Brazilian Black Beans

Well it’s World Cup season and over here we cheer for the American, Canadian and Brazilian teams. To be festive this week I made Brazilian Black Beans. These beans come with a story.

BEANSPIN

About 10 years ago my husband served a mission for The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints in Brazil for 2 years. We had been dating before he left and when he got home we were married. He often spoke of some of his favorite foods from Brazil. Of course one of his favorite foods was the beans. For the last few years I took it as a challenge to try and re-create these famous Brazilian beans. I tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked how I made them. Every time I made them he said they tasted good but weren’t exactly the same. Just an FYI… recreating food you have never tasted is actually quite challenging. He kept saying “They must just have different spices in Brazil”.

Well about 5 months ago a dear friend from my husband’s mission was in town. She came over and taught me how to make Brazilian beans. Well it turns out it wasn’t spices I was missing. It was sausage and bacon. Ummmmmm DEAR HUSBAND: SPICES CAN’T TAKE THE PLACE OF SAUSAGE AND BACON. Anyways, here’s the recipe for how dear Sueli from Brazil taught me how to make my husband’s favorite mission food.

ingredeints

Brazilian Beans

Ingredients:
2 cups of dry beans soaked
5 cups of water (or chicken broth – see notes for how I make my chicken broth)
A large sausage or 4 small ones of your choice
4 pieces of bacon diced
1/2 green pepper
1/2 onion
Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  • Pressure cook beans in water or bouillon for 15 minutes on low. Release pressure. At this point you want them kind of soft but not all the way cooked. In case you are using old beans or didn’t soak them long enough cook again until they are soft on the outside not all the way cooked on the inside.
  • Add 4 sausages or 1 large one cut into 4 pieces into the pressure cooker. Cook on low again for 10 minutes. This will flavor your beans. The sausage I use is pictured above. It is a natural chicken sausage and it works great.
  • While sausage is cooking fry bacon, green pepper, and onion in a frying pan.
  • Once the beans are done their second cook remove sausage and cut into bite size pieces. Each individual piece will be more juicy by leaving them in the larger chunks during the pressure cooking process.
  • Add bacon, green pepper, onions and sausage pieces back to pressure cooker and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

ENJOY!

Notes:

She taught me how to make these with my electric pressure cooker. I absolutely love the electric pressure cooker. Love it. Your kitchen tools may vary so make adjustments as needed.
Chicken Broth: When I pull out an appliance I like to use it a few times (since it’s out already). I usually cook 4-5 frozen chicken breasts in water, garlic, onion, salt and pepper on high pressure for about 16 minutes. The liquid that this makes is am amazing broth. I then use the broth to make beans, soups or anything that needs broth.

3 PIZZA DOUGH RECIPES

PIZZADOUGH



Pizza is a FAVORITE around here. Whether it be take-out, gourmet, or homemade we are always up for pizza. Today we wanted to share with you 3 different ways to make homemade pizza dough. Depending on your time frame and preferences one of these will for sure be a hit!

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The fastest way to make pizza dough is with Thrive’s new Country White Bread Dough. All you have to do is add water and yeast. It’s so easy even Julie’s boys help make it. The dough is great for bread, rolls, scones, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and PIZZA DOUGH.
We like this as an option when we really didn’t plan ahead and want a quick meal we know our family will love. Use this dough with any of your favorite pizza toppings and sauces.


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Jodi’s family loves deep-dish pizza and her favorite recipe is this one modified from our friend Crystal at Everyday Food Storage.

Ingredients
2 1/2 C. Medium Hot Water
5 tsp. SAF Instant Yeast*
2 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Oil
1 tsp. Salt
6 C. Flour (you can do half all-purpose and half wheat or 100% fresh ground whole wheat)
1/2 Cube of Butter

Directions:
1. Pour medium hot water in mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and allow to dissolve.
2. Add sugar, salt, and oil. Gradually add approximately 6 cups of flour.
3. Melt 1/2 cube of butter on cookie sheet in oven as it is heating to 400 degrees and melt in oven.
4. Place dough on cookie sheet and press to fill pan, make sure butter gets on top of the dough.
5. Add your sauce, cheese, and toppings.
6. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned and the crust is firm.

