Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Freezer Meals (Peppers, Onions, & Potatoes)

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Lately, we have had too many too busy days pass and I felt really behind--on everything!  So I spent the day recouping.  Hit the grocery store this morning and got some really good deals on produce and headed home ready to freeze up some quick meal solutions to help me through my next time of too busy life.  After about 3 hours, I had 4 complete dinners, 10 "add meat" partial dinners, 2 breakfasts, 2 seasoning mixes, and 5 servings of soup.  I did want to make some hand soap today, but I'll have to get to that tomorrow.

Here's what I started with:
20 lbs of potatoes
15 bell peppers (they were 3/1.49)
8 lbs of onions
3 lbs of italian sausage links
3 packs of breakfast links
3 heads of cauliflower
1 1/2 heads of cabbage
7 packs of mushrooms (they were 49 cents...seriously)
12 roma tomatos
3 lbs of leftover Carnita meat
2 lbs of carrots
1 bunch of celery

After analyzing what I had these are the meals I came up with:

2 bags of Half-Fauxtatoes
2 bags of Colcannon
2 bags of Oven Fajitas from Eatin' on the Cheap (I made a few changes listed below, not because there is anything wrong with this recipe, just because of what I had on hand.)
2 bags of Sausage w/Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms
2 bags of Overnight Breakfast Potatoes from Crockpot 365 (I sub butter for the oil)
1 bag of Curry Cauliflower
1 bag of Pot Roast Fixins'
1 bag of Cabbage Soup
3 bags of Baked Potatoes for Twice Baked Potatoes
5 (2 cup) servings of Cream of Mushroom Soup

I also made Taco Seasoning and Ranch Powder from Self-Reliance by Jamie.  I used the Taco Seasoning to season the Oven Fajitas and made some Ranch Dressing from my homemade mayo and kefir (1 cup of each, 2 tbsp of mix).  Buttermilk would also work.

I think the trick to this is getting what you can get on sale and then pairing it together for meals.  For instance, I've been looking at this cream of mushroom soup recipe for a while.  Today it cost me two dollars, other wise it could have been as much as 10 or 12.  This is the first time I have put together uncooked meals to freeze.  I have done a lot of cooking and freezing in the past, this was really just a lot of cutting.  I think I cut veggies today for a solid 2 hours, but I only had to wash 2 knives and 1 cutting board. 

Here's what I put in the bags and what I intend to do with them:

Half-Fauxtatoes
Fill the bag with 1/2 potatoes and 1/2 chopped cauliflower to be enough to feed your family.  To cook: boil in salted water until tender.  Drain.  Mash.  Butter, Cream, Salt, and Pepper to taste.

Colcannon
Fill the bag with 1/2 potatoes and 1/2 shredded cabbage to be enough to feed your family (consider that the cabbage will cook down a lot).  To cook follow previous instructions.  You can add chopped ham or bacon and cheese to make it more like a meal.

Oven Fajitas (my version)
Add 3 sliced bell peppers, 2 sliced onions, 4 romas sliced into wedges, 4 oz of sliced mushrooms, 2 tbs of homemade taco seasoning, and 2 tbsp of fat (I used the reserved fat from cooking Carnitas).  On the top I put 3 cups of leftover Carnita meat.

Sausage w/ Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms
Add 3 sliced bell peppers, 2 sliced onions, 2 chopped romas, 4 oz of sliced mushrooms to the bag.  Add 1 tbsp. of italian seasioning and 1 tsp of salt. Put 1 1/2 lbs of italian sausage sliced on top.  To Cook:  Add all contents to an oven safe dish, cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes until meat is done and veggies are desired tenderness.  Serve with rice or noodles.  (if serving with noodles you could also finish this dish with 1 cup of cream and 1/2 cup parmesean cheese)

Curry Cauliflower
Add Cauliflower (enough for a side dish for your family), 1-2 tbsp of curry powder (enough to cover), and 2 tbsp of fat (I used organic palm oil because of its neutral flavor and stability to high heat).  To cook:  Heat a frying pan on med-hi.  Add contents stir fry until just softened and fully covered with curry.

Pot Roast Fixins'
Fill bag with potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, 4 garlic cloves, and 2 tbs. of Italian Seasoning or other all purpose seasoning.  Write on the Front "Add to Roast".  To cook: add a roast to crock add the bag and any liquid needed to cook properly.

Cabbage Soup
Add 1/2 head of chopped cabbage, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 diced onion, 2 tbsp italian seasoning, 2 tsp garlic powder, and 2 tbsp of salt.  Write "add 1 lb ground beef & mixed veggies" on the bag.  To cook: Brown 1 lb of ground beef in a pasta pot, add ingredients and enough stock to cover.  Bring to boil and reduce to low and cook for 1 hour or more.  Also could be done in a crock pot.

Twice Baked Potatoes
Wash potatoes, peirce with a fork and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until soft.  Allow to cool and wrap in plastic wrap individually before freezing.  To cook:  defrost potatoes, split open and fill with ingredients (we will probably do bbq or broccoli), top with cheese and bake until heated through.  Serve with sour cream and chives if desired.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Ingredients:
2 lbs of mushrooms, quartered
4 cups of Homemade chicken stock
the juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of salt*
1/2 tablespoon of white pepper (black would work, just show up)
1 tablespoon of dried minced onion
2 tablespoons of italian seasoning
1 cup of raw grass-fed cream (I used cream that had soured a little in my fridge, but you can't tell once it is in the soup.)

Add all ingredients (except cream) to the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours.  Allow to cool to warm.  Use an immersion blender to make a smooth consistency.  Add cream, blend, and freeze.

My plan with this is to replace Cream of Mushroom soup in recipes.  And before we found the traditional diet one of my family's favorite recipes was Chicken with C of M dumped on top, so now I can make that again.

*on the salt, you should salt this to taste, and it should be slightly saltier than you would prefer to eat, because it is to replace condensed soup.  Also, if you use store bought stock, you will need far less salt.

Wow!  This was a long post!  I hope I have inspired you to take some time to save your self some time and your family a little money and still eat real food.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

Shared on: Fight Back Friday, Weekend Whatever Link Up, Wheat Free Wednesday

Featured on: Wheat Free Wednesday, Fight Back Friday




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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Real Mayonnaise Can Never Come From a Store

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I have never been a fan of mayonnaise, but I did spend all of my life eating some low fat or fat free version of it.  I still would only use it for potato salad or tuna and would usually opt for some oil and vinegar type of dressing.  When we adopted a traditional diet and I started reading Nourishing Traditions I found one of the main culprits in some of the health problems my family was having was soy.  I cleaned house, nothing with soy could come in the doors..and along with that my husband's jar of Hellmans.  Oh, did I mention that Andy LOVES mayonnaise....loves!  Luckily along with the demise of that white goo, I found a recipe for real mayo that is not only a spread that will make every sandwich taste worlds better, but will nourish your body.

First, you need good eggs...really good eggs.  From a farmer.  A person you look in the eye.  A person you chat with, shake hands with, a person who knows the names of your kids.  My eggs came from a man named Larry.  A sweet grandpa who one day even went out to the coop to get eggs for me.  Hand washed them, while my kids chased his chickens.  A man who hand washes every milk jar in front of a sunny window to make sure each customer big and small gets the freshest safest glass of milk.  I love this man!  I trust these eggs, I eat them raw.  And yes, real mayo contains raw eggs...per say.  Technically, in the traditional recipe for mayo and other things like key lime pie, the eggs are added to an acidic substance which "cooks" the eggs.

On top of good eggs and good oil, this mayo is lacto-fermented with whey. So you get a probiotic punch on top of a moist sandwich or perfect chicken salad.  This recipe has changed my perspective on mayo, just like when I switched from light "buttery" spread to real butter.  And well judging my the name of my blog, you can guess my opinion on butter!  You can slather this stuff up, make salad dressings, salads, whatever and never even consider ordering "light mayo" again.

Here is the recipe from Nourishing Traditions:  (I ususally do it 4-5x depending on how many eggs and oil I have, it will keep up to 2 months in the fridge)

1 whole egg, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of whey
3/4-1 cup of extra virgin olive oil or expeller-pressed sunflower oil or a combination (you need to do this part to taste, I have landed on 1/2 evoo 1/2 sunflower oil)
a generous pinch of salt

Look at the color of those yolks!
In a food processor add all of the ingredients, except the oil.  Process for 30 seconds.  Drizzle oil through top while motor is still running.  Drizzle until a thickened consistency is achieved.  (It will not be quite as thick as mayo from the store yet, but not runny either)  Taste it, add salt or lemon juice to taste (It isn't quite as bland as mayo, but trust me you will really enjoy this stuff!).  Once you are happy with the taste, jar the stuff up and let sit on the counter for 7 hours before refrigerating.  (It will thicken over this time.)  I know this sounds weird, but trust me...trust the farmer who you bought the eggs from.  Your taste buds and body will thank you for this stuff!

Love and Butter (and Mayo),

Mishelle

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Changing Seasons

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All is quiet on the western front.  It is Sunday afternoon and mandatory naps are in progress.  Andy and I both usually participate, but today has been a hard day.  Andy has spent most of the day with his mother who has been for the last month caring for her brother who will soon meet Jesus.  It has been a hard time as his brain tumor presses out the little bit of his personality.  Family has come in from town, those in town have visited frequently.  Waiting on moments, where they are with him...really with him. Waiting hours for minutes sometimes.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 2, 3, & 4: The Bathrooms

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Three drawers this full!
I hate cleaning bathrooms!  I really hate cleaning bathrooms.  For the obvious reasons of germs, but also now with a house of six I know someone is looming ready to destroy all my hard work.  Ha!  And they were lined up today, they even came in with mud from head to toe...seriously. 
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Taco Truck Meets Take-Out

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First Round...seriously...you will have seconds!
I don't live in a part of the country where taco trucks are a big thing, but if I did...boy would I make them a big thing in my life.  We do have one family owned Mexican restaurant that started as a truck in the parking lot of a Latin-American market.  After first time I ate these creations, I never tasted a regular taco the same.
 From the warm corn tortillas, meat spiced so perfectly, the fresh cilantro and ooh...the salsa!  I rarely make tacos in flour tortillas anymore.  


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Our First Build

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My husband Andy cringes at the mention of home repair or remodel.  But somehow I have managed to drag him into flooring, lighting and even a little minor plumbing.  He has never taken part in my fetish for furniture refinishing, although he is always so amazed when my projects come together.  For a long time I have been wanting to build book cases, I was going to chicken out and just buy some from Ikea, but the measurements weren't quite right, and let's face it...those things are crap!
I found this amazing website, that is run by the super-woman of construction Ana White.  At www.ana-white.com you can find building plans for hundreds of pieces of furniture.  I have pinned at least 10 things I want to build...HA! But I have to start somewhere, or seriously I am giving up Pinterst!  


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Day 1: Hall Linen Closet

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Today I started with the Hall Closet.  It took about 1 hour or so.  I purged over half of the closet and arranged it to look as pretty as possible.  I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but I used an idea I found on Pinterest (where else!) to organized the sheets.  Mine aren't quite as pretty as Martha's, but look a million times better than before.  You match all the sheets, fold them and put them in the matching pillowcase.  It keeps the sheets looking uniform, and seriously who knows how to fold a pretty fitted sheet anyway?


There's no way I would show the before!
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40 days 40 bags: The Plan

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Okay it's Lent!!  I am looking forward to clean drawers, organized shelves and clear surfaces!  I sat down and with a paper and pen today and made a list for myself.  You will have to make your own list depending on your home and which spaces will take more or less time based on where you stuff stuff.  Here is mine so you can compare notes, leave no stone unturned, or corner dusty.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

40 days 40 bags Challenge

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I have never practiced Lent, not because I am not religious...mostly because I am forgetful and don't know it is even going on until I see my friends Facebook status celebrating all of the noble things they are giving up.  By then I figure I wouldn't be doing it for the right reasons, so I leave it until the next year.  
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Big, Easy, and Slow Jambalaya

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Happy Fat Tuesday Everyone!!  I was all set for dinner this morning at nine.  Korean Taco meat in the slow cooker.  I even took some pictures so I could blog this new favorite recipe of mine.  Then my husband says, hey it's Mardi Gras...I know as if I live under a rock!  So here is my dilemma.  On Tuesdays dinner is always in my slow cooker,
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Take-out Take Two

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I was so excited at how easy the Teriyaki was to make and to have ready for my family when we walked in the door.  So I tackled our single most beloved take-out menu item--General Tso's Chicken!  If you've ever had this item take-out you know it is deep fried chicken pieces covered in sweet/tangy/spicy sauce...aaahhh...the sauce!


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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breaking the Take-Out Cycle

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Almost every weeknight, I hit the gym for a class either Zumba or Pilates, whatever is in the rotation.  Then I head home, sweaty, exhausted and hungry!  Not to mention the husband and four kids in tow.  So when we get off at our exit and pass the Chinese place on the corner, I have to admit it always crosses my mind!  I love Chinese food and more than that I love food someone else makes for me!  But I must admit it doesn't do any good to my waistline, my brain, or my wallet.
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