Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Great Granny's Fudge Cake

My mother speaks very fondly of Marie Pack Hill, who is my maternal Great Grandmother.  I don't remember Marie at all. Not a single memory of her is in my mind, but I do remember my mom making Marie's cupcakes. She must have been awesome if she was so good at making cake. Right? {High-five to the lady who left me a legacy of chocolate}. My mom wouldn't make the cake often, but when she did there was always one trademark thing that would always be there on each cake piece. Always there would be one single whole walnut adorning the fudgy glaze. Often mom made the recipe into cupcakes and apparently that is how great-grandma served this recipe most often. 

What made it such a family classic?  It was simple. If you ask my mother it was always made into cupcakes, but I do remember mom baking it in a casserole pan on many occasions. 
It was easy. It was at the pot-lucks and the birthday parties. 4th of July breakfast wasn't complete without this cake. Seriously, someone explain to me why that was the case. Who eats cupcakes for breakfast?  Apparently my entire family does.  It was part of the family tradition. 

 I was going through some family  files and found the original recipe for grandma's cake.  I'm told that it is highly coveted among my aunts {Hello aunt Bonnie. I got your message on facebook darling} and that I need to share it with everyone. So, here goes. I've put my own little notes in there for you. I love that this cake doesn't have added chemicals and stuff. I think you'll love it! 

Marie Pack Hill's Chocolate Cake Recipe
3 squares baker's chocolate, melted (or you can use 1/2 cup cocoa plus 2T shortening)
3/4 cup shortening, melted (I use spectrum brand or coconut oil)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup sugar (coconut sugar works great)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions: Combine the chocolate, shortening, eggs, milk, water and vanilla.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, stirring by hand about 100 strokes (by machine about 3 minutes).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 cake pan. Pour cake batter into the pan and spread out. Bake for 30-35 minutes.  For cupcakes, yields 2 dozen small cupcakes. Bake 15-18 minutes. 

Granny didn't leave us her frosting recipe. This is what  I use when I make fudge glaze.

Chef Tess Chocolate Fudge Glaze
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup baking cocoa
3/4 cup very hot water (more or less water depending on how thick you want the glaze)
2 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, baking cocoa and 1/2 cup hot water and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add more water if a thinner consistency is desired.  Drizzle over the cake. Top each piece with a walnut...or two or three. There's nothing fancy here. Just good ol' fashioned family chocolate cake. What's not to love about that?

There you go. One of my family's favorites. Chocolate cake. Thanks Granny!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Feel Good Thoughts...

Just a few thoughts to keep you smiling today, because life is hard sometimes...and we need to cheer each other onward and upward! 
Tara shared this with me this week. It made me giggle. 

Auntie Em shared this...and tagged me on facebook. I don't know if I make people do all of this...but...

This one made me cry a little bit...

This one made me want to pray a little more. 

Happy Friday everyone!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Preparing Wisely Book Signing Event and Free Meal in a Jar Class!

We just added a new event for June and wanted to tell you all about it here!

Tuesday June 24th at 6:30 PM Join me for a free meal in a jar class and book signing event! I'll be making a few samples of some of my most popular meals and teach you the basics of safety! I don't do classes for free very often so jump on this! I'll be there to introduce y'all to the new owners of Preparing Wisely! They are some of my all-time favorite people! You'll love them! Preparing Wisely will carry my books, spices and have me in for classes throughout the year.

 If you're looking for a great location to get your food storage needs filled, these guys are amazing! 

Details about the store can be found at! Xoxo!

Preparing Wisely

144 S. Mesa Dr. Suite G
Mesa, AZ 85210

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

52 Method Perfected...Updated 8 Top Meals in a Mylar Pouch Recipes and Bag Labels

I've had a lot of requests for my favorite meals that work better in a mylar bag. Yes. I've got a lot of friends in earthquake territory.   I have a lot of friends who backpack and camp who don't want to carry mason jars of food.  By and far, these are my favorite flavorful awesome-possum mylar meal recipe favorites.  I've changed up the recipes a bit to accomodate maximum flavor and space usage. These are not meals that taste like salty goo.  These are meals with pasta or grain that do not cause holes in the bags easily and that are able to be made quickly.  I have a few that I use on a regular basis and they are what I call my core menu. These are life lines on busy weeknights or in an emergency situation these are ones that will cook quickly (usually 15 minutes or less).  They all work perfectly in a solar oven or heat retention cooker as well.
More often than not, I print the labels and just affix them to the mylar bags using clear packing tape. This ensures I not only know what is in the bag, but also lets me know how much liquid I need to hydrate dinner.  You can also just write it on the bag, but sometimes, even with permanant ink, it comes off.

Things to know
Note that the instant parboiled white rice like Success Rice (boil-in-bag). Yes. I cut open the bags and put that dry rice right in my jars instead of regular rice.  I use this one because it is one that will cook in 10 minutes and is slightly different than regular instant rice that cooks in 5 minutes. Texture-wise it is closer to regular rice and the longer cook time makes it better when paired with beans or the freeze-dried meat for not getty a mushy texture.

The round small shells and elbow noodles are also optimum for non-piercing of the mylar bags. One that I've found to be excellent for those with carbohydrate issues is from Dreamfield's Pasta. The net carbs are 5 per serving, but it tastes just like regular pasta. Love that!

What are mylar bags and why do I use them? Check out the information from my favorite supplier: Sorbent Systems Mylar Bags I use the quart size for these meals. 

Where do I get the Ingredients?
People always ask where I get my specialty stuff for the meals. In fact, a lot of comments and questions on where to buy ingredients are answered here. 

 NOT OPTIONAL: Please be sure that you always follow the instructions for safety in the tutorial from my blog: 

 How To Make Homemade Mylar-Packed 52 Method Convenience Meals for Camping and Beyond!


  • Here are the mylar bag recipes that also double as labels. 
  •  These are for a family of 5 (about  1 and 1/2 cups of prepared food per person).  
  • The cost is usually right around 10$ per meal for the full sized meals that contain the freeze-dried meat.  Meatless meals will always cost less.
  • You control the ingredients. If you want less salt, more spices, gluten-free, or different vegetables, these are base recipes that will help you figure out what works for you. The natural bullion powders I use are not available to the general public for purchase. You'll need to find a bullion powder you like. 
If I were to package these meals and sell them in stores, these would be the recipes I would use. They are that good!  Yes, they did take me a few years to perfect.  Please be sure to always include my contact information when sharing them. It's just the nice thing to do.  

 I don't have them in PDF format and my life is a little crazy right now (as you can imagine). Hopefully that doesn't make anyone too crazy.  I think you'll love them my darlings! 
Chef Tess' Cheesy Chicken Pizza Noodle Skillet

2 cup elbow macaroni
1/2 cup freeze dried veggie mix
1 cup freeze dried chicken
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese powder
1/4 cup blue cheese powder
1/4 cup ultra gel
1 tsp granulated garlic
2Tbsp granulated onion
1 1/2 tsp Romantic Italian Seasoning
2 tsp natural roasted chicken flavor
1T Granulated red bell pepper
Add 5 cups water, simmer 15 minutes.
Chef Tess Vege-Bean and Rice Fajita Casserole

2 cup quick cook red beans
1 cup instant parboiled white rice
1T Dehydrated jalapeno
1/4 cup minced dry onion
2T Chef Tess Southwestern Seasoning
1T granulated garlic
1/2 cup natural sharp white cheddar powder
1/4 cup tomato powder
1/4 cup granulated red bell pepper
1/2 tsp natural smoke flavor

Add 5 cups water. Bring to a boil. simmer low 10-15 minutes.
Chef Tess Saucy Sausage Shell Skillet Meal

1 cup freeze dried sausage
2 cup shell noodles
1/2 cup freeze dried mushrooms
2/3 cup tomato powder
1/4 cup dehydrated onion
1T Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup ultra gel
1/4 cup dehydrated bell pepper dices, red

Add 5 cups water, simmer 15 minutes. 
Chef Tess Sausage Spanish Rice

1 cup freeze dried sausage
1 1/2 cup instant white parboiled rice
1/2 cup red bell pepper, dehydrated and diced
1/4 cup minced onion
1T Southwest fajita seasoning
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 1/2 tsp pacilla pepper
1/2 cup tomato powder

Add 3 1/2 cup boiling water. Cover and simmer low 10-12 minutes. 
Chef Tess Sweet-n-Sour Chicken Baked Beans

2 cups quick cook navy beans 
1 cup freeze dried chicken
1/4 cup dehydrated minced onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper, dehydrated, diced
1/2 cup carrot, dehydrated shoestring or diced
1/4 cup soy sauce powder
1T dehydrated vinegar
3T granulated honey
2T granulated garlic
2 tsp natural pineapple flavor
1/2 tsp ground celery
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp natural roasted chicken flavor

Add 6 cups water and simmer uncovered 15-20 minutes.
Chef Tess Country French Vegetable Beef Soup

1 cup freeze dried mix vegetables
1 cup freeze dried diced beef
1 cup diced dehydrated potato
3T granulated onion
1/4 cup tomato powder
1T Chef Tess French Provencal Seasoning
1/4 cup ultra gel
2tsp natural beef flavor
1tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Add 4 1/2  cups boiling water and simmer 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to thicken 5 minutes more. 
Chef Tess Granny's Potato Cheese Casserole

1 cup freeze dried sausage
2 cup diced dehydrated potato
¼ cup dehydrated onion
½ cup natural cheese powder
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
¼ cup ultra-gel
2 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose seasoning
1 tsp granulated garlic
½ tsp celery seed powder
2T natural butter powder
¼ cup sour cream powder

Add 5 ½ cup hot water very hot water and stir well. Cover 10 minutes and allow to hydrate. Simmer low 15 minutes. Leave covered off heat 5 minutes more.
Chef Tess Beef Carnitas Soup

2 cup quick cook black beans
1 cup freeze dried diced beef
1 cup freeze dried corn
3T granulated onion
2 tsp dehydrated jalapeno
1 ½ tsp pacilla pepper, granulated
½ cup tomato powder
3T red bell pepper, granulated
2 tsp natural beef flavor
1 tsp celery seed, ground
½ tsp natural smoke flavor
½ tsp salt

Add 7 cups water and simmer 10-15 minutes

Thank you all for your love and patience with me as I'm adjusting to this full-time working situation. It has been an adventure for me...but in good ways.  God bless!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

My family is greatly blessed by the extra money brought in by sales tracked back to my freeze-dried food website.  You also have the option of joining as a consultant/member and getting commission on anyone who buys from you! I'd love to have you on my team! Thank you so very much for your support. Xoxo!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Money Saving Cheeseburger Supreme Salad with Southern Fried Pickles!

Summer means Salad! How do you find a main course salad that the whole family can agree on? How about making a giant cheeseburger?!

Money Monday. This salad is a much less expensive and a much healthier choice than buying a bag of burgers and you can control the fat! We don't always serve it with fried pickles, but when we do,  I use my  Refrigerator Pickles for the fried pickles...Yes and the homemade organic "quake and bake" from organic ingredients.  Dip in my Homemade Ranch Dressing!  Other homemade condiments I use are here today are included homemade ketchup and homemade mustard.  Save money by getting your salad greens from the local farmer's market. The cost for this meal was just around 7$ for our family of 5! 

Cheeseburger Supreme Family Salad

6 sesame seed hamburger bun tops
1 pound 95% lean ground beef or turkey burger
Grilling seasoning (heavy on the garlic)
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup sliced dill or sweet pickles
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
6 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce or shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 plum tomatoes
Additional toppings: thousand island dressing, bacon bits or blue cheese crumbles if desired
•Slice bun tops into 1/4-inch strips. If bun tops are very thick, slice bottoms off horizontally before slicing into strips).
•Arrange in a single layer on large bake pan; bake 8-10 minutes at 425 degrees or until lightly toasted. Place on a cooling rack; cool completely.
•Cook ground beef over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles. Season well with grilling seasoning of your choice.
•Add sliced onion and cook a minute or two more. Finely dice pickles and add along with ketchup and mustard to the cooked beef. Remove from the heat.
•To serve, arrange lettuce on large serving platter. Spoon beef mixture over lettuce. Top with cheese, tomatoes and sliced onion. Arrange hamburger bun croutons around edge of platter. Drizzle with Thousand Island dressing and sprinkle with bacon bits and blue cheese if desired Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings

Deep Fried  Pickles
24 very cold fresh kosher pickle wedged, drained and patted dry 
2 eggs, beat
2 1/2 cups Quake and Bake Breading (recipe follows)
Canola oil for frying
Chef Stephanie's Homemade Quake and Bake
3 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
2T parsley flakes
2 tsp garlic powder
2T onion powder
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground basil
1 tsp ground oregano
(yields 5 cups, which will make 2 batches)
•Using only very cold dill pickle spears, dip pickle into egg wash and then coat with breading. Repeat until no pickles remain, and arrange dipped pickles on a sheet pan lined with waxed paper.
•Chill for at least 20 minutes.
•In a deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees F. Alternatively, heat oil in a large, heavy pot suitable for deep-frying.
•Carefully add chilled pickle spears, in batches, to the hot oil and fry for about 3 1/2 minutes or until golden. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
•Dip in ranch dressing
Chef notes:  I use my  Refrigerator Pickles for the fried pickles. 
 Dip in my Homemade Ranch Dressing or store bought.
Other homemade condiments I use are here:  homemade ketchup homemade mustard 

There you go!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess