Monday, January 31, 2011

Refried Bean Soup Mix (Dinner Is In The Jar)

Feast your eyes on this amazingly simple and delicious soup!

I received a great book called Dinner Is In The Jar in the mail several months ago from a wonderful author named Kathy Clark. It's taken me a while to do a review of it, because, frankly, I loved it! I didn't want to do it a disservice by not really giving it my full attention! As you all know I do recipes every Monday for making a mix with our food storage or using some kind of homemade convenience food. This is a great way we have of saving money on our grocery bill, and having wholesome food that isn't loaded with a lot of chemicals. I was happy to receive this book a few months ago and have been experimenting with quite a few of the recipes. Kathy obviously put a lot of thought and organization into her book. As a mom, I appreciate how each recipe was so organized. Most exciting to me has been that each recipe has been so tasty and convenient! Kathy said that the premise of the book is this, "Create a 90 day supply of easily prepared dinner mixes your family will love using food storage ingredients in mason jars or mylar bags for emergencies and convenience on busy days.Wouldn't it be nice if your pantry was filled with premixed dinners that you could put together with little effort and have healthy homemade meals that your family would love? Not only would you have a supply of easy dinners, but you could also give them away as gifts that anybody would absolutely love to receive."
Some of the recipes included things like: Chicken Pot Pie, Biscuits and Gravy, Enchiladas, Pizza, Spaghetti and Meatballs in Mushroom Parmesan Tomato Sauce, Italian Cheese & Sausage Calzone and many more.

Since we're mostly vegetarian, I went with the recipe for Refried bean soup as the one I wanted to share here on the blog. This is Kathy Clark's original recipe. One thing I really liked was the fact that all the "brain work" was done. I just had to make the recipes and then tape labels to jars (labels are included in the book).
The recipe was pretty basic too. If you don't have a great source for food storage, may I suggest my favorite: Preparing Wisely Online Store

We used rice,
dehydrated Refried Beans,
and dehydrated celery.
The spices Kathy used in her recipe were really nice for a mild soup. If you want something more spicy, use an added teaspoon of ancho chile powder or some nice New Mexico chile powder.
Dehydrated re fried beans are easy to use. I liked using them mainly because they help with cutting down on the cooking time.
Oh all the cans in a circle of love make me smile.
I keep this stuff on hand anyway, so for me it was like making free dinners. If by chance you need to purchase the products, it will cost a little up front, however, I have found that in the long run, it's worth it to me to have the freeze dried stuff on hand. It's so fast, easy, and healthy. I don't have to worry about the vegetables going bad in a short time if we don't eat them. I also love that each meal is contained in a jar. It makes a great "grab and go" meal for giving away or for having on hand for fast meals. Camping...these would be perfect!
Everything for the refried bean soup fit right in a quart size jar. If you planned on having this once a week for a year, it would take 4 cases of quart mason jars to make the meals. It makes it easy to plan for food storage in this way. The best part was this jar made about 12 cups of soup!

Prepared according to the recipe with the addition of fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, cheese and it was a huge hit!

There you go! Thank you Kathy Clark for the great Dinner Is In The Jar book and the awesome recipes. We'll be using this one often in our home!
For more recipe ideas, check out Kathy's Menu Page!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Garden Update...and Giveaway winner!

If you missed the show on Wednesday, the NBC 12 website has my segment up:
Crystal Ice Centerpieces on Valley Dish

I've had a lot of e-mails asking what was going on with my garden lately and realized it has been some time since I updated everyone on the growin' here in sunny AZ! Coli-flower (above) is looking very nice! Carrots...our second crop...
Still rather small, but they'll be here soon. Tomatoes on the other hand, had to be put down. This is the last harvest from the plants. It was sad...but we will plant more. We love our tomatoes here! Especially after all the love with organic tomato farming we had last year on the farm.'s my freakish Swiss chard. The size Elephant's ear.
Looking at the bunch in the garden, you can get a better idea of how big my dill plant is...
Hip high at least! We'll be making a lot of the Cottage Cheese Dill Rolls! ( finally have that cabbage patch doll I always wanted...but she's looking a little purple. Wow it's taken a lot of love for this little one to get here.
The Italian parsley is growing in a bush about the four feet in diameter and 2 feet tall. I'm very happy to finally have a parsley source that never fails.

Broccoli! Holy cow. Did I ever mention that Ace put me on broccoli restriction when I was pregnant? I'd eat it all day.
The basil has gone to seed...but still has a little love going on.
Oh...and more cabbage. For more info on what to grow and when, contact the ASU extension office. They have an upcoming class for 25$ that sounds perfect for any beginner (
Oh...and what else? Hoooray!!

