Monday, December 22, 2014

Healthy Granola Snack Mix

Every since I tasted the Girl Scouts Cranberry Orange snack mix I've been wanting to try making it myself.  This is my first try, not perfect but wildly delicious on its own.  It does have cranberry juice in it but I didn't have any dried cranberries so I used dried cherries.  Maybe it would have tasted more like the real thing if I'd had those tartly delicious cranberries.. I'll give that a try the next time.  And because of not having those berries I kind of went over board and added a lot of things I'm sure they don't have in their mix..  I not only used sliced almonds, I added pecan's and walnuts too along with dried apple chunks.
I figured if I couldn't make the real McCoy then I'd make up a bowl of goodness of my own.
And it is good

Here's my recipe if you'd like to make some

Heat oven to 350
Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray

In a large bowl add
2 cups of old fashioned oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup diced dried apples
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix all together and sit aside

In a small sauce pan add:
1/3 cup maple syrup (I'm sure dark Karo would work as well)
1/2 cup cranberry juice
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Bring to boil over medium heat stirring constantly

Pour over the oat mixture and mix thoroughly.  
Spread out on the cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.. stir and bake an additional 15 minutes or until brown.

I wanted to make sure it was dry and crispy so I then spread it out on dehydrator sheets and dried it for 2 hours at 145

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Make Tomato Powder With Can tomatoes and Tomato Paste

Tomato powder
Fairly cheap and not hard to make
First I tried drying cans of tomato paste but the leather was hard to grind and wanted to clump, just not enough moisture in it, so this time around I used two cans of tomatoes with one can of paste and it worked great, just the consistency needed.
Toss it in a blender and blend until smooth
Dry at 125 degrees for approximately 10 to 14 hours or until completely dry to touch.

Two cans of whole or diced tomatoes and one can of paste filled 3 dehydrator trays.
I also found that I could use two cans of tomato sauce in place of the can tomatoes with the same result.
They dried nice and thin. I removed them from the leather trays and flipped them over onto the net trays and dried them for another hour to make sure all moisture was removed.
Two cans of dried ground tomatoes and one can of paste made 7 1/2 tablespoons of powder.
All 9 trays didn't even make a pint
but it's packed with concentrated flavor

Monday, November 17, 2014

Eating From My Food Storage.. Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

All season long while dehydrating every vegetable and herb I could get my hands on, I had one goal in mind.
Being able to make meals in a jar that on a busy day could be dumped in my Crock Pot to cook.
Also if the power goes off I can cook this on the stove and not have to dig through my fridge or freezer.
(we cook with gas)
Chicken chili was top on my list and after much experimenting (on my poor family)  this is the best recipe I've came up.
Other then the chicken it's all dehydrated foods.
I keep cooked chicken in my freezer and I also have can chicken.  I see no point in wasting my money on freeze dried chicken when can will work as well.

white Chicken Chili

3 cups pre-soaked Great Northern or white navy beans drained
   (dehydrating some quick cook beans are next on my list)
2 rounded tablespoons dehydrated onion flakes or slices
2 tablespoons dehydrated chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons dehydrated chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon diced dehydrated jalapeno pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder or diced chunk garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 chicken bullion cubes
4 cups water
8 ounces cooked chicken 

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, cover and cook on low 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Nothing feels better after being gone all day then the welcoming smell of dinner waiting to be dished up.
My family gave me a thumbs up on this one

Friday, November 14, 2014

Excalibur Food Dehydrator versus American Harvest Nesco

I was asked to do a comparison between the Nesco and Excalibur food dehydrators
I'm totally blown away

Celery dried in 14 hours in the Excalibur

My Nesco
14 hours later only the edges are dry and I even rotated the trays before going to bed.

Two months ago I bought an American Harvester Nesco due to the price, it gets the job done but at a much slower rate.
From now on any dehydrators in my future will be an Excalibur

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Yogurt Chips

A local store had fruit yogurt on sale for 50 cents each and I just had to try dehydrating some.
I wanted them bite size so I dropped teaspoons full on leather trays
I can't say for sure how many hours they took to dry because I put them into the dehydrator around 10 am at 125 degrees and that evening I removed them from the leather trays, flipped them over and laid them on net trays to make sure the bottoms were dry and let them continue to dry at 125 over night.
I'm guessing they took from 18 to 20 hours.
Black cherry
Taste kind of like fruit flavored taffy candy
but much healthier

Friday, November 7, 2014

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

This bread is moist, tender and absolutely delicious.
My favorite go to bread
 I love both oatmeal and wheat breads and this recipe combines both so how could I not love it.
I hope you do too

Oatmeal Wheat Bread
1 cup quick oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon yeast
2 1/2 cups water

Combine in a large bowl
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Pour 2 cups of boiling water into the bowl and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.  You're basically just letting the oatmeal cook, which contributes to the moistness of the finished loaf.

