Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Poor Man's Steak

This dish is a lot like country fried steak, which we like quite a bit. I normally wouldn't take the time or effort to make this if it were not for making a large quantity to freeze. It's nice to be able to pull out however many patties I need for a meal and get it on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8
Cost: Approx. $5.00

2 pounds ground beef ($3.00)
1 onion finely chopped
20 saltine crackers crumbled ($.25)
1-2 eggs
2 cans condensed mushroom soup or ($1.00)
1 jar beef gray

Mix thoroughly the beef, onion, crackers and eggs. Form into 8 large flat patties. These may be frozen on parchment paper at this point or cooked.

Place 2 cups of flour, salt and pepper (to your liking) on a plate. Coat both sides of each patty with this mixture.

Fry patties in butter until well browned on both side. Transfer to 9x13 baking dish. Cover patties with mushroom soup or beef gravy. Bake covered for an additional 20 minutes.

*If patties are frozen, just thaw completely before frying. *

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tamali Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 10-12
Cost: Approx. $4.50

1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey ($2.25)
1 onion chopped ($.30)
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 cup tomato sauce ($.30)
1 can corn drained ($.40)
1 small can diced black olives drained (optional)
salt to taste

2 boxes Jiffy Corn bread mix ($.50)
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk

Brown ground beef and onion. Drain well. Add other ingredients and mix well and place in a 9x13 pan.

Prepare Jiffy mix per package directions. Spread batter over top of beef mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes being sure that the corn bread is thoroughly cooked.

**The beef mixture can be prepared ahead of time and frozen in a Ziplock. Just defrost and heat through before placing in 9x13**

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Stuffed Shells

This is an all-time favorite and easy to assemble since the noodles are raw when stuffed. The noodles soften in the sauce overnight and taste as though they had been already cooked. The kids love the have the job of stuffing the shells, but be prepared for a little mess:)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8
Cost: Approx. $5.50

1 block of cream cheese ($1.00)
2 cups mozzarella cheese ($1.00)
1 egg
1 box large shell pasta ($2.25)
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
Pepper to taste
1 jar Spaghetti Sauce ($1.25)

Mix together cheeses, egg, garlic and pepper well. Place mixture in large Ziplock bag and seal. Cut the corner off the bag to allow cheese to squeeze through. Fill pasta shells and freeze.

Take frozen pasta shells and place in 9x13 pan. Cover with sauces and let set overnight in refrigerator covered.

When ready to bake. Place covered 9x13 in oven at 305 degrees and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Freezer Cooking Short Cuts

Barb and I did our cook-a-thon today. We made 32 meals in about three and a half hours. We spent a total of just over $126.00. So that comes out to about just at $4.00 per meal!! This type of thing used to take more like 8 hours until I discovered some short cuts.

1. Buy frozen vegetables already diced. A 3 pound bag of frozen onions is around $3.00. This is not only cheap but probably saves 30 minutes of dicing and a lot of tears. This idea works for diced peppers as well.

2. Cook meat the night before in the crockpot. This works well for chicken breast or large cuts of beef. Don't spend the whole day cooking or it will take 8 hours. We browned around 12 pounds of ground beef total. I started the moment I woke up this morning cooking the meat on medium and giving it a stir whenever I walked by. Most of it was done by the time we started around 9:00.

3. Buy big cans when possible instead of a lot of little ones. This is a huge money saver and saves the time of opening 12 small cans.

4. Assemble and mix in the bag. Why dirty a bowl which will require time to wash? Stick a spoon in the bag and stir it there.

5. Buy gallon size, high quality bags. There is nothing more frustrating and time consuming than trying to fit a lot of food in a small bag only to realize that it is leaking or won't seal completely. The extra $1 is worth it in this case and saves many messes. My favorite are Ziplock freezer bags.

6. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Mixing with clean hands in a large container takes half the time of trying to incorporate a large quantity of ingredients with a spoon.

If you freezer cook what tips have you found helpful? Do share.