Grilled Burgers on Homemade Sandwich Thins

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Do you really think I pat and season six burgers, grill, bake potatoes and make homemade buns all on the same day? I don’t think so. I’ve done my cooking homework and worked smarter, not harder. I made 24 seasoned burgers at one setting last month and I made a dozen sandwich thins several days ago and froze them in a gallon size bag.

Tonight, we had a 15-minute meal. Burgers were grilling, prebaked potatoes were frying for homefries and dinner was served in less than thirty minute. I love freezer cooking when I can eat a healthy meal like this with my family. We sit down and enjoy the fruit of my labor from last month. We talk about what’s going on in school, listen to the baby cackle and coo and try to understand everything  our three year-old is saying. It’s a Brown family moment.

If only the dishes could clean themselves in 15-minutes or less, I’d have it made. We’re working on that one, too, with a family team effort.

How about you? Are you able to enjoy your family? 15-minute meals are a lifesaver. That’s why I freezer cook. What is something you’d like to try to freezer cook? Or what have you cooked and stored in the freezer lately?

This post linked to Frugal Friday and Finer Things Friday.

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To Better Health and Beyond, Part 1

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I watched a startling movie that kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s been out a while and I’ve thought about seeing it before, but never made it. Last night, I watched Food, Inc. and it opened my eyes to the realities of food production and how our government is involved. It  prompted me to research our local meat prices.

I’ve been toying with the idea of buying local meat the past few years, but I just couldn’t bring it to myself to pay the outlandish prices. It’s nearly two and half times the amount of conventional meat on sale. However, this movie changed my mind and re-opened the thoughts of buying as much as local foods as my pocketbook can afford.

As the movie shared, the prices of local meats are well worth the cost because of the health factors. Grassfed animals, verses conventional animals, are not tainted with dangerous hormones, antibiotics, and fed genetically modified corn. God made cows to eat grass, not corn. The movie didn’t state that, it was my thought. I nearly cried when a mom shared her story about her son dying from a hamburger with e-coli. No wonder she’s an advocate for passing important laws and fought for Kevin’s Law.

Let’s face it, local meat and produce costs more. You can check out your local foods in your area by googling it the city you live in. WNC has an online local food guide, called ASAP.

I’ve done some research for our local meat at Hickory Nut Gap, in Fairview, NC. It  runs $5 to $6.50 per pound depending on what cut you’re buying. Obviously tenderloin is much more. However, when you buy a box of various meats, which includes, ground beef, roasts and steaks, you get that overall price. I’m going to try the 20# box for $130. A 60# box runs $360 and a quarter cow which ranges 70 to 90# runs $500. My suggestion for buying in bulk is finding a friend or neighbor and split. They also have a CSA, which includes meat, pork and chicken, beginning in June. 15# is $600 for 6 months and 10# is $420, made in 2 installments. This info may help you compare your local town.

Warren Wilson College also sells local meat. Their spring sale has started. It looks like it is $6.25 per pound for steaks, roasts, ground, burgers and kabobs. Check out their order form and WWC Farm. They also sell country breakfast sausage, which sounds good. Several of you could go in together and split. Make comments below if you’re looking for someone to split with.

Will I still freezer cook with bulk local meat? You bet I will. The packages are Krylon sealed so I can take my sweet time cooking and prepping the meat. I will thaw the raw meat in bulk and refreeze the cooked meat. I will still make cooked taco meat and meatballs for convenience. I’m organizing my side by side freezer and my chest freezer to accommodate this meat. Later, I’ll see if we have the space to buy in bigger quantities, perhaps a quarter of a cow or share with someone, hint, hint.

I’ve been making homemade bread for a number of years and I cut out most processed foods, except crackers and cereals. I’m finally trying cracker recipes this year-I’ll keep you posted. This was a small step for us and now taking a more expensive plunge is another step in our journey toward better health.

Freezer cooking is a way for me to implement healthy, homemade foods without preservatives for my family. It began in small ways beginning with muffins and bread, then moved on to casseroles,  snacks and now local meats. Freezer cooking can be a small or big part of your life. Everything you freeze helps in the future. It’s a small way of making your family healthier and saving money.

How could you make your family healthier? What baby step could you take to make this happen TODAY? Please share your ideas, we could all benefit from them.

Post linked to Gratituesday.

Crock pot Italian Beef Sandwiches

0207011730a.jpg I served our beef on homemade slider rolls made from Artisan dough topped with cheese (broil the cheese if you like), carrot sticks and macaroni and cheese.

Do you like sandwiches? If the answer is yes, try this hot sandwich. It’s made with roast cooked in your crock pot all day. You can buy a bottom round or chuck roast. The bottom round is leaner with less fat. I bought a bottom round specifically for the sandwich and not the usual pot roast with vegetables. However, I recommend enjoying a pot roast first if you’re family likes it and then making these tasty sandwiches with the leftovers. You can freeze your pot roast leftovers and then thaw the shredded meat later to make these.

You begin with the seasonings. I use minced onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and Italian seasoning. Click on the printable recipe at the end of the post for the exact measurements. I drizzle the top with olive oil.

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Cook on high for 8 hours. I went ahead and shredded the meat with two forks once it had cooked about 6 hours so it didn’t dry out.0207011509.jpg

It will look like this once it’s shredded, unless you keep it in tact to eat as pot roast first. Then shred it later and cool it completely before you bag it for the freezer.  It looks like we can have this meal 2 additional times this month or I can vary it up by adding BBQ sauce, top it with slaw or serve it in a wrap.

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Do you have any additional ideas for shredded beef? We’d love to hear them.