* When using regular yeast change amount to 2 Tbsp. Makes enough dough for two pizzas, or one pizza and some breadsticks.

jodiskids

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Julie loves to use our favorite bread recipe for her pizza dough. It’s 100% whole wheat and it makes a big enough batch she gets bread, pizza, and cinnamon rolls out of HALF a batch. She has also been known to make calzones and freeze them for quick lunches with the dough. This recipe originated on the Deals to Meals blog, directions are modified for Julie’s methods.

Ingredients:
7 c. whole wheat flour (grind your own with your Wondermill)
2/3 c. vital wheat gluten (buy at Honeyville)
2 1/2 T. instant yeast (we like the SAF brand)

5 c. hot water (120-130 F)

2 T. salt
2/3 c. oil
2/3 c. honey or 1 c. sugar (we like honey the best!)
2 1/2 T. bottled lemon juice

5 c. whole wheat flour

Directions:
Mix together the first three ingredients in your mixer with a dough hook (we both use and love our Bosch for this). Add water all at once and mix for 1 minute; cover and let rest for 10 minutes (this is called sponging). Add salt, oil, honey or sugar, and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute. Add last flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between each cup. Beat for about 6-10 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This makes very soft dough.

Spray counter with pam and take dough out of the bowl. Do NOT flour your counter, this will add dryness you don’t want in the dough. If you are making half the recipe, you can make up to 3 pizzas. Roll out the dough and top with your favorite sauce and toppings. You don’t need to let the dough rise very long but you can if you like a fluffier dough. I also like to make the dough in the morning, stick it in the fridge, then pull it out about 40 minutes before putting it in the oven to allow for it to warm and rise a little. For full instructions on making bread instead of pizza with this recipe, visit this link.

This is the dough Julie uses in her FAVORITE pizza. Buffalo Chicken Pizza. YUM


So there you have it. Whether you have 5, 15, or 25 minutes to get your pizza dough ready we think one of these will be a great option for you. Enjoy and share!

How to Make Ricotta Cheese from Powdered Milk

Julie and I often say if there were an emergency and we could eat PIZZA then everything would be ok. I’ve come to realize that cheese is a pretty major comfort food for me and is something I would miss significantly in an emergency situation. I’ve decided to try to have different cheeses on hand in several forms (shredded in the freezer, freeze-dried cheeses in my food storage, parmesan cheese in the pantry, etc.) One thing I couldn’t store well was ricotta cheese which is a favorite in some of our lasagna recipes. I decided to try a completely shelf stable lasagna one day and ventured out to see if I could MAKE ricotta cheese using powdered milk. I googled a few recipes and experimented a little bit and found a solution that seemed to work well! Here’s the full scoop.

ricotta

Homemade Ricotta Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:
8 cups water
1 1/2 cups Thrive Instant Powdered Milk
1/3 cup lemon juice or white vinegar
1 tsp. salt, optional
1 T. oil or butter, optional

Directions:
Mix the water and milk powder in a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat up to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit (or just before boiling). The milk will get foamy and start to steam. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat and add in the lemon juice and salt and butter if desired. The oil/butter can be helpful to encourage the curds and whey to separate better since the powdered milk is a non-fat milk.

Let the mixture sit for 10-20 minutes. You should see the milk separate into curds (white clumps) and whey (yellowy liquid). Once it all seems to be separated, strain the curds using a strainer with small holes and/or a cheese cloth or clean t-shirt. I just used a strainer and it seemed to be fine. I like to make things easy. I let it strain for about 30 minutes and then squished out as much of the excess whey as I could by pushing against the curds with a spoon. It made a crumbly cheese that was perfect for this lasagna.

