Recipe: Southwestern Chicken & Rice Soup-In a Jar!

Last month I went to my mom’s house and helped her fix a bunch of meals in jars. Using shelf stable Thrive ingredients to create some meals put together in advance, are just the thing to make life a little easier. It’s incredibly lovely to have a yummy, healthy dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less.

TEH-MIJvarietyWe did Zuppa Toscana, Chicken Noodle Soup, Southwestern Chicken & Rice Soup, Lasagna Soup, Penne with Chicken & Asparagus, and Beef Stroganoff. Now she has 12 meals on the shelf in the pantry that she can get on the table in a jiffy.


Not only are these quick and easy, but Thrive freeze dried ingredients also make them healthy and delicious.

Simply add your ingredients to your jar, usually with all powdered ingredients on the bottom and larger pieces on top…I will usually tap the jar gently on a towel to help settle the ingredients and make sure everything fits in.




Then you can seal it with the jar lid and ring, or you can use a Food Saver to remove all the oxygen from the jar and seal it. These will last several weeks in your pantry with no loss of quality or nutrients, but are not meant for long term storage.


Today I’m sharing my Southwestern Chicken & Rice Soup in a Jar recipe with you. This recipe originally was one I made with my canned food storage and called it 6 Can Chicken Soup. And it was pretty good. But after tweaking it and adding good stuff like Thrive Instant Brown Rice, and Thrive Veloute Sauce and Classic Tomato Sauce, it’s evolved into a whole new set of deliciousness.



Serves 4-6

Add to quart sized mason jar, in order:

  • 1/2 cup Thrive Instant Brown Rice
  • 1/2 cup Thrive Sweet Corn
  • 1/2 cup Thrive Instant Black Beans
  • 1/2 cup Thrive Tomato Dices
  • 3/4 cup Thrive Seasoned Chicken Slices
  • 1/4 cup Thrive Green Chili Peppers

In a plastic zip-top bag, place:

  • 2 Tbsp Thrive Chicken Bouillon
  • 2 Tbsp Thrive Veloute Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Thrive Classic Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tsp Thrive Cilantro
  • 1/3 cup Thrive Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese


  1. Heat soup pot to medium high heat. Add jar contents except for sauce mix. Toast in pot, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  2.  Add two quarts water and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add Sauce mix and simmer another 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips, if desired.

This is a delicious, quick, easy meal that you can have on the table in 20 minutes. One you can feel good about. I’d love to know if you make it!

Have a happy Halloween this weekend. Can you believe Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner!??!!?


Recipe: Magnificent Stuffed Peppers

Magnificent and delicious stuffed peppers at


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.


TEH-MSPrecipeheadPrintable recipe card

Serves 6-8



  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!

Recipe: Homemade Pizza…Toppings, Toppings Galore

photosource: morguefile

We’ve got you squared away with an amazing crust, and a delicious sauce…now you just need to know what to top your pizza with! Certainly you can go to the store and buy all the produce and meats and cheeses to do all of the things I’ll suggest, but consider how great life would be if you didn’t have to. Did have to get coats and shoes on the kids and load them into the car to make a run to the store. Didn’t have to wash and peel and chop and shred. Didn’t have to cook and sanitize. That’s a good life. And it’s all possible using your HomeStore ingredients.

Truly, the possibilities here are really endless. Have purists at your table? Then you need CHEESE! I like to do a blend of different cheeses when I make pizza at my house. Especially if I have any little bits and pieces of parmesan, or cheddar hanging around. What about if you don’t have cheese and don’t want to run to the store???

Here is where the HomeStore concept really comes in handy. Right now in my HomeStore, I have Thrive Mozzarella, Cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack cheese. These freeze dried cheeses WILL melt if prepared properly! I’ve found that the trick is to VERY slowly trickle water into your bowl of freeze dried cheese, WHILE STIRRING. STOP once the water begins to collect on the bottom of your bowl. Then, I transfer to a zip top bag and lightly flatten it, and put into the fridge for a couple of hours. I took some of this cheese, prepared as detailed above, to a Pampered Chef party to use on one of their yummy dishes, and it melted like a dream and NOBODY could tell the difference! So yeah, it’s amazing.

If you have traditionalists, there’s pepperoni, which freezes great so you can stock up when there’s a good sale and freeze it. Or how about Thrive Sausage Crumbles… a guaranteed win. No cooking or draining. No nitrates. This is one of my favorite products…use it several times a week…a tablespoon here, a 1/4 cup there. Extremely versatile and easy to use. Simply add enough water to ALMOST cover your amount of crumbles, give it a stir and let sit for a bit (5-10 minutes usually, while I prepare other things) and it’s ready to go. The trick with freeze dried foods, I’ve found is that you don’t want to drown them.

pineapple pizzaTEHLike Hawaiian? Thrive Ham Dices and Pineapple Chunks to the rescue. Like mushrooms on your Hawaiian? We’ve got that, too. Or canned olives that you store in your HomeStore. Or Green Onions?

What about those of us who like everything but the kitchen sink on our pizza? There is Spinach, Chopped Onions, Green Onions, Tomato Dices, Green Bell Peppers, and Red Bell Peppers.

Or you can get all fancy and do a:

alfredoTEHChicken Alfredo Pizza with Seasoned Chicken Slices, alfredo made from Bechamel Sauce Mix, Green Onions, Tomato Dices…you could even use some Bacon TVP if you wanted!
Mexican Pizza with Ground Beef, seasoned with Taco Seasoning, Green Onions, Tomatoes, Olives, Instant Pinto Beans (cooked and mashed) OR Instant Black Beans, Green Chili Peppers
Meat Lovers pizza with Sausage Crumbles, Pepperoni, Ham Dices, Ground Beef
cheesesteakTEHPhilly Cheesesteak Pizza with Beef Dices, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Onions, Ranch Dressing and a combination of cheeses.
and just about anything else your imagination can come up with!

Hopefully I have shared some ideas that will help you make good use of your HomeStore. It’s really empowering to have everything you need at your fingertips, because of planning and intention.

What’s YOUR favorite pizza topping? Is it something you can store in your HomeStore and have to use at a moment’s notice??


Recipe: Homemade Pizza Sauce & Seasoning Mix


This couldn’t be simpler….really. Mix a little of this, add it to a little of that, and you have yummy pizza sauce. Give it a try, and make some delicious homemade pizza with the great stuffed crust pizza recipe posted this week. This recipe uses Thrive Tomato Powder. I LOVE this product, in fact, so much that I’ve stopped buying cans of tomato sauce altogether. No more bulging cans, or BPA leaching into my tomato sauce. And it’s in my pantry whenever I need it…I can use what I want and not waste any. You can also substitute 2 8 ounce cans of tomato sauce for the Tomato Powder and water.



Makes 2 cups sauce, enough for 3-4 pizzas
printable recipe card

1/2 cup dry oregano
1/4 cup dry marjoram
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup garlic salt

1/2 cup Thrive Tomato Powder
2 cups water


1. Mix oregano, marjoram, basil and garlic salt and store in an airtight container.

To Make Sauce:
1. Mix Tomato Powder with 2 cups water. Blend well with a wire whisk.
2. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix to the tomato powder/water mixture. Let sit 30-60 minutes before using.

My next post will list some of our favorite pizza topping combinations, and even better….ones you can do 100% from your HomeStore!

Have YOU tried the Homemade Stuffed Crust Pizza dough recipe yet?

Recipe: Homemade Stuffed Crust Pizza

Wanna Save $$$ and Be on Santa’s Nice List???

Well, at least on your FAMILY’s nice list.


This great pizza recipe will keep you from going out when the weather outside is frightful, and it tastes…well,  utterly delightful.
Even better, you’ll know every single thing that goes into it, and will be happy to provide your family with good food without all the scary words, additives, and fake colors.
And as if that wasn’t enough, this is something  you can make 100% from your HomeStore….oh yeah.

Over the next three posts, I’ll share my tips for making a top notch homemade pizza, right there in your home, in less than an hour. So in case you didn’t realize just how cool this is….you can have homemade pizza on the table in less time than it usually takes to do delivery or take out. You can thank me later.

The first part of a great pizza is the crust. This crust is so versatile and delicious that you can do almost anything with it!
This recipe will make 4 medium pizzas, 3 large pizzas, or what we sometimes do is make two large pizzas, and save some dough in the fridge for cinnamon sticks or individual pizzas for lunch the next day. See, versatile already.

Let’s get cookin’!

When making your stuffed crust pizza, shape each piece onto an oil covered cookie tray or pizza pan. If making a stuffed crust, push the crust up the sides of the pan. If not, you can just push to the edge.


TEH-pizza2 Put cheese sticks, either purchased, or cut, around the edges of the pan and fold the crust over the top, pinching/pressing to seal. OPTIONAL: at this point you CAN let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I never do.



Get some butter and melt it, add some garlic salt, and maybe some italian seasoning to taste…you can just go crazy here….or not.


Brush crust, especially edges, with butter seasoned to taste with garlic salt.


Bake in a 450ºF oven for 7-8 minutes. Pull out of oven and top with sauce and favorite toppings. The pan is hot so be careful not to burn yourself. Brush the edges again with the butter/garlic salt mixture and return to oven until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, about 7-8 more minutes.

Folks, it really is that easy. And all this time, BIG PIZZA had you thinking that you had to get good pizza from THEM. Here’s the recipe and printable recipe card for the Stuffed Crust Homemade Pizza.




Makes 4 medium pizzas
printable recipe card


10-12 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 scant tablespoons instant dry yeast
4 cups warm water
1/3 cup oil


1. Put 7 cups flour, milk powder, salt, sugar, and dry yeast in a mixing bowl. Add water and mix one minute.
2. Let stand about 2 minutes. Add oil and remaning flour, until mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Knead 5-10 minutes (5 in a kitchenaid type mixer, 10 by hand). Divide into four pieces. (If you don’t want to make 4 pizzas, you can make breadsticks/cinnamon sticks, you can cook up the extra dough on your pizza pan and then freeze, or you can freeze the uncooked dough.)
4. Shape each piece onto an oil covered cookie tray or pizza pan. If making a stuffed crust, push the crust up the sides of the pan. If not, you can just push to the edge.
5. Put cheese sticks, either purchased, or cut, around the edges of the pan and fold the crust over the top, pinching/pressing to seal. OPTIONAL: at this point you CAN let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
6. Brush crust, especially edges, with butter seasoned to taste with garlic salt.
7. Bake in a 450ºF oven for 7-8 minutes.
8. Pull out of oven and top with sauce and favorite toppings. The pan is hot so be careful not to burn yourself. Brush the edges again with the butter/garlic salt mixture and return to oven until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, about 7-8 more minutes.
*The possibilities with this really are endless. You can mix in 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning into the dough, in step one, or you can mix in 1 teaspoon garlic powder.


In my next post, I’ll be posting the yummy sauce that we use on our pizza!
Have YOU tried making pizza? What are your favorite things to put on it?

Kitchen Tip: Magic Dust

You know I love my Thrive. Like LOVE my Thrive. And I’m getting kind of a big kick out of using every possible part of something. I feel like a pioneer. The wind whipping through my bonnet covered hair, the quiet of the prairie, the outhouse….ok, being a pioneer isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

thrive dust-TEHSo finding a use for the product “magic dust” left in the bottom of my cans of Thrive freeze dried foods has been a particular passion of mine. I thought I’d post a little guide for using the magic dust so you can see how many great things you can use this amazing stuff in…so don’t throw it away!! Guard it with your life.  And if you need a little more than you actually have left in the bottom of the can, you can always throw some of the actual product into the blender and give it a whirl.

Use Fruit and Veggie Magic Dust to add flavor and nutrition in:

  • Smoothies
  • Cream Cheese (yummy on bagels, tortillas, or sandwiches).
  • Add to quick breads (green chili and monterey jack cheese bread, strawberry muffins)

Add Fruit Magic Dust to add flavor, nutrition and color to:

Add Veggie Magic Dust to add flavor and nutrition to:

Add Meat Magic Dust to add flavor and nutrition to:

Add Yogurt Bites Magic Dust to add flavor and nutrition to:

  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt
  • Milk

There are just a few ideas of ways to use your Magic Dust.
What do YOU use Magic Dust in? I’d love to hear from you so leave me a comment!

Preparedness: Convenience Foods

We don’t buy pre-boxed junk. We make our own everything….ok….I DID buy a couple of bags of Veggie Straws last trip to Costco…I LOVE those things….anyway…..,

We TRY not to buy pre-boxed/pre-packaged junk. It’s not very hard to resist anymore. Just look at the ingredient label, and I lose all affinity for some of my favorites rather quickly.

What do I miss the most? Convenience! Oh, to have a meal on the table in the same amount of time it takes to make a box of Kraft Mac N’ Cheese. My little secret? You can TOTALLY do this! It just takes a little prep on a day when you might have an extra 10, 30, or 60 minutes. It makes things so much easier!

WAIF series_6

And yes, I have to admit that many of my convenience foods take full advantage of the convenience, and health aspects of Thrive foods. Listed from back to front, left to right: Beef & Peas with Rice, Mac N’ Cheese, Raspberry Vanilla Summer Porridge, and Cream of Chicken Soup ( just add some Thrive Chopped Chicken, some Thrive Celery, and some Thrive Chopped Onions). All of these can be made in 15 minutes (except the Summer Porridge which I prefer to add water and let soak overnight in the fridge).

I regularly make and keep on hand muffin mix, tortilla mix, bouillon, instant oatmeal mix, chicken nuggets, ready-to-bake cookies, bean & cheese burritos, and granola.

Also, canning your own beans, chicken/beef stocks, and meats can make throwing a quick meal together as easy as snapping your fingers.

And then, you can prepare foods ahead of time and have them ready to go when you need to be faster than a speeding bullet at getting dinner on the table. For example, prepping veggies and freezing veggies, and freezing individual portions of rice.

Now, convenience foods are pretty important in making peace a part of everyday life at my house, but can you imagine how much MORE helpful they would be in times of economic stress or emergency??? Having lived both ways (doing everything from scratch with NO convenience foods, and making my own convenience foods) I can tell you that having some quick and easy things available is CRUCIAL to getting through it all with your sanity intact.

Remember to consider the convenience factor when planning  and acquiring your homestore!

What are YOUR favorite convenience foods? Which ones do you make yourself?
Leave me a comment and let me know!

Recipe: Veggie, Chicken, or Beef Bouillon


Wait….you can make your OWN? I know…Mind BLOWN!

I am so excited about this one….I worked with it and played with it and I’m in love with it….ssshhhhh.

One of the things I love about Thrive is that they have NO MSG in their foods. LOVE LOVE LOVE this. Their bouillon does have autolyzed yeast extract in it. Now, these are both substances that contain large amounts of glutamate, but they’re not the same thing. MSG is a synthetically derived and highly concentrated flavor enhancer. Autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed protein are completely natural ingredients that contain large amounts of glutamate. So, not the same (for more info see this article). However, people can still be sensitive to the smaller amounts of glutamine in the natural ingredients and I have a couple of those in my house.

So it gives me no small amount of pleasure to say that I can make something that’s just as amazing, but 100% natural and identifiable in its ingredients list. And it’s a pretty nice feeling to feel like I have control over what food my family eats. Oh, and did I mention I had all but one ingredient in my HomeStore? So bring on the soups, the sauces, the sick people….I don’t need no stinkin’ MSG laden bouillon any more! Wow, that was liberating! Here you go….oh, and make sure you set aside a good…I don’t know… FIVE MINUTES to get this thing done.

TEH-recipeTitlePrintable Recipe Card



  1. Throw everything into a blender and process until it is a fine powder.
  2. Add 1 t. of mix to 1 cup water, or to taste.

Couldn’t be easier. This has great flavor, great blend-ability….good stuff.

Give it a try. You can play with the seasonings if you want to customize them to your family’s tastes. This worked for me.
Have YOU ever made your own bouillon? I’d love to know how it goes, so leave me a comment! Should I have said please?….

P.S. We skipped the “What Am I Forgetting?” Series post yesterday so I could bring you the news about Thrive’s amazing March Madness Case Sale, but we’ll resume the series next Monday. Thanks for your understanding! Remember to stock up on your Thrive goodies before March 25th!

Thrive: BETTER than Black Friday Case Sale!