Printable recipe for Italian Beef Sandwiches

This recipe is linked to Tasty Tuesday and What’s on Your plate?

Taco Pizza

Horray! I found another recipe for using the cooked, frozen taco meat. This was a new crust recipe which contained cornmeal so it has a crunchy base and it has the same toppings as regular tacos. Imagine a taco soup with cornbread topped with lettuce and tomato. That is what my taste buds shouted. Anyway, I think it’s a twist on normal tacos and I’ve added it to my list for taco meat.

So far, I’ve made soft-shelled tacos, hard-shelled 5 minute tacos, nachos grande, and now taco pizza. I’m also going to use it for taco soup and possibly Mexican lasagna. I’ll keep  you posted. If you do run across a good meat sale, whether you like beef or turkey, buy in bulk and check out how to make a large amount of seasoned taco meat and freeze it for quick meals like this one.

The crust looks like this below when you roll and pat it out (my two-year-old helped so it’s not perfectly flat-I think there’s a ring on it)

Crust Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. cornmeal

1 1/4 c. unbleached flour

2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup melted butter

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Add milk and melted butter, mix well. Press onto the bottom and sides of a greased 12 to 14 inch pizza pan (I used a stone). Roll out with a floured rolling-pin and pat with fingers as necessary. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.

Spread cooked taco meat over crust (see why thawed, cooked taco meat is a timesaver)  Top with cheese. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Once you have it’s baked, the fun part comes next. Top it anyway you like!

Toppings

  • shredded lettuce
  • tomato or pico de gallo
  • green onion
  • black olives
  • more cheese
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • pickled jalepeno slices.

This looks a lot like my nachos grande, but it tastes different. Enjoy!

Asian Chicken Skewers and Flank Steak

 Asian Honey Sesame Chicken Marinade

Ingredients:

2 ½ pounds chicken pieces

½  c. soy sauce

2 T. canola or vegetable oil

2 T. sesame oil

3 T. honey

Kitchen Tip: spray measuring spoon with cooking spray and honey will easily slide out

1 T. sesame seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼  tsp. ginger

I use this delcious marinarde for stir-fry chicken, but I envisioned something a little different. I’m making chicken skewers with half the marinade and Asian steak with the other half.

I ran by Earthfare and grabbed a $5 flank steak and got a pound of chicken for free using this week’s coupon. First, I prepared my chicken by butterflying the breasts. I cut the breast into 4 cutlets and then made them into long strips so they would thread on a skewer. Then I prepared my freezer bags by labeling and dating them. I slide the chicken right into the marinade and lay the bag flat to seal being careful to squeeze out the air and not the liquid.

The flank steak was even easier to prep. I used a fork to pierce the meat to allow the marinade to infuse it better. This  will slide into the other prepared bag and follow the same sealing proces.

Both bags will lay flat in my freezer and the items are written on my freezer inventory sheet (stuck on my fridge with a magnetic). When I decide to make them I will thaw them in my plastic shoe box in my fridge for 24 hours (while the marinade flavors the chicken or beef)

 

My plan is to make the chicken skewers with peppers and onions and brown rice. I’m going to grill or broil the steak for an Asian Steak Salad. Both of these menu ideas along with photos will be posted at a later date.

Have you ever marinated meat ahead and frozen it? It’s so easy and a time-saver for later.

Packing Leftovers takes 5 minutes

leftover tacos (guacamole and salsa packed separately)

I pack my husband’s lunch every day. Right after we eat (we just ate 5 minute tacos), while the food is still out, I will get out my to go dishes and pack his lunch. I’m trying to use glass or pyrex because it’s healthier to reheat food in. I used to use all gladware and I will continue to use it for cold items or condiments. David saves $3 a day by packing his lunch from home and that, my friend, is $15 a week, which is equivalent to a parent’s night out date, at our church. It’s worth the extra five minutes to save $540 a year (He has 180 days of teaching school). I also pack my kid’s lunches four days out of the week. They eat as a treat one day during the week. I’ll be sharing what I pack them for lunch very soon.

Do you pack your lunches at your house? What are you packing?

Try packing your leftovers for lunch this year and start calculating your savings. You can implement another date night with the money you save or buy a “want” item or give to charity; the options are endless.

Nachos Grande

Remember I made 8 bags of cooked taco meat for the freezer? Today, I made this super easy meal for lunch and my kids loved it. The kiddoss had theirs with meat and cheese only and we, the parents, adorned ours with pico de gallo and cubed avacado.

Guess what? I didn’t have the taco meat thawed out either. It went straight from the freezer to an 8×8 microwave safe dish with lid and I nuked the meat on 50% power for three minutes. Then I microwaved on high for four to five minutes stirring in between. Once it was hot, I dalloped little areas on the bed of nachos with meat. Then I gave it a generous handful of shredded cheese. Next, I microwave for thirty seconds until the cheese starts to melt (don’t over do it-it will get hard). Then I add pico de gallo and cubed avacado.

Sour cream would have been good, but hubbie’s not a huge fan. Shredded lettuce would make it more like a taco salad. Store bought salsa would be fine too, but I love the fresh taste of pico de gallo and it’s so easy to make. I follow the Pioneer woman and mix chopped tomato, onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime-that’s it unless you want to add a pinch of fresh jalapeno-be careful. I keep this on hand for all our Mexican entrees.

Have you ever tried serving nachos as a main meal? I’m telling you making taco meat ahead of time can be a huge timesaver. Try it this month!

Ingredients:
Tortilla chips
cooked taco meat
shredded cheese
pico de gallo or salsa
chopped avacado or guacamole, optional
sour cream, optional

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