After 15 minutes, dissolve:
1 Tablespoon yeast in
1/2 cup warm water

Allow the yeast mixture to sit for several minutes to proof.

Add the yeast mixture to the bowl of flour and oats and stir to combine.
Stir in:
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups white flour

(I use my Kitchen Aid to mix and knead the dough, just put it on speed 1 or 2)

Dust counter top with flour, and turn dough out onto floured counter top.  Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
pour 1 tablespoon oil into a large bowl; put dough into the oiled bowel, turning dough several times to coat with oil.  Cover with towel and allow to rise until doubled. 

Once the dough is doubled, punch down and cut dough in half.  Shape each half into loaf and place into greased 9x5x3" pans and allow to rise until doubled.

Bake @ 350 for 30-40 minutes, until loaves sound hollow when you tap them.
Allow to cool on wire rack.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dehydrated Butternut Squash

5 huge dehydrated  butternut squash fit into 4 pint jars
Unless their free I'll never again dry pumpkin when squash are so much easier.
A few weeks ago I bought a huge pumpkin, at 40 cents a pound it cost me $7 and 2 grueling days of work.
Day One:
Time to cut up and cook the  monster
I know that a lot of you bake your pumpkin with skin on and seeds inside but that wasn't possible for me because my oven isn't big enough and neither is my turkey roaster.
It took me till noon to get it seeded and cut into workable pieces.
I thought I would be smart and steam the pieces but that was taking too long so I ended up pressuring it in my electric pressure cooker, 3 pieces at a time.. 
It was late afternoon before the last pieces were out and cooling so I bagged them up, put them in the fridge for the next day.
Day Two:
Time to remove skins and run through the food processor and then the grueling task of placing in cheese cloth and squeezing, twisting and squeezing to get all the excess water out.  
Late afternoon I finally got it spread onto the dehydrator trays to dry.. and I swear it took longer to dry the pumpkin pulp then it did these squash.
One day only and same price of 40 cents a pound.

I cut each one in half, scooped out the seeds, laid the halves cut side down on dinner plates and microwaved till done which was an average of 10 to 15 minutes each plate.
Butternut squash is not full of water so no squeezing was needed.
While the next batch was cooking I would scoop the meat out of the slightly cooled prior one and smash it in a bowl with the back of the spoon, when the bowl was full I used the spoon to spread it onto dehydrator trays and in no time at all it was happily drying and the next day it was dry and resting in a zip lock bag waiting for me to jar and seal.
Now isn't that easier?
You can make a pumpkin pie using squash and you'd never know the difference.  It's a fact that the cans of pumpkin you buy in the store is made from squash..
Don't believe me?  Do a search and you will find that Libby is the major producer of the squash they use in the can pumpkin.
Happy eating

Friday, October 17, 2014

Produce Bargains

If you have an Aldi near you, you might want to check to see if your store has their produce marked down.
Pictured is just a few of the items I bought this morning
Mushrooms 8 oz pkg for 59 cents
I bought 12 packages and they fit on 8 dehydrator trays
I'll be buying another 12 packages tomorrow.. 
Makes me wish I had more then one dehydrator.
I plan to do mushrooms first, then bell peppers, the zucchini and last will be the 15 pounds of onions 
Sale ends tomorrow
If you want some, you best hurry on over there

Fall Container Garden Update

Collard greens are coming along nicely
Beet roots are the size of a quarter
This green onion has been growing in this pot for a year and a half
I continuously chop off the green stalks for cooking and it keeps on growing through rain, snow, ice and hot summer sun.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cheap Dehydrator Leather Sheets

Do you own a dehydrator and want some leather tray?
 but don't want to fork over big bucks for them?
Here's a cheap solution

Dollar store two in a pack chopping mats for
just  $1.00
A lot cheaper then 2 for $12
and the good part is they will work in any dehydrator because you can cut them to fit.  
My dehydrator is square so I cut the length, rounded off the corners and cut a center hole.
They work perfect

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Vegetable Pasta

How to make vegetable pasta

All you need is flour
dried vegetable powder
or cooked and mashed vegetables

Place the flour on a clean board or counter top, mix in about 1/4 teaspoon salt then make a well in the center.
I'm using a half cup here for a small batch, for a full size batch use 3 cups and adjust the veggie powder and salt accordingly
In a dish measure out 1 tablespoon of vegetable powder.. I'm using pumpkin
add in enough water to re-hydrate it
Scrape the veggie mix into the well of your flour, add a tiny bit of water and using a fork start mixing it all together slowly adding water as needed until you can form a ball
Knead the ball until it's elastic and not sticky, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 minutes.
After it has rested you probably will have to knead in a bit more flour

After the dough has rested, cut it into smaller pieces for rolling out.  Or if you have a huge area to roll it on, you can do it all in one piece.

