Thursday, December 16, 2010

Alaina's Crock Pot Sesame Pork Chops

I often find pork chops marked down at our local grocery. However, I'm not the best at making sure that pork chops are well cooked without being too dry. After trying Alaina's original recipe, pork chops have quickly become but one of our family favorites. Usually I have all the ingredients on hand, but simple substitutions like ketchup or dried ginger always work in a pinch.

Alaina's Crock Pot Sesame Pork Chops

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours in the crock pot
Yields: 6-8 servings
Cost: Approx. $5.00

6 lg. bone-in pork chops ($4.50 on sale)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/4 c. soy sauce
3 Tb. brown sugar
3/4 c. tomato sauce
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 Tb. fresh ginger, minced
pepper to taste

Put chops in crock pot and season with pepper. Mix remainder of ingredients and pour over the pork chops. Cook on low for 6 hrs. Serve over rice.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gluten Free Biscuits

My first attempt at gluten free biscuits was a disaster. They resembled salty, putty colored hockey pucks. Out of desperation for something bread like the kids ate them covered with maple syrup. Take two was much, much better.

Gluten Free Biscuits

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
Cost: Approx. $2.50
Yields: 12 biscuits

2 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free baking flour ($1.50)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
5 tsp sugar
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp vinegar
4 tbsp butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg and 1 egg yolk

Combine all dry ingredients. Mix milk, vinegar and eggs together well. Fold dry ingredients into wet. Add butter and mix by hand. Form into disks. Bake on greased baking sheet for 12-15 minutes at 350.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Amish Cole Slaw

Believe it or not, we are still eating out of our freezer. It looks like about ten more dinners and I'll have to rethink our fall menu. Looking forward to trying some new soups/stews and stocking the freezer with some turkeys.

My family is not a fan of slaw with mayonnaise so I'm always on the lookout for an alternative way to use cabbage. Recently I ran across this recipe for slaw and found it to be just the right balance of sweet and sour. It's not something to make right before dinner. The flavors are best if the slaw is refrigerated for at least twelve hours. (We learned this the hard way.) I think next time I'll make a double batch and have it as a side several times during the week.

Amish Cole Slaw

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: Approx. $2.00

1 medium head cabbage shredded ($1.50)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, onion, and 1 cup sugar. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, celery seed, 1 teaspoon white sugar, mustard and oil. Bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Cool completely, then pour over cabbage mixture, and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 12 hours for best flavor.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Am I crazy? Part 2

Well, once I got the idea of cooking for three months into my head, I just couldn't let it go. I mean, how awesome would it be to have 90 meals on hand and know that I really didn't have to plan meals for three whole months? In the past when I've cooked for 30 days it seemed that it took no time at all before half of it was gone. Then I would have to start planning again.

So how does a person come up with so many meals? Well, I had seven other helpers to give lots of input. We sat down in front of the whiteboard and brainstormed. We went around the room and everyone took turns giving a meal idea. It got a little challenging by the third round. Cereal really isn't my idea of dinner. But in the end we came up with a well balanced menu plan which was split about evenly between beef, chicken/pork and vegetarian.

In case you can't read my secretary's notes, here's what we will be making. Each recipe will serve 8-10 and be made times four. We came up with 25 meals knowing that I often underestimate ingredients. That way we will hopefully end up with at least 90 meals to be frozen.

1. Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce *
2. Tacos
3. Chicken Drumsticks **
4. Stuffed Shells *
5. Spaghetti Sauce with Sausage
6. Pizza
7. Green Beans/ Sausage/ Potatoes **
8. Broccoli Cheese Soup *
9. Loaded Potato Soup *
10. BBQ Chicken ^
11. Roasted Turkey Breast ^
(This became chicken on the grill cut into sliced for sandwiches or salads)
12. Pot Roast ^
13. Grilled Chicken in Marinade **
14. Honey Mustard Pork Loin ^
15. Taco Soup
16. Teriyaki Mini Burgers *
17. Chipotle Beans and Rice
18. Tilapia **
19. Quiche **
20. Meatloaf *
21. Cilantro Chicken Soup
22. Pork Chops
23. Bean Burritos *
24. Swiss Steak *
25. Cabbage Rolls

* Time intensive (several steps and thoroughly cooked)
** Ingredients Only- no cooking for now
^ Easy (few ingredients, crockpot, roaster or grilled outside)

To simplify things I've decided to break up this cooking into three days: beef, chicken/pork, and vegetarian. This means shopping in the morning and about 3-4 hours of cooking and clean up each day with about 3 1/2 helpers.

As of right now we are about 2/3rds of the way there. I'm thinking that the soups are going to take me two days since I don't have that many big pots.

I'll be sharing some of these recipes over time, but if there's one in particular that you'd like now just give a shout and I'll post it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Minty Cucumber Salad

I recently had this salad at a church pitch in and was so surprised at how well these flavors blended together. It's a perfect cool salad for these hot summer days! Enjoy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: n/a
Serves: 10-16
Cost: approx. $2.50

8 cups cubed watermelon ($2.00)
2 medium cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced ($.50)
6 green onions, chopped (I eliminated the onions)
¼ cup minced fresh mint
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

In large bowl, combine the watermelon, cucumber, onions and mint.
In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Pour over watermelon mixture; toss to coat.
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Am I Crazy?

I've REALLY been enjoying not being in the kitchen this summer as much as usual. I've been able to cook for a month both for June and July. I'm actually considering cooking for August, September and October all in all shot. I've never freezer cooked at this level. Here's my thought process:


  • Homeschooling would be less overwhelming (We are starting Aug. 9) if dinner was already made.
  • Volleyball season will be starting soon. Having food made means less eating out.
  • Grocery shopping time would be reduced and hopefully the miscellaneous spending that usually happens
  • Less dishes to do each day
  • I'd be more likely to exercise in the evenings if I didn't have big kitchen clean up
  • I could have the girls help me more if they didn't have school work and other activities to do.
  • It's going to take some financial savy. Might have to borrow from savings to come up with that amount of money. (Or maybe this will encourage me to sell off some books.)
  • It's going to have to happen during our last week of summer before school. Not so relaxing.
  • It's seems a bit overwhelming right now. That's about 90 meals!
  • I'd have to get really organized and clean out the freezer first.

What are your thoughts? Have any of you freezer cooked to this extent? Am I just crazy to even consider it?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Give Away Winner

Tisha your name was randomly selected to be the winner of the Thirty Day Gourmet's BIG Book of Freezer Cooking. Thanks to everyone who commented. Stay tuned for more giveaways to come!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Book Review and a Giveaway

Summer is perhaps the time of year that I love freezer cooking the best. It keeps me out of the kitchen and prevents me from having to have the oven on every day since much of what I make can be reheated in the microwave.

This summer I'm actually working my way through a new freezer cookbook given to me by the author herself. Nancy Slagle (aka The 30 Day Gourmet) is a co-worker of my husband and one of the original freezer cooking ladies. I remember seeing her presentation at a local library in the mid 90s and falling in love with the concept of cooking in bulk.

Let me just tell you that I LOVE this new cookbook!! It is perfectly arranged in such a way to take all of the work out of freezer cooking (well, at least the planning part). Each recipe is multiplied out several times. The instructions are specific to the freezing and reheating of each recipe. And (my favorite) the nutritional information is provided. If you are new to freezer cooking, there are great tips, pictures and step by step instructions throughout to get you started.

We've tried about twelve of these recipes so far and have really liked each one. I appreciate the variety that this cookbook provides. It really does steer away from the common casseroles and provides a great variety of recipes from appetizers to soups to desserts to entrees.

That being said, I'm offering a giveaway of my new favorite cookbook, 30 Day Gourmet's Big Book of Freezer Cooking. Check out this website for sample recipes. You can put your name in by just leaving a comment. If you link this giveaway on your blog, just let me know and I'll enter your name a second time. I'll close the entrees on July 4th.

I'm off the Wyoming this week and excited to try some delicious home cooking that I don't have to make. Hopefully, I'll come back with some new ideas and recipes to share.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chef Salad

Summer is a difficult time for me in the kitchen. I feel less inspired to look through cook books and turn on the oven. It also seems that we are always running low groceries. I think all of the outside activities results in bigger appetites.

Last week I found myself scavenging through the fridge to put together dinner. I had just a little bit of this and a little bit of that. What came together was surprisingly received by the whole family. With a bit of chopping, dicing and arranging, the kids loved creating their own salads. In the end there wasn't a scrap left.

What are some quick meals you are able to pull off from what you have on hand?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Healthy Meatloaf Now and Later

I'm a big fan of ground turkey or chicken. It's a less expensive low fat option for ground meat as well as much lower in cholesterol. I will agree with many, however, that ground turkey does lack the depth of flavor of a thick juicy steak burger. I've been experimenting through the years and have come up with this healthy meatloaf recipe that doesn't skimp on flavor and always receives rave reviews. Since I buy my meat in bulk I've found it best to make two meatloaves at once. I just slice and freeze the second one for a later date. I omit the glaze for the meatloaf that is to be frozen and wait to add the it before reheating.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40-50 minutes
Cost: Approx. $10.00
Yields: 2 meatloaves serving 8 each

2.5 pounds ground turkey ($7.00)
2 pounds low fat sausage ($2.00)
3 eggs ($.25)
1 cup oats
4 carrots grated
1 garlic clove grated
1 onion grated ($.25)
2 stalks celery grated
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Mix together turkey, sausage and eggs. In a food processor grate oats, carrots, garlic, onion and celery. Add this mixture along with spices to meat. Incorporate well using hands. Place meatloaf mixture in two loaf pans. Brush that top with the ketchup glaze. Bake uncovered at 350 for 40-50 minutes. Let meatloaf rest in the pan for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Ketchup glaze

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup agave nectar or 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard

Friday, March 5, 2010

Homemade Ketchup

In our attempts to get processed foods out of our house, I have quickly realized that quality condiments cost money. $4.99 for a bottle of ketchup. No way! That's much more money than I am willing to spend. After a few attempts, I came up with my own version which is much like store bought but without all the preservatives. I can't wait to make more to make Sloppy Joe's!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 1 1/2 cups
Cost: Approx. $1.00

1 6oz can of tomato paste ($.89)
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp white vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar or 1 1/2 Tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients well. Simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and store in refrigerator.

*You can find this recipe listed at Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap**

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes

All I can say is "Wow!" I recently checked out "babycakes: Vegan, Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes form New York's Most Talked-About Bakery". I had a hard time choosing which recipe to try first but the vote was for more chocolate. This book was what I have been lacking in all my research and reading about allergy free baking. It's full of tips and tricks as well as well refined recipes for success. We topped ours with whipped cream. They tasted like hostess cupcakes. These cupcakes were far superior than any I have ever made. Seriously. "Wow!"

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Yields: 24
Cost: $4.25

Chocolate Cupcakes from babycakes by Erin McKenna

1 3/4 cups Garbanzo Bean Flour ($1.00)
1/2 cup Potato starch ($.25)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ($.50)
1/4 cup arrowroot ($.25)
1 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp salt
1 cup coconut oil ($.75)
1 1/3 cups agave nectar ($1.50)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp pure vanilla Extract
1 cup hot water or coffee

Whist together dry ingredients. Add the oil, nectar, applesauce, vanilla and hot water to the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth.

Pour 1/3 cup of batter into greased muffin tin. Bake on center rack for 22 minutes. Rotate 180 degrees after 15 minutes.

Let cupcakes stand for 20 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ham and Egg Bake

Recently I was in the middle of the week with little groceries to speak of and even scarcer time. Then I remembered the Heavenly Baked Ham in the freezer left from the holidays. With a dozen eggs and about eight potatoes for hashbrowns, I was able to throw together this meal which received rave reviews. If they only knew.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12-14 minutes
Serves: 6-12
Cost: Approx. $3.00

1 dozen eggs ($.88)
12 slices of ham or deli meat ($2.00)
cooking spray

Spray the bottom of a muffin tin. Line each cup with a piece of meat. Carefully crack an egg into the cup. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes depending on how well cooked you prefer the yolk.

You can find this recipe along with may others at The Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Allergy Free Chocolate Cupcakes

I wish I could have somehow added the smell to go
along with the picture. I had to hurry
and snap a shot before they were all
gobbled up. These cupcakes were

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 18 cupcakes
Cost: Approx. $2.50

2 cups gluten free baking mix ($1.00)
1/2 cup tapioca flour ($.25)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup melted coconut oil ($.50)
1 egg or 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/3 cup sugar or 2/3 cup agave nectar ($.25)
2 cups rice milk ($.50)
3 tsp vanilla

Mix together dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Add slowly to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes. Place in lined muffin tin. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes.

We topped each cupcake with some glaze instead of the traditional iciing. To make the glaze slowly melt 3 oz of chocolate in 2 Tbsp on coconut oil.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Salmon Cakes and Honey Roasted Potatoes

It's often hard to find ways to fit healthy fish into the budget of a large family due to the price. Canned salmon coupled with potatoes is a perfect way to provide a healthy, satifying meal for under $10.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: Approx. $9.00

Salmon Cakes

3 cans salmon ($6.00)
1 cup chopped cilantro ($.50)
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp lemon juice

Remove bones and skin from salmon. Mix all ingredients together well. Form into patties and cook on nonstick griddle until golden brown and warmed through.

**These can be made ahead of time and frozen. Just reheat in the microwave and enjoy!**

Honey Roasted Potatoes

4-5 pounds potatoes cubed ($2.00)
1 onion finely diced ($.25)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter melted ($.25)
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt

Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with onions. Mix honey, butter, salt and sugar together well. Pour over potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees turning once for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Can I just say, "I LOVE my new Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker!" It's going to allow me to provide ice cream that is all natural for my family for a fraction of the price. I'm finding that I can have it churning while we eat dinner and ready to serve as dessert as we finish. This recipe was just the perfect balance of the richness of a fine dessert and the freshness of fruit. I can't wait to try it this summer with ripe strawberries!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Processing Time: 20-25 minutes
Yields: 1 quart
Cost: Approx. $2.00

8 ounces cream cheese ($.99)
1/4-1/2 cup agave nectar ($.25)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup frozen or fresh strawberries ($.50)
1 1/2-2 cups milk

Blend all ingredients well in a food processor. Pour directly into ice cream maker and churn for 20-25 minutes. Eat soft serve or freeze for at least 2 hours for hard serve ice cream.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cilantro Lime Chicken

This recipe was passed on to me by my college friend, Paula. Wow! It was beyond delicious. Such a healthy and flavorful way to prepare chicken that everyone is guaranteed to love. Enjoy!

Prep Time: @ least 2 hours to marinade
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6-10
Cost: Approx. $10.00

6 large chicken breasts ($6.00)
Juice of 4 limes
1 bunch of cilantro chopped ($.50)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
2 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
3 ripe avocados ($3.00)

Prepare marinade. Place chicken breasts with 1/3 of mixture in ziploc bag. Refrigerate to marinade for 2-8 hours. Cook on grill.

