More freezer cooking (2)

Ok. This weekend I made: Spinach lasagna roll ups, taco soup, dijon pork chops and margarita chicken. My hopes – this week the food prep will take no more than 15 minutes and I can spend the majority of the evening with my kids and husband eating around the table, helping with homework, going to Anna’s basketball games, playing board games and reading bedtime stories. No rushing allowed!!

A) Margarita chicken

This took seriously 5 minutes to prepare! The hardest part? Not drinking the margarita mix! 🙂 it’s probably best to grill this but I’ll probably cook it in the oven.

1) precut chicken tenders

2) lime margarita mix WITH alcohol

3) cilantro

That’s it! Toss in a bag and place in the freezer laying flat – so once it is frozen, you can place it up with a million other frozen ziploc bags and not take up a ton of space in your freezer.  We have a upright freezer that my in-laws got us as a wedding present – and I LOVE it. Cannot imagine life without it. We also have two fridges. One in the house with a big drawer freezer, and one in the garage with the top freezer (this is the freezer I do all my flash freezing in).

B) Dijon pork chops

Again, this was super quick to prepare. Hardest part? Getting the dijon mustard out of the measuring cup. Easy. I put 5 pork chops in each freezer bag.

1) 1 1/2 C apricot preserves

1/2 C teriyaki sauce

1/4 C dijon mustard

pork chops

C) Taco Soup

This took a little longer, but not much longer to prepare. Hardest part?  Opening the cans, and rinsing the black beans. So, yeah, not too hard! My husband did frown that I used the last two beers we had in the fridge – but I assured him  that me being less stressed on a school night was worth more than two beers. He believed me. Smart man. I made 2 of these. Thaw a bit and cook in crockpot on low for 6+ hours.

1) onion, diced up

2) 1 can each of – chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce & beer. Rinse the black beans & drain the corn.

3) 2 10 oz cans of diced tomatoes with green chili

4) 1 pkg of taco seasoning

5) chicken breasts – how ever many you want to toss in there.

D) Spinach lasagna roll ups

This took the most prep – but still not too much longer than 10 minutes or so. Hardest part? Not burning my fingers as I untangled the cooked lasagna noodles. Ouch!

1) lasagna noodles, 1 box (20 noodles)

2) ricotta cheese 32 Oz

3) parm cheese 1 1/2 c

4) 1 egg and salt & pepper

5) 2 thawed & drained packages of frozen spinach. The more liquid you squeeze out, the better!

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, cook lasagna noodles then lay those out on a tray – and scoop the mixture on each noodle and spread it out. Carefully roll up the lasagna noodle. Flash freeze these on cookie sheets, then transfer to a ziploc bag and toss the bag in the freezer. Just like the enchiladas I made last week – I’ll be able to pull out as many roll ups as I want at a time. So it can just be two for me for lunch, or several for dinner – and I won’t have to heat up an entire frozen 9×13 lasagna pan. Smart! Just put a few in a dish, cover with sauce and mozzarella cheese, foil cover and bake till heated through. Time will depend on if they’re frozen or thawed.

 

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More freezer cooking & daycare crafts

I think I’m addicted! It’s so fun, and very rewarding to see the food stack up in our freezer. It’s not that hard, or time consuming – once you get the hang of it.

I’ve made beef enchiladas and  ground turkey greek meatballs this week so far. This weekend I plan on making spinach lasagna roll-ups, margarita chicken, dijon pork chops, and taco soup. I know dairy and potatoes do not freeze well, so I’m making sure not to do any meals with those ingredients. Although, I’m thinking about trying twice baked potatoes. Maybe if they’re eaten within a couple months the potatoes don’t come out like leather? I can try. Twice baked potatoes seem to take a longer time to prepare, so it would be great to have a couple ziploc bags of them in the freezer!

The enchiladas I make have:

1) ground beef

2) cumin & black pepper

3) can green chili

4) diced onion & 1 garlic clove

Brown the meat and set aside. Fry each corn tortilla a few seconds on each side. I’ve used regular veg oil and I’ve also used coconut oil. I put a bit of the meat in the tortilla, roll it up, and place it on a lined cooked sheet fold size down. Do that until you’re out of supplies. Then flash freeze. Once frozen, remove and place in ziploc bags and toss in the freezer. This works much better for me than freezing a huge pan of them – because on nights my husband works late, the kids and I would not be able to eat an entire pan of these. I only take out 6 to 8 enchiladas to heat in the oven with enchilada sauce and cheese.

The greek meatballs:

1) 2 pounds ground turkey (not the super lean – you need a little fat!)

2) garlic & diced onion

3) Cavender’s greek seasoning (low sodium)

4) cumin

5) fresh chopped cilantro

6) breadcrumbs

7) 1 egg

Mix everything up (don’t over mix or you’ll end up with hard meatballs – yuck!) and use a small cookie scoop to measure out meatballs. Go through the entire bowl like this, lining them on a cookie sheet. Then roll each one between your hands to form a more unified meatball shape. Bake about 20-25 min at 350 degrees. Cool slightly, then flash freeze. Place in ziploc baggies and toss in the freezer. I didn’t list measurements on the ingredients because I think it’s a personal preference kind of thing. We love cilantro, but these taste just fine without that. Don’t add too much garlic or cumin – they can overpower the greek seasoning. We eat these with rice, or buttered noodles or even in lettuce cups with homemade tzatziki sauce. Yum!!

 

It’s November, which means a new month with a new theme for daycare books & crafts. Each week I pick a book or two to read, and read, and read – then base a few crafts on the story. The kids LOVE doing crafts. Me too!

