Menu Plan 1/2-1/8 and birthday giveaway

Wow, the school break is over which means kids and hubby will be back to work. I took deep breaths many times while everyone was home and I was cooking three meals a day. We actually ate out a few times just to get out the house. One time we took advantage of Little Ceasars-Buy One Get One Free special. It was the day I was planning to make those homemade pizza rolls again. I still haven’t done it yet and it’s been on my menu plan for three weeks. Isn’t that how life is?

We’ll have a somewhat normal schedule next week and less mouths to feed at home. I’ll still pack the kids’ lunches for school and I will enjoy a quiet lunch at home with my 2 year-old and 8-month-old.

Sunday-Teriyaki Shrimp Kabobs, sesame noodles, salad

Monday Soft Tacos, corn, leftover salad

Tuesday-Minestrone soup (from the freezer) and sandwiches

Wednesday-Salmon Patties, macaroni and green beans (cooked noodles and beans in the freezer)

Thursday- Meatball Hard Tacos (I’m trying a new twist-also made deceptively:) brown rice

Friday-flatbread pizza for kids; Date night

Saturday-Breakfast Bar-Deceptive waffles, eggs, bacon, fruit and whipped topping

Oh I almost forgot, tomorrow, January 1st is my birthday and I’m celebrating with a giveaway. If you’ve been following my deceptive cooking and you would like a copy of the Deceptively Delicious cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld, there are several ways to enter the drawing and you can have multiple chances…

1) Make a comment below sharing your experiences/challenges in getting your kid’s to eat more vegetables.

2) Tell me about your homemade babyfood/purees you have made before

3) Subscribe to my blog for updates

4)Share this blog by forwarding it to a friend

Make up to 4 comments using the methods above for your chance to win this fabulous cookbook with beautiful photos.  I will close the comments on Friday, January 7 so you still have time implement #4.  I will randomly draw and notify your gift on January 10!  Happy New Year!

***Unfortunately, I’m still learning the ropes of savvy blogging and drawings, only those I know in Asheville, can I gift at this time. I promise to get more savvy this year:)

Advertisements

What's on your New Year's Eve Plate?

 bing photosource

We’re having my friend over who taught me the ground beef trick for New Year’s Eve and I’ve put together some very simple appetizers using freezer foods. I’ll serve spinach bites (reheated from the freezer), taco soup (reheated in crockpot from the freezer) with pico de gallo and tortilla chips, crab bites (a new recipe (extras can be frozen) and chex mix from my abundant pretzel supply.

Thanks for following my new blog this year. I’m excited about getting it more organized and snazzy this upcoming year. I hope your New Year is blessed and full of joy and anticipation.

I just purchased the Power of a Positive Mom, by Karol Ladd to keep me on my toes. I plan to keep the freezer recipes coming to you. I also want to share the how to’s of freezing properly for great results and thawing for great taste. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions. I’d love to hear them.

Happy New Year!!

What’s on your New Year’s Eve Plate?

 bing photosource

We’re having my friend over who taught me the ground beef trick for New Year’s Eve and I’ve put together some very simple appetizers using freezer foods. I’ll serve spinach bites (reheated from the freezer), taco soup (reheated in crockpot from the freezer) with pico de gallo and tortilla chips, crab bites (a new recipe (extras can be frozen) and chex mix from my abundant pretzel supply.

Thanks for following my new blog this year. I’m excited about getting it more organized and snazzy this upcoming year. I hope your New Year is blessed and full of joy and anticipation.

I just purchased the Power of a Positive Mom, by Karol Ladd to keep me on my toes. I plan to keep the freezer recipes coming to you. I also want to share the how to’s of freezing properly for great results and thawing for great taste. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions. I’d love to hear them.

Happy New Year!!

Ground Beef or Turkey Trick

My friend taught me this trick almost three years ago. She makes homemade chili for her hotdogs this way. When you place your beef or turkey in your skillet, you add enough water to make it mushy. It sounds gross, doesn’t it? It really does look like mush, though you can’t tell from the picture. I’m sorry for grossing any vegetarians out.

When you add the water it causes the meat to break down further and it makes it finer. It has the consistency of  “Taco Bell” meat, though I haven’t eaten there since college. It appears mushy and disgusting at first, but it does firm back up and come together nicely. Instead of big chunks of meat, it is looks as though it’s ground finer and has a more appealing consistency, I think.

Try it and tell me what you think.

Cooked Seasoned Taco Meat for the freezer

Remember I stocked up on ground chuck recently? I bought it at a reduced rate so I was quick (within 24 hours-or the next day) to brown my meat using my friend’s trick, to make it finer.  I used MSG free taco seasoning I bought at Sams since I was making a bulk amount. This seasoning cost $4 for a tremendous amount. I’m guessing it would probably season twenty pounds of meat.

I was able to brown 5 pounds of meat in my extra large cast iron skillet, but you may have to do this in two batches or use two different pans. I would prefer doing it in two batches and use the same skillet so you only have to wash the pan once:)

Once the taco meat has simmered and most of the liquid is gone, I turn the heat off and allow it to cool about an hour. You have a 2 hour window for safety issues, to get food into the fridge. I keep stirring the meat so the heat can escape. I just give it a quick stir or three when I pass by and when I remember.

