7/24/16

Can eggs be frozen? How long can eggs be stored? I just bought 15 dozen eggs!

Yesterday was our bi-weekly shopping trip.  I typically go to a larger membership warehouse first for some of our items, followed by a regular grocery store for the rest. Unfortunately, my local warehouse has been steadily going downhill in customer service, in-stock items and the quality of produce.  For the past year they regularly do not have signage up for prices, they are always running out of 'regular' stocked goods and the quality of their produce has gotten so bad I refuse to purchase most of it.

Yesterday my shopping list was fairly small.  About 12 items and 4 of which, I wasn't able to purchase!  Out of sour cream (again), the celery had to have been over a month old as the 8 or 9 bunches left were literally yellow and brown and had mushy spots, and the bananas were all brown and/or brown speckled and needing to be used ASAP in banana bread or pudding but absolutely not edible as a fresh, firm 'nana'.

And then I got to the eggs.  Our regular 18 count egg 'out'. Again.  My options were a different brand 18 count egg for almost $4 a pack (and I need two) or large box of 15 dozen eggs for just over $16.  Hello?  Spend almost $8 for 36 eggs or $16.60 for 180?  That is the difference between paying $.09 and $.20 per egg.

I told my 20 year old who was with me I was going to buy the 15 dozen.  She didn't believe me.  That is, until I grabbed the box out of the refrigerator and transferred it to our cart.  "We don't have room for those in our refrigerator!"  she exclaimed.  "Oh yes we do", I replied determinedly.

Although I've never bought this many eggs before, we do go through a lot of eggs as my husband would love to take 3 hard boiled eggs in his lunch every day if he could; but he can't as he goes through so many hard boiled eggs that I am often left rationing the eggs for my daily cooking and baking against his love of hard boiled, protein packed eggs and deviled eggs.  I can now make my blueberry bread with abandon (6 eggs) and homemade angel food cake 12-15 egg whites, and all the breakfast pizza and scrambled eggs my heart desires.

I planned on getting my own chickens this year, but when Spring came, so did a crazy life-schedule that had me gone cross-country more than I was home!  I couldn't get a chicken coop built and get the baby chicks and take care of those chicks as I am usually about 1000 miles from home more often than not.  But in anticipation of those chicks, I had started to save Styrofoam and cardboard containers from our store bought eggs (to store our fresh eggs in the refrigerator once they started laying abundantly).

Although we don't have room for a large box in our refrigerator, the top shelf (where we keep our eggs) had enough room once I cleared it out and repacked the eggs into cartons for freshness and longer storage.  (Don't store your eggs 'open' in the refrigerator nor in your refrigerator door.  More on that below.)

I may not be an egg 'expert' but I'm a pretty smart cookie with some wisdom and knowledge in me.  I already knew eggs can be safely stored and eaten for over a month in your refrigerator, in a carton, on a shelf away from fluctuating temperatures . I also know you can freeze eggs - although I that's never been something we've done (we go through eggs too fast in this family!).  Eggs that you buy and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 week peel easily when made into hard boiled eggs, and store bought eggs kept in right conditions in the refrigerator rarely ever spoil - even after 2 months - they just get a little drier or runnier.

But did I know enough general egg knowledge to store 15 dozen eggs?  Especially when I had already decided I would like to freeze some of them for emergency longer-term storage.  (Remember last year when chickens were getting sick and there was a run on eggs and suddenly all the stores jacked up their prices for eggs to more than double and triple?  Dried and freeze dried eggs went from $31 a can to up to $90 a can.)

I am getting ready to go do some freezing right now but thought I'd add this information to my recipe blog for my own information storage as well as my 3 young adult kids, and like the rest of my site; public use too.

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STORING EGGS
Refrigeration and Freezer


Eggs are perishable and must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Many factors can affect how long eggs last. When properly handled and stored, eggs rarely spoil. However, if you keep them too long, they are likely to dry up.

Refrigerator Storage: Refrigerate eggs at 40°F or less. Store them in their original carton on an inside shelf and away from pungent foods. The temperature on an inside shelf remains more constant than one on the door, which is opened and closed frequently. The carton keeps the eggs from picking up odors or flavors from other foods and helps prevent moisture loss.
Raw eggs that have been removed from their shells should be refrigerated in a tightly covered container. Refrigerated whole egg yolks should be covered with water to prevent them from drying out; drain before using. The following chart shows how long hard-boiled eggs and raw eggs last when stored in the refrigerator.

