Friday, July 18, 2014

2 NEW Chef Tess Meals in a Jar: Instant Chicken Stuffers and Toppers

Instant Chicken Salad was such a popular post for fast and easy sandwich filling that I thought I would take it a step further and introduce all of you to this great way to make instant BBQ chicken bun stuffer and instant oriental chicken wrap or  salad greens topper. These are great convenience meals for family picnics, camping trips, travel and whenever you're on the go. They are perfect for scout camp and are really delicious.  

 If you are new to this 52-method Meals in a Jar  you'll probably need to read the posts on how to pack the jars with a food saver (if you don't want to use an oxygen absorber) as well as how to make the meals in mylar bags if you decide not to make them in the jars.  Those posts are here: 
For camping and backpacking I generally will use the method of packing in the mylar bags. Keep in mind that mylar is shelf-stable for a very long time but is not rodent-proof and can puncture, so take precautions when packing them in your bags. This is one I packed for my son for scout camp. {Best. Bartering meal. Ever. }

Now. On to the recipes! 

This isn't just BBQ chicken. It is Kansas City BBQ Chicken. If you know anything about BBQ then you know that the Kansas City version of BBQ are usually  tomato based with the addition of molasses or brown sugar. Using tomato powder give you the ability to control the thickness of the sauce without having to simmer it for hours.  If you like your bbq chicken saucy, then this recipe is for you! 
 I used just a few simple ingredients for this stuffer. Once you've used  freeze-dried chicken, you'll wonder why you have waited so long to try it! I have been so impressed with the lean, clean, awesomeness of this stuff for a long time. Mainly because it doesn't have any added junk to it. No soy, or msg or extra flavor. It is just chicken. Ahhh. It is a great way to make a shelf-stable meal without added chemicals. The Honeyville store in Chandler, AZ was nice enough to give me some chicken to play with to develop these recipes. 
 One thing I am pretty particular about is the seasoning. If you haven't tried my Chef Tess Spices Chef Tess All purpose seasoning,  is one that I developed as a chef for restaurant and banquet use. It goes with everything and hands-down is one of the best seasoning blends on the planet. You won't be disappointed.  Today, for BBQ, this is a must. It has bold flavor that will really enhance the sauce and give it a remarkable well rounded taste.

Kansas City  BBQ  Chicken Stuffer 
1/2 cup Tomato Powder
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2T Freeze Dried Onion
2 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning

1/2 tsp hickory smoke flavor powder or 2tsp smoked paprika
2 cups Freeze Dried White Chicken

Directions: Combine all ingredients in pint sized jar and top with an oxygen absorber. You may also use a mylar bag instead of the jar.  You can cut the recipe in half for smaller portions or double for larger families. Simple stuff. 

Safety Note: For the love of Pete, please use an oxygen absorber. They are the magic ingredient that makes these meals safe for long-term storage. Bacteria and junk can't grow without oxygen and moisture so this is a biggie! By the way, oxygen absorbers  are a one time use. They are a must! After you have filled all your jars or mylar bags with the recipe ingredients, place a 300cc oxygen absorber in each jar (or bag). Seal withing 20-60 minutes for the oxygen absorber to be viable. 

To prepare: Combine chicken stuffer mix with 2 cups boiling water.  Allow  hydrate, about 10 minutes. Add more water to-taste of sauce thickness.

Fill your favorite buns with the mixture.I make hamburger buns using the No Knead 4 Ingredient Overnight Bread Anyone Can Make and they're  to go for a low cost meal!

Lettuce wrap filling  or salad green topper:

This recipe is versatile for either a salad wrap, topper or even a tortilla wrap. You'll love the heat! If of course you're not a spicy person, you can omit the pepper flakes all together. I serve my salad with a sqeeze of hot chile sauce and some fresh shredded carrots on salad greens. It is a simple grab when I'm traveling or just want a light lunch. 

Oriental Spicy Chicken Salad 

2 cup  Freeze Dried Chicken (3 oz) 
1/3 cup Soy Sauce Powder (1.5 oz)
2T  Lemonade Powder
1T dehydrated garlic slices (store purchased or make your own)
2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how hot you like your meals)
1/3 cup Dehydrated Onion
1T Chef Tess Amazing Wok Star seasoning blend Chef Tess Spices 
1T Ultra Gel 

Directions: Combine all ingredients in pint sized jar and top with an oxygen absorber. You may also use a mylar bag instead of the jar.  You can cut the recipe in half for smaller portions or double for larger families. 

To prepare: Combine chicken stuffer mix with 2 cups boiling water.  Allow to hydrate, about 10 minutes. Add more water to-taste of sauce thickness. Serve on top of greens.

Or wrap in lettuce leaves for salad wraps.

There you go! Enjoy some wonderful new summer meals in a jar! 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cheeseburger Salad from AZ Midday

I was so blessed to be part of Arizona Midday on Channel 12.   Hopefully this gives you a great idea for summer salad. I know it is one of my family's favorites!

Cheeseburger Salad


6 sesame seed hamburger bun tops
1 pound 95% lean ground beef
Grilling seasoning (heavy on the garlic)
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup sliced dill or sweet pickles
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
6 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce or shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 plum tomatoes

Additional toppings: thousand island dressing, bacon bits or blue cheese crumbles if desired.

Slice bun tops into 1/4-inch strips. If bun tops are very thick, slice bottoms off horizontally before slicing into strips). Arrange in a single layer on large bake pan; bake 8-10 minutes at 425 degrees or until lightly toasted. Place on a cooling rack; cool completely. Cook ground beef over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles. Season well with grilling seasoning of your choice. Add sliced onion and cook a minute or two more. Finely dice pickles and add along with ketchup and mustard to the cooked beef. Remove from the heat.

To serve:  Arrange lettuce on large serving platter. Spoon beef mixture over lettuce. Top with cheese, tomatoes and sliced onion. Arrange hamburger bun croutons around edge of platter. Drizzle with Thousand Island dressing and sprinkle with bacon bits and blue cheese if desired Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bread of Life Section: True Identity

Sunday is the day I share a little of my soul. Enjoy.
I don't have a lot to say this week. I just wanted to share a little insight from my life. I hope it helps your life.  

I did a lot with TV and classes this week. I visited 3 different television shows. I taught over a hundred people how to cook at cooking classes. I baked a lot of bakery orders.   In between that I was mom and wife and daughter-in-law. I'm not going to lie... I felt frazzled. I felt tired. I felt incredibly stressed.  Somewhere in there I also felt overwhelming peace as I walked my path. 

When did it start?  I have a Christian friend named Jane who reached out to me and prayed with me. Literally. Jane stopped in the middle of our conversation and had a prayer with me...right in the middle aisle of her store. It was awesome. She reminded me by her example of being a believer that I am first a disciple of Christ. Always.   

A few days later I had opportunities presented to me that would help support my family until I can find full-time employment.  An old friend reached out to me, one I had lost contact with, but  who was baptized just a few years after we first met. I got to see his family and the joy they have found following Christ. I have to admit I cried a lot after our reunion. Not because of the work he gave me (even though that is awesome and appreciated) but because of the path his choices have taken his family. 

 I found joy. I found gratitude.

The most amazing moments of the week were those when I remembered that no matter what I face, I am not really a chef, wife, mom, or teacher.  I am...His daughter. My friends who are followers are with me. My friends who don't care what I believe are still my friends.  I am loved, not because of what I do or what I accomplish, but because I am a His daughter. 

  Focusing on that has been an amazing gift this week. It has carried me forward.  

So that is my thought for today.  Breathe. Rest when you need to...and keep moving onward and upward.

There it is.

Always My Very Best,
Your Sister Tess

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Profiling of a Killer...Salad. Herb Alchemy 101 (4 Salads from One basic Recipe)

I was blessed to be a guest on the The Morning Scramble AZTV7 with the legendary PAT McMAHON and LISA SCHNEIDER-CIPRIANO.  It was one of the most pleasant experiences ever!  They were just simply adorable down there at the studio and warmly welcoming.  I always appreciate that!  It was such a treat! Oh mercy. I just said, "treat" my granny. It was such an awesome dude-fest rockin'-down party event. There. Phew. I can't use granny words yet. Oopsie Daisy.  {Crap. Just did it again. Granny word.} Ya know what? Who cares if I use a granny word? I don't.  

