Saturday, December 19, 2009

Freezing Surplus Fruits and Vegetables-Food Storage




Long time, no blogging! I'm making an early resolution to blog a couple of times a week.
So, I woke up this morning at 8 am. Well, actually, I woke up at 6:30 am to feed and potty the dogs, then I went back to bed, and woke up at 8 am. Gotta keep my facts straight! Anyway, I had a plumber here to fix a previous contractor's poor work. What does all of this have to do with pumpkin, pomegranates and cranberries? I was up early enough to work on processing all of these foods today.

I started with the pomegranates. I had about 6 of them, and wanted to get them peeled and ready to use. I had seen a cool video of how to peel them underwater (makes less mess), so I tried it out. It worked well. Now I have 2 containers of pomegranates arils (the red seeds). Here is a link that tells you how to do it. I didn't cut mine up, just gently tore it apart in a bowl of cold water. I like the fact that they can be frozen. I like to use frozen fruit in my morning smoothies.

Next, I made some Cranberry sauce with my fresh cranberries. There is nothing quite as nice as some fresh cranberry sauce with turkey or chicken. I've been cooking turkey breasts in the crock pot lately, and now I have some fresh sauce for the next time I cook one. I put the rest of the large bag (costco) of cranberries in the freezer for future use.

Finally, I got to work on the box of pie pumpkins sitting in my garage. I put it out there to keep them cool until I could make a little time to process them. I got them at Albertson's for 50 cents a piece after Thanksgiving. That was a great deal on pie pumpkins!

Having my new range really was wonderful in helping me steam the pumpkin. I used my Vitamix to puree the cooked pumpkin, then put them in freezer containers. Pumpkin is the "new" banana. After reading a report about all of the pesticides used in banana growing, I've discovered that pumpkins are perfect for replacing banana in smoothies. You don't taste it, but it adds a nice texture. Also, there is a wonderful vitamin A perk that you don't get with bananas.

My smoothies are something like this: 1 c. spinach, 1/2c. pumpkin, 4 frozen strawberries (costco has huge bags of delicious strawberries), 1/2 c. yogurt (sometimes I make it myself in the crock pot) and whatever other fruit is hanging around (pear,pineapple,etc) and some water. It is usually around 350 calories, which is just about right for my breakfast.

So, it was a busy day of processing food, but it is done and the freezer is filling up nicely!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Farmer's Market and CSA and cherries from my now sold home!

It was another great day at the St George Farmer's Market. My CSA, Cricket Song Farm, gave me another HUGE amount of produce. I am going to get it washed and ready for cooking this afternoon. I always wash the lettuces, get them chopped, and store them in a zip lock bag, ready to make a salad.
Here is a picture of some of the cherries I picked from a cherry tree at my Mapleton home just before going to sign the title over to the new owners. I left them plenty to pick. I have never had this cherry tree produce this many cherries in the 15 years I lived in the home! They are very delicious!
I need to check on the apricots in the next couple of days and start processing them (bottling them or making some jam). What did you get at your farmer's market, garden or CSA?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tomatoes growing well in the Topsy Turvy

I know it's been a month since I last posted on my blog....yea, it has been crazy busy for me. Plus, I was in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for a couple of weeks. So, I thought you'd all be interested in how my tomato plants in the topsy turvys are doing. The plants are really thriving. I have them hanging from the limbs of the apricot tree in the side yard. They get the perfect amount of afternoon sunlight.

I was so excited to find the first cherry tomato ripening! I think I'll pick it tomorrow morning and pop it in my mouth and eat it! I water the plants every morning after I've fed the dogs. The box directions say that you can't over water the plants.

And look at this crop of apricots in the tree where the tomatoes are hanging! My friend, Char, and I might just bottle some of these golden beauties! Of course, if they taste really sweet, there may not be enough for bottling! Apricot jam is a good possibility, too!

I hope that you are enjoying some delicious produce from your garden or farmer's market.

CSA produce for June 13, 2009

It was another wonderful CSA for the week. I feel so spoiled getting so many great produce items. In the picture above, you'll notice a bag of pecans in the shell, cabbage, green onions, beets with the greens attached, carrots, 2 bags of lettuces, bag of spinach, bag of chard, broccoli, herbs and salad dressing. Not picture is my dozen farm fresh eggs. I bought the sunflower sprouts from Lea's Micro Garden. I'm addicted to them!

My CSA, Cricket Song Farm is great. Jill is the farmer, along with her family. She will trade other farmers for items. Today I got some Italian dressing from Jill. She traded with another one of the people at the St. George Farmer's Market. I love trying out the new items. Last week, Jill had given me some homemade soap, made using oatmeal and goats milk. I have it at my kitchen sink where I wash my hands a lot. It is great.
I spent several hours washing, spinning dry, chopping up and cooking some of the vegetables. I cooked the spinach for a recipe I made today (Lasagna Rolls), which I will post later. It was delicious!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

CSA produce pick-up for May 16, 2009

Wow, my CSA had wonderful items this week! It kind of feels like a special occasion to get all of this great produce and eggs!