Oh I almost forgot and I had to edit this post. I stirred in 1 1/2 cups of this beta carotene packed goodie.

  Yep, it’s freshly pureed carrots-steamed and pureed-I was already making it for the baby so I made my taco meat more nutritious. I’ve starting to cook more deceptively this year. It’s a new year’s project. My kids will enjoy their carrots in their meat instead of raw, shredded on top:)

Once it comes to a moderate room temperature, I use a measuring spoon and scoop it into my prepared freezer bags. I label and date the bags and place an open quart size bag into a large measuring cup to support it. I placed approximately 2 cups of meat per bag. Then I lay it flat and squeeze out the air by pushing the meat closer to the seal. I seal it completely and wipe any excess of bag. They stack flat and they will freeze flat in my freezer. I’m going to place my bags of meat in the fridge for a few hours first to completely take away the heat and then I will lay them flat to freeze. See how little space 5 pounds of meat will take in my freezer? Amazing!

On my “taco” meal day, I have thawed my meat for 24 hours in the fridge (that’s why I use a meal plan), and it will take me about 5 minutes to make a meal. We always have forgetful days (not me!!!:) I just thaw this bag in a bowl of cool water to speed the process and then I warm the thawed meat in the microwave and serve hard or soft shelled tacos to my family. Or I can use a bag of salad greens and make taco salad or I can toss nachos and cheese together with the taco meat and have nachos grande just like Taco Bell. I’m living my college days again!

24 Seasoned Hamburgers for the Freezer

I had a plan in the back of my head when I bought 15 pounds of ground chuck.  One third of it would be used for piles of hamburgers. I’m using the other third for cooked, seasoned taco meat and the 8 dozen meatballs, of course.

I’ve just started experimenting with “deceptive cooking”. There I said it. I’m lying in the kitchen. No, really I’m disguising my food with healthy purees. Here is my first experiment with an adapted burger recipe from Seinfeld’s cookbook. I’ve been sharing how my three children are not such great vegetable eaters, so I’m going to attempt purees this new year. What is the secret ingredient?

Squash baby food or puree. The original recipe calls for carrot or cauliflower puree and I had neither on hand so I checked my baby food supply, since my baby is 9-months-old now and found squash. I’m borrowing from her vegetables for my second round of batch cooking.

The following recipe yields 8 little burgers or 4 large. I quadrupled most of the ingredients and made 24-1/4 pound or less burgers.

Here is the Burgers 1 recipe from Deceptively Delicious Cookbook

1/2 pound lean ground turkey or sirloin

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used old-fashioned oatmeal)

1/2 cup cauliflower or carrot puree (I used 1 cup squash baby food or puree)

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 garlic cloves chopped (I used granulated garlic)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Here is my modified recipe using the squash or you could use carrot.

4 pounds lean ground beef or turkey

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup squash baby food/puree (I used two 4-ounce jars)

1/2 cup milk (I did not increase the original as much since I was freezing patties)

1 tsp. granulated garlic (you can use 1 T. minced garlic cloves)

1/2 tsp. pepper

I mix all the seasonings in my kitchen aid mixer and then add the beef 1/2 at a time and stir on slow mode until it begins to incorporate. Then I proceed to mix on low until the beef is formed well. It is the same mixing procedure as my basic meatballs if you would like to see step-by-step pictures.

I begin my freezer preparation by labeling my freezer bags with the contents and date. I cut a 4-inch piece of foil and then cut the strip into 4 pieces. I use those pieces to sandwich between the patties. You can also use wax paper. A quart size freezer bag will hold no more than 6 burgers or less. I lay my burgers at a diagnonal when I am placing them in a bag.

I will grill or pan saute my burgers and serve it with a cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickle. Our kids just like cheese and ketchup, but at least they are getting a side of squash:)

Mmmm…success, they were delicious and easy to prepare because the seasoning was already in there. I thaw for 24 hours and hubby grills them for an easy 15 minute meal.

0308011730.jpg

I’m been experimenting with homemade sandwich thins. This was my second batch and they were great. I make them with 5 minute artisan dough in a shoe box. Refer to Artisan dough 101 for measuring and mixing tips.

0308011732.jpg

Batch Cooking with Ground Chuck

Our Ingles store has ground chuck on sale for 1.88 every six weeks. I wait until the sale runs from Sunday to Saturday and I hit the grocery store in the a.m. and purchase the meat for less than that. Because they grind fresh ground chuck everyday, the meat that is ground the previous day has to be reduced. Today, I bought 15 pounds of meat at 1.09 a pound. That is rock bottom prices. Now, you have to have a plan when you have 15 pounds of meat to freeze.

With my plan in place, I’m ready to proceed in three batches of cooking and freezing. I will make my usual 8 dozen meatballs for the freezer. I made a new hamburger recipe and I seasoned and patted 24 burgers for the freezer. I’m also making seasoned taco meat for the freezer for future Mexican recipes. I’ll share my ideas about recipes in a future post.

Have you ever thought about freezing reduced meat for future meals? It can save you a lot of money in the long run. Even better if you plan accordingly and divide the portions and EVEN better if you cook the meat ahead of time before you freeze it, you will really save yourself time and have extra time with your family.

%d bloggers like this: