Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Make Ahead Recipe: Beef Stew No. 1

I have about 5 Beef Stew Recipes.  I like them all for different things.  One is sweeter, others are more savory, some have a thick, creamy base, others are in thinner.  This one is pretty savory and a bit on the thin side, so I serve it with a slotted spoon for the kids who don't like it too soupy.  For myself I dish all the yummy juices over some mashed potatoes!  We all enjoyed it and the kids liked it even better the next day for lunch.

Beef Stew No. 1

1 pound stew meat
2 cups beef stock
1 cup tomato sauce (I used strained tomatoes)
1 14oz can of Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (or what ever kind suits your fancy)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Toss it all in a freezer bag and freeze flat.  Thaw 24 hours then put in slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours.  Serve with applesauce, mashed potatoes or pita bread (which my kids are enamored with right now). 

Huck is actually a pretty good eater as long as what we eat doesn't contain cheese.  He will drink milk, but hates cheese. He says it makes his mouth feel weird. That's how some of my allergies started, so no cheese for him!
Noodle is a wimpy eater in general.  She isn't necessarily picky, but she doesn't eat much of anything. 
Probably why she is so tiny, but I don't want to force her.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Freeze Ahead Recipe: Parm-ish Chicken

This is a meal I've made several times before.  It started as a "Oh crud!  What am I going to feed people tonight" recipe and has ended and a tried and true favorite.

When I bagged it during Freezer Cooking Day, I called it "Parm-ish Chicken"  Because it is kind of like Chicken Parmesan.  But only kind of.  What it is is delicious and so super easy.

Parm-ish Chicken

3 Chicken Breasts
1 Jar Pasta Sauce
1 Heaping Tsp Italian Seasoning
3oz Goat Cheese (More or less depending on your taste.)
Combine the first three ingredients in your freezer bag (or right into the slow cooker - just because I make this ahead doesn't mean you have to.  Actually this is the first time I have made this ahead.  Usually I just dump and go in the morning.), lay flat and freeze until ready to make.

When ready to cook, be sure to thaw the bag in the fridge overnight.  You probably could do it from frozen, but it does make it harder to get out of the bag and into the slow cooker.  Once it is thawed pour everything into the slow cooker and set for 6 hours.

An hour (or even 30 min) before serving add the Goat Cheese and stir.  Keep the lid off the slow cooker and let the sauce thicken up a little bit.  This is a great time to make your noodles and prep your salad and/or toast.  (I love adding carbs to my carbs by enjoying some buttered toast with my pasta.  And YES, we were Paleo for awhile. ::hangs head in shame::)
That's it.  It really is simple and the goat cheese makes it special.

The kids ate it up tonight.  Even my cheese-hater, Huck, loves this chicken and Noodle had seconds of everything.  I call that a major victory in our house!

Spooky Treat Chart

A new season means a new attempt at a 'chore/responsibility' chart. This round I'm keeping it simple.  They need to collect 10 tokens during the week in order to get a treat on Saturday.  This treat can be anything from extra time at the park, eating out, or a special snack.  
They will get tokens for good behavior - helping out, doing something the first time, etc.  And they will lose them for less than ideal behavior - whining, fighting, not following directions.  I started them off with 5 each.  Noodle lost two almost as soon as I posted the chart, but she has already earned one back. 

I laminated some paper to make the "Spooky Treat Chart" and then added some stickers to a piece of construction paper.  Cut them out, sent them through the laminater as well and cut them out again.  Each token has some stick-tack on the back.

I hope this works!

Less is the New More! (Day One: 31 L&M)

As you may have noticed I'm trying to make do with less recently.  I'm going to keep trying to pare down or actually USE everything.  Yesterday Noodle was messing the bookshelf and pulled a fabric drawer down.  The drawer contained my hoard of note cards.  I have a whole drawer of note cards I NEVER use, many of which I have had for nearly 20 years.  I should have thrown them out, but instead I put them back in the drawer and back on the shelf.  But with the vow that I will not buy more note cards until these are gone!

I want have less, spend less, enjoy the kids and my life MORE!

Conveniently I found THIS:
31 days of Less & More

I'm in! So for the month of October I'll be Less & More(ing) it!  Maybe I can finally decide what to do with all these note cards...

(Feel free to do this too!  Leave me a comment and let me know if you are going to Less & More along too.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Freeze Ahead Recipe: Salsa & Lime Chicken

So the first meal out of the freezer was a success.  What was a failure was my remembering to take photos.  But really none of the freezer bags look terribly appetizing, and once food hits the plate my family is eating it.  Don't expect too many food photos, and REALLY don't expect any that look good; there are no garnishes at Chateau Our House.

Anyway, I pulled the bag out the the freezer yesterday morning, left it to thaw in the fridge for about 24 hours.  Then this morning I dumped it all in the slow cooker on low, set it for 6.5 hours, and left the house for a busy day (Noodle was getting vaccinated today and didn't like it...but does anyone?).

When I returned home the house smelled deliciously sweet and spicy.  Our slow cooker has a timer and then moves from low (or high) to warm. I worry that without that feature in the 10 hours from the time we left the house to dinner, it would have gotten a bit dry.  So if you have an old school slow cooker (and I did until last year), consider yourself warned.

Recipe time!

Salsa & Lime Chicken 

3 chicken breast  (Considering the gigantic size of chicken breasts these days 3 is all I ever cook and it feed the 4 of us plus leftovers almost every time)
1 jar of mango salsa
1 Tbs of lime juice (feel free to add more or juice a real lime if you are so inclined...I was lazy and used the little lime shaped squeeze bottle I keep in the fridge)
1 package chicken taco seasoning (You could also make some from scratch.  I keep meaning to do that, but haven't gotten around to it yet.  I have bought the jars to keep it in so that is a step in the right direction, right?!)
1 handful of diced red pepper (Yup, handful.  I chopped up 6 pepper, put them all on a plate and just grabbed a handful for this, and several other, recipes.  If you want specifics I'm not the girl for you.  FYI - this is why I'm a terrible baker.)
1 handful of diced onion

The recipe I loosely went off of (found here) called for cilantro and jalapenos.  I don't like jalapenos and The Husband doesn't like cilantro (I know! Crazy!) so I left them both out.

Anyway, just mix the salsa and taco seasoning together in the bag so you don't get clumps of seasoning, then toss in everything else.  Lay it flat and freeze.  Then thaw, cook, and serve with rice, lettuce, chips and guacamole.

Easy.  Yummy.  And both Noodle and Huck ate it without complaint.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stocking the Deep Freeze - 30 meals, plus extras

Yesterday I sent the kids off to preschool/parents day out, ran to the grocery store for a few last minute items, and got to work. The day before I made a major $480 trip to Costco and my normal grocery store, scrubbed the kitchen, found my recipes, labeled ziptop bags, and popped a Whole Chicken in the slow cooker to roast overnight.

It was a major cooking extravaganza. Well not so much cooking but chopping - lots of chopping.
CHOPPING!  Chicken from Crock Pot roast, 6 Bell Peppers, 5lbs of Carrots, Celery, 6 Onions
At the end of the day I had the following stashed on my freezer:
Chicken for Slow Cooker:
   Applesauce Barbeque
   Cranberry Barbeque
   Chicken Fajitas
   Honey Rosemary
   Coconut Curry
   Lime Salsa

Chicken for the Grill
   Orange Soy
   Cumin Lime

Ground Turkey for Slow Cooker
   Meat Sauce
   Sloppy Joes

Beef Stew Meat for Slow Cooker
   Chunky Chili with Veggies
   Mongolian Beef
   Chunky Beef Stew

