Thursday, November 16, 2017

A New Chef Tess Business and 2 NEW Chef Tess Meals in a Jar: Instant Chicken Stuffers and Toppers


Almost 10 years ago, I started sharing my recipes for meals in a jar using freeze-dried and dehydrated items that were "just add water" and super simple...  I started sharing the 52 method.  The method of basing long-term food storage on a 7 day menu and getting 52 of each jar.  It took off like crazy!  It was long before anyone else had even put the concept together.  Several years into it, I wrote The Gourmet Food Storage Handbook, and then a year after that The Meal in a Jar Handbook




At the time I pioneered this concept, I had no idea how popular it would become, or how many people would be blessed by the simplicity of the concept. I worked diligently to promote the idea on TV, Radio and at endless preparedness trade shows. I spoke with literally thousands of people about it. Thousands.  

 I didn't make much money for sharing my recipes and wisdom. It wasn't about the money for me. It felt more like a calling than a job and I was (and am) super passionate about helping people...

However, I did see the company that I worked for at the time making thousands of dollars from how my concept could make food storage so customizable and so simply accessible for daily use. I was on salary, and as the sole breadwinner for my family didn't complain about them making money. I considered it part of my job.


Fast forward now to 2017. I haven't worked for my previous employer for almost 4 years. They continue to make money from links off my website here based on direct referrals. It doesn't seem fair to my family. At. All. Now they no longer sell my books or spices on their website. They've moved away from me, it's fair to say that I'm no longer part of their family. So...I'm moving on. I still love them and am forever grateful for the opportunity that they gave me. Period. 

Just to clarify, I have a current employer that treats me like gold. Serious gold. They have built my confidence and lifted my spirits.   It's still salary and I am still the sole breadwinner for my family. Things are better, but it's still a pretty serious job. I'm still recovering from four years of less than ideal finances.  I thank God for my job now every single day. It is a huge blessing!  My current employer doesn't sell freeze-dried foods. This side venture will not be considered a conflict of interest. I'll only be mentioning those new freeze-dried products here every now and then as an effort to bless my family and hopefully your family. So that's what we're doing.  

I've become an independent sales consultant for a company in Utah called Thrive Life. That happened...yesterday. Literally. Mainly because my family does and did rely on the royalty money we did receive from said previous employer to pay some of the family expenses. That loss has been sorely felt.  The other reason, however, is that I've secretly been purchasing Thrive products for the last several years and have actually found their quality to be incredible. Their meat cans are always full. Their textures are perfect. They have more variety. They cater to more of the family's needs and a busy lifestyle than any other freeze-dried company out there, including meal kits similar to the famous "Blue Apron" meals. The simple plates, however, are totally shelf-stable! 











As for this new venture...Anyone is welcome to join my team and get the benefit of having me as your food storage mentor on this journey. I'm excited about that. Mostly, I'm excited to share some outstanding tips and ideas for shelf-stable food It also goes without saying, that I will still only suggest foods that I think have the highest possible quality. 

So...Now for today's Recipe Post.


Instant Chicken Salad was such a popular post for fast and easy sandwich filling that I thought I would take it a step further and introduce all of you to this great way to make instant BBQ chicken bun stuffer and instant oriental chicken wrap or salad greens topper. These are great convenience meals for family picnics, camping trips, travel and whenever you're on the go. They are perfect for scout camp and are really delicious.  


 If you are new to this 52-method Meals in a Jar  you'll probably need to read the posts on how to pack the jars with a food saver (if you don't want to use an oxygen absorber) as well as how to make the meals in mylar bags if you decide not to make them in the jars.  Those posts are here: 
For camping and backpacking, I generally will use the method of packing in the mylar bags. Keep in mind that mylar is shelf-stable for a very long time but is not rodent-proof and can puncture, so take precautions when packing them in your bags. This is one I packed for my son for scout camp. {Best. Bartering meal. Ever. }







Now. On to the recipes! 

This isn't just BBQ chicken. It is Kansas City BBQ Chicken. If you know anything about BBQ then you know that the Kansas City version of BBQ is usually tomato based on the addition of molasses or brown sugar. Using tomato powder give you the ability to control the thickness of the sauce without having to simmer it for hours.  If you like your bbq chicken saucy, then this recipe is for you! 


 I used just a few simple ingredients for this stuffer. Once you've used freeze-dried chicken, you'll wonder why you have waited so long to try it! I have been so impressed with the lean, clean, awesomeness of this stuff for a long time. Mainly because it doesn't have any added junk to it. No soy, or msg or extra flavor. It is just chicken. Ahhh. It is a great way to make a shelf-stable meal without added chemicals. 



