Saturday, March 31, 2012

3 Skillet Meals in a Jar. Revised, Revisited, and More Natural.









My  Meals in a jar has been  the theme all week!  This post has 3 new recipes that I've revisited and updated for your flavor enjoyment. In the original post for these skillet meals, I had you mix a batch of cheese sauce and then use that for each jar. In this version, I've made it easier to just use each ingredients per jar and not have to pre-mix a sauce. 
 If you are new to the meals in a jar, go here and get some details on how the meals are done as well as the basic safety guidelines. If your scroll through the rest of the  posts, there are a lot more recipes, ideas, and helpful tips when making the meals. I answer a lot of questions in the comment sections as well. If I had to re-cap each detail in each  new post, it would take a lot of time and space. So. That being said there are a few things I will always re-cap in each post.




1. You will be using a method  some have called "dry pack canning" but it's actually called Vacuum packing. No liquid or pressure canning is necessary. If you opt to use the freeze dried meat in the recipes  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. I recommend using a 300 cc oxygen absorber for each jar. This will make the vacuum packing effective. You can use a food Saver with a jar attachment for this in place of the oxygen absorber, but will need to make sure your machine is designed to be used with the jar attachment. Some of the food Savers are called "meal savers" and are actually not designed to use with the attachment. I called the FoodSaver company myself to be sure that the attachment I had was right for the machine I was using
2. You can also pack in mylar bags (the ones that are silver-colored), but again need to use the oxygen absorber. This size I use is designed to absorb a gallon size amount of air, but I'd rather err on the side of over-vacuum than not enough. No. You can't use the foodSaver clear plastic bags for long term storage. They are not designed for that purpose. When I say "long term" I'm talking 3-5 years. 

I've had a few request that I revisit the Skillet meal 
in a jar recipes and and suggest some more natural "clean label" alternatives for making them at home. I think this is always a good idea! As always, you can use the organic versions of these ingredients. If you use dehydrated vegetables, they will take more liquid to hydrate and take longer to cook depending on the size of the pieces. If you dry your own veggies, use a small dice and dehydrate them on a mesh. Make sure they are "brittle" dried.  It will take a lot less of the dehydrated ingredients, and a lot more liquid. Keep that in mind. On the dehydrated vegetables, you will have to calculate the water for your own recipes. I can't control how thick your items are cut, therefore, I cannot offer an accurate liquid amount. If you are just adding your own fresh cooked beef or meats to the meals at the time you prepare the meals, and want to omit the freeze dried version, you will need to decrease the water in the cooking directions by about 1/2 cup. These also use a lot less of the freeze dried meats. You can use the vegetable TVP in it's place or, as always, use freeze dried zucchini or additional vegetables in it's place. 



Double Cheeseburger Hamburger Skillet meal
1/2 cup Instant Non-fat Dry Milk
1/4 cup  Freeze Dried Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup blue cheese powder
1 tsp Haco Beef Base(No MSG low sodium)
3T cornstrach
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 cup Dehydrated Onion 
¼ tsp CT all purpose seasoning
2 cups elbow macaroni 
½ cup Freeze Dried Ground Beef 
1/4 tsp tumeric (for color)
Jar directions To prepare Cheeseburger Skillet Meal: Put contents of mix in a 12 inch skillet (with a lid) Add 6 cup hot water. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer 12-15 minutes until noodles are tender. Sauce will thicken a little more as it cools. Yield 6 cups prepared. 4 servings. 1 1/2 cup each. 365 calories. 6 grams fat.





Chef Tess' Stroganoff Macaroni  Skillet 
1/2 cup sour cream  powder 
3T cornstarch
1 1/2  tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp  (No MSG lower sodium)
1/4 cup Dehydrated Onion 
1 tsp Chef Tess all purpose seasoning 
2 cups small shell macaroni
1T Golden Balsamic Vinegar Powder
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

To prepare Beef Stroganoff Skillet Meal:
 In a 12 inch skillet, combine stroganoff dinner mix with 5 1/2 cups hot water. Bring to a boil. Simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, but covering each time. When noodles are tender season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Yield 6 cups prepared. 