Ready For The Oven
   Sausage & Peppers
   Chicken Enchiladas

Misc Other
   2 packs of Bratwurst 
   4 packs Cheese & Spinach Ravioli
   6 Frozen Pizzas
   2 Whole Chickens
   1 Salmon
   2 Chicken Breasts
   2 packs of Bacon
   1 pack of Ground Beef
   1 Huge Pork Roast that I forgot to cut up before freezing and now I'm not sure what to do with. 
   1 Chocolate Cake (I made two for The Husband's birthday last week and stashed one for later)
   1 Egg and Hashbrown Casserole
   1 Bag of Sheedded Chicken for Quesidillas or Chicken Salad
   LOTS of individual packets of guacamole.
Still to Make
   Teriyaki Meatballs
   Potato Soup
   Chicken Basil Twice Baked Potatoes
   Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf
   Pumpkin French Toast Bake
   Chicken Broth (currently in the Crock Pot)

That's about 30 dinners that are ready to go. On each bag I've written how to prepare it and what to serve it with. I've also made sure I have all the required side dishes in the house. This includes Jiffy Cornbread mix, jarred Mandarin Oranges, Rice, etc.  So on any given night I can make anything in the freezer. 

I'll post the recipes AFTER I've cooked the meal. 95% of the recipes were new to me and I don't want to post them and then have them turn out badly. 

If this works it will really save me time during the day and it should cut the budget too. That being said this is still about $500 worth of food. I buy quality meat and veggies (organic, free range, grass fed, etc.) whenever possible and that is more expensive, but for now it is worth the price.

Now for a little FREEZER TOUR!
Croissants, tortillas and cake, plus 6 crock pot meals.
8 crock pot meals, 2 huge bags of frozen veggies (to be sides)
2 whole chickens, french fries, enchiladas in the dish ready to bake, salmon, pork roast
2 packs of bacon, pepper and Sausage, my chocolate stash, butter, brats
Individual packs of guacamole, extra pack of ground beef, ravioli, breakfast bake, chicken for the grill, extra chicken

   That's it.  A month of meals already to go.  Now just pray the power doesn't go out!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Little Cleaning of My Own

After the toy cleaning it seemed only fair to do a little cleaning/purging of my own things.  Namely fabric.  I like fabric, I always have.  I've made exactly one quilt but yet I've amassed a ridiculous amount of fabric to make other quilts.  But at the same time not really.  A fat quarter here, a yard of something there - it doesn't actually add up to a quilt...or anything else for that matter.

When I started the fabric destash I had two 22 gallon bins of fabric, two additional bins of clothes that didn't work for us any longer but I was holding on to so I could use the fabric for something else later, a cardboard box of odds and ends, and 7 FULL BOLTS of fabric that I was given by my neighbor about 5 years ago.

Even if I sewed something everyday for a year I would never get through all of this!

In the mess I discovered a sentimental shirt (the one that let The Husband know that he stood a pretty good shot with me), an entire quilt cut out and ready to start piecing, 2 dozen cloth wipes all cut out and ready to be sewn up,  and a dress that I'd cut out (I'm feeling a theme here) and stashed in a bag labeled 2007!  Clearly I'm on top of things - and that I enjoy cutting but never seam (see what I did there...Ha!) to get to the sewing.

Anyway now that the purge is over I have one bookshelf of fabric and such.  All neat and tidy and easy to access.  Hopefully this will encourage me to start actually sewing and not just cut things out.

But I'm not counting on it.

From the top: Embroidery Thread, Buttons, More Buttons, Notions Tackle Box, Box O Ribbons
Larger Cuts of Fabric, Smaller Cuts of Fabric, More Fabric, Box O Scrap
3 Felted Sweaters, Box O Started Projects, 5 Bolts of Fabric

Headed out the door:  
  • 2 trash bags and 2 bolts to Project Linus so someone that is not me can make blankets 
  • 2 trash bags to Goodwill
  • 1 trash bag to the trash 

It feels good!