Category Archives: Recipe Challenge

Another Thrive Cookbook Recipe Trial (& error!)

Well, it’s20121210_175737 been quite awhile since I posted an actual Thrive cookbook recipe challenge, so I thought it was time to get back into the test kitchen (which is actually my home kitchen, just with pictures & commentary).

For our upcoming HCS Co-op meeting (& my dinner), I decided to try out the Macaroni & Cheese recipe.  When I began this recipe, I fully expected that the final product would be somewhat close to boxed macaroni & cheese (we all know the brand I had in mind).

20121210_175855It started simple enough, I mean, this was not a hard recipe.  The only difference between boxed Mac & Cheese and this recipe was that I had to measure out my ingredients.  It called for 3 cups of Thrive Macaroni Noodles, 1 1/2 cups of prepared Thrive Instant Milk (which was super easy since I already had some made), 1/8 cup Thrive Butter Powder & 3/4 cup of Thrive Cheese Blend.

Starting out like any other Mac & Cheese, I boiled the noodles.  Easy enough.  As I was reading the recipe, I saw that it called for a cup and a half of milk.  My first thought was, that’s alot of milk.  Then I thought, they must know what they are doing, so in went the milk (from past experience20121210_182409 I should have known better, alas, I have no excuse).

After adding the cheese blend & butter powder to the noodles & milk, I had, well….Mac & Cheese Soup.  “Yuck” immediately sprang to mind.  Not willing to give up (I was hungry), I decided that adding more cheese blend powder might help.  It began to thicken after adding about another 1/2 cup of cheese blend powder but it was not enough to combat the soupy mixture.  A taste test quickly told me that adding even more cheese blend would be a mistake.

In order to salvage the meal (and actually eat dinner before 10 p.m.), I decided to add in some Thrive Cheddar Cheese and bake it at 425 for about 20 minutes.  20121210_184947It actually turned out pretty good but still way too buttery for my taste.
After overnight in the fridge, it turned out just like baked Mac & Cheese.  I received many compliments on it at the HCS Co-op meeting the next day, so I guess my recipe triage worked… either that or they were just being nice 🙂

The moral of this story is two fold: Don’t wait until an emergency to learn to cook with your food storage; you might not have the luxury to “fix” a recipe or start over.  And second, use common sense when following a recipe; if it sounds wrong, proceed with caution.  It’s always easy to add more, but you can’t undo what’s already been done.

Here is what I would have done differently:
Start with only 1/3 cup of milk and add more as needed
Use only 2 teaspoons of butter powder (then taste, add more if needed)
Use 1/2 cup more cheese blend powder (taste test first to see if it is needed)

I still love my Thrive Cookbook and it was worth the purchase price, even if it becomes just a loose guideline as I continue to experiment with my food storage.

I’ll try again soon using the above modifications and hopefully, I’ll end up with something closer to that famous boxed Mac & Cheese that I love!

Until next time,
Happy Prepping!
KD

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Recipe Challenge #7: Sour Cream & Cheese Potatoes

I decided to grill Filet Mignon for dinner tonight, so I wanted to make a recipe that would go well as a side.  The THRIVE Sour Cream & Cheese Potatoes looked like the perfect solution.

As I was making this recipe, there were a couple of things that stood out:  First, I’m SO glad that I bought 3 sets of mixing bowls.  There is no way that I could easily make most of these recipes without them.  I’m sure that is typical with most recipes, I just never cooked much before now.  

Second, the recommended soaking (i.e., rehydration) times are WAY off.  The cookbook recommended soaking the THRIVE Potato Chunks in very hot (or pour in boiling) water for 15 minutes.  Based on previous experience with rehydrating some of the THRIVE foods, I decided to add 10 more minutes to the time.  I should have added about 30 minutes. I have no doubt that the food would be perfect with the appropriate soaking time though. 

