Freezer Meals

Freezer Meals

I spent my 8th month of pregnancy focusing on freezer meals, I am so happy I did. I have already pulled from my stash just because my 9th month of pregnancy is always a bit rough.  This one has been exceptionally good but I still like the fact that I haven’t had to spend a lot of time focusing on food prep.

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I will share a few tips of what I find helpful in doing freezer meals but my best encouragement to you is to think thru what are things your family really likes?  Work with that menu. It might take you a month to come up with a list of some key items that would do well for you in the freezer.  It does take a bit of extra cash to make it work up front but it has been so worth the physical exhaustion I could be experiencing this late in my pregnancy.

Future Freezer Meal Chef

Future Freezer Meal Chef

Another simple thing I always do when I pull hamburger out of the freezer is pull 2 or 3 times the amount I would typically need for a meal so that I can just triple my recipe.  It could be sloppy joe’s, meatballs, meatloaf, taco meat or whatever.  With sloppy joe’s and taco meat I just get my big crock pot out and let the crock-pot do the work all day and then mid-day, add my seasonings.  At dinner, we eat what we need and then I divvy out the remaining in freezer bags. (Always keep plenty of freezer bags on hand – gallon and quart size!)

I was fortunate to have 2 wonderful woman from my church volunteer to help me at different days.  Rhoda, was such a blessing and probably helped me 5 hours one day and then I had young Gabi

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here for about 8 hours and did we pump out the meals that day!  Other then that I would just make a batch of something and super, duper size it.  I ended up with about 40 entrees for my freezer.  These will all come in very handy leading up to delivery and this fall after I have started school.  We are fortunate to be part of a ‘community’ of believers who provide meals for about 10 days post baby.  It’s always such a gift!!!  When someone else makes food for me, I feel so loved and cared for!

BEWARE: your kitchen is a wreck in order to make this freezer meal deal happen!!!  If you can wash dishes up as you go it won’t be quite as over whelming at the end of your project!

These are some of the items on my bucket list this freezer meal round:

Alpine Meat Balls, (I just googled for a recipe and combined two recipes that I thought I might like to create my own recipe), Poor Man’s Steak  (a family favorite) which I will share the recipe at the end of this post, made a Trim Healthy Momma Shepherd’s pie (which I got off of Pinterest), experimented with a baked Oatmeal from my cookbook (while baked oatmeal only takes 15 minutes to mix together in the morning, I figured if I would spend an hour and get 6 breakfasts in the freezer long term I would be better off) and finally I seasoned and sliced some round steak for fajitas’s.

These books however have been my 2 main sources for freezer meal cooking  and you can purchase them here:

Product DetailsProduct Details

These are some of the items that came from the books that I made:

Savory Chicken Bundles

Donna’s Stromboli

Beef Pasta Bake (I used Dream Fields Pasta for this, only cook it for 3 minutes and not the full time the box says, immediately drain and do not return to heat)

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Chicken Enchilada’s

Smothered Breakfast Burritos (these are ok but probably would not do them again)

Grilled Coconut Lime Chicken Tenders

Baked Penne Tomato, Cheese and Sausage (here again I used Dream Fields Pasta and the reason is I am trying to follow the Trim Healthy Momma eating approach and have had great success with it so wanted to have some meals that really fit plan well!  This one might be border line because I added more cheese then it calls for).

Basic Mashed Potatoes (I was a such a skeptic on this one but am happy I did it)!

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One of the kettles that cooked up 12 lbs of potatoes

POOR MAN’S STEAK

3 lbs grass fed beef

1 tbsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 cup oatmeal

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup milk

1/4 cup or more of flour

Butter for frying

2 boxes of mushroom soup (You could also sub 3 cans of regular mushroom soup)

 

Product Details

I buy it by the case on Amazon.

I like it because there is no MSG in it  and the packaging is  BPA free.