I love how Jill (Cricket Song Farm) tucked in the nasturtium flowers (which are edible) with the lettuces and spinach....very sweet.

I was totally thrilled to receive the garlic salt in a grinder spice jar....awesome! Check out that artichoke!

Purple cabbage......I'm going to chop it up and eat it raw in a salad.

Here is the full "haul"....rhubarb, gigantic-enormous squash, bag of lettuces, bag of spinach, radish sprouts, radishes, garlic salt (in the handy grinder/container!), shallots, green onions, artichoke, chives, tarragon, and arugula. I am using most of the lettuces for a party tonight. I'm going to make a rhubarb/strawberry pie for my friend, Char. I love having so much produce...fantastic!

What did you get at your farmer's market or CSA this week? Post a comment and put a link to your post.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baby Sweet Potatoes from Trader Joe's

Here is a meal I made recently.....teriyaki chicken, baby sweet potatoes and a tossed salad with grape tomatoes. It was delicious. When I was in Las Vegas, I had to go to Trader Joe's (my favorite grocery store) and buy a few things. I came across the packages of baby sweet potatoes.

Here is a picture of the package. I loved the fact that you can microwave these gems for only 6 minutes, and you are ready to serve them. They were a big hit at my house.

If you get a chance to shop at Trader Joe's, pick up some baby sweet potatoes. They are super easy to cook, taste great without adding anything to them, and are very nutritious (good source of vitamin A).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Topsy Turvy Tomato hanger

Even though I am enrolled in a CSA (consumer supported agriculture) for the summer, I wanted to try and grow something in the yard, even though we are renting this house until our property in Utah County sells. Perfect solution: the Topsy Turvy tomato hanger (got mine at Walgreen's for $9.99).

With the Topsy Turvy, you can grow tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, etc from an upside down hanging system. Click on the picture to get a closer look at the plant. The only place I could hang it was from the side yard apricot tree. It is heavy, especially after watering (water is poured in at the top). This location provides lots of afternoon sun, and the plants are thriving (I have another one growing since I took this picture). Within one week, the first plant has blossoms! Can't wait to pick my first tomato this summer!

I'll keep you posted on the progress of my tomato plants. Have any of you ever had success growing your tomatoes upside down? Post your experience!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tilapia with Ritz Cracker Crust

I made this tasty fish for Easter Dinner (we aren't big on ham). It is a great recipe, and the entire family raved about it.

The above picture is of the Ritz crackers I used. It is their "toasted chips" variety, and is supposed to be healthier than potato chips.

Here is the recipe:

Ritzy Tilapia

4-6 tilapia fillet, 6 oz each (I got mine from from Costco in the frozen fish section)
40 crackers (more if you want)
2 TBSP butter

  • defrost fish if frozen (I put mine in the microwave, 5 minutes at 50% power)

  • melt butter

  • grease bottom of 9x13" pan

  • put defrosted fish in pan

  • put crackers in zip lock bag, run over with rolling pin to crush

  • brush butter on top of fish

  • sprinkle crushed crackers on fish and pat down

  • bake at 350* for about 10 minutes

I served the tilapia with rice, corn, and steamed green beans. Let me know if you give the recipe a try, and how you liked it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Banana Nut Oats from Biggest Loser

Here is a picture of my breakfast yesterday. I decided to try a recipe from the Biggest Loser Weight Loss Planner by Prevention magazine. They are on the magazine racks near the checkout in your local market. This issue had what looked like some great recipes, so I bought it. This is a nice way to eat your daily oatmeal! I enjoyed it, and it is nutritious.

Banana Nut Oats

1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. fat free milk
1 pinch salt
1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 TBSP chopped walnuts

Mash banana with vanilla. Set aside. Combine milk and salt in medium saucepan; heat until almost boiling. Add oats and cook, stirring until creamy, 1-2 minutes. Stir in banana mixture. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with walnuts before serving. Makes 4 servings, 180 calories each.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pumpkin Pineapple Bread

I found this recipe in one of my "church" cookbooks. It is called pumpkin bread in the recipe book, but I added pineapple to the recipe name also. My friend, Peggy, submitted the recipe, but I'm not sure where it originated. I was just thrilled to be able to use up the crushed pineapple sitting in the refrigerator! I was also able to use up a container of pumpkin puree from my freezer. What I like the most about this recipe is that the bread doesn't taste like pumpkin. It has a sweet, tropical taste. I made 3 smaller loaves from this recipe.

