Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Meals that Freeze

Barbara and I have met and planned out our menu of freezer foods. Each of these recipes will be made four times. I'll have two of each meal and Barb will divide hers into 4 of each because her family is smaller. So I'll end up with 16 meals and she will have 32. This will work out well since she'll be having a baby soon. Here's the list:

Stuffed shells
Chicken broccoli braid
Pulled pork barbecue
Tamale Pie
Fajita Chicken
Poor Man's Steak
Creamy Tomato pasta sauce
Taco Meat

We're trying to keep it simple and invest our time in making meals that we know the family will eat. We made a master grocery shopping list and have about 2 weeks to pick up some good deals. Hopefully chicken will go back on sale soon. Last month chicken breasts were only $1.67 a pound- an all-time low. I should have picked up more.

Stayed tuned for these recipes and freezing/thawing instructions!!

Please share: If you freezer cook, what are some of your favorite and faithful meals to have on hand? Care to share the recipe with us?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pork Fried Rice

Fried rice from a Japanese steakhouse is one of my FAVORITE things! Recently I ran across a recipe decided to try it. It was incredibly simple to make and tasted just as good as the restaurant.

Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: Approx. $4.00

4 cups rice cooked ($.50)
1/2 onion diced ($.25)
oil or butter
2 eggs
soy sauce
frozen peas (optional)
2 pounds boneless pork or chicken ($2.89 sale price)

While the rice is cooking cut pork and brown until cooked thoroughly. Add generous amount of butter or oil into hot skillet, add rice, onion, approx. 1/4- 1/2 cup of soy sauce. When the rice mixture begins to fry move rice to side of pan and add two eggs. Scramble and cook eggs. Then incorporate into rice. Add peas if desired. Cook for 5 more minutes stirring constantly. Stir in cooked pork and serve.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Freezer Cooking Friends

Years ago when there were only two little ones, my friend Beth approached me about freezer cooking. We would get together every 6 weeks or so, plan a menu, make a very large shopping list. The next week when all the ingredients had been purchased we would meet together for a very long day and cook. Sometimes our fun friend, Cindy, would drive up and join us.

We made a huge mess. The trash can would be filled to the brim. Our shirts would be stained. Chopped onions and various other things would cover the floor. The countertops and stove top would be covered in spills.

We were exhausted, but very happy. It was a great feeling of accomplishment to have 6 weeks worth of main dishes for the freezer. There's a lot of satisfaction in realizing that grocery shopping and kitchen clean up at home was going to be minimal.

We cooked together like this for 5 or so years. I seriously can't imagine what my life would have looked like had we not done this. It alleviated a lot of the stress that happens between 4:30 and 6:00 pm. More than anything, it was a great way to build a friendship and for our children to play together. I miss those days with Beth, but our schedules and family's needs changed.

A few times I coordinated a freezer co-op. I think at our biggest we had 8 ladies who prepared 2-4 separate meals for everyone in the group. We met to plan and then again to swap food out of the trunks of our cars. A group that size was hard to manage and many had specific preferences.

After that, I did the co-op scenario with my friend Jennie. This was such a blessing for several years. She really is a great cook and my family's favorite meals were always hers. But since her children have been diagnosed with some food allergies, we've had to stop for now. We do find other occasions to visit and go out to dinner together.

Last fall, I introduced our homeschool group to a freezer cooking party. It was a wonderful way to visit and be productive at the same time. This semester someone else picked it up and has another party planned. Fun!

Tomorrow, my very own sister, Barbara, is going to join the ranks of my freezer cooking friends! I'm so excited. She is expecting her fourth baby in the coming month I just know that this is going to make her life so much more manageable. Barb and I have always lived apart until this past fall. After a lot of prayer, God brought her husband a job here and now she lives less than 10 minutes away!!

Of course, I'll be so glad to have food readily available in my freezer. But more than that I'm looking forward to spending the hours in the kitchen talking and laughing and blessing each other.

I'll be sharing our menu and the recipes in the coming days so stay tuned. Also, feel free to ask questions or email me if there's anything I could help you with.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kids in the Kitchen

"For growing children at play, there is nothing so interesting as really 'doing things'. To 'help cook' is one of the most enjoyable things of childhood- to say nothing of being a sure way of producing good cooks. A child can cut up carrots at a very early age, with no more risk of injury than from falling down outside at play! A child can mix and stir, knead the dough and be given a piece to make a roll man, car or rabbit with raisin eyes. A child can fry eggs or make scrambled eggs- one of mine did every morning from the age of three! The kitchen should be an interesting room in which communication takes place between child and mother and also among adults."

- The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Barbeque Chicken

I bought 12 chicken thighs on Manager's Special for $2.75. I needed to use them up quick so I made this sauce before putting them in the oven before church. When we got home they were delicious and tender.

Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves 8-10
Cost: approx. $3.00 due to the sale

1/4 cup ketchup
6 Tablespoons Vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
4 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Mix all ingredients. Place the chicken in a baking pan and cover in sauce. Bake covered for 15 minutes at 475. Turn down heat and bake remaining time at 350.

**Next time I think I will make more sauce to reserve for dipping.**

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Creamy Oatmeal

A healthy, hearty breakfast makes a big difference in this house. We were recently given some Irish cut oats. They were good, but took forever to cook. Then I found this recipe....

Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: approx. $3.50

4 cups Irish oats ($1.50)
5 cups milk ($2.00)

Mix 4 cups of Irish oats in 5 cups of milk. Cover and let soak overnight in fridge.

In heavy saucepan bring oats, milk, 2 tsp. vanilla to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes or until oats have softened stirring often. Add in 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar and simmer 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nothin' Fancy- Beans and Cornbread

Not every meal at our house is from scratch. It's more important to sit down and have a meal together, so sometimes it has to be quick and simple.

Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook time: 15 min.
Serves: 8
Cost: approx $6.00

Ham and Beans
Corn Bread

1/2 onion ($.25)
1/4 pound of ham ($1.25)
2 cans of Northern Beans ($1.00)
1 can of chicken broth ($.50)

2 boxes of Jiffy Mix ($.50)

1 Cantaloupe ($2.00)

Prepackage coleslaw ($.50)
Poppyseed dressing