Spaghetti Pie

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Adapted for food storage from this  Mel’s Kitchen recipe, which she says happens to be her family’s favorite dinner, this one’s a sure “kid and family” pleaser.  The recipe calls for 4 oz  “1/3 less fat” cream cheese, which cooperates perfectly with our pantry-made cream cheese recipe!  If making 100% with food storage and trying to cook the Spaghetti Pie in a sun oven (mid morning is best), consider making the cream cheese the night before, (allowing it to strain overnight) so it’s ready to go in the morning.

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Savory Beef with Mushroom Gravy

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You’ll think you’ve died and gone to food storage heaven with this one!!  Really, IMO it’s an amazing find.  I knew it was magic when I heard two of my kids {NOT mushroom eaters} raving about it at dinner and telling me this was one of the best food storage meals I’ve made.  (Say what?!)  Seriously, it’s that good.  The complexity of flavors will make you think you’re enjoying the gravy from Mom’s Sunday pot roast while in reality it takes just 20 minutes to make (besides also being a lot less fattening).

I took cues from this Mel’s Kitchen recipe to come up with it, adding in a few dried shiitake mushrooms on my own to deepen the flavor.  Served over rice or bread, this is one meal that you’ll look forward to storing for.

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Homemade Hamburger Helper: 9 varieties

Print any of the hamburger helper recipe cards!  

salisbury       potato stroganoff      cheesy jambalaya           

cheesy italian shells        cheesy beef taco       

cheeseburger macaroni      lasagna

beef stroganoff        chili mac

We’re all looking for an easy way to get dinner on the table.  Most nights we’d like it to be without too much thought and without having to worry whether the family is going to eat what we make.  Betty Crocker and other manufacturers have made a killing on the idea of “dinner in a box” albeit with the price of preservatives, colorings and chemicals added in.  Enter Suzanne McMinn.  This gal heads up the site “Chickens in the Road” and she’s figured out a number of the Hamburger Helper boxed dinners for us, allowing us to enjoy the convenience we want minus the additives we don’t.

Now I have to be honest, I’ve never bought Hamburger Helper and only learned about this website and recipe idea from a reader who asked for a food storage version of it.  But I’m so glad she did!  And can we say “pantry meal time”??  I love it when I see people naturally coming up with the same idea.  Ready packed meals make sense whether you’re using them day to day or to have on hand in case of emergency, whether the emergency be immediate –to have ready to grab and go with your 72 hour kit– or longer term.

Thanks to Suzanne doing the hard work,  I’ve done the much easier part of translating them to food storage.  And btw, there are all kinds of additions you can make to these recipes, I’d suggest visiting Suzanne’s original blog post for more ideas on that.  Also, all of the recipes call for 1 lb. ground beef (or about 2 cups cooked), so if you’re using fresh ground beef (or hamburger from the freezer) that’s the amount you’d need.

Each recipe serves 4-6

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Beef “Unstir-fry” with Homemade Asian Noodles

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I’ve been bugged for how expensive Asian noodles are to buy at the grocery store and making them with my pasta maker is too much effort for a stir-fry dinner {which we like to have pretty often, helping to use up those carrots, celery and onions and whatever else is left in the fridge}.  So I was excited to find this much simpler “skillet-based” Asian noodle recipe, which turns out to be a lot like making crepes.

I tried it here as a full-on food storage meal out of curiosity to see if stir-fry was even a palatable possibility minus the fresh vegetables.  While the vegetables were missed, the flavor was still good and we liked the noodles.  I won’t repeat the stir fry idea (it didn’t go over well), but the noodles themselves are keepers.

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Papas Rellenas: Stuffed Potatoes

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Today’s recipe is a food storage version of Peru’s delicious Papas Rellenas.  Papa… what??  If you haven’t had these before, let me fill you in.   Unsure what to order at a Peruvian restaurant, these were suggested to me by a waiter once and I’ve loved and ordered them ever since — so you know, I’m like an expert and all.  In a nut shell, we’re talking about mashed potatoes stuffed with a ground beef empanada- type filling, formed into fun little “faux potatoes”, breaded and (usually) fried to crisp.  Yummy.  Except at home I opt to bake rather than fry them.  They’re healthier this way, but really I bake them mostly because I don’t want to store the extra oil.  And one of these days (though not today, thank you storm clouds) I’m going to see if they’ll work in my sun oven.  I think they will if I have a good hot day.

Kids love these!  They’re great for dipping, so if you’ve got a kid who likes to dip — and what kid doesn’t — they’ll probably like them.  Also, there are lots of recipes to be found online for vegetarian fillings using various grains and beans rather than meat if you want to go that route.  Thank you, Peru (and I’m sure other countries too), for pappas rellenas!

serves 6

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Chia “Real Meat” Meatballs

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These meatballs, made with real meat (as opposed to the wheat meat meatballs  I tricked all my kids with) use ground chia seeds as a binder in place of eggs. No kidding!  I was so excited to find out chia can do this!  Due to their gelling properties when soaked, chia works as a substitute for eggs in all kinds of baking.  (It also makes wonderful pudding, but we’ll get to that another day.)  I’m quite smitten by these little chia seeds.  They’re simply amazing! God truly thought of everything and gave them an extra handful of “nutrition” and “usefulness” when the plant gifts were handed out :).

We’ll get to the recipe (which is also pretty great) in a minute, but first I have to pause for a moment to introduce you to these amazing little seeds.

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Beef Empanadas

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Before we were married, my husband spent two years in Chile as a Mormon missionary where he enjoyed many an authentic empanada.  It’s funny because he’s pretty picky as we’ve since had them at restaurants, always quickly comparing them to the ones he remembers.  In fact, there’s only been one restaurant’s empanadas that he’s been happy with in all the places we’ve tried!

Considering myself up for a good challenge, I’ve been wanting to find an empanada recipe that would pass his test to make at home normally and w/ a few food storage substitutions be able to use in our food storage plan.  Well, this recipe worked!  He happily (even quietly) finished off a plate of four of these and said they were “good”, which for him is really quite a compliment.

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Making Tamales

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Frankly, I don’t want to have to say goodbye to tamales … ever.  It seems like every three months or so I find myself desperately craving these little corn-husked bundles, at which point you’ll find me visiting the homemade Mexican grill down the road and spending $1.45 for a 2 tamale fix.  What would happen  if there weren’t tamales to be bought from the wonderful spanish speaking “I’ve-made-tamales-my-whole-life” women at the restaurant?  Sadness, I tell you.

To avoid such I set out to find a reasonably simple way to make my own.  Mind you I’m not interested in spending all day in the kitchen (as some recipes suggest) no matter how much I’m wanting tamales.  On top of that, I wanted a recipe who’s staple ingredients could be stored long term.  Once again I turned to a reliable recipe testing source, Cook’s Illustrated (specifically their “Best International Recipe” book) to teach me how to make something that before I’d only bought.  What I found was an uncomplicated recipe that brought everything to the table I was looking for and turned out some pretty great tamales if I do say so myself!

Oh , and did I mention this recipe provided another perfect chance to save fuel by using my wonder oven?  (*see this video if you’re wondering what a wonder oven is!)

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