Tag Archives: Putting Food By

Flexible

Recently, my husband came home with a brand-new, beautiful, four waffle-iron and all the yuck of my day slipped away. And by yuck, I mean a very poor mama attitude that made poor kiddo attitudes worse. I made a full batch of pumpkin pancakes and poured them over the hot griddle knowing that once the butter and syrup sunk into those fluffy grids, the gloom that had settled over my home would be gone. There is nothing like warm, solid, comforting food to soothe emotions.

And on that note, there is nothing like comfort food to start your day out. Make a full batch and freeze the leftovers to pull out on a day when you need a quick breakfast. Spread cream cheese on them and fold or roll them up for a snack.

Pumpkin Spice Batter

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
Whisk the ingredients together into a loose batter and either pour them over a hot waffle iron or in spoonfuls onto a hot griddle. The pancakes or waffles keep for 3-4 days in the fridge or a month in the freezer. Top generously with butter and syrup.

October Freezer Cooking

This past week was one that I was so grateful for a stocked freezer.  Supper prep for the most part involved walking into the kitchen and asking Liam what he wanted to eat. This past week, I needed the ease of a frozen meal, freshly washed lettuce for salads and fruit for the kids. I’m having to make some adjustments with Liam’s routine again and make sure he’s getting a quiet period during the day so he can rest. That boy… just like his mama. Too much busyness and he is a disaster. Thankfully, I’m learning through his needs that I can say “no” to people and activities if it’s just too much. A lesson I really, really needed!

Anyway.  I grocery shopped on Thursday of last week. It took hours because I did Sam’s Club, Kroger, Target, bulk food store, Wayne’s and our butcher shop. But again, I will only have to go to the grocery in the next month for fresh fruit and vegetables and milk. Totally worth it. I did a whole food menu for the month of suppers and made sure to account for leftovers to be eaten on the weekends and for lunches. I also calculated in for a few meals that will not be eaten at home due to birthdays, the tri and Boo at the Zoo. Friday morning, I got up with my list of meals and did the crock-pot prep meals. I started working at 930 and did not put the last dish in the dishwasher until about 830 that night. BUT, I took time out of working to play with the kids, assist in the potty, color, serve meals, read stories, change diapers, answer questions and hand out snacks. If I hadn’t done those things, I think I could have been done in about 5 hours.

  • Taco Soup (2 batches)
  • Tuscan Mac and Cheese (2 batches)
  • Meatloaf (2 batches, meatloaf made and shaped then frozen)
  • Greek Casserole (4 batches… this was a mistake, should have only been 2, but they are in the freezer for a quick meal when needed)
  • Pizza (2 batches of dough made and then frozen.)
  • Chicken Tikka (ingredients in a bag that will easily dump into the crockpot whenever I’m ready)
  • Chicken Parmesan Meatballs (not prepped and recipe to be shared… eventually)
  • Meatballs (2 batches, one for stroganoff and one for bbq meatballs with orzo)
  • Cheeseburger Mac (meat and seasonings cooked, and in a bag with the cheese and pasta… will take 10 minutes to finish)
  • Dippin Tacos
  • Sloppy Janes with ground turkey (not sure how great this will be… I was tired by the time I got to this recipe, so this could wind up being a pb&j sort of night.)
  • Pot Roast with mashed potatoes (Meat will go in the crockpot and the mashed potatoes are made and ready to bake.)
  • Spicy Apple Glazed meatballs (new recipe that I can’t wait to share!!)
  • Beef Pot Pie (this will be made with the leftover pot roast meat so it’s not even prepped)
  • Confetti Chicken Pasta (new recipe, not freezer friendly)
  • Chicken Alfredo and Rice Casserole (new recipe and I’m not certain how freezer friendly it will be… we’ll see)
  • Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup
  • Panini
  • Falafel (not prepped, but the garbanzos are cooked and waiting in the freezer)
  • Sloppy Lentils (also not prepped, but the lentils are cooked and in the freezer)
  • Bread (4 loaves made and 3 frozen)
To be entirely fair, the beans and lentils were already cooked and in the freezer (which is how I picked those meals) and I baked the bread Wednesday. I also decided to bake the meatballs instead of frying them and I may never go back.  I made 2 pounds of meatballs and then just baked an entire pan full while I continued to work. In the next few months, I won’t do as many freezer meals because of the holidays, but I do plan a turkey for next month and look forward to some fun casseroles or quesadillas with the leftovers!
So my freezer is stocked and I’m free to spend my afternoons playing in the still pleasant weather or baking. Although… now that I’m not training for something, I probably shouldn’t bake so much. I hopped on the WiiFit this morning and it yelled at me for snacking. I wonder who told that nosy thing?!

