Momma’s Tuna Salad

15-fat-burning-foodsI love tuna salad and I think I am the only one in my house that will actually eat tuna. However, anytime anyone else has tried my tuna salad they loved it and wanted the recipe. I usually make tuna salad the most in the summer time so I thought I would share how I do it. 🙂 Hope you enjoy and please feel free to leave comments or suggestions below. We all love to hear other peoples taste buds.


  • Two 6-ounce cans white meat tuna packed in water, drained
  • 2 boiled eggs, chopped into small pieces, optional but sooo good
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced red or sweet yellow onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons sweet relish (or dill if you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup prepared mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, to taste
  • 2 pinches ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • A few dashes of hot sauce, Optional


  • Boil eggs
  • Mix all ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
  • You can eat immediately, but I like to let it sit in the fridge for a few ours so the flavors blend.

You can serve with bread, on crackers, toasted bread or bun or even on a salad. The choice is yours! 🙂

Chicken Fiesta Rice: Freeze Dried Ingredients

Chicken fiesta Final CopyDid you forget to lay that meat our for dinner aaaagain? No worries. I have a recipe that will save you and taste like you spent  quite a while making it, but in reality, it only takes 10-15 minutes to make and you do not even have to use a skillet. Interested yet? 🙂

I am going to show you how to make a Chicken Fiesta Rice bowl  that can be stored on your shelf for months without going bad if it is stored properly. (Please read all directions on how to store at bottom of article.) To prepare it, all you have to do is add 1 1/2 cups of boiling water to it and you’re done. Yup,that’s it!

I have put together a short video to guide you in preparation and a list of the ingredients are listed below it. This meal is created using NuHarvest Freeze Dried Foods and I have to admit, once it is re-hydrated you really can’t tell that is what it is. It tastes so fresh and good. My husband and kids couldn’t tell and my husband even let some of the guys at work try it and it was a hit.


Makes 2 full cups of Chicken Fiesta Rice. You can double up the ingredients or even triple them if you have a large family. I can feed four people (2 adults, 2 teenage girls) when I double it up.

Freeze Dried Ingredients:


  • 1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4  tsp salt, optional
  • 2 tsp Chicken Bouillon or Granules
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Freeze Dried Cilantro OR 1/8 tsp regular dried Cilantro

Optional Ingredients:

To Prepare:

  • Mix everything together in a bowl that will hold at least 2 cups of water.
  • Boil 1 1/2 cups of water
  • Pour water into bowl and stir so that all ingredients get wet and spices are blended well
  • Cover and let sit for 10 minutes

It is that easy. The only thing to wash are the bowls and spoons. 🙂

Storing Meal in Mason Jars:

If you are going to store a few of these already prepared meals in jars on the shelf it is imperative that you use an Oxygen absorber to seal the jar or a vacuum sealer (Jar Sealer Attachment) so the meat does not go rancid and make you sick. Eat within 3 months.

If you are making some up in baggies then you will need to store them in the refrigerator and use within 3 weeks. If you store them in the pantry they should be used with in 10 days.


Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini

Pic Source: Thrive Home

Pic Source: Thrive Home

Another HUGE hit in my home created by Thrive Home!!


  • 1 package (16 oz.) cheese tortellini, cooked al dente (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (approximately 28 oz.; I like Newman’s Own Marinara)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (or 1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted, drained and chopped)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese and/or Italian mix cheese


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray.

2) Boil cheese tortellini until al dente (about 2 minutes), according to package directions.

3) Spread thin layer of sauce into bottom of baking dish. Arrange half of the cooked tortellini over the sauce. Top tortellini with 1/2 of sauce, spinach, mozzarella cheese, and Italian cheese.

4) Repeat layers again, ending with the last of the cheese on top.

5) Bake for uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until edges are bubbly and top is golden brown.

Freezer Meal Instructions:
After step #4 (before baking), freeze the casserole in airtight freezable container. When ready to bake, thaw 24-48 hours in the fridge or using the defrost setting in the microwave. Bake according to directions (step #5). If casserole is still somewhat frozen, you will have to bake it 10-15 minutes longer. If it starts to get too brown on top, cover with foil.

Home Made Salisbury Steak

Picture: Garden Web

One of my husband favorites is Salisbury steak and I will admit, until I made them myself I was not a fan of them. However, the only ones I had ever had were in high-school or made by Banquet. Yuck!!

