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Now that it’s September, I’ve finally managed to eat every meal from my last freezer cooking session back in July and have another long day of cooking under my belt. I’m not a huge fan of a solid day of cooking, but I sure am a huge fan of never really worrying about what to eat. To help you get an idea of the things we’ve been eating the last two months, and what meals I think are great from your freezer, here’s a list, links and reviews.
Breakfast Cookies – I loved these, Hubby loved these, Colton loved these. My friend liked these, but her kids did not. They’re meant to be eaten right from the freezer, which I think is great, but do get sticky as they get warm, which I think is what bothered my friend’s two kids.
Baked Oatmeal – We liked this so much we made it both cooking sessions! This is a pretty simple recipe, so you can have it plain, with milk, or with fruit. I had mien with blueberries and milk and thought it was fantastic.
Blueberry Muffins – I thought these were delicious, Colton warmed up to them, and my friend’s family wouldn’t eat them. Because they’re made with whole wheat flour they’re very dense, but if you like dense muffins, then you will love them. She gave me the ones they didn’t eat and I’m excited!
Tacos in a Sleeping Bag – A solid, kid-friendly meal. There’s nothing exciting about these, but I enjoyed them for lunch a couple of times, and used them as Colton’s go-to meal when we were eating something he couldn’t have.
Pizza Croissants – These were a hit with kids, husbands and wives alike. We also made these a second time, but decided to quadruple the recipe (for two families).
Pulled Pork – We cooked Boston Butt in the crockpot, covered in a rub my mom created, shredded it, and froze it. A large package from Sam’s made a TON. Both families liked this, but I think next time we need a much smaller cut of meat for us to share.
Taco Soup – We liked this, I liked it even more when I realized I could add sour cream to it. We doubled this recipe, but for two families we probably didn’t need to. Because it made so much and we didn’t have much room left in our pot, we didn’t add the extra water. I didn’t miss it though.
Chicken Tetrazini – This was a good, solid recipe. I thought the addition of mozzarella cheese would be a little strange, but I really liked it. I still thought it was missing a little something – pepper or some other spice I think, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
88 Meatballs – I really enjoyed these, which we used for spaghetti and meatballs. I made these, and I must have made them a bit big, because we didn’t quite get 88 out of them, but it was still more than enough for two families.
Lasagna Casserole – I thought this was fantastic. I wanted more onion in mine, but other than that, I had no complaints with this recipe and would gladly make it again. My friend found her noodles sort of soggy and mushy, but she ended up letting it defrost in her fridge for two or so days, which might account for our vast difference in opinions on this one.
Marinated Chicken – This is another we made again. It’s easy to make on a giant cooking day, easy to fix since you don’t need to thaw it and can cook it in the crockpot, and pretty darn tasty to boot.
Teriyaki Chicken – I cooked this in the crockpot, which I shouldn’t have done, but still thought it was pretty tasty but not very exciting. I probably would have liked it better had I cooked it appropriately.
Taco Pasta – I didn’t think this was very exciting (taco meat, pasta and cheese), but this was Colton’s all-time favorite meal. I felt like it lasted forever, so we must have gotten plenty of meals from it. This might be a good one for families with young children and/or picky eaters, but I would skip it if you like more interesting, “grown-up” meals.
Baked Ravioli – My friend made this for us right after Colton was born. It’s just frozen ravioli, pasta sauce, Italian spices and mozzarella. Nothing fancy, but a good comfort meal that holds up great in the freezer.
Chicken Broccoli Casserole – This was the only thing we made that I absolutely did not like. I ate a bit of it, then decided I would much rather eat popcorn. I thought it was rather salty tasting, and I don’t think the fact that I don’t generally like chicken and broccoli casseroles really helped in my enjoyment of this one. The Hubby ate it though. My friend said she didn’t remember it, apart from you really did have to let it thaw overnight, unlike what the cooking instructions said.
Beef and Bean Burritos – These are a Pioneer Woman recipe, and they are so, so good. The first time I had these I was craving Mexican food something awful, and this hit the spot in the best possible way. A definite recommend.
Chicken Tacos – This was another easy, dump in the bag, freeze, thaw and cook meal. My only issue with it was it didn’t make enough – we all really liked this one.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough and Sauce – Both of these (I think) came from a site that’s no longer up. I didn’t think the pizza sauce froze well (it got all watery and thin), but I liked the pizza dough. My friend did not, mostly she said because the crust didn’t rise and it was denser than she cared for. None of the whole wheat dough recipes I’ve tried will do that, so I wasn’t expecting it and was happy with the results.
So that’s what I’ve been eating. All-in-all, I enjoyed most of the meals, but I’m hoping to enjoy the fruits of my September labor even more. Do you have any recipes you love that freeze well? Please share!
My freezer is currently stuffed to the brim with 14 dinners items, 2 different lunch items, and 3 breakfast things, plus the things I already had in there (frozen veggies and such) prior to my recent crazy freezer cooking day.
