Thursday, September 30, 2010

FREEZER FOODS FRIDAY - Guest Post


Today is Freezer Foods Friday and my guest is Kim from The Mommy Machine.  Kim is from Alaska and a mother of four.  I love hearing about "life in Alaska" from Kim and you have absolutely GOT TO check out her photography!  (Look in the right margin on her blog,  and click on "Life through the Camera Lens"  under First Time Visitors.  They are awesome!   So, with my introduction to Kim, I'd like to say a "thank you" to her for guest posting and sharing her OAMC adventures.  Take it away Kim:

I was hanging out in my sister-in-law’s kitchen, leafing through her cookbooks, when
I came across a copy of Once-a-Month Cooking. She raved about the method and
encouraged me to try it. I skimmed through the book, and while I never followed its
system as outlined, I recognized the value of its philosophy, which is basically to cook
meals in batches and then freeze them for later consumption. Whenever I prepare lasagna or enchiladas or any sort of casserole, I try always to make a couple—one for that  evening’s dinner and one to stick in the freezer for another meal.

About a year ago, I happened upon the book's updated version, Once-a-Month Cooking Family Favorites.   I bought it. I read it. I pondered. I made a decision. I was going to try the method exactly as directed. I talked it over with my husband to make sure he was on board, because he would have to watch over the children all day so that I could work undisturbed in the kitchen. He agreed, and I set out on my cooking adventure.

As suggested, I shopped for groceries the day before cooking. The book provides a very organized shopping list, divided in categories (bakery, frozen, canned, meat, etc.), so my trip was focused and simple. It took me about two hours, because I chose to visit two stores (Sam's Club and my local market).


Then I committed my entire Saturday to cooking. The first three hours were spent in
prep: rinsing, peeling, chopping, etc. Once you finish all your prep work, you go into
assembly line mode and begin preparing each dish. For example, you start with a big
batch of meat sauce, some of which you'll save for spaghetti and the rest for covering
stuffed shells.

The day was horribly, exhaustingly L—O—N—G, but the upside was that my freezer
was full of 30 meals.



THIRTY meals, gentle readers! One day of pain in exchange for a month of meals is the type of discomfort that I can handle.

I’m glad I went through the process exactly as directed, because I was able to figure
out how to adapt it to my needs. I kept a pencil by my book to jot down comments and
reminders into the margins as I cooked. Some of the recipes provide only 4 servings, so I noted to double those next time . . . to use fresh mushrooms instead of canned . . . to forget chopping an entire head of cabbage for the minestrone since it won’t get added to the soup until it’s actually served at a much later date . . .

Since my first experience with Once-a-Month Cooking, I have completed the method
twice more. Only now I break it up into 4 parts: 
Day 1 Shopping,
Day 2 Prep,
Day 3 Assembly (meals 1–15), and
Day 4 Assembly (meals 16–30).

I’ve learned to enlist one of my kids to wash dishes while I’m cooking, because I run
through every mixing bowl and cooking utensil that I own several times over. The first
time I attempted OAMC, I probably added a good hour onto my day just by stopping  to rinse out my finite number of skillets.

Like many cookbooks, a few of its recipes aren’t very good, some are quite tasty, and
others are absolutely delicious. Everyone in my family loves the Italian Sausage Soup
with Tortellini, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you. Feel free to make extra and
freeze it!

Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini
(from Once-a-Month Cooking Family Favorites by Wilson & Lagerborg)

1 pound Italian sausage
1 c. chopped onions
1 tsp. chopped garlic
6 c. beef broth
½ c. water
½ c. red wine or water
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
1 c. chopped carrots
½ tsp. dried basil leaves
½ tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1-1/2 c. chopped zucchini
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
½ c. chopped green bell pepper
16 oz frozen cheese-filled tortellini
Parmesan cheese

If sausage comes in casing, remove the casing. Brown the sausage in large pot. Remove
the sausage, leaving 1 Tbsp of the drippings in the pot. Sauté the onions and garlic in the reserved drippings until the onions are tender. Add the beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, cooked sausage, zucchini, parsley, and green bell pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Label and freeze in a 12-cup plastic freezer container with the packages of frozen
tortellini attached.

To serve, thaw the soup. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Add the frozen
tortellini and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, or until the tortellini are tender. Sprinkle
Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. (Serves 8)


Thank you again Kim for guesting today!   Seriously y'all, go check out her blog The Mommy Machine!  I loved spending some good relaxing time there!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

PRAYER REQUEST TUESDAY


Today is Prayer Request Tuesday

This is the day set aside for prayer for you.


If you have a prayer request, please list it in the comments below. You don't have to give any information you don't feel comfortable with (a simple "unspoken" comment is sufficient). If you would like to pray, please pray for the comment above yours.

Also, if you would like to share a "praise" for a blessing you have received, please feel free to list those also! I'd love to hear of it so I can rejoice with you.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Winners of the Relevant10 Give-Away announced!

If you remember my post here Then you know that I couldn't go to Relevant10...

and that I was giving the tote bag (pictured there in the post) away to an attendee. There was, however a catch (LOL) They had to take me with them! Well, not me in the flesh, but me as Flat 'Nette! Amy's name of Amy Bayliss was drawn first. But, I guess I wanted a twin at Relevant, I don't know, and felt the need to give another tote away, sooooo - that meant Karen of Faith Family Fibro was the other recipient! I'm thrilled she won too. Her tweets have been so sweet on twitter.
So, those are the two lucky ladies! (after toting me around we'll see how lucky they think they are! LOL)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

FREEZER FOODS FRIDAY - Guest Post Kirsty Girl

Today I want to introduce you to my bloggy-fried, Kirsty.  We met on Blog Frog.  She's such a cutie pie and... vegan.   I'll admit I'm not a vegan,  not even vegetarian, although I do love veggies... I just like meat too.  LOL.  I became interested in vegan/vegetarian ever since the episode of Cupcake Wars when the winner was a totally vegan baker.  I'm thinking... oh man, you've got to be kidding me.  No way is that going to taste like anything other than paste.  But when she wow'ed the judges every time, I thinking to myself.  I have GOT to check this out!  When Kirsty said she had an idea for vegan apple pies, and said they were mini's I had to know more.   These are the cutest little things!!!  I'm excited to present to you something totally different for Freezer Foods Friday and expand our horizons if you will...  So without further delay, let me introduce you to Kirsty of Kirsty Girl

I have been very excited about this post because it is my first ever guest post! So I hope you’ll all go easy on me. I came across this blog on Blog Frog and found that the lovely Jeanette was more than eager to accept a guest post of any recipe I chose. As a vegan I figured that people would be less likely to accept a recipe from me.. but thankfully Jeanette was very open minded. Please don’t be turned off by this being a vegan recipe. You yourself, probably eat vegan all the time and didn’t even know it.

I have to say I absolutely love the idea of Freezer Foods Friday.. Freezer foods are ridiculously wonderful and my favourite part of the recipe I am sharing with you today is that it can be left frozen for up to one month. There’s nothing better than wanting some dessert after dinner and all you have to do is grab it out of the freezer and put it in the oven for a rich, gooey, hot apple pie.

This recipe will make 4 individual apple pies.

Kirsty's Little Apple Pies


Ingredients:
4 apples, peeled, cored, chopped (Usually apple pie recipes call for Granny Smith apples, but I just use whatever I have on hand, easy and just as yummy).
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbs lemon juice (If you’re lucky like me, you’ll just have to run outside and grab a lemon off your tree for this one).
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs cornflour
2 sheets of frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, thawed
soy milk (or anything just to brush the pastry with, you could probably do without anything even, if needed).

Ice cream, to serve (Vegan of course, the apple pies are sweet enough to do without the ice cream though, it’s just an added bonus. These apple pies are far from dry, so you won’t need it).

1. Place apple, caster sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and 2 tbs cold water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes or until apple has softened.

2. Combine cornflour and 1 tbs cold water in a small bowl. Add to apple mixture and bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Cool.

3. Lightly grease 4 holes of a 3/4 cup capacity muffin pan. Cut out your pasty (I use a 14cm round, serrated pie cutter for my base, and an 8cm round egg ring for the top. But you can use anything you have handy, so long as you have a base around 12-14cm and a top around 8-10cm).

4. Line holes with larger pastry rounds. Fill with apple mixture. Brush edges with soy milk. Top with smaller pastry rounds. Brush with soy milk. Sprinkle with sugar.

5. If you don’t want to freeze your pies and want them right away, you can skip this step. Wrap muffin pan with foil. Freeze for up to 1 month.

6. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced (Yes, I’m an Aussie). And for you Americans that’s 356°F/320°F fan-forced, according to Google.

7. Place muffin pan on a baking tray (I’ve never had any trouble with spillage myself but better safe than sorry) and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and heated through. Check after 30 minutes to make sure it’s not getting too brown.

