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Rainy Day Foods

  • Shepherd's Pie

    There's a good chance that shepherd's pie, or "cottage pie," will bring a different dish to mind for almost every reader of this blog post. The shepherd's pie that I ate while growing up was made of beef and gravy with the classic mashed potato "crust," but there are now many, many variations to this theme.  The meat can be beef, mutton,  turkey, pork (or anything that tickles your fancy), there can be vegetables or no veggies (or all veggies!), and the potatoes can be layered on top or mixed throughout the dish. This version is my recent favorite -- it incorporates veggies into the meat mixture, which lowers the overall cost per serving.  To further lower the costs, and make this a very storage-friendly recipe, try beef TVP or the vegetarian option listed in the tips below.



    1/4 cup dried onions

    1/3 cup freeze dried carrot

    1/3 cup freeze dried corn

    1/3 cup freeze dried peas

    1 Tbsp butter or other fat

    1/2 lb to 1lb ground beef or beef TVP

    Beef gravy (from powder, jarred, or homemade)


    1/2 Tbsp butter
    1/4 cup milk, reconstituted from powder
    3/4 cup very hot water
    1 cup + 3 Tbsp potato flakes


    Preheat oven to 400F. Rehydrate the vegetables according to the package directions (skip this step if using fresh veggies).  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the onions. Cook until tender. Add carrots, corn, and peas.  Add beef or TVP, and continue heating and stirring until cooked through. Add beef gravy slowly until the mixture reaches your desired consistency - I prefer a moist pie, so I add about a cup of gravy. Remove from heat and allow to thicken slightly. In the meantime, make the mashed potatoes: mix together butter, milk, and hot water, slowly stir in potato flakes, then let stand.  Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray or oil. Transfer your meat and gravy mixture into the bottom of the dish, and flatten it out with a utensil. Spoon the mashed potatoes into a layer on top of the beef. Place in preheated oven and cooked until the potatoes are brown and the beef mixture is bubbling, or about 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Serves 6-8.

    Tips and Notes:

    If using fresh carrots, add them with the onions to allow them time to soften. I used potato flakes for the mashed potatoes, but I tried this with potato dices as well and had satisfactory results. The potato flakes removed the step of having to mash the potato dices, so I prefer them for this dish.


    For a vegetarian option, replace the beef with an equal volume of lentils.  Lentils have a meaty texture that is good in hearty dishes.


    Make sure the mashed potatoes develop a nice brown color by using the broiler setting for the last 5 minutes of baking.

    Contributed by Kate Wilt

    shepherds pie step 1
    shepherds pie ready to bake
    Shepherd's Pie Shepherd's Pie
    Shepherd's Pie serving





  • Buttermilk Powder

    It’s reunion time at our house and that means pot-luck dishes and feeding extra people.  I always like to take a tried and true recipe to these gatherings.  I also like to experiment a little.  That’s why I made my favorite chocolate sheet cake with something I’ve never tried before:  buttermilk powder.  I also decided to be really daring by serving huckleberry pancakes with homemade buttermilk syrup.   Buttermilk powder is made from real buttermilk that’s been concentrated with an evaporator and dried, either through spraying or rolling.  It is made with real buttermilk not cultured skim milk as liquid buttermilk is.  Because of this, it does not contain the live cultures needed to produce cheese and yogurt.  This means it doesn’t contain lactic acid, making it suitable for those who are intolerant to lactose.  It can be used in any recipe calling for buttermilk, such as waffles, breads, scones, cakes or biscuits.  Rainy Day Foods carries buttermilk powder in a #2.5 can, #10 can, and a 50lb. bag.  Simply mix the buttermilk powder with the other dry ingredients and then use water to supply the necessary liquid.  You should use 4 tablespoons of powder and a cup of water for every cup of buttermilk needed.  How did everything turn out?  Wonderful!  The cake was as good as it is with liquid buttermilk and the syrup was a big hit.  One note:  Buttermilk powder can be used only in baking; it is not meant for drinking.  Here are the recipes:

    chocolate cake

    Chocolate Sheet Cake

    2 c. flour

    2 c. sugar

    2 cubes butter

    4 Tbs. cocoa

    1 c. water

    ½ c. water

    2 eggs

    1 tsp. baking soda

    1 tsp. salt

    1 tsp. vanilla

    2 Tbs. buttermilk powder

    Sift together flour, sugar and buttermilk powder.  In saucepan combine butter, cocoa and water.  Bring to a boil.  Pour over dry ingredients while hot.  Stir together.  Add eggs, soda, salt, and vanilla.  Mix well.  Pour into a cookie sheet pan.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.


