Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dehydrated Pineapple

My dehydrator has really been getting a workout lately! I used to only use it to make jerky every once in a blue moon, but in the past six months or so I have been dehydrating lots more fruit and vegetables. I found pineapple on sale last week and bought a couple of them. After peeling them, I sliced them pretty thin and put them in the dehydrator. I love how these turned out, they are so pretty. I will eat them as snacks and some will probably be chopped to add to granola. 

One thing I have been doing is looking for marked down vegetables at the grocery store. The store I shop at most will mark them as a "manager's special" the day or day before the sale by date. When I am lucky enough to find mushrooms and other things like that I will purchase them and dehydrate them to be added to soups later.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

So what am I doing with the gnocchi that is now in my freezer? The night after I made all of the chive gnocchi that is pictured in the post below, we had a big pot of Chicken and Gnocchi Soup. I made the chicken the same day that I made the gnocchi so assembling the soup and getting it on the table was pretty quick.

To make the chicken:
 I started with a whole chicken, put it in my crock put with 2 onions that had been quartered. 4 ribs of celery trimmed and cut into thirds, 2 teaspoons of salt and about the same of pepper, a teaspoon of thyme and enough water that fill the crock pot about 3/4 of the way. I let it cook on low all day. After I got home from work, I pulled the chicken out and separated the meat from the bones. I strained the broth, discarding the veggies because they were pretty much mush. The broth went into the fridge overnight.

To make the soup: 
I pulled the broth out of the fridge and discarded the fat that had congealed on top. The broth went into the soup pot along with about two cups of the chicken, 1 pint of cooked carrots, half a bag of frozen peas and let that simmer for a bit. I had about 1/4 a cup of some onions that had been chopped and sauteed so I added that too. If you wanted you could also add some sliced celery. I will add celery when I am making stock or cooking a chicken or something, but I do not like to eat it in anything. After all of my vegetables were warmed through, I turned up the heat until I had a good boil going. I dropped the frozen gnocchi directly into the boiling soup and let it cook for about five to seven more minutes.


I often get remarks about how much time it takes to actually cook from scratch. In the case of this meal it only too me minutes to prepare the chicken to cook in the crock pot. My return for separating the chicken: I had enough chicken to make dinner from me and Kip, we both had this soup for lunch the next day, and one extra serving for my lunch. I also had enough chicken to freeze for one more meal, plus enough to make a batch of chicken salad for lunches.

It did take me a while to make the gnocchi, but the recipe made enough for Kip and I to have three meals featuring gnocchi.

The carrots in the soup had been canned in the fall and I knew I would need extra onions when I cooked dinner earlier in the week so I made a little extra so that I only had to cut onions and cook chopped onions once.

Do I spend more time in the kitchen than I used to? Yes I do. I try and make the most of my time though so that when I am pressed for time I do have a time crunch we still have healthy options. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In My Freezer

I have really been trying to kick the fast food/drive-thru habit. I do plan all of my meals ahead of time and do a pretty good job sticking to the meal plan. Planning my meals helps me save time and money. I don't wander the store aimlessly grabbing things here and there and since I know what is for dinner, before I go to bed or leave for work I can pull whatever out of the freezer to defrost if needed. There are times though when my schedule gets a little crazy or I simply don't feel like cooking dinner. 

I have mentioned on here several times about my back problems and winter months are particularly hard on me. Some days I simply cannot stand on my feet long enough to get dinner cooked and a nice real food meal was almost always out of the questions on painful days. 

What had been happening too often was me calling Kip and asking him to pick up dinner on the way home from work. He can cook and will if I ask him. The biggest problem with that scenario is that he gets home kind of late and if we had to wait to eat until he gets home to cook then dinner would be around 9:00 p.m. Plus since I have planned the meals and bought groceries to go along with what I planned, what I plan isn't always something he knows how to cook.

Kip has joked ever since we were first married that I don't buy food. I buy ingredients. I think that's cute, but very true and even more so since we started to eat more whole foods.

I have been canning soups, chili and spaghetti sauce so that I have quick, healthier options. I like as much as possible to be in jars, because I only have the freezer on my refrigerator so I am limited by space and if the power goes out then there goes all my hard work. Since not all foods can be safely canned at home, I do want some quick meals or partial meals in the freezer too. 

Tonight I made a Chive Gnocchi. I made enough for dinner tomorrow night and the rest are going into the freezer in meal size portions.

These are ready to pop into the freezer. I will freeze them on this pan until they are firm enough to put into freezer bags. 

The recipe is from the My Spice Sage blog and the link can be found above. I have been ordering from them for several months now and have been very happy with the service, quality and selection that they have. In fact, I got a package from them today!

So now instead of relying on fast food so often, I have enough food options in jars or in the freezer that I can get a quick healthy dinner on the table in a matter of minutes. If it is a really bad day and I need Kip to cook, there are options that he can do quickly too so that if we can still have dinner before it gets too late.