Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cooking- My love language.

If you asked Chris what my love language is, I gurantee you at least one of them would be FOOD. Not so much eating it, but making it for others. My first instinct when someone I know is having a bad day, is to make them something yummy.
I think I even get a little depressed if I'm forced to not cook for awhile.
This is one of the reasons that weeks before my c-section, I cooked and froze meals like a crazy lady! I knew I wasn't going to be able to cook for at least two weeks, but I still wanted to be able to provide for my men while I was resting.
This idea turned out to be one of the best ideas I've ever had. It was so nice knowing that diner, lunch, and breakfast were taken care of! All I had to do was tell Chris what to take out of the freezer. Genius idea. And I normally am not known for my genius ideas. Seriously.

I've noticed a trend around me, that one of the most stresful things for stay at home Moms, is preparing dinner with kids running around.

So I wanted to share what I do, and how stress-free it can truly be.
Every two weeks I go to the store and KNOW I'm going to be buying these staples:
Organic milk
Organic non-salted butter
5-6 in bone chicken breast with the skin on
Wild Rice
Ground beef 2-5 lbs
Organic beans in the can: Pinto, black, and kidney beans
Organic canned pumpkin
Organic cage free eggs
Raw milk (this is a new items I've added to my shopping and I am LOVING it!!)
Fresh corn, cooking potatoes, zucchini, apples, spinach, and any other organic produce that catches my eye
Tortillias (These rock! We use them for everything)
pizza dough from the publix bakery
gallon freezer bags
Aluminim foil
Square alumnim baking pans that can be thrown away after use (no dirty dishes!)

Then, two days while Ben is at day school and Baby is sleeping I make these recipes:

Pumpkin and chocolate chip muffins:

4 eggs
2 cups raw sugar
1 (16 oz.) can pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups oil
3 cups flour (I use half unbleached and half whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I also add all spice, nutmeg, and cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
1 package chocolate chips (I only use 1/2 cup)
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil until smooth. Add in dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 16-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Makes 24-30 muffins.
I divide these in 2 gallon freezer bags, label them, and defrost for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Freezer-Friendly Baked Oatmeal

1/3 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
3/4 cup raw sugar (or brown sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk
3 cups oats (regular or quick oats)
(I throw in about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips)
Beat eggs, sugar and butter together. Mix in baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.

Stir in milk and oats. Pour into a greased 9×13 foil pan or baking dish and cover well. (Can use a Ziploc freezer bag, if freezing). Freeze.

To serve: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until set in the middle. Serve warm with milk. (We like to sprinkle sugar on top before pouring the milk on.)

If you want to serve it without freezing it first, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and then bake it at 350 degrees for 35-45minutes in the morning.

I divide the oat batter into three square aluminum pans to freeze.

Serves 6-8.

Then, I take the chicken breast, drizzle olive oil on them and season with salt and pepper. Stick them in the oven to roast for about an hour. Then I shred the meat, divide into 3 or 4 freezer bags and freeze.

This is what I do with the chicken:

Sprinkle on pizza crust, cover in BBQ sauce, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on it, add purple onion, and bake in a 450 oven for BBQ chicken pizza.

Add taco seasoning and saute with zucchini cut in strips and a can of black beans not drained and serve on tortillas.

Add to a salad of spinach, chopped carrots and boiled egg.

Or use some chicken to make Poppy Seed chicken:

5 cups chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup sour cream
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 1/2 rolls of crackers)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 T poppy seeds

Additional Ingredients to make it fancy:
1 tsp Worchestire sauce
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place shredded chicken in a 9X13 casserole dish.

Stir together the condensed soup and sour cream. If you wish to add the additional flavorings stir in the worchestire, celery salt, garlic, lemon juice, and pepper to the soup and sour cream mixture. Pour over the chicken.

In a separate bowl, stir together the crushed crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter. Sprinkle over the chicken and sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top of the casserole is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve plain or over rice. We like to eat it with steamed broccoli and we mix it all together. OR, put together entire dish in two aluminum disposable pans, cover with foil, label, and freeze.
I always keep at least two pans of this in my deep freeze.

Then- I brown 2-5 lbs of organic lean ground beef. I season with taco seasoning, and divide into one lb measurements and put in gallon freezer bags.

Here are ideas on how to use the taco meat:

Add fresh corn, pinto and kidney beans and eat as tacos or nachos

Or make rattle snake bites! Which is one of Ben's favorite dinners.

1 pound ground beef
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies ( I use black or pinto beans instead)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
3 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
In a large skillet, cook beef and chilies over medium heat until heated through. Add the cream cheese, cumin and chili powder. Cool slightly.
Separate crescent dough into 24 triangles. Place 1 tablespoon of beef mixture along the short end of each triangle; carefully roll up.
Place point side down 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 11-14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen.

Or use it to make twice baked potatoes! (This can be prepared beforehand and frozen as well)
4 medium russet potatoes
8 oz grounf beed
1 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
1 cup water
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 scallions, sliced

Wash well, Bake potatoes in a 400' degree oven until tender, about an hour.

Steam or boil the broccoli until tender

Carefully cut off the top third of the cooked potatoes; reserve the tops for another use. Scoop out the insides into a medium bowl. Place the potato shells in a small baking dish. Add 1/2 cup Cheddar, sour cream, salt and pepper to the potato insides and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add scallions and the potato mixture to the broccoli and meat; stir to combine.
Evenly divide the potato mixture among the potato shells and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 7 minutes.

There are SO many more easy and incredibly recipes I make and then freeze,but these are my tried and true ones. As I try new recipes I will have to update the blog.

But for now, try these ideas! And let your freezer be your new bff.