    1 cube butter

    6 Tbs. milk

    4 Tbs. cocoa

    3 c. powdered sugar

    1 tsp. vanilla

    Bring butter, milk and cocoa to a boil.  Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Pour on cake while still hot.

    buttermilk syrup

    Lanette’s Buttermilk Syrup*

    1 ½ c. sugar

    ¾ c. buttermilk

    ½ c. butter

    2 Tbs. corn syrup

    1 tsp. baking soda

    Mix all of this together.  Bring to a boil and boil for 7 minutes stirring often.  Add 2 tsp. vanilla.  Serve.

    *Lanette says her family likes to eat this on ice cream as well as pancakes.  I can see why.  It’s really good.        

    Contributed by Pam Higley


  • Banana Baked Oatmeal

    I'm in the process of moving , which is always an exciting time.   What could be bad about more storage space and a bigger yard? However, trying to pack and move across town while still working full-time  doesn't leave me with a lot of energy for anything else.   This baked oatmeal is a great way to save time in the mornings while still delivering lots of nutrition.   This dish will last for several days in the refrigerator, so I made a big batch on Sunday and now my family will have filling breakfasts all week.  Just put a single serving in a bowl, microwave for a minute, and presto  -- breakfast is served!


    1 cup oat groats

    2 cups milk, reconstituted from powder

    2 cups water

    2 very ripe bananas, mashed

    1 Tbsp flax meal

    1.5 tsp cinnamon

    1/4 cup brown sugar


    Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray or oil.  In a large bowl, mix together oat groats, milk, and water. Stir in the mashed bananas, flax meal, and cinnamon. Pour oat mixture into baking dish, top with brown sugar, and sprinkle a little more cinnamon on top. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Serves 4-6.

    Tips and notes:

    The oat mixture tends to splatter when poured into the baking dish, so use caution.

    The riper the bananas, the less sugar you will need to use to achieve sweetness.

    Stir some freeze dried blueberries into the batter right before baking for even more flavor.

    The oatmeal will thicken as it cools, so don't worry if it's not set when it comes out of the oven.

    Contributed by Kate Wilt

    banana baked oatmeal
    banana baked oatmeal
    banana baked oatmeal


  • Storing Basic Pantry Items

    Treats can be so yummy, but sometimes they’re needed at inconvenient times.  Recently this was the case at our home.  Needless to say, I was so happy I had all of the ingredients on hand in my pantry.  This reaffirmed to me the importance of storing food.  Even if you’re not into storing emergency items like wheat, rice and beans, you might want to think about storing basic pantry items.  What a relief it is to be able to make something without making a trip to the grocery store for that one missing ingredient.   At Rainy Day Foods you can stock up on flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, baking cocoa, powdered milk, butter powder, and powdered eggs.  All of these were in the recipes for the treats I needed to make.  I love that you can get larger sizes of these items; larger sizes mean less shopping and less money spent in the long run.  And who doesn’t want to save money?  One note:  I did not use the powdered eggs, butter or milk in these recipes.  However, it’s nice to know that if I had been out of these refrigerated items, I could still make these treats.  Here are the recipes:







    8 eggs               1 lb. butter                    ½ c. baking cocoa              4 c. sugar              

    4 c. flour                                                                                                          

    Mix together.  Pour into large cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.


    ¼ c. butter         3 T. baking cocoa       ½ c. milk      4 c. powdered sugar

    Mix together.  May need to add more powdered sugar to get right consistency.       

    Sunburst Lemon Bars

    Crust:     2 c. flour       ½ c. powdered sugar         1 c. butter, softened

    Mix ingredients together on low speed until crumbly.  Press mixture evenly in bottom of ungreased 9x13 pan.   Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until lightly browned.

    Filling:    4 eggs, slightly beaten     2 c. sugar      ¼ c. flour    1 tsp. baking powder  

    ¼ c. lemon juice

    In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, flour and baking powder, blend well.  Stir in lemon juice.  Pour mixture over warm crust.  Return to oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until top is light golden brown.  Cool completely.

    Glaze:      1 c. powdered sugar       2 to 3 T. lemon juice

    In small bowl, combine powdered sugar and enough lemon juice for desired glaze consistency.  Blend until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled bars.  36 bars. 

    Sunburst Lemon Bars





    contributed by Pam Higley


  • Broccoli Potato Chowder

    Hearty, hot soup during the summer?  It makes sense if you work in an air-conditioned office and need something to warm you up at lunchtime!  Chock full of broccoli, potatoes, and cheese, this chowder is filling on its own or delicious with a cool salad on the side. It also freezes well, so make a large batch and put some away for the autumn months.

