Recipe: Magnificent Stuffed Peppers

Magnificent and delicious stuffed peppers at theEssentialHomemaker.com

 

I love not shopping….like, LOVE. It’s so nice to have a Home Store, where I buy and store stuff in advance to have on hand when I need it, thereby eliminating most emergency trips to the store. Such a stress reducer!

This morning I went out into my garden and found eight beautifully ripe green bell peppers, so naturally, my first thought was “I MUST make some stuffed peppers!” Thanks to my Home Store, I already have every thing I need, right at my fingertips.

I love this recipe….I tweaked it to include all kinds of veggies and swapped out the rice for quinoa, which makes for a lighter dish, and the method I use for cooking the quinoa adds a nutty, irresistible flavor.

YUM!

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Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare cheese if using freeze dried and cook quinoa.
  2. Put ground beef, sausage, and onion in pan on medium heat. Stir frequently to toast, 3-4 minutes. (If using fresh beef, sausage, and onion, brown and drain).
  3. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes, until fragrant, stirring frequently.
  4. Add spinach, zucchini/squash, tomatoes, quinoa, tomato powder, Classic Tomato Sauce, and 2 1/2 cups water. Simmer 7-10 minutes and adjust seasonings to taste, and liquid as desired. Add basil.
  5. Pour chicken broth into a 9×13 pan. Place pepper halves cut side up into the broth.
  6. Fill pepper halves with meat/quinoa/veggie mixture.
  7. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes.
  8. Uncover, sprinkle with cheeses, and bake 15 more minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

*Tip for making practically perfect fluffy quinoa: rinse quinoa well under cold water and drain at least 20 minutes (if using Thrive Quinoa, you can skip this step and the draining). Add to hot pan and toast until fragrant. Remove to bowl. Use a ratio of 1 part quinoa to 1.5 parts liquid. Bring liquid (water, beef or chicken broth or bouillon) to a rapid boil. Add toasted quinoa and cover with lid, leaving a slight vent.  Reduce to med-low heat and maintain a strong simmer. Cook 16 minutes or until water is gone. Remove from heat, remove lid. Let rest 10 minutes; fluff with a fork.

**Tip for reconstituting freeze dried cheese: put cheese in a bowl. Very slowly add water, while constantly stirring. Once you notice water beginning to collect on the bottom of the bowl, STOP. You have enough water. Put in a zip top bag and flatten. Place in refrigerator a minimum of one hour. This method produces an amazing reconstituted cheese that tastes great and melts wonderfully.

Give these yummy stuffed peppers a try…sneak a veggie or two into those bellies! Let me know if you make them!

Growing a garden and utilizing my Home Store are two ways that I make PEACE and PREPAREDNESS a part of my EVERY DAY LIFE.

See you soon!

 P.S. If you want to know how YOU can have YOUR own Home Store, you can check out this link, or contact me by clicking HERE or the little envelope icon in the right hand side bar. I’d LOVE to share with you all the great things about THRIVE and how it’s changed my life. If you’d like to earn FREE and half off product, or even earn a paycheck, be in touch! I can help you!

Preserving: Drying Herbs

TEH-featherbsA few years ago I realized I needed to do something with my huge Oregano bush, so I started drying it and saving it. The coolest thing was realizing a year later that I hadn’t purchased any oregano from the store and had been using my OWN! This got me thinking this year….I want to preserve all the herbs I use regularly so I have them, know where they came from, and don’t have to purchase any, so in addition to the Oregano, Chives, Thyme, Lavender and Lemon Balm I have and use, I planted Marjoram, Tarragon, Mint, Cilantro, Basil, Parsley and Rosemary. I’ve already started harvesting and drying these for the coming year.

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Then I though a little more….beyond culinary herbs. I could grow many of the medicinal herbs that I wanted to store and use. Last year I planted several medicinal herbs and not a single one germinated….I think the spot I planted them in is unlucky….I’ve never had anything grow successfully there. So this year I ripped out the forsythia bushes in the front yard and planted Ginger Mint, Hierba Buena (Spearmint), Echinacea, St. John’s Wort, Bee Balm, Feverfew, Stevia, and Catnep. The ones I planted in containers didn’t do well, but the others are doing great. I’ve also been harvesting Raspberry leaves and drying them for their medicinal properties. I hope to get some Yarrow, Ashwaghanda, and Comfrey going as well….maybe next year.

TEH-herb2It’s so easy to do! You can use a food dehydrator or an oven, or even the sun. Wash them, lay them out, and dry them until they’re crisp.

TEH-herb1Then you can either store them whole, or crush them. I like to store mine semi-whole, and then crush them into whatever I’m making, when I make it. They seem to have more potency, more aroma, more flavor that way.

I use all kinds of jars to store them….recycled glass spice jars (Watkins and Kroger are some), plastic spice jars-especially from spices/herbs I’ve bought in bulk, and even mason jars make great storage containers.

One more way I can be a little self-sufficient, provide good things for my family and save a little money.

Have YOU ever grown and dried your own herbs? Which are your favorites? If you haven’t, give it a try! You can even look for good deals on herbs at your local grocery or farmers market.

Drying herbs is one more way to make peace and PREPAREDNESS a part of every day life. Have a great day!

Preparedness: Plant A Seed

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Can you imagine a day when you couldn’t go to the grocery store and pick up some canned fruits and veggies, or swing by the produce section and get whatever you fancy? Seems a little far-fetched, right? But not really. I can see it happening.

I’ve been reading this fun book Forgotten Skills of Self Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers and it’s follow up, MORE Forgotten Skills of Self Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers. These books both have so many great ideas and reminders of the importance of maintaining skills of self-sufficiency, for ourselves, but especially for our children!

One of those skills is planting a garden. Another is learning how to harvest seeds, which is nearly impossible with any plants you buy in the garden department. They’re designed to commit suicide. Buying and planting heirloom, non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds is so important, and learning to harvest the seeds for the next years crop, a renewable food source, at some point will be critical to our well-being.

Think you can only do this if you’ve got your homestead already?….I’m dreaming of my minimum 5 acres, but who knows if/when that will happen. A former leader of my church once said, “We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees-plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments … can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods. Make your garden … neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities.” Spencer W. Kimball

So my goal has been to figure out a way to grow as much as I can on my little .14 acre plot, most of which is in the front yard and dominated by a driveway. I can grow a lot and offset the costs of feeding a family, AND feel downright giddy at the high quality nutrition I’m providing. The advantages far outweigh any negatives. I grow healthier, yummier, fresher food than I can get at the store, my children learn to work and appreciate the food cycle, and take pride in the work they do to grow their own food. Once they stop grumbling, they actually have a lot of fun. I’m able to preserve the surplus for the winter months (last year I turned our extra zucchini into jars of Pineapple Zucchini!My husband still doesn’t know that it’s not crushed pineapple.) This is a WIN/WIN.

RESOURCES: Here are a few of my favorite seed resources:

THRIVE LIFE
SEED RENAISSANCE
BAKER CREEK SEED CO
MYPATRIOTSUPPLY.COM

And a few of my favorite gardening books:
Backyard Winter Gardening by Caleb Warnock
Incredible Edibles by Joy Bossi & Karen Bastow
Successful Home Gardening by Gordon Wells
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog (2015)

So start today and plant a seed, or 80. Grow some food and be amazed. Have YOU planted a garden before? What is your favorite tip or trick?

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Well, gotta run….I just got my seed shipment from Seed Renaissance (I got 5 tomato varieties, 7 flower varieties, a handful of culinary and medicinal herbs, and he even threw in some bonus carrot and leek seeds!) I must go….I have seeds to plant!

Inspiration: Weeks End RoundUP

I’ve been thinking (dangerous….I KNOW).

There are so many websites that inspire me any given week, that I thought maybe I’d share those links with you and let you be inspired, too.
Here are some of my favorites from this week:

Flourless-Chocolate-Cookies-5On Chocolate: Delicious Flourless Chocolate Cookies at Two Peas and Their Pod

 

feet1On Mothering: When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees by Faith & Composition

 

GrowBasilOn Growing Things: Grow Basil Indoors without Dirt all Winter by Melissa K. Norris

 

enhanced-buzz-7880-1371666903-9On DIY Body: 31 Products You Can Make Yourself and Never Have to Buy Again at Home Tips World
(I’m especially excited to try the shaving cream, lotion bars, and deodorant!)

Go check out one or two, or all, and be inspired!

Recipe: Slow Cooker Ham and Potatoes

You might recall that I promised you a recipe to try out the
Cream of Anything Soup mix that I posted on Monday.
Here it is….my mom has been making this for as long as I can remember, and as kids we loved it. And as a mom, when I need something that I frequently have all the ingredients on hand for, I love it. And as a woman, when I want something that screams “comfort food” ….again, I love it.

It’s not too hard, really. Grab a bunch of stuff……

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like the Cream of Anything Soup Mix, dehydrated onions (or fresh chopped onions), potatoes, ham, cheese, mushrooms, salt and pepper…yeah, it really is that easy.

Grease your slow cooker. I can hear it now…”excuse me…is this really necessary?”
Only if you don’t want to spend an hour scrubbing that baby down after dinner when all you wanna do is put your feet up and relax. After all, that’s what slow cooker meals are for, right?

 

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Layer your ingredients, starting with the ham,

 

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then potatoes……

 

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onion and mushrooms……

 

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some cheese and pepper to taste.

 

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Spread the Cream of Anything Soup that you have made over the top. Be sure to spread all the way to the edges. This seals out the air and prevents the potatoes from turning a peculiar shade of….grey.

 

Cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours).

 

Call your hungry kids, and meat and potatoes man for dinner and sit back and revel in the sounds of snarfing polite enjoyment all around the family table.
What more can a momma ask for?

 

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Slow Cooker Ham and Potatoes

Recipe by The Essential Homemaker
A quick and easy do-ahead meal, sure to have your family singing your praises.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hrs 10 min, mostly unattended

Yield: 9 servings

Ingredients

  • 9 slices ham
  • potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • onion, chopped OR 1/3 cup dehydrated onion, rehydrated in hot water
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup Cream of Anything Soup mix, cooked with 1 1/4 cup water till thick and bubbly
  • 1 can mushrooms, chopped
  • pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Make several layers in slow cooker beginning with ham, then potatoes, onion, mushrooms, and cheese, seasoning each layer with pepper.
  2. Cover with soup so air doesn’t reach potatoes.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high 4 hours.

Notes:
This recipe is easily adapted for different sized families. My basic rule of thumb is that you use one potato, and one slice of ham for each serving you plan on; adjust your cheese and onion according to taste.

Please enjoy, and now we interrupt this fabulous yum-fest to announce the winner of our Shelf Reliance Gift Certificate giveaway!!!

Please give us a nice round of applause for:

Karen Hanshaw Dinsmore
who entered by liking
The Essential Homemaker on Facebook.

I’ll be sending you an email with the info you need to collect your prize, and BIG HUG SMOOSHY thanks to Julie Buckner for her generous prize, and to all of you wonderful readers who took the time to enter!

Stay tuned for Friday! I’ve got a fun project to share!