Recipes

Fresh Peppers Recipe Collection: Recipes, Usage Ideas, Preserving and More

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by Cassie

fresh-peppers-recipe-collection

What to do with fresh peppers?  We love peppers of all kinds, sweet bell peppers, hot peppers, chile peppers…. love them all!  We have grown several varieties and they are all so good!

So this is the next topic in our Ideas for using fresh garden veggies series. We hope that these ideas are generating a lot of inspiration and motivation to really use up all of your produce, and use it well and in yummy ways.  We talk about produce A LOT because it is the #1 food in our house!

Well, let’s get on with some ideas!

Fresh Garden Peppers Idea #1 – Use in Soups/Chilis

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So for the first idea, we wanted to share this great recipe for Pueblo Green Chili HERE. Check out the recipe.

We also find that peppers are a great addition to the cowboy chili recipe that we share.  Roasting this in the pan with the meat makes for great flavor!

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You can find the recipe for Cowboy Chili HERE (uses leftover meats and veggies!)

Fresh Garden Peppers Idea #2 –  Grilled Peppers

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We have done this a few times and they are go good! We love spicy things.  We will eat nearly anything if it is spicy. :)

However, a couple of months ago, we picked up a big bag of a variety of peppers for $1 and grilled them up with our kabobs and boy were they hot! I really couldn’t eat them and Alex did, but didn’t handle it well.  However, those were the hottest we had tried and they were an unmarked bag from a Farmer’s Market. It was a fun experiment, but super hot! The peppers on the grill in the above picture are from this exact experience. We share this on our Instagram profile.

But, most all peppers that are Jalapeño or lighter, will taste great. Grilling may increase the heat some, but not too bad.

We actually shared a picture of our kabob and pepper grill on Instagram a couple of months ago too!

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How to Grill Peppers on a BBQ Grill

  1. Wash the peppers and keep them whole for the small and spicy ones, cut in half for the sweet bell peppers.
  2. Prepare your grill to the high temperature.
  3. Brush your eggplant with an olive oil, salt and pepper blend.
  4. Place oiled side down on the top rack of the grill and cook for about 5 mins.
  5. Similar to the zucchini – we find it is best to cook these with the grill open on the highest heat and on the top rack.
  6. Flip the peppers over, and brush the other side with the olive oil/salt/pepper blend and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately and warm.

This is best served right away, reheated or leftover grilled peppers are not that great.

Of course, for another grilling use, don’t forget that sweet bell pepper chunks are a fabulous addition to shish kabobs.

Fresh Garden Pepper Idea #3 – Stuffed Peppers

We wanted to share a couple of ideas for stuffed peppers.  There are many recipes found online.

The classic is the stuffed with beef and rice.  I will be honest, I personally LOVE stuffed pepppers, and before we had kids, I made them a lot!

However, our kids will not eat them! They end up eating the insides and leaving the shell of the best part – the roasted pepper.  So it really ends up being a waste, but they are good if you like them!

The recipe we follow is the one here on the Allrecipes site, except that we also add ground beef.

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Photo Credit

Another idea for stuffed peppers, is stuffing the sweet or small peppers with cream cheese! You can eat them fresh, or you can “roast” the spicy ones with cream cheese in the oven! Both the sweet and fresh or spicy and roasted cream cheese stuffed peppers are really good!

Fresh Garden Pepper Idea #4 – Add it to Stir-Fry or Fajitas

If you want me to be honest, these are the two biggest uses in our house! Besides eating sweet peppers fresh, all peppers go well in stir-fry.   We make stir-fry at least once a week as a way to clean out the fridge. :)

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Recipe for It’s A Guy Stir-Fry here

Also, for a Mexican themed meal – a bit of chicken or beef, some sliced peppers and our homemade taco seasoning are a perfect fajita dinner night! This is literally a few minute meal and often a “go-to” for us on our busy nights!

Fresh Garden Peppers Idea #5 – Use in Hot Breakfast Dishes

We have a few hot breakfasts that couple well with peppers! It’s a great way to use up peppers!