It does cut the mustard

I’ve waited a few months since making this recipe to post about it.  I’ve been trying mustard for a few years now, but never knew that you may want to let it be for about 8 weeks before you start to slather it on sandwiches because it is wicked hot fresh out of the pan. But now… it is perfect.  Now I feel safe using it as my standby ingredient in recipes and am really pleased with the taste.

This recipe was unintentionally adapted from The Organic Family Cookbook. I say unintentionally because I wasn’t going to doctor the recipe at all, but I was unable to find brown mustard seeds, so instead of splitting the volume between yellow and brown mustard seeds, it’s all yellow here. The consistency is coarse, but it’s thick so I actually like it better than store bought since it sticks to the crevices of your bread and doesn’t ooze all over the place.

Simple Mustard (by Anni Daulter)

  • 2 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 1 c. whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 c. water
  • scant 1/4 c. raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, mix the dry mustard, eggs and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat after 30 seconds and simmer until the mixture is thick.  (Keep a close eye on the pan as the mixture bubbles up and then pops, spraying out of the pan.) Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
In a glass bowl, combine the mustard seeds and water.  Cover and let sit overnight.
In a food processor, combine the two mixures after they have rested over night.  Puree until smooth, adding the honey, salt and pepper to taste (you may want to add more than I did.) Store in an airtight container in your fridge.
*Notes: This recipe make 4 cups of mustard, which is a LOT. I gave at least half of mine away.  Also the author notes that it will last for 4 weeks, but since I allowed mine to mellow for 8 weeks before using, I don’t agree.  In fact, I think the longer it has sat in my fridge the better it has become, but that’s my opinion only.  Adapt as you need!

A twist on a favorite standby

I love Pinterest.  For me, it’s the best way to get out of a meal rut.  I just like seeing all those photos of people’s creativity.  And then, I try to figure out how to make it work for me!  Pinterest inspired this recipe, of course, but you know… I changed the original… a LOT.

This recipe, I will be completely honest, is not a favorite of my children, but Matt and I love it. This is our new date night meal.  Yep.  We’re parent of two children under 3, meatballs and pineapple = dinner and a movie.  Personally, I am totally ok with it.

This meal is a perfect freezer meal.  I double bag the sauce to protect against leaks, and then bag the veggies and meatballs.  Finally, I typically add in a bag of rice, just so it’s all ready to go.  Freezer to table, this meal takes only as long as it takes to cook your rice!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped peppers and onions
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 cup brown rice
Using the ground beef, egg, whole wheat flour and seasonings, make meatballs.  Fry them in a saute pan until they are browned.  Drain them on a paper towel. (Cool them if you are planning to freeze, before you put them in a Ziploc bag.)  Cook the rice.  Saute the onions and peppers for 5 minutes.  Then, mix together all the sauce ingredients (chicken broth through sesame oil) and pour into the pan with the peppers.  Cook until the sauce is thick.  Add the meatballs and thoroughly coat with the sauce.  Serve the meatballs and sauce over the cooked rice.

Lasting summer

Last night, I had a dream that it snowed.  I was really disappointed when I realized that it was already in the mid-70s at 7am.    Confession: Summer is not my favorite season.  I love the fresh food and the pool opportunities and all, but I really, really hate being hot.  Really a LOT.  I love all the summer fun, I just don’t like being hot.

However, when I pop open a jar of my jam in the dead of winter, I sure am grateful for that heat that helped the fruit grow and ripen!  This recipe was inspired by the Strawberry and Lemon Preserves from Canning for a New Generation.  I adjusted the flavors a bit to give the jam more what I was looking for: a sweet jam than that finishes with just a little bit of a tart zing!