Eggs Refrigerator (35°F to 40°F)
Raw whole eggs (in shell) 4 to 5 weeks beyond the pack date or about 3 weeks after purchase
Raw whole eggs (slightly beaten) Up to 2 days
Raw egg whites Up to 4 days
Raw egg yolks Up to 2 days
Hard-boiled eggs (in shell) Up to 1 week
Hard-boiled eggs (peeled) Use the same day for best quality

Freezer Storage: If you have more eggs than you can use within a few weeks, you can freeze them, out of their shells. Freeze only clean, fresh eggs. Place them in freezer containers, seal tightly and label with the number of eggs, whites or yolks and the date. Defrost frozen eggs overnight in the refrigerator.
Egg yolks thicken (or gel) when frozen. To hinder gel formation, beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar or corn syrup per ¼ cup yolks (4 Large) before freezing. Indicate “with salt” (main dishes) or “with sugar” (desserts) on the label. The following chart shows how long hard-boiled eggs and raw eggs last when stored in the freezer.

Eggs Freezer (0°F or colder)
Raw whole eggs (in shell) Not recommended
Raw whole eggs (slightly beaten) Up to 1 year
Raw egg whites Up to 1 year
Raw egg yolks Up to year
Hard-boiled eggs (in shell) Not recommended
Hard-boiled eggs (peeled) Not recommended (the white become tough and watery)



Source:  American Egg Board
The American Egg Board (AEB) is appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.




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7/22/16

Taking liberties with Slow Cooked Mississippi Roast - and I came up with Ranch & Peppers Slow Cooked Roast





Yesterday I had a roast thawed in the refrigerator so I decided I'd pop it into the slow cooker.  I have a couple great 'go to' ways I make my roasts, but I remembered I had a tiny piece of paper tucked away 'somewhere' that I had scribbled down a list of ingredients I had seen for roast.  I decided to hunt it down.  I found it - and at the top I had scribbled it's name:  Mississippi Roast.  It's ingredients included a jar of mild yellow banana peppers, mayonnaise, dill weed, paprika, vinegar and butter among other things.  I knew we were out of jarred banana pepper rings, but I had fresh little orange and yellow peppers on hand.  The recipe called for dredging the roast in flour and searing it on the stove first; but who has time for that?  And I am never thrilled about making yet another pan dirty for 3 minutes of cooking!  I decided I'd make the "Mississippi Roast" but of course I'd do it my own way.

As I got the ingredients out I looked at the mixture of mayonnaise, dill weed, vinegar, paprika and buttermilk.  I commented to my husband that looked like it was just going to be a homemade version of ranch dressing.  I told him I was going to go to the computer and do some research on "Mississippi' Roast" before I proceeded any farther.

BINGO.  So apparently Mississippi Roast is a thrown together 'recipe' using a store bought package of a gravy mix (Au Jus), a store bought package of dry ranch dressing and a stick of butter, along with some peppers from a jar.  The recipe ingredients I had jotted down was someone's version of a more 'homemade' version not using the store Ranch Dressing mix among other things. 

NOW it was starting to make sense. I had seen and made a version of this recipe with the dry Ranch mix years ago.  Now I understood the odd ingredient mixture and how it all came together.

The funny thing is, I was reading how this 'recipe' was invented in 2011.  Um...  I remember seeing this recipe back in the mid-90's before people even had internet in their homes.  I made a version of it in 1996 (I remember because we had just moved into our home in Minneapolis). 

Now that I knew what this dish was, I was ready to proceed.  In my own way.  Because I've never in my life bought a store bought package of a dry 'gravy' mix and I'm not going to start now.  I also had just made up two batches of dressing the day before (Blue Cheese and Ranch) so I might as well use that.  I'd cut down on the butter as I love butter but didn't feel a whole stick was needed, and I would use the fresh little yellow peppers instead of jarred.

The end result was incredible! Due to schedules, some of the family ate at different times last night and without knowing how the other felt, remarked I absolutely had to make this again and that I should make it again next week already.  It's always nice when your family loves a food that is so EASY to make!  I'm not sure really sure what to call it since it seems I'd be taking a lot of liberties calling it Mississippi Slow Cooked Roast with all the changes I made so I guess I'll just call it Ranch & Peppers Slow Cooked Roast!

Ranch and Peppers Slow Cooked Roast
Similar to Mississippi Roast

1 chuck roast (3-4 lb)
2 T olive or other oil
2 T flour
salt and pepper
banana peppers or small yellow or orange peppers, sliced
2/3 c prepared Ranch style dressing
2 t apple cider vinegar
3 T butter
1/2 t dried dill weed
dash paprika

Heat the crock pot or slow cooker on high with the 2 T oil.  Sprinkle the bottom of your roast with flour and place it flour side down in the slow cooker.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add sliced fresh yellow banana peppers or mild yellow and orange pepper slices to cover. (I used 2 small peppers to accomplish this).  Add the apple cider vinegar, ranch dressing and dill. Sprinkle paprika on if you wish.  Top with cubed or sliced butter pieces on top.  Cover and cook on high for about 6 hours or low for 8-10 - until your roast is incredibly tender and smells delicious. 

SERVING CHOICES AT THIS POINT:  Serve as is with the dressing on top and clear juice spooned over from the crock or flip the roast over using a couple metal pancake flippers or spatulas so the dressing and ingredients blend with the juice in the crock.  Push the roast to the side a little bit so you can whisk the juice all together, blending the juice, ranch dressing, flour, etc. into a nice smooth sauce.  Serve as slices with extra sauce over, or you can shred it up in the crock all together and serve on buns or over pasta.




Fresh peppers add flavor to the finished product but are not spicy so kids can easily enjoy this dish

Getting ready to cook

So delicious! Can be shredded, sliced or flipped and the sauce blended - so many options.


Products related to this post available through Amazon;
 
      

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7/20/16

Wheat Free & Sugar Free! Healthy Homemade Strawberry Newton Style Cookies (Fig Newton, Blueberry Newton, etc.)



THIS ONE IS WHEAT FREE AND SUGAR FREE.  A 'regular' version using flour and regular jam fillings is coming soon!

I don't usually buy any cookies and we eat very few as we are not a big 'cookie' or 'sweets' family.  I make our sweets from scratch and they are usually 'healthy' versions.  One of the cookies I buy once in a great while are Fruit Newtons - blueberry, strawberry or the triple berry whole wheat version. YUM!   I decided to try my hand at making them one day but doing it 'healthy' with almond flour and flax meal and no white refined sugar.

Wheat Free and Sugar Free Homemade Fig Newtons - Strawberry Newtons, etc.

2 c almond flour
1/3 c flax meal
1/2 t dried orange peel
dash cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1/3 c almond milk
1/4 c Truvia Sweetener

Jelly or Jam of your choosing; if you want to stay sugar free, use a sugar free jelly or jam.

In a mixer, combine the almond flour, flax, dried orange peel, vanilla, almond milk and sweetener.  Add a dash of cinnamon.  Taste test.  Depending on your sweetener of choice and personal level of sweetness, you may want to add about 1/4 c more.
Combine to form a dough ball.  At this point you can roll it immediately or cover and chill in the refrigerator until needed.
Roll the dough on parchment paper or a silpat mat - aiming for a long rectangle about 6 inches wide and as long as you wish.
Spread spoonfuls of jam down the center of your dough.
Use the parchment to help you roll the dough up.  You will fold the dough up and over the jam filling with the bottom third.  Then repeat and fold over from the top with the last.
Use a pizza cutter to slice 'cookies' or 'newtons' into 1 1/2" - 2" pieces.
Although I tested this recipe two different ways (the dehydrator and the oven) I do not recommend the dehydrator.  It takes almost 2 days to cook them that way; much easier to simply bake them and to be honest we liked the texture of the baked cookie better and ended up putting all the dehydrated cookies into the oven and baking them a bit to make them nice and golden with a crisp outside while still being moist inside.
Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.  I baked on parchment paper as I found out the filling gets hot and bubbles out and spills.



Taste test the dough - you want it to be almost a tad too sweet as the sweetness fades in baking

Roll out nice and thin - remember you are making triple layers so it will be thick in the end


I used strawberry preserves - sugar free (quick and easy!)

Use the parchment to help fold up your dough over the filling


Ready to slice into cookies!
I found a knife squished them down too flat but a pizza cut was perfect for slicing

You can slice as large as you wish. I did about 1 1/2"

I tested dehydrating verses baking - we overwhelmingly prefer baking










Related products available through Amazon:
Bob's Red Mill Organic Brown Flaxseed Meal, 16-ounce (Pack of 4) (Package May Vary)
Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour, 16-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4)
NOW Foods Almond Flour, 2 pk
Truvia Natural Sweetener, Spoonable, 9.8 Ounce

   
















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