Below is the recipe I use to make a wonderful dinner that everyone seems to love. There are usually left overs for the hubby to take to work the next day that make the office smell fantastic and ladies, it definitely makes his fellow workers jealous. 🙂


  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds of ground hamburger. I prefer 90/10 but 80/20 will work
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumb,. Italian or plain. Either works.
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup onion, chopped. Eyeball this based on how much your family likes onions.
  • 1 to 1 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground, black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 cup of fresh mushrooms or 1 small can, optional


  • 2 McCormick brown gravy packets (Note: I realize most internet recipes tell us how to make our own, and while its not hard to do, we prefer the gravy packet method. I will include how to make your own at the bottom of the article.)
  • 2 cups of water


  1. Add (the first 9 ingredients) ground beef, milk, bread crumbs, beaten egg, onion, salt, pepper, dry mustard, and garlic powder into a large bowl and mix well with your hands.
  2. Form into patties making sure the center of the patty is pressed out towards the edges to create a flat patty verses round.  You should get about 6-8 good size patties. Below is a picture of how I get the patties to be equal in size. Depending on how much meat you use, will determine how you want to divide your patties. In the picture, I formed four patties but they were way to big. I could of made two patties out of each quartered section.20141120_102913
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown both sides of the patties. Make sure the skillet is hot before adding the patties and never add raw meat to meat that is already cooked. If you don’t have room for all the patties in one skillet, cook some, remove them and then cook the remaining patties.canvasSalisbury Steak Patties
  4. While the patties are cooking slice your onion rings and set aside.Sliced Onions
  5. At this time, begin your brown gravy by following the package directions.1001029_052100098609_A_400
  6. When patties are browned on both sides remove from pan and drain off remaining grease. No need to wash the skillet, just return to the stove.
  7. Add butter and allow to melt.
  8. Add the onion rings and mushrooms to the skillet and stir. Reduce heat to low-medium and allow the onions to caramelize slowly, stirring occasionally. Don’t rush this process. I know it can be hard to do since we are sooo close to tasting this yummy meal, but it will be worth the wait. We don’t want burnt onions. This may take as long as 20 minutes.Caramelized_onions
  9. Once the onions are browned and translucent you can return the patties to the pan. Sort of mix the onions so they cover they patties on all side and even some on top.
  10. If your gravy is done, slowly pour it over the mixture in the pan until you feel it has the right amount for your family. We usually use all of it. On occasion my husband prefers me to remove the patty with some onions straight to his plate and then pour the gravy on top. I myself, prefer to let the patties cook in the gravy for about 15 minutes on medium heat. The choice is up to you. 🙂

We like to serve it with mashed potatoes and asparagus or green beans, but you know what your family loves best. I hope you enjoy this recipe and please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below.

Keepin It Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal

  1. To make your own gravy verses package gravy…..
  2. Start at step 6, but instead of draining the pan leave the brown bits in there with the grease. (It should be about 2-3 tablespoons of grease.)
  3. Add the onions to this mixture and caramelize like described above.
  4. Once they are browned and translucent, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour all over the onions.
  5. Stir the flour and onions together and allow the flour to brown for 2-5 minutes. This step is important because if you do not allow the flour to brown your gravy will taste like flour. Keep stirring.
  6. Slowly add 2 cups of warm water. Stir the water and onions together.
  7. Add two teaspoons of beef bullion granules. You could also use two cups of beef broth instead of water and beef bullion granules.
  8. Mix together very well and then turn the heat back up to medium-high, stirring slowly so it doesn’t stick.
  9. Once the gravy thickens up, place the patties back into the gravy mixture and coat with gravy.
  10. Turn down to just under medium. Cover and let cook an additional 15 minutes flipping the patties half way through.
  11. Voila!! Homemade gravy for your steaks. 🙂



Crock Pot Whole Chicken – Easy Recipe

When we go to Sam’s I often find farm raised whole chicken on sale 2 for $10.00. So I will grab some and toss them in the deep freezer down stairs. Six months ago was literally the first time I have ever cooked a whole raw chicken. Before that it was always chicken breast or wings etc… So the sales on these chickens inspired me to learn different ways to cook them. As always, my hunt began on Google and the recipe below is a combination of what I found.

60c4fb73-8766-4e3e-97ed-aac5c01625d5Not everyone is picky about their meat, but we are in our house so I am posting a picture below of the kind we buy and why. We try to stick with farm raised meat and organic vegetables as much as possible, but sometimes it is hard to find. Although any chicken will work for this recipe.