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Breakfast Casserole with Peppers recipe HERE

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Ham breakfast cups recipe HERE - NOTE that this is just one of the process photos – there are some yummy and fun things on this recipe! 

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Savory Breakfast Rice recipe HERE

Fresh Garden Peppers Idea #6-  Freeze Pepper for Laters

Now the next thing we wanted to share, was how to freeze peppers.

Finally, we do freeze many of our peppers. They are great for the hot breakfasts especially! 

We have shared how to freeze peppers (and onions) in a separate post!

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How to Freeze Peppers and Onions HERE

What do you plan to do with your peppers?

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Keep watching for more ideas on using your garden veggies as we have many more veggies recipes and ideas to share this summer with you as you make the most of your garden and farmer’s market finds! 

For actual garden ideas, we wanted to remind you that we have been sharing so many gardening ideas on our Garden Gallery of Ideas HEREPinterest HERE and Facebook HERE that we hope you are seeing some incredible results with your homegrown food supply.  And, as always, we will continue to share gardening tips and ideas on all our site.

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Alex & Cassie
 

How To Get A Great Deal On Fresh Bulk Chicken Nationwide (No Added Hormones or Additives!)

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by Cassie

how-to-get-a-great-deal-on-bulk-chicken

YAY! This Nationwide Chicken Deal is available again.  We get to tell you about this a couple of times per year and the last time was back in December of last year, so it is certainly over-due and we are glad that they are selling this again.

This is the main way that we have bought chicken for 3-years now.  It saves loads of money and is a bit better option that just any ol’ chicken from the grocery store.

So let us tell you about what we do for bulk chicken supply a couple of times per year.  This is a smart frugal option vs. buying chicken in the grocery store. 

A popular company called Zaycon Foods offers different meat offerings a couple of times a year.  Once they sell out, it is gone until the next sale in about 6 or so months.  They have a different offering all of the time, but we have only purchased chicken and ground beef.

The prices for boneless, skinless chicken breast is $1.89 a lb., which is really, really good price compared to the grocery store.

But EVEN BETTER is the quality of the chicken compared to many grocery store options. This chicken has no added hormones, additive or artificial ingredients.   It is NOT organic.  We just wanted to make that clear. However, here’s how we see it: this is a good alternative to organic when you can pay $1.89 for good boneless, skinless chicken breast vs. the $5-$7 per lb. price for certified organic chicken.  Would we LOVE to get certified organic – YES, but it simply does not fit in our budget.  There have been a few rare opportunities where we have gotten certified organic chicken for a great price, but certainly not enough for our family size for a long term solution.  But you bet we will grab it when it fits in our budget. 

So, this is the second best thing and this is the only chicken we have to buy, except for the rare organic deals.  In fact, it is actually cheaper than many grocery store low quality, unnatural chicken breasts.  You really cannot go wrong.  

What is Zaycon Foods?

This chicken is sold via Zaycon Foods which is a nationwide company that provides fresh chicken, beef, pork and seafood to families at an affordable price. Their meat is higher quality and in some cases a natural option. They only have meat offerings at certain times of the year and for a certain type of meat. The last natural chicken breast sale was in the winter.  You do not know how often or when they will have these sales

If it’s not sold in the grocery stores, how do I get it? 

The way that this works is that you place your order online and then you will pick up your order from a local pick-up site as they are delivered to the area fresh in a cold truck.  The chicken comes right from the processor and is not frozen beforehand, so it is super fresh. The pick-up spot is usually within a few minute drive of your home and they are in a parking lot of a private business/organization (like a church parking lot) and the pick-up time for your area will be on a certain date and a small window of time (usually 30 minutes) on that day.

To get this chicken for the price of $1.89 per lb., you do need to order in bulk.  The bulk boxes comes in 40lb. cases and you can get multiple cases or split a case with several people. Whatever your needs are! Currently, you order today through the next few weeks (or until they sell out, which they do!) and then pickup is in mid-October. For the specific date/location/time, you will need to check your area on the website.

This comes out to be $75.60 each 40lb. box. This is an AMAZING price per lb. for this quality of chicken breasts.