After the dough is rolled as thin as you want it then roll it up into a log and using a sharp knife cut off slices the width you want your noodles to be.  Unroll the slices and lay them on floured board to dry or hang to dry.
I bought this nifty pasta drying rack from Amazon
You can check it out here
Drying racks are nice.. the pasta will dry faster on a rack but their not necessary.
You can also place the pasta in your dehydrator and dry it very quickly.
Or you can shape the pasta into little nests, lay them on a cookie sheet and freeze solid then place in a plastic bag.
Above is a picture of my Kitchen Aid pasta making tools.. one that rolls the dough and two for cutting it.  There are also hand crank rollers and cutters if you find yourself making lots of pasta.. especially for long term storage then you're going to want some tools.
Rolls the dough as thin as you wish
and cuts it into either spaghetti or fettuccine width which is the one you use in chicken noodle soup
The reason my recipe has no eggs or oil is I store this in jars on a shelf for long term.
Eggs or oil will go rancid over time
This jar of pasta has been in my cabinet for months and is still as dry and brittle as the day I made it.  I have not tried sealing it in jars, not sure if it would cause the pasta to break or not but I'm going to be experimenting, maybe with the small batch I made today.  I'm quite sure sealing it with a food saver would crush them.
If you do want eggs in your pasta then be sure to freeze it for long term of no more then 6 months.
I cooked a bit of this batch just to show you how the color springs out when the extra flour gets boiled off
Fresh pasta cooks in as little as 3 minutes
Vegetable pasta does not taste like the vegetable you used, it just has a smooth rich flavor and puts the store bought kind to shame.. 
Trust me if you start making your own pasta you'll never buy the store stuff again.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dehydrated vegetable pasta
Three balls of pasta dough
Yellow is dehydrated pumpkin, green is dehydrated collard greens and red is dehydrated tomato paste
All veggies were dehydrated then ground into powder
and then mixed with flour and water
I hand crafted some and used my Kitchen Aid pasta cutters to make fettuccine and spaghetti noodles with the rest
It's all in the dehydrator 
Since I added no eggs or oil this will keep for months stored in a jar or bag

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dehydrating a pumpkin
and making pumpkin powder

This was a first for me, I knew I needed to cook it first then strain and press all the juice out of it.
Got it all cut up
Darn but that's hard work.
Would have been easier to smash it onto the sidewalk
And yes, I saved seeds to be roasted
Thought I'd be smart and use my steamer but only one chunk at a time would fit into it and took 25 minutes to get tender
That was taking way too long and I was getting very sick of looking at all that orange mass sitting all over my counter.
It was time to get er done so I brought out the big boss, my go to when I'm in desperate straits.
My electric pressure cooker
 half the pumpkin fit into the pressure and 11 minutes later it was tender, 22 minutes later the whole pumpkin was done and I was exhausted but still had to pick the goop off the pumpkin seeds..
 As soon as the seeds were clean and I had the pumpkin meat scraped out of their skins I set it to cool and gave up for the day.
Two days later I spread it in my dehydrator, it took all that day and over night to dry but it's done.
Today, the 3rd day I ground it into pumpkin powder using my Magic Bullet
These are half pint jars.. hard to believe that huge pumpkin didn't even make a pint of powder.
Would I do this again?
Because I'm just stupid enough to do so

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An apple a day eh?
Not at these prices
taken from a store ad for a local grocery
Below is the ad for our local Aldi
Which store would you shop at?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jalapeno Salt
Orange Zest
I'm going to be posting how to's for both of these since I just got through grinding both

Jalapeno salt is both delicious and easy to make.
Grind dried peppers in a spice or coffee grinder or if you own a  Magic Bullet use the grinder blade
You want to grind it as fine as possible, then add a bit of salt and grind a few seconds more to blend.
Do NOT attempt to smell it or trust me you will regret it.
Jalapeno salt is delicious on popcorn and is wonderful to sprinkle on meat or just about anything you want kicked up a few notches.

Orange Zest
This is so easy to make and very expensive to buy
Just a month before I bought my dehydrator I bought a small jar of orange zest at half price $3.49
Whether you're pealing an orange to eat or planning on drying slices of the orange, I suggest you dry the peels in long strips until their crunchy and break easily.
After they're dry then hand break them into smaller pieces and then grind them like you did the peppers.
I wouldn't recommend grinding them in a wheat grinder because if I'm not mistaken you're not suppose to grind things that are oily and citrus peel has some natural oils in them.  A blender would probably do a fairly good job tho.
Orange zest added to icing is delicious on cinnamon rolls.  Added to yeast breads or zucchini and pumpkin bread, cookies and other baked goods.  I like adding a dried orange slice and some orange zest to a cup of hot tea with honey.
Add extra flavor to Asian orange chicken by sprinkling a bit of zest over top.
Possibilities are endless
Orange zest will keep up to one year in a lidded jar and up to 5 years or more vacuumed sealed either in a jar or Mylar bag.