Slow Cooker Pork and Beans

Slow Cooker Pork and Beans

Slow Cooker Pork and Beans

 

 

1 cup dried white beans such as great northern or navy

3½ cups water, divided

2 cups tomatoes (1 lb)

1 medium onion

3 oz salt pork

4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp)

¾ cup tomato paste (6 oz)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp molasses

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 bay leaf

 

Cover beans with 2 cups of water and allow to soak for 6 – 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked beans can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 5 days before cooking.

Place beans in a slow cooker and cover with 1½ cups water.

Chop tomatoes, onions, salt pork and garlic and add to the slow cooker.

Add tomato paste, salt, molasses, brown sugar and bay leaf. Stir to combine.

Cook on low for 8-12 hours or until beans are tender. This will depend on bean size and individual slow cooker temperature.

Serve on toast, rice, tortillas or naan, if desired.

 

4 servings, 375 calories per serving

Hack: Beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

 

 

Easy Vegetable Rice

 

Easy Vegetable Rice
Easy Vegetable Rice

Easy Vegetable Rice

 

⅓ cup dehydrated mixed vegetables

2 sundried tomatoes, cut into small pieces

½ cup white rice

2½ cup water

 

Combine vegetables, tomatoes rice and water in a rice cooker.  Cook on white rice setting until done.

 

4 servings, 120 calories per serving

Hack:  This recipe can be cooked on the stovetop in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all water is absorbed.

Hack:  Fresh, chopped vegetables can be substituted for dehydrated vegetables.  Simply add 1 cup of your choice of fresh vegetables and one chopped tomato.  Reduce water by 1 cup.

Hack:  Leftovers can be used to make fried rice or rice omelette.

Hack:  Leftover rice can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.   Place leftover rice while still warm (to retain moisture) in serving size containers and freeze for future use.

 

Homemade Pigs In A Blanket

Lily-Rose: Kindergarten Cook is at it again! This time she and her cousin create homemade pigs in a blanket that will be a hit with the whole family.

Homemade Pigs In A Blanket

 

1 lb mild pork sausage

1 cup flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 tbsp baking powder

½ cup sugar

½ tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

¼ cup honey

¼ cup butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add sausage and cook, breaking up pieces, until fully cooked, 10-14 minutes.  Drain off grease and allow to cool completely.

Mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, honey and butter.  Add to flour mixture and mix until blended.

Stir in sausage.

Place 3 (12 ct.) silicone pig molds sheets on cookie sheets and coat with cooking spray.  Fill each mold with cornbread mixture.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Allow pigs to cool completely before removing them from the mold.

Serve warm with honey mustard or ranch dipping sauce, if desired.

 

Yield:  36 pigs, 100 calories per pig

Hack:  For a smoother, less granular texture, mix cornmeal and milk.  Cover and allow to soak in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Hack:  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Hack:  To see more videos from Lily-Rose and her friends, check out our YouTube channel!  Don’t forget to like, subscribe and press that notification button so you won’t miss any new videos!

 

 

Using Dehydrated Vegetables

Using Dehydrated Vegetables
Using Dehydrated Vegetables 

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Being single, it’s sometimes hard to determine how many fresh groceries items I’m going to use in a week.  Yes, I make a meal plan and, yes, I make a grocery list…but things change.  I’m a nanny and my work schedule totally depends on the parent’s work schedule, which is never set in stone.  Sometimes my at-home meals don’t always become a reality.

Many fresh grocery items, such as cheese and some other milk items, have a decent shelf life.  Meats and poultry can be tossed into the freezer.  But what about produce?

Yes, some produce items have a longer shelf life. Winter squash, potatoes, onions, apples and garlic are good examples but others only have a few days before they begin to lose their freshness.  Then there are the items that I might use just a little of but are difficult to buy in smaller quantities (celery comes to mind here!)

Now you might ask yourself, “Why not just go to the store when you need something?”  Because I only have so much time.

I live in a rural area and a trip to the grocery store is an hour-long trip, at best.  I have local farms and a farm-to-table store, as well as a weekly farmers market, that are on my way home from work but the selection there is subject to growing seasons, which are short here in New Hampshire.

One day, I unexpectedly ran across some freeze-dried mixed vegetables and a thought began to form.  What would happen if I tried using dehydrated vegetables in my everyday meal plan?

What Is Dehydrated Food?

What Is Dehydrated Food?
What Is Dehydrated Food?

Dried or dehydrated foods are simply fresh items that have gone through a drying process that removes the moisture, leaving a product that is easy to store and has a very long shelf life.  These foods can be eaten as is (such as we do with raisins) or rehydrated to be used in meal preparation.

