Freezer Meal Mass Cook

Someone gave me a book several years ago called “The Occasional Cook” by Cyndy Salzmann. And for the life of me, I’ve never successfully figured out how to do it! Even with step by step instructions.

If you are anything like me, carving out 8 hours in one day to cook 21 meals just doesn’t work. Especially adding in the shopping time as well!

But this month, I had an idea. No one said I had to do ALL of the cooking in one day! So I worked for an hour or so a couple of days and ended up with several meals that I can pop into the crockpot before we head out to football and cheer. It worked so well, I may continue doing it! I’m going to walk you through what I did…and maybe you’ll be inspired too!!!!

Day 1: Step 1: Go shopping! I went to Sams and got everything I could on my list. (I’ll put the list ¬†at the end of the post). Step 2: Before I went to bed, I put 2 pork roasts into my crockpot, sprinkled onion flakes on it, and set it for 8 hours. When I woke up – it was done!!!
Day 1 took 2 1/2 hours.

 

Day 2: Step 1: Put the roast in the fridge to cool.
Step 2: Chunk 1 1/2 onions and chop 1 1/2 onions.
Step 3: Put 3 whole chickens into a giant stockpot. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Add 1 of the chunked onions. Cover with water. Simmer for 3 – 4 hours or until chicken is falling off the bone.
Step 4: Chunk 1 carrot for each person in your household.
Step 5: Put Roast, carrots, and broth made from cooking roast into a 1 gallon freezer bag. Seal bag, remove as much air as possible. Label and Freeze.

*Note about labeling. I write on the ziploc bag the directions for cooking – that way I don’t have to search out the recipe when I want to pop it in the crockpot or oven.

** Pot roast Label: Heat roast and carrots in broth with potatoes. – this is a great crockpot set it and forget it meal!

Step 6: Remove chicken from heat and allow to cool. Take meat off of bone, stick meat in fridge to cool over night.

Day 2 took the longest, 6 hours, but most of that wasn’t active cooking…..just hanging out around the house. We used the heat from the stewing chickens to help some homemade bread rise! ūüėČ

 

Day 3: Step 1: Assemble Chicken Divan. (This is now a family favorite!) Spray 2 13 X 9 X 2 baking dishes with cooking oil. Put frozen broccoli in bottom of pans. Top with shredded chicken. Combine 1 huge can of cream of chicken soup, 1 1/3 cup of mayo, and 2 t. lemon juice. Spread over chicken evenly. Top with 1 cup of shredded cheese – per pan! Sprinkle both pans with bread crumbs.
This looked so good – we had it for lunch! Bake at 350* for 25 – 30 minutes. If freezing. Cover tightly with foil and label, then freeze.
Step 2: (We did this while the Divan was cooking) Assemble Chicken and Dumplings. Place shredded Chicken, 2 16 oz. package of frozen mixed vegetables, poultry seasoning, and onion powder in 2 1- gallon freezer bags. Make sure you double bag this! Label this way: Place bag contents in crockpot, add 6 to 7 cups of chicken broth. Cook on low for 8 hours. 30 minutes before eating, add 2/3 cup milk, drop favorite dumpling mixture in and push down into broth. Each bag made 1 meal for us – with a salad.
Day 3 took 1 1/2 hours.

 

Day 4:  Step 1: Assemble Basic Ground Meat Mixture (uncooked).  Mix 4 pounds ground beef, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 bread crumbs, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1 cup shredded carrots, 1 t salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

Step 2:  To 1/2 of above.  Add 1/2 cup milk and 2 cloves crushed garlic (or more to taste!)  Mix well.  Shape into 2 inch meatballs.  Bake at 400* F for 20 minutes.

Step 3:  To other 1/2, add 1/2 cup milk, 2 tsp sage leaves, and 4 T catsup.  Place mixture into 1 gallon freezer bag and flatten.  Label and freeze.  Label should say: Thaw.  Shape mixture into loaf pan and bake at 350* F 45 Р60 minutes.  During last 10 minutes, top with a mixture of 1/3 cup catsup, 1 T mustard, and 3 T brown sugar.

Step 4:  When Meatballs are done, cool .  After cooled, transfer meatballs to 1 gallon freezer bag.  Pour 2 cups marinara sauce over the meatballs.  Double bag.  Label and freeze.  Label should say:  Thaw.  Warm in crockpot on low for 8 hours.  Use for spaghetti and meatballs or for Italian meatball subs!

Step 5:  Brown 4 pounds ground beef, the rest of the onion, 4 t minced garlic, 2 t salt, and 2 t pepper.  Drain fat.

Step 6:  Assemble Cheeseburger Casserole.  Mix 1/2 of ground meat mixture with 16 oz. cubed velveeta, 2/3 cup catsup and 16 oz cooked package of elbow macaroni.  (Macaroni should not be cooked all the way through).  Place in 2 1 gallon bags.  Double bag.  Label and freeze.  Label should read: Thaw.  Place mixture in baking dish.  Heat in 350* oven for 30 minutes.

Step 7:  Assemble Popover Pizza.  Mix other 1/2 of ground meat mixture with 6 cups pasta sauce.  Put in 2 1 gallon freezer bags.  Double bag.  Label and Freeze.  Label should read: Thaw.  Put meat and sauce in a 9 x 5 in baking dish.  Top with 4 cups mozzarella cheese.  Unroll 1 tube crescent rolls and fit on top of casserole.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 375* for 30 Р35 minutes until crust is golden and filling is hot.

Day 4 took 1 1/2 hours.

Total shopping, cooking, and assembling time:  11 1/2 hours spread over 4 days.  Total meals cooked/assembled/frozen for my family of 9: 8.  It would be way more for a smaller family.

 

Shopping list:

  • Bread crumbs
  • Hoagie Rolls
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • ¬†Refrigerated crescent rolls
  • eggs
  • velveeta
  • milk
  • frozen mixed veggies
  • frozen broccoli
  • big bag of carrots
  • 9 pounds ground beef
  • 3 whole chickens
  • 2 pork roasts
  • chicken broth
  • bisquick for dumplings
  • onion flakes
  • cream of chicken soup
  • pasta sauce
  • spaghetti
  • elbow macaroni
  • onions
  • celery
  • garlic
  • gallon size freezer bags
  • baking dishes (aluminum foil ones)
  • heavy duty aluminum foil
  • brown sugar
  • catsup
  • mustard
  • lemon juice
  • mayo
  • cooking spray
  • salt
  • pepper
  • poultry seasoning
  • sage
  • potatoes

My Favorite White Bread

Several years ago, I picked up The Best of Amish Cooking by Phyllis Pellman Good – it is quite literally my very favorite cookbook. ¬†I have tried for years to find a white bread recipe that my kids like as much as the white bread in this cookbook – and I haven’t been able to find one.

Dissolve 1 package of yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in 1/2 cup lukewarm water.  (I usually do this in a large mixing cup).

Then Mix 2 cups lukewarm water, 1 1/4 tsp salt, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1 3/4 tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter.  (i mix this all in my kitchen aid).  Then add the yeast mixture, and gradually 7 Р8 cups of flour.

****Stopping here for a hint.  You may not use 7 Р8 cups of flour.  You want to gradually mix in the flour one cup at a time until you can touch the dough and it not stick ooey gooey to your finger.  It needs to be pulled completely off of the mixing bowl and forming a strange ball on your dough hook.  Depending on heat and humidity, this can be as little as 6 cups or as many as 10 (rare)!*****

Because my kitchen aid bowl is stainless steel, I just leave the dough in there.  If you are mixing in a plastic bowl, switch the dough now to a greased bowl (grease the sides with more butter).  Cover with a dish towel and set it in a warm place to rise until double.  This usually takes about an hour.

Punch it down.  Literally.  Form a fist and punch the middle.  Then Use your hand to scoop the dough off the side of the bowl and into the middle.  Cover and let rise again (another hour or so).

Get two large loaf pans out and cover the sides and bottom with yummy butter. ¬†I usually take a stick, peel off the wrapper, and then just “color” the pans with butter. ¬†Now go get your dough. ¬†Cut it in the middle with your hand. ¬†If you do it right, you should be able to cut it in half with your right hand, and then grab the left side of the dough, scooping it up and set it gently into the loaf pan with a perfectly formed loaf – this takes practice, but you can do it! ¬†Now use your left hand and scoop the right side out and put it into the second loaf pan! ¬†Waalaa!

Oh wait…shoot….you are not done! ¬†Cover both loaf pans and let it rise again (another hour or so). ¬†Take the cover off after it has risen, and bake at 350* for 1/2 hour.

It makes beautiful bread. ¬†Perfect for covering in yummy apple butter and noshing right out of the oven. ¬†It doesn’t do french toast or the toaster well though. ¬†Just an fyi!

ENJOY!!!!  And seriously, purchase the book.  I think you can get it for a penny used on Amazon!