Okay. Photo opp:
Aaaaaa-freakin'-dorable. See?!

 On the show we talked about a few recipes and flavor profiles and I wanted to share them here on the blog.  Oh I also wanted to just kiss Pat...but I think he would have taken it wrong. Such a cool guy!  Lisa shared some really great stories about her culinary genius kiddos. She. Has. Triplets. I have no excuse for having a fat butt.  

Okay. for the recipes.  These are the ones I share in my herb and spice class, but in the class you will get a freakish ton more of information...and you'll get to taste the salads I make. So you should still come to classes darlings.  I do however realize that there are some of you who live waaaaay out of town and I have not forgotten any of you. 

Herb Alchemy 101 Cooking Without a Recipe

How many just read the words "herbs and spices without a recipe" and panic set in? I can hear you saying, "I don't cook like that! I need a recipe.” If that is you, then this post is for you. I want you to try to let go of your cooking inhibitions and think with your heart. If my 11 year old can do this, you most definitely can do it! I believe in you!

So to begin with a basic explanation, herbs are the aromatic leaves, flowers, and stems of plants and spices are seeds and the bark of aromatic edible plants. Fresh or dry herbs and spices will work in cooking applications, but make sure you smell inside the jar. If it smells like the spice or herb, then the stuff inside is still full of flavor. Most spices will need to be in ground or grated form for cooking or baking. If you don't have a spice mill (not many people do), then just buy them pre-ground. 

Below is the basic outline of some flavors that work together well. Follow the steps and you will find success.   

Step 1: Begin with the pasta salad base.

Chef Tess’ Pasta Salad 101
Basic Pasta Salad
1 lb. pasta of your choice, cooked al dente and seasoned well with salt and pepper
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup carrots, shredded or chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
½ medium red onion, sliced thin or chopped fine

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. 

Step 2: Make one batch of basic vinaigrette.

Basic Vinaigrette for Pennies a Jar! (FAT free available)
¾ cup olive or vegetable oil (flavored oils are great)
¼ cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tsp. fresh pressed garlic
Herbs and spices (see below for variations)
Salt and pepper

Directions: Whisk oil and vinegar with other ingredients in a bowl. Start with a half teaspoon at a time of the herb or spice you want to add and then sample. Adjust flavors according to your taste. For one batch of salad, you will need one batch of salad dressing. Want a fat free salad dressing? You can make this dressing almost completely free of fat if you have ultra gel and juice or broth! Use ¾ cup vegetable broth or juice in place of the oil. In a cold sauce pan, combine the broth or juice with 2 tablespoons of ultra gel. Add the liquid slowly and whisk well. Next add the vinegar and remaining herbs and spices, adjusting the same as above when tasting. Use the dressing immediately and keep refrigerated. If the dressing gets too thick, simply add a little more liquid to thin it out.

Step 3: Add flavor profile to dressing & mix salad. 

Dressing Variations These herb and spice suggestions are to be used in the basic vinaigrette recipe to customize the recipe to fit your need. Add the flavor combinations directly to the basic pasta salad recipe. Come up with your own and try mixing and matching fresh veggies as they are in season. You can even add seasonal fruit you like. For hearty dinners, add some roasted chicken or beef. Try marinating your meat in the vinaigrette to save a lot of money instead of buying those fancy bottles of pre-made stuff. You can do this! It can be very liberating, but for you folks who just want a grab and go dressing fix, just use the pre-made spice blends.

These are lists of flavors that work together for the cuisine you want to create they are not a complete list. They are intended to get you started

Herbs: Basil, rosemary, thyme, flat leaf parsley, marjoram
Spices: Fennel, caraway, crushed red pepper, celery seed
Flavoring: Hard cheeses like parmesan, asiago, olives, roasted peppers, citrus zest, capers

Herbs: Dill, oregano, rosemary, mint, parsley,
Spices: Fennel, anise, black pepper, dill seed
Flavoring: Feta cheese, olives, pickled peppers

Herbs: Cilantro, oregano, thyme
Spice: Cumin, coriander, chile pods, black pepper, allspice
Flavoring: Lime zest, roasted corn, green onions, radish, black olives

Herbs: Cilantro, mint, lemon grass, sesame oil (use 2 tsp. in place of some of the oil)
Spices: Cumin, chile paste, curry paste, fennel, ginger
Flavoring: Lime zest, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, citrus zest, peanuts or cashews

©Chef Stephanie Petersen. 2011. All rights reserved. Copies NOT permitted without written consent from the author even for personal or church use! Chef Stephanie Petersen can be contacted at and is Chef Tess on Facebook and Twitter. 

