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I've been Freezer Cooking!

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LisaS
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Posted on Saturday, April 14, 2012 - 5:29 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Just wanted to share the success I've had lately with freezer cooking.

I think I told you about the free site I found that had the whole foods menu rather than just "casserole" traditional style freezer cooking. (though they do have ways you can use some of those recipes too, like homemade cream-of-something soup: http://onceamonthmom.com/homemade-cream-of-something-soup/)

In February, I did the January 2012 OAMM menu (http://onceamonthmom.com/whole-foods-january-2012-oamm-all-star-menu-oamc-freezer-cooking-bulk-cooking-power-cooking) which went really well, and we have been enjoying the food from that a lot.

I didn't make my own tortillas or bread since I have safe brands, but I did cut organic chickens to get all of the chicken breasts and meats. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought.

Here's some of what I learned for our family:
- I was really surprised by how much we enjoy having breakfasts on hand, especially baked goods that have some protein in them (Ricotta pancakes, French toast, and recently, Sausage and cheese scones).

- The dinners are nice. Many of them aren't really saving me a lot of cooking time, because I need a lot more vegies than they include, and many aren't actually cooked in advance (e.g., marinated chicken recipes). However, they are saving me a ton of frustration, because it's easy to pull out several main dishes at the beginning of the week. They really solve the "I can't think of anything to make for a family that all likes different things" issue.

- What I most learned is that we need a lot more "grab-and-go" foods, especially because my son pretty much lives on these for lunches, my husband eats some on weekends, and sometimes we need quick and easy dinners too.

So, what I did this month is a "lunches" menu that I made myself in Mastercook. Here's my menu (ignore the "modified" -- I keep a copy of the original from the source and then my version, without mushrooms, onions, etc, to match my family's needs):

Simple Frozen Burritos
Bbq Chicken Quesadillas (modified)
Corn and Chile Quesadillas (modified)
Beef Chimichangas (modified)
Mini Deep-Dish Pizzas (modified)
Tex Mex Calzones (modified)
Super Calzones (modified)
Potato Goat Cheese Pockets (modified)
Stove Top Mac-N-Cheese (modified from Alton Brown)
White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

It went really well. I'm finding that I like to cook a lot more when it is a "craft project" than if it requires being creative every night. Plus, I feel so much "safer". It's really hard to describe, but I had a panic feeling because if we are tired and late home at the end of the day, we used to just eat out, and without that option I was feeling stuck / worried a lot. I'm sure that makes sense to you but it was a surprise to me.

Next week we are going on vacation, and a lot of my food for the trip (driving) will be pulling out frozen meals to cook in the condo!
ali
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Posted on Saturday, April 14, 2012 - 11:50 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for sharing your success story. I must check out this site. I remember you mentioning it earlier and i did take a quick look but we have just had school holidays here so its been full on.

I know what you mean about the stuck and worried feelings when you need a quick meal. Our quick meal is normally toasted sandwiches followed by a big fruit salad!! But really, you can only eat so many toasted sandwiches!!

Im struggling to find food for my middle daughter for her packed lunches. She is bored of sandwiches and the finger foods i make...cheese straws, carrs crackers, yoghurts, fruit....
What do you guys do for school lunches?
LisaS
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Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 5:59 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Ali, we homeschool now, mainly due to health issues but also frustration with the school system, so we don't send lunches very often and most places we do have microwaves.

Do you have a widemouth thermos? That can open up leftover options for school lunches.

The big thing here is Bento box lunches. There are lots of places that sell boxes with lots of containers, then you put different things in each one: turkey slices, cheese, fruit, dip, etc. Well, the newest addition is "forms" -- fish, cat, flower shaped containers that you press food into and it makes a cute shape and gives you more food options (e.g. a cold rice salad or something).

Lisa
ali
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Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 9:58 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

great tips, thanks Lisa. Sadly the infants school arent allowed to take thermos flasks.
I take my hat off to you for homeschooling. I am currently considering it and soon it may be that we will if the changes they are threatening to enforce on school transport come to fruition.
ali
LisaS
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Posted on Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 6:35 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We've found homeschooling much less stressful and exhausting than public school. But, here you don't have to do it a certain way. We are very relaxed homeschoolers -- lots of science shows, projects, museums, etc.
evelyn
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Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 7:25 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Lisa - sausage and cheese scones? I can't think of an ingredient in what I'd guess to be in those, that I could tolerate...
LisaS
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Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 9:21 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sorry, Evelyn!

We don't react to dairy, gluten, or real meats. I made the scones mainly using cheddar cheese, aluminum-free baking powder, whole wheat pastry flour, and Beeler's breakfast sausage (I've talked over email to the company and verified the ingredients at least to our level of tolerance).
evelyn
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Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 - 4:36 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

since when is sausage real meat? :-)
EmilyS
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Posted on Saturday, April 28, 2012 - 5:13 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We have our butcher grind a Boston Butt, then I add in my own seasonings. I cook it as patties or as ground sausage. The taste is amazing and it's real meat!
Di
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Posted on Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 5:01 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

EmilyS, what seasonings do you use? Is the recipe on your website?
Roy Piwovar
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Posted on Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 8:44 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Di, a friend made me sausage from scratch, seasoning it with lots of sage.
EmilyS
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Posted on Tuesday, May 01, 2012 - 10:53 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here is the recipe:

5 LB ground pork (I get 15% fat from a Boston Butt, up to 24% will work just fine)
2 TBSP salt
1TBSP white pepper
1/2 TBSP sage
TBSP thyme
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. ground fennel seeds (optional)
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cups ice cold water

In a small bowl combine seasonings and mix well, set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine ground pork, seasonings and cold water. Mix with your hands (I prefer to use gloves while mixing) until seasoning are thoroughly mixed in. The meat should look a little darker and you should not see any collected concentrations of seasonings. Pack it into a corner of your mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for half an hour.