BAM!’s Shake N Bake Knock off

OK. This week has been a little crazy. Evaluations, preparing for vacation, finishing up school, and all that Jazz. Things have been….off. And I’ve been forgetting things like crazy!

But sometimes, forgetting can be a GOOD thing. For instance, I forgot to purchase shake n bake for our pork chops. The DISASTER!!!!!

BAM! to the rescue! It was her night to cook, and she just couldn’t let a good pork chop down. She hit the pantry and the spice cupboard and made up something so delicious, we didn’t have any leftovers! In fact, it is now a rule….NO MORE SHAKE N BAKE for this family.

I can’t give you exact amounts, cuz she doesn’t know ’em….but I can give you ingredients! Adjust to your flavor profile!!!

  • First: Get a gallon size ziploc bag, and prop it open.
  • Next: Pour in Italian style breadcrumbs (a lot of it), chopped onion (the spice), parsley flakes (load em up), herb salt blend, red pepper, garlic powder, and a bit of onion powder, salt and pepper.
  • Last: ¬†Zip up the bag, shake shake shake.

 

There you have it. ¬†We’ll never go back to Shake n bake again!!!!!!

May Menu 2014

Alrighty guys. ¬†I finished my May menu a whole week ahead of time! ¬†Aren’t you proud of me!!! ¬†I have several new recipes I’m trying out. ¬†Trying to slowly get healthier by not eating as much pork or red meat.

Also, we’re going to be on Staycation the last week of May (and who knows what things Papi will want to eat on Staycation!) ¬†– so I didn’t schedule anything (we’ll be eating out a lot if it’s anything like our normal staycations)

Someone told me on facebook that they were inspired by my meal planning and we’re tackling a 2 week meal plan of their own! ¬†That’s wonderful! ¬†I hope you all are inspired. ¬†And I hope you share your favorite recipes!!!! ¬†I’ll use them!!!! :0

meal-plan-may 2014

Simple BBQ Ribs

I love to entertain. ¬†Preferably at my home. ¬†A couple of weeks ago I invited another family over for dinner. ¬†Papi scheduled a football game for the same night (getting him to look on the calendar is an exercise of patience), so the dinner needed to be rescheduled. ¬†We rescheduled for the next day, but I knew, I just knew, it was going to be a problem. ¬†What I had decided on for dinner was going to take at least 2 hours to cook. ¬†We had rescheduled the dinner for 6:30 pm. ¬†And the girls and I were going to a baby shower at our church….at 4:00 pm. ¬†Have I mentioned yet that Papi only cooks pasta and ramen noodles???????

Papi gracefully volunteered to make dinner….so then I had to find a simple recipe for him….I mean seriously simple….that he could follow. ¬†Google to the rescue!!!!!

I found this great recipe for Simple BBQ Ribs over at http://www.allrecipes.com .  I left him with instructions on how to do that and some corn on the cob and to boil potatoes so that I could mash them.  I headed to the Baby shower with much trepidation.

When I returned back to the house, the smell of BBq Ribs cooking was filling the house.  It smelled so good.  Papi had cooked the ribs, the corn, and boiled the potatoes.  All I had to do was butter and salt and mash the potatoes!!!  Our guests were supremely impressed with the ribs, saying that they were some of the best they had ever eaten.  So PROPS to Papi!!!!

 

INGREDIENTS:

5 pounds pork ribs

2 tablesppons garlic powder

2 teaspoons pepper

4 tablespoons of salt

2 cups your favorite BBQ Sauce

Place ribs in a large pot with enough water to cover.  Season with garlic powder, pepper, and salt.  Bring the water to a boil and cook for 45 minutes.

Remove ribs from pot and put them in a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Pour BBQ sauce over ribs.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325* for 1 1/2 hours.

Feeds: 15

Orange Simmered Pork Chops

I found this recipe in the October  2013 Issue of Make-Ahead Recipes.  We tried it out last month, and it is now a family favorite!!!!

orangesimmpork5

 

First, sprinkle 8 bone in pork chops with 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  In 2 large skillets, heat 1 tbsp EVOO.  Brown the pork chops.

Orangesimmpork1 orangesimmpork2

 

 

While the pork chops are browning, make the relish.  Stir together 2 halved, seeded, peeled, chopped mangoes; 2 cups pineapple chunks, 2 small oranges, peeled and segmented; 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup chopped red onion; 2 small sliced banana peppers, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.

orangesimmpork3

 

When the pork chops are browned, add 1 cup orange juice and 4 tsp honey.  Add 1/2 cup water to each pan.  Reduce heat to low and cover.

orangesimmpork4

Once the pork chops were cooked through, we served it with a bunch of rice and some yummy salad.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do! ¬†(Warning – it’s a little spicy)

Frozen

Heehee…..sorry, I had too. ¬†No, this post is not about the Disney movie that is all the rage right now. ¬†It’s about feeding my horde, and one of my money saving tricks.