Cheesy Turkey Noodle and Vegetable Skillet Meal
3T  cornstarch
1  tsp granulated garlic
2T Freeze Dried onion
2 tsp Haco chicken base (no MSG with great flavor)
2 cups elbow macaroni noodles 
1 tsp Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasonings


To make jar: Put all ingredients in a wide mouth quart size mason jar, shaking the powder ingredients into the jar. Top with an oxygen absorber. 


To Prepare Turkey Noodle Skillet Meal:
In a large skillet, combine contents of jar with 5 cups hot water over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes stir every few minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 3-5 minutes for meat and veggies to finish steaming. Yield 6 1/2 cups prepared. 

Printable version is available Here
 Enjoy. Share these recipes with your friend! Get the word out that they are here!  PLEASE...make sure my name stays with the recipes.  Try to think how it would feel if you had worked on the recipes yourself. You'd want not only the credit, but also a way for people to contact you if they had questions. I ask you to please be mindful of that. Plus, they are my copy-written work and that is just the law. Thanks. 


Always My Very Best,


Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Yankee Pot Roast Gravy and Butter-Garlic Mashed Potatoes (52 Method Continues)



How can I possibly top this meal? I mean...can I? What in the name-of-all-that's-freakish am I thinking with this meal other than the fact that some red-blooded-American boys are going to just want to kiss me! This is about as meat-n-'taters as one can get when it comes to a meal...and add to that the fact that it is shelf stable 3 years! It's loaded with real tender beef, mushrooms and onions in a savory gravy... Oh dear. Bless my ever-prepared-heart.  Speaking of that, I'd like to thank my darling friends at  Honeyville for providing the bulk of  ingredients used in today's post! They have been so kind as to ask me to write their food storage cook book and many of my meal-in-a-jar recipes will be included in that book.
My  Meals in a jar will be the theme all week! So, if you like what you  see, plan on visiting all week. I'll try to have at least 4 new posts up this week with new recipes and some that I've re-vised to be more natural and user-friendly. If you are new to the meals in a jar, go here and get some details on how the meals are done as well as the basic safety guidelines. If your scroll through the rest of the  posts, there are a lot more recipes, ideas, and helpful tips when making the meals. I answer a lot of questions in the comment sections as well. If I had to re-cap each detail in each  new post, it would take a lot of time and space. So. That being said there are a few things I will always re-cap in each post.   
First, however, I'm gonna say, "Duuuuude! I got that Yankee Pot Roast Gravy and Butter-Garlic Mashed Potatoes right out of this jar." I know...it's hard to believe how cool this is.  Try not to pass out. This ends up making 4 cups of thick buttery-garlic mashed potatoes and 4 cups of this  savory pot roast gravy with mushrooms and onions. It's a hearty filling meal. Bet you'd never believe so much food could come out of this little space right?!


So what's the down-low on the jars?!

1. You will be using a method  some have called "dry pack canning" but it's actually called Vacuum packing. No liquid or pressure canning is necessary. If you opt to use the freeze dried meat in the recipes  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. I recommend using a 300 cc oxygen absorber for each jar. This will make the vacuum packing effective. You can use a food Saver with a jar attachment for this in place of the oxygen absorber, but will need to make sure your machine is designed to be used with the jar attachment. Some of the food Savers are called "meal savers" and are actually not designed to use with the attachment. I called the FoodSaver company myself to be sure that the attachment I had was right for the machine I was using



2. You can also pack in mylar bags (the ones that are silver-colored), but again need to use the oxygen absorber. This size I use is designed to absorb a gallon size amount of air, but I'd rather err on the side of over-vacuum than not enough. No. You can't use the foodSaver clear plastic bags for long term storage. They are not designed for that purpose. When I say "long term" I'm talking 3-5 years. 


