Monday, July 30, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade - Mini Lasagna

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I found this recipe on Pinterest while looking for something easy to make, and didn't take a long time in the oven.  It is still really hot here and the thought of cooking dinner is almost too much sometimes.  So when I saw this recipe I knew it was perfect and my family gobbled it up!

 The original recipe didn't provide any exact measurements, so I am going to give you a guess at what I did.  The "lasagna" is cooked in a muffin tin using wonton wrappers.  Those little guys are becoming one of my new favorite things to use in kitchen.  You can find them in the produce section by the bean sprouts.  They have square, rectangle, and round ones.  I chose to use round ones because of the muffin tin, but I think the square ones would have overlapped a little better in the pan.  I also used cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese because that is what I had on hand.

Start off by placing two of the wonton wrappers in the muffin tin cups and leave the edges sticking up over the top.  Then the layering fun begins.  This is where you can add exactly what you want to each cup.  If one person doesn't like meat, don't add it.  Or you can add veggies!  Start off with a small spoonful of sauce then mozzarella cheese, sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and a small dab of cottage cheese/ricotta cheese (don't you love my exact measurements).  Sprinkle about 1/4t of Italian seasoning into each cup.

The next layer is another wonton wrapper (just one) and repeat your layers ending with the cheese.  I chopped up a couple of mushrooms and sprinkled them in after the cottage cheese.  

Lasagna Cups
1 package of wonton wrappers
1 jar spaghetti sauce
mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Ricotta or cottage cheese
Italian seasoning
mushrooms, veggies, or meat, optional

Layer 2 wonton wrappers in each muffin tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Leave the edges sticking up over the edge of the pan.  Add about a tablespoon of sauce onto the wrappers.   Add your meat or veggies now and sprinkle the Italian seasoning on each cup, about 1/4t.  The amount of veggies or meat you use will depend on how full your muffin cups are getting.  Add about 1 T of cottage cheese or Ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and small sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  Don't be afraid to push down on the ingredients to make more room.  Now you will layer only 1 wonton wrapper and press down.  Layer sauce, meat/veggies, seasoning, cottage cheese/ricotta, Parmesan, and end with Mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a 375° oven for 18-20 minutes.  Let them cool for a few minutes and they should just pop out of the muffin tin.  

My family ate every single one, including my non-carb eating husband.  He ate 4!  The edges were crispy like a fried wonton and the lower part was just like a noodle in lasagna.  I will be making these again and again!! 

And if you want this recipe to be complete food storage use canned veggies, freeze dried cheese, and homemade wonton wrappers!  I found this recipe for eggs rolls and for the wrappers from  
And the recipes can be found HERE.

Egg Roll Wrappers or Wonton Wrappers
2 c. sifted flour
¾ c. cold water
1 egg
½ t. salt
Combine all ingredients with a fork and stir till the flour is moistened. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover and set aside for 30 minute. Roll out on a well-floured board, 1/16” thick and cut into 6” squares. The thinner the wrappers the better they will be. To make egg rolls, place the square of dough with one point facing you and one point facing away from you, like a diamond. Put ¼ c. filling on lower third of dough. Fold up bottom corner over the filling. Fold in both sides then roll up, tucking edges in as you go. Dip fingers into water and put on top edges on either side of the top point and finish rolling up. Bake or deep fry in hot oil.

Baked Egg Rolls
½ c. Chopped onions
½ c. Celery, diced fine
1 clove Garlic, minced
4 – 5 c. Shredded cabbage
1 ½ c. Grated carrots
¼ t. dried ginger (or more, fresh if you have it)
2 T. cornstarch
1½ T. water
1½ T. soy sauce
1½ t. veg. oil
2 t. brown sugar
Fresh ground pepper or cayenne pepper for more heat
1 c. cooked chicken finely diced (one chicken breast, seasoned)
Egg roll wrappers
Water to seal wrappers
Non-stick cooking spray
Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray; add the first 3 ingredients. Sauté a minute then add cabbage and carrots. Cook and stir over medium heat until vegetable are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add diced chicken. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, oil, brown sugar, ginger and pepper until smooth; stir into chicken mixture. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes; remove from the heat. Spoon ¼ c. of chicken mixture on the bottom third of one egg roll wrapper; fold bottom up and fold sides toward center and roll tightly. Brush top corner of wrapper with water to seal. Place seam side down on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Spray tops of egg rolls with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 425º 9- 11 minutes, until wrappers start to brown. Turn egg rolls over and bake another 9-10 minutes or until egg rolls are lightly browned and slightly crispy. Watch carefully the last few minutes of baking time. Serve with dipping sauces. Y:16-20 egg rolls

Easy Sweet and Sour Sauce
½ c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
½ c. vinegar
1 T. ketchup
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add vinegar and ketchup and bring to a boil, stirring well. Mixture with thicken and become clear

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pinterest and Preparedness

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Are you all on Pinterest?  I find it addicting and so fun to look through.  Although it can suck me in and I lose track of time, I find it has a very practical and useful purpose.  I have found some great preparedness topics and ideas on Pinterest.  It's a great way to keep all my to-do items in one place and also learn something new.  Check out these few things that are in my Preparedness Board on Pinterest.  Keep in mind that I haven't made or tested these things, they are just great ideas that I found and want to try. 