From what I read online, this isn’t a TRUE ricotta but it was a pretty great substitution without taking all day or having to run to the store!

Hurray for cheese in my food storage!


Freezer Meals and Food Storage

If you are one of our friends on Facebook you may have seen some of the pictures I posted of my little project to help my Grandma last weekend. Grandma Shirley is my food storage idol. Ever since I was a little girl I used to sneak down to her food storage room and stare in amazement at the sheer volume of food there (and sneak into the candy stash which she claims is the most important part). A few years ago we actually went up and took pictures of her storage and wrote a little summary of our findings. It was fun to go through it with her. Check that out at this link.

Recently my grandma had a little health scare and has been unable to do her normal routines of cooking/cleaning/etc. We live about two hours away from her so my mom and I decided to drive up for the weekend and get her freezer stocked with meals. I shared a few pictures from the event on Facebook and everyone wanted to know more about it, so here are the details!

freezer-meals

Step 1: Come up with a list of meals. I used recipes found in my “recipe binder“. There is a link to download my whole file found in that post. Here are the meals we chose to make and the instructions for cooking up each meal.

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Step 2: Make a grocery list for all of the meals.

Step 3: Shop for your food. This was the fun part, since Grandma has such a great food storage, we went down to her basement first and we were able to get a ton of the ingredients from there. We found staples like rice and pasta, as well as most of the pantry items like canned corn, beans, cream of chicken soup, etc. We went and bought fresh meat and items like sour cream and eggs because we didn’t want to open up her #10 cans of them. She was so happy to see her food getting used instead of just wasting away in the basement. It is hard for her to make it up and down the stairs these days so we loved helping her out with this.

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Step 4: Prepare all the meals. Our cook time was about 3 1/2 hours total. Make sure that you know what containers you are going to be using. We were able to use all of her dishes so we didn’t have to worry about using disposable pans. Plan ahead for how you will need to cook them so you don’t put something that needs to go in the oven in a plastic container.

Step 5: Put the meals in containers and label everything. We put all of the side dishes and/or extra toppings in little baggies taped to each container to make it very easy to have everything for one meal all in one place.

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Since these original recipes were meant to feed a larger family, this ended up making at least 16 MEALS for my grandparents. It was so rewarding to do this for them, and we got to spend a fun day visiting while we cooked.

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Summer Salad with a Quick and Easy Corn Salsa

Do you ever feel like you’ve been to one too many BBQ’s in the summer. Well I sure do. This is a fun alternative to the typical BBQ and it used some Food Storage.

SUMMER

The beauty of this concept is that people can make their own salads the way they like them. I like to put the hot ingredients in these tin containers where they can stay hot, but if they aren’t super hot it wont matter. The other ingredients can be put in Ziploc bags and transported wherever you want to go! Be creative with this idea and maybe enjoy a spin on the typical summer BBQ at your next family party.

Salad Bar BBQ

Lettuce
Rice (cook with cilantro and lime juice)
Beans (see instructions on how to take dry beans, to yummmy beans here)
Grilled chicken (since this is a summer BBQ salad bar after all)
Corn salsa (see recipe below)
Shredded cheese
Salsa
Dressing of your choice
Chip strips
Any other toppings you like

salsa

Quick and Easy Corn Salsa
1 cup Freeze Dried Sweet Corn
1/4 cup Dehydrated Red and Green Bell Peppers
1/4 cup Freeze Dried Onions
2 TablespoonsFreeze Dried Cilantro

Combine corn, peppers and onions in bowl and cover with water. Let sit until corn is soft. Drain water. Add Cilantro. You can use fresh ingredients as well, but this works for a quick salsa when you don’t have some things on hand. You can also add the black beans and tomatoes right to this if you would like.

Hopefully this adds some “freshness” to your next event, and helps you rotate some of your food storage.
Enjoy!


Fourth of July Recipes and Ideas

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! We are excited to be celebrating the Fourth this week (along with Canada Day on Monday!). We thought it would be fun to do a little link round up today of fun 4th of July recipes on the web. We hope you enjoy and have a great Holiday!

