Thursday, September 27, 2012

Freezer Meals for a New Mom

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I am so excited for this weekend!  I get to go and see my new niece who is 3 weeks old.  Of course my plan is to just cuddle her the whole time, but I thought I could probably be of some help to my sister-in-law by bringing a cooler full of freezer meals.  I spent a few nights getting these all put together (if I had a whole day I could have done one of those cook-for-a-month-in-a-day things, but I only had evenings after work).  I made dishes that I know our family has always enjoyed and that would be really easy for them to prepare.  Many of the pins and blogs and recipe books about freezer meals had "mostly ready" meals where you had to stir fry the meat or cook side dishes, but I wanted things that were pretty much self contained.

I stopped at Dollar Tree and found packages of foil containers (4 for $1)--I thought I had enough rectangle ones, but oh well, lasagna in a round pan will taste just fine.   I ended up with 5 entrees, each making two pans...10 meals ready to go!  (Its just my brother and his wife needing the meals, so if you are making things for larger families, you could just use larger pans and end up with 5 meals, or double things up).



Enchiladas
16-20 Corn tortillas
1 1/2 lb. Shredded cooked chicken
1 small onion, diced and sauted
1 can green enchilada sauce
8 oz. Shredded mexican cheese mix


Dice the onions and saute until soft.  Clean out pan and use it to warm the tortillas.  In the bottom of the pan spread some sauce.  Fill each tortilla with chicken, onions, cheese and sauce.  Once the pan is full, pour sauce all over making sure all the tortillas are covered.  Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake from frozen:  350 for about 40 minutes.



Meatloaf
1 lb ground beef
1 c. quick oats
1 sm. onion, finely diced
1 egg
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp each salt and pepper


Mix everything up in a bowl and put in a loaf pan.   You can top the meatloaf with your favorite bbq sauce before baking, or make your own sauce by mixing ketchup and brown sugar. When ready to cook:  Thaw in fridge, then bake for 70-80 minutes at 350.  Serve with the twice baked potatoes.
 

Twice Baked Potatoes
4 russet potatoes
milk
butter
salt and pepper
cheddar cheese

Bake the potatoes at 350 for about 60-80 minutes (depends on how big the potato) until tender.  While still hot, use a paper towel or pot holder to hold the potato while you cut it in half and scoop the potato into a bowl.  Add butter and milk and whip the potatoes with a mixer.  Refill the potato shells and top with a thin slice of cheddar cheese.  Cool, then freeze in a zipper bag.  To bake from frozen:  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  

 


Chicken Pot Pie
I used the America's Test Kitchen recipe (free sign up with your email address)
When ready to cook, put frozen pie in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

chicken
celery
onion
carrots
chicken broth
frozen peas
flour
butter
prepared pie crust (I used the Betty Crocker mix)
 
 

Thai Coconut Chicken Curry
1 lb chicken, cut into pieces
1 each red, green, yellow pepper, cut into same size pieces as chicken
1 onion, cut into pieces
2 carrots, sliced in rounds
3 mushrooms, sliced
2 T. green Thai curry mix (I buy a bottle of seasoning at Ross or TJ Maxx)
1 can coconut milk

Toss the chicken with the curry powder mix.  Put the chicken in the bottom of a zipper bag then pile up the veggies.  Freeze.  When ready to cook:  Thaw in fridge, toss in crock pot with a can of coconut milk for 4 hours on  high.  Serve over rice (I pre cooked rice and put it in a zipper bag too--thaw in fridge, reheat in microwave with a bit of extra water added).

 

Lasagna
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. basil (dry)
2 small cans crushed tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
1/2 c. apple juice
1 tsp each salt and pepper
3 c. cottage cheese or ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
2 T. parsley flakes
1 tsp salt and pepper
Noodles, cooked (I don't like the no-cook  noodles)
Mozzarella, shredded

Cook the meat in a large pot.  Drain any excess fat.  Add the garlic and cook for about one minute.  Add tomatoes, paste, basil, apple juice, salt and pepper to the meat.

In a bowl, make the cheese mixture:  Cottage cheese (small curd), parmesan, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper.  Mix it well.

To make the casserole:  Put a bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Layer noodle, then a layer of meat sauce, then a layer of cheese mixture, then shredded mozzerella.  Repeat the layers, ending with shredded mozzerella.

I chose to bake the lasagnas, then cool then freeze.  When ready to cook:  Bake for about 1 hour at 350 on a cookie sheet to catch any spillover.






Peach Pie
I had a few peaches from a neighbor's tree, so I made a single crust pie using the same technique I've done with freezer pies before.

4 C. peaches
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. instant tapioca
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. butter
prepared pie crust (I used just a top crust that I made with a Betty Crocker mix)

Mix it all together and put in a 8" pan, dot with butter and place the crust on the top. Freeze.  When ready to bake, do not defrost, just bake from frozen at 350 for about 1 hour (may need to wrap some foil around the edges to keep the crust from getting too brown). 
















Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baby Toms

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I've had several baby showers recently and saw these cute shoes on Pinterest and decided to give them a try. I purchased the pattern from Twirly Bird

I followed the instructions and they turned out cute. However, cutting the back out of a single piece of fabric (on the fold) would make assembling them a bit easier. The tiny size makes it a bit tricky to maneuver.

I used a corduroy fabric from Walmart for the main fabric, with some brown faux suede on the soles.  The instructions call for elastic, but make sure you choose knit or braid style elastic...the woven type is too stiff to use in these shoes.  My JoAnne's had all sorts of colors of knit elastic (just use your 40% off coupon). 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Freezing Corn

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As a kid, I remember my family spending the end of summer putting up food for the winter.  Mom bottled peaches, bing cherries, pears and pickles.  She also made use of our avocado green  upright freezer (which I think may still be around somewhere...) by freezing corn.  Corn was a veggie that all of us kids would definitely eat.  Since I was just a kid, it seemed like a literal mountain of corn that would be piled out in the  yard and my brothers and I were assigned to husk it all (with the reward of a trip to A&W for a rootbeer float after).  I figure that it was probably around 12 dozen ears of corn...wow, lots of corn.  Big family.

Twelve dozen would be serious overload for me, so I usually do just 1.5 dozen, sometimes 2.  If the ears of corn are good sized, you'll get about 1 c. of kernels per ear.  Start to finish for my 1.5 dozen was about an hour.

Get the corn husked and rinsed to get off as much of the silk as you can.


If you are doing a large amount of corn, you'll want to buy a block of ice and fill up one side of the sink with the ice block and water--the other side of the sink is just cold water. If you do a small batch, like me, you can get away without the ice block.

Bring your water to a boil and add as much corn as will fit.  Bring back up to boil and put the lid on the pot--boil for 4 minutes.

Remove the corn from the boiling water and leave it in a bowl for a few minutes while you go get more corn for the pot.

Once the next batch of corn is on the timer, you put the cooked corn in the side of the sink WITHOUT the ice to cool a bit.  As you keep bringing corn from the stove, you'll move corn out of the water side and into the ice side.  (See, if you go straight from the pot to the ice side, you'll melt the ice...what you want is to cool the corn a bit first in the water, then get it nice and cold so that it stops cooking and will be easy to handle).

Pull the corn out of the ice water and place on a clean towel.

You can either get all the corn cooked and cooled before you start cutting it off the cob, or you can just do each batch as it is ready.

To cut the corn off the cob I like to use a pan with low sides (like the broiler pan)-although today I used a serving platter and a sharp butcher knife.  There are gadgets that are designed for cutting kernel off, but a sharp knife works really well. (I couldn't hold the camera, the knife and the corn all at the same time, so be sure to use both hands :)

Hold the corn with the fat end on the tray and cut the kernels off close to the cob.  With a couple tries you'll find just the right spot where you're getting all the corn off the cob, but not getting any of the tough cob in the process.

Once the corn is cut off, you have a pile off corn strips that everyone who walks by will snag.  Use your hands to reach in and break up the corn.  I do not add anything to the corn. 

All that is left is to measure it into freezer bags.  I make small 1-cup serving portions and put it in regular sandwich bags, because I like to put several bags into a larger freezer bag.  My mom used to do 3-cup bags for our family of 7.


This corn is so tasty in January when generally there is no good produce to be found.  Well, I think a rootbeer float is in order!