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6/15/24

Grilled Shrimp and Butter Rice

 



So simple and not flashy but oh so good.  

Tonight I went to the freezer and spied a bag of large shrimp.  Yes, shrimp sounds fine.  Thawed under water and rinsed, I decided to season with some olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper, ground coriander and garlic salt.  

While I let that sit and marinate for a bit, I started some rice in a saucepan on the stove.  1 cup rice to 2 cups water - (I used about 1 3/4 c rice and scooped in a quick 3 3/4 ish of water);  bring to a boil, reduce and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Because we are usually low-carb, and keto, having rice is a nice treat - a change of pace.  We are trying to 'use up' everything in the pantry and freezers, so we have been eating foods that we normally don't have.

While it simmered I grilled the shrimp, which only takes a few minutes for each side.  (I threaded them on metal skewers.)

When the shrimp was done, I removed them from the skewers, and added about 1/2 c butter to the rice, along with a heavy dose of garlic salt. 

This simple meal was so good!  Simple, filling and oh-so yum.






















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5/9/24

Just another Mexican Casserole (or nacho dip) featuring ground beef, refried beans and sausage

The plan tonight was to use up some of the homemade sausage in the freezer, the last glass jar of homemade salsa, a half round of my favorite queso that I had food sealed and in the fridge as well as some cheddar from the deep freezer that tastes great, but cheddar does get 'crumbly' after frozen.  I added to that some refried beans, black olives and was able to empty the last of the homemade taco sauce. 

I originally got this recipe when I was 14 years old and was babysitting for a woman who made it and had me bake it for her 3 kids while I was babysitting.  I loved it so much I had her write down the recipe for my Mom.  She then made it regularly as we all loved it - and I continued making it for my own family once I grew up and married and had kids.

It's a casserole and/or a dip for tortilla chips.  You can also put it in a flour tortilla.  Since I'm trying to use UP groceries and not BUY ANY... I don't have tortilla chips so we are having it as a casserole - which is my favorite way to eat it anyway!

 

 Mexican Casserole or Dip

1 lb. ground beef browned with 1 small onion, chopped
1 can refried beans
1 c ground and browned sausage
4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 small can green chilies, chopped
1 - 16 oz. container sour cream
1 jar salsa or taco sauce
*optional - black olives, green olives, sliced
*optional - 1 1/2 c guacamole or avocado dip


Spread the refried beans on the bottom of a sprayed casserole dish for a meal or if you are using this recipe as a dip, spread it thinly on the bottom of a larger pan of your choice - (pizza pan, 9X13, anything you wish!) Brown the ground beef and/or sausage with the onion. Place half into a greased casserole dish or if you are using for a dip, use all of it over the refried beans in the larger pan. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Add the chilies and/or jalapenos, the sour cream, the salsa/sauce and the rest of the cheese in layers. Top with olives if you love them!

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes for a thinner pan and bake 45 minutes if you have a thick casserole dish. When the cheese is melted and it's hot all the way through, remove and serve as a dip or let set for 5-8 minutes to 'set up' when serving as a casserole. It may be more runny when hot straight from the oven and it sets up (like lasagna does) when left to stand and cool a bit. We can never wait and don't care - we dig right in!



Here are photos of what I think might be the first (1st) time I posted the recipe on An American Housewife - these were from March of 2011. 
You can see what it looks like when it's not all mixed up and dished, ready to eat.












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4/21/24

Chewy and Fudgy Brownies

 



Beat 2 eggs slightly with a spoon in a bowl (these work great with powdered eggs!)
Stir in 1 c sugar
1/2 t salt
2 t vanilla

Then add in:
1/3 c melted shortening
2 squares melted unsweetened chocolate (if they are thin rectangles, use 4 to make 1 square)

Stir in 3/4 c all purpose flour
Add some nuts if you wish

Spread in a buttered pan - size of your choice.  Small pan = thicker bars, larger pan, thinner bar. 
Bake to the size of the pan - and your choice.  We like them fudgy and thin so I baked this pan about 22 minutes, took it out, a little under done and let it set on the counter for 30 minutes.  The result is slightly underdone, fudgy, amazing brownies.

You can bake them up to 35 minutes if you prefer them more done, dry, crisp around the sides, etc.


 

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Stir Fry - (using a Sun Bird seasoning package)

   

I use the recipe on the back of the Sun Bird package of stir-fry mix.  

I used oil, amino acids in place of soy sauce, rice, egg powder with water, pre-cooked chicken, and used broccoli instead of peas. 

Egg powder - (I whisked with water to reconstitute).