There you go darlings. Begin learning some flavor profiles. I'll be posting more in the future! I promise.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Here are the blends that started it all!

Here are the blends that started it all! 
The highest quality. The best flavors. A blessing to our family when you buy them here. Thank you so much.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Homemade Ice Cream from 101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations (and a Giveaway)

July is National Ice Cream Month!  This is a rambling review and recipe post that has been a long-time coming.  I'm weird that way. I like to really use a book a lot before I review it and to be honest with y'all in every way.   About a year ago I purchased the book, 101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations Here from Amazon. At the time it was one of the new books from my darling, adorable friend and fellow cookbook author, Wendy Paul ( 101GourmetSeries). She's written quite a few amazing cookbooks and every one I have purchases I have loved.  Plus. I just love ice cream (for all the right reasons).

 I can admit that initially buying an ice cream book seemed strange for a pastry chef, but this was, at the time, an area that I felt like I could improve my skills.  I, for some reason, found ice cream making to be intimidating.   Say no more.  I bet there are a few out there who would totally agree with me.  It seemed cheaper to me to just buy pre-made ice cream and then...I got the book.  Boom! Wendy made me a pro. Well...the book made it simple anyway.
A few weeks ago, Wendy sent me a copy of her book that I could give away here on the blog. {Eeeeek!!! Soooo Awesome!!}   Mind you, the first copy I had didn't have this awesome autograph in it...

So that means I'm keeping this one. Sorry dudes. I can't fly to Utah this week and get her to sign another and I just can't part with the autographed copy...It is toooo pretty. Can I admit that I squealed like a little girl and ran into show my kids that Wendy signed it? Can I also admit that they looked at me like I was a freakin' loon?    
 I don't care. Loonie moms unite! 
Wendy touched my copy of the book. 
Neeener Neeeeener. 
Okay. Now I'm just being mean. 
Here the deal. I can't part with this copy. I can't. 

I can however part with 3 more copies from Amazon. 
Pay attention. I'll tell you how to win.

One thing I've really loved about Wendy's book is that it gives simple recipes in the beginning of the book called, "The Basics". Those recipes are the base for all the ice cream variations in the book so it makes it very very simple for anyone to create something awesome.  You know what I loved best? The recipe for the basic ice cream was just four ingredients. Four. Simple. Ingredients.  Nothing gourmet or hard to find. Simple. From that basic she makes things like maple bacon ice cream, roasted strawberry ice cream,  Silky fudge, mint truffle...the list goes on and on 101 times. Yup. I'm converted. 
My personal favorite and one I've made about 10 times now is the Peanut Butter Bliss on page 73.  It is the basic recipe plus a bunch of peanut butter and peanut butter cups. I'd share the recipe but you really should buy the book.   {Or you can win it here...I'll tell you how.}

Wendy did say I could share couple other recipes and I think you'll agree, once you try them that you've found pure ice-cream heaven.  I know I have.  Keep reading. I promise we'll talk about the giveaway...

Recipes from:
 101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations for Every Craving
 by Wendy PaulHere from Amazon) Shared by permission.

Creamy Vanilla
"This recipe contains less fat than Rich and Creamy Vanilla, and does not have any eggs in it. Perfect for specific dietary needs, but still has the heavy creamy texture you desire.

½ to ¾ cup sugar
2 cups cream
1 cup 2% milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Whisk together all ingredients until combined. Transfer your cream liquid into your ice cream machine and make according to manufacturers directions." 

Key Lime Pie

Wendy Said, "Yes, of course I had to include key lime in this recipe book. It wouldn't be complete without it. It’s a keeper!"