Chef Tess' Yankee Pot Roast Beef and  Gravy 
Over Butter Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Gravy Ingredients:
1/4 cup ultra gel or cornstarch
2 tsp Haco Beef Base (no msg, lower sodium and great flavor)
1 tsp dehydrated minced garlic
1 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning
Mashed Potatoes:
1 1/2 cup  Potato Pearls
1 tsp granulated garlic

To make the Quart size jars:
Put the gravy ingredients in the bottom of a quart size jar, making sure it is a very dry day when re-packing the meats. Shake the powdered ingredients into the solid ones.

 To add the potato layer, place a sandwich size zipper bag inside the jars.
I'm not going to lie. I'm a huge fan of the Potato Pearls. They make a more compact "bang for the buck" in the small space we have in the jars. Flakes will work but it will take about 2 cups of those and you will need to add seasoning. Potato pearls are already pretty buttery and have a good flavor. They don't have as long a shelf life as other potatoes, thus the 3 years instead of 7-10 as we've had with other meals. 
Place the pearls in the baggie while it is in the jar and add the butter powder and the garlic.  You can find these at the Honeyville retail stores but not at their online store. 

Seal up the bag and then put an oxygen absorber at the top of the jar, being sure it is inside the jar and not at all on the rim.  Oxygen absorbers need to be done all at once at the very end of packing, since once you open the package of absorbers, they start chemically bonding with air. They are a ONE TIME use. Once they've done their job, the make a dramatic-swooning exit and will never be alive again. So...plan accordingly. They need to be packed withing 20 min to an hour of opening the bag from whence they came. Swoon. Swoon. Top with a new clean lid and tighten the canning ring as tight as you can. In about an hour, the jar lid will pop, letting you know a vacuum has been achieved. 
To prepare the meal:
Carefully remove the bag of potato pearls by opening the bag and emptying a little into a 2 quart metal bowl and then easing the baggie out of the jar. Pour the entire contents of the potato baggie into the bowl.  
Pour the gravy mixture into a 2 quart pot. Add 4 cups of very hot water to the gravy mix. Whisk well.  Place on a stove and bring to a simmer 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave covered 5 additional minutes. While the gravy sits, heat 3 cups of water in a separate pan. Bring the water to a boil and pour into the potatoes, stirring well. 
Scoop potatoes onto a plate and top with the hot, chunky, meaty, luscious, savory, divine-ambrosia of beef...Pass out. Wake up with mashed potato on your face and some beef in your eyebrow hairs. Mmm. Pretty.

If you decide to use a fork, it's probably better, but I think it would be very manly and cool to just stick your face into that pile of gravy-stuff and freestyle.  Oh dear. Ladies however, can be delicate if they desire. {Picture me with a very delicate-looking expression on my face...right below the chunks of beef in my eyebrows. Twitching. }

3. There you go!  Enjoy. 
4. How many calories?  365 calories a serving (1 cup potatoes, 1 cup gravy) 

Share these recipes with your friend! Get the word out that they are here!  PLEASE...make sure my name stays with the recipes.  Try to think how it would feel if you had worked on the recipes yourself. You'd want not only the credit, but also a way for people to contact you if they had questions. I ask you to please be mindful of that. Plus, they are my copy-written work and that is just the law. Thanks.


Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

I am no longer the corporate chef for Honeyville but we still love them dearly. My family is greatly blessed and relies heavily on the extra money brought in by sales tracked back to this site. This is also the company that packages and sells my spice line as well as my food storage cookbooks. Thank you so very much for your support. Xoxo!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

White Chicken Chili Verde...Meal in a Jar (52 Method Continues)


This is a new one! How can a jar, packed with dry ingredients (including beans and real chicken!) be shelf stable 7-10 years and...
 ...end up looking like this in 20-25 minutes?  I didn't even have to cook the meat or anything! Savory with a hint of lime juice, green chiles, and lean white meat chicken. It's a hearty satisfying meal that will stick with you for a while. Add to that the fact that it's also very low fat and freak! Freak! Freak! I'm a totally happy girl!