Strawberry Lemonade Jam

  • 3 pounds strawberries; cleaned, hulled, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 lemons; skins washed and sliced thinly
Once all the fruit has been washed and sliced/chopped, place it in a large bowl or lidded container.  Sprinkle the sugar over the top and then stir to combine.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  This time allows for the berries to thoroughly macerate in the sugar and form a thick syrup.
Transfer the berry mixture to a large, heavy bottomed pan and mash well.  Heat over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until the syrup begins to thicken.  You will need to skim foam from the top of the jam after about 10 minutes of cooking and the jam was thickened to my liking at about 20 minutes of cook time.  Remove the lemons from the jam and do a final taste test to make sure the jam is sweet enough for you.  I wanted this jam to have the tartness of a lemon as a primary flavor, but if you need more sweetness, add up to another half a cup of sugar.
This jam only makes 4 half pints of jam, so clean and sterilize those jars, lids and rings.  Bring a pot of water to boil, making sure that there is enough water so that the top of the filled jars will be covered by an inch of water.  When the water is at a roiling boil, lower the filled and capped jars in using tongs, make sure the water height covers the jars sufficiently (if not, add more hot water to the pot) and return the water to a rolling boil.  Once the water is boiling, set your timer for 10 minutes and make sure the lid sets securely on top of the pot.
When the time is complete, remove the jars from the boiling water with tongs and place on a towel to cool.  The jars will need to remain on that towel for a minimum of 12 hours while they cool and set.  Once the jars are cool to the touch, you can check the lids to make sure they have sealed.  Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator.  Label and store the jars… ready for a cold snowy day when you are longing for some summer fun!

My library of canning inspiration

Since you’ll probably be reading more than a few posts on canning this summer, I thought I’d go ahead and let you know my favorite resources so you can check them out of the library or add them to your own collection!

Ball Blue Book of Preserving: This is the first book I owned with any sort of canning instruction.  I’m attached.  I love the clear directions and photos.

All About Canning: I have both this book and the original Joy of Cooking cookbook.  Both have simple, easy to follow recipes and instructions.  It should be noted though, that the Joy of Cooking does not have images that are remotely helpful in the text.

Put ‘Em Up!  I was given this book for Christmas and I already have it dogeared and noted.  I’m very anxious to try some new recipes from it!  I’m hoping to find some good rhubarb at the farmer’s market this weekend so I can make the sparkling rhubarb jelly.  I especially love the variety of recipes and the icons on each page providing a quick referral of the potential storage methods (freeze, can, dry).

Canning for a New Generation: Also a Christmas gift, this one is also showing my plans for the summer.  It is packed with recipes and ideas and as a bonus for those of us who can extra specifically so we can give our goodies away, there are gift tags in the back!

Simply in Season: a stand-by of mine for the last few years, I find myself flipping through this book every time I need a new recipe for seasonal produce.

These are my favorites and I do hope that by the time my children are my age, they’ll find them stained, worn and noted.  I know some people don’t write in their cook books, but I can’t control myself.  I need to know what I had thought while I was cooking.  I like to mark how much we enjoyed it (or didn’t!) and any changes I made.  I’m always making little changes, so that last part is awfully helpful.  Now that you know my favorites, do you have any you’d like to add to the list?

Checking off my jam list

Last week, the newest issue of Kaia came out and I was more than a little excited to see my article on canning in it.  I grew up making freezer jam and terrrified of the idea of a boiling water canner.  I learned to can because as a wedding gift I was given a Ball start up kit from Lehmans and since I had everything, I needed to bite the bullet and get over my fear of getting burnt.  Some people get hooked on shopping or running races, I discovered that I love making jam.  I really, really do.  I love testing for the jelling point, wiping the threads of each jar and then listening to the jars sound their triumphant “ping” as they seal.

Every year, I mean to make strawberry rhubarb jam and every year, and yet every year passes and somehow, I have not managed to make any!  This year was the year though and I am thrilled with how it turned out.  The berries were really sweet, so there is a much lower amount of sugar in this jam than in other recipes I found.  I think that there is just enough sweetness to overcome the tartness of the rhubarb without overshadowing the flavor.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

  • 4 cups Rhubarb
  • 6 cups Strawberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
Place all the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed pan.  Heat through and then mash well.  (I used an immersion blender to do this, even though I knew it is incredibly unsafe.  I still have strawberry bits on my wall.  If I were you, I’d use a potato masher.)  If you allow the fruit to heat through, it will mash better which is extremely beneficial for the rhubarb as it can be a bit stringy.  Continue to heat the jam, skimming foam from the top of the pan as necessary.  The jam will reduce in volume by about a quarter in 15-20 minutes.  Put a metal spoon in the freezer while the jam is reducing.  When the jam seems thick enough, put a drop of the jam on the spoon to check and see if you leave a clean streak through it if you run your finger through.  If the spoon is clear, then the jam has thickened up enough and will set nicely.   Pour the jam into the jars, wipe the threads of the jars with a damp cloth and screw on the caps and rings tightly.  Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.  Set the finished jars on a towel in a dry place where they cannot be disturbed for at least 12 hours.  Enjoy on fresh toast!