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We often get two 40-lb. case boxes as this is pretty much the only chicken we have.  We also have a growing family and our little kids are getting bigger, so we are starting to need to make more per meal.   One 40 lb. box will last our family for about 3 months.

We freeze half of the chicken raw in ziplocs and the other box we cook it all up and chop it up and have cooked cubed or shredded chicken which makes dinner so much easier as this is always the hardest part for me (defrosting and cooking the meat).  So the days I have very little time, the cooked chicken is the answer.

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Read our post HERE on how these come packaged and then how we prep them for the freezer

We highly encourage you to look into this and to place your orders soon as they sell out of this product. One time, I waited too long and the locations that were 3, 15, 25 minutes away were sold out and I had to go with the fourth option that was 45 minutes away, when I literally had an option up the road.  It was still worth the 45 minute drive, however, I don’t wait any longer because I want to pick-up close to home and order before they sell out. 

Here’s details about the chicken that they offer (this information is from their site):

Our Trademark Event

• 100 % natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients

• Comes directly from the processor and has never been frozen

 • Sold by the case — 40 lbs in each case

 • Case dimensions—18 in wide x 12 in deep x 7 in tall

 [NOTE: Our chicken is delivered in its original wholesale packaging, a water resistant cardboard case containing three or four plastic bags of fresh chicken breasts. The smaller bags are typically sealed in a larger plastic bag. The smaller bags are not uniform in weight. There will be small amounts of naturally occurring liquids (i.e.,"chicken juice") in each bag and case. Chicken breasts typically come in double-lobed pairs ("butterfly") and will have small attached amounts of fat.]

Just as we have mentioned many times in our classes, we rarely buy meat at the store.  Between our beef supply from a local farmer or the ground beef from Zaycon, and these opportunities to buy chicken in bulk, we are set for most meals.  Most all of our weekly budget goes to the fresh produce and dairy and small portion to the coupon items that we use!

Head to the Zaycon Site HERE and register (or log-in if already a member). 

You have to be registered to see the prices, pickup and delivery details and dates for your area and additional details. 

Don’t miss this event as it is only open for orders the next few weeks or until they sell out and then it will be gone again for a while!

 

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Alex & Cassie
 

Best Pancakes from Scratch: Corn and Bacon Pancakes Recipe (Plus Many Frugal and Shortcut Tips)

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by Cassie

traditional-or-gluten-free-from-scratch-corn-and-bacon-pancakes

Corn and bacon pancakes?!? YES! They are AMAZING!

My family loves these pancakes and they are just so awesome to make and even more awesome to eat.

We actually make these for dinner as our preferred “breakfast for dinner,” but they are just a great at breakfast too!

We are going to share a few things with you on this post! First, the basic recipe for creating corn and bacon pancakes.  It’s quite simple really!

Then we are going to share a gluten-free version of this pancake, which Alex prefers over the regular version, even though he doesn’t have to eat gluten-free like a couple of us do! That’s how good they are!

But before we share these two recipes for the Corn and Bacon Pancakes, we want to direct you to some tips for better and more frugal cooking that you can easily incorporate into this recipe!

Best Bacon Cooking Tip

First, you are going to need bacon!  Each batch of pancakes requires 1/2 cup of crumbled and cooked bacon – this is about 4-6 slices, depending on the thickness of the bacon. You will be using cooked bacon in the pancake batter.  So you will want pre-cooked bacon or cook your own.

I have to be honest and say that I totally stink at cooking bacon. I have since they day we got married.  I literally tried every method that others shared with me and still could never nail it……. until one day…….

I can now make perfect bacon effortlessly! This is one of my favorite cooking tips, not because we do this often, as we don’t often have bacon, but that is why it is so important and helpful. Bacon can be expensive and so you want to nail the proper cooking the first time! Well, to find this tip, see our post here on How To Cook Perfect Bacon in George Foreman Grill.

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Cooking with Corn Tips

Second, you will need corn too! One cup of kernel corn per batch in fact! Honestly, you can use kernel corn in any form: canned, frozen and even fresh from the cob.