1 Basic recipe
2 limes zested and juiced or Nellie and Joe's Key Lime juice
½ cup crushed graham crackers

Add the lime zest to your Basic recipe, whisking together until combined. Place mixture in your machine and follow manufacturers directions in freezing. The last 5 minutes of the freezing process, add the lime juice and the crushed graham crackers.

Wendy Paul can be found here: Instagram  reasonstobake or Facebook 101GourmetSeries
 Amazon book purchases of  101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations are Here.

Okay. So here's the deal on the giveaway.  I'm giving away 3 copies, One copy to three different people.  Shipped from Amazon.  If you want to participate here's what you need to know.
Must be 18 years or older.
 Must have a non-PO box mailing address (US residents only).
 No purchase necessary to win.  
Winner will be chosen at random and announced Monday July 21st.  

To enter:
Leave a comment below telling me your favorite flavor of ice cream. PLUS Send an e-mail to Telling me your name and  "I love Ice Cream!" to enter. That's the only way I can contact you darlings. I'm not collecting or selling e-mail addresses. 

That simple. 
Winners will be chosen and contacted Monday July 21st by midnight.  

 There you go darlings!  Ice cream is coming your way!! I hope you win a copy of this book. I for one know I can't live without it in my kitchen collection. It is perfection! 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, July 4, 2014

Easy No Baking Necessary Desserts for 4th of July

  Good Morning Arizona was sweet enough to have me come down again for stinkin' fun segment! We laughed and played for the 4th of July with some very simple ideas for summer desserts.

We made these awesome dishes.

 We grilled my favorite pound cake: 

Grilled it 30 seconds or so on a hot grill pan and topped it with fresh fruit, whip cream and some candied pecans. 

Next we made the mini fruit pizzas using my all-time favorite, favorite, favorite sugar cookie recipe: 

Topped them with a smear of  Chocolate Chip Cheeseball and some fresh fruit...and here it is! 

There you go darlings! Happy 4th of July!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Gluten-free Grain-Free Almond Flour Blueberry Muffin Crisps

I tried a blueberry muffin crisp...and then I ate them by the case for a few months. Now when I see them I want them, but I know that they are higher in sugar than what I want and that I really need to be better. So, when given the chance to make them healthier, I went for it. Here is a great alternative to the multi-grain breakfast muffin-crackers that taste amazing and will give you all the protein and fiber you need to keep you going throughout the day. I love them!  The secret is making them grain-free using almond flour. The fine grind variety is what I prefer, and I'm pretty partial to the almond flour from Honeyville. Even now that I am not their corporate chef, it is my pet favorite for perfect texture. I've tried others and I'll always come back to theirs. 

Have you ever tried Coconut Sugar to the recipe have solved that! Plus, there is naturally occurring caramel flavor that comes with coconut sugar that I adore!
 Palm Coconut Sugar  is supposed to be great for helping regulate blood sugar.  It is low on the glycemic index and this really affects how quickly you extract the energy from the food. It is measured and used the same as sugar in baking, but I seriously use about half. Honestly, in most baking, you can almost count on the fact that you can reduce the sugar by almost half and it will still bake pretty similarly. 

Palm Coconut Sugar was explained by Dr. Oz. He showed the benefits of using it in This Video. There are still a few people who say it isn't as healthy a choice but I'm in the group that says hey, " It still has more vitamins and minerals than regular sugar and yes, it contains natural fructose. It isn't calorie free, but it is all natural." That being said, it is also very easy to harvest and is sustainable. 

Gluten-Free Grain Free 

Almond Flour Blueberry Muffin Crisps

1 3/4 cup Almond flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp LorAnn Princess Emulsion
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup freeze-dried blueberries, crushed to 2T
12-15 drops stevia
2T olive oil

Directions:  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients until a thick dough is made. Place dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baker's mat. 
Cover the dough with non-stick parchment paper.
Roll thin between the sheets using a small rolling pin or pressing with your hands. I have a rolling pin that I love and it works great for crackers. 
Remove the parchment. Lightly cut crackers into 1 inch squares. If you use a baker's mat you can use a simple pastry roller that won't cut the mat.  Roll to 1/16th of an inch thin. 
Bake 350 degrees 12-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the crackers).
Store in an airtight container...if they survive that long. I'm not using them as ninja-stars. They're making snack-fest status for sure!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess