Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ham and Corn Chowder

Who can resist a bowl of hot, creamy chowder on a cold winter night? This is one of our favorite recipes!

Combine onions, carrots, potatoes, and corn in 4 cups of hot water. Add bouillon. I used dry onions and carrots with fresh potatoes and canned corn. This soup is great using all dried vegetables as well. You just may need to add a little more water.

Whisk white sauce mix and 2 cups of hot tap water together in a bowl. For the white sauce mix recipe click here. I use the white sauce mix in all my cream soups - it is a huge time and money saver!

Pour the white sauce mix into the soup a couple of minutes before serving. Stir and allow soup to boil for 2 minutes to thicken.

Stir in cheese, ham, and bacon bits just before serving. Enjoy with a nice hot roll or slice of homemade bread. Oh, it's one of my favorite tastes of winter! There's no better way to chase away the chill of the evening.

Ham and Corn Chowder

1 cup chopped onions (½ cup dry)
½ cup + 2 Tbsp white sauce mix
1 cup diced carrots (½ cup dry)
2 cups hot water
2 ½ cups cubed potatoes (1 ¼ cup dry)
2–3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
2 tsp chicken bouillon
10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
4+ cups water

Cook vegetables in 4 cups water and bouillon until tender. Whisk white sauce mix and 2 cups hot water together in a bowl. Pour into soup. Stir until thickened. Stir in cheese, ham, and bacon bits just before serving. Using dehydrated vegetables may require more water. Add enough to make the consistency you like. I always use the precooked real bacon bits in this recipe to make it easy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Make Ahead French Toast

My mornings start earlier this year since my oldest daughter just started Middle School. I've found it very helpful to have some breakfast options in the freezer to allow us to get her out the door on time to catch the bus. French Toast is easy to make in large batches. It freezes well and reheats in the toaster in a flash.

Mix eggs and milk in a shallow dish. I also like to add a little cinnamon and vanilla.

Mix well with a fork.

We have a Wonder Bread Thrift store near us where I can get bread for $.50 -$.80 cents a loaf. We also love French Toast made from homemade whole wheat bread. The Texas Toast is sliced thicker and makes delicious French Toast. When I find it at the bread store, I snatch it up.

Dip slices in egg mixture.

Cook on a hot griddle.

Flip when golden brown.

Cool slices on  a wire rack. When completely cool, package up for the freezer. I just put it all back in the original bag.

Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. It is easy to grab as many slices as you need for a quick breakfast another day. I often do 2-3 loaves at a time. I can do the cooking in the middle of the afternoon instead of getting up extra early - I love that! Knowing that it stores in the freezer, I can count this as one of my storable breakfasts.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tis the Season to Stock up on Baking Supplies

This is the time of year that all the baking supplies drop in price. I just go down the baking isle at every store I'm in and check to see what they are charging for flour, sugar, evaporated milk, brown sugar, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, etc. I've kept a good record over the years so I can recognize a "stock-up" price when I see it.

It usually takes a few weeks of watching, but I can usually find all of the products that we use on a regular basis for baking hit their low price of the year between now and New Year's.

This week I picked up flour and chocolate chips. Next week, it will probably be something different - Just keep your eyes open. To review my "Prices to Watch For" list click here. These prices were current a few months ago, but food prices have been going up as I'm sure you are all aware. If you find something that is close count it and buy what you need for your 3 month supply.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Books Available For Gifts!

Now available on

I have had many requests from people who would like to purchase multiple copies of my book to use as Christmas gifts this year for friends and family members. I am so grateful that many of you are finding it helpful as you work to be more prepared as a family.

I just received a large order here at my home for those of you who live in the Boise area. It will always be available on Amazon and you are more than welcome to purchase it from there. But, for those lucky enough to live close by, you can send me a quick email and work out coming over to pick some up and save a few dollars in the process.