Wednesday, a friend of mine mentioned she thought she’d do a large freezer cooking day soon, and since I had also been wanting to do one, we decided to cook together. Again, this was Wednesday. Thursday and Friday we did our shopping, most of the planning was done Wednesday night and Thursday, and we cooked Saturday. Cooking took twelve and a half hours (we had a snag with one of our packages of ground beef breaking and leaking all over the fridge, which took a while to clean) and was insane. But now, I have quite a bit of wisdom to pass on to those of you who are considering freezer cooking for yourself.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, especially if it’s your first time. We we’re a bit too ambitious about the amount we could get done in a reasonable amount of time. If we were a bit more practiced, we probably could have completed everything in a much shorter amount of time, but we need to get the hang of planing menus, what prep work needs to be done, and the order to work on things.
2. Limit the amount of things you cook that require flash freezing. This was the main cause for our cooking time running so long. Flash freezing means you can’t put anything else in the freezer (so as not to squish what you’re flash freezing) and takes over an hour, so you’re working with limited space and time, even if you have a deep freezer.
3. Split the prep work evenly. We failed at this. Since we were cooking at my friend’s house, she took on much of the prep work (she volunteered!). Next time, one of us will prep the chicken and one of us will prep the ground beef. This way, everything will be done the day before, and we’ll be doing a similar amount of work.
4. Pick things that can be suited for different tastes, if cooking with someone else. My friend and I feed our families somewhat similarly. However, I like a greater variety of veggies than her family will eat, and I love onions (and force Hubby to eat them too) while her husband won’t touch them with a ten foot pole. All of our marinated things can have lots of veggies paired with them as sides, or rice or mac n’ cheese for pickier kids. I could also add onions to these dishes if I wanted, plus we were able to brown ground beef separately (mine with onions, hers without) to tailor things a bit more to our tastes.
5. Prep labels with cooking instructions beforehand. I thought this was a bit silly to do in advance, since it would be very easy to write this info on your foil wrapped food, but this took a fair amount of time. If you’re looking to reduce your amount of time doing small, non-cooking related tasks, do this!
6. Parchment paper is your friend. This is another small thing, but I’m so glad we lined all of our cookie sheets with parchment paper. Since we were going through them like mad, this made clean up a LOT easier; just remove the parchment paper, rinse, tear off more parchment paper, and you’re ready to cook and deep freeze again!
7. Choose at least one meal you can cook straight from your freezer. Sure most of your meals are made in advance, but you still have to plan when you’ll eat them, defrost them, and cook side dishes. Some day, you’ll find yourself without a plan or food for your family – these meals are great for those days.
8. Print recipes you’ll be using, each on a separate piece of paper. We printed out all of the recipes, but since some of them overlapped onto a different page, it became more and more difficult to keep track of them all and keep them in order as the day went on.
10. Wear comfy clothes! You’re cooking all day, so you’ll get hot, dirty and possibly sweaty. Also, by about 6 or so, my feet and legs were tingly-feeling when they weren’t killing me – and I wore sneakers!
Even though this was a crazy day, I think I’d be up for it again, in about two months. I’ve already been reaping the rewards of easier meal preparation. Have you done a freezer cooking day? Any tips to pass on to me for my next time? Any great recipes I have to make next time?
Welcome! Today I have a special guest post written by my son Colton. Yes, he’s only 11 weeks old, but he’s a very good writer. And, apparently, he actually has a point to his post today, which is more than I can say for myself some days.
Hi ladies! Nice to meet you! Today I want to tell you about making my signature cake: Coltie-Cake! Why is this my signature cake, you ask? Well, it’s the only cake I’ve made so far!
So, if you are making Coltie-Cake, you need the following:
Chocolate Fudge cake mix, water, eggs and oil (as directed by the cake mix), 1 can of butter-cream frosting and some of your favorite cookies. You don’t have to have a baby to make this cake, after all, I wouldn’t like it very much if you ate me, but having a baby around sure makes cooking more fun!
Follow your cake mix’s directions for mixing the cake. Bake your cake in two round cake pans, being sure to check the box for exact time and temperature (I baked mine at 350 for 24 minutes).
While your cake is baking, break up about 5 of your favorite cookies. I ended up keeping the Girl Scout cookies for later and using Oreos in my Coltie-Cake. Once that’s done, pass the remaining time by having a bottle.
Oh, you may also choose to lick the bowl, like my Mama did, but if you’re a baby, I don’t advise it. Salmonella is no fun, and with a little immune system, I just don’t want to go there.
Once your cake is cooked, make sure it is cooled completely! Take a nice nap, snuggle with Mom, and when you come back, your cake should be cooled and ready for icing!
Put some icing on just the top of the bottom layer of your cake, not the sides yet! Then take your crunched up cookies and put them on top of the icing, put the next layer on top, and ice the whole cake.
If you’re a baby, or just haven’t iced a cake in a while, it won’t be look perfect, but we’re going for tasty, not good looking.
Once your cake is finished, wait patiently for your Daddy to come home from work so you can present him with your cake. For an extra-special touch, put your hand print on the cake!
I hope you all had fun reading about my first cake making experience. I sure had fun making it!
Thanks for reading through my not recipe, if you made it this far. Colton and I do a lot of cooking, mostly because now that he’s awake more I don’t really know what to do with him and I have to cook. So he sits in the kitchen with me and I talk to him and have him smell what I’m cooking. He may not have a very developed palate, but hopefully he has good olfactory skills!