Friday, October 5, 2012

Let's Try this Again. . .

Well, after the last crock pot experience, I thought, I might as well forge on and try it again.  Only, I was overtaken by ambition and opted to try the idea of making many meals in a day and then freeze them.  So, I did just that.  Tonight will be the second night of trying our new dinners and the first that comes from the freezer.  I will share my interesting, less than glamorous and even potentially injurious endeavor! 

First.  I cheated.  I used Jaima's site called Ring Around The Rosies.   She has an amazing list of recipes and the "how to's" for freezer cooking.  I stumbled upon this on one of my many Pintrest adventures and whoa!  was it a doozy.  So here goes:

1.  I identified my recipes.  Actually, I just took them all from the above site and printed them out. 

2.  I took tally of all of the items I needed.  I listed the ingredients and then just put tally marks next to them for each recipe until I have gone through all of the recipes. 

3.  I went to Aldi's (I love Aldi's!) and was able to buy literally EVERYTHING on my list except 4 items.  Two of those items were specialty items (we are doing low sugar/carbs as a family and I needed a 1/2 or no sugar grape jelly and a low carb BBQ sauce).  I also needed Rosemary and Cilantro and Aldi's doesn't care herbs at all. 

4.  After shopping, I brought everything home and separated out the veggies, canned goods, and meats.  And then waited until the next day to prepare it all. 

The next day I washed the veggies and prepared my space.  Now, I should let you know, that my "space" is all of a 2 sq foot "island".  So I got out my little cutting board, and a boat load of bowls. 

1.  I went through each recipe and chopped up the veggies that went with each one.  I realized after I started that EACH recipe was to make 2 meals!  Granted the original recipe was for only 3 people, I just modified the veggie content to my kids preferences (like less onion or diced instead of just chopped green peppers) but kept the overall liquid and canned items the same so that it wasn't too much for the crock pot.  I also added the amount of meat that was appropriate for us. 

2.  Once I was done with the veggies for a recipe, I put them all in a bowl, added any garlic and seasonings needed.  Then I set them aside on my dining room table with the recipe.  I did this for all of my recipes. 

3.  I stopped long enough to bandage my thumb from where I chopped off a chunk while doing my red onions.  :-)  Sent hubby to buy an electric food chopper. 

4.  After finishing up the bandaging I pulled out a sharpie marker, the gallon sized baggies, the sandwich sized baggies.  I cut each recipe and put it in the sandwich baggie and then labeled the 2 gallon bags with the sharpie to match the recipe. 

5.  I cleaned up my veggies and plugged in my can opener.  To mix the veggies good, I would pour them all in one baggie and then scoop out half into the other baggie.  Added any canned goods and my meat.  I then laid the bag as flat as possible and squished out as much air as possible.  Taped the recipe baggie to the front of one bag and moved it to the freezer. 

In the end I made a total of 15 meals including the one that I served that night.  I did cook one meal while preparing the rest.  It was the Mini Meatball Cakes.  They are delicious!!  Then I froze the rest of those. I also made the stew into a single meal instead of splitting it and figured I can just freeze any left overs. 

 This was extremely easy and fun.  Tonight we ate the chicken Teryaki and all but Cody ate it!  I loved it and Tray said it was better than regular Chinese food!  Served it over brown rice (also from Aldi's). 

So, so far so good.  I'm thrilled to not have to think about dinner for almost 2 weeks!  As long as I remember to take it out the night before!  :-) 

Hugs to all!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Getting my feet wet. . .

Well, I thought, I'd start with something very small.  After reviewing only 97 pages on crockpot cooking, I thought I should get out the crock pot.

Yesterday, I visited the local farmers market and purchased a wonderful selection of veggies and fruits.  I then stopped and bought some chicken tenders (boneless, skinless chicken cut in thin strips).
Some of my fresh fruits and veggies.

Feeling spunky and determined I was going to get this day off to a great start and thus, with dinner prepared, get the night off to a great ending, I prepared my "new dinner".

Cut up the chicken. Opened a small can of diced tomatoes (only cause they seemed like they're good for you and added liquid), may not be the right choice. . .moving on.  Chopped up some zucchini, some broccoli, the chicken and 2 ears of corn.  Cut some fresh basil off my basil plants out front.  Put the chicken, in the crock pot.  Put my veggies in, and put my basil in.  Added some dry oregano, poured in my can of tomatoes, stirred it all up and turned the thing on.

Looking good at the beginning.

Fast forward to 3:00 pm as children come bounding off the bus all happy and full of joy. . . Cody walks in and announces "The house smells bad."  Hmmmm.  Thinking broccoli was a bad idea at this point.  I try a piece of chicken, breaking the cardinal rule of not taking the top off the crock pot, the meat is dry. . .throw in some more water.

It is now only 4:00 and I have the pot on "warm" so as to allow the meat to absorb the liquid, but not really cook any longer. . . is that even scientifically possible??  I guess we'll see.

Not nearly as pretty afterwords.  Grrrr.  
Ok, dinner is over.  I ate it.  Peter ate it, though I'm pretty sure he didn't want too.  Joshua and Cody refused it and Tray, well, to give him credit, attempted to eat it.  I had to go to the store to buy cereal.  Sigh.  So my Pintrest motivated crock pot dinner was not a success.  This could be a very embarrassing blog at this point!!

I'll let you follow me on my next endeavor as soon as I organize my ideas into some sort of dueable project schedule.  :-)