7b92c233-057f-4f60-b4c2-8e5558d60a3aIngredients for chicken rub:

  • 4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the crock pot: (Carrots, celery and potatoes are optional.)

  • 1 med- large yellow onion, quartered
  • 5-6 carrots, scrubbed and chopped in halves or thirds. (or you can use baby carrots), optional
  • 5-6celery stalks, optional
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (or 3 tsp of minced garlic)
  • 2 whole lemons, One quartered for under the chicken and one quartered to stuff inside the chicken. (Of course you can slice some and place it on top like in the picture if you want. I like to make food pretty )
  • 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 pound young chicken

crock pot whole chicken

1. Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Prep vegetables and place in bottom of crock pot, setting aside a quartered lemon and some onion to place inside the bird.
3. Wash and pat dry your chicken with a paper towel. (If there are necks or organs inside the chicken please remove them.)
4.Rub smashed garlic all over chicken and then place inside chicken along with lemon and onion.
5. Place chicken on top of vegetables inside slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. You know your slow cooker better than i do. Internal temp should be 160 degrees F in the leg.
6. Remove chicken from slow cooker once it is done and place in a cooking dish. Put in oven under the broiler for 4-5 minutes. This will give the skin a little crispness to it.

This took me approx 10 minutes to prepare, put in the crock pot and forget about until its done. You can’t get much easier than that for a heart warming, home cooked meal to serve your family at the end of the day.

crockpot chicken

Other ideas: You can also add some potatoes to the crock pot in the last hour of cooking to serve a long side your chicken. The possibilities are endless! Use your imagination and have fun!!


Source: Recipe found at and altered to fit my families taste buds.


Shredded BBQ Beef

bbq-beef-sandwichWhile shopping at Sam’s a while back I came upon a sale for a double pack of rump roast for about $11.00. Usually $16.00 or $17.00. I brought it home and threw it in the deep freezer and forgot about it. A few days ago I thawed it to make roast and vegetables and we ended up going out that night.

I had to make something out of it before it went bad and the family had been asking for BBQ a lot lately, so I decided to use the roast and make Shredded BBQ Beef for sandwiches that night.

Ingredients: (one 3-4 pound rump roast)

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 ketchup
  • 1 tablespoons spicy brown mustard (Some people like to use Dijon Mustard)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Onion powder
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 24 oz BBQ Sauce of your choosing, I like Baby Ray’s
  • 1/2 – 1 large yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced jalapeno’s, very optional!


  1. Put all ingredients (except meat) in a large bowl and mix very well.
  2. Pour half of the mix into bottom of slow cooker.
  3. Place meat inside slow cooker.
  4. Pour remaining mix over the top. Turn meat to coat all sides.
  5. Sprinkle diced onion on top.
  6. Cook on low – medium for about four hours. Pull roast out of slow cooker and shred meat with two forks discarding any fat.
  7. Place back into slow cooker for another hour.
  8. Remove meat from slow cooker with a slotted spoon onto serving dish. Spoon some of the bbq sauce over the meat, but not a lot. If you want to spoon some sauce into a bowl and set it on the table that is fine to. Serve hot over buns or mashed potatoes.

bbq beef






Canning Meat Loaf Balls Safely

meatloaf-making-4-300x225Mom’s Meatloaf Ball’s

(Note: Please be sure to read my Friend Stephanie Dayle’s note posted at the bottom of the page after reading this article. It goes into detail about canning eggs and milk.)

Canning meatloaf balls can be a pleasure to add to food storage.  In the long run, it can save you money when the price of meat sky rockets and its easy to grab a jar if your hungry or want to make meatloaf balls for dinner.

There are a few different ways to make meatloaf balls out there.  The way I do it is a little different from your basic recipe, but tastes delicious.  Keep in mind, if you prefer the traditional way, then please do that way.


  • 6-7 pounds of lean hamburger (I use Angus 90/10)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole wheat bread crumbs (or plain)
  • 2 sweet yellow onions, diced (about 1 1/2 cups when finely diced
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)
  • 2-3 teaspoons black pepper (to taste)
  • 3/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce (original)
  • 1 cup powdered milk, prepared
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for sautéing onions and garlic

For the Glaze:

  • 2 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (original)
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar


  1. Combine all the ingredients to make the glaze.  Mix well and set aside.
  2. Adjust your oven rack to lower middle position.  Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a pan on medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions and garlic until onions are caramelized and golden brown.  (about 5 minutes string occasionally.)  This will bring out the sweetness of the onion.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine your wet ingredients;  Eggs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, and half of the glaze you made earlier.  Use a fork to mix well.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine meat, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, browned onion/garlic mix, and wet ingredients.
  6. Using your hands mix ingredients quickly.  You don’t want to overwork it but you want everything distributed evenly.
  7. Form mixture into 2 inch round balls and place on 2 baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until balls are firm.

