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.

I LOVE THRIVE!!!

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
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

Directions:

  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 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!

Recipe: Healthy Homemade Popsicles

Just a quick post today to share one of our family summer favorites…

Stacks of homemade popsicles at theEssentialHomemaker.com using Thrive Drink Mixes

 

The summer is winding down but there’s still plenty of requests for Popsicles at my house! My hubby tells me that one of the ways families and kids make some extra money in Peru is by making these Chupetes or popsicles, that they sell at little stands. Of course we had to find a way to make our own. One of my favorite ways to use the Thrive drink mixes is in homemade popsicles….I usually mix a little stronger than recommended, for more flavor punch, but I love that the drink mixes don’t have the artificial colors and flavors in them, and that I can feel good giving them to my kids.

Thrive Drink mixes are perfect for making homemade popsicles!

 

If you use the Thrive Summer Limeade (sooooo yummy!) or Classic Lemonade, remember you need to add your own sweetener. It would even be a good idea to dissolve the sugar in boiling water and let cool. This will give you a better texture in  your final product. You can even throw some fresh or freeze dried fruit into the liquid, in the Peruvian tradition.

 

Making homemade popsicles at theEssentialHomemaker.com using these awesome bags

 

We bought these great little bags on Amazon. We DO have some of the reusable popsicle molds, but I really like the convenience of the bags.

Simply pour your liquid in, secure the tops, and freeze! The kids can hardly wait until they’re done!

Give it a try! You might discover you like the convenience of these health{ier} homemade treats.

Have YOU made your own popsicles? What are your favorite flavors?

Making homemade chupetes is one way we can make peace and preparedness a part of EVERY DAY LIFE.

See you soon!

DIY Food: Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Don’t you love convenience? I really love convenience….

There is a certain canned soup company that was part of my cooking repertoire almost daily until a couple of years ago. Their condensed soups made cooking quick and easy. But once you start reading labels, there’s no going back, and I now make my cream of soup mix and use it anytime I need Cream of Mushroom, or Cream of Chicken soup.TEH_creamofsoup3

I didn’t have a convenient substitute for the  condensed tomato soup, until recently, so we stopped eating all the recipes we used to have that used it.  I never loved the condensed tomato soup….it was too sweet and wimpy in flavor, so I am THRILLED that Thrive’s Tomato Sauce Mix is bursting with flavor, doesn’t have the “sweet” taste and is in my Home Store…yep, keep it in my pantry.sauces-tomato_1Sometimes, you don’t want (or have the time) to spend hours slaving over the hot stove. You’ve got a million different directions you’re running and need dinner on the table ASAP. This is a great “kid approved” dinner you can have on the table in 20 minutes or less (I say less, because if you don’t have 8 people in your house, it’ll probably take you a lot less time that it does in our house).


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Serves 4-6
Printable Recipe Card

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup Thrive Tomato Sauce Mix (NOT Tomato Powder)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups whole milk, Half & Half, or cream (I prefer a mix of whole milk and Half & Half)
  • 1 tablespoon Thrive Freeze Dried Basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in sauce pan. In the meantime, combine Tomato Sauce Mix, basil, and garlic powder in a bowl.
  2. When water reaches a boil, whisk sauce mixture into the boiling water.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer and whisk 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add cream, Half & Half, or whole milk, and salt and pepper to taste, and heat through. Add more milk as needed to reach desired consistency.

*To make a more hearty soup, add a tablespoon or two of any or all of the following: Thrive Sausage Crumbles, Thrive Chopped Spinach, Thrive Freeze Dried Chopped Onions, or Thrive Zucchini.

**If you’re making this 100% from your Home Store, you can substitute 1/2 cup Thrive Instant Milk Powder, 2 cups water, and 1 tablespoon Thrive Butter Powder for the whole milk/cream/Half & Half

Serve with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches or a handful of saltine crackers for a delicious and easy meal.


What is YOUR favorite quick and easy “kid approved” meal? Have you had to make any changes to it, in order to make it healthier?

Thanks for stopping by, and as always, I look forward to your comments!

DIY Food: Buttermilk Wheat Pancake Mix

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Hello! How is your January going? Exciting news today! My little site is TWO YEARS OLD! Can you believe it? Happy Blog-o-versary to me!

Anywho….

Mix cooking is one of my favorite things. I can use ingredients I feel good about, have something prepped ahead of time, and get food on the table in a fraction of the time at any given moment.

Today I want to share one of my favorite mixes, Buttermilk Wheat Pancake Mix…in fact, I have to admit that I prefer it to regular pancakes, mix made or otherwise. It’s that good. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it costs a fraction of what you’d spend on pancake mix at the store? And that your kids can whip it up on their own? You need to try this one. You may have all the ingredients you need, right there in your Home Store. So what are we waiting for?

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I highly recommend you grind your own wheat into flour, simply because it will have more nutrients, but if you don’t have wheat or a grinder, feel free to do whatever. If you want a true whole grain pancake, but love the consistency of a part whole grain pancake, Wonder Flour may be your next favorite thing. Wonder Flour was created by Chef Brad, a grain dynamo (more about him here) and is produced by grinding equal parts Spelt, Brown Rice, and Barley. It makes a delicious whole grain flour that produces baked goods that have the texture (light and fluffy) of all purpose flour. It’s so great! It’s not something to use in yeast breads (or not more than maybe 20% of the total flour) because it doesn’t have much gluten in it, and that is generally important in yeast breads. Give this one a try!

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You CAN mix all your ingredients into a big container with a lid and measure out 3 1/2 cups of mix whenever you want to make pancakes, but I like to take it a step further, and use zip top bags with single recipes. So I set up with about 10 ziptop bags (quart sized) open and standing up. I measure ingredients straight into them, for example, do all the white flour, then all the wheat flour, then the sugar in all of them, and so on. This can get tricky, if you suffer from DHS (Distracted Homemaker Syndrome…also known as CHILDREN) so I alternate sides of the bags, so if I get interrupted, I can tell which bags already got baking soda in them, and which ones only have baking powder in them. You get me?

Then I just store them in a bin in the pantry and make up a batch once or twice a week. Super easy.
Thrive products listed are my preferred products but can be exchanged for your favorite brand.

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printable recipe card
Makes about 24 pancakes
Ingredients:

Add to quart sized zip-top bag:

1 1/2 cups Thrive Unbleached Flour or Wonder Flour (see above)
1 1/2 cups Thrive Hard White Wheat, freshly ground OR Thrive Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup Thrive Cane Sugar
1 tablespoon Thrive Baking Powder
1 tablespoon Thrive Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Thrive Iodized Salt

Store in ziptop bag in pantry for up to 3 months.

To make pancakes:
3 cups Buttermilk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten OR 3 tablespoons Thrive Whole Egg Powder (add to dry ingredients) and 6 tablespoons water (add to wet ingredients)
2 tablespoons butter, oil, or coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Dump pancake mix into a large mixing bowl.
Measure wet ingredients into a medium sized bowl or 4 cup measuring cup, and whisk well to combine.
Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring until just moistened.
Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle and cook, flipping when bubbles appear on the top side of the cakes.
Serve with syrup, cottage cheese, apple butter, jam, jelly or whatever you like.

TIP: You can add 2 teaspoons of Thrive Pure Vanilla Powder to your zip-top bag when assembling your dry ingredients into the mix, and omit it in the wet ingredients.

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You know you want some hot, delicious, golden pancakes! I’d love to know what your favorite pancake topping is…my personal favorite is cottage cheese with some apple butter and a sprinkle of granola…but I’m a little weird like that. I’d love to hear if you make this mix! Leave me a comment and say howdy!

* Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on the link. Thank you for your support. It means a lot to me and my family.

Recipe: Veggie, Chicken, or Beef Bouillon

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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.

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  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!

Recipe: Thrive Quinoa Energy Salad

I have this beautiful friend Leslie who sends us recipe cards with pictures of her family on the flip side for Christmas every year. Her company Sendsations, sends out these great recipe cards as marketing tools for different companies, real estate agents, and the like. We have found several family favorites over the years in Leslie’s Christmas cards.

Anyhoo, last week I was cleaning out my recipe cupboard (believe me, it needed it) and came across the Christmas 2013 cards and sat down to decide which ones we would be likely to use, and which ones we would pass on. I (being Thrive-minded) instantly saw the Thrive-abilities in the Quinoa Energy Salad recipe. Not only that, but I had every single item I needed in my HomeStore already. So I set out to make some. I mean we’re talking some serious nutrition here! Fiber and all kinds of vitamins…real serious food. And it was delicious… even the kids ate it. It was great and I’ve been eating it all week….yeah, once you get used to making things for a large family, it’s kinda hard to remember not to double or triple things, you know what I mean?

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Thrive is so easy…I didn’t have to do any chopping for this salad. I simply measured ingredients, added water, and put my feet up to read a book while the quinoa and beans cooked.

 

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Thrive Quinoa Energy Salad
Serves 4 Prep time about 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Cook your quinoa. Let cool to room temperature.  I highly recommend that you follow the instructions for Fluffy Quinoa found on Eating Rules…trust me, you’ll be glad you did!) *I cooked my Quinoa in chicken broth.
  2. While your quinoa is draining and cooking, add your black beans to a pan with 2 1/4 cups of water in it. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low; cover and gently simmer about 15 minutes. Drain if needed.
  3. Put mango, red bell pepper and green onions into a bowl. Add warm water JUST TO COVER. The idea is to get enough water to rehydrate, but avoid extra that will be drained away, taking valuable nutrients with it. Stir and let sit while beans and quinoa cook, at least 10-15 minutes.) Drain if needed. *Save this “water”…it has lots of nutrients..you could use it in soup….or you could just drink it out of a cup..which I did…it was actually kinda good…weird but pleasant combo, that mango and red bell pepper.
  4. Combine quinoa, beans, mango, pepper, onions, and cilantro (if fresh) in a large bowl and toss. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lime juice, and vinegar (and freeze dried cilantro, if using).
  5. Toss into salad and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  6. Serve cold.

**You can add a little more protein and make this more of a main dish by toasting 1/2 c. Thrive Seasoned Chicken Slices in a hot pan, stirring frequently until toasty brown, then adding them to your bowl of mango and bell pepper before adding the water.

Do you have any quinoa recipes that you love? Give this one a try and come tell me about it by leaving a comment! I’d love to hear from you….