Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 14 - Finding Harmony with your Cooking

We've all heard someone recommend spending a day making freezer meals, and freezing them for later use. I love that idea, but it just doesn't seem to work for me. I like things that are quick and easy. Simple dishes that taste good. I've always said I'd make a terrible rich person because I don't like fancy food. I don't like caviar, and just the sight of escargot makes me gag (just ask the unfortunate souls who were at my dinner table during our cruise - luckily they were all family, so the embarrassment was bearable).

The most time I spend on way-in-advance-prepping is cookin' and pickin' chicken. My sis-in-law raises "eatin' chickens" (the kind you eat, not the kind you keep around for eggs), so we buy most of our chicken from her. We can get a big 6-7 pound chicken for $5. She only charges us what it cost her to buy, raise, and slaughter the chickens. About once every month or two, I toss a couple in the oven for a couple of hours, then pick all the meat off the bones. I divide it in half, stick it in freezer bags, then grab when I want to make chicken soup or casserole. Half a chicken will give me more than enough meat for a big ol' crockpot full of chicken soup. And sometimes, I buy a 5-lb bag of beef, and I make taco chicken and beef to freeze. When we have tacos, I just heat up what we need, and toss what's left over back in the freezer.

When my older brother was in Scouts, they used to have potluck dinners for Pack and Troop meetings. I so looked forward to these because of what my mom would bring.

Cowboy beans

 1 lb. ground beef (I like grass fed beef that is super lean)
4-8 slices bacon (depends on how much you like bacon!)
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
1/2 Cup ketchup or catsup - I don't think the spelling affects the taste!
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (15-16oz) chili beans
1 can (15-16oz) Pork-n-Beans

Cut bacon up into about 1-inch pieces, and start browning.  Add beef and brown that, too.  Drain.  In a separate pot, mix brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, salt, and both beans.  Add beef and bacon to pot, and heat till boiling. Let simmer 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  Enjoy!  I usually bring everything to a boil on the stove, then transfer to my crockpot (set the crockpot to low), so I don't have to leave my stove top on for so long.  Freezes well!

I like to make up a double batch, then freeze single servings.  My husband won't eat beans, so he won't eat it, but my super picky kids love it!

A few other quick & easy meals that I like to make & freeze include:
Pancakes/waffles (Great for when you oversleep and have to get the kids to school!)
Tuna Casserole
Chicken boob chunks (I chop up about a dozen thin sliced chicken breasts at once, and divide them among 3 bags before freezing.  A trick to being able to easily cut them is to do it while they are still semi-frozen.  When the menu calls for chicken fried rice, I grab a bag, dump teriyaki sauce with a bit of lemon juice and sugar into the bag, and let it marinate overnight.)

Things like potato soup and any soup with noodles don't freeze that well.  The potatoes and noodles end up becoming really squishy and gross.


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