While meat is marinating you must do the most important step in sausage making. That is to cook and taste the sausage you are making. You cannot adjust the seasoning to sausage once it is cooked, so while the seasoning is marinating into the meat, cook a small amount in a skillet to see if you need more of anything.

After 30 minutes of marinating, either cook over medium heat, then freeze for later use or divide into small patties and freeze raw.

http://savoryseasonings.blogspot.com/search?q=sausage
Di
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Posted on Tuesday, May 01, 2012 - 3:24 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Roy & EmilyS, Thanks, I can't wait to make some sausage...maybe this week.
Di
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Posted on Thursday, May 03, 2012 - 3:38 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

EmilyS, I made the sausage for dinner tonight and it was delicious. It's been years since I've eaten sausage and I can tell you I'll be eating it a lot more now. My hubby liked it too. Thanks a ton for sharing this yummy recipe.
EmilyS
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Posted on Friday, May 04, 2012 - 11:30 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm so glad you liked it! We use it as a topping for pizza, to add to hash browns or in scrambled eggs. We roast carrots and potatoes and throw in a little cooked sausage. We also like it in patties for a quick snack from the freezer. It's nice to have some fully cooked on hand in the freezer.
Di
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Posted on Saturday, May 05, 2012 - 4:09 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Right now I'm sorry I didn't make the full recipe, cuz some in the freezer would have been nice....next time.
ali
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Posted on Saturday, May 05, 2012 - 8:01 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

After years of hassles with tomatoes when cooked i risked a a tin of Roma organic chopped tomatoes to make a pizza base for us. We all ate it and we are all fine. :-)
evelyn
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Posted on Saturday, May 05, 2012 - 9:55 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the recipe, Emily!
LisaS
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Posted on Sunday, May 06, 2012 - 5:04 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You are making me hungry!!

I just found tomatoes in our natural grocery that have no additives at all, not even citric acid etc. They also contain no paste, just tomato puree and chopped tomatoes. I think the brand is Bionature.
EmilyS
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Posted on Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - 12:22 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Amazon also sells Cento canned tomatoes and the only ingredient is red ripe tomatoes. We have their tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes and have never had a reaction. It's a good price too!

http://www.amazon.com/Cento-Crushed-Tomatoes-28-Ounce-Cans/dp/B001SB0DN4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1336508365&sr=8-2
Deb A.
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Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 9:57 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Has anyone found canned or bottled artichoke hearts that are safe or citric acid free? They can be in water or oil or pickled...my son likes a dip I used to make. If I can't find them, I will just make a spinach and calamata olive dip...it's a hot dip made with fresh mozzarella, sour cream, and some organic mayonnaise from Trader Joe's. I spice it up with cayenne, onion and garlic powder.
Roy Piwovar
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Posted on Friday, May 11, 2012 - 12:38 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Deb A., you might want to check out this brand, although the ingredients of the artichoke hearts are not on their web site.

http://www.mediterraneanorganic.com/storelocator.aspx
Deb A.
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Posted on Friday, May 11, 2012 - 9:02 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Roy to the rescue again...what would we do without your amazing sleuthing! Thanks, Roy...I will try contacting them to see about the ingredients.
AdaLovelace
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Posted on Friday, May 11, 2012 - 1:24 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've found artichoke hearts that are in a plastic package at Whole Foods. They sell them next to the ready made pizza crust and pizza dough. The pizza dough/crust, by the way, has really clean simple ingredients. Something like wheat, olive oil, salt, yeast, and that's it. Needless to say I made an artichoke pizza!
LisaS
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Posted on Friday, May 11, 2012 - 7:52 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

That sounds lovely! I've been making wheat pizza crust in my bread machine. I can post the recipe if anyone wants it. But in June I'm going on vacation with extended family. We have a cabin with a kitchen, but various food restrictions between us all. I was just looking online because my mom can shop in advance at Trader Joe's, and their wheat pizza dough looks safe (the white has malted barley flour).
Cheryla1
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Posted on Saturday, May 12, 2012 - 6:23 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Deb -

Can you please share your recipe for the spinach and olive dip - I make the artichoke dip alot but never considered the ingredients in the artichokes as most people don't have my food issues. I bring it to parties alot.

Different subject - but don't steriods usually make people gain weight? I am on one now for an ear infection and am actually losing weight - I must really have alot of allergies.
Deb A.
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Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 10:03 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, Ada... wish we had a Whole Foods here. When we visit my sister, we can go to the one in Seattle.
I don't have a recipe..just a bit of this and that. I start with mixing together some grated mozzarella (1 and 1/2 cup), 1/2 cup of sour cream, and 1/3 cup of Trader Joe's organic mayo. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder and onion powder to taste. I add a pinch of cayenne. Then defrost a small package of frozen chopped spinach and squeezed the liquids out well. Add some chopped black olives or some kalamata olives. If you like more tang, add a t. of organic vinegar or lemon juice. Place in an oven proof dish and sprinkle with some more mild cheese like mozzarella, jack or mild cheddar and bake at 350 until bubbly. If you can handle a little Romano cheese, you can grate a small amount on top, too.

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