4th of July Recipe Round-Up from Food Storage Made Easy

Patriotic Jello
Jodi made an awesome 4th of July jello recipe that uses freeze dried fruit. Freeze dried berries are awesome to have when berries my be out of season, or when you just don’t feel like going to the store. You’ll have to check it out!
4th of July Brownies
We know you’ve heard it. You can replace fats like oils in baking with BEANS. Check out how Crystal does just that when she made her Fourth of July brownies.
Our Best BITES 4th of July
Remember the post we did featuring how to incorporate your food storage into some of your favorite recipes using “Our Best Bites” recipes. Well the girls over at Our Best Bites did the cutest 4th of July spread you gotta check out.
4th of July Blender Wheat Pancakes
A recipe for the most beginner food storage user. Blender wheat pancakes allow you to use your wheat without a wheat grinder and are a big hit. These pancakes are sure to be a family favorite.
Broken Glass Jello
Use only red and blue jello and you get an awesome patriotic jello dish that will be a hit at any get together.
Watermelon-Flavored Cake
A perfect summer-y cake to use at a 4th of July event or any pot luck you are attending. It not only looks like watermelon but tastes like it too!
Yummy Gummy Candy
Sugar-free and actually yummy. These red and white stars will be a hit with the little ones and can provide a healthy snack option.
Ultimate Veggie Burgers
These can be made with all food storage ingredients and are another great healthy option instead of traditional barbecue choices.
4th of July Printables
Whatever it is you are up to on the 4th, these toppers could make a lot of things cute. Isn’t it great that there are so many artistic people out there making these great things free and downloadable!

How to Create a Recipe Binder

A couple of years ago I posted about How to Organize Your Recipes as I was creating a recipe binder for my first little sister to get married. Fast forward two years to my next little sister’s wedding and I updated the whole system and gave her a recipe gift too. Since I tweaked my system I thought I’d share what I do now in case it helps you with YOUR recipe system. I love this for my own recipes and it makes it SO easy to share with family and friends.

recipebinderpin

Step 1: Buy a binder
I like to use the 1/2 size binders as they are a little bigger than recipe cards but don’t take up much space in your cupboard or on your counter. If you get the kind with a clear plastic coating you can slide in cute covers and side labels :) You can do all your recipes in one binder or split them up into main dishes/side dishes/desserts/etc.

binder1

Step 2: Buy paper or cardstock
You can use plain white paper or cardstock, but I like to color code based on categories. I buy my paper depending on the color combination I want for that particular binder. Cardstock will be sturdier, but paper will make your binder not as fat and heavy.

Step 3: Buy 1/2 size sheet protectors
These used to be a little bit hard to find but lately I’ve been finding them at most office supply stores or even at Wal-Mart. You can also buy them online if you are having trouble finding them in your area. They are a little pricier than full-page protectors but I LOVE the half page size. They are perfect to keep on the counter and you can fit a lot of recipes in one binder. Note: I also bought little section dividers but they are a bit silly since the page protectors stick out further than the dividers. But they add a little separator and they look cute so I left them in.

Step 4: Create your recipe database
This can be a little bit tricky, and is the main thing I have changed since the last time I did this project. All I do now is set up my word document as a giant table. There are two cells per page and I put one recipe in each cell. This keeps the file formatted perfectly and you can print it like regular. Hint, start the recipe on the bottom half of the page down one line extra and that will keep the margins and spacing even when you print and cut them.

I like to put the category name at the top of the recipe, and I also have made little notes on each recipe to indicate which items are food storage items versus ones I would buy fresh at the grocery store. This is a new addition I made for my own binder that helps me with my meal planning each month. For my sister, I made a copy of JUST the recipes so she doesn’t have to see all my “food storage” notes.

If you’d like to see the recipe file, you can download it by clicking the recipe image below.

Step 5: Put it all together!
Print each category separately so you don’t get the colors mixed up. Use a scrapbook paper cutter or scissors to cut your pages in half and slip them in the page protectors. I made a “cover page” for each food category so I make sure to put that in the front of each section. I also added notes on my cover sections for easy meal ideas that there are not actual recipes for. This helps with meal planning too.

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I also uploaded a copy of the page I used to make the cute cover and side label. You can download that by clicking here. The font is called CHERI and you can search for it and download it to your computer if you want to use it.

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This is the best system I have found for keeping track of my recipes. I LOVE being able to write notes on the pages with a dry-erase marker and updating the file with it every few months. I love being able to add recipes from my favorite cookbooks so I can have them all in one place, and easily be able to share my favorites with my sisters. And I especially love that I get to help my little sisters get started in their own cooking adventures in an easy to assemble, yet meaningful gift.

Food Storage Meats and a Delicious Meatballs Tetrazzini Recipe

When you look at typical food storage calculators you’ll notice that the main source of protein is in the legumes. For a long time Julie was a little “scared” of beans and just decided that she could store tuna and peanut butter and call it good for protein. (not really, but kind of).

Since then, we have both learned to love beans and the MANY MANY uses they have and how healthy they are to use in your everyday cooking. We also have discovered that it is not too difficult to add REAL meats into your food storage. We actually did a post a while back all about incorporating meats into your food storage that can give you some ideas on how to do it that best suits you. Some ways are more time consuming (canning) … others are more expensive (freeze-dried) and each person should figure out the best way for THEM to store meats for their own family.

That being said, I have done a combination of home-canned meats (tutorials found here and here), meats in the freezer, and freeze-dried meats. I like to have lots of options open to me. I love to practice cooking with my home canned and freeze-dried meats so that I can make sure they are good in my recipes should I ever have to depend on them in an emergency. One thing I’ve really been curious about is if I could make some of my favorite meatball recipes using food storage. Well I finally tried it and was THRILLED with the results!

meatballs-tetrazzini

This is a recipe that comes from my husband’s mom and it has quickly turned into a family favorite around here. You can use any basic meatball recipe, but I’ll share my favorite one with you. For this experiment I used half rehydrated freeze dried ground beef and half regular ground beef and it held together great! I’m going to try it with all freeze-dried next time and see if the meatballs are able to keep their shape ok still.

Basic Meatball Recipe:
1 lb ground beef (I used half freeze-dried ground beef)
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 c. dehydrated onion flakes
1 egg
1 tsp. Salt

Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Shape into meatballs (it’s easiest with a melon or ice cream scoop) and put on a rack with a pan underneath. I cover the pan with tinfoil to save on clean-up time. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes. Note: I always double this recipe and save half in the fridge or freezer for another meatball recipe later in the week.

freeze-dried-beef

Meatballs Tetrazzini Recipe:
1 batch of basic meatballs
8 oz package spaghetti
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/4 c. freeze dried onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1/8 tsp. pepper
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Directions: Prepare basic meatball recipe. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spaghetti and drain. Combine soup, milk, onion, salt, pepper, and cheese. Head until cheese is melted. Arrange meatballs and spaghetti in a 9×13 pan. Pour liquid mixture over meatballs and toss to mix well. Back for 30 minutes until hot and serve immediately.


How to Make Omelets Freeze-Dried Style

Two years ago Julie and I won a trip to Cancun and we both brought our husbands and made a fun trip out of it. My husband and I fell in love with this breakfast place there that had the most amazing custom-made omelets. When we got home we had a little bit of an obsession with trying to recreate these omelets. (Our backyard chickens were still laying like champions so we had no shortage of eggs to try it out on every morning.)

The problem was that we kept running out of the fresh veggies needed for the omelets. One day I was really wanting one of the famous omelets but had no peppers or tomatoes in the house. So I ventured to the basement and pulled a few cans upstairs to try out. I then had the brilliant idea to also use freeze-dried cheese just to see if in an “emergency” I could still have my treasured breakfast.

