagna Casserole – Gayle P.
1½ c. Freeze Dried Ground Beef (reconstituted), or 1 pint canned ground beef
¼ c. Dried Chopped Onion, reconstituted
1¾ c. Chunky Salsa Tomato Sauce
1 t. Italian Seasoning
2/3 c. Dehydrated Fat-Free Milk, reconstituted
½ c. Water
½ c. Cream Cheese
¼ t. Minced Garlic
1 t. Dried Parsley Flakes
2 c. Cooked Medium-Width Noodles
½ c. Plus 1 T. Freeze Dried Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, reconstituted
Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a large saucepan with olive oil flavored cooking spray and brown meat and onions in it. Stir in tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, water, and cream cheese. Add garlic and parsley flakes. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cream cheese melts. Stir in cooked noodles. Pour noodle mixture into 8"x 8" baking dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Spread meat mixture evenly over noodle mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella. Bake uncovered 15-20 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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