Mix together beef, salt, pepper, oatmeal, onion and milk.  Pat in a 9X13 pan and allow to chill for several hours or overnight (the time I made this I only did it for 30 minutes, I think it is so it cuts into pieces nicer, I am not sure it’s necessary).  Cut into squares.  Put several pats of butter in a frying pan; roll the meat in flour and fry for 2-3 minutes on a side.  Place in a baking dish and once you have the amount of pieces you think you need to feed your family consider that pan full and start filling another pan.  (When you do this many freezer meals you might want to buy some disposable foil pans so that you have enough containers).  Fill all your pans and then add some water (3/4 -1 cup) and  2 boxes of mushroom soup to the skillet.  Heat up your gravy and be sure to scratch off all those pan drippings on the bottom into the soup mixture.  Divide the soup over your meat and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 40-45 minutes.  This meat is so tender and so yummy.  

So the days I need some good, yummy food that reminds me of home, I will pull one of the 6  poor man steaks that are in the freezer with a bag of mashed potatoes from that same freezer and viola have dinner prompt o.  That is provided I remember to pull it from the freezer :-) but I usually remember because when it comes to dinner time, things at my house can be out-of-control!  We are so ready to see daddy walk in and rescue us all!!! 

I know this post is super duper long but I hope it will get you thinking about how you might be creative in your own kitchen and maximize some of your time.  Time is a high commodity and every minute I can save frees me to breathe a little deeper when tension is high or I feel pulled to thin.

I plan to take a little break from blogging over the next month or 2.  There will probably be a random post about the baby and my publisher and I are working together on a 24 hour free e-book promotion for the cookbook.  Stay tuned for that, it will come the end of this month!

CHEERS!

Dawn

July 4th Ice-Cream Cone Remake

July 4th Ice-Cream Cone Remake

Sweet little fingers stacking his fruit!

Sweet little fingers stacking his fruit!

As I near the delivery of my 4th baby I have been attempting to do things with my kids that make them happy, that let them know that they are special as we prepare to make room in our home and hearts for another little person.  I have far more ideas in my head then will ever make it into ‘reality for the kids’.  And then my own personal ‘LIST’ of projects will probably go undone for another year because the reality of my energy level is just that, well reality.  I hardly get anything done these days other then feed the kids and maybe one or two small projects.

I haven’t even washed and sorted the baby clothes but I did manage to get a few one-sies and a sleeper folded and into the going away bag last night.  I am sure that was all motivated by the fact that my sister in law was induced yesterday unexpectedly  at 36 weeks because of a few complications.  Thankfully, we could all breathe deeply this morning when little Mr Falb entered the world at 4:41 a.m, healthy and well. So it felt like maybe my own bags should get packed! My first due date is July 12 and my second is July 19th.  As you can imagine I am hoping for the first but also realize I need to be prepared to leave at any time, babies don’t wait!  :-)

Now on to the real reason for a blog post today:

The ingredients

The ingredients: Ice cream cone cups, white chocolate, blueberries, red raspberries and strawberries

Here our a few little things we have made and enjoyed together over the past couple of days.  We will not be hosting a big July 4th bash this year but we still plan to celebrate in little ways!

Dip 12 cones into 3/4 cup melted white chocolate chips

Dip 12 cones into 3/4 cup melted white chocolate chips

Tell the little hands it's ready and they will be right there!

Tell the little hands it’s ready and they will be right there!

IMG_2738We used cherries, strawberries and bananas the next time we made them.We used cherries, strawberries and bananas the next time we made them.

HAPPY CHILDREN!

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Our next project didn’t quite work out as well as we had hoped but we still enjoyed it.  We took black raspberry ice-cream and let it get soft.  Pureed 1 1/2 cups of blueberries and mixed the ice-cream and blues together to attempt to get a blue for our red, white and blue ice-cream loaf.

IMG_2703We melted some vanilla ice-cream and let it re-freeze then cut stars out of it.

IMG_2705We should have let the ‘blue’ ice-cream re-freeze a bit before we added the stars because what happened is the ‘blue’ was too meltly when we went to put the stars in and so the stars just tipped over.  Oh sigh!

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We put this back in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden.

And topped it off with raspberry sherbert (which is Camden’s new love, he thinks sherbert should be on the menu every day).  Here is a rendition of our finished project.

Take your loaf pan out of the freezer and allow it to thaw a bit.  Turn over onto a plate and slice

Take your loaf pan out of the freezer and allow it to thaw a bit. Turn over onto a plate, slice and serve.  Repeat.  It’s that yummy!  You will want 2 pieces!  My hubbs did!

The flavors on this little piece of ice-cream cake goodness is tremendous.  So fruity and refreshing.  We will probably make this again!  This idea was not original with me, I think  it comes from Good Housekeeping.  They used vanilla ice-cream and blue food coloring which gives you a truer blue color.  We weren’t going so much for that but more for a refreshing dessert and good flavor!    Cheers to a fun, filled day however you choose to celebrate the 4th!  I would be most happy to be in at the birthing center, birthing my own fire-cracker!

Dawn

Beef Brisket.  Oh My!!!

Beef Brisket. Oh My!!!

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Bluebonnets at there BEST!!!

This past spring, while in Texas for a month accompanying my husband on a business trip we got to experience some of the BEST brisket E.V.E.R!!  Oh my!  It was just that good.  Merv has traveled a lot to Texas for business in the past 8 1/2 years of our marriage and he always talks about the brisket.  Brisket is something I have never made but I knew I had 2 pieces in my freezer that I have been saving for the right recipe and the right time.  They were cuts we got when we purchased a quarter of a beef two different times, I just knew that they are expensive cuts and ones that I don’t want to waste frivolously.

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I apologize I don’t have better pictures. I always seem to forget to pull out my camera when I am in the kitchen!

While in Texas, I asked all the locals how to prepare brisket, of course they did not share there secrets but most of them told me they smoke it and have never done it in an oven.  Well that automatically knocks me out of the ball park because I don’t have a smoker. But then I remembered my friend, Rita had mentioned several years ago that she has a recipe.  I asked her for it and it is a keeper, yes in deed.  Granted the brisket didn’t  taste  completely like the Texans do it but it sure was delish.  I think it will be a new favorite for special occasions at our house.  My boys 4 and 6 years old ate meat like grown men the two days that we had this on the menu. This was our Father’s Day meat entree and hubbs was happy!  You need to allow some time for the baking but it really is an easy meat entree!

BAKED BEEF BRISKET

Because I had 2 pieces of brisket I had a total of 6 1/2 lbs but you can easily do this recipe with more or less.

Take your meat and pound seasonings liberally into the meat, don’t cut the fat off of this meat. I used salt and pepper, liquid smoke (I would say 1 tbsp per side), 2 fresh garlic (per side)  and 1 fresh onions (per piece of meat).  Wrap meat tightly in foil, with fat side up so that the fat drips down into the meat while baking.  I triple foiled it. I wanted to retain all the juices and steam.  Place it in a roaster pan with a lid. Set your oven temp at 200 degrees and let it set in the oven for a long winters nap.  Rita’s recipe said 8 hours but she advised me to check it at 6 -7 hours. I am glad I did because my smaller piece would have been way over done before the 8 hour mark.  I allowed the larger piece the full 8 hours.

Allow the meat to cool.  Slice it and refrigerate over night if you want it for the next day.  If you want it for dinner just top it with BBQ sauce of your choice and re-heat just until hot. You do not want to cook it any longer you just want it nice and hot to serve.  I hope you will find this as delish as we did.  If your having company for the 4th of July this would be such a great piece of meat to prepare!

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A Simple Garnish

A Simple Garnish

Whether your friend is coming by for coffee and cookies or you would like to remind your family how important they are to you; here is a simple garnish. 

Here I used a pear cookie cutter I have.

Here I used a pear cookie cutter I have.

 With July 4th just around the corner you could easily use a star cookie cutter for your party, as well.  I have multiple sizes of star cookie cutters so two different sizes would be a fun garnish on the plates.  If you don’t plan to set the table throw some watermelon stars on several of your food serving platters.

Simply slice a piece of watermelon to the degree of thickness you like and add a sprig of an herb from your garden.  I used parsley for this one.

Simply slice a piece of watermelon to the degree of thickness you like and add an herb sprig from your garden. I used parsley for this one but basil or rosemary would be pretty too.

I really do love garnishing and with just a tiny bit of time, you can do it too with very little fore thought.

Cheers to a great weekend!

Dawn