8. Serve and eat! YUM

Hope you decide to make my apple pies! Believe me, you won’t be sorry. And thank you so much to Jeanette for the opportunity to do my first ever guest post!

Kirsty – Please stop by and say “Hello” @ my blog Kirsty Girl.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


When I say “I have no sense of direction.” I mean it. Not only can’t I find my way to a geographical location, but I get lost in just about any place that has more than one turn.


I can tell east, west, north and south…if I’m in my county. But if you take me on vacation, don’t expect me to know what direction I’m facing without a compass. And I’m talking that digital thing mounted in my car, not that magnetic thing that has a spinning dial.

I need a visual point of reference. I can’t even count the many times after leaving my car, to go into the fabric store and making the mental note: “Ok, I’m parked in the “A” row of JoAnn’s.” When I forget, I’ve been known to click the car alarm to “find” my car. Yeah, the people in the parking lot don’t appreciate my predicament.

Oh, and giving directions? That’s not my forte either but my poor husband is so patient. I’m basically worthless to him as a co-pilot. The directions I do actually give are like a puzzle, with pieces missing. If you ask me how to get somewhere, you’re really better off already knowing.

It’s not a good feeling when you’re never really sure about where you are, or where you’re going. That’s why couple years ago, my sister gave me a GPS for Christmas. What an invention! While it can’t help me find my car, it can get me somewhere and, best of all, get me home!

It has become my “go-to” guide, a lot like my Bible is my guide for spiritual direction. Everything I need for my journey “home” is in The Word. While my internal compass may be askew, my spiritual compass has a guide that’s right on target. God's word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path and through the Holy Spirig, we may have understanding to know God's will for our lives. 
Today is Prayer Request Tuesday


This is the day set aside for prayer for you.

If you have a prayer request, please list it in the comments below. You don't have to give any information you don't feel comfortable with (a simple "unspoken" comment is sufficient). If you would like to pray, please pray for the comment above yours.

Also, if you would like to share a "praise" for a blessing you have received, please feel free to list those also! I'd love to hear of it so I can rejoice with you.



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Now I'm Five and I Can Go To Tea

I started a tradition with my first great-neice, Mackenzie.  When the girls turn five, for their birthday they go to a "big girl's" tea with me.  My tea room of choice has always been the Camellia Rose Tea Room in Plant City!  Mackenzie is the pro now.  She's been to two teas with aunt 'Nette.

There are four great-neices.   Now it's Winter's turn!

Today was my "now-I'm-five-and-I-can-go-to-tea-with-aunt-nette" day for Winter and I. She's the five year old - just in case you're not clear on that.  Oh, there's a "five" in my age too, but it's a long way from that! 
She was excited to see her name, not only on the sign, but on her placecard...


Her grandma, (or Neena as they call her) gave her instructions on how to use her best manors.
One was "big girls sit up straight and put their hands in their laps".

Before the tea I was a bit concerned that about midway through the tea she'd want her Neena.  She's like my sister's shadow and doesn't like to be away from her.  My sister told her that she had to on her best behavior.  To which she said "O.K.,  but what happens if I can't be?"     LOL

We told her last week about our "Tea with Aunt Nette", which is shear torture for a five year old.  It's like waiting for Christmas!   She put her little hand over her heart and said "Oh Neena,  my heart and me want to go to tea with Aunt Nette so bad!"

Right here, out of the clear blue, she says to our server:  "Excuse me"  and then asks "Can we sing a song?"   And then proceeds to sing a song she made up about a princess!  

 

Her grandfather helped her understand how long she'd have to wait until Saturday.  He told her she would go to school 4 days and the next day was the tea.    She said "My brain won't stop thinking about it"

This was the first thing she went for on her tray!  (good girl!)

 
And.... this was next!  (LOL)  She commented about "no nose".  When I said oh, they didn't paint a nose on the face did they - she said "Aunt Nette! They didn't use paint -they used frosting!"  (smart girl!)

Sitting at the table  next to us was someone celebrating her birthday also.  They came out with her "treat" singing Happy Birthday and Winter chimed in singing Happy Birthday to her too.   

Then came time for Winter's "Happy Birthday" song.   I think she really was surprised.

(her mom and grandmother warned her ahead of time that Aunt 'Nette is going to take lots of pictures today)

They have a special tea for the little girls.  It's called "fairy tea".  It's served in a teapot just like the adults, but it's a cold tea.  I tried it, and I really liked it!   (I wonder if I can order that next time I go with the girls as MY tea choice?   Just a thought....)
There are other tea rooms near me, but one thing (among many) that I love at the Camellia Rose Tea Room is that they have a "bottomless pot of tea" policy!  You pick your tea from over 75 choices of tea, or you can get one of the two special tea of the day, and when you're done with that pot...the party isn't over!  You can get a refill or try a different tea!   Fun!

