Monday, July 18, 2011

4 New Convenience Meals in A Jar Recipes!

We had a class Thursday night at Preparing Wisely in Mesa Arizona and I added 5 new recipes to the seven meals that I have already shared for the    in a jar that are "just add water".  
The blessed part of these new additions is that they are still the same homestyle food that my husband calls "normal people food". I think it's a cut above normal...but not so gourmet that it will intimidate my in-laws who prefer mild food.  I don't use a lot of sodium or go too crazy on the seasoning here, so adjust as you need for your family. I like to add more to my personal jars.  I know a lot of folks who are trying to plan food storage that will be stable for several years.  Some want a full year on hand for emergencies like personal unemployment or natural disasters.  The best part of adding the new meals is that now we have enough to do a 2 week menu plan instead of just one week. So one can do 24 jars of each meal and have dinners for a "years supply" of dinners...give or take. I keep it in denomination of 12 because canning quart jars come in 12 jar cases! One can be certain it's easy to organize. 

 Last Monday I added the first of the five new recipesIt was Creamy Chicken and Veggie Casserole in a Jar. The next four are here today. This is basic stuff folks...but hopefully it will save you some time and money when you're making some shelf stable meals for your family. They're great for camping, emergency situations (like floods, hurricanes...) or Tuesday night. Whatever your life is like, these fit. You control the ingredients.  So, let's jump into these ones.{Side note...have you ever used freeze dried cheese? It's amazing! It's crazy stuff...and totally real cheese...just freeze-dried to preserve its freshness.}
NOTE: The repacking of Freeze Dried Meat must be done within 24-48 hours of opening the can and must be done in a dry environment. Once repacked you must use an oxygen absorber to make sure there is a vacuum oxygen-free environment.

Meal 1: Saucy Baked Ziti with Sausage and Mushrooms
Saucy “Baked” Ziti
with Sausage and Mushrooms
In a quart jar:
2/3 cup tomato powder
1/3 cup dehydrated onion
1T Chef Tess Italian Seasoning
1/3 cup freeze dried sausage
2/3 cup Freeze dried Hamburger 
1 cup Ziti (3 ounces)
1/3 cup freeze dried mushrooms
2/3 cup freeze dried Mozzarella cheese (in a snack baggie)
Directions: Place contents of jar (except for cheese) in a covered skillet or pot with 4 ½ cups water. Simmer 15-20 minutes until pasta is tender and sauce is thick. (Solar oven 30-40 minutes covered). Place contents of cheese bag in a bowl and spray lightly with water. Sit for 5 minutes. Uncover cooked pasta mixture. Top with cheese. Cover again and allow cheese to melt, about 5 minutes.Serve hot.

Meal 2: Beefy Spanish Rice

Beefy Spanish Rice

 In Quart jar with oxygen eater:
1 ½ cup freeze dried hamburger
1 ½ cup long grain rice
½ cup freeze dried bell pepper trio
½ cup dehydrated onion
1 ½ tsp Chef Tess All Purpose seasoning, 1 tsp dehydrated minced garlic
1 T dehydrated minced ancho chilies
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ cup tomato powder
1 bay leaf
Directions: Add contents of jar to 5 ½ cups boiling water. Cover and simmer low 25-30 minutes until tender. Top with cheese or sour cream if desired.

Meal 3: Bean and Rice Fajita Casserole
Bean and Rice Fajita Casserole
2 cups quick cook beans (these cook in 20 minutes!)
1 cup long grain rice
½ cup freeze-dried bell pepper trio
½ cup dehydrated onion
1T Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning blend
½ tsp cumin seed
½ tsp oregano leaves (or 1 drop oil of oregano)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
½ cup cheese sauce powder
¼ cup powdered tomato
Place contents of jar in a deep covered casserole and add 6 cups of very hot water. Place covered in a solar oven or conventional oven 30-35 minutes. 

Meal 4: Golden Cheese and Sausage Potato Casserole 

Golden Potato, cheese, and Sausage Casserole
In a quart jar:

1 cup cheese sauce powder
½ cup sour cream powder
1/3 cup dehydrated onion,
1 ½ tsp dehydrated minced garlic
1 cup freeze dried sausage (or ham)
2 cups (4 ounces) dehydrated hash brown potatoes
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp cracked fresh pepper
1 bay leaf

Combine contents in a deep casserole with 5 ½ cups hot water. Cover 10 minutes. Bake in solar oven 1 hour covered or in the microwave 15 minutes uncovered. May top with additional cheese, crushed corn flakes or crushed crackers if desired.

There you go. Make some meals in a jar!
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


Erin said...

Stephanie, you are so awesome! I wanted to know about freeze dried food. Where do I get it or how do I do it?

Chef Tess said...

There are a few companies who sell it in bulk #10 cans. Preparing Wisely has an online store that you can purchase from or a retail store. Honeyville farms has several retail stores and online as well. Both of them carry freeze dried foods and many varieties. I've recently seen some freeze dried food in small packages in other grocery store chains. It's getting to be more main stream. But I would say check out the online or local sources first. Honeyville does have a store in SLC where you are IN fact I'll be there August 5th and 6th for a preparedness fair. I hope we can meet up! Xoxo!

mlebagley said...

Freeze dried CHEESE?!! It looks really gross all dried, but absolutely scrumptious when its rehydrated! Lovin it!!!

Alicen said...

love your website! I can't believe how incredibly easy you have made this for people! I just have one question, do you know how long the food will stay good in a jar? Is it as long as the can that the food came in? Or less? I would love to know when these need to be eaten by.


Chef Tess said...

I usually gauge the shelf life by the products with the shortest shelf life. That being said, generally it is 5-7 years if you use the oxygen packet in each jar and it seals properly. Store in a cool dry place. Great question!

mark said...

A follow up question to Alicen's question about shelf life....

Would dry-heating the jars before sealing them help them to seal better? I'm thinking that if the air and contents are heated, the air expands. Then, when you seal it and the canning jar cools, the air contracts and will create a suction vacuum in the jar to seal it tighter.

Or, is that what the O2 absorbtion packet does?

Also, where are you getting the 5-7 year shelf life? Is that based on the shelf life that is marked on the cans of the ingredients?

Sorry for the "newbie questions" but I love this approach to making your own long shelf life meals. Should be MUCH cheaper than buying the pre-made ones in foil packets!!

Chef Tess said...

Dry heating the jars is not necessary and in fact will sometimes cause condensation inside the jars that could cause mold. In my experience, if you use fresh good Oxygen absorbers, they actually chemically bond with the air, causing a vacuum (jars will Pop sealed). This is the safest way to do them. The 5-7 year shelf life is based on the ingredients in the jars with the shortest shelf life (per the company) as well as spices and herbs. They will lose their ability to do much for flavor if kept longer. In fact, not in these vacuum environment, I only use spices and herbs until they no longer smell like a spice or herb. If they smell like dust, that is the flavor they impart.

Anonymous said...

Can you use a foodsaver jar sealer and get good results? As it gives a good seal, i love the idea thanks for sharing

Chef Tess said...

Yes. The food saver jar attachment works great. I put a cupcake liner inside the top of the jar as a filter to keep the spices from clogging the line.

Anonymous said...

If you use the food saver jar attachment, do you still need the oxygen absorber?

Chef Tess said...

Nope. You don't need oxygen absorber with the jar attachment.

Suzanne said...

How much water would I need to use if I did not use freeze dried meat when cooking these meals? I would like to make this meal in a jar with meat as an "add-on" ingredient.

Chef Tess said...

Suzanne, usually it is an equal amount of water for the freeze dried meat. If a recipe calls for a cup of meat, I add a cup of water. If you don't use the meat, minus that meat's measurement from the total for the water. For instance if the recipe calls for a cup of freeze dried meat (except the ham, it uses 1 1/2 times the water)...and you want to do "add meat meals" then you make the recipe, minus the meat and use 1 cup less water in the recipe directions. Sometimes it is a tablespoon more or less, but that is a pretty close rule.

Unknown said...

I have just started reading your site and would like to know more about the vaccumed jars. Does that come with the piece of eaquipment that you can seal food in and it has an attachment for jars? Would love to do this. I am now cooking for one and this seems to be a solution to my delima of cooking for one.

Chef Tess said...

Yes. I did a tutorial for that. Look under the 52 method tab at the top. :)

nora salyer said...

We may need this sooner than we think. Enjoy reading, I am an armchair enthusiast.

Prappleye said...

We have dehydrator. If I use food that I've dehydrated, can I follow the recipes in the same way or will they turn out differently than with freeze dried foods?

Chef Tess said...

I use different products for different cooking times and applications. Generally freeze dried products cook completely differently and use a lot less water to hydrate than dehydrated items. Should you use dehydrated products you do from your own home, you will have to adjust cooking times, amount of water needed and also how much of each vegetable you use in the recipes. I cannot promise you will have the same results.

Anonymous said...

I must be going through life blind! how is it i'm just now learning about meals in a jar??? LOL. I'm just curious how you would cook these in a non electric situation. I'm thinking power outages from snow storms or summer storms ect. I'm apartment bound so all the gas and propane and butane stoves are off limits to me, we can't store the fuel?? I've seen the solar ovens and in the apt i am in now it may be a solution but if i move it'd be on a third floor so it wouldn't be feasible to go outside :( ideas on cooking solutions??

Anonymous said...

try using sterno! It's available at wal mart & k mart & is safe to store. I keep 2 cases in my garage for over 2 years now & I live in texas

Unknown said...

How many people will the recipes feed?