My email is

Let me know - 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stovetop Shepherd's Pie

We probably all have a version of shepherd's pie that we have grown to love. Here I will share some tips on speeding up the preparation process and limiting the dirty dishes - who doesn't want less dirty dishes by the end of the day?

Combine 2 cans of soup in a large soup pot. I used 1 can of tomato and 1 can of cream of mushroom. We also love this done with two cans of cream of mushroom or 2 cans of tomato. By mixing them, you get a creamy tomato. Mix the soup together well. Do not add any water. Next, stir in two cans of green beans and a pound or so of pre-cooked hamburger. (I always keep pre-cooked hamburger in the freezer so I just microwave it long enough to break it apart before adding it to the pot.) When I use tomato soup, I like to add a bit of oregano and garlic to the pot. If I just use cream of mushroom soup, I don't add any seasonings. Now heat this mixture on the stovetop until warm, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, bring some water to a boil in another pot. Add instant mashed potatoes. We like to use the potato pearls you can purchase at the LDS cannery.

Allow them to sit in the water for just a bit before stirring. They turn out creamier if they have a chance to absorb most of the water before stirring. If you are using another kind of instant potatoes, just follow the directions. You need 3-4 cups of mashed potatoes when they are done.

Whip them up a little to get all the lumps out.

Spread the hot potatoes over the heated soup mixture.

Sprinkle with shredded cheese and cover long enough for the cheese to melt. 

There you have it - one of my secret food storage recipes that allows me to have dinner on the table in about 15 minutes - And only have 2 pots to clean. My entire family loves it so that is an added plus!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Our Annual Trip to the Orchards

Every year in the late summer and early fall, I begin to yearn for a trip out to the orchards. Sometimes I truly ache for the chance to see the rolling hills and rows and rows of trees. I have made this trip nearly every year since I was 7 when my family first moved to this area. I've missed a few years when I was on my mission or on bed rest with a baby on the way - those were years I truly missed it and couldn't wait for the chance to come around the next year.

In the Boise area, we are blessed to have many orchards within a short drive. In an hour or less,we can leave the busy-ness of the city and be out in the country. 

These pictures are of my trip out to the Williamson Orchards near Marsing, Idaho. Here you can see rows of apple trees.

What a view!

Many of the orchards have little fruit stands set up for you to be able to purchase tree ripe fruit for far less than we can in Boise.

My kids have learned to look forward to these trips each year as well. My older kids were bummed that we went on a week day this year when they had to be in school.

What a great variety of squash! We didn't come for the squash this time though. We were on a mission to fill our van with peaches.

Tim and Emma enjoyed apples right away - there was no convincing them to wait!

There were stacks and stacks of crates ready for shipping to grocery stores and canneries.

My kids loved the tractor with the huge tires.

Here we are loaded down with 26 boxes of peaches - that is 13 bushels! We got them for 1/2 the price of what they were going for in town. We saved a great deal of money and enjoyed a day in the country - perfect in my book!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dehydrating Peaches or Pears

I'm behind in getting these pictures posted. Hopefully, you can still find some pears. The best peaches are done for the year in our area, but you may be able to still find some nectarines and you can dry them the same way.

Wash the fruit. Slice and remove the core. Slice into thin pieces, trying to keep them as uniform in thickness as possible.

Spread out on your dehydrator tray.

Here is a close-up that allows you to see about how thick to cut them.

Dry for 4-6 hours until leathery to the touch.

Slice peaches in a similar fashion. My favorite peach variety to dehydrate is the O'Henry. They are so sweet!

Here they are all dried.

Remove the dry slices from the tray and store in a ziplock bag for a year or more. It is hard to keep dried fruit that long at our house. The kids love it! It is a quick and convenient way to send fruit in their lunches. It also works great in the diaper bag for younger kids. When my sweet tooth acts up and I go to the pantry searching for a treat, I often grab some dried fruit. It gives me the sweetness I am craving, but none of the empty carbs.