So, I’ll be frank. In my house, all five members are somewhere between robustly adoring mushrooms, and “Meh, I’ll eat it because otherwise you may shave my eyebrows in my sleep, Mom.” Then again, my littlest one doesn’t like pepper, which is close to a cardinal sin in our household (his dad swears up and down he’s mine, but I’m still waiting on the DNA proof).
Still, when I made these mushroom chips, all five pairs of our socks were completely knocked off. These things are more addictive than potato chips. I mean, I expected “tasty,” or “pleasant,” or “goes well with soups.” But these little bastards are ridiculously light and crunchy, and flavorful, and I-will-smack-you-with-my-dehydrator-tray-if-you-eat-my-share amazing. That’s IWSYWMDTIYEMSAMAZING, for anyone keeping track.
Plus, ridiculously easy, ridiculously fast to prepare, and ridiculously versatile. Don’t be afraid to use your own combination of spices, instead of this very basic set-up that I describe here. You can do cumin, or chili powder, or sea salt and cracked pepper, or apple cider vinegar and sea salt, or chives, or even your favorite dry dip or soup mix to flavor them.
These are the recipes that make me happy I expanded my dehydrator to ten trays (and make me contemplate expanding to twelve trays). And if you don’t have a dehydrator yet by now, then I just hurt for you. My soul hurts for you. Period.
- 1.5 lbs of white/brown/cremini/button mushrooms - don't get the pre-sliced kind, they're way too thick
- 1 Tb lemon juice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Trim the very bottoms off the mushroom stems, but keep the stems themselves.
- Slice by hand, or better yet, with the slicing attachment on your food processor, into thin (1/8 inch thick) little mushroom coins.
- Throw your mushrooms in a large bowl, and toss carefully with all the other ingredients until they're all lightly coated.
- Distribute mushrooms into single layers on dehydrator trays, and run machine at 135 degrees for 4 hours.
- Remove mushrooms while still warm, and cool.
- Keep in an airtight container.
- Cram a handful of these into your mouth while you laugh at your lame-o friends who still eat super greasy potato chips.
- Pack a few for your kid, if you remember to save any.
- Fall-Flavored Carrot Cake Pancakes
- Banana French Toast Casserole
- Crustless Spinach Mini Quiches
- BONUS snack: I-Swear-It’s-A-Cookie-And-Bad-For-You Breakfast Cookies
- BONUS snack: Take-Your-Damn-Hands-Off-My-Mushroom Chips
Here’s the list of equipment you’ll need, and a list of equipment that makes life easier.
- Large griddle OR several pans OR one pan and way more patience than I.
- Parchment paper
- 9×13 baking dishes – should have at least two to be efficient, could use up to four, so beg borrow or steal if you have to! Here are some great and versatile options: a Nordic Ware covered option, a Pyrex basic dish, a Fat Daddio’s aluminum option and my favorite option, a Calphalon pan.
- Muffin tins, size of your choosing – popover tins for big kids/adults (remember there are only six cups per tin, so get at least two! You’ll use them for other lunch recipes!), regular muffin tins for smaller kiddos, mini muffin tins for toddlers.
- Paper muffin liners (don’t get the foil wrappers for these! Foil muffin liners + Microwave = bad words in comments on my blog) – Popover “Tulip Cup” liners, Regular Liners, mini baking cups
- Big Tupperware Bowl
- Gallon Freezer Ziplocks
Strongly suggested, but not absolutely needed:
- Stand-up mixer (it was mentioned in a comment thread earlier this week that some of these lunch batches really won’t fit in a standard 5QT mixing bowl – if you don’t have one already, but are thinking of taking the plunge, consider purchasing a 7QT mixer like mine; I can throw an entire birthday party in there, and everything fits.)
- Food Processor – can’t emphasize this one enough (see? I wasn’t lying in Round 1 when I said we’d be using it!)
A WORD ON FREEZER SPACE
I admit, I have a lot of freezer space. I live with four adult-sized appetites, and one healthy child-sized one, and I tend to freeze and pack 20 weeks’ worth of food for all the kids at a time. Plus, once upon a time, I used to do this regularly for dinners as well as lunches.
So, I have a freezer upstairs for regularly-used items, then a downstairs freezer for frozen lunches, and a separate chest freezer for when I’m feeling particularly go-getter-y (or for when I make Thanksgiving meals ahead of time because I have the stupid schedule). I call the chest freezer my Sexy Beast, and I make my hubby apologize to it if he doesn’t treat it with an appropriate level of tenderness.
The FDA does specifically say that a closed, full freezer will maintain its temperature for 48 hrs without power (a half-full one will maintain it for 24 hrs), so food does not need to be thawed or refrigerate or transferred anywhere, as long as you kee the doors closed. So even if your power goes out Saturday, your lovingly-prepared lunches should be safe till Monday when the repair guy comes! Just sayin’ …
Now, you certainly don’t have to have this. We’re going to work on how to maximize your packing strategies in order to best use your space, and we’re going to use flash freezing and labeling techniques that make my heart skip more than Ryan Gosling (who, for the record, has NOTHING on vacuum sealing). But you should plan on being able to fit two jelly roll pans or large cookie sheets into your freezer at once at any given time during your prepping. If you can’t do that, it may be worth it for you to take a look at getting yourself a separate freezer – not necessarily your own Sexy Beast, but maybe something a bit smaller and inconspicuous, that can still guard your hard work (and only cost you an extra $0.75 or so per lunch if you hold 4 months’ worth of meals for one person in it, right?).
Sometimes, I come across good deals and want to share them, but I don’t want to send you unwanted emails. If you’d like me to email you when I find something really good (like the Instant Pot that went on sale last week for $69.99) you can sign up for those emails here. These would probably be once or twice a month.
I’M ON INSTAGRAM & TWITTER:
I succumbed to Social Peer Pressure (I’m so weak – it’s Aubrey’s fault) and signed up for an Instagram Account. So you can follow me on Instagram @emiponcedesouza. You can also follow me on Twitter @poncedesouza. If you share your photos, use the hashtag #EmisLunches, and please tag me!