One thing I am pretty particular about is the seasoning. If you haven't tried my Chef Tess Spices Chef Tess All purpose seasoning,  is one that I developed as a chef for restaurant and banquet use. It goes with everything and hands-down is one of the best seasoning blends on the planet. You won't be disappointed.  I say that and I realize that it is no longer available online, but that will change in the near future! I promise!  

Kansas City  BBQ  Chicken Stuffer 
1/2 cup Tomato Powder
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2T Freeze Dried Onion
2 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning 

1/2 tsp hickory smoke flavor powder or 2tsp smoked paprika
2 cups Freeze Dried White Chicken chunks

Directions: Combine all ingredients in pint-sized jar and top with an oxygen absorber. You may also use a mylar bag instead of the jar.  You can cut the recipe in half for smaller portions or double for larger families. Simple stuff. 


Safety Note: For the love of Pete, please use an oxygen absorber. They are the magic ingredient that makes these meals safe for long-term storage. Bacteria and junk can't grow without oxygen and moisture so this is a biggie! By the way, oxygen absorbers are a one time use. They are a must! After you have filled all your jars or mylar bags with the recipe ingredients, place a 300cc oxygen absorber in each jar (or bag). Seal within 20-60 minutes for the oxygen absorber to be viable. 


To prepare: Combine chicken stuffer mix with 2 cups boiling water.  Allow hydrate, about 10 minutes. Add more water to-taste of sauce thickness.






Fill your favorite buns with the mixture.I make hamburger buns using the No Knead 4 Ingredient Overnight Bread Anyone Can Make and they're  ready to go for a low-cost meal!

Lettuce wrap filling  or salad green topper:




This recipe is versatile for either a salad wrap, topper or even a tortilla wrap. You'll love the heat! If of course, you're not a spicy person, you can omit the pepper flakes all together. I serve my salad with a squeeze of hot chile sauce and some fresh shredded carrots on salad greens. It is a simple grab when I'm traveling or just want a light lunch. 


Oriental Spicy Chicken Salad 

2 cup  Freeze Dried Chicken chunks (3 oz) 
1/3 cup Soy Sauce Powder (1.5 oz)
2T  Lemonade Powder
1T dehydrated garlic slices (store purchased or make your own)
2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how hot you like your meals)
1/3 cup Dehydrated Onion
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice 
1T Ultra Gel 

Directions: Combine all ingredients in pint-sized jar and top with an oxygen absorber. You may also use a mylar bag instead of the jar.  You can cut the recipe in half for smaller portions or double for larger families. 


To prepare: Combine chicken stuffer mix with 2 cups boiling water.  Allow to hydrate, about 10 minutes. Add more water to-taste of sauce thickness. Serve on top of greens. Or wrap in lettuce leaves for salad wraps.

There you go! Enjoy some wonderful new summer meals in a jar! 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Instant Chicken Salad Meal in a Jar 3 Ways!


This one is a great recipe for taking on family picnics, camping trips or traveling.  I've found it to be a healthy sandwich and wrap filling as well as a delicious topper for salad greens!  52-method Meals in a Jar has been probably one of the most amazing and motivating ways to prepare for an emergency using family recipes that anyone can make. So of course, this will also be shelf-stable up to 10 years and still taste delicious! If you are new to this 52-method Meals in a Jar  you'll probably need to read the posts on how to pack the jars with a food saver (if you don't want to use an oxygen absorber) as well as how to make the meals in mylar bags if you decide not to make them in the jars.  Those posts are here: 
For this recipe, I use quart jars. All the ingredients can be found on my freeze-dried food website:
 Here...


Chef Tess Instant Chicken Salad
quart Jar ingredients:
2 cups Freeze Dried White Chicken Chunks
1/4 cup  Freeze Dried Onion
1/2 cup  Freeze Dried Celery
1/4 cup  Buttermilk or Cream Cheese Powder 
1/2 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose or Italian Seasoning
2 Tbsp Ultra Gel (gluten-free)

Jar directions: Layer ingredients in a clean, very dry mason jar. Top with a 300 cc Oxygen Absorber (this must be used with freeze-dried meat for it to be safe!) or use the  Food Saver Vacuum Packing Meals in a Jar Tutorial. Label jars clearly with preparation instructions.

To Prepare: Remove oxygen absorber and discard. Pour 1 3/4 cup boiling water into the jar with the chicken mixture. Cover and let sit to hydrate 10 minutes. Chill for a cold salad or immediately serve over salad greens or in between two slices of whole grain bread, rolled in a whole grain tortilla or eat with crackers. Yields 2 cup chicken salad.

Nutritional information: 1/2 cup chicken salad 167 calories, 3 g fat, 2 carbs, 25 grams protein.

Now you can make a few variations:


Chicken Pizza Salad Wraps
To the original Jar ingredients add:
Use 1 tsp Chef Tess Italian Seasoning
Add 2 Tbsp Tomato Powder
1/4 cup Dehydrated Shoestring Carrots

Increase water in preparation to 2 cups boiling water. Wrap warm salad, 1/2 cups with 1 cup lettuce and 2 tomato slices in an herb tortilla.



Buffalo Chicken Salad
To the original Jar ingredients add:
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Vinegar Powder
Prepare as directed.

Put 1/2 cup warm chicken salad on top of a bed of spinach and serve with a drizzle of buffalo sauce and 1-2 Tablespoons blue cheese crumbles if desired.



Cheesy Chicken Salad

To the original Jar ingredients add:
1 baggie with 1/2 cup Freeze Dried Cheddar Cheese
Twist the bag closed. Top jar with an oxygen absorber.

Hydrate chicken salad according to the original recipe.  While the chicken salad is hydrating, keep cheese aside. Allow chicken salad to hydrate completely. Stir in cheese. Allow sitting 5 minutes more.  Serve on a crunchy French bread with wedges of tomato if desired.


There you go my darlings! Have fun with chicken salad for all you camping, picnic and food storage adventures! Again, the sales of freeze-dried products from my website is a huge blessing to my family and will be to yours.  I give out the recipes here as a service. If you do share them, please give full credit to this site.  Thank you so much!  Onward an upward!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess




Monday, November 6, 2017

Salted Caramel Buttermilk Doughnut Holes on a Fork

These were a huge hit at the baby shower last weekend. Seriously. What's not to love about salted caramel on anything. Even liver would taste good with salted caramel.  These homemade buttermilk doughnut holes are a far cry from the liver. They're fluffy cake bites with a hint of spice that you roll in powder and then drizzle with salted caramel just before serving. I roll them in powdered sugar, wait a few minutes, and roll them in sugar again. This gives them a nice thick coating.  Don't add the salted caramel more than an hour before serving or it will melt into the doughnuts. I served them in mini souffle cups that you can purchase at most grocery stores in the cake and party favor section.


Salted Caramel Buttermilk Doughnut Holes

Doughnut Batter:

2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp. Chef Tess Wise Woman of the East Blend, or nutmeg; optional, for flavor
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup coconut oil, melted

Frying Oil:  about 5 cups

Powdered Sugar, about 3 cups
Salted Caramel Sauce, prepared, about 2 cups

Instructions:
      Pour the oil 1" deep into a 10" skillet that's about 2 1/2" deep or use an electric frying pan. You want the oil to be about 1" deep. Start to heat the oil to 350°F while you're preparing the doughnut batter.
Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
Pour the milk/egg into the bowl with the dry ingredients, stirring briefly; then add the oil, stirring to make a thick batter/soft dough.
When the oil has come up to temperature, use a cookie scoop (or a spoon) to drop balls of batter into the hot oil. This recipe will make 2" doughnut holes using a tablespoon cookie scoop, and drop in balls of dough about as big as an undersized ping pong ball; or 1 1/2" holes, using a teaspoon cookie scoop, and dropping in balls of dough about as big as a chestnut.
Fry the doughnut holes for 2 minutes on the first side, or until they're a deep brown. Some of them may turn themselves over; that's OK, just use a pair of tongs to turn them back. After 2 minutes, turn the holes over, and fry for an additional 2 minutes (for the larger doughnut holes), or 1 1/2 minutes (for the smaller ones).
Transfer the doughnut holes to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
Decorate:
·       Serve warm or at room temperature, roll in powdered sugar and place in mini souffle cups.Drizzle each doughnut hole with 1 Tbsp. salted caramel sauce and pierce with a mini serving fork. 


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Citrus Lavender Infused Soft Sugar Cookies with Orange Buttercream


These were one of the cookies at my latest catering event and I had to share the recipe with all of you gorgeous people on the blog.  For one thing, you can never have too many cookie recipes during the holidays. For another thing, do we need another reason to have sugar cookies?! Really?!  I just thought that these little guys just added a lot of character to the dessert table and they were so simple to make!


Citrus and Lavender is probably one of my all-time favorites when it comes to flavor profiles in baking, as long as the lavender isn't so strong that it takes over the finished pastry.  The secret to these cookies is using just one drop of essential oil in the baked cookies and then adding citrus notes. If you use more than a drop, the lavender is too powerful and it takes over the cookies. When I made these for my BFF Gena's Baby Shower, she tasted them and said, "OH these are fabulous! There's just a little something that makes them soooo good but I can't place the flavor. What is it?!" ...and that is how it should be with lavender. Subtle. Sophisticated. Sexy. Are you ready for the secret recipe?


Chef Tess' Citrus Lavender Sugar Cookies

1 ½ cup butter, softened
 ¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 1/2 tsp almond emulsion
1 Tbsp. lemon zest, micro grated
1 drop culinary grade lavender essential oil
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

Directions: Preheat oven to 375° F.  Wash and sanitize all work surfaces, utensils, and hands before handling raw flour and dough. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time.  Add emulsion, lemon, lavender, and milk. Stir well. Combine the flour mixture with the creamed butter mixture, just until combined. Scoop by rounded Tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet or sheet lined with parchment paper. Wash and sanitize all work surfaces, utensils and hands after handling raw flour and dough.  Bake until lightly golden, about 10-13 minutes. Allow cooling on the baking sheet about 10 minutes before transferring to another location. Store in an airtight container. Yield approx. 5 dozen cookies.  

Orange Buttercream Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. orange emulsion or 5 drops culinary grade orange essential oil
3-4 Tbsp. hot water

Directions: In a large bowl, beat remaining Frosting ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until creamy. Pipe frosting onto cookies. Top with a sprinkle of a few edible gold pearls on each cookie. 

 After they were finished decorating, I added a little flourish of edible gold spray. 
There you go! Make some amazing sugar cookies!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Soft Sugar Cookies with Amaretto Buttercream and Apricots

This is post number 3 from the catering that I did for my sweet best friend Gena's baby shower. Gena loves soft sugar cookies with real buttercream and I had to bring these little guys along. The frosting was topped with freeze-dried chunks of apricot and then I sprinkle a few edible gold pearls on each one along with a few sliced almonds. The freeze-dried apricots gave them a fabulous tart-sweet contrast. After they were finished decorating, I added a little flourish of edible gold spray. They turned out stunning and delicious! These would be perfect for a wedding, bridal shower, or any holiday catering event this winter. 


Chef Tess'Almond Soft Sugar Cookies

1 ½ cup butter, softened
 ¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 1/2 tsp almond emulsion
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

Directions: Preheat oven to 375° F.  Wash and sanitize all work surfaces, utensils, and hands before handling raw flour and dough. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla and milk. Stir well. Combine the flour mixture with the creamed butter mixture, just until combined. Scoop by rounded Tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet or sheet lined with parchment paper. Wash and sanitize all work surfaces, utensils and hands after handling raw flour and dough.  Bake until lightly golden, about 10-13 minutes. Allow cooling on the baking sheet about 10 minutes before transferring to another location. Store in an airtight container. Yield approx. 5 dozen cookies.  

Amaretto Buttercream Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar

½ cup butter, softened
1 tsp. almond extract
3-4 Tbsp. hot water

Directions: In a large bowl, beat remaining Frosting ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until creamy. Pipe frosting onto cookies. Top with freeze-dried chunks of apricot and then I sprinkle a few edible gold pearls on each one along with a few sliced almonds. After they were finished decorating, I added a little flourish of edible gold spray. 


There you go!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


My Favorite Best Ever Homemade Cupcakes with Homemade Buttercream and White Chocolate Shards



Post number two on the baby shower food that I catered for my BFF Gena's new arrival. Cupcakes.  They can be a source of great joy at a party but sometimes they can also stress you out. If you have a great recipe, however, that doesn't have to be the case.  Recently I found a really great recipe for scratch yellow cupcakes from Here and I altered it just a bit for these baby shower cupcakes, but they turned out amazing! You can either frost them with fresh whip cream or the buttercream recipe below. Either way, they're killer perfect. 


 My Favorite Best Ever Yellow Cupcakes                                                                                                                                                                
2 ½ cup Texas Pure Milling All Purpose Flour
3 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter 
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp. Orange Zest (optional)
1 cup milk

Citrus Infused Buttercream Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tsp lemon emulsion
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. orange emulsion
3-4 Tbsp. hot water

8-12 oz White Chocolate, sharded for garnish

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a small bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; add vanilla and flavorings. Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing on low speed.
Divide batter evenly into prepared cups.
 
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (at least 170°F). Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from baking pan to cooling rack. Cool completely.  

Frosting: In a large bowl, beat remaining Frosting ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until creamy. 

Decorating: Once cupcakes have cooled completely, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes in a decorative swirl. Arrange shards of white chocolate on the frosting.