May freezer cooking extravaganza

Perhaps “extravaganza” is a touch overstating things.  I really enjoyed all the freezer cooking I did last year, but hadn’t restarted once Spring hit and my weekends were just too full to set aside time to do more than a few meals.  I don’t know about the weather where you are, but here it is glorious.  Glorious enough that since the backyard is now safely fenced in, the kids and dogs and I can run wild all afternoon and not once do I worry about anyone getting hit by a car!  However, far too many nights we have been outside playing with nary a thought to supper until Matt pulls in the drive and we are all too hungry to wait for me to cook and off to Burger King we go.  *hanging head in shame*  No more.  I knew my grandmother was going to be in town this week, so I asked if she’d come over and help out; chopping veggies, browning meat, doing dishes.  Turns out, having the extra body in the house made my cooking experience a breeze.  We finally collapsed on Monday afternoon with a freezer full of food and only a little bit to do the next day.

Beef meals:

http://onceamonthmom.com/italian-flank-steak-pinwheels/ (not frozen… Mother’s day meal that I will make again and again… this is the recipe I used for inspiration)

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/cube_steak_milanese.html (not prepped at all, it’s a very quick meal though)
Chicken:
http://www.slenderkitchen.com/slow-cooker-thai-peanut-chicken/ (meal over the weekend, ingredients from this shopping trip… tasty, but not Earth shattering)
http://www.thyhandhathprovided.com/2009/07/bang-bang-chicken.html (not prepared, all ingredients together in a bag for when I am ready to make, though)
http://www.sweetpeasandpumpkins.com/2009/02/next-to-boiling-water-this-could-be.html  (this is how I cook the whole chicken for the pizza and tikka masala)
Pork:
Ground pork and sweet potato tacos from Clean Eating
Vegetarian:

Meals for the next 2 weeks in the upstairs freezer. The rest are stored in my deep freeze.

This month’s cooking will last until the middle of June.  I have planned for 2 out-to-suppers and a few vegetarian meals that will have to be made the nights they are planned for.  This I suppose is important to note: I ONLY cook for suppers.  I know a lot of the monthly planners calculate in for breakfast, lunch and supper, but I don’t.  Reason being that it’s just me and the kids most days.  I plan lunches on the weekends, but they are typically very simple since we are either playing or traveling.  I made a few breakfast casseroles a week or so ago and froze individual pieces so for breakfast here we’ll do that or cereal or muffins and yogurt.  I usually do french toast or  pancakes on the weekend.  Lunches here are typically whatever Liam is wiling to eat that day, eggs, mac and cheese, leftovers… pretty much whatever appeals to us.

This shopping trip cost me $221.57.  This is all the meat, staples, frozen veggies, dairy products and fruit.  I did pantry/freezer dive right before with the goal of using as much of those items as I could.  I will have to go back to the store in between and buy fruit, salad greens, milk, eggs and cheese, but those trips aren’t too bad.  Once I get my garden going, I will only have to go for the dairy products since I am still not allowed to have a cow or chicken.  I’m hoping to keep the food budget under $350 for this time.  All the meat is from MaryAnne’s (local, grass fed, etc.) except for the chicken which I got at Kroger’s ON SALE.  I do ask Matt to drive out to Planktown for the eggs every other week since the holy grail of eggs is only $1.89 and 15 minutes from his office and they are almost 4 dollars here in town.

I’m thrilled with how this went and fully plan to continue this throughout the summer.  I will soon be canning the garden’s bounty (if I ever get the plants in the ground…) and will be extra grateful for meals all ready prepared!

