Monday, January 21, 2013

Tomato Chicken Noodle Soup

This was a pretty fun and simple recipe to come up with. I had some boiled chicken breasts in my fridge and no idea what to do with them. I've been feeling the need for some tomato soup. That is where it started. I didn't want to sit over a pot for forever so I pulled out my crock pot. It's a pretty big batch. Not sure on the servings yet, but it's definitely more than 8.

6 cups of Water
2 cups of Creamy Tomato Soup Dry Blend (My Personal Pantry)
3-4 Chicken Breasts, cooked and diced
4 stalks of Celery, washed and diced
1 bottle of Stewed Tomatoes (a large can of tomatoes would work too)
1 lb Pasta
1-2 tsp Salt
Other Seasonings

1. Pour your water and soup blend into your crock pot. Whisk until soup is incorporated.

2. Add your chicken, celery, and stewed tomatoes. Set your crock pot on High for 2-3 hours.

3. About 20 minutes before you are ready to eat boil some water for your pasta. Then cook your pasta and add it to your crock pot.

4. Add your salt and any other seasoning you'd like. I added 1 Tbsp of Italian Seasoning and a tsp of Garlic Powder.

Eat up and Enjoy!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Safely Storing Food

Whether you are only buying food as you need it or are saving it for emergencies the way that you store food is important. Not only does it waste a lot of money if you don't store things properly, but it can sometimes be dangerous. We want our food to last as long as it can, while keep as much nutritional value as possible. I'm going to touch base on some basic food storage tips.

Unprocessed grains (meaning not ground up) can last 8 years and many a lot longer than that. To last that long they need to be stored properly. Before they are ground, rolled, etc it is recommended that they be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place. After they have been processed or their sealed container has been opened they all have varying times until they have lost their nutritional value. They should still be kept in airtight containers in a cool and dry place. Here are a few examples.
   -Rolled Oats: Unopened- 8 years,  Opened- Use within 1 year
   -Wheat: Unopened - 12 years or more,  Opened- 3 years (Once ground use within a few days)
   -Cornmeal: Unopened - 5 years, Opened- Use within 1 year
   -Rice: Unopened - 30 years, Opened- As long as you keep it dry and in a cool place probably just as long
Beans, peas and lentils are the best source of protein that you can get from vegetables. They are also a good source of fiber. When you find yourself in a place where you don't have meat or can't eat it pairing these with a healthy grain creates a complete protein and an excellent substitute for meat.

Legumes will usually keep indefinitely when stored in a cool, dry place.

Here is an information sheet I received while taking a class. Feel free to print your own copy. I love having a list of guidelines for how long I can store things safely. Now the hardest thing is keeping track of when you opened something. It really isn't that hard. I like to keep a permanent marker in my kitchen so I can write the date it is opened right on the container. Works great for me!

Another tough decision that I'm sure EVERYONE has is 'How long can I keep this in my fridge?', 'Is this still good to eat?', and other questions similar to that. Here is another page with great guidelines to follow.

Here are a couple of extra 'rules of thumb' I have learned over the years.

Eggs- The date on eggs is a 'sell by date' you can often use them for a week or so after. The best way to know if an egg is still good is to do the Float Test. Gently place the egg completely submersed in water. If it floats, stands on it's end, etc it is bad. As the egg ages the membrane inside is deteriorating. This lets air in which makes it buoyant. If the air can make it in, so can bacteria.

Baked Potatoes- This is an interesting thing I learned and have tried to pass on. When you have extra baked potatoes left take them out of the foil to cool off and store them in an airtight container. If they are just put in the fridge in the foil the heat will stay in. Potatoes are a great place to grow bacteria. Also make sure you use them within a couple of days.

"When in doubt, throw it out." But also do your part to save your money and store your food safely!