Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hey there!

I just wanted to share with you a new post on my other blog,   It's absolutely amazingly good!  I've never made lasagna in the crock pot before, let alone use feta cheese in the recipe, but this was great!  And Mr. Man of the House said it was definitely a keeper.  So if this tempts you enough, why not head over to Real Women Eat and check it out....and you're welcome!

 Crockpot Lasagna with feta and spinach

Friday, February 26, 2016

Freezer Cooking with Friends

Freezing with Friends is definitely a fun way to lighten the load of bulk cooking, prepping and freezing all that food.  Plus, you get to try new recipes.  Recipes that your friend's family have enjoyed (and hopefully yours will too).  

Last year, my cousin's wife, and my dear friend, mentioned she was running out of ideas for meal time.  I told her I was getting ready for another freezer session and asked if she wanted to do it together.  So began our Freezer Parties.   By the way, we also do canning parties - but that's for another day.

There are many approaches to 'Freezing with Friends' and you can tailor make it to your needs, or whims.  One method is a Freezer Swap.  For this, you don't necessarily freeze together, but it's like a cookie exchange.  You might want to keep it small, because you will prepare a meal for each person.
The method my friend and I used, though, is the one I like best.

We put on our calendar a date to get together to plan.  Each of us came up with a list of recipes our families loved.  She had never done a freezer session so she came armed with recipes they loved and we decided if they froze well and would work. Most recipes convert well to freezer cooking but there are a few ingredients that, though won't harm you if frozen, just don't hold up well.  A good rule of thumb, if you've seen it in the frozen food section (think TV dinners) than you can freeze it! And if you're just not sure, when you prepare a favorite dish, put a portion in the freezer.  Try it in a month.  Do you like it? Did it re-heat well?  Winner!   Our list was long, so we concentrated on trimming it down to a workable session and save the others for another time.  We decided on ground beef and chicken categories.  And, being the list maker that I am making a list in what order we would be doing the food according to like ingredients.  A planning day is very important.  There were some ingredients in my favorites that her family didn't care for so those where whittled off the list right away.  Had we not planned.. oh boy!

Next step was to list all our ingredients and gather total measurements from all their  ingredients list. (We're making our master shopping list) and making note of what we have in our pantry like spices, etc.  

Next, shopping!  We ended up going to Sam's Club for most of our supplies, but stopped at a grocery store to finish up.   Don't forget to get the pans you will be freezing in!  We found the party supply store had the cheapest prices at that time.  So check around.

Next, actual preparing day! Since she had a 2 year old, we do things at her house so I bring all my kitchen supplies, pots, crockpots, etc. with me early that morning.  We have breakfast and start right into it.  We had a blast and by the end of the day had a month's worth of meals to slide into the freezer.
(just one section of her kitchen with some of the dishes!)

And here's the recipe for the super-easy manicotti pictured here...

2 packages Manicotti (14 each)
1 pound ground beef
2 eggs
1 box chicken stuffing mix (like Stove Top)
2 cups cottage cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (depending on how much you like it)
8 cups prepared spaghetti sauce

Mix stuffing mix, seasoning packet that comes with it, beef, eggs, cottage cheese, Parmesan and cheddar cheese to make a thick paste.  Set aside 5 minutes to absorb moisture.  Spread small amount of spaghetti sauce in pan.  Stuff uncooked manicotti shells and place side by side in pan.  Spoon spaghetti sauce over shells.

To bake: cover and bake 350 degrees 1 hour.

To Freeze:  Cover with foil, or Ziploc bags.  Freeze up to6 months.  To bake,thaw overnight in frige and bake according to directions.

This recipe makes two 9 x 13 pans, or three 8 x 8 pans.

So have you tried "freezing with a friend", or any other variation?  Share with us in the comments.  I'd love to hear!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Chocolate Coma Cake

Prepare yourselves.  If  your prone to sin, I beg you, don't take one bite of this cake. This cake is chocolate on steroids.  Seriously.  Often I will do a prototype and then tweak it.  I was going for something totally decadent and I think I achieved that.  I will not be tweaking this one.   I was just going to call it a chocolate poke cake, but when I used my nephew as a guinea pig, he dubbed it "Chocolate Coma Cake".  So that's how this baby got it's name.

I'm going to share this recipe, but don't hold me responsible for contributing to your caloric demise. You've been warned.

Chocolate Coma Cake

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 sticks butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermik
2 eggs

Filing (for poking in the cake
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

mini chocolate chips
chocolate ice cream topping (the kind you squeeze)

Melt butter over low heat.  Add Cocoa and water and bring to a rapid boil, remove from heat.
Mix sugar, flour, soda and salt in a large bowl.  Pour heated ingredients over dry.
Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.  Bake 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes.  All ovens are different.  Mine is possessed so I watch mine like a hawk.

Once cake comes out of the oven, poke holes all over the top of the cake. 

Place sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup  chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Stir the chocolate and milk until smooth and then pour over the cake and spread to fill in the holes.  Set cake aside to cool (you can hasten the cooling by sticking in the frige - which is what I did)

To make the whipped topping, whip heavy cream until it begins to thicken.  Add powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla extract and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Spread whipped topping on top of completely cooled cake.

Here's where you can get creative and chocolate it up ever further by sprinkling mini chocolate chips on top, and then drizzle the chocolate ice cream syrup on top of all that!

You'll want to keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve because of the whipped topping.    

So there you go.  See what  I mean?  (devilish giggle)

I am participating in Meal Plan Monday


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