Rice I made 2 days ago and refrigerated


The recipe - right from the back of the package.


Scrambling the eggs


With chicken and broccoli... because the only peas I have are freeze dried but I don't have any open cans right now and I'd have to dig through our storage closet to find one.  Not that important.  I used broccoli I had in the freezer.



 

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4/20/24

My really old family favorite stand-by: Chicken and ham with mushroom sour cream sauce (lots of versions)

On days when I really don't want to cook but I want something hot, and I have chicken in mind for the main meat to use in some way, I often default to some version of this really old 'stand by'.

Chicken
Bacon
Ham
Mushroom Soup
Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper

That's it.  And I've been making this for so many years that I make it in almost any way possible using whatever versions of chicken, bacon and ham I have.  I also leave the ham out completely when I'm in a hurry and my ham options were frozen.

Here it is THIS TIME AROUND....  really fast and easy

Layered Chicken with Mushroom Sour Cream Sauce


3 boneless chicken breasts
3 slices ham
1 can mushroom soup mixed with about 3/4 cup sour cream I needed to use up
Real bacon crumbles
Salt and Pepper

Baked about 1 hour 15 minutes.


Originally I started making this one in a 9X13 pan (sometimes two (2) of them depending on how many people I was feeding).  That version was:

Rolled Stuffed Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

Boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat and even
Ham slice rolled up in each breast
Raw bacon slice wrapped around each chicken rolled ham slice

Place in a greased pan

Cover with a can of mushroom soup mixed with 1 cup sour cream
Season with salt and pepper, bake in the oven until the bacon is crisp and the chicken is done (about an hour 15 minutes).

More versions I've made over the years include.........

Roll the chicken with cream cheese and mushrooms inside, continue with bacon, sauce.
Roll the chicken with no ham or filling, just wrap with bacon and bake.
Roll the stuffed chicken and wrap with bacon but do not use a sauce.  Bake until crispy and done.
Stuff, roll, cover with sauce and sprinkle cooked bacon crumbles over all.
Use Spam for the filling instead of sliced ham
Lay the chicken breasts down, layer with the ham and bacon slice - bake.
Lay the chicken breast down and layer the bacon, skip the ham or use ham, cover with sauce and sprinkle bacon crumbles.
Use canned chicken, already cooked, layer with diced ham, the sauce and bacon crumbles.


When all the kids were still home and we had to feed and fill a lot of mouths, I'd double the sauce, and make potatoes on the side and use the sauce as a gravy of sorts.  









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4/15/24

Homemade White Cake

My favorite white cake that I make for weddings and birthdays starts with a cake mix that is 'doctored up' quite a bit.  However, I've been searching for years for a good homemade from scratch white cake because I rarely have cake mixes on hand.

Here is today's cake.

This photo is literally as I was snitching some cake with my morning coffee... because this FROSTING.  Yum.





Homemade White Cake

2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
4 egg whites
1/4 sugar for the egg whites
1 c sugar for cake
1/2 c Crisco shortening
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t almond
1 c milk

Preheat oven to 350 and grease/flour your pan or pans.
In a bowl, place the flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk and set aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they are soft peak, sprinkle in the 1/4 c sugar and beat to stiff peaks.  Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the shortening and 1 c sugar.  Add vanilla and almond.  Add part of the flour mixture, part of the milk, more flour and more milk, mixing between.  When just to the point of being blended and smooth, fold in the beaten egg whites, 1/2 at a time.  Pour into your pans and spread.  Bake according to pan size.  Usually 25-35 minutes for any of the sizes.  Cool in pans 10 minutes and then turn out to cool completely.

Frost.



(Frosting:  2 sticks butter, whipped until pure white.  Add 3 c powdered sugar and some vanilla/almond extract.  Beat.  Use on cake.  Double for 9X13 and double or triple for layer cakes.)




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4/8/24

Cheeseballs


 The sauce is made with sour cream and mayo and Mrs. Dash Southwestern spice mix.

 

Last night I was craving something hot and comforting and honestly I wanted dumplings or homemade pasta but when I went into the kitchen to make 'something' I decided at the last second to make homemade cheese balls.   

Here is the basic recipe - same one I first posted for  Cheeseballs - back in 2009.

Food storage options include things like butter you have stored in the deep freezer or have home canned; the green onions I used were freeze dried from storage.  You can used premixed milk, freeze dried or frozen cheeses of your choice - mix and match any kind of cheese you wish.  Jalapenos can be left out, and you can also use straight from a can or bottle or even freeze dried. I used shortening to fry them in - which is hopefully in everyone's storage pantry.

