Category Archives: Recipes/Food

Freezer Cooking

(i.e.a long day of cooking…)

Freezer Cooking

I’ve read about how convenient it is to cook all your meals in a day and freeze them. Then, you have home cooked meals all month-long in the freezer.

It looked like a lot of work, but I found a website that calculated the savings and made it look easy. Honestly, I don’t know if I could do it without the step-by-step instructions since it takes so much multi-tasking in the kitchen.

The first month wasn’t terrible, but this last month was just a nightmare. After 8 hours, I still had three meals left and two very tired legs/feet. I’m hoping it’s just because I chose a later year than the first time. She obviously got better with time…and hopefully, so do I.

Batch cooking with summer vegetables

Over the weekend, we visited our family in Ohio for a few family events. Eric’s parents had a surplus of zucchini in their garden this year. They had done a great job making bread and other delicious treats with the surplus, and they shared some with us.

While bread was the straightforward way to go, we had a few loaves from them to start with. So, I looked up some tasty recipes that can freeze easily to make our zucchini go a long way.

Check out the size of that zucchini! We had two that size. The first one we made into fries, and we’re still trying to come up with what to do with the second.

After three hours in the kitchen yesterday, we have four freezer crock pot meals  {BBQ Chicken & Summer Vegetable Soup}, Veggie Quiche, Zucchini muffins, frozen sticks to make into fries later, Quesadillas {eaten before we could get a photo} and Tomato/Zucchini Bake {in the oven now}. Including the meal we ate last night, we have at least nine meals {and more with leftovers}.

What do you make with all of the summer’s best produce?

UPDATE – Eric’s coworker has the same “dilemma” as his parents with too much zucchini in their garden. So, what did he do?! Brought it back to our house. Guess that means we need to start looking for a small freezer to store all our meals. The little one we have in our apt. just won’t hold it all. 

Father’s Day Baking

This year is the first year I am not spending fun holidays like Father’s Day with my family. Living so far away makes it hard, but fortunately we get to see each other next weekend.

Both of our families have been pretty good about coming to visit us, too. We’ve seen someone from our families at least once a month since we’ve moved. The only month left open for the rest of 2012 is October {and it’s my birthday month…hint, hint}.

If I was with my dad for Father’s Day, I’d like to think that my mom and I would whip up a festive meal like this one. Or take him out to eat at his favorite Mexican restaurant. {Isn’t it funny how we associate celebrations with food.}

I know that he’ll enjoy his present from us all, but celebrations are more than food and gifts. When I moved out to college, I remember my dad telling me that we’d be together for holidays no matter what. Family is important and you need to make it happen.

Thank you for instilling such great values and being a great role model for me to look for in husband. Happy Father’s Day…{and we’ll see you in a few days}!

P.S. If we were just down the street again, then here’s a sample of what’s I’d bake up for you 🙂

 
Baked Fruit Crumble from @Emeals
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Ingredients
  • 20 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 15 oz can EACH of sliced pears, peaches and apricots, drained
  • 1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained
  • ½ c packed brown sugar
  • ½ t allspice
  • ¼ t ground cinnamon
  • ¼ t ground cloves
  • 4 T butter
  • Crumb topping:
  • ½ c packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ c flour
  • 2 T softened butter
  • ½ c chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Drain all fruits and combine in a large bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and butter.
  3. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is mostly dissolved. Toss in with fruit. Stir gently to coat fruit.
  4. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, butter and pecans.
  5. Blend with a fork or pastry dough blender.
  6. Pour all fruit into a 2 quart baking dish.
  7. Top with crumb topping.
  8. Bake for 30 min in a 350° oven until bubbling and top is browned.
  9. Optional:
  10. Use small ramekins to bake fruit in.
  11. Pour in ⅔+ c of fruit in ramekin and top with crumb topping.
  12. If you have leftovers, pour remaining fruit into a small baking dish and put remaining crumb topping on top.
  13. Place on a baking sheet and bake all at 350° for 30 min.

National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

In honor of National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, I am planning to make a batch to go with our dinner. Even though we’re trying to be a little bit healthier, I think a little splurge now and then is worth it. It’s all about moderation 🙂

Honestly, it’s the nutty flavor that makes my mouth water even now. It’s times like these that I feel sorry for the growing number of people allergic to them.

After perusing Pinterest, here are some of my favorite recipes. Do you have a go-to recipe for cookies?

From Spoonful of Sugar

Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cream peanut butter and shortening. Add sugars and cream. Add egg, vanilla, and dry ingredients. Chill dough. Roll into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes.