Here are a few we’ve worked on so far for November.

 

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Meal planning & freezer cooking

Another busy weekend at our house! My husband took about 100 students to the Blazer’s game on Friday night in Portland, then went back to campus afterwards to supervise the Pilots after Dark event with the live band! He’s a busy man. Anna was at a sleepover, after basketball, so the other kids and I hung out at home and got things done around the house.

My plan was freezer meals! Of which, I’ve never done before – but have done countless reading and searching on the internet about! I have a teeny tiny kitchen – but I thought- well heck, I feed up to 11 kids a day from that little kitchen, not to mention my own family of 6. So, although I am very short on counter space, I decided to give it a try.

I did not take pictures of the during process. Next time I will. I basically did what my Mom always told me to do – cleaned as you go! Otherwise I had NO room!

I made:

1) 3 trays of taco stuffed jumbo shells

2) 2 dozen sausage, cheese and egg breakfast burritos

3) 2 different marinated pork roasts. One in bbq sauce and brown sugar, the other in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and rosemary

4) beef tips and gravy

5) 2 ziploc bags of marinated chicken legs in soy sauce, orange juice and peach jam

Today I’m making beef enchiladas and ground turkey greek meatballs to put in the freezer as well. I’m going to flash freeze the enchiladas without being in the sauce. Soggy. I hate soggy tortillas!! I’m going to cook the meatballs, then flash freeze on a cookie sheet. Toss in a ziplock baggie -and toss in the freezer. Easy peasy. I’m so excited to have my freezer stocked up!

Anna started playing basketball for St. Luke. Her first sport EVER!!! Her games are at 5pm. Not ideal for the working parents! So my plan is to have a freezer full of food, so I can thaw something and toss in the oven while we’re working on homework or showers, or whatever after school and activities.

My husband worked the rest of the weekend outside. Not his favorite, but I’m so pleased with how everything looks! He got up on our roof and cleaned the moss off, cleaned out gutters, and pressure washed the drive way. It was all much needed, since we have two huge pine trees that make a mess of things.

I took Monday off work. Lovely idea that was!! I took the children up to Portland to campus to have lunch with my husband. It’s always such a treat when we get to do that. The campus was full of students, and our kids just love to people watch and daydream out loud about when they’ll be students there. *crossing my fingers* *wink*

Church on Sunday was a hoot. Anna and Nicholas are altar servers every week. Mostly they do well, but this Sunday – good Lordy!! Winking, smiling, yawning without covering their mouths, elbowing each other, giving a dirty look, etc. YIKES!! I’m so glad our parish is well humored, and loves our family – because those two were in rare form during Mass.

With all the freezer meal cooking, I completely neglected the laundry room. Oh how happy I am to have an actually ROOM for laundry. However, it is at times all too easy to close the door and walk away and forget what is lurking in there. Case in point. Here is a before and after picture! Ha. I spend allllllllll day yesterday doing laundry, sweeping floors, scrubbing out the shower. Fun stuff. Not. Ha ha. I’m very glad I had time to actually get to all of it though. That was great.

Our family pictures are back! The kids took some lovely pictures. I’m not including the full family picture until after we mail our Christmas cards though – so sorry! You’ll have to wait to see that one 🙂

Anna has her first basketball game tonight. I’m SO excited to watch her. I’m taking 5 of the daycare children, and my youngest 2. Parents will have to come find me in the gym to pick up their children at the end of the day. I don’t want to miss Sissy’s first game!

Root for the Lady Panther’s today, if you can! 🙂

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I also made a little feast to celebrate Martinmas with the kids. Saint Martin is one if the mist popular saints from the Middle Ages. On Martinmas, the feast usually consists of roasted goose and St. Martin wine. The kids and I celebrated with roasted chicken and grape juice. I read them a article about the saint and from Luke in the bible. We sat around the coffee table and talked about living in Gods light instead of the darkness. Such sweet ideas and words from the children. I treasure those times!

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Marriage is not for you

Have you seen that article floating around Facebook? Marriage is not for you, but its for who you married. Oh yeah. Guilty over here. It’s not about ME!! Ugh. I’ve been possibly a little ungrateful lately in the marriage department. Maybe even a little demanding and selfish. Certainly not as kind or loving as I should be. I’m glad to have read that article. It hit home. I needed to read it.

Why is it so easy to focus on other things? Why do I lose sight of the truly important things and instead get wrapped up in the superficial?! I’m caught up, that’s for sure. I think in some ways social media has made that a issue for me. So in so is doing this, decorating this way, has a spotless house, took a vacation, etc. so I try to keep up. But it’s a losing battle. In the end I feel defeated and like I’ve cheated my husband and children out of special time. Not all the time. Just some of the time. Because I have.

Now that October is over and I’m done with sewing for Halloween and Abigail’s big saint project, and the book fair; I’m covering up the machine and putting it away. I’ve made a new rule in the house – no video games or gaming devices can be used unless it’s the weekend. I’m taking back the evenings. Family dinner, homework, quiet reading time. Board games. Extra snuggles at night when I tuck in the kids.
At first it was weird and I got a few moans and groans from the kids. But by the 3rd day they were asking if it was reading time yet. They enjoy me crawling into bed with them to snuggle more and have a few quiet moments talking before I turn off their light. I feel like its a slower pace. I don’t feel rushed. I feel like I can take the time to do that because I now have the time! Nobody argues about getting off the iPad or kindle or who’s turn it is. Nope. The green glow of the wii is now off. No blinking reminder of staring at the tv ignoring everything going on around them.

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