I have a pathway in my back yard, and in this pathway I have several pots with herbs in them.  Each of the plants cost about $3, and the pots were about $2.I have about 7 pots out there right now. If you want to add in a huge $7 bag of garden soil, each plant cost me $6.

I was out weeding about a month ago, and noticed that my aloe vera (which was given to me) was overgrowing and “having babies”. ¬†It seemed a shame to trim the plant and waste all of that good aloe, so I asked some friends. ¬†I found that I can cut the stalks off and freeze them just how they are!!! ¬†That’s wonderful! ¬†And it came in handy a couple of weeks ago when a friend came over with a sunburn. ¬†I was able to give her the ziploc bag with an aloe stalk. ¬†I told her to let it defrost and then squeeze it out on to her sunburnt skin. ¬†It will also come in handy tonight, as I am burnt to a crisp from going to the beach today….but that’s a different post. ūüôā

This got me on a “how can I preserve these” mode of thought. ¬†I was googling, and asking my experienced gardening friends just how I can preserve my stock. ¬†Specifically my Mexican Oregano (also given to me) and my sage as they were growing like crazy and getting wild looking. ¬†I found that I could chop up the leaves and freeze them in olive oil. ¬†So here goes!!!

My first step was to gently clean the herbs, then chop them up.  I have an old ice cube tray, so I put the oregano in one side and the sage in the other.  I then covered it with some EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil).  I covered the tray with a giant freezer size ziploc bag and marked the bag so I would remember which side was which.

Frozenherbs1

 

And then I stuck it in the freezer for a couple of days. ¬†When I took it out…they looked like this:

frozenherbs2

I put the sage in a smaller ziploc marked sage and the oregano likewise. ¬†Now, when i’m making a stew or a sauce or a soup, I can just grab one of the cubes out of the bag…it will give me the herb AND the olive oil that I need. ¬†Bonus!!!!

I am going to do this with my basil too.  And I just read that I can cut a stalk off of my rosemary, stick it in a ziploc and freeze it, and then the leaves(?) will fall right off and I can freeze them for use later!  WooHoo!!!!

Now, I need to get my mint going so I can figure out how to preserve that!  LOL.

What’s for Breakfast? Cinnamon Flop

No, Cinnamon Flop isn’t a cow patty….ugh…i just said that?!?!? ¬†But seriously, that is something people ask me on a regular basis. ¬†Cinnamon WHAT?????

 

I discovered this recipe a few years ago. ¬†I love the Amish. ¬†I’m fascinated by them. ¬†It’s a running joke around the house that one day someone will show up at the house and instead of a SUV, I’ll have a horse and buggy. ¬†So I bought an Amish cookbook. ¬†And I use it….way too often for Latin boy Papi!!!!

Taken from the Best of Amish Cooking by Phyllis Pellman Good  and doubled to feed my large horde!!!!!
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp melted butter
2 cup milk
brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter for top.
Stir sugar, flour, and baking powder together. Add butter and milk and stir until well blended. I literally beat it until it looks like frosting.
I put the whole big thing….PLOP…..into a lasagne style pan. ¬†I spread it out, then¬†sprinkle the top with brown sugar, then cinnamon. Push chunks of butter into the dough randomly. This makes holes and gets gooey as it bakes. Bake at 350 for about an hour. ¬†If you are halving it, put into two 9 in pie tins, and only bake for 1/2 hour.
Cut into wedges and serve warm.

 

April Menu is up!!!!

I got it done….and just in the nick of time. ¬†I’ve got lots of new soups this month, and some lighter fare a couple times for breakfast. ¬†We have a tendency to start doing a LOT of smoothies for breakfast from May to October…it’s Florida – It’s HOT!!!

I also am trying to add more Mediterranean style dishes into the mix. ¬†I love the flavors….and with a farmers market 15 minutes away – i HAVE to use all of the fresh produce!!!! ūüôā

Recipes will be coming forth as I photo and have them kid tested. ūüôā

meal plan april 2014

Let me know what you think.  I have a special meal for the first day of Passover, but for the life of me am stuck on what to serve for Easter.  What are you serving??????