From Delish.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup(s) white whole-wheat flour (see Tip)
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/3 cup(s) smooth natural peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoon(s) canola oil
  • 4 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup(s) chopped roasted peanuts

 Directions

  1. Whisk white whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat sugar, peanut butter, oil, and butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
  3. Place half the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 10-inch log (it’s okay if it’s not perfectly round). Repeat with the remaining dough. Wrap and freeze until just firm, about 45 minutes. Reroll the logs to make them rounder and return to the freezer until very firm, at least 1 hour more.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  5. Remove one roll of dough at a time from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Unwrap the dough and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, turning the dough a quarter turn after each slice to help keep the cookies round. Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. If your cookies aren’t as round as you want them to be, shape the dough with your fingers. Sprinkle each cookie with a little chopped peanuts and gently press into the cookie to help them adhere.
  6. Bake 8 minutes for soft cookies or 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining roll of dough, if desired.Exchanges: 1/2 carbohydrate (other), 1 fat Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2

 Tips & Techniques

Make Ahead Tip: Store wrapped rolls of dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Tip: White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available at large supermarkets and natural-foods stores and online at bobsredmill.com or kingarthurflour.com. Store it in the freezer.

From 101Cookbooks {for the organic types} –

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup organic, chunky natural peanut butter
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Directions

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place racks in the top third.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. in a separate larger bowl combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. Stir until combined. Pour the flour mixture over the peanut butter mixture and stir until barely combined – still a bit dusty looking. Let sit for five minutes, give one more quick stir, just a stroke or two. Now drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Press down on each one gently with the back of a fork. It’s a loose batter, so if you’re set on doing criss-crosses, go ahead and chill the batter for an hour or so before this step. Bake for 10, maybe 11 minutes – but don’t over bake or they will be dry. Let cool five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

Make 2 – 3 dozen cookies.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

On Memorial Day weekend, my parents came to visit. Instead of having to hunt down a place to eat the night they flew in, I prepared some quick and easy sandwiches in the Crock Pot for us all. The guys especially loved them, but there were even good on baked potatoes a few days later, too.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 (17.5 fluid ounce) bottle buffalo wing sauce, divided
  • 1/2 (1 ounce) package dry ranch salad dressing mix
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
Directions
  1. Place the chicken breasts into a slow cooker, and pour in 3/4 of the wing sauce and the ranch dressing mix. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours.
  2. Once the chicken has cooked, add the butter, and shred the meat finely with two forks. Pile the meat onto the hoagie rolls, and splash with the remaining buffalo wing sauce to serve.

 ENJOY!

Recipe of the Week – Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

This week, there was a sale at Aldi on whole fryers. For just $3, we bought a 4.5 lb whole chicken for dinner. After finding this recipe from 100 Days of Real Food, I was inspired to make a home cooked meal we could both enjoy.

Not only did the house smell divine! We had a great meal and chicken to cook with for the rest of the weekend. We also saved the bones to make her Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot. If you have time you can also use this RECIPE to make your own stock on the stove top.  I’ve heard chicken stock {or any with meat bones to boil out the marrow} is great for the congestion that comes with seasonal allergies and colds.

We cooked the chicken on high for the time she recommended, and then left it on “warm” for the rest of the day until dinner time. It was so tender and {literally} fell of the bones, it brought back memories of grandma’s house and home cooked meals during childhood. {That’s gotta be good!}

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it yourself – belive me, it’s not as difficult as it may sound or you think it is. You can do it!

The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

{From 100 Days of Real Food}

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large chicken

Directions

  1. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
  2. Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
  4. Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. There is no need to add any liquid.
  5. Cook for 4 – 5 hours (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Don’t forget to make your homemade stock with the leftover bones!

Ham, ham and more ham

We only bought an eight-pound ham for Easter, but man did it take a while to cook it all up. I’m sure some people had a few of the same challenges from their leftovers, too.

Here are some of the recipes I’ve used {and frozen for later} –

  1. Crock Pot Ham and Beans {froze the leftovers for later}
  2. Cha Cha’s White Bean Chili {because I soaked too many beans from the last one}
  3. Ham Broccoli Braid {frozen for next week}
  4. Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole {From eMeals menu for next Saturday}
  5. Ham Tetrazzini {also frozen for later}

All of these took just a few hours over the course of a couple of days to prepare. Hopefully, this will do it for our “ham fix” for a while. Anyone else have some good recipes to share for ham leftovers?

Good home cooking

Last Friday, Eric and I went to a local chef lead cooking class at Flambe. It was a fun date and something we’ll probably do again.

The theme of the class was Tamale Party – and it was! Since half of the couples didn’t show up, there was plenty for the rest of us. The chef had already prepared the meats before we arrived, so we just had to mix up the masa and help with a few of the salsas.

Here’s some of the ones we brought home and steamed the next day before freezing –

 In the steamer!

 Eric with his creations {he really loved the class and repeatedly told me while we were rolling}.

And, we just HAD to have some for breakfast with their smell filling the house! {yum}

Since the rest of the weekend was pretty slow, we had some time to grill out and enjoy the weather. We loosely used this recipe from Pinterest.

I also made a wonderful Pear Tart from a recipe we found in Sunday’s paper a few weeks ago. We registered for a tart pan after watching too much of the Food Network, but have never used it. I don’t know why we waited so long. It was well worth it!

Even though there were a few dishes to do, it was only to work off the sweetness of the tart {yum, again}.

Hope everyone else had a great long weekend with family and friends!