While your meatballs are baking, get your pressure canner and supplies ready.  Put your extra glaze in a sauce pan and get warm, but not boiling.  You may even want to make another batch of glaze at this time.  It really depends on how much glaze you want to add to the jars.

After your meatballs are cooked:

  1. Using wide mouth quart jars, place your meatballs in the jar and fill about half way.
  2. Spoon in your glaze sauce until jar is about half full.
  3. Fill jar the rest of the way with meatballs leaving a generous 1 inch head space.
  4. You can add one or 2 more tablespoons of sauce on top of those meatballs if you want, but it isn’t necessary.
  5. Remove air by gently tapping the jar on a dish towel or using a plastic utensil to push the meatballs around.  Be careful not to smash them or cut them.
  6. Wipe your rims with a clean paper towel dipped in white vinegar.
  7. Put on lids and ringers and screw it finger tight.
  8. Place jars in your pressure canner, add water and 2 teaspoons white vinegar (to avoid rusting or mineral buildup) and vent for 10 full minutes.
  9. Bring to 11 pounds of pressure and process quart jars for 90 minutes.  (pints for 75).  If your manual suggests a different time and pounds of pressure, then follow your manual for canning ground beef.
  10. When processing is complete, let pressure drop completely.  Remove jars from your pressure canner and wipe with a hot soapy dish cloth.
  11. Label the contents and date.

Pressure Canner I use This canner is a little more expensive. The reason I bought it though is because its has metal on metal seal and never requires you to replace gaskets or seals. They last forever though.  Ive talked to women who have canners like this that were passed to them from their grandmothers, so for me the investment is worth it because I get my kids in on the action when we can around here. :)

Cheaper pressure canner

This recipe has made me a wonderful meal on many occasions, especially if I didn’t feel like cooking. ;)   I hope you enjoy it for many years to come.

Keepin It Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal

Please visit Jalapeño Gal’s survival surplus

More articles on preparedness

Stephanie’s reply when asked about canning eggs and milk. (And shes very very experienced and done tons of research!)

Canning eggs themselves is not recommended (water bathed OR pressure canned) and can be dangerous. Canning ‘things with eggs in them’ – it depends on what it is. In this case I would say its harmless as the eggs is mixed in with the meat balls and is not left in solid form. The heat from the pressure canner will have no problem penetrating the egg in this way and cooking it to the appropriate temperature. The only thing I would be cautious of would be the milk and bread crumbs – both of which are not recommended ingredients to can with. The theory behind the bread crumbs is that like rice, they expand. The theory behind the milk is that milk and butter are low acid products that “support the outgrowth of C. botulin and toxin formation in a sealed jar at room temperature. Fats in milk can protect botulism spores and toxins from heat if they are in a product during a canning process. So it’s all up to each person how much risk they want to take while preserving food.

To clarify this even further the information regarding milk – is mostly in regards to canning milk solely and using milk in condensed soup recipes. Both of which are a NO NO for canning for that reason. In my opinion using milk as a ‘binder’ like what was done in this recipe would be ok. Especially since shes cooked it in the oven first. There is always going to be some percentage of a risk when you can anything, I do not believe using milk in this manner would increase that marginal risk any more than usual. Hope I haven’t needlessly concerned anyone with my nerd-dom regurgitation of information. And I do apologize if I have. Long story short – I would can meat balls. But like JG said – not for a long period of time.

15 Bean Soup & Cornbread

15 bean soupI have used this recipe for close to 15 years now. I can not recall where I got it, but over the years we have added and taken away to make this soup delicious. As with all recipes….make it to suit your family!!

(Note: I have added links for dehydrated or freeze dried foods used on the ingredients list.  I added these links for your convenience if you prefer to prepare freeze dried meals in jars as I do.)


  • 1- Package 15 Bean Soup (Ham, Cajun or plain is fine)
  • 1 lb. ham steak (diced into 1/2″ squares), ham hocks, or smoked sausage (You can store canned ham or beef stew meat in your food storage to add the meaty flavor and calories as well.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 15 oz. can diced or stewed tomatoes (dehydrated tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Juice from 1 lemon.  This is a very important step, it really brings out all the flavors. (Crystallized Lemon for food storage)
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup beef bouillon
  • 2- Jalapeño’s, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar, (Tip: This is not for flavor. Adding a cap or two of white vinegar locks in all the different colors in soups, stews or what ever your cooking.)


  1. The night before:  Place beans in a large pot, cover with 2 quarts of water. Allow beans to soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  2. After soaking, drain excess water, and add 2 quarts of fresh water and meat. (Sometimes I forget this step and then have to go strain it and add fresh water, but only if its when I just start cooking it.)
  3. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 2.5 hours.
  4. After simmering, add onion, tomatoes, chili powder, lemon and garlic. Simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Add contents of ham packet, (optional) 1 to 2 minutes before cooking is completed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Corn Bread:

  • One box of Jiffy cornbread.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of sugar and cook as directed. (optional)
  • Serve with honey.

Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole

chicken 4This is a quick and easy recipe to use with that chicken you thawed out and have no idea what to do with it!


  • 3/4 Thick and chunky Salsa, add more to taste
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (small pieces not huge chunks)
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 pound Velveeta mild Mexican cheese (we have also used regular and it turned out fine)
  • 6 inch Corn Tortillas,  cut in half
  • 1 cup Shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350º.

2. Cook chicken in skillet and at the same time, place cheese and soup in a sauce pan to melt.

chicken 2

3. After Cheese mix is melted (no lumps) add chicken.

4. In an 8×8 square cooking dish, line with halved tortillas on the bottom.

totillas5. Spread about 1 cup of the chicken mix on top of the corn tortillas. Then add spoonfuls of salsa on top.

chicken 16. Continue to layer the pan until you are out of mixture.

chicken 37. The last layer should be topped with salsa and shredded cheese only.

8. Bake 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Serve Chicken Enchilada Casserole with remaining salsa, sour cream, jalapenos or whatever your heart desires. 🙂

chicken 4

Game Day Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs

meatballsI enjoy cooking for my family and friends, especially on game day. One of the guys favorites in our house is BBQ meatballs. (Also great for church pot luck dinners.) There is the easy way, using pre-packaged frozen meatballs, or making your own. Either way works. In this article I am going to show you how to make and freeze your own meatballs so you can make a batch, freeze them and use them for other things as well.

(Note: Prepare the actual meatball the day before and freeze.)


  • 3 pounds ground beef, preferably 90/10 but 80/20 works fine to
  • 5 oz can of evaporated milk
  • 1 cup dry oatmeal (rolled or instant)
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon of butter, to saute onions and garlic
  • 1/2 chopped onion, diced fine
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder


  • 2 cups of ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon of liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions.
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


  1. Saute’ the onions and minced garlic until onions are clear in color.
  2. Combine all meatball ingredients using your hands.
  3. Shape meat into walnut size balls. I like to use a heaping scoop with melon baller so they come out being about the same size. With anything you cook you always want to try to make sure that meat and vegetables are around the same size so they cook at the same rate.
  4. After shaping the meatballs, place them on a waxed- lined cookie sheet and freeze them. When fully frozen, place the meatballs in a Zip-lock Freezer bag and keep stored int he freezer until needed.
  5. When you are ready to use them, put the frozen meatballs in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on high while mixing up the sauce.
  6. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and continue to cook on high for 1 hour.
  7. Remove the lid, gently stir and turn slow cooker down to low.
  8. Cook for 4-8 hours.
  9. You can serve the meatballs directly out of the slow cooker (so they stay warm) or transfer them to a nice dish for serving.

Makes around 20-25 appetizer servings

Tips: You can use the meatball recipe for multiple recipes. Instead of using BBQ sauce you can add a jar of spaghetti sauce to the slow cooker or cream of mushroom soup and serve them with noodles or rice.

Broccoli and Rice Casserole: Mother-In-Law style

Broc rice n cheese casserole 2When my husband and I first got together, one thing he made clear he loved was his mothers broccoli and rice casserole.  Thus I learned how some family recipes get passed down.

