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Thursday, May 15

Hey Good Lookin' (Jimmy Buffett)


When you're away from home the majority of the time, home-cooked dinners become very important!  We do a freezer cooking day two or three times each year, stocking the freezer with essentials for quick and easy dinners. 
It's relatively easy to whip up a loaf of bread if you already have a ready supply of filling soup in the freezer.  Make a quick loaf using this recipe, or just pull out a box of Jiffy cornbread.  (To make the Jiffy extra-rich, substitute sour cream for the milk on the box recipe.)

Chicken Tortilla Soup (6 gallons)
  • 6 lb. chicken, chopped       
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced         
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 12 c. diced tomatoes          
  • 6 tsp salt                             
  • 4 cans enchilada sauce
  • 6 cans corn, drained            
  • 1 ½ tsp pepper                  
  • 6 tsp cumin
Mix all ingredients together and store in six separate gallon bags.
Reheat : Place in pot with 2 c water and 2 c chicken broth.  Bring to boil, then simmer 30 min to an hour.  Serve with rice, quinoa, tortilla strips, or cheese.
 
 


Chicken Noodle Soup (3 gallons – we reuse ice cream tubs)
  • 12 c chicken broth             
  • 1 onion, chopped                  
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 6 cups water                      
  • 2 bags carrots, chopped        
  • 6 tbsp parsley
  • 3 lb chicken, chopped        
  • 6 tsp pepper                          
  • 3 tsp sage
Heat broth and water to a boil.  Add chicken and cook.  Reduce to simmer.  Add veggies and herbs.  Simmer one hour.  Place into three containers.
Reheat : Place in pot with one bag egg noodles and bring to boil.  Simmer 30 minutes to an hour.

Having pre-cooked taco meat can halve the time of almost any beef recipe.  We use this recipe in casseroles, soups, spaghetti, and for taco night.

Spiced Taco Meat
  • 10 lbs grass-fed beef         
  •          
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
Brown beef.  Add seasoning.  Finish cooking beef.  Package in quart-sized bags. 

It's also nice to have quick lunches on-hand for those days when everything is happening at once.  The kids are old enough to reach into the freezer and make their own hot lunches.  They are also able to prepare the following two recipes on freezer cooking day. 

Burritos (makes 48)
  • 8 cans organic refried black beans                 
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 16 oz shredded cheese                                     
  • 48 tortillas
  • 16 oz salsa
Mix beans, salsa & seasoning.  Spread onto tortilla and sprinkle with cheese.  Roll up.  Either place in plastic bags or wrap in tin foil.
Reheat : Microwave at 50% for 2-3 minutes.

Pizza Pockets (20 pockets)
Dough        
  • 4 tbsp active dry yeast   
  • 4tsp salt                           
  • 4 c warm water                
  • 8 tbsp oil                         
  • 4 tsp sugar                      
  • 10 c flour                           
Filling
  • 3 c pizza sauce (tomato sauce & spices)
  • 6 c cheese, shredded
  • 3 c diced turkey pepperoni (optional)
Mix yeast & warm water.  Add sugar, salt, oil and flour.  Mix well and dump onto floured surface.  Knead.  Divide dough into pieces.  Roll into balls and flatten.  Add sauce, cheese & topping.  Fold over and seal.  Bake 10-15 minutes at 300.

Since we've already got the kitchen good and dirty, we typically make a few batches of cookies, or these candies.  If you have extra chocolate at the end, dip some bananas or strawberries in for instant fondue.....no need to waste perfectly good chocolate!


Momma’s Peppermint Patties  (makes 30…a 3 day supply)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp half & half
2 tbsp softened butter
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 tsp peppermint extract


Mix everything together until it’s creamy.  Chill in the freezer until it’s firm enough to roll, and then form into 1” balls.  Flatten on a lined baking sheet and re-chill (the colder the better).
Melt 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips in double boiler.  Dip each patty completely, then re-place on lined baking sheet and chill until firm.  Store in the refrigerator.




Are you ready to try freezer cooking for your family?  It seems daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's quite easy!  I had the good fortune to have a cooking-oriented friend assist me with that first day.  Her knowledge, patience, and ability to teach to my kindergarten-level cooking gave me the confidence that I needed to continue. 
I would love to tell you that we always use coupons to maximize our savings, but the truth is that we purchase ingredients when we need them.  If we're home, and see a good sale on shelf-stable ingredients that we'll use for the next batch, we snag them.  That doesn't always happen, and fresh ingredients must be purchased when it's time to cook. 
Let your children help with food prep (chopping / grating / dicing) the day prior to freezer cooking.  This will make the day go more smoothly and quickly.  It will also give them some responsibility and lessons in home economics.  Let the younger ones measure ingredients and the older ones multiply measurements to make larger batches.  There you go - math class!

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. - Anne Isabella Ritchie (19th century Britain)

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