Fresh from the cob is so good! Plus, we find that typically one cob will make two batches.  You can grab cobs of corn from your garden or locally for .25 or less – this is a lot cheaper than store-bought canned or frozen corn.

With that thrifty comparison – we wanted to show you a quick and easy way to get your corn fresh from the cob to cooked to mix in the batter in less than 5 minutes.

How to Cut Kernels from Corn on the Cob

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Shuck the corn and remove as many hairs as you can. Then get a medium to large bowl and place a small bowl upside down in the bottom.

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Cut the end off of the corn to make it “even.”

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Set the even end of the corn on the bottom of the smaller bowl, inside the larger bowl.

The reason why is… the larger bowl with “catch” the kernels and the smaller bowl raises the corn so that you can cut all the way down without restriction.

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The next trick to a “clean cut” is to use a small and sharp knife.  Paring knives are perfect. The smaller the knife, the less “flying” you will have… along with cutting down the cob slowly.

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This is one cob of kernels – which is about 2 cups, perfect for two batches!

Tips on Pre-made and Homemade Pancake Mix

The third trick to prepare to make these are that you can use any pancake mix, or the full recipe I will share with you to make them from scratch. But one thing you can do is prepare a bulk batch of pancake and waffle mix to use for many recipes.

We have shared all of this frugal and helpful information here in the Homemade Pancake and Waffle Mix recipe.

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Homemade Pancake and Waffle Mix Recipe HERE

In addition, we also have a Gluten-Free Flour Mix recipe that you can make.  With this flour, you can follow the same recipe as the Homemade Pancake and Waffle Mix recipe, and just replace the flour with the GF flour recipe.  That is exactly what we did to make these super tasty pancakes!

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The Best Gluten-Free Flour Recipe Ever HERE 

So now that we have gotten those few tips and tricks out of the way, let’s get started with this super tasty breakfast…or dinner…. fare!

Step #1 – Prepare the Batter for the Corn and Bacon Pancakes

Either make a batch from a store-bought box or a batch from our bulk homemade pancake and waffle mix for pancakes.

If you want to make a one-time batch from scratch, here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 cups of flour (or gluten-free flour for GF pancakes)
  • 1/3 cup of Dry Powered Milk
  • 1.5 TBSP of Sugar
  • .5 TBSP of Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 TBSP of oil (we like melted coconut oil)

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Then add all of the wet ingredients.

Step #2 – Add the Bacon and Corn

  • 1 Cup of cooked corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup or 4-6 strips of cooked and crumbled bacon

Fold the bacon and corn into the prepared batter.

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We make both regular and gluten-free for each diet type! 

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Close-Up of Regular  Wheat Flour Mix

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Close-up of Gluten-Free Mix 

Step #3 – Prepare the pan for the pancakes!

  • Turn a counter top griddle to medium heat or a stove top pan to medium heat.
  • Grease it by rubbing a stick of butter on it- don’t use the whole stick, you will only use a teeny bit, but it’s just easier to run the stick across the surface to grease it!

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Step #4 – Time to Cook ‘Em Up

  • Then, using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out your mix and pour onto your hot pan!  We cook gluten-free pancakes first!

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Gluten-Free Pancakes Turning to Hot Cakes :) 

  • Cook for three to four minutes on one side, until they reach the brownness and doneness that you desire.

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One side of the gluten-free pancakes cooked and now time for the other side! 

  • Flip them over and repeat!

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We typically get about 8 nice, fluffy and thick pancakes from this gluten-free batch. They are a bit more dense and thicker than using normal wheat flour. 

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So perfect, so yum! 

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  • Make your regular wheat-flour pancakes the same way – medium heat, grease pan with butter, use 1/4 cup of batter and cook each side for 3-4 minutes!

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Now it’s time for the regulars too cook :) 

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The regulars are done! 

  • We find that the regular batter will make about 10 pancakes of the same size, but they are not quite as dense as the gluten-free.

Step #5 – Serve Them Up With Your Favorite Toppings and Enjoy!

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One of our favorite toppings is the classic maple syrup! We were blessed once to receive real, homemade maple syrup from a family that made it from the trees in their yard when they stayed with us and stayed many miles from home.  We don’t have those kinds of trees here.  So since then, we have enjoyed the organic maple syrup from Tropical Traditions (the makers of coconut oil!).

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The regular pancakes getting a maple bath! 

We also like a little sprinkle of powdered sugar too!

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The dressed gluten-free corn and bacon pancakes! 

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And the dressed regular flour corn and bacon pancakes! 

The maple, bacon and corn flavors are an amazing combination together.  It like satisfies every part of your tongue’s taste buds. 

These can serve well on their own as a pancake dinner or breakfast.  But they also are awesome with hash browns and eggs! You can also make these before hand and freeze them for 1-minute corn and bacon pancakes on those mornings where you are in a hurry!

 

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Alex & Cassie
 

Best Gluten-Free Flour Recipe Ever: Makes for Near Perfect Replacement

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by Cassie

the-best-gluten-free-flour-recipe-ever

I am so excited! After a long time of trying many recipes, combinations, concoctions and other gluten-free ideas – I think I have finally found the winner! The best of the best when it comes to gluten-free flour!

You see, at our home, one way that we live frugally, but live life to the fullest, is by creating our own homemade versions of store-bought products.

We make our own breads, our own pancake/waffle mix, our own bulk muffin mix and all are wonderful – except for a relatively recent discovery of two members of our family with gluten issues.

There was “sticker shock” on gluten-free products and mixes. They are seriously an arm and a leg when you have a $125 weekly grocery budget for a family of 7, who tries to using their budget for natural, organic and whole living.

Well, this recipe has been the answer and I am so excited to finally share a gluten-free flour recipe,that is not only gluten-free, but nut free too (we can’t use almond or nut flours due to nut allergies too!).  In addition, the flours we are using are organic, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free and non-gmo.

You really can’t get much better than that and for a decent price too!

Not only does it have all of these (or rather lack of these) ingredients, but this mix actually does make very fluffy and tasty foods! So good in fact, my hubby and kids turn their noses up at anything gluten-free and leave it for the GF members.

Well, when I cook now, I make two of something – the regular and the GF version – and my family members, especially Alex, have preferred the gluten free versions.  That is AMAZING to me!

Now that I have finally found the perfect recipe, I finally feel great about sharing many GF recipes with you too! So along with our traditional, money-saving, taste bud-pleasing recipes, you will start to find a GF collection that is just as tasty (or better tasting)!

I found this recipe from A Little Sanity site, where Erika claimed this was the “Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix” and if you are like me… you are like..”yeah right” until you try it! Right?  Well that was me!  And I was impressed to say the least!

Just like my homemade cleaning recipes and other recipes, I try and try until I find what I consider to be the best combination of ingredients to do a good, natural job!  

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Here’s what you need:

  • 4 1/4 Cups Brown Rice Flour
  • 4 1/4 Cups White Rice Four
  • 4 1/4 Cups  Sweet Rice Flour
  • 4 1/2 Cups  Tapioca Flour (aka Tapioca Starch)
  • 2½ TBSP Xanthan Gum

As a note, the xanthan gum comes in a several sizes, but most commonly 6-8oz.  This means you will have tons left over and be able to use it for a very long time.   This is a very important ingredient as it is the gluten replacer.

The bags are plastic/paper flour type bags, which are not great for longer term storage and so I just put all of the remaining xanthan gum in a recycled spaghetti sauce jar to store for longer term.

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How To make the Best Gluten-Free Flour Ever

It’s so easy, that I am not even going to break it down – just mix all of these in a big bowl until well mixed and then store in a glass container.

Then use this mix as a replacement in recipes for the flour.

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I picked up these at Hobby Lobby during a common sale where they will have glass storage for 50% off.  This sale happens about once a month and they have teeny tiny glass storage to giant glass storage for a great price with the common sale!  The other place has been Walmart. In addition, I recycle all of my glass food jars, we’ve also used the giant Costco/Sam’s Club pickle jars for dry pre-mix storage solutions.

Where to get the best prices on the ingredients for the Gluten-Free Flour Mix 

So, I wanted to talk about the price of this mix. It is actually quite affordable, especially when compared to many pre-made gluten-free products, or baking mixes. This still fits in our budget, unlike many products.

I purchased all of the products from one of my favorite sites: Vitacost.  I had to also buy products that were totally peanut and tree nut free due to other allergies – so this can affect prices.  However, even with that, it was still a fantastic deal! This is a big batch of bulk mix and it will last a while.

When I made this, I used these exact products, but there are lots of options, including Bob’s Red Mill (which we love, but not nut safe and it makes it even cheaper).

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You can head to the Vitacost site for all of the ingredients at a discount.  If you get these exact sizes and packages, here’s how this works:

  • The Tapioca Flour (2.5 lbs) and Sweet Rice Flour (3 lbs) will make for 2.5 batches.
  • The Brown Rice Flour (2 lbs.) and the White Rice Flour (2 lbs) will be about 1.5 batches.
  • Xanthan Gum will last for around 12 -14 batches (haven’t used it all yet to know for sure!).

Each batch of this mix is a large bulk amount that usually lasts me 3-5 weeks of regular use.  So this is a few months worth of mix for a much better price than buying already made flour.

You get free shipping with orders for $49 or more OR if you are a first time customer to Vitacost…. you can get $10 off your total order of $30 or more if you use this link HERE for the $10 coupon! 

Returning Customers: Head to Vitacost HERE to see the current sale prices on these ingredients

First-time Customers: Use this link HERE to check sale prices and get a $10 off coupon on the Vitacost site!

If you use the $10 coupon for first time customers to Vitacost, it is even that much better of a deal!

You can probably also find these at various health food stores in your area. Kroger will often have a decent health foods section too!

I hope you have as good of results as we have had with this recipe.  It has been a huge help to the budget and makes GF living a bit more enjoyable!

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Alex & Cassie
 

How to Cook Perfect Corn on the Cob in a Cooler

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by Alex

how-to-cook-perfect-corn-on-the-cob-in-a-cooler

Cooking corn on the cob in a cooler? Weird, right?!?  Well, it is actually awesome because it cooks perfectly without hardly any effort!

We recently had a big gathering with many friends and corn on the cob is sold everywhere around here with all of our local farmers and farmer’s markets.

Well, it is a lot of work to cook up tons of corn on the cob on the stove.  A few pieces work out well, but a lot is a lot of heat and back breaking, time consuming cooking!

Well, one of our friends had this idea that she had seen some where about cooking corn on the cob in a cooler.

So we put it to the test!

There was 18 full cobs or 36 half cobs in a cooler at once to be cooked.

How To Cook Perfect Corn on the Cob in a Cooler

Boil about 10-14 quarts of water on the stovetop (varies based on cooler size and amount of corn).

While the water is coming to a boil, shuck the corn and place in the cooler.  We like our’s split in half for ease in eating and smaller portions for littles.

Once the water is boiling, pour it over the corn in the cooler until the corn is fully covered.

Then close the lid and don’t open it for 30 minutes as it “cooks” in the cooler.

After 30 minutes, open it and check it to see if the center of the cob is soft and can be pierced by the cob holders or forks.  This means it is done!

If it isn’t quite done, just close the lid for a bit more time.

30 minutes was perfect for us. The corn was not over done at all, but rather just barely complete and was the crisp perfect taste that makes corn on the cob so great!

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Party Guests Grabbing The Perfect Grub

We just let our party guests use tongs and the cob holders to grab their corn.  We had a stick of butter on a butter dish with flavored salts of all kinds to “dress-it.”

It was a perfect corn party solution and a great way to feed a large crowd and it was really easy to prepare this much food! It can easily be transported too (which is what this cooler did!) from it’s original destination to the party!  The water was just poured right before leaving and perfect upon arrival!

So no matter how to plan to serve it, this might be a great solution!

What do you think of this idea? 

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