Dehydrating is one the oldest food preservation techniques known to man.  The method of sun drying foods goes back to prehistoric people.  Later, the heat and smoke from a fire were used to expedite the process.

Freeze drying was invented in 1906.  The method became widely implemented during World War II as a way to preserve and transport blood serum as well as food for the troops.

Many people use the words freeze dry and dehydrate interchangeably and, certainly, the results of the processes are very similar.  The process of freeze-drying, however,  is able to remove more water from the food, giving it a longer shelf life, sometimes as long as 25 years.  Because of the time and equipment required to freeze dry foods, they tend to be more expensive than dehydrated.   Dehydrated foods contain more water, which shortens their shelf life to 1 – 2 years. 

Using Dehydrated Vegetables

Using Dehydrated Vegetables
Using Dehydrated Vegetables

In the past, whenever I’ve ever thought of freeze-dried or dehydrated food, I’ve thought about “Prepper Supplies”.  I have nothing against preppers and there’s nothing wrong with preparing for the unexpected but I don’t have the room nor the desire to lay in 25 lb barrels of powdered eggs.  But what about getting a few to use in my everyday cooking?  Would that work?

The first time I used dehydrated vegetables was in Chinese Chicken Asian Soup.  I added ⅓ cup of the carrots and ¼ cup of the celery as well as 2 extra cups of water to compensate for the hydration of the vegetables.  They added a wonderful flavor to the soup, much the same as fresh vegetables would.

I also made a stewed beef recipe (again increasing the liquid by one cup) as well as veggie bagels and vegetable rice, all of which were very tasty.  I have to say I was feeling pleased with my innovative spirit but I had to wonder how the nutritional value of these vegetables matched up to fresh.

Dehydrated Food Nutrition Facts

Dehydrated Food Nutrition Facts
Dehydrated Food Nutrition Facts

I did a little research and was pleasantly surprised to find that dried veggies lose very little of their nutritional value when they go through the dehydration process. They retain most of the vitamins, minerals and fiber they start with, the only exception being the loss of vitamin C to varying degrees (depending, it seems, on which vegetable is being dried).  The conclusion is that dried vegetables can be considered to be a suitable source of nutrition.

The same is true of dried fruit with the exception, again, of some water-soluble vitamins.

There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind, though.  When eating dehydrated produce in its dried state, it’s easy to overdo in regard to the number of calories and sugar being consumed.  This is especially true of dried fruits.  It’s also important to check out the nutrition facts and ingredients to make sure no extra salt or sugar has been added.

Where to Buy Dehydrated Vegetables

Where to Buy Dehydrated Vegetables
Where to Buy Dehydrated Vegetables

When making the choice to order these dehydrated goodies, I went a couple of different routes to see which one or which company worked best for me.

My first stop was Amazon, where I purchased Thousand Lake dried mixed vegetables. This was a rather large (2 lb) but it’s extremely flavorful and I find that I use it a lot.

 

Auguson Farms dehydrated red and green peppers were high quality and tasty but I didn’t like the large round can it came in.  It’s big, bulky and just didn’t seem to “fit” anywhere.

 

Roland sun-dried tomatoes were fresh and full-flavored.  The bag they come in now appears to be resealable, which was not the case when I bought them so that’s certainly a plus.

 

I was then off to the Mother Earth website to see what they had to offer.  I purchased dried carrots and dried celery and was happy with both.  I liked the containers as well.  They have a rectangle shape which makes them fit snugly next to each other and can be stacked upright or on their sides.

Harmony House Is a particular favorite of mine because they have a wide selection of variety packs in a variety of package sizes, so you can decide if you want to stock up or just try a few to see if you like them! .They have a very large selection of dried foods including protein choices and bulk purchases.  I decided to go with the 16 piece quart-sized pantry stuffer!  

Click here to visit Harmony House Foods, Inc.

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

Would I recommend dehydrated vegetables for my everyday cooking?  Yes!  They are convenient, tasty and nutritious.  They take the worry out of whether I have all the ingredients for a dish or if fresh ingredients will go bad before I have a chance to use them.

Will dehydrated vegetables take the place of fresh vegetables in my life?  No.  I very much enjoy fresh veggies and nothing can replace them in my salad or side dish.  The dehydrated ones will simply make my life a little bit easier!