Anyway, after the fun, we walked to the park to let her run off some sugar,  I mean chill out and be a kid.

 
I think she had a nice time.  I have a couple years before the next one turns five,  but for Mackenzie and Winter, their tradition has just begun!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Freezer Foods Friday Guest Post

Today for Freezer Foods Friday, we're injecting some humor!  I'd like to introduce Kelsy of  Polished Portrayal is my guest today.  Kelsey is a military wife and mom who gives us some good info on freezer life of foods, and let's us share in a day in the life of what is hers... oh, and my guess about that mystery frozen food would be sausage, but I'm not sure.  What would you say?

Thank you all for allowing me the opportunity to share our ridiculousness with you, interrupting your regular dose of helpful tidbits and domestic inspiration. This? I just cannot compare to Jeanette. Not even close. BUT, I may be able to inspire you to clean out your freezer. THAT is a strong possibility.

Thanks for reading!
Kelsey
Domestically speaking, I am not Martha Stewart. I've worked my butt off over the last few years and have become a pretty amazing cook when I want to be, but the want to be part is where it gets tricky. And by tricky, I mean I DON'T want to.

Since Rob's left for Afghanistan, the effort I've put into meal preparation has decreased significantly. Let's just say that my motivation to cook for my children is considerably low, considering that they despise everything I put in front of them unless its noodles or dessert. So dinner time consists of a lot of macaroni and cheese as of late. Sometimes? I get super creative and mix in some vegetables, but this is only sometimes. Apparently, the national food guide recommends a few servings of the green stuff regardless of what my kids' opinions are.

Tonight is different. Tonight, I am feeling inspired. Not quite inspired enough to drag two cranky children to the grocery store, but inspired nonetheless. So I'm thinking freezer. The beauty about shopping at Costco is that the packages of meat are so large that I could feed an entire circus- including the man who's born with the physical abnormality of having seven stomachs. Unfortunately, I don't actually have access to any circus freaks, or even my crazy huge eater of a husband, so I have leftovers to freeze every time I cook.

This is all kinds of excellent- it means that I don't have to go shopping, I just have to get creative with what I have.

Hmmmm....

Ten cool points to whoever can accurately guess what this delicious piece of road kill is. Twenty cool points to anyone willing to eat it.

This freezer exploration inspires me to look up frozen food regulations- because really? Once frozen, shouldn't food remain in the precise condition as when it was placed in the freezer? Isn't that a well known fact?

Apparently, it's just a well communicated myth to create a wide spread plague of food poisoning. Here are the facts:

Fruits and Vegetables: 8-12 Months
Poultry: 6-9 Months
Fish: 3-6 Months
Ground Meat: 3-4 Months
Cured or Processed Meat: 1-2 Months

Ridiculous, I know. Why they haven't invented freezers that are able to preserve a product for all of time is beyond me. I mean, really, we have iPads, but are unable to eat? That just seems all kinds of wrong. Perhaps I should look into aspiring to create something of the sort. I could go back to school, become all mechanical, and presto, changeo- I would make millions! I mean really, dinosaurs where successfully preserved for millions of years without any technology. You'd think a frozen chicken could last until my next birthday.
Focus...
I need to make dinner. Sigh. Okay, I have these cleverly labelled chicken thighs, but no date.

Am I certain they've been in there for less than 6-9 months. And what does 6-9 months MEAN anyway? That it should really be in there less than 6 months, but if you're all adventurous and risky, 6 times out of 10, the meat won't kill you if it's at least as recent as 9 months old? And after that, there's a guarantee that you will shrivel up like a dehydrated prune and die?

No thanks, I don't want to take that chance. I may be willing to test it out on the dogs, but... No, animal rights people would be crazy up my butt for that one.

Okay, there's always our old faithful Eggos.

"Payton, what would you like for dinner? Eggos or noodles?"

"Noodles."

Now the test, "What if Mommy made really yummy noodles with a creamy chicken sauce? Would you like that?"

"No. I no like chicken sauce. Just noodles."

Sigh.

I suppose my entire pursuit was in vain. Noodles, here we go. Again.


And in all of the time I'm saving from making noodles every night instead of something crazy gourmet? I am SO going to invent a better freezer. Keep your eye on the local news and feel free to contact me when it's launched. I may be feeling all rich and generous and offer you a deal.

Warm Regards,
Kelsey Hansen

http://www.polishedportrayal.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 3 of Back2Blogging Challenge -

This is Day 3 of the Back2Blogging Challenge sponsored by SITS Girls!   (the Secret To Success is Support)...and we mustn't forget that cool prize we all have our eyes on...Thelma and Louise.  I just love it that they named the washer and dryer, don't you?


My Challenge #3 is a post I did when I finally faced my fear of yeast.  I know, I know.  I'm a foodie of sorts, and I am afraid of yeast???   Well, yes.  As a newly wed I tried to make yeast rolls which turned out to be more like rocks, or something you could use as mini-frisbees.  I have avoided any recipe that said "yeast" since then.

**********************************************

This weekend the RealWomenEat.com group met for our monthly Cook-N-Critique ©.  I'm going to post about that later on realwomeneat.com.     (Be sure to check it out!)  We decided this month was all brunch/breakfast foods,

and since Bakerella's post last week was her trial of Ree Drummond (A.K.A. the Pioneer Woman) famous cinnamon rolls, I figured that's what I'd do.


  Now, you must understand... I have a fear of yeast!  LOL   Early in my marriage (about 30 years ago to be semi-exact!) I tried to make yeast rolls.   These were little more than miniature flying saucers!   I have backed away from anything containing yeast since then!  So this was quite an undertaking for me.  Facing my fear of yeast.   Repeating the mantra  "Don't fear the yeast"... "Don't fear the yeast"  ...

Bakerella inspired me.  She even shared her poor spirals on her first try. So game was on!

Here's the recipe...

Pioneer Woman's (famous) Cinnamon Rolls

DOUGH:
1 quart whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 packages (4 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
9 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1 TBSP salt

FILLING
2 cups melted butter, plus more as needed
1/4 cup ground cinnamon for sprinkling
2 cups sugar, plus more as needed

MAPLE ICING
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
6 TBSP butter, melted
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
Dash of salt
1 TBSP maple flavoring or maple extract

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium heat; do not allow the mixture to boil.  Set aside and cool to lukewarm.


Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
Add 8 cups of the flour.  Stir until just combined, cover with a clean kitchen towel (I wonder why she felt the need to specify a "clean" kitchen towel???  LOL) and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.

(looks like gooey oatmeal to me)

Remove the towel (the "clean" towel!) and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour.  Stir thoroughly to combine.

Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl.

(ok, here's where I stopped taking pictures because my hands were "doughy")

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan.  On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches.

(My fave rolling pin!!!)

To make the filling, pour 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough.  Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly.

(awwwww yeah!)

Generously sprinkle 1/2 the cinnamon and 1 cup sugar on top of the buttered dough.

Beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly toward you.  Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight.

When you reach the end, pinch the seam together. 

Transfer to cutting board and with a sharp knife, make 1 1/2 inch slices.  One log with produce 20-25 rolls.

Pour a couple tablespoons of melted butter into the desired pie pans or baking dishes and swirl to coat.

Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd.

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans.

Hey Bakerella!  Check out MY swirls!!!

While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing...

In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee and salt.
Splash in the maple flavoring.

Whisk until very smooth.  Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency.  The icing should be thick, but still pourable.

I didn't think about taking a pic until I had already iced THREE pans!! LOL

Ree is right, when those rolls come out of the oven, my kitchen is the best smelling place on earth!

While the rolls are still warm, generously drizzle icing over the top.  Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top.

Ok, I missed the part about a pouring consistency,  my icing was thicker...more like a "spreading" consistency.

She said it would make between 40-50,  Mine came out to 45.  Quite a batch I'd say.  

 

Let's see... I took one pan to the RealWomenEat Cook-N-Critique, sent a pan to work with hubby, put two pans in the freezer (one I'll take this Sunday to Sunday School class), one is sitting on the counter for hubby, and ...

Every good southern girl knows you don't send out anything without first trying it to see if it's worth sharing!   ROFL!!!

You can read my review of the recipe, as well as the other real women who eat later in the week so be sure and click over there then and see all the great dishes the other ladies brought!

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NOTE:  I just re-read the assignment and it seems I'm supposed to re-upload a post with a title that I'm particularly proud of.  hmmm...  I reposted an entry that I'm proud of.... Well I am extremely proud I tacked yeast rolls so this Day 3 challenge stands!   LOL

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