Pumpkin Pineapple Bread

2 1/2 c. sugar (you could reduce this slightly)
4 eggs
1 c. oil (you can get away with 3/4 c. oil successfully)
2 c. pumpkin
1 1/2 c. crushed pineapple with juice
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp each: cinnamon, cloves (I omitted this), nutmeg
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Combine wet ingredients and mix well. Combine dry ingredients, mix, and add to the wet ingredients. Put into 2 loaf pans, or 3 smaller loaf pans. Bake 1 hour at 350*. Remove from pans and let cool.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Polynesian Chicken and Rice

Tonight I decided to try a recipe from the Complete Cooking Light Cookbook, that I won in an online contest last year. It is a great cookbook, and I've been pleased with the recipes I've tried.

I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to give this one a go. It tasted great! DH and DS agreed that it is a keeper!

I'm going to be out of town next week for spring break, so, while I'm trying to get back into the cooking/blogging mode, you won't see any posts next week.

Polynesian Chicken and Rice

Prep time: 14 minutes Cook Time 45 minutes

1 1/4 c. chicken broth, fat free, less sodium

3 TBSP sugar (I used 1 TBSP and 2 TBSP sugar free orange marmalade)

3 TBSP ketchup

2 TBSP white vinegar

1 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce

6 oz. pineapple juice

1 TBSP butter

5 skinned chicken breast halves (I used 5 boneless, skinless chicken legs)

1 c. uncooked long grain rice (I used brown rice)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 c. sliced green onions

1 c. chopped red bell pepper

1 (8oz) can pineapple tidbits, drained

chopped cashews

Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl; set aside. Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add rice and garlic to pan; saute 3 minutes. Return chicken to pan. Add broth mixture, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes. Stir in green onions, bell pepper, and pineapple. Cook, uncovered 8 minutes. Sprinkle each serving with chopped cashews. Yields 5 servings.

I didn't add the pepper or green onion because I didn't have them. I think that it would be even better with both of those ingredients. Do give this a try!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chalupas using pinto beans from your food storage

I got this recipe for Chalupas from my wonderful neighbor and friend, Marty. This is a delicious recipe. I served it last Sunday with fry bread and my young adult sons really enjoyed it! You could serve it with tortillas or even with corn bread. The two main ingredients for this recipe are pinto beans, and a small, boneless pork roast. I cooked this in my crock pot for 8 hours (low-med setting) and it was terrific. I got the Hormel boneless pork roasts on sale and used coupons to get the price down to $4. This is definitely an under $5 dinner meal, and served 6 adults with plenty of leftovers. I also liked how quick and easy it is to get it in the crock pot.

Don't forget to sort out your pinto beans on a white plate or other light surface. You can see the rocks in the middle of the picture....pick those out and put them in the trash (unless you like to see the dentist for dental work!). I also rinse the beans before using them in the recipe.

Here is the recipe:


1.5 pound boneless pork roast (I used Hormel)

1 1/2 c. pinto beans, sorted and washed

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp cumin

4 oz chopped green chilies (canned)

1 T. chili powder

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and pour water in to cover meat. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer 6-8 hours. Break up roast and cook uncovered until thick. Serve with tortillas, grated cheese, chopped onion, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

Sorry, I forgot to get a picture before it was eaten!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thai Tuna Wraps

This is such a great recipe! My understanding is that this is a recipe from Pampered Chef. I got it from a friend, who got it from a friend! I have altered the recipe to decrease some of the mayo.

Thai Tuna Wraps

2 TBSP Lime Juice
1/2 c. mayonnaise or miracle whip ( I use less)
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP sugar
3 c. cabbage, chopped (or use a bagged coleslaw)
1 medium carrot, shredded
3 green onions, sliced
1 can tuna, drained and flaked
flour tortillas

Mix the first 4 ingredients with wisk. Add the flaked tuna, and mix with the cabbage, carrots and green onions. I didn't have a carrot or the green onions, but I am undeterred by missing ingredients. It tasted great!

You can used spinach tortillas, or another specialty tortilla. This can be served without the tortilla, too!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Turkey Zucchini Cheeseburgers

This recipe came from February 2009 Family Circle magazine. It looked like a good recipe to try, and my intuition was right! These were really good! We started eating before I could get a picture, but I had 2 patties left, so at least I have something to show.

Turkey Cheeseburgers

1 1/4 lb. ground turkey
1 medium sized zucchini, grated (about 1 cup)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper

whole wheat or multigrain rolls
lettuce leaves
sliced tomato

Mix ingredients well. You can pan fry these, broil them, or cook them on the grill. Serve on whole wheat rolls with sliced tomato and lettuce. We put some thin slices of monterey jack cheese on ours while the burger was still hot.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Orange-Balsamic Chicken Thighs by Rachael Ray

I found this recipe in Every"Day with Rachael Ray. It is fully titled "Orange-Balsamic Chicken Thighs with Pecans and Sage Butter Pasta", but I just made the Orange-Balsamic Chicken Thighs.

