Freezing Peppers for Future Meals

How to freeze peppers for future meals.

An assortment of peppers available at a local farmers’ market.

(Reproduced from an article by Alice Henneman, MS, RDN at food.unl.edu)

Bell or Sweet Peppers (Green, Red, Yellow, Orange, Purple)

  1. Select crisp, tender peppers.

    How to tray freeze peppers for future meals.

    Tray freezing raw peppers

  2. Wash.
  3. Cut out stems and cut peppers in half.
  4. Remove seeds and membrane — save time by using a melon baller or the tip of a spoon to scrape out seeds and membrane.
  5. Cut peppers into strips, dice or slice, depending on how you plan to use them.
  6. Freeze peppers in a single layer on a cookie sheet with sides, about an hour or longer until frozen. This method is often referred to as “tray freezing.”
  7. Transfer to a “freezer” bag when frozen, excluding as much air as possible from the bag. The peppers will remain separated for ease of use in measuring out for recipes.
  8. Pour out the amount of frozen peppers needed, reseal the bag and return to the freezer.

Hot Peppers (including Jalapeno Peppers)

Wash and stem hot peppers. Package, leaving no headspace. Seal and freeze. It is not necessary to cut or chop hot peppers before freezing.

Caution: The National Center for Home Food Preservation warns, “Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.”

HOT TIP: If your mouth is burning from eating hot peppers, help put out the fire with milk and other dairy products.

Storage Time

To extend the time frozen foods maintain good quality, package foods in material intended for freezing and keep the temperature of the freezer at 0 degrees F or below. It is generally recommended frozen vegetables be eaten within about 8 months for best quality.

 

Orange Banana Frosty

This Orange Banana Frosty recipe is a perfect way to liven up your meals or snacks. It is not only nutritious, but it is quick and delicious.

Orange Banana Frosty

This blog was created by Cassie Augustine, a Dietetic and Nutrition Exercise Health Science double major at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. 

With summer right around the corner, are you looking for a refreshing way to excite your taste buds? Great, this recipe is a perfect way to liven up your meals or snacks. It is not only nutritious, but it is quick.

This banana orange frosty is the perfect way to perk up your day. With three simple ingredients you can make it for a breakfast on the go, a snack in between meals or even to compliment your meal.

Orange Banana Frosty is made with three common ingredients that can be found in your kitchen.

Orange Banana Frosty is made with three common ingredients that can be found in your kitchen.

Makes: 2 servings
Total Cost: $1.86
Serving Cost: $0.93

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • ½ cup low fat yogurt (plain)
  • ½ orange juice (prepared)

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix well.
  2. You can add more liquid if you want to make the smoothie thinner consistency.
  3. Put in a cup and enjoy (:

Recipe Source: http://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/orange-banana-frosty

National Agriculture Week is March 15 to 21 – 2015

Ag Week

If you eat, thank a farmer! 

This week, during National Agriculture Week, let’s give thanks to the farmers who provide our food.

To help you enjoy the various agricultural products available in the United States, check Nebraska Extension’s links to the many resources about livestock and crops grown in Nebraska and throughout many of the other states in our nation.

Many of the links include an assortment of recipes for preparing United States agriculture foods. 

Sprinkle on Cheese for Added Nutrition and Taste

 

potato c

Corn Chowder with Cheese


One of the staples I keep in my refrigerator is shredded cheese. Shredded cheese is a tasty way to add calcium to foods. An added bonus is it often adds an extra splash of color such as in this soup.

Other foods I enhance with a sprinkle of cheese include:

  • Salads
  • Omelets
  • Bean dishes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Nachos
  • Tacos
  • Casseroles
  • Pasta

Shredded cheese comes in several varieties and is available in both regular and reduced fat versions.

So … if you’re looking for an easy way to kick up the flavor, nutrition and color of foods, just SAY CHEESE!

(Note: Find the recipe for the Corn Chowder in “What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl. It’s really quick and easy to make and is thickened by the addition of low-sodium cream style corn.) 

 

How Long Can You Store Commercially Canned Food?

Image courtesy of USDA Image Library

Image courtesy of USDA Image Library

Commercially canned foods are convenient as they require no refrigeration to keep their contents safe. Their nutritional value is comparable to other forms of food such as frozen and fresh. In some cases, it may be higher.

The question that people often our Nebraska Extension office, is “how long can you keep canned food”? This article on “Shelf-Stable” Food Safety,” from the U.S. Department of Agriculture answers this question and more. For example:

  • Is it safe to use rusted cans?
  • Is it safe to use food from dented cans?
  • Is it safe to use cans that freeze accidentally?

So … the next time you wonder if you “can” use the food from that can, check out Shelf-Stable” Food Safety!

Versatile Coleslaw

slaw-final

This recipe will help you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Cabbage can be steamed, baked, or stuffed, as well as eaten raw.
Makes: 6 servings (approximately 1 cup, each)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 carrot (cleaned, peeled, and shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (or dry mustard seed)
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed (if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl add mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt. If using celery seed, add that too.
  3. Mix the cabbage and carrots well with the dressing.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Source: Available at www.usda.gov/whatscooking and adapted from food.com

Alice’s Notes: This is a very basic coleslaw recipe that can be made from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, especially the dressing ingredients. Possible alternative purchased salad dressings include: classic coleslaw dressing, ranch dressing and poppy seed dressing. Other ingredients you could add include:

  • Sliced or diced apples
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Diced green pepper
  • Raisins or dried cranberries
  • Green onions
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Pineapple

 

Secrets of Success when Cooking with 5 Ingredients

5-Ingredient Waldorf Salad (link to download the recipe)

5-Ingredient Waldorf Salad (link to download the recipe)

Five seems to be the magic number for the number of ingredients we want in a recipe. This excludes such common ingredients as salt, pepper and water. While researching recipes for a workshop on 5-ingredient cooking, I found the recipes I chose had at least one of the following qualities. See if these criteria help you find quick, easy, tasty recipes too!

  1. Use the best-tasting ingredients whenever possible. It’s hard to hide a poor quality ingredient when there are only five of them. For example, freshly ground black pepper tastes much better than pre-ground.
  2. Try to include at least one high intense flavor ingredient. Examples include:
    • Mustard (consider Dijon)
    • “Sharp” cheeses (you can use less because the flavor is more potent)
    • Lemon juice or lemon zest
    • Onions, garlic, celery
    • Olives
    • Capers
    • Vinegar
    • Nuts
    • Pickle relish
  3. Use some pre-prepared foods that can take the place of several ingredients. Compare the labels on the various brands and varieties as the sodium level can vary significantly. Examples include:
    • Salsa
    • Sauces: spaghetti, pizza, marinara, enchilada
    • Commercial salad dressings (flavorful, lower-fat varieties)
    • Low-fat granola
    • Pie dough, graham cracker crust, pizza dough
  4. Consider seasoning blends. Examples include:
    • Italian seasoning
    • Salt-free blends – sample in the smallest container-size the first time.
  5. Keep on hand ingredients that can be used several ways. Some of my favorites are:
    • Vanilla and plain Greek Yogurt
    • Diced tomatoes (no-added-salt)
    • Canned beans (no-added salt)
  6. Refrigerate some mixed foods (like dips) at least an hour, to allow flavors to blend.
  7. Roast meats and vegetables until “caramelized” or browned. This brings out the flavor.
  8. Thickening a soup without making a white sauce:
    • Remove some of the soup solids and liquid and puree in a blender. Cooking Light magazine (March 2003) warns when blending hot liquids to use caution because steam can increase the pressure inside the blender and blow the lid off. They advise filling the blender no more than half full and blending in batches, if necessary. And, while blending, hold a potholder or towel over the lid.
    • Sprinkle on some instant mashed potato flakes at the end and stir. Add more until you get the consistency you want.

Crushed Red Potatoes

smashed-potatoes-final

The first thing that attracted me to this recipe was the name and the fact I didn’t  have to peel the potatoes! Plus, while the potatoes were boiling, I could gather the other ingredients and clean up my preparation dishes and utensils.

Potatoes have gotten a bad rep as being “fattening” – however as you
can see from the nutritional information, potatoes can make a delicious side dish that is reasonable in calories, low in cholesterol and high in potassium.

Recipe courtesy of United States Potato Board at http://www.potatogoodness.com

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Ready Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes

The combination of reduced-fat sour cream and olive oil might seem unusual but it yields a delicious taste and texture in these crushed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered if large
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (see my note at end)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, shallots, parsley, milk, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir until smooth and set aside.
  3. Drain the potatoes and crush — but do not completely mash — potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Stir in the sour-cream mixture. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 122 Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 6mg Sodium: 54mg Vitamin C: 19.8% Fiber: 2g Protein: 3g Potassium: 562mg

Alice’s Notes:

  • If you want slightly creamier potatoes, slowly stir in extra milk at the end until desired consistency.
  • I substituted 2 tablespoons of chopped sweet onion for the shallots.

More ways to connect with me:

Microwave Omelets and Scrambled Eggs

Omelet Mmade in a Microwave

Omelet Made in a Microwave

My omelets end up looking like scrambled eggs. So … I was very pleasantly surprised when I tried this recipe for “Microwave Mexican Omelet” from the American Egg Board. It takes 1 minute to prepare and 2-1/2 minutes to cook.You cook it in a pie plate.

Definitely a keeper! Check the American Egg Board website for the recipe.

I’ve always liked eggs — they’re an inexpensive source of high quality protein and a source of Vitamin D and choline. Plus, they weigh in at only 70 calories per egg.

After my successful experience making an omelet in the microwave, I decided to try a recipe for scrambled eggs. As the photo shows, these turn out great, also. Plus, they take just a few minutes to make. This is now my go-to method for scrambling eggs for myself. Use this American Egg Board recipe for Basic Microwave Scrambled Eggs.

Scrambled Eggs Made in the Microwave

Scrambled Eggs Made in the Microwave

Clean Out the Fridge Potato Salad

Clean Out the Fridge Potato Salad

Have you ever looked in your fridge and found a little bit of this and a little bit of that? And … it should all be used … SOON!

When that happens, I often make potato salad! (Note: Potatoes should be stored in a cool dry place in your house for best quality … not in the refrigerator.)

Follow these quick  “1 … 2 … 3” steps!

  1. After my cooked* potatoes had cooled slightly, I cubed them and  sprinkled them with a bit of apple cider vinegar — for added flavor — while they were still warm.  (Tip: You can leave the skins on young, tender potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes).
  2. While the potatoes were cooking, I cleaned and prepared the following ingredients from my fridge. Use your own preference as to amounts of ingredients.
    • Red peppers
    • Peas
    • Onions (part of an already cut onion in the fridge)
    • Carrots
    • Radishes
    • Dill
    • Pickle relish
  3. The last step was combining the potatoes and veggies with mayonnaise. Or, use your favorite homemade or purchased potato salad dressing. Then, chill your potato salad for about an hour before serving, to let the flavors meld.

Some other foods you can add to potato salads include:

  • Hard-cooked eggs
  • Celery
  • Cheese
  • Parsley
  • Green pepper
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Capers
  • Olives (pitted and sliced)
  • Chives.

* If you’re unsure of how to cook potatoes, use these directions from the Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program:

  1. Scrub the potatoes, and peel them.
  2. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
  3.  Put the potatoes into a saucepan. Cover with water.
  4. Bring the potatoes to a boil on medium heat.
  5. Let the potatoes simmer for 15 minutes until they’re soft.
  6. Drain the hot water, and let the potatoes cool.