CSN store winner of the 75$ shopping credit is Heffalump! Please contact my email Congrats!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flip Pal Scan Your Heart Out Blog Hop Week #4--Hammered Copper Hand Sculpture and Recipe Card Holder

How in the world do you make a copper sculpture anyway?!

Have you ever seen one of these mobile scanners? I had not ever heard of one until I got a special message from Kathy Peterson asking me to participate in this blog hop. The last three weeks I have been honored to participate in a small hand picked group of designers for
The Flip-Pal™ mobile scanner Design team.

Special thanks to the The Flip-Pal™ mobile scanner Design team leader, Kathy Peterson. Kathy Peterson is a Design Expert, Best Selling Author, TV corespondent on LIFETIME TV, Product Developer/Licensor and Master Gardener. It's an honor to be part of her team! For the blog hop, Kathy picked 6 designers across the country to help create some unusual craft projects of their choice using the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. So far, I have been not only excited to see what the other creative minds have devised...but also excited to have new friends. Can I just say how zany fun it has been to get to know these gals on Face Book these last few weeks?
Please don't forget to enter the drawing for a free scanner of your own Here. Yes! They're giving one scanner away a week!

So this week...I wanted to do a kitchen craft dedicated to my sweet mother. She will be so surprised!

I remember going into a lot of cooking and kitchen stores with my mom as a kiddo. We did a lot of window shopping. I learned that art early on. Mom was particularly fond of the copper pans and pieces, but we never really had the money for them. Dad is a master gardener for our church. He has been my whole life...and mom worked full time just to help keep food on the table. I got my first copper trivet as an adult from a flea market and felt like I finally had a piece of my mom's dreams in my kitchen. It was loved. Used...and adored. Eventually it was joined by a few other copper trivets. Now I have a very small collection that I keep in my home to remind me of my mom. I decided this would be a perfect piece to scan with my Flip Pal Mobile Scanner and turn it into a piece of kitchen art that would represent my mother.
My mom is also a belly dancer...and baker. She has a bachelor's in Home Economics education, a Master's in Business. She's also a paralegal for one of the largest law firms in Utah. So, now you know how I got to be so cool--and smart.

I'm going to give some credit here to an amazing friend of mine. As it turns out, I have a lot of creative friends. I was visiting with my friend Erica Miles...a kindred artist spirit like myself ( and she showed me her hand. No, not the finger...goof. It was a paper mache replica of her amazing self.
Well...I started to think that I needed to do a recipe card holder in a similar fashion, but I wanted it to be a little more durable than regular paper mache and hold up in the kitchen. I also wanted it made at least in part out of copper! So...I started with masking tape and plastic wrap around my hand so the tape wouldn't stick.
Decided to go with aluminum foil the plastic was lame. It was not holding onto my coolness at all. Dorky plastic wrap.
After applying a thick layer of tape, I carefully cut through the layers with scissors and removed my hand.
Black spray paint was applied...but I didn't like it. It didn't have enough texture or something.
Contact! I found black leather contact paper that worked like a charm magnet.

Enter my personal high. I mean...I didn't inhale...but I did use it to excess. Yes folks...there's not a single bit of copper on this piece. I am a cheater. It's a LIE. A LIE. I'm confessing to you now.
I still don't have a "random-play-with-copper budget". We're working on that dream. Instead I used this...
But still...doesn't it look freakin' wicked decent?! I mean...for a fake? Okay...and added the scanned pictures of the trivet to the bangle jewelry-retread that I gathered from a thrift store because it reminded me so much of my mom's belly dancing garb. many people can say their mother has ever put on belly dancing garb?--Actually, my brother saw mom dance at a competition show...and said he needed serious therapy after that. But, ya know...he's a professor. (Smooches bro' know I love you...)

The ultimate test of it's coolness of course, was if it could make my recipes look good. The recipes that my sweet sister Em painstakingly downloaded from my blog for over 2 years and transferred with recipe cards for me to use in my kitchen. Can you just feeeel the love in my family right now? Yes...I'm seriously blessed.
So there it is.
Now hop over to the other gals in the design team and see what else crafty-cool is being made today on the The Flip-Pal™ mobile scanner. Don't forget to enter the drawing for a free scanner of your own Here. Yes! They're giving one scanner away a week!

Kathy Peterson is a Design Expert, Best Selling Author, TV corespondent on LIFETIME TV, Product Developer/Licensor and Master Gardener.
Linda Peterson is a wonderful multi-talented designer of jewelry and mixed media projects!
Chef Stephanie Petersen baker, food display artist, and cooking instructor.
Christy Tomlinsonis a fabulous paper and mixed media artist and more!
Amy Andersonis a delightfully talented decoupage queen, knitter and loves to sew!
Melissa Langer is a fun and energetic pug artist. Her art is all about crocheting and painting pugs!
Pat Sloan is a very talented designer and quilting expert!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crystal Ice Centerpieces on Valley Dish!

This afternoon at 3:30 on NBC 12 Phoenix, I will be showing how to make these amazing illuminated ice centerpieces. In case you missed them here: Flip-Pal™ Mobile Scanner Blog Hop Week # 1-- How to Make Crystal Ice Centerpieces . This is a sneak peek at what today's piece will look like...but with a few more levels and of course a lot more fruit and fluffy stuff.
Stunning isn't it? Way too cha-cha for words!

Here's the link to the segment!
Crystal Ice Centerpieces on Valley Dish

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Make Buttercup Flowers from Carrots

This is week 3 of a series of video veggie art posts. This is how to make buttercup flowers out of carrots. Once you've practiced the basic'll be able to use these anywhere! Enjoy...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sourdough Maple Ginger Cake

On a lake of ice, my husband Ace did some advanced driver training and instruction in Alaska. Look how those cones just shatter because it's so cold there. I can't even relate to that. Arizona is a polar opposite. No pun intended.

It's Monday and I like to share mixes or homemade recipes using food storage items on this day of the week. It doesn't always happen (me sharing a mix), but when Ace came from Alaska Saturday, he brought me this book called Simply Sourdough The Alaska Way by Kathy Doogan...that also included a dry packets of some Alaskan Sourdough starter. I had to experiment. Oh my gosh. I almost fell over in shock when Ace handed me this book. He's come a long way since our first Valentine's day were he bought me radial tires for my car. As practical as I was and just didn't seem right. This gift on the other a baker...genius.
So, I took out my Homemade Sourdough Starter and got the one that was included with the book started on it's way. It will take a few days to be ready for use. The book has some really amazing sounding recipes I'm excited! However, knowing how enthusiastic I always am about new recipes and knowing how much I love to bake...I couldn't wait. I used a recipe that was in the book for Sourdough Gingerbread...and altered it a bit to use the sourdough starter I had, as mine has a thinner viscosity. Just so we're clear...this is not Kathy Doogan's recipe. I altered it to fit my sea level altitude and moisture content of my homemade Chef Tess Sourdough starter . I uses different ingredients as well. You can bet I'll be contacting the Kathy Doogan to see if I can share any of her other recipes here on the blog. In the meantime... Here's my recipe using the Chef Tess Sourdough Starter and dry food storage items and my own Chef Tess Wise Woman of the East Spice Blend:

Sourdough Maple Ginger Cake

Dry ingredient mix:
1/2 cup dehydrated honey or brown sugar
2T dehydrated egg powder (if you use fresh egg, whisk 1egg into the wet ingredients ).
1 1/2 cups whole wheat cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1T Chef Tess Wise Woman of the East Spice Blend (OR 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground clove, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg)

To bake combine:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup Chef Tess Homemade Sourdough Starter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a nine inch by nine inch cake pan. Combine the dry ingredient mix. Combine the wet ingredient mixture. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients together, beating about 100 strokes by hand. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
While cake is warm, top with the maple glaze.

2 cups organic powdered sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1T melted butter
1tsp Wise Woman of the East Spice Blend

Heat maple syrup and butter together until just boiling. Stir in powdered sugar and spice blend.
Remove from heat and use immediately on the cake.

There you go. Make some Cake. It's amazing.

Simply Sourdough The Alaska Way has so many great ideas and again, comes with some starter. Check it out! Remember to go to my 75$ CSN Store Giveaway

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Glimpses of Welcome Home...Bread of Life Section

After four days of worry, my husband Ace returned from a trip to Alaska for work. Oh how I worry when he is away. This was driver training on a lake of ice. He was tired from the long flight. The clomp, clomp, thump of little boy feet echoed through the house followed by wild excited expressions of joy from the lips of my children. They adore Ace. Welcome home!
As I saw this scene, I got a glimpse, perhaps for just a moment, of what it will be like when we are once again with our Father. The look on that face...the feeling of His arms around us. I think He'll be the first one to greet us...because he missed us more than anyone else there. This is a glimpse...only it will be brighter. It will be much brighter.

As we never really know what life holds for us, what is the point of worry? It's such a waste of emotion. It's focusing on the worst case...and playing it over and over in my mind. So, I decidedly need to be better at trusting the Lord. I need to be better at looking forward with Faith. So why ever worry? I've needed this quote by M. Louise Haskins this week.
'And I said to the man Who stood at the gate of the year: 'Give me a light, That I may tread safely into the unknown.' And he replied: 'Go out into the darkness, And put your hand in the hand of God. That shall be better to you than light And safer than the known way.' So I went forth and, finding the hand of God, Trod gladly into the night. And He led me toward the hills And the breaking of the day in the lone East. So heart, be still: What need our little life, Our human life, to know, If God hath comprehension. In all the dizzy strife Of things both high and low, God hideth His intention. '

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Kid's Cooking Class--French Onion Potato Cheese Soup and Homemade Wheat Thins

When was the last time you made homemade crackers?!
Every other week, I do some cooking classes with my sweet Bakeroose. Chef Tess Bakeroose Kids Cooking Blog is starting to grow. Any kids who cook at home are welcome to join the fun. A group of Home school kids and their moms along with my two sons (Little Man and Face) are in on the group for Friday classes. I don't know about you, but it seems a cryin' shame to me that Home Economics was ripped out of school curriculum. Far too many are growing up with absolutely no idea how to cook even basic meals. That will not be the case with these little dolls. No way. Meet my girls...(If I could adopt them all, I totally would!) Notice the sweetie on my left doing the exact same thing I am with my arm on the table. Seriously...I almost cried seeing how much she wanted to be like me. It's a great responsibility and honor to have someone try to emulate you isn't it?

We started with the Homemade Wheat Thins from here on my blog.The real trick was not making the crackers so much as getting enough rollers to do the job right.

Mix in a large bowl:
3 1/4 cup whole wheat cake flour (50% barley 50% hard wheat if grinding your own flour).
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt.

whisked well :
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water
2T honey

Add liquid to dry ingredients, mixing well, but as little as possible.

Divide into 2 balls. Totally non-rocket-science, right?

Roll them out really thin. This is enough dough to make two pans of crackers. If you roll them thick they will be more like a teething biscuit, but I don't have any babies who would appreciate that anymore.

Oh my gosh! She could not be any cuter if she tried! Look at that...

Cut and bake. 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. That's perfect time to make the soup.

Now for the French Onion Potato Cheese Soup of glory. Pause for effect. Kids will eat onions. Mind you...they can't be toxic overpowering onion. So we had a lesson on how to make them edible-happy. Caramelizing them makes them sweet and amazing. Believe it or not, the kids actually really liked the soup.

Chef Tess' French Onion Potato Cheese Soup

2 large yellow onions, sliced thin
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced thin
2T butter or olive oil
3/4 cup flour
9 cups good beef broth or stock
1 tsp each: thyme, dill
1/2 tsp each: celery seed, fresh ground black pepper
zest of 1 lemon, micro grated
8 oz. cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat)... soft and chunked
4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
2 oz parmesan or asiago cheese, shredded

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Okay...I have to say...this sweetheart is one of my favorite people. This was her first time using a micro-plane zester. I know it won't be her last. She measured, cut, chopped...and well, was an excellent right arm. I'm keeping her.

Now kids...this is how to cut an onion.

Cry it out. She was laughing so hard that her eyes were watering...and tearing up because of the onions. It was so funny to watch.

Oh the vision of love.

In a 2 gallon heavy pot melt butter over medium heat and add the onion and shallots. Slowly cook until very dark brown but not burned.

Add a little broth and scrape the pan clean. Simmer until broth is evaporated and onion begins again to stick to the pan and get dark. Add a little more broth and scrape pan again. Add the potatoes.

This little doll worked very hard to cut all the potatoes.

In a separate container, whisk the flour into the remaining beef broth. Pour the beef broth into pot with the onion and potato. Your onions should be very dark colored.

Stir in the seasoning: thyme, dill, celery seed, pepper and zest. Simmer this 15-20 minutes until the mixture thickens and no starchiness is detected when tasted.

TURN OFF HEAT. This ensures your soup will not get a "grainy" texture. Add cream cheese, cheddar, parmesan and parsley and stir until cheese is melted and Incorporated.

Enjoy this with someone you love. There you go.