Ok, back to recipe…this one was relatively simple, just took alot of bowls & utensils.  Basically, all I had to do was soak the THRIVE Cheddar Cheese, THRIVE Potato Chunks, & THRIVE Chopped Onions in hot water until rehydrated.  Then I whipped up some THRIVE Sour Cream, which was pretty good.  I love sour cream, so I’m going to make some more and try it once it’s cooled in the fridge. 

The recipe called for cream of chicken soup but I was out, so I used some cream of onion soup instead.  I didn’t want to have an overwhelming onion taste, so I cut the THRIVE Chopped Onions from 1 cup to 3/4 of a cup. 

The next step was to mix the onions, sour cream, soup, 2 tbs butter & 1 1/2 c of the cheese in a sauce pan & warm it on med-high.  The cheese was sort of clumped together and there was no way I was going to be able to “top with remaining cheese”, so I used the full 2 cups of the cheese in the sauce pan and then sprinkled some of my “regular” shredded cheese on top.  I know that was sort of cheating but the point of trying these recipes is to see how they work in real life, not just in an emergency situation.  It also saved me from using all of my $6.00 Whole Foods bag of shredded cheese, so I saved money by just using a small handful on top of the dish.

From there, I combined the potatoes with the mix from the sauce pan and then spread it out in a 9×9 cake pan, sprinkled with a little shredded cheese and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. 

It was really very good but more like a slightly firm potato cheese casserole than cheesy mashed potatoes, which is what I was expecting.  I think if I had let the potatoes soak a while longer, it would have turned out closer to my expectations.  I’m taking it to work tomorrow so it will “marinate” overnight in the fridge, which might soften the potatoes a bit more. 

Overall, it went very well with my steak and tomato and I plan on making the potatoes for our upcoming family dinner this weekend… I’ll just be sure to start the potato soaking early.  🙂

On another note, I’m making some crockpot chili to take for lunch tomorrow and used the THRIVE Red Kidney Beans in it.  I also decided to try the THRIVE Fudge Brownies again, but this time adding an egg for a “more cake like” brownie.  I’ll let you know how they turn out.

As always, stay safe & may you & yours be Blessed,
KD

Recipe Challenge #5 & 6: Two VERY Different Recipes, One Very Entertaining Evening!

I started out the evening with the intention of only tackling one THRIVE recipe tonight, but I ended up making two recipes that are definitely polar opposites:  Beef Enchillada Bake and 6-Grain Pancakes with Blackberry Compote.  I know what you’re thinking and no, we didn’t eat them together.

Deciding on the Beef Enchillada Bake was an easy choice since the recipe looked really yum, I was in the mood for cheesy & beefy, and I had all the ingredients I needed to complete the dish. 

The recipe called for THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef, THRIVE Corn, THRIVE Shredded Cheddar Cheese, salsa, condensed tomato soup and soft corn tortillas.  I’m not big on corn mixed with other food, so I left that out and replaced it with 1/2 cup of THRIVE Chopped Onions.

I was also about 1/4c short of the THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef, so I added THRIVE Beef TPV to make up the difference.  After soaking the onion for 5 minutes and the beef & cheese in water for 15 minutes, it was time to put everything in a skillet.

 
It took about 7 minutes to heat everything up in the skillet and then I transferred it to the stoneware for baking at 350 degrees.  I think my oven must not bake as hot as the test kitchen at THRIVE, because I’ve had to add approximately 10 extra minutes to every recipe so far.  So, 25 minutes later and Voila!, dinner (well, the first one) was served.

Brandon got home just in time and was “STARVING”, so I added a little sour cream, quickly took the last pic for this post (with his thumbs up) and took my first bite.

I thought it was delicious, Brandon thought it was too sweet.  While cooking in the skillet, the onions carmelized, making them sweet tasting.  I thought it was just right, especially with the side of sour cream.  Brandon suggested I use corn or rice instead of the onions, so I headed back to the kitchen to try another “batch”.  I thought any leftovers would be a good comparison for work tomorrow.

This is where the 6-Grain Pancakes with Blackberry Compote came onto the scene.  Instead of a second go-around of the Beef Enchillada Bake, Brandon decided he would prefer pancakes.  I had unpacked my recent THRIVE delivery and had 2 pantry cans of THRIVE 6-Grain Pancake Mix sitting on the counter.  There was a recipe for blueberry (all I had on hand were the THRIVE Blackberries) pancakes in the THRIVE Cookbook, so I decided to accept TWO challenges in one night… I don’t know what I was thinking.

I’m sure those that are gifted in the culinary arts could have whipped up the pancakes in no time and they would have been perfectly fluffy & round.  I am not one of those people.  This did not happen to me.  

The initial “whipping up” part wasn’t so bad.  I mixed up the THRIVE Non Fat Milk (which actually tasted like milk – no powder taste at all!), whipped the THRIVE Eggs into perfect consistency and gently whisked the blackberries into the final mix.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly, and then I tried to cook them.  That’s when things went wrong.  Of course, having a sense of humor about it made it fun, not stressful.  Brandon was there the whole time, encouraging me (“they look floppy”), helping me (laughing with me at my sad pancakes), and offering advise on the recipes (“don’t use sugar in the compote, it’s going to be too sweet” – I used the sugar. He was right). 

After three failed attempts, we agreed that the batter needed more THRIVE 6-Grain Pancake Mix.  I added in a little at a time, about 1/2c, until it reached a thicker consistency.

This helped alot – sort of.  We ended up with “Well Done” pancakes, the very last one turning out just right.  
Brandon was right about the compote, it was really sweet.  I put it in a jar and into the fridge.  I’m sure I’ll find something to put with it, maybe with some peanut butter on toast. 

I was already full from the Beef Enchillada Bake, so I only tasted a bite of the pancakes.  I thought they were really good and so did Brandon.  He decided that next time we would try using raspberries or blueberries.  There’s a recipe for THRIVE Oat Pancakes too – might have to try that.

Even with the mess-ups and huge mess the pancakes made, I wouldn’t trade the laughs, the time spent and the wonderful experience with my son tonight. 🙂  I am truly Blessed.

Goodnight, stay warm & safe.  Until next time,
KD

Shifting Gears a little….

I’ve been evaluating where I want to take this blog and what I really want to accomplish with it.  Most of my recent posts have been in reviewing products, and while I do think that reviews can be helpful for people that are trying to make a decision on whether to purchase an item or not, I feel I need to be doing more.  My desire is to truly help people become self-sufficient, save money & be prepared for any event.

I will still continue with my review of products, but I will also begin posting more “how to’s and preparedness” type posts and videos on our new YouTube Channel.  Speaking of reviews, I called Shelf Reliance (SR) customer service last week, to check on my order for the remaining items to continue my “Recipe Challenge Project”.  SR is moving to a new facility, so shipping has been affected during the move and I wanted to be sure that my order from Oct 4th had not been “lost” in transition.  I was assured that it would be shipped out this week, so I hope to be back on track with the project before the end of the week.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting a project on preparing to “bug out”, complete with pics and video.  Also, if you get a chance, checkout http://survivalcache.com/urban-survival/ – Excellent article!

Be back tomorrow! Stay safe & ready,
KD

Recipe Challenge #3 Redux: Cornbread Take 2 & a Taste Test: TPV Beef

I received an email today to let me know that Shelf Reliance is 12-14 days behind on shipments this month.  They have had a surge in orders but are working hard to keep up with all of them.  As a result, I’m still waiting on several of the THRIVE products I need to make most of the recipes in the cookbook.

I decided to give the cornbread recipe another go, just using less sugar.  I did everything exactly as before, but used half the butter and only 1/3 c of sugar.  After everything was mixed together, the consistency looked a little thin, so I added another 1/3 c of cornmeal.  This did the trick and it looked like it should.