First, pour some olive oil into a large frying pan, and put the chicken thighs in to cook once the oil is hot. Salt and pepper the chicken. Sprinkle the chopped rosemary on top (about 2 sprigs minced fine), and cook the chicken until crispy and brown, 8-10 minutes.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a platter. Whisk 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar and 1/4 c. orange marmalade into the skillet, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce.

You need to add 3 c. of arugula or baby spinach to the chicken at this point.

Stir it all in to with the chicken.

Looking yummy!

Serve this with pasta or rice. I had some leftover rice, so I served it along with some carrot coins I steamed in the microwave. It was a delicious meal!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Daisy's Mojo Ribs

I bought some ribs because I was getting them for nearly free after a beer rebate (I love these Utah, they can't require a beer purchase!) After doing a bit of searching on the web, I found this recipe on the food network site. Paula Deen has it here with a fried mini cubans recipe. This recipe is by Daisy Fuentes.

I started out with about 5 pounds of boneless pork shoulder ribs. and browned them in my electric frying pan. I put salt and pepper on them before browning.

Here is the recipe for the Mojo sauce:

1 c. extra-virgin Olive Oil (I only used a few tablespoons)

10 large cloves of fresh garlic, peeled, chopped and sliced

1/4 c. yellow onion, minced

1/3 c. fresh orange juice

1 c. fresh squeezed lime juice

2/3 c. water

1/4 c. finely chopped parsley leaves

1/2 tsp oregano

3/4 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp ground cumin

In a skillet over med-high heat, add about 2 TBSP of olive oil. Once heated, add the garlic and onion, cook until pale golden brown, stirring constantly. Stir in the citrus juices and remaining ingredients. Bring sauce to rolling boil. Remove from the heat and let cool.

I then transferred the ribs into a large roasting pan.

I am let my ribs cook in the oven for about 20 minutes at 325 without the sauce. I was able to drain a lot of fat out of the pan. This is most likely NOT typical cuban cooking. Sorry! Then, I poured the Mojo sauce over the ribs. Cover the pan with foil for a tight fit. Cook 3 hours, turning the ribs about once every hour or maybe a little more often to thoroughly coat the ribs with sauce while they are cooking.

I served these bad boys with sticky white rice, and black beans heated in olive oil and sauteed garlic. I added some pineapple chunks and blood orange to it. Man was this ever tasty! Loved it!

Bruschetta-Style Thin Spaghetti with Shrimp

I am making a bigger effort to stick with a healthy eating plan and at the same time be frugal. I went through the refrigerator and pantry and came up with a recipe on the back of the Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Thin Spaghetti box. The recipe is called Bruschetta-Style Thin Spaghetti.

Here are the ingredients to serve 3-4. I just made enough for my meal.

1 box Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Thin Spaghetti (or equivalent)
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP minced garlic
3 c. fresh tomatoes, diced (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes in the can)
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
Shrimp, sauteed in olive oil
Parmesan cheese

I sauteed the shrimp in the olive oil, then added the garlic from the tube. Next I added the balsamic vinegar and tomatoes and let simmer. I was cooking my pasta at the same time. Drain the spaghetti, put into a serving bowl or dish, and pour the shrimp mixture over the spaghetti. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

My low calorie, healthy meal included a Cara Orange. A delicious meal for under 400 calories. What is not to like about that? The best part about this is that it is easy to prepare. If you are at home during the day, think about preparing your own healthy meal instead of microwaving a frozen meal.

Monday, February 2, 2009

7 Layer Bean Dip: using food storage

Using the pinto beans from my food storage and making refried beans (posted here), I made a 7 Layer Bean Dip. Here are the ingredients:

2 cans refried beans (I used 4 cups of homemade)
Blend It Up Southwest Spice Blend
1 container guacamole, or 2 avocados mashed with 1 tsp lemon juice
4 green onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c. salsa
4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
1 small can black olives
1 c. sour cream

Here is my 1 1/2 quart casserole with my beans in it.

I sprinkled the Blend It Up Southwest Blend on top of the beans.

I used the avocados I had on hand...

I mashed them with a fork and added about 1/2 c. of Salsa to it to make a spicy guacamole. I also added 1 tsp lemon juice.

Layer the guacamole on top of the beans.

Take your green onions, and chop them up...

First layer your sour cream on the guacamole layer, then sprinkle the chopped green onions on top.

Next, add the chopped tomatoes.....looking real good!

Add the grated cheese and chopped black olives (I forgot to buy the olives....).

Serve with corn chips or as a side dish. This was a big hit at our house last night! Who says that food storage can't be yummy? Enjoy!

This is the refried beans that I had left over. I just put them into freezer containers, labeled them, and put them in the freezer for later use.

7 Layer Bean Dip on Foodista