Below is the original recipe he loves. I have since added things to make different meals such as chicken, thinly sliced beef, peas, carrots, but you get the idea. The possibilities are endless. 🙂


  • 3/4 stick margarine
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 cups of minute rice, cooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken soup)
  • 1- (8oz) jar of cheese whiz (Yes, they still make it!!)
  • 2- (10 oz pkg) Frozen Chopped Broccoli, cooked and drained, no salt.
  • Regular or sharp cheddar cheese, for topping.


  1. Cook rice according to package directions.
  2. Melt butter and saute onions.
  3. Combine soup, water, salt and cheese whiz in large pot and heat, add rice and broccoli. (You would also add cooked chicken, peas or anything else you would like to add at this time.)
  4. Top with sharp cheddar cheese.
  5. Pour onto a 9×13 baking dish and bake for 45 minutes at 350°.

Fettuccine Alfredo – Meal In A Jar

IMG_20130824_101817Fettuccine Alfredo is a classic Italian dish made up of Parmesan cheese, butter and fettuccine noodles. Although Alfredo is widely known in Italy, the term Fettuccine is not, it is simply known as pasta with butter and cheese.  In the US people often add things such as broccoli, parsley, garlic, cream, shrimp or chicken.

This dish is a favorite of many, many people, including our family. So when thinking of meals I wanted for food storage this came to mind. I realize there are other meal in jar recipes for this dish, however, I am bringing my own to the table on this one. As with any other meal you create, you can add or remove any items you like to meet your families likes and dislike.

Recipe Yields 4 meals that will feed a family of four adults. One thing I love about making these meals is that often times I will already have most of the ingredients on hand from other meals I have created. Leaving me to purchase whatever I am missing, usually the meat.

alfredo 4Tools needed:

Ingredients: (per jar)

alfredo 2Directions:

  1. In your quart size jar, add about half the bag of noodles and shake down so they are packed as well as you can.
  2. In a baggy, add 1 cup of Alfredo mix and 1/2 cup powdered milk. Seal with as little air as possible. Place baggy on top of noodles and seal jar. If you do not want chicken or any other ingredients in your pasta then you are done. 🙂 However, if you do want to add chicken, onions, mushrooms or any other ingredients then you will need your pint size jars as well.

In a pint size jar layer FD food as followed:

  1. 1 cup of FD Chicken
  2. 1/4 cup FD onions
  3. 1-2 tablespoons garlic and herb mix
  4. Shake down mix to pack tight.
  5. Add 1/2 cup FD mushrooms to finish filling jar, shake down
  6. Add lids and seal with Vacuum sealer or add Oxygen absorber and screw on lids.
alfredo 3Cooking directions for label:
  1. Boil 2 cups of water, remove from heat and add contents of pint jar. Stir Once. Let sit for 15 minutes to rehydrate. Drain off excess water after food is re-hydrated.
  2. Mix Alfredo/milk mix with 4 cups of hot water, whisk well, set aside.
  3. Bring 8-10 cups of water to a rolling boil in large pot and cook noodles AL Dente, drain. (Almost done, but still firm.)
  4. Pour Alfredo/ Milk mixture into large pot and turn on medium high heat, whisking periodically as it heats.
  5. Once mix starts to boil slowly, add pasta and meat into pot, bring to a full rolling boil. (It will seem watery at first, it will thicken as it cooks.)
  6. Boil for approx 5 min stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is of desired consistency.
  7. Remove from heat and serve with garlic bread and/or salad.

Baked Ziti In a Jar

baked ziti in a jarOne of my families favorite meals is Baked Ziti so I set out on a hunt for a basic recipe for my food storage, with a twist of course to my families specific needs. I like to stress that you can play with any Meal in a Jar recipe and make it your own. Have fun with it!! 🙂



  1. Start with all your powdered ingredients on the bottom of the jar. This will insure you do not suck any of the powder into your vacuum sealer. (Attachment for sealing jars.)You can also opt to use an O2 absorber if you do not have or want to buy a vacuum sealer. I have found that in the long run, purchasing a sealer is cheaper than continually buying O2 absorbers.
  2. Next add, in this order, onions, meat, noodles, and mushrooms. You might have to press the ingredients down some for it to all fit.
  3. Last, top it off with your cheese in a sandwich baggy.
  4. Seal jar with vacuum sealer or O2 absorber.
  5. Attach cooking instructions to outside of jar along with the date you made it. Sealed properly, this should last many years in your pantry as all ingredients are freeze-dried or dehydrated.

