Friday, February 8, 2019

Cowboy (Tater Tot) Casserole

Since Pinterest isn't letting me pin our favorite recipe I'll re-post it here! (original)

Cowboy Casserole
adapted from a recipe at Taste of Home
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I used 80/20)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (15.25oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 bag (30 oz) frozen tater tots (I used Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns)

In a large skillet cook the onion until tender and translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the beef and cook over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain the mixture and place into a large bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the soup, milk and sour cream. Whisk until smooth. Add to hamburger mixture and stir to combine. Add corn and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Gently mix to combine.

Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer half of the Crispy Crowns on the bottom, pour the hamburger mixture over the top and then layer with the other half of the Crispy Crowns. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Our Favorite- Chicken & Rice Soup

1 tablespoon Land O Lakes® Butter
1 small (1/2 cup) onion, chopped
2 to 3 ribs (1 cup) celery, sliced
2 to 3 medium (1 cup) carrots, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
48 ounces (6 cups) chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups skinned, boned, chopped deli rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, if desired
Salt, if desired
Pepper, if desired

How to make
Melt butter in 4- to 6-quart saucepan over medium heat until sizzling. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic; continue cooking 3-5 minutes or until onions are softened.

Add chicken broth, water and paprika. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 7-9 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil and carrots are tender. Stir in rice, chicken and parsley. Cook 5-7 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

*We serve the rice separately. That way if people want more or less they can, AND it helps for leftovers because the rice absorbs all the liquid! 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Food Pantry- Part 3

Forming a 501-C, Non-Profit status: The cost was roughly $500. The #1 key is you need 5 people to be on your board of directors. I used myself, my husband, 1 friend and 2 neighbors that were willing to help me.

Fundraising: I was talking to my sister-in-law this past weekend and we talked a lot about the food pantry. One thing I pointed out to her was- wording is key!!! When I started I used to e-mail companies and simply ask if they wanted to donate items to the food pantry. I got 1, ONE, donation. When I changed the wording products started flying in!!!! What did I change?

Instead of asking to donate TO the food pantry, I changed it to, "I run a non-profit ...... and I am planning our yearly fundraiser event. We are planning on ...... Would you be interested in donating any items?"

Companies are really nice and love to donate to fundraiser events! Obviously some, okay a lot, say no. Some ask for reciepts for a tax right off. Some need a Tax ID #, which is part of forming a 501-C.

The easiest way I've found to fund raise is to hold an event! I did an outdoor event at a local park. The name of the event was the "Hope Food Pantry Fundraiser", simple enough, doesn't have to be wordy. Companies will ask you for the event title, so you will need one. The fee to rent the park was like $35 or was it $50, I can't remember. Once I had the park booked I posted on Facebook that I was looking for vendors. Research your area to see what the going rate for vendor booths it. Here, it is usually $50, depending on the event. So, I only asked $30. I got 11 people that wanted booths. So, after my park fee I was at roughly $300. All I had to do was have each vendor will out an application, mark out/ map out where each vendor would be in the park. That's it. Pretty easy if you ask me!

I had products donated that I raffled off from companies and local businesses/ restaurants. I also had a donation jar out at our booth.

Friday, July 20, 2018

How to start a Food Bank! Part 2

Part 2!

Another #1 question I get asked, which I usually don't divulge, "Where do get all your donations from?" I'm not going to spell it out and say- these companies donate to me, contact them! But, here is some insights I've found over the past 1 1/2 years:

The computer/ internet is your #1 key.
You will spend a LOT of time on Google, Amazon, Facebook and Etsy.
Pinterest keeps me organized!
 -I have a private Food Pantry board with sub categories like: restaurants to contact, companies to  contact, ideas for items to search for on Amazon/ Etsy, and a lot more!
 -I have a public Pinterest board for the food pantry that I share what local businesses support us, recipe ideas for our most popular donated food items. Like, we get a LOT of donuts, so I shared recipe ideas to use with donuts. We once got several heads of cabbage each week for a month, so I shared my favorite recipe that used cabbage.
I do all my advertising to get people to come pick up from me on Facebook.

How do I contact companies?
Say I want to try to collect cans of Tuna.
I Google search companies that sell Tuna. OR I search for Tuna on Amazon.
I then contact them via their website, their e-mail address or their Facebook page and ask for donations.
-That's it! That's how I get all my stuff!

Okay, okay, here's a little secret I've found.
A) Broaden your horizon! Meaning, don't just focus on food, unless that's all you really want to do. I do: A Toy Drive year round, Back to School Bags, New Mom Kits, Birthday in a Bag, and Blessing Bags for the homeless.

B) Contact companies who ONLY sell on Amazon. Did you know that if they have an item returned to them they legally can not re-sell it, even if it is in perfect condition if someone says there is something wrong with it? Well, what do they do with all those items? DONATE! I have 1 company that literally sends me every item that is returned to them! 90% of the time the items are just fine, people are just picky.  The other 10% of the time the items seem pretty fixable! I have received several chalkboard that are "broken" and they simply just need the edges screwed together where the company sells them just glued and it falls apart!

Use resources you have! Several years ago I ran a company that sold vinyl decals and lettering. Thus, I have the ability to cut out vinyl and a heat press machine to make shirts! It dawned on me recently that I can use this with the food pantry. I could make shirts for our volunteers to wear with our logo on them. I contact shirt companies to get blank shirts and vinyl companies to get the heat press vinyl to use for the logos.

I don't just get items to hand out! I have also gotten supplies I need for the food pantry donated! I needed a bag sealer to package bakery items I go. I contacted easily 8 to 10 companies and 1 said yes! They simply asked that once I got it I left them a review on their Google page! Done!

Reach out in your community!
90% of the food on our shelves come from people in our town donating them to me!
I also received a free refrigerator! Now, it was old and barely working, but they posted it for free on Facebook and I reached out to them and told them how I needed one for the food pantry I can. Not only did they give it to me, they delivered it as well. Then... my husband unplugged it while it was full of food and didn't tell me for 2 days (we are remodeling the food pantry so we had to move it out of the way). Needless to say I'm back in the market for a new fridge! :(

Reach out to other charities/ food banks!
I currently have an overstock of tuna! My husband and I took several cases to the state run food bank in our town. I recently met a lady who's husband is the pick up driver for a churches food bank. She told me that they usually have a surplus of bread that he can drop off to me!