 Homemade Cheese Balls

Play with the ingredients in this recipe. Use all different cheeses, leave out the jalapeno, add crumbled bacon, add extra jalapeno, some chipotle, add chopped shrimp, crab or lobster to make a seafood ball... the possibilities are endless.

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) real butter
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c flour
1 c milk
1 c mozzarella, shredded
1/2 c cheddar, shredded
2 small jalapenos, chopped fine
1/4 c flour, extra for tossing with the cheese
oil for frying

Form balls and fry in hot oil or melted shortening.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve hot as is or mix up whatever sauce you wish to go with them.

 

 

 

 

 

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4/6/24

Broccoli Cheese Soup

 



Back in high school I had wrote down a recipe for broccoli soup we had made in Home Economics class (now known as Family Consumer Science).  I've been making it ever since. 

Tonight's dinner version of it used pantry, shelf-stable milk and Velveeta from the pantry as well.  I was prepared to use freeze dried broccoli but was gifted fresh broccoli by a friend so I used that instead (yay!). 

I don't use a recipe as I've been making it so man years, but here is the 'recipe' off the top of my head - all amounts are approximate.  Adjust as you wish.  I usually end up doubling it.  When we had all the kids at home I would triple it.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 T flour
2 T butter
3 c milk
dash of tobasco sauce
pepper
1 t chicken base or chicken bouillon (optional)
2 oz Velveeta or cream cheese
1 1/2 c cooked broccoli

Melt butter in a pan on the stove and whisk in flour.  Add a dash of tobasco sauce and pepper to taste.  Add the milk all at once and whisk smooth.  Add the chicken base or bouillon, whisk. Remove from heat.  Add the cheese and broccoli.











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Cookies starting with a pancake mix... chocolate chip and raspberry macadamia nut


My kitchen lights turn everything yellow-tinted... and I don't feel like going through the time and hassle to edit them.


A couple weeks ago I posted this recipe I used to make chocolate chip cookies using a pancake mix I had in food storage.  Since then it's become a 'go to' recipe that I mess around with and make various different kinds.

Here was chocolate chip version.
 
Pancake Mix Cookies

2 cups pancake mix
1 egg
1/2 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
2 t vanilla
1 c chocolate chips and optional:  nuts, like Walnuts

Mix the soft butter and sugars in a bowl.  Add the vanilla and egg.  Blend.  Add the pancake mix and blend but don't over beat.  Stir in the chocolate chips and/or nuts.   Place by spoonfuls on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 about 15 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet about 2-3 minutes, remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
 
 
Tonight was another batch of chocolate chip cookies and then I messed around with the recipe and made a batch of raspberry macadamia nut cookies since I had the ingredients on hand (freeze dried raspberries and macadamia nuts).

Using the same recipe, I added a small box of cheesecake flavored pudding, and 1 extra egg.
Stir in about 1/2 cup of freeze dried raspberries and 1/2 cup macadamia nuts.


I baked about 12-14 minutes.  Cool on pan for a couple minutes, then remove to cool on a wire rack.

 
Here's a couple random photos of the chocolate chip cookies.
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4/1/24

Muffins from a pancake mix (all different kinds/flavors - your choice)

 






This particular can of pancake mix from food storage is about 12 years old, I don't think the labels look like this any longer.
 
Continuing on 'things to do with a pancake mix' that aren't necessarily pancakes.
The cookies were a hit, now let's move on to muffins.  So QUICK and easy.  I whipped up a couple different versions today and thought I'd quickly share.

Pancake Mix Muffins

2 1/2 c pancake mix
2 eggs (egg powder to equal)
1 c milk (premixed from dry milk powder or fresh if you have it)
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c oil of choice
extract - vanilla, almond, lemon or orange - depends on the kind of muffins you want

Stir or whisk together the ingredients, add whatever flavorings and extras you wish.  Bake in muffin tins, lined with paper if you wish, at 400 for 15-17 minutes until done. 
 
 
 
 
The first batch was chocolate chip with vanilla extract




 
 
Second batch was almond and vanilla extract with poppy seeds, and topped with sliced almonds




 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fail - reconstituting freeze dried McDonalds Filet O'Fish and Fries (UPDATED)

Looks can be deceiving!  The reconstituted and re-warmed fries above look pretty normal and good for McD's but... they were completely inedible and went into the trash.

Actually, everything ultimately went into the trash.  Regular readers know I never ever ever waste food and always come up with new ways to use leftovers, failures, etc. but these, my friends, were inedible. 

It was still so fun to trial and error these though!!!

Today I started out with freeze dried Filet O'Fish and Fries from McDonalds.  Already purchased completely freeze dried.   Now, when I bought these a couple years ago, they hadn't been done before, and even this company was the first to do them - and therefore, had no experience and no reheating directions.  They took pre-orders before embarking on this little trial of their own.  I was game for trial and error so I bought some.

Today was the day to try to make them. 
I knew it would be tricky - already doing the cheeseburgers a couple days ago.  I thought I had learned some good tricks from the cheeseburgers and knew what to do, but these fish sandwiches were... a whole different kettle of fish.  Ha ha.  See what I did there?



Upon opening the dried sandwiches... they always look much better than they are.  Picture a piece of light weight wood - like balsam - and this sandwich made from it.  Or cardboard.  It's that.
 
I decided to use the instant pot to steam them this time rather than setting up the double broiler method I used on the cheeseburgers.  Good in theory but I think the double broiler method was much better as the pressure cooker still wanted to cook them.  I only did 5 minutes on these and they looked fine, but were hard and very much like shoe leather.
   Meanwhile I was doing one of the buns this way:  I wrapped in wet paper towels, steamed in the microwave for a minute and then put into a ziploc air tight bag for about 30 minutes.  I thought this would work but... not really.  It didn't change much from the state it was in when I took it from the microwave.  The sides were all soft and reconstituted, but the middles were not.  Spritzing hot water directly onto the centers softened them up though.  Steaming/spritzing worked better than the Ziploc.


The fries were done a couple ways.  Here I poured some freeze dried, directly from the package, into the steam basket of the pressure cooker.   It ended up being a fail anyway. 
These fries were poured over and soaked in boiling water.  It honestly was just like reconstituting dehydrated hash browns from the Costco or Sam's boxes of dehydrated potatoes.  Once rehydrated, they were just... like frozen, thawed fry shapes you buy at your grocery store.  Ready to be deep fried - not at all edible in this form. 
 
One of the seemingly best ways of rehydrating the buns was when I quickly dipped them directly into boiling water for 1 second and removed.  Still not great though.  the edges are mushy while the very center is still a little hard, and it isn't enough to soften the cheese, which is still sharp and solid.
 
Dipping the buns also made the little bits of pickle and onion from the tartar sauce come off in the water).  Not that there WAS any tartar sauce... that was gone during the freeze dry process.
 
Here is why they were inedible.  Note the hard, brown, shoe leather like texture.  Tough - like chewy jerky.
 
This is how they were when they were in the solid dry form... and they did not reconstitute well with any of the methods used.  It seems the freeze dry process with the solid cooked fish to start ruins the fish from ever reconstituting well no matter the style.  I am thinking maybe if you put it into simmer water for 20 minutes but then the breading falls off anyway and you are left with a tough little piece of dried fish that has a little moisture (maybe?) so it would be inedible that way anyhow.
 
Photos of the finished trial and errors......
 
The two trial and error fries, side by side.  The fries COULD be reconstituted and eaten but you had to soak them in boiling water and let them set about 30 minutes.  Then drain and pat dry or let set till dry.  Then heat oil and completely re-deep fry them. 

Basically you start from scratch as if you just cut your own potatoes up or used frozen fries from the store.  You have to re-salt them and there is little to no flavor of 'McDonalds' in them at all. 

It was really fun to mess around with these but in the end, yuck.   I think I still have another bag or two of these in food storage so perhaps another day I'll try again.  In the meantime, the McD's cheeseburgers can be rehydrated and eaten but I don't have much hope for their fish.

UPDATE:  MAY 2024
Last night I tried a second bag of fish sandwiches as I was going to be in the kitchen cleaning my oven anyway, so I thought I'd try the long steam process.

This time I placed the sandwiches on a piece of parchment paper, then placed it into the steamer basket of the double boiler and added just a tiny bit (less than an inch) of water in the bottom.  I placed the top on, brought it to a simmer-almost-boil, and then turned the heat down to a high simmer while I cleaned the oven.  

I tested it at 15 minutes and was very happy with the buns!  They were steaming slowly and gaining moisture and were becoming very 'normal' yet still needed a lot more time.  The fish were still 100% dried.  At 30 minutes I took the buns off the fish, put them on top of the fish patty and laid the fish on the parchment bottom so it would get more moisture than the buns (which were coming along well-ish).

Around 40 minutes I checked.

Although the buns were basically steamed they were not soft and fresh, they were more like...  a package of buns gets when you leave it in the freezer for a few months and then thaw them and try to use them. 