Do you or have you used dehydrated products?  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

Chinese Chicken Cabbage Soup

Chinese Chicken Cabbage Soup
Chinese Chicken Cabbage Soup

Chinese Chicken Cabbage Soup

 

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp water

1 tbsp. Cornstarch

1 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt

1 egg white

12 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts

4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

3 tablespoon ginger, grated

5 clove garlic minced (5 tsp)

2 dried Thai chili pepper, optional

8 cups chicken broth low sodium

3 carrots, thinly sliced

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

¼ cup soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1½ tbsp dried cilantro

¼ cup tablespoons hoisin sauce*

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained (8 oz)

4 cups Napa (Chinese) cabbage shredded (1 lb)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, water, cornstarch, and salt. Add the egg white and whisk until frothy. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into thin strips. Stir in the chicken the egg mixture and stir to coat. Cover and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. The chicken can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.

Heat sesame oil over medium heat in a stockpot. Add ginger, garlic and chilis.  Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add chicken broth, carrots, celery, soy sauce, rice vinegar and cilantro.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Lower to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, fill a medium saucepan two-thirds full with water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and stir to separate the pieces.  Boil for 1 minute. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.

When broth is done simmering, add hoisin sauce, water chestnuts, cabbage and chicken.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Add rice or noodles if desired.  Serve hot.

*To make hoisin sauce mix together ¼ cup barbecue sauce, 1 tbsp. Molasses, 1 tsp soy sauce, ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder or garam masala

6 servings, `196 calories per serving excluding rice or noodles

Hack:  Soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen in serving-sized portions for up to 3 months.

Hack:  If adding rice or noodles, Cook and store them separately from the soup.  This will keep them from getting soggy.

Hack:  Use leftover cabbage to make Homemade Chinese Dumplings!

Hack:  Dehydrated vegetables will work nicely in this recipe, using 1/3 cup dehydrated carrots,  2 heaping tbsp dehydrated celery and 1¼ cup dehydrated cabbage.

Linguine with Squash Sauce

Linguine with Squash Sauce
Linguine with Squash Sauce

Linguine with Squash Sauce

 

1 small butternut squash (1 lb)

1 cup chicken broth

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

½ tsp red pepper flakes

¼ tsp sage

⅛ tsp nutmeg

⅛ tsp pepper

½ tsp salt

⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

12 ounces linguine

 

Preheat oven to 400℉

Coat a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place cut side down in the pan. Roast in the oven until tender, 30-45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave it until it’s cool enough to handle. Scoop squash from skins into a large bowl.

Place squash and chicken broth in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Heat oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, sage, pepper and salt. Heat to simmer. Add Parmesan and heat until cheese is melted and well incorporated into the sauce. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Cook linguine according to package directions. Serve with squash sauce and garnish with additional Parmesan and chives, if desired.

 

6 servings, 310 calories per serving

Hack: Frozen butternut squash can be used in this recipe.

Hack: Leftover sauce and linguine can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They can also be stored in air-tight containers in the freezer for up to 2 months. For better quality, sauce and linguine should be stored separately.

 

 

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza

Lily, Olivia and Khloe make homemade pepperoni pizza in this installment of Lily-Rose: Kindergarten Cook! The pizza dough is made ahead of time for easy assembly.

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza

 

1 basic pizza dough, after 4+ hour refrigeration

½ cup pizza sauce

2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

25 slices pepperoni

 

Coat a 15”x10” baking sheet with cooking spray and press dough into the bottom of the pan.  Alternately, you can use one large or several smaller round pizza pans.  It can also be adjusted according to how thick or thin you prefer your pizza.

Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 500℉.

Bake the crust for 5 minutes and remove it from the oven.

Top with pizza sauce, cheddar cheese and pepperoni.

Bake for an additional 8 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are bubbly.  Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

 

8 servings, 380 calories per serving

Hack:  Cooked pizza slices can be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

Hack:  To see more videos from Lily-Rose and her friends, check out our YouTube channel!  Don’t forget to like, subscribe and press that notification button so you won’t miss any new videos!

 

Chinese Potato Noodles

Chinese Potato Noodles

 

1 large potato

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 dried chili peppers (optional)

2 tbsp black (Chinese) vinegar

Pinch of salt

2 green onions

 

Wash and peel the potato.  Using a mandoline, spiralizer or knife, cut the potato into thin shreds, 2”-3” inches long.  Cover in cold water and soak for 3 minutes.  Rinse thoroughly to remove starch.

Heat oil and chili peppers (if desired) over high heat.  When the oil is hot, remove chilis and add potatoes, vinegar and salt.  Saute for 5 minutes and add green onions.

Serve hot or cold.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 

3 servings, 180 calories per serving

Hack:  Chop leftover green onions and freeze in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use. While they won’t retain the crispness that would make them suitable for salads or garnish, they will be fine for cooking.

Hack:  For more instructional videos for making traditional Chinese cuisine, visit Yuhong’s Country Kitchen on YouTube!