Smash 3 ripe avocados and add to remaining marinade mixture. Spoon over grilled chicken. Serve on a bed of rice.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gluten Free Pizza Crust

In a moment of weakness I bought a package of gluten free pizza crust mix to the tune of $6.99. Ugh. It was good, but I just kept thinking, "I could have made this myself." So after several attempts, I've come up with a winning combination. I plan to make the prebaked crusts in bulk for the freezer so that pizza can be at our fingertips.
(As you can see we are still dairy free at this point. But, believe it or not, we're enjoying pizza just the same.)

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 3 large round crusts
Costs: Approx. $3.00

3 Tbsp dry yeast
2 cups brown rice flour ($.75)
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour ($.75)
3 tsp xantham gum
2 tsp salt
3 tsp unflavored gelatin ($.25)
3 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups warm water (approx. 11o degrees)
2 tsp agave nectar
3 tsp olive oil
3 tsp vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Blend all ingredients in an electric mixer for 3 minutes with regular beater attachments. Dough should be soft and sticky.

Divide dough into three parts. Place dough in the middle of a pizza stone. (I found that the stone worked best in cooking the dough all the way through and alleviating some of the heaviness that comes with gluten free grains.) Using parchment paper sprayed with cooking oil roll dough to fit the stone. (This will save you a lot of frustration and time in trying to get this sticky dough to conform.)

Bake crust for 10 minutes. Remove and top as desired. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Roasted Banana Coconut Milk Ice Cream

We normally have a freezer stocked up with ice cream. It's our go-to dessert and we love it in all flavors! Since the elimination diet began we quickly discovered that all natural, dairy free ice cream does exist, but it is WAY expensive. The kind that we are allowed is actually $6.00 per pint. That's crazy! So you can imagine my delight when Saralyn pointed me to the Nourishing Gourmet and the many recipes there for coconut milk ice cream. Here's my adaptation of one of her recipes:

Roasted Banana Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Churning Time: 20-30 minutes
Cost: approx. $5.00
Yields: 1 quart

4 bananas cut into chunks ($.50)
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup ($.50)
3 cans of coconut milk (full fat) ($4.00)
2 tsp pure vanilla
1/3 cup water
1 package of gelatin ($.25)

Toss cut bananas in oil and syrup. Place in greased glass dish and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until bananas begin to turn golden in color.

Blend bananas/syrup, coconut milk, vanilla and cinnamon (to taste) in a blender until smooth. Meanwhile boil 1/3 cup of water. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Stir until dissolved. Add gelatin mixture to blender and incorporate well.

Place ice cream mixture to cool in fridge. When cooled process in ice cream maker.

Eat immediately for soft serve or freeze and enjoy later.

**Be warned that the coconut flavor is prominent. The bananas are helpful to bring this into balance, but I think that chocolate would do this even better. To accommodate for the taste, we topped our ice cream with just a tiny bit of maple syrup before serving.**

This recipe and many others are featured in The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gluten Free Muffin Mix

Entering the world of gluten free baking is honestly quite frustrating. The grains are expensive and the results unpredictable. There's nothing worse than spending a half and hour and $5 to make a loaf of bread that comes out of the oven like a door stop. Through trial and error and the adaptations of several recipes I've come up with an allergy free muffin recipe that works every time. The best part is that you can store it as a dry mix and make as many or as few as you wish at a time. Enjoy!!

Gluten Free Muffin Mix

1 1/4 cup oat flour
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xantham gum

Mix well and store in an air tight container.

To make muffins 12 muffins:

To 2 cups of mix add 1/2 cup applesauce or pumpkin puree, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup rice milk, 4 Tbps oil, 1/4-1/2 cup agave nectar, 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix well until all ingredients are well incorporated. Add additional milk as needed (the flour will soak up moisture quickly) and more agave nectar to taste.

Place in greased muffin tins. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.


-I trippled the mix recipe and was able to make over 5 dozen muffins.
-If adding fruit, place on top of muffin before baking instead of mixing it in. Mixing it in seems to affect how well the muffins rise.
-Brush the tops of muffin with maple syrup after baking for added flavor and sweetness.