That weird texture they get when they are soft, yet hard.  And crumbly.  The buns were not enjoyable and I nibbled them but meh.


The fish.  Sigh.  Such high hopes because the outside looked great and I could press my finger on them and they were soft-ish.  Very 'moist' especially around the edges where it got most of the steam but the inside...  nope nope nope.

If you've ever eaten dried fish - dehydrated fish - or fish jerky... that is this.

I was a version of fish jerky and I just don't think fish filets freeze dry and reconstitute well.   The sauce was long gone (soaked into the bun and then disappeared almost completely during drying) so there was little or no flavor to my mostly fish jerky.

I actually ended up just dipping the fish filet into the water for a few second and letting it sit to reconstitute... which worked better than steaming!  It did soften it a little more... but it still had almost NO FLAVOR.

That's when I realized - usually McD's salt and pepper their filets and I could taste ZERO salt.  I looked closely and could not see any salt or pepper on them.  Not sure if the company ordered them that way or not but I added my own salt and pepper and that DID bring out a little bit of taste - before that you really couldn't even taste fish, there was little taste of anything.

SO after steaming the buns and dipping the fish into the hot water and letting them sit, then salt and pepper the filet... my end result was to nibble the rare piece of fish that wasn't fish jerky from the drying process but for the most part, you can't make fish jerky back into real fish... and the freeze drying process did indeed make fish jerky.  A yellow/tan/brown over dried fish.  The rare part where it wasn't, was ok but it was about 1 centimeter of each sandwich.  The buns were awful and useless.  I had such hope!  But they remain a weird texture and break apart, even they seem soft and steamed.

FINAL RESULT: I still say 'fail'.  Although I have better hope for the burgers - beef seems a MUCH better product to freeze dry.  I haven't done a trial on them yet though.



 

 

 

 

 

 

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(FAIL - kind of) - Freeze Dried Cheeseburgers

 

 
In storage, for 'fun' I had invested in some first run/trial McDonalds cheeseburgers - freeze dried.

The company had never done these before (when I ordered them) so they didn't really have any instructions or directions on how to actually rehydrate them.  Other consumers and I were on our own to do some trial and error.  The best the company can offer is to "steam them for an hour" to rehydrate.  That's it.

I actually agree with the steaming idea - but I wasn't sure how to do it and unfortunately I ended up being in a HUGE HURRY that day and wasn't able to do this trial very well. 

I thought about not posting this at all until my next trial (TODAY) but decided to put the FAIL here with the reasons I knew it failed.

FIRST:
  the photo above is a cheeseburger, fully cooked, ordered from the restaurant and freeze dried as it was.  It looks great in the photo but believe me, it's rock hard, dry and basically cardboard.

SET UP:  I set up a double boiler situation in the pan with water below and rack above, so they would be steamed, as they didn't need to be cooked.

TRIAL ONE:  I debated taking the buns out and doing them separate, but I decided to do my first 'trial' as a whole sandwich, and steaming for an hour.  

Fail.  Unfortunately I soon found that wasn't going to work!  The bottom buns were getting steamed so quickly that within about 3 minutes they were getting soggy and saturated.

TRIAL TWO:  I then put the bottom bun on top, and had the burger patty on the bottom, nearest the hot boiling water underneath.  Better, but the buns were still reconstituting too quickly so I needed to remove them completely (which I should have done anyway to start but I wanted to do my first trial as the company package said of simply steaming the whole thing for 1 hour).



TRIAL THREE:  I had been making these for my husband to take with him to work for his lunch/dinner but I wouldn't have enough time so I had to come up with another idea.  I decided since I had boiling water in the pot below anyway, I'd add some pasta to it while steaming the burgers above, and I'd cook him spaghetti to take as a 'backup' to my failing burgers.

The water under it was splashing up onto the burgers, so at this point I wrapped them foil and steamed the whole burger inside the foil... didn't work, partly because I was RUSHING EVERYTHING and doing a poor job of testing as I was racing with the clock to get him 'something' made to take to work.

Here is a partially reconstituted burger in my hand.  The bun looked great, the burger was only reconstituted and soft on the sides - the inside completely rock hard and dry.  The bun on the counter below is so wet it was disintegrating.


THE END RESULTS were that my next trial (and the corrected version I believe): 

Remove both top and bottom buns
Reconstitute the burger separately either by steam or in about 1/2 inch water or broth - boil/simmer for a few minutes until moist all the way through.
Buns reconstituted by wrapping with wet paper towels and microwave, steam or even put into a Ziploc in the fridge overnight to absorb moisture until needed.



Trial of Filet O'Fish coming today.











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