    Broccoli Potato Chowder
    Broccoli Potato Chowder





    3 cups water
    1/4 tsp paprika
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/4 cup freeze-dried celery
    1/4 cup freeze-dried onion
    4 fresh potatoes OR equivalent amount of dehydrated potato dices
    1.5 cups steamed broccoli florets OR equivalent amount of freeze-dried broccoli
    Heat water in large soup pot over medium heat. Whisk in cream soup mix until the lumps have dissolved. Add paprika, salt, pepper, and bouillon. Whisk to combine. Add celery, onion, and potatoes. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Turn heat to low, add broccoli and cheese. Stir until cheese has melted, then remove from heat and serve. Yield: approximately eight 1-cup servings.
    Tips and Notes:
    Garnish the soup with more cheese before serving.Be sure to use potato dices, not potato flakes - the texture of the dices is better for soup.Add at least 1/2 cup additional water to the soup if using primarily freeze-dried ingredients. Continue to add water until desired consistency has been obtained.
    Contributed by Kate Wilt


  • Strawberry Shortcake

    Is there anything more summery and festive than strawberry shortcake?  This dish combines my favorite food - strawberries - with a slightly sweet biscuit that doesn't overpower the natural flavor of the strawberries. I'll be making this for my family on the 4th of July and many more times throughout the summer. Strawberry season ends in mid June where I live, but freeze dried strawberries give you the freedom and flexibility to enjoy this shortcake year-round. The Rainy Day Foods biscuit dough also reduces the amount of preparation time as compared to regular shortcake, allowing you to spend more time with your family and less time working in the kitchen.

    Strawberry topping:
    1 cup freeze-dried strawberries

    3 Tbsp white sugar
    3 cups buttermilk biscuit mix

    3 Tbsp white sugar

    3/4 cup cold milk, reconstituted from powder
    Preheat oven to 425F. Rehydrate your strawberries in boiling hot water (or juice, see note below). Add sugar and set aside. Mix together the buttermilk biscuit mix with white sugar, then mix in the cold milk. Stir with wooden spoon, then turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is fairly homogenous. Form dough into large rectangle and bake as one large cake, or form into biscuits and bake on slightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until firm. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream, if desired.
    Tips and Notes:
    Rehydrate your strawberries in store-bought strawberry juice instead of water for an extra boost of flavor.

    Bake the shortcake dough in small ramekins or muffin tins to make single-serving portions. I layered shortcake and strawberries in a mason jar for portability.

    Strawberry Shortcake






    Strawberry Shortcake





    Contributed by Kate Wilt


  • Homemade English Muffins

    Homemade English Muffins







    I love to eat English muffins for breakfast (especially with  peanut butter and homemade jam), but they get more expensive every time I go to the grocery store.  Making them myself is not only cost-effective, but I also get to enjoy freshly-cooked English muffins that are warm and wholesome.  Try these with your favorite toppings for breakfast, or use them instead of bread for your sandwiches at lunch.


    2 tsp instant yeast

    2 Tbsp sugar or honey

    2 cups warm water

    3 cups flour of choice (I used 50% whole wheat, 50% all purpose)

    4 Tbsp oil or melted butter

    2 Tbsp powdered milk

    1 1/2 tsp salt

    1/4 cup cornmeal


    Combine yeast, sugar, and warm water; set aside until foamy. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oil, powdered milk, and salt.  Stir in yeast mixture, then turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes. Sprinkle cornmeal over a platter or baking sheet. Divide dough into 8 equal portions, flatten each one into a circle, then place on cornmeal-dusted surface. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

    Heat a lightly oiled cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Place muffins on skillet and cook until puffy and golden, or about 3-4 minutes each side.

    Tips and Notes:

    A cast iron skillet is preferred for even cooking, but any flat pan will be sufficient. Muffins will stay fresh in an airtight container for several days, or freeze for several months. Defrost in the microwave or in a toaster before eating.


    Contributed by Kate Wilt



  • Real Salt

    I have been a Real Salt fan for years.  I use it to season nearly everything I eat.  What is Real Salt?  It is a brand name and a registered trademark of a rock salt mined near the town of Redmond in central Utah.  In 1959, Milo and Lamar Bosshardt discovered this salt deposit.  They began selling the salt to local farmers for their animals.  After their customers demanded the salt be used for everyday use, the company Real Salt was born.  A quick glance at the ingredients label on most salts might surprise you.  Many contain anti-caking ingredients such as dextrose which is a sugar.  These same salts have been heat processed and stripped of their natural minerals.  Real Salt is unrefined and is full of natural minerals.  It has more than 60 minerals, like iron oxide, that gives it its unique color, flavor, and healthiness.  Dr. Robert Young even recommends Real Salt by name in his book on treating Diabetes, “The pH Miracle for Diabetes.”  Christina Avaness said this about Real Salt:  “An excellent source of organic sodium, Real Salt is key to alkalizing, detoxifying and rejuvenating your whole body.”  I originally tried Real Salt in the 9 oz. shaker.  I now purchase it in larger sizes and refill my shaker for table use.  Rainy Day Foods sells Real Salt in several sizes:  a 25 lb. bag, 6 gallon bucket, #2.5 can, #10 can or a case of 12 26 oz. bags.  Since trying it I can’t make myself go back to the processed salts.

    Real Salt





    Contributed by Pam Higley

  • Vegetable "Pot Pie"

    I love to combine food storage ingredients in unexpected ways, and
    this recipe is a perfect example. Dehydrated mixed vegetables and
    buttermilk biscuit mix (both from Rainy Day Foods) come together with
    a few additional, food storage-friendly ingredients to make a
    comforting vegetable "pot pie." Real pot pie is made with a crust, but
    this version is so easy and delicious that it has become one of my new
    favorite dinners. This dish would also be a great place to use up
    leftover cooked chicken or turkey: simply add your shredded meat along
    with the vegetables for an extra-hearty supper.

    1 Tbsp oil
    1/2 cup chopped onions, fresh or rehydrated
    2 Tbsp fat (oil, shortening, butter, etc)
    3 Tbsp flour
    1/2 tsp chicken bouillon + 1 cup hot water
    2 Tbsp dry milk + 1 cup hot water
    2 cups dehydrated mixed vegetables
    1 tsp dried thyme
    2 tsp garlic powder
    2 cups buttermilk biscuit mix + 1/2 cup cold water
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 425F. Dissolve the bouillon and dry milk in cups of
    hot water, set aside. Heat the oil over medium heat, then add onions
    and cook until soft. Add additional fat source, then stir in flour.
    Cook, while stirring, for several minutes. Add the warm broth, stir
    well, then slowly add the warm milk. Add the mixed vegetables, thyme,
    and garlic powder. Bring the pot to a simmer, then reduce heat and
    continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and
    mixture has thickened.
    Meanwhile, prepare the biscuit dough. Combine biscuit mix with cold
    water, and stir until combined. Turn out onto lightly floured surface
    and knead until the lumps have disappeared. Roll out to the
    approximate dimensions of your baking dish.
    Remove vegetables from heat, and pour into a casserole or baking dish.
    Cover the vegetable mixture with the biscuit dough, stretching the
    biscuit dough to the edges of the dish. Use a sharp knife to cut 3-4
    thin slits in the dough to allow steam to escape. Bake for 15-18
    minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Yield: 8

    Tips and Notes:
    The #10 can of dehydrated mixed vegetables from Rainy Day Foods is
    perfect for this recipe, it has a mix of peas, corn, carrots, and
    green beans.
    Slowly add more water during the 10-15 minute simmer if the mixture
    becomes too thick. Stir well after each addition.
    The fat and flour work together to thicken the vegetable layer of the
    pot pie. Reduce or omit at your own risk!

    Vegetable "Pot Pie"






    Vegetable "Pot Pie"





    Vegetable "Pot Pie"










    Contributed by Kate Wilt

  • Chicken Pasta Alfredo

    Summer is finally here and that means firing up the grill at our house.  One of our favorite meals to fix is Chicken Pasta Alfredo.  I like to use the curly egg noodles that come from Rainy Day Foods.  You can get them in a 6 gallon bucket, 10 lb. box, or #10 can.  We use these quite often so I always keep a bucket or two on hand.   I simply boil them in water for 5-6 minutes, drain, and add them to whatever dish I am making.  These noodles are so versatile that I use them in casseroles, soups and stroganoffs.  This recipe is very easy which I like for those busy summer nights.  Here it is:

    Wash and Grill any or all of these items: 

    1 Red Pepper

    1 Green Pepper

    1 Red Onion

    1 package Mushrooms

    1 Zucchini Squash

    1 Yellow Crookneck Squash

    2 or 3  Boneless Chicken Breasts

    (leave everything whole or in big pieces for cooking; slice after cooking)

    meat and vegetables





    Cook 6 cups Noodles and toss with a little olive oil.

    Alfredo Sauce recipe:

    ¾ c. butter

    2 c. half and half

    1 c. grated Parmesan cheese

    1 T. parsley flakes

    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Heat butter and half-and-half over low heat until butter is melted.  Stir in remaining ingredients; keep warm over low heat.  Pour over noodles, vegetables, and chicken.  Enjoy.

    Chicken Pasta Alfredo





    Contributed by Pam Higley


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