Friday, July 29, 2011

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

One of the first posts I ever did when I started doing this blog was on how much I love my dehydrator(s). I use them all the time to preserve extras and to save fresh food for later use.

I have a great tip for you today that uses your dehydrator to save time in your food preparation. The tip is to dry cooked rice. It is great, especially if you use a rice cooker, to cook a big batch of rice then dry what you don’t use for other meals. When you are ready to use it all you have to do is add hot water and allow to sit for about 10 minutes to rehydrate it and it is ready to go. You can keep it stored in vacuum seal bags so that you can take it on camping trips, include it with a take-in meal to a friend, or just pull it out for a last minute meal. If you make your vacuum sealing bags a little larger than needed you can wash them out after use to be reused/sealed again (and again.) I know that when I cook a big batch of rice I am scrambling to find ways to use the extras, now you can dry them and use them later instead.

This is a great time of year when gardens start producing and you can make meals out of what you have grown. One thing that is really great is being able to preserve the “extra” and save it for later. I’ve always been an avid canner but now I love dehydrating vegetables just as much. The number one reason for this is the ease of storing in MUCH less space.

One of my favorite ways to dehydrate is shredding. I’ve talked before about the versatility of shredded vegetables. So far I have posted info on dried shredded, carrots and potatoes but today I want to discuss shredding and drying squash, specifically zucchini. In the past I’ve always shredded zucchini and measured it out in 2 cup bags for our favorite zucchini recipes. Sometimes it’s gotten neglected in the back of the freezer or I forget it’s there until I want to make zucchini bread then I have to hunt for it.

By shredding the zucchini I not only free up freezer space, I can store it in a very small area and have it ready to go in no time. Not only that, I have found so many different recipes calling for shredded zucchini that I love making. It is also a quick addition to minestrone soup, Alfredo sauce, tomato based sauces, muffins, quick bread or any other recipe that calls for zucchini. My favorite part of all is that it is so quick and easy to dry and preserve your zucchini for later use, takes hardly any time at all!

Today I am sharing the way I dry shredded zucchini as well as my favorite recipes to use it. If you have leftover zucchini, don’t give it all away, dehydrate it and see how many ways you can find to use it in the coming months.

Simply wash the zucchini, cut off the ends, and grate. I use a salad shooter to shred and it takes just minutes. No need to peel or remove seeds unless you are using larger zucchini, then you can cut out the center where the seeds are and peel it if the peel is too tough. Spread the zucchini shreds on your dehydrator trays and dry at a low temperature if you have a thermostat or regulator. The zucchini is dry when it is brittle. Dry pack in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers or vacuum seal.

When you are ready to use the shreds in a recipe, just use 1/3 cup of shredded zucchini for each cup of zucchini called for in your recipe. You can add it directly to the batter or if you prefer, soak in it hot water and drain before adding to your bread or whatever. Such a convenient way to store ready-to-use zucchini. If you wish to increase your family’s nutrition add zucchini to pancakes (grind it into powder if you wish, use in spaghetti sauce or other tomato based sauces or add to any soup, stew or casserole and your family will never know the difference.

I am including my favorite zucchini brownie recipe. No one who has tasted this knows there is zucchini in it. A great disguise. Also including my favorite zucchini bread recipes as well as a favorite casserole dish too. No more frozen zucchini hiding in the back of your freezer!

Chocolaty Zucchini Brownies
½ c. oil
1 ½ c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa (less or more if you wish)
1 ½ t. soda
½ t. salt
2 c. shredded zucchini (substitute 2/3 c. dried shredded zucchini soaked for 10 minutes in hot water and drained well)
½ c. chopped nuts (optional)
6 T. cocoa (or less)
¼ c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
¼ c. milk
½ t. vanilla
Combine oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together and stir. Add to sugar mixture. Stir in zucchini and nuts, if used. Combine well. Spread into a sprayed 9x13” pan. Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes. For frosting: Stir and melt together cocoa and butter; cool slightly. Blend in 2 c. powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat well. Frost brownies and top with shredded coconut or nuts if desired

Pineapple Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
2 c. grated zucchini
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple drained well
3 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 ½ t. cinnamon
2 t. soda
½ t. baking powder
¾ c. nutmeg
1 c. nuts
1 c. raisins (optional)
Mix well and bake in 2 small loaf pans at 350º for 1 hour

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
1 T. vanilla
2c. shredded zucchini, packed (substitute 2/3 c. dried shredded zucchini soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained well)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Mix together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Add zucchini. Stir in flour, cocoa, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Mix well. Bake in 2 greased loaf pans at 350º for one hour or until done.
Then give a loaf to the kind soul who gave you the zucchini!

4 eggs, beaten
½ c vegetable oil
1 c. biscuit mix
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. (8 oz.) shredded cheese, divided
4 c. coarsely chopped summer squash or zucchini or a combination of both, diced fine (replace with 2/3 c. dried shredded zucchini or summer squash, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes.
Combine eggs, oil and biscuit mix. Stir in chilies, onion and garlic and half the cheese. Stir in squash. Pour into greased 13x9” pan. Bake at 350º for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved cheese and bake 5 minutes more. Y: 8-10 servings.

1 comment:

Joanne said...

I know this is an old post but I wanted to let you know I appreciated it. This year my goal is to learn more about dehydrating some of my garden surplus instead of canning it all. Another goal is to learn how to make dehydrated convenience foods ... so thanks for the cooked, dehydrated rice idea! I've heard it before but totally forgot, so I'll be sure to do it within the next few days so I don't forget again.

Have a great day!
Joanne in SW MO
Frugal Home and Health