I poured the mixture into my trusty stoneware and put it in the oven at 325 degrees.  I set the timer for 30 minutes and let it go.  After 30 minutes, the top still wasn’t browned as much as I would like, so I turned the broiler on (at 500) for just 2 minutes.  The result was PERFECT. 

I let the cornbread cool for about 10 minutes and cut a piece to test.  For me, it was just right.  I think that my family would like it a little sweeter, so if this sounds like you or your family, go up to 1/2 c sugar.

My second attempt at this recipe turned out perfect in texture and taste.  It would be a wonderful addition to a chili or pot roast.

TASTE TEST: THRIVE TPV Beef

I thought I would give the THRIVE TPV Beef a quick taste test, sans additional ingredients.  I took a little nibble of it dried and it looked and tasted like large bacon bits.  The side of the can said to “soak in hot water for 10 minutes” but doesn’t give the ratio of hot water to THRIVE TPV Beef.  So, I guessed at it and got it almost right.  I used 1c water to 1c THRIVE TVP Beef but probably should have used 3/4c water instead.

I let it sit for just over 10 minutes (the dryer was calling & the timer went off while I was downstairs – so more like 15 minutes).  It looked like chopped beef – the taste & texture was not.  I can’t really fault the product since TPV is soy based and not real beef.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t beef.  I’m not sure how it will do in a recipe but I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I’m going to change all of my upcoming Q Club orders from TPV to THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef instead.  I am building my “Home Store” via the Q Club and intend on using the THRIVE products in place of store bought products (you’d be surprised at how much money you can save, as well as time, by doing this!).  Even though the THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef is more expensive than the THRIVE TVP Beef, I only buy organic, grassfed ground beef, so I’ll be saving a ton of money by using the THRIVE products instead.

Hopefully, the rest of my product will be delivered and I’ll be able to move onto more complex recipes within the next week.  I’m really looking forward to trying the Mac & Cheese & Quesadilla recipes. 🙂

Have a Blessed and restful night!
KD

Recipe Challenge #4: Scrambled Eggs

Tonight’s “challenge” wasn’t really a recipe but more of a taste test.  I wanted to see how the THRIVE Eggs would turn out if I scrambled them. 

Following the instructions on the side of the can, I whisked 2 tbs whole egg powder & 4 tbs water together (double recipe).  It looked fairly watery but was confident that it would turn out fine. 

I heated a small skillet and sprayed a little bit of PAM butter into the pan, then poured the mix into it.  It began to bubble and take on a pancake like consistency.  I have to admit, I was becoming less confident about the end result.

As the mixture began to thicken and brown, it started to look like fresh scrambled eggs (Thankfully! – I was REALLY not looking forward to trying them in their current state).  The THRIVE eggs take a little longer to cook than fresh eggs and it’s important to keep turning them so they brown properly.  After they looked just about right, I cut up a green tomato and topped it with some hot salsa and sprinkled everything with a little sea salt & fresh ground peppercorn.

While the eggs had a very slight powdered taste to them, they were still pretty good.  I want to try again with just a little less water and maybe add some THRIVE Cheese & THRIVE Bacon to it for texture & taste.

Even though I’ll be sticking with fresh eggs for breakfast for as long as I can get them, I have no doubt that in a recipe that calls for eggs, the THRIVE Whole Powdered Eggs would be just as good as fresh ones. 

Sleep well!
KD

Recipe Challenge #3: Homemade Cornbread

Update on THE CHICKEN SALAD: While it was really tasty (especially if I had some pickle relish for it) the night before, it was incredible the next day and needed nothing at all.  I took the leftovers to work for lunch and 3 others tried it.  They couldn’t believe it was made with THRIVE freeze dried ingredients.  In fact, I am bringing a double recipe to work tomorrow for everyone for lunch…. It’s THAT good. 🙂  So, if you make the Chicken Salad Sandwich recipe, make it the night before and people will RAVE about it!

My first observation while making tonight’s recipe was that I need a bigger kitchen.  AND more mixing bowls. AND a set of actual measuring spoons.  But aside from that, it was a breeze.  If you can follow directions (having the right kind of mixing bowls & measuring spoons will make it easier), then you can make this recipe.  I tend to burn bread, so I was a little apprehensive about attempting this one.  But since the other ingredients I ordered haven’t been delivered yet, it was one of the few options available. 


Side Note: I know I make it sound like I am missing a huge amount of THRIVE products, but in reality, it’s only a few staple items that are called for in a good deal of the recipes in the THRIVE Cookbook.  Once those arrive (I received the shipping notice today), I’ll be all set for the whole book! 🙂

Back to the recipe:  The only two things I substituted tonight were the salt & the sugar.  The recipe called for a cup of THRIVE sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of THRIVE salt.  I figured sugar is sugar & table salt is table salt, so I opted not to open my cans of these two items and used my regular Publix brand of both.

Although this recipe had more ingredients than my first two recipes, it really wasn’t difficult.  It called for some buttermilk, which I didn’t have, so I followed the simple recipe in the cookbook for homemade buttermilk: 3 tbs THRIVE powdered milk, 1 c water, 1 tbs lemon juice and it was perfect. Be sure to mix it THOROUGHLY if you make your own.

After making my own buttermilk (which I thought was really very cool considering my lack of aptitude for cooking), I continued with the recipe as described.  After mixing everything together, I popped it in the oven for 30 minutes (max recommended time).  When the timer went off, I felt it wasn’t quite as done as I would like, so I added 5 more minutes to the cook time. 

I pulled it out of the oven after a total of 35 minutes.  I thought it needed more browning on the top but I was afraid to bake it any longer than 35 minutes, so I went ahead and let the cornbread cool for about 20 minutes.  I cut a small piece to try and it was just moist enough that, with it still being warm, it almost melted in my mouth.  I thought it a bit sweet but then I’m one of those people that likes coffee black – no sugar, no cream – and unsweetened tea (a huge faux pas as a born Southerner).  Basically, most things with any noticeable amount of sugar taste a little too sweet to me. 

My son came home shortly after and I asked him to check it out for me.   He agreed that it was too sweet for cornbread – almost dessert like.  That may be why the top didn’t brown as much as I thought it should.  I’m going to try again using less sugar.  Although the recipe calls for 1c sugar, I think that 1/2 c or even 1/3 c would be enough.  That should make the end result a little lighter and not near as sweet.

Bottom Line: If you like your cornbread sweet and moist, this recipe as is would be perfect for you.  If you like it a little fluffier & more bread-like, try cutting the sugar.  I’ll attempt this one again and post a revised review soon.

Goodnight and have a great weekend!
KD

Recipe Challenge #2: Chicken Salad (Sandwich)

FIRST: FOLLOW UP ON THE BROWNIES!  I was afraid that I would wake up to dry, hard brownies that crumbled when I took them out of the pan to take to work.  I am happy to report that this was not the case!  They were still perfectly chewy & moist.  Everyone that tried one commented on how great they tasted!

Ok, onto tonight’s challenge:

I know I’m starting my THRIVE Recipe Challenge off with ridiculously easy recipes but there is a reason (besides the fact that I like easy recipes): I took inventory and realized that I didn’t have all of the THRIVE products that I needed to complete many of the recipes without using outside resources.  So, I ordered the remaining items I needed to complete every recipe in the cookbook last night.  In the meantime, I’ll have to stick with the really simple stuff.

Getting home a little later than usual tonight, an easy recipe was just what I was looking forward to “tackling”.  After making it, I honestly think my 8 year old nephew could have done just as well.  It was super easy and required very little effort.

Basically, the recipe called for 3 c water, 1 1/2 c chopped THRIVE chicken, 1/2 c diced THRIVE celery, and 1/3 c of THRIVE chopped onions.  I brought everything to a boil, reduced the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Draining the mixture was as simple as pouring it into a strainer & then placing the strainer on top of the empty pot for 10 more minutes. 

While all of this didn’t take very long at all, (just over 22 min), the recipe called for placing the mixture into the fridge “until cooled”.  My thought was, “Umm, No. I’m hungry now”. 

So, I sped up the process by placing it in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  This cooled the mixture enough to add in the 1/2 c Vegenaise.  We don’t use mayonnaise (which is what the recipe used), so anything that calls for mayo gets Grapeseed Vegenaise instead.  It is MUCH healthier for you and we like it better than the taste of mayo.

I did a quick taste test and determined that it needed something else.  So, I added a little himalayan pink salt & ground black pepper.  While this made it almost just right, I still felt that it needed either chopped pickles or sweet relish to round it out.  Since I didn’t have either of these items, I cut up some fresh tomatoes and added some tortilla chips to the dish.  If my diet wasn’t sans gluten, a butter croissant would have been perfect with it.

Bottom line: I was pleasantly surprised that freeze dried chicken could be this tasty but next time I make the recipe, I’ll have some pickles or relish on hand to try with it. 🙂

BTW, almost all Thrive products contain 100% NO GMO ingredients!

Recipe Challenge #1: Thrive Fudge Brownies

I left work fairly late tonight, so I wanted to make something quick & easy for my first recipe challenge.  In all fairness, this one really wasn’t a challenge – even for a culinary novice like me. 

I decided on the THRIVE Desserts: Fudge Brownies.  This was just about as easy as it could get.  Just the Thrive mix, water & my oven.  The instructions said to use 1/2 c of hot water & 3 c of the brownie mix.  This took almost all of my pantry can contents.  Brownie lovers would definitely need the #10 can and at just $14.39 per can (makes 60+ brownies), it’s very affordable.

The recipe said to mix the water & brownie mix for 1 minute but I used a small handheld electric mixer, so it only took about 20 seconds.  I turned the oven on and set it to 360 degrees, then let the mix “rest” for 10 minutes, per the recipe.

Ready to Bake

Although the recipe said to use a non-stick pan, I used one of my natural stone dishes and lightly sprayed it with a little Publix brand spray butter.  When the timers went off, almost at the same time, I popped the dish in the oven and set the timer for 22 minutes.

After 22 minutes, the center still looked a tad soft, so I reset the timer for another 3 minutes and then texted my son to ask him to come down for a taste test.

Baking for the full 25 minutes did the trick.  I let it cool for a couple of minutes and cut a piece.  It came right out of the dish with no sticking at all.  Brandon looked it over like it was a foreign object (yes, it looked like a brownie) and asked me “where did you get it?”  I told him it was a Thrive product as he took the first bite.  Nodding he said, “It tastes like the real thing” (yes, it is the real thing).  He commented that the texture was just right, chewy but still a really good consistency.  His rating: a big thumbs up.

Ready to Eat!

It was my turn to try it out – Now, what you have to understand is that I’m allergic to chocolate (and perfume…. it’s a good thing I’m not allergic to flowers or jewelry!).  My allergy to chocolate is not in that send me to the hospital kind of way, but it does create an unpleasant allergic reaction for several days after ingesting it.

I have to admit, I considered not trying the brownies.  But after Brandon’s review – and since I want to be able to give my personal opinion on the Thrive products & recipes – I decided to go ahead and have a very small piece.  It was just as Brandon described, perfectly chewy and delish.

This would make a perfect dessert to take to a party or whip up when you are in a pinch for time and ingredients.  I’m definitely going to keep a #10 can of this on hand for guests and party treats!

My first Thrive Recipe Challenge recipe was a great success and now I have a tasty treat for everyone at work tomorrow! 🙂  Coming up – Recipe Challenge #2: Chicken Salad Sandwich.