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Here is how I reconstituted the foods. I used freeze-dried green bell peppers and freeze dried tomato dices. I rehydrated them for just a couple of minutes before adding them into the omelet. I used freeze-dried cheddar cheese. I reconstituted it in a bowl full of water. This made it kind of squishy and hard to spread around. There are two other methods which work better which I’ll describe below. I sprinkled some of the cheese inside and topped the omelet with the rest. My omelet was DIVINE! Now if I really wanted to get crazy I could also try throwing in some freeze-dried ham, but I’m hesitant to open a full can of it because it has such a short open shelf life (but in an emergency I could have delicious ham in my omelet too!) I’d also like to try it with the scrambled egg mix some day just to see if it is as yummy (because I know not everyone has chickens).

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Tips for Reconstituting Freeze-Dried Cheese

Best Method: (from Thrive Life’s Chef Todd)
1. Place 2 cups of THRIVE cheese in a glass bowl.
2. With a spoon, lightly stir cheese while drizzling 1/2 cup of cold water over the cheese. Stir continuously until all the water is incorporated into the cheese.
3. Water should just barely start to collect on the bottom of the glass bowl. This is a sign that the cheese has absorbed enough water.
4. Place cheese in a zip lock bag and store in refrigerator overnight or for several hours before use.

Note: Cheese will last up to 8 days in refrigerator. Continue to reconstitute cheese, as you need it, following these simple steps. Adjust quantity for individual needs.

Quick Method:
1. Place a thick layer of paper towels on a plate.
2. Pour dried cheese onto the paper towels.
3. Spray the cheese with a spray bottle and stir around with your finger.
4. Continue spraying and waiting a little bit, spraying and waiting.
5. Once water starts to pool under the paper towel, it should be pretty well hydrated. It may be slightly crunchy but should work fine in recipes for melting, etc.


Strawberry Macaroons (Food Storage Cookies!)

I have a confession to make. I’m in love with the Thrive Macaroon Cookie Mix. If you ever need a super fast and amazingly delicious treat to bring to an event, these are THE thing to make. It’s a cookie mix and you just add water, scoop onto a cookie sheet and cook for fifteen minutes. EVERY time I bring these somewhere I get asked for the recipe and have to sheepishly admit they are from a can mix. I don’t care though. They are so good that I always offer to bring the treat, just so I can have an excuse to make them. They are awesome to keep as a comfort food in your food storage, but we always eat through them faster than I can replenish!

Today we had a mother’s day picnic in the park and I was assigned to make an “Oh My Heck” Salad (our family calls it the oh my heck salad because it is so good that you say oh my heck when you taste it). Anyway, maybe we’ll post that recipe another day. But I was in the mood for my cookies so I offered to bring them too. I’ve been reading about other people trying some variations so I decided to take the plunge and experiment and I have to say, it was WORTH IT! Here’s how you can make delicious easy strawberry macaroons out of your food storage foods :)

macaroons

Food Storage Strawberry Macaroons

Ingredients
6 1/2 c. Thrive Macaroon Mix
2 c. freeze dried strawberries, rehydrated
1 c. boiling water (I used the water leftover from rehydrating my berries)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reconstitute your strawberries. Try to get a lot of powder from the bottom of the can to enhance the strawberry flavor. Once the strawberries are softened, drain them and reserve the water. Boil 1 cup of the strawberry-flavored water. Mix with the Macaroon Mix in a large bowl. Mash up the strawberries and stir them into the mix. Spoon with a meatball or ice cream scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to let them set or they will just tear apart when you try to get them off.

This is a double batch of the recipe on the can. It probably made about 50 cookies. There wasn’t one cookie left after our picnic, and my 8 year old was mad because he only got to eat one. Yes they were THAT good.

p.s. Since these cookies are white, you can also add food coloring to make festive cookies (i.e. I made green ones and took them to a St. Patrick’s Day event)