My  Meals in a jar will be the theme all week! So, if you like what you  see, plan on visiting all week. I'll try to have at least 4 new posts up this week with new recipes and some that I've re-vised to be more natural and user-friendly. If you are new to the meals in a jar, go here and get some details on how the meals are done as well as the basic safety guidelines. If your scroll through the rest of the  posts, there are a lot more recipes, ideas, and helpful tips when making the meals. I answer a lot of questions in the comment sections as well. If I had to re-cap each detail in each  new post, it would take a lot of time and space. So. That being said there are a few things I will always re-cap in each post.
1. You will be using a method  some have called "dry pack canning" but it's actually called Vacuum packing. No liquid or pressure canning is necessary. If you opt to use the freeze dried meat in the recipes  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. I recommend using a 300 cc oxygen absorber for each jar. This will make the vacuum packing effective. You can use a food Saver with a jar attachment for this in place of the oxygen absorber, but will need to make sure your machine is designed to be used with the jar attachment. Some of the food Savers are called "meal savers" and are actually not designed to use with the attachment. I called the FoodSaver company myself to be sure that the attachment I had was right for the machine I was using
2. You can also pack in mylar bags (the ones that are silver-colored), but again need to use the oxygen absorber. This size I use is designed to absorb a gallon size amount of air, but I'd rather err on the side of over-vacuum than not enough. No. You can't use the foodSaver clear plastic bags for long term storage. They are not designed for that purpose. When I say "long term" I'm talking 3-5 years. 
3. Enjoy. Share these recipes with your friend! Get the word out that they are here!  PLEASE...make sure my name stays with the recipes.  Try to think how it would feel if you had worked on the recipes yourself. You'd want not only the credit, but also a way for people to contact you if they had questions. I ask you to please be mindful of that. Plus, they are my copy-written work and that is just the law. Thanks. 
Today I'm sharing my newest recipe for White Chicken Chili Verde!
Troy at Preparing Wisely in Mesa, AZ had these quick cook Whole navy beans in the store. I was so excited to see them! I know I'm a food storage geek when I squeal in a store over beans. For the record, Troy still can't hear out of his left ear. I bought two cans of them a week ago and have enjoyed playing with them in my recipes. I'm totally impressed with how firm and perfect the little beans turn out when cooked. Yes, they also only take 20 minutes to cook so they're perfect for the meal-in-a-jar scenario. 

Here's what they look like in the can. 
 If you want to make your own quick cook beans from beans you have on-hand, see my tutorial here.  One thing Troy also had was Freeze Dried Green Chiles! Holy cow! That's awesome! My brain just started thinking of all the recipes I use every day that call for those little bad-boy green chiles of love. Oh so stinkin' excited! They are made by THRIVE and yes, no added chemicals or preservative.  
I've used Chicken bullion in a few of my recipes. The one I prefer is called HACO chicken base because it is vegetable based, lower in salt and has no MSG. It's also got a really good flavor. It costs more than the big brown jars...but the flavor is remarkably better. To me, it's worth the extra cost because of how much better it tastes. 
 The Green chiles are pretty fine chopped, but also don't have the seeds, so the heat is a lot lower than if they were packed with their seeds.  You may need to make the recipe once and see if you need to adjust your heat level.  
Chef Tess' White Chicken Chili Verde in a Jar
2 cups quick cook white navy beans
1 cup Freeze Dried Chicken
1/2 cup Freeze dried diced green chilies
1/2 cup dehydrated onion
1/4 Freeze Dried Celery (dehydrated will work, I just prefer the flavor of the freeze dried here)
1tsp HACO chicken base
1T Lime Juice Powder 
1T Chef Tess Southwest Fajita Seasoning
Jar Directions: Layer ingredients in a wide mouth quart size mason jar, top with a oxygen absorber (note that oxygen absorbers need to be sealed within 20 minutes of opening the package so that they will still absorb air in your jar!). 
To prepare: Combine the contents of the jar with 6-7 cups of water, depending on how thick or thin you like your chili. Simmer in a 3 quart heavy pot, 20-25 minutes until beans are tender. Yield 6 cups hearty chili.

Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired. It's also amazing with avocado, cheese, and sour cream!

There you go. White Chicken Chili in a Jar! 


I'm a fan of the nutritional content as well. This one yields about 7 cups of hearty chili. That's 4 servings (1 3/4 cup each). Each servings gives you 240 lean calories, 28 grams of fiber, 2.5 grams of fat and 110mg of sodium. 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess
I am no longer the corporate chef for Honeyville but we still love them dearly. My family is greatly blessed and relies heavily on the extra money brought in by sales tracked back to this site. This is also the company that packages and sells my spice line as well as my food storage cookbooks. Thank you so very much for your support. Xoxo!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Polynesian Sweet and Sour Chicken Baked Beans (52 Method Continues)


I'm kicking off a Theme week this week.

 My  Meals in a jar all week! So, if you like what you  see, plan on visiting all week. I'll try to have at least 4 new posts up this week with new recipes and some that I've re-vised to be more natural and user-friendly. If you are new to the meals in a jar, go here and get some details on how the meals are done as well as the basic safety guidelines. If your scroll through the rest of the  posts, there are a lot more recipes, ideas, and helpful tips when making the meals. I answer a lot of questions in the comment sections as well. If I had to re-cap each detail in each  new post, it would take a lot of time and space. So. That being said there are a few things I will always re-cap in each post.

1. You will be using a method  some have called "dry pack canning" but it's actually called Vacuum packing. No liquid or pressure canning is necessary. If you opt to use the freeze dried meat in the recipes  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. I recommend using a 300 cc oxygen absorber for each jar. This will make the vacuum packing effective. You can use a food Saver with a jar attachment for this in place of the oxygen absorber, but will need to make sure your machine is designed to be used with the jar attachment. Some of the food Savers are called "meal savers" and are actually not designed to use with the attachment. I called the FoodSaver company myself to be sure that the attachment I had was right for the machine I was using. Thanks Mom (yes my mother bought me one!) for the big FoodSaver! I love it!! It's shiny and silver and fun, fun, fun! Yes. I'm planning on doing a tutorial on making the jars with one! 


2. You can also pack in mylar bags (the ones that are silver-colored), but again need to use the oxygen absorber. This size I use is designed to absorb a gallon size amount of air, but I'd rather err on the side of over-vacuum than not enough. No. You can't use the foodSaver clear plastic bags for long term storage. They are not designed for that purpose. When I say "long term" I'm talking 3-5 years. 


3. Enjoy. Share these recipes with your friend! Get the word out that they are here!  PLEASE...make sure my name stays with the recipes.  Try to think how it would feel if you had worked on the recipes yourself. You'd want not only the credit, but also a way for people to contact you if they had questions. I ask you to please be mindful of that. Plus, they are my copy-written work and that is just the law. Thanks. 


Today I'm sharing my newest recipe for Polynesian Sweet and Sour Chicken baked beans.  The original recipe on my blog is here ( using the solar oven to bake them).   The jar recipe is different. It cooks on the stove in 20-25 minutes and looks and tastes um...(what's the word?)...pretty! Colorful! Delightful! It has a sweet, sour, tangy, luscious, slightly peppery sauce. I love the sweet chunks of pineapple with the fresh taste of the peppers, garlic and onions. The chicken is chunky and firm. The beans are perfectly tender. Serve it over rice and it's a "topper" or serve it with a chunk of  sweet homemade Maori Bread



Thanks again to Honeyville for the products used in making the bulk of this recipe. They are so good! I am currently writing their company food storage cook book...so I get to play with a lot of their products every single day! Great stuff. Crazy-great-stuff!