Coming soon to a Thrive consultant near you,Flyer_-March-Case-Madness

As with all of Thrive’s sales, quantities are limited and available while supplies last, so you have a couple of options. You can visit my Thrive Life Store and place your order starting at 12:01 am on March 18, 2014, OR you can email (jenn AT theEssentialHomemaker DOT com) or phone (801-367-1607) in your PRE-ORDER. Be sure to include your Name, contact into (including phone), items (including item #), sizes (Pantry Can or #10 Can), and quantities.

The March Case Madness Sale surpasses the great deals we had in November at our Black Friday sale, and with tax refunds rolling in, it’s the perfect time to stock up on essentials for your HomeStore.

Preparedness: Cooking/Baking Basics

WAIF seriesH5Next up in the “What Am I Forgetting?” series is……..

Cooking/Baking Basics

WAIF series_5(shown: yeast, cumin, salt, celery leaves, baking powder, chives, vanilla)

I mean, can I live without cinnamon and vanilla, spices and herbs, yeast and salt? Maybe

Would life be much better with cinnamon, vanilla, spices, herbs, yeast and salt in it?? DEFINITELY

For a long time food storage was wheat, beans, powdered milk, rice, and sugar. Thank goodness there’s been a shift to storing what you regularly eat! And for us, since we do most of our cooking from scratch, and avoid most processed/prepackaged food, storing things like seasonings, yeast, baking powder and baking soda, salt, etc are ESSENTIALS to our HomeStore. (Not familiar with the HomeStore? Visit this post.)

I have a whole shelf in my HomeStore closet that is dedicated to spices. On a good day, it’s all alphabetized and organized.



Today, it looks like this:


Some tips:

  • I buy my yeast in large (maybe 2 lb) packages at Costco, and store them in the freezer. Once opened, I store them in the fridge in an airtight container to protect from moisture.
  • One great way to know which spices and seasonings to store is to keep a menu list and write down all the seasonings/spices you used during the month.
  • Buy small bottles of different brands of new spices so you know which ones you like, and which ones that no matter how much cheaper they are, are not worth a dime because they smell like chemicals when you open them, and don’t taste like whatever they claim to have in them…buying small means you’re not stuck with a large bottle of junk you either won’t use/throw out or curse every time you have to use it because you’re too frugal to toss it. Not that frugality is a bad thing. You know I’m all over that, but you gotta know when you’re beat. And yes,…..I DO have a bottle of one of these horrible brands in my unorganized picture above. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to throw it out….but I will, because I have never used a spice by that company that smelled, tasted, or looked like it should. Sad.
  • Buy aluminum free baking powder, and remember that baking powder needs to be fresh or it loses potency. Unless you use it frequently (like 1-5 times a day, like we do), purchase it in Pantry Can sizes, so you can use it up before it’s no good.
  • Put the purchase date on your purchases so you can effectively rotate them (In my shorthand, 0314=March 2014)
  • Spices do lose potency, so unless you use something frequently (we go through one of those large chili powder canisters every 4 months or so, one of Cumin about every 6 months, Parsley every 4, OH….and crushed red peppers, about one every 1.5 months….the hubs sprinkles them on everything he eats), buy them in smaller containers and faithfully rotate them!
  • A couple of favorite products for my Cooking/Baking Basics? Thrive’s freeze dried Spices/Herbs found here in a Variety Pack that includes: Parsley (FD), Basil (FD), Oregano (FD), Cilantro (FD), Chives (FD), Salad Seasoning Blend (FD), Italian Seasoning Blend (FD), Chef’s Choice Seasoning Blend, Peppercorn Seasoning Blend. Also, some of my go-to products are the Thrive Sauce Mixes found in this Variety Pack that includes: Béchamel: Creamy White Sauce, Velouté: Rich Chicken Gravy, Espagnole: Savory Beef Gravy, Tomato: Classic Tomato Sauce. They’re extremely versatile and convenient…oh, and delicious. They are also all sold separately.
     Tried ’em all, love ’em all.

Storing Cooking/Baking Basics is just one more way that having a HomeStore makes me a better mom/housewife/nutrition coordinator/etc. At any moment I have the ability to come up with something good to feed my family. And that brings me a lot of peace.

What Cooking/Baking Basics do YOU have in YOUR HomeStore?
Have you started YOUR HomeStore yet??
I’d love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

Oh, and tomorrow??? BIG NEWS on a BETTER than BLACK FRIDAY Case Sale!