Cooking Instructions for the label:

  1. Add five cups water to all ingredients, bring to a boil on med/high heat.
  2. Reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until noodles are done and it is semi thick.
  3. Re-hydrate cheese while this is cooking by spraying cheese with a little bit of water using a mister or spray bottle.
  4. Serve with cheese on top and enjoy!!!

(Note: The base recipe I used for this was created by Chef Tess and altered to fit my families likes.)

Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Ribs

beef ribs slow cookerBeef Ribs have been around…well…forever I think. 🙂 We each have our own way of cooking them. Some are shared recipes and some are original. My preferred way is on a grill outside with friends and family. However, it is not always possible to do that in today’s busy world. That is why God invented the crock pot and thank goodness he did!!

I have to admit, slow cooking meat has turned into one of my favorite ways to cook thanks to my wonderful aunt. She bought me my Crock Pot about ten years ago and it still works as well as if it was bought yesterday.


  • 5-8 pounds of Beef Spare Ribs (We had 8 pounds in this recipe)
  • McCormick’s Grill Mates Sweet and Smoky Rub. (Note: That link shows a case of this spice, you can buy one at Walmart)
  • McCormick’s Grill Mates 5 Fiery Pepper, optional. (Note: Link shows a case of this spice.)
  • Jack Daniels Honey Smokehouse BBQ sauce (Note: Link shows 6 bottles.)
  • 1 large onion, cut into rings (A Mandoline is a life saver for things like this. It literally takes about 5-10 seconds to slice an entire large onion into perfect rings. For me, it often cuts my prep time down by more than half.)


  1. Slice onion and place in bottom of Crock Pot
  2. Lay out meat and sprinkle a generous amount of the Sweet and Smokey Rub on every inch of the meat’s top side. seasoned meat
  3. Sprinkle a generous amount of the 5 Fiery Pepper mix. (I usually eye-ball this according to our families likes. It really isn’t that hot but adds good flavor.)
  4. Rub all these spices into the meat very well. Don’t be afraid to get your hands messy!
  5. Cut ribs into sections of two so that they all fit into the Crock Pot.
  6. Start layering the meat across the onions and pour a good amount of BBQ sauce on each section of rib and sort of rub it all over.
  7. Continue to layer the meat and pour BBQ sauce on each piece until the pot is as full as you can get it.
  8. Turn crock pot on high and let cook about 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. This honestly depends on how well your pot works. Even on low mine tends to get super hot.

IMG_20130818_152049You can serve these with any side dish you like. Today I am making Broccoli, cheese and rice casserole with some corn on the cob. However, I generally like to make it with a twice baked potato (recipe to come soon) and my Grilled Vegetables.

Have fun and enjoy!!

Minestrone Soup In a Jar

minetrone soupI use to hear Minestrone Soup and think “Oh jeeze, what all goes in that?”  Well, unknown to me, the reason all minestrone soup seems to be different is because it is generally a soup that is created out of this and that around the kitchen. Now that I know that….it is much easier to make.

This particular recipe is going to be another pre-made, meal in a jar recipe that you can grab, add water and let cook for dinner. I firmly believe in food storage for multiple reasons and this is another great recipe that can be added to that pantry. 🙂

The key to a good Minestrone soup is the tomato base. In any meal in a jar you create, it is a good idea to put the powders in the bottom so you do not clog your food saver.

General tomato base recipe for all minestrone soup in a jar that I create: (Note: This tomato base recipe I got from Perbain.)


Some alternative ingredients can be Lima beans, chick peas, potatoes, green beans, diced tomatoes, celery, spinach, lentil beans, the possibilities are endless.

(Note: I want to stress that you can make this mix with any vegetables you want to add as long as you have your tomato base recipe in the bottom. You do not have to follow this to a tee, however, you might have to play with your recipe until it fits in your quart jar accordingly. Should you come up with a successful recipe you would like posted, feel free to email it to me at You will receive full credit.)


After adding all your ingredients to the jar and pressing down so it will fit. Place Oxygen absorber on top and seal with your vacuum sealer. Voila!! All done and will last years on your shelf.

(Writers note: When vacuum sealing your jars, you do not HAVE to add an Oxygen absorber as the vacuum seal sucks all the air out. I do it just to be safe and for my peace of mind.)

Ready to cook instructions: (Tape these directions to outside of jar with date of creation.)

Pour contents of jar into a large pot with 8 cups of boiling water. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until noodles and beans are done.


  • You can add more pasta, salt or bullion if you so desire.
  • If I have a beef, vegetable or chicken broth I will substitute a cup of water with a can of these just for added flavor.
  • If I am adding more pasta I will add more broth or water.

vac sealer

wide mouth

Note: Reseal leftover absorbers in a jar to keep them good.

Note: Reseal leftover absorbers in a jar to keep them good.

Cracker Barrel Dumplings


  • 2 cups Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup butterMilk, A Bit Less Than A Full Cup (you can use regular milk if needed)
  • 2 quarts Chicken Broth
  • 3 cups Cooked Chicken


  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball.
  2. Heavily flour a work surface. You’ll need a rolling-pin and something to cut the dumplings with. I like to use a pizza cutter. I also like to use a small spatula to lift the dumplings off the cutting surface.
  3. Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling-pin. Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings in squares about 2″x2″. It’s okay for them not to be exact. Just eye-ball it. Some will be bigger, some smaller, some shaped funny.
  4. Use the floured spatula to put them on a heavily floured plate. Just keep flouring between the layers of dumplings.
  5. To cook them, bring the broth to a boil. Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they not doughy tasting. Add the cooked chicken to the pot and you’re done!

Zucchini Lasagna

zuchinni lasagnaA good friend of mine from church turned me onto this recipe posted by I have made this before and it is absolutely delicious!! I lost the recipe and until now I haven’t made it so I decided to share it with you all like I do many other recipes I find online. (some are altered to our taste or liking)


  • 1 lb 93% lean beef
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta
  • 16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded (Sargent’o)
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg
  • Madeline slicer, optional but makes it much easier. 🙂


1. In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40 minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

2. Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8″ thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. (JG’s note: I personally use a Madeline Slicer for recipes like this to make sure the food is slices in uniform slices and everything cooks evenly.) Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.


3. On a gas grill or grill pan, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.

4. Preheat oven to 350°.

5. In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well.

6. In a 9×12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place some of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella and cover with foil.


7. Bake 45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Ziti II

imagesBaked Ziti II

Although my Baked Ziti I recipe is much easier, we also love this recipe that we use when we are feeding the missionaries or other house guest.


  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, optional
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until Al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Baked Ziti I (Vegetarian)

baked_ziti_2_web1(pp_w689_h495)This recipe for Baked Ziti is one of my family favs. The kids eat it up and ask for more, and the husband makes sure he has some for work the next day. For me, that is a successful recipe!!


  • 1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
  • 24 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until Al dente; drain and rinse.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Baked Ziti II

Spicy Buffalo Chicken & Rice

IMG_20130602_131052Spicy buffalo anything is a favorite in our house by the majority of people here.  So I thought, what better meal in a jar to prep for than some buffalo chicken and rice!!

It turned out great so I had to share the recipe with all of you.


  • 6 tablespoons spice mix (Knorrs), more or less to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups minute rice
  • 1/2 cup freeze-dried mixed vegetables OR 1/4 cup celery and carrots each
  • 1 1/2 cup freeze-dried chicken, cubed
  • 3 cups of Hot water
  • 1 case of Quart Jars (about $10.00 at Walmart)

Directions For Cooking: Print this label and secure it to the jar.

  • Add ingredients from jar and 3 cups of warm water to a cold skillet.
  • As your skillet heats the water will re-hydrate the ingredients.
  • Place lid on skillet stirring occasionally so rice does not stick to the skillet.
  • Cook until rice is tender and meal is hot. (about 10-20 minutes)

You can put the ingredients in the jar in any order that works for you. I like to start with the rice or chicken and then add the buffalo spice mix so I can shake the powder down some to make more room for the rest of the ingredients. Use your vacuum sealer to seal the jars.  (Equipment picture links below)

This particular recipe will make 8 quart jar meals before running out of Chicken.  I had leftover Vegetables, rice and buffalo mix. Had I opted to use another can of chicken then I probably could of gotten another 6 meals made out of it.  There are four of us and we each got a large full bowl of this meal.  The great part is that it passed the test!! Everyone really enjoyed this meal with no questions asked.  They could not tell that any of the ingredients were freeze-dried.

Cost for 8 Spicy Buffalo Chicken and Rice meals in jars was approx $103.00. This one jar will feed 4 people a good size bowl for supper. In my opinion that is not bad for 8 great meals that will last a long, long time.

vac sealer

wide mouth

Note: Reseal leftover absorbers in a jar to keep them good.

Note: Reseal leftover absorbers in a jar to keep them good.