  Preparing Wisely in Mesa, AZ had these quick cook Whole navy beans in the store. I was so excited to see them and use them! I bought two cans of them a week ago and have enjoyed playing with them in my recipes. I'm totally impressed with how firm and perfect the little beans turn out when cooked. Yes, they also only take 20 minutes to cook so they're perfect for the meal-in-a-jar scenario. 
 When I  the white beans to make the Polynesian sweet and sour chicken baked beans...they looked awesome. They tasted awesome. I'm a fan. 
 I got a few new things to play with for my meals in a jar too.  dehydrated Jalapeno, dehydrated minced garlic  Golden Balsamic Vinegar Powder and   NOH terriyaki powder in a bulk bag. I also use ultra gel and dehydrated honey in this recipe. Honeyville  carries the ultra gel and dehydrated honey in their retail stores but not their online store. 


Polynesian Sweet and Sour Chicken Baked Beans in a Jar 
2 cups Quick Cook Red Beans or Quick cook Navy Beans(not available with Honeyville)
1 cup Freeze Dried Chicken OR Freeze Dried Turkey or TVP chicken will work (only use half the amount of terriyaki powder or it will be too salty with TVP). 
1/4 cup Dehydrated onion Dehydrated Onion 
1/2 Cup freeze dried  bell peppers Freeze Dried Bell Peppers
1/2 cup Freeze Dried Pineapple
1/4 cup  NOH terriyaki powder ( get packets here OR 1/4 cup seasoning from the bulk bag)
1/4 cup dehydrated honey 
1 tsp dehydrated Jalapeno (optional)
2T Ultra gel OR cornstarch

Jar Directions: Put ingredients in a WIDE mouth quart jar, shaking the powdered ingredients in before adding the bell pepper and pineapple. Top with a 300 cc oxygen absorber and a new canning lid.  
The re-use of canning lids from wet packed goods like jams and fruit is not  recommended  by the jar companies, as a vacuum seal can't be guaranteed. I actually asked the experts at our local extension office about that! They said that anywhere we wanted to ensure a good seal, to NEVER re-use the lids from wet canned items. Again, if you use a FoodSaver with the jar attachment, make sure it is for the jar you are using and that the machine is not a "mealsaver" but the actual FoodSaver machine with the attachment port.  This meal will be shelf stable 5-7 years. 

To prepare the meal: 
Add 5 cups of water and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Solar cooker, same amount of time in direct sunlight.

There you go! 
Make sure my name stays with the picture if you do decide to share it or  

Come back soon for more! I'll be here all week. 

Always My Very Best, 
Your Friend Chef Tess

If you share, be sure you have my name  in the description when you .

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Redeem at Purchase...The Bread of Life Section


 Sunday is the day I share a little of my soul. I call it the Bread of Life Section. Enjoy.

I was looking at a coupon website yesterday. I think that's a freakish first in the history of Chef Tess. I'm not a coupon person. I know...How odd is that? I'm usually so concerned about saving money and living on a budget but one thing I don't do is clip the coupons. Shocked? I had a friend tell me once that she was pretty sure I was the most frugal person on the planet. So...there it is. How does one achieve the noble title "Most illustrious Frugal Person on the Ever-lovin'-Planet" and not use coupons? Not sure. I do know, however, that as I looked at the coupon website I saw something epic. No, there wasn't a smokin' deal on carpet cleaning. It said,"Redeem at Purchase."
What does it mean to redeem anyway?
The trusty Merriam-Webster says:
Redeem : to free from what distresses or harms: as a : to free from captivity by payment of ransom b : to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental c : to release from blame or debt : clear d : to free from the consequences of sin. 


I thought of the One who bought me with a price and even now saves me from so much pain and heartache every single day. I thought of how the price was so high and how He willingly gave up the difference to basically appease the demands of Justice. Mercy...even for me. So today I just want to thank my Savior for giving me the best coupon ever. The coupon that would supply me with what I needed to be able to return to My Father. The example of what it really means to Redeem was given to me by his Hands. 
It made me want to use His Grace Coupon every single day. Come to think of it...I guess I am a coupon person. 


There it is. "Though I'm not yet as I would be, Has shown me how I could be."


Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess