Shirley J: A Reliable Kitchen Friend
For the past several months I’ve been using Shirley J products in my kitchen and have been stocking up on some of my favorites in my food pantry. Shirley J, the company, has been around for more than 3 decades, producing food products primarily aimed at commercial kitchens.
In 2009, the company made the decision to take their products directly to American consumers. This is where I come in. I’m always looking for a way to make quicker meals. You may not know this about me, but I hate to cook. If ever an American stay-at-home mom had ADD, it’s me. When I made tacos for my husband last week and served him, he said, “Just tacos?” I said, “Yep. When I said we were having tacos, that’s exactly what I meant.” In other words, no side dish, no freshly baked bread, no dessert. (I’m so ashamed!)
When I make a Shirley J meal, needless to say, my family is thrilled!
My collection of Shirley J products have helped with quick meals and have given my old, favorite recipes a little more flavor. For example, their Beef Slow Cooker seasoning makes a rich sauce for the occasional roast. In fact, since I’m always in a hurry, I’ve even added a quarter cup or so of this seasoning to my pressure cooker when I want a roast dinner ready in about 45 minutes.
I also give a thumbs up to their Whisk Bliss, formerly known as Universal Sauce. (There’s a gluten free version.) I’ve used this sauce mix for chicken enchiladas, spinach lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and as a thickener for casseroles and even chili. Whisk Bliss takes on the character of whatever seasonings and ingredients you add. It’s kind of like tofu, but it’s not.
Another product I’ve had to reorder more than once is Shirley J’s BBQ Sauce mix. The first recipe I tried was a BBQ Chicken Pizza with grilled onions. It was absolutely delicious and the sauce mix is now my favorite way of making homemade BBQ sauce. The BBQ Sloppy Joes were another big hit with my family, especially on homemade rolls using their Honey White Bread Mix.
But here’s what sold me on Shirley J: their Chicken Bouillon. A year or two ago I was making Dehydrated Dinners in the jar and ran out of store-bought chicken bouillon. There had to be a better quality bouillon that I could buy in large quantities! I was thrilled to find the Shirley J brand, which is double strength (you only need to use half the amount), and I can buy it in a 76 ounce container for less than $24. A little of that goes a long, long way when I’m putting together pre-packaged dehydrated meals.
Are there any products I’m less than crazy about? Yeah. Their brownie mix could use some improvement and I’ve yet to make peace with their Universal Dessert Creme, but your mileage may vary.
How does Shirley J fit in with food storage?
This was actually one of my biggest questions when I began using Shirley J products. I stock up on food for long-term storage whenever I can. Here’s what I’ve experienced with Shirley J. Most of the products are for convenience. It’s just easier to use the BBQ Sauce mix than gather together a dozen or so ingredients for a from-scratch recipe. Dittos for the Universal Sauce and bread mixes. Sometimes I just need for cooking to be less complicated. For me, that’s what Shirley J does.
Additionally, using these products along with freeze dried and dehydrated produce and other ingredients makes my job even easier.
Everything comes packaged in PETE containers, which can be washed and re-used!, or mylar bags. The shelf life of each product varies, but that shelf life can be increased by storing them in cool, dark, dry places and even re-packaging the bread mixes, for example, in PETE containers.
If your family has allergies or food sensitivities, do read the labels on each product you’re interested in. Some contain soy products and other potential allergens.
I liked Shirley J products so much that I decided to sign on as one of their consultants. My official title is, “Executive Chef.” (Fortunately for me, they can’t fire me for not living up to that label!)
You can read more about their recipes on their blog, sign up for their occasional newsletter, and visit the Shirley J store. Additionally, the company offers a business opportunity if your interest lies in that area. You’ll find details on the Shirley J site.
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