There are so many other topics that you can find on Pinterest and I think it is so great that the whole world can share ideas.  My kids have clued in and when they see me trying something new they ask "did you find that on Pinterest?".  Most of the time the food is good, the ideas work, and the homemade cleaners really clean.  What have you all found and loved on Pinterest???

Monday, July 23, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Solar Oven Broccoli

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Cooking vegetables can be tricky, but in the solar oven they come out tasty and perfect!  I like to make broccoli in my global sun oven and it goes with so many dishes that we seem to eat it quite often.  If you cook the broccoli in the solar oven round pan, you can stack it with your main dish and cook both at the same time.  I made chicken in the bottom pot and broccoli in the top pot for a complete meal.  

Here is the broccoli ready to go in the sun oven.
Solar Oven Broccoli
1 lb broccoli
1/3 clove garlic
1/2 t salt and pepper
2 T butter or oil

Rinse the broccoli and shake off excess water.  Place in pan while still slightly wet.  Add garlic and stir.  Cook in the sun oven for about 40 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and butter after cooking.  

 This shows the pots double stacked in the sun oven.  This allows you to cook a complete meal at one time. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Heavy Duty Homemade Cleaner

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One of the ways that I save money is by making my own household cleaners.  I use them on my floors, windows, stainless steel, etc.  But there has always been one area that I could never get quite bathroom floor.  I have a rather small master bath and every time I use hairspray it gets all over everything and then the dirt sticks to it and it doesn't come of easily.  I have tried several commercial cleaners, glass cleaner (commercial and homemade), and rubbing alcohol, but I still couldn't get the hairspray off of everything.  Until, while browsing Pinterest, I came across a "recipe" for a heavy duty cleaner.  It came from a day care owner and so I figured I would give it a try.  Amazingly enough, it worked as well as it was described.  It got every square inch of my bathroom clean, including the window, walls, floor and mirror. Plus, I didn't have to scrub very hard for it to work. I am a happy lady!! I was so excited to have a cleaner that worked!!  And it uses every day ingredients that I already had on hand.  


Here is the recipe for Heavy Duty Cleaner:

1/4 C white vinegar
1 T liquid dish soap
1/4 C washing soda (this is sold on the laundry aisle and it isn't baking soda-see the photo above)
2 gallons very warm tap water

Place all ingredients in a bucket and mix until sudsy.  Use a sponge, mop, or scrub brush to clean surfaces. **Not recommended for waxed floors.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade - Pumpkin Crunch Cake

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This is my family's new favorite dessert.  We love pumpkin and we eat it all year round at our house. I buy enough cans during the Thanksgiving sales to get us through the whole year.  

Are you all on Pinterest?  If not, you should be :)  It is an addicting photo website. You can view pictures of recipes, home decor, quotes, and everything else you can imagine.  This recipe is one that I pinned on Pinterest and actually made.  A lot of what gets pinned on Pinterest is just ideas and wishes ;)

This recipe uses almost all food storage/pantry items. The only ingredient not shelf stable is the butter, and I thought afterwards that I could have used powdered butter since the recipe calls for melted butter.  I will try that out and update if it works.

After mixing the wet ingredients sprinkle a boxed cake mix over the top.  My girls love to help in the kitchen and this was a perfect job for them.

This is the cake mix all pressed down and ready for the melted butter....

The original recipe called for 2 sticks of melted butter!!!  Paula Deen, eat your heart out! But I couldn't do it!  That seemed like way too much melted, artery clogging I just did 1 stick of butter.  And it worked!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake 
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk
4 eggs (1/4 C powdered eggs + 1/2 C water)
1 1/2 C sugar
2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 350°

Mix all ingredients above until combined and pour into a greased 13x9 baking pan. 

Sprinkle 1 box of yellow cake mix over the pumpkin mixture and gently press down.

Drizzle with 1 stick of melted butter.

Bake for 60-80 minutes or until set.  (It works really well in the sun oven)
If you look in the picture of ingredients at the top of the post you will see a box of whipping cream.  Have you all heard of shelf stable whipping cream before?  It is made by Gossners and I bought it at Honeyville, of course.  Once chilled it will whip into amazingly delicious whipped cream.  I made it for the dessert but forgot it for the finished product picture.  You can also use it in soups or anything else that calls for cream.  I keep several boxes in my fridge and also a few more in the storage room.  The cream can also be used to make butter.  Click HERE to view a post on making butter with your stand mixer.  And you could make butter in an emergency too.  Especially if you have one of those manual hand mixers.  The cream will last on your shelf for at least a year, if not longer.  I found that if it does stay on the shelf longer you will have a box of cream cheese.  Hehe...just one of those learning moments.  It tasted good on a bagel :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dehydrating Fruit

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I was so inspired by the dehydrating class that I took at Honeyville that I brought out my dehydrator and filled it up with colorful fruit.  I found  a great grocery store (Rancho Market) that has unbelievable prices on fruits and veggies, and I bought a cart full just to dehydrate. 

When purchasing food to dehydrate you may want to calculate how much time, money, and effort that it will take to get a finished product.  Tomatoes and potatoes are two foods that I think are easier to purchase already dehydrated.  But there are many other foods that are simple to dehydrate.  And if you can get free fruit from your own yard or a friendly neighbor, even better!!

Today I dehydrated oranges, orange zest, limes, lime zest, kiwi, peaches, and Mexican papaya.

This is a Mexican papaya and it was so sweet and juicy.  My kids were so fascinated by the seeds in this fruit.  I can't wait to taste it when it is done!

 On this tray I have the papaya and kiwi fruit.  It is so colorful and pretty.  These fruits also look so pretty sealed in mason jars and lined up on a shelf.

One of the great tips that I learned at the Honeyville class was to dehydrate your orange, lemon, and lime peels.  Then you will always have zest when you need it.  I used my vegetable peeler and it peels off just the colored part of the fruit and not any of the bitter white parts. 

 I sliced limes and oranges on this tray and I can use them to make limeade or an orange drink later.  Just reconstitute them in a pitcher of cold water, add sugar if you want and stir.  We will also eat the oranges and maybe make some into a powder.  We'll see when they are done.  Dehydrated oranges (and pineapple) are so delicious!

 Lastly I cut up some peaches to dehydrate.  My house smells so good right now.  It finally cooled off here in Utah (around 80° instead of 105°) so I felt OK in turning on the dehydrator.  I could have done it outside, but I like to keep my eye on it and I know I would forget about it outside.  

I cut all my fruit about 1/4" thick (well as close as I could with slippery fruit) and they will probably take 6-12 hours to dry.  I will check them after about 4 hours and rotate any trays.  

Here are all my trays ready to go.  I warmed up the dehydrator as I was cutting my fruit. It took me about 35 minutes to have all the fruit cut up and in the dehydrator.  So it wasn't an all day kind of project, like canning, and I felt so productive when it was finished :)

**Just a note about some fruits turning brown while they dry.  Fruits like bananas will need to be sprayed with lemon juice (straight from the bottle, not diluted) before drying. This will keep them from turning black.  Don't worry if you don't do this, the food is still good, just not as appealing. 

Dehydrating is such a great way to have fruits in your long term storage.  If you use oxygen packs or a foodsaver the fruit will last much longer on your shelf.  Fresh produce will be the first food group to disappear in a disaster/emergency.  If you have your shelves lined with dehydrated fruit you will peace of mind. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grocery Deals

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My laptop got a lovely virus and is in the shop so there will be no grocery deals today.  

*Grapes are .99 at Sunflower Market this week- GREAT DEAL!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gardening in July

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Gardening 101, that is a class that I need to take.  I didn't pay close enough attention to my garden this past week and I had to throw away a whole bowl full of peas.  I was so bummed that we couldn't eat them.  They were huge and bitter.  Even my pea loving son spit them out.  Oh well, live and learn!! It has been really hot this July and I should have checked on them about a week ago.  Peas like the heat about as much as I do, which is not at all!!  I really don't know what I am doing :)

Here are my peas and they are ready to be done for the summer.  My kids picked a bunch of them and I tried to eat them, really really tried, but they were yucky!  

 See that big juicy pea, don't let it fool you, he's a bitter little guy.  Live and learn and I now know to keep watch on peas, they get ripe fast!  We did eat quite a few before we hit triple digits, so they all didn't go to waste, but I know for next year when to pick them all.

I also learned (quite the lesson) to keep up on the weeds. I can't believe how big they got in the last week and a half.  Holy cow, they were doing better than the plants!  I cleared those out and hopefully the plants will get more water and nutrients now.   Gardening has such a learning curve and just when it seems to be going smoothly there are bugs, or weeds, or watering issues.  But it is worth it!  I am saving money on our produce bill and also learning how to be self-reliant.   

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sun Oven Cookies and Cupcakes

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It is finally raining here in Utah, an answer to many, many prayers,  but yesterday was another blistering hot day.  My daughter wanted to make cupcakes for the 4th of July and so I had her try them in the sun oven.  

 We used a regular cake mix and I decided to try the rectangular pan versus a muffin tin because we could fit more cupcakes in. They came out kind of square but they tasted the same.  I stacked the pans using the Sun Oven dehydrator racks. (available at the SLC Honeyville retail store, and at I have tried to stack muffin tins before with canning rings but it was really hard to keep them from falling.  The racks made it so much easier to layer the pans.

 The racks come in a set of three and are made for dehydrating fruits and veggies in the sun oven.  But they also work great for cookies, pizza, and stacking baking pans. If you're wondering how on earth you get cookies to stay put, the racks come with a roll of parchment paper.  This gives you a surface similar to a cookie sheet.  I love this oven!!

 Here are our cookies baking in the sun oven.  I fit all three racks into the oven.  My mom was visiting and she was amazed at all the things we were able to cook using the sun oven.   We made cake mix cookies, click HERE to see that recipe.

The strawberry flavored cookies were perfect for the 4th of July and they were gone right after the picture was taken.  With 5 kids, hungry husband, and grandma those cookies had no chance of hanging around very long.

It is really fun to find new ways to cook and bake using the sun oven.  I am kind sad that it is raining today because I was going to make lasagna and broccoli.  We do need the rain so I am not going to complain.  I am sure we'll have a sunny day soon and I really want to try pizza too.  So many ideas......

Monday, July 2, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Sun Oven Cooking

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I don't do heat!  I get grumpy and tired when it is really hot outside. I am even worse when it is hot inside my house.  It has been close to 100° for the last week or so and my air conditioner is on it's last leg.  During the day my house temperature hovers around 75-76° and I do not want to turn on my oven.  I am doing everything I can to keep my interior temperature down and a great way to do that is to cook outside.  I am taking advantage of the hot temps and using my sun oven to cook our food.  Saturday was another hot day and I decided to get a bunch of baking done.  Usually I can control the weather by putting out my sun oven (it will get cloudy or storm, I swear!!) but it stayed sunny all day.

I started baking at about 10:00 in the morning and I made bread first.  The trick to bread in the sun oven is to not let your bread raise too high before placing it in the oven.  The bread will keep rising in the sun oven and then bake when the temperature goes back up.  (the temp drops when you open the door) That rule works best if your sun oven isn't above 300°, but when I put my bread into the oven on Saturday it was 400°!!  So my bread just cooked and didn't raise any higher like it usually does.  The second trick is to lightly mist your bread with water BEFORE you put the bread into the oven. You will get a lovely brown crusted bread this way.

 This is my bread after a half hour in the sun oven.  If I had let my bread stay in a 400° oven inside it would have been burned, but the sun oven keeps it from burning. I also mist my bread with water after it comes out of the oven to keep the top crust soft.  Next time I will let my bread raise a little longer before cooking, but this loaf was still yummy!  I used THIS recipe to make my bread.

Since I had the oven out and heated up I decided to keep baking.  My kids love to eat Monkey Bars and I had several ripe bananas ready to use.  These bars take minutes to put together and only 15 minutes in a regular oven.  The original recipe uses a jelly roll pan but that obviously won't fit into the sun oven.  I used 3 rectangular pans and stacked them.  The sun oven is like a convection oven, it cooks evenly no matter what part of the food is in the sun.  All 3 pans were cooked and done at the same time.  I actually took a shower after putting these in the oven, so I know they were in there for at least a half hour. (my shower wasn't a half hour but using the hair dryer etc. takes 30 minutes :)

The pans fit just like this inside the oven.  I bought the 2 lighter pans at the Dollar Tree store (they are Wilton baking pans) and the darker pan from the Honeyville SLC retail store.  The Dollar store also sells a set of smaller muffin pans (holds 6 muffins) that I stack too.  I used THIS recipe for the Monkey Bars.

Even though I got the Sun Oven to have for emergencies, it really is such a life saver during the hot summers in Utah.  It also saves me money on our electric bill.  I also know how to use my Sun Oven and all the little tricks and tips to making food work out.  Don't count on knowing how to use a sun oven if there is an emergency.  If you own one, pull it out, use it!!! 
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