**In case you are interested, here’s the timeline for Mondays’ cooking:

630: up and taking care of house/kids/self for day…
830: Slow cooker Asian Pork meals prepped and packed into ziploc bags, instructions for cooking taped to the outside of the bags.  Whole organic chicken (Krogers!) in the crockpot for 5 hours on high.
845: Bang bang chicken ingredients organized and frozen.  Recipes printed.  Action plan written out.  Drama with children.  3 trips to potty. 2 Diapers changed.  Laundry in wash.
1000: Grandma arrives.  I’m browning the ground beef for The spicy beef lettuce wraps.
1030: Beef for wraps cooling, I make the meatball mixture and hand it to Grandma to make… 6 dozen meats from 4 pounds of ground beef.  I freeze the other 2 pounds of unused meat for later.  I make the filling for the eggrolls and set aside to cool.
1130: Lunch for Sylvi.  Bag and label the spicy beef wraps filling.  Sylvi for nap.  Grandma still rolling meatballs.
1200: Lunch for Grandma, me and Liam.  I hang laundry.
100:  Grandma begins cooking meatballs.  I prep for the pork and sweet potato tacos.  Veggie mix made for Sweet and Sour Meatballs.  Sweet and sour sauce made.  I make all the egg rolls.
230: Egg rolls in the oven.  I made beef taco mix.  Pack the meatballs with veggies, label and freeze.  Pork taco mix cooked, cooled and frozen.
315: Egg rolls cooling.  Sylvi up from nap.  Snacks made.  Grandma shreds up the chicken.  We decide we are done for the day and go outside.

Chai and Pears

A few months after Matt and I got married, the pear tree in our back yard bloomed and we were amazed by the sweet smell that drifted into our windows.  We waited anxiously for the pears that we were sure would overload the tree.  In the 4 springs we had in that home, I’d say we got a total of 10 pears that were worth using.  Most of those pears came the year I tried making pear butter.  I swore I’d make it every year thereafter.  That was in 2008.  I have not made a single spoonful since.  Even the following year when Liam was starting solids and I was freezing everything in sight.
Anyway, I saw a recipe on Pinterest and started to drool.  I had planned to follow the recipe posted, but I noticed a box of chai in my cupboard this morning and decided to tweak the recipe a tad.  Here’s the thing: I LOVE spices and flavors and depth.  For this, I essentially took the spices for my traditional Chai recipe and added it to the pears.  I was surprised how juicy my pears were, so I had to let them cook down for quite a while.  While they were cooking, we went outside and started hanging the Christmas lights.  Even though it’s November in Ohio, the weather is quite nice and this was the perfect weekend to get the decorating underway!  When we came back in the house smelled heavenly and I’m just so excited to add these little jars to my Christmas gifts this year.
Vanilla Chai Spice Pear Butter
  • 7 lbs. Pears
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 C. Orange juice
  • 3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Wash and roughly chop the pears.  Place them in a stock pot with the water and cook until tender.  Run the pears through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds and puree the pears.  Return the pear puree to the stock pot and add in the remaining ingredients.  Turn the heat to a low setting and let the pear mixture simmer until it has reduced in volume and water no longer separates out.  When the pear butter is thick and fragrant, pour into sterilized half pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Cap the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. 

**Note:  The word Chai in Hindi actually means tea.  So… it’s not Chai tea, it’s just plain old Chai.  Trust me.  I drank plenty of it in June in Calcutta.  Just plain Chai. **

Roasted

See that beautiful baby in the photo?  She’s sweet and precious and someone I fight to protect every moment of my day.  I started doing the October Unprocessed because I was already on a weight loss challenge and I figured it would be good for me.  As the weeks have passed, I’m realizing it was the jump start we needed to get ourselves back on track to healthy eating.  And the motivation I needed to start trying a little harder to make sure those whole foods come back and stay back.
I love that when I open my refrigerator, it’s full of glass jars with things I made myself.  Ghee, salad dressing, jams and now roasted red peppers!  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but just never got around to it.  However when I was stocking up on pie pumpkins, I found a good deal on local red peppers.  I bought a few with the intention of roasting them and then making my own hummus again.  It took me a few weeks (I know, you’d think I was busy or something…), but once I did it, I was thrilled with the results!  

I don’t have a gas stove so my options are either to roast them on the grill or in the oven.  The weather has been less than pleasant so I opted to do them in my oven.  It took a while since I was timid with the heat, but the result was wonderful!  I set the temperature at 425 and then cut up the peppers.  The peppers that blistered the most were the ones that were the flattest, so I know for next time that you have to cut them with purpose so that they will set on the baking sheet skin up without wobbling.  I lined the baking sheet with tin foil and filled it with peppers.  Into the oven they went and I turned on the light so I could watch them while I worked in the kitchen.  In about 25 minutes, I could see the skins blistering up and forming a bubble.  I took them out of the oven at half an hour and then quickly wrapped them up in the foil so they could steam.  Once the peppers were cool enough to handle, but still warm, I peeled the skin off with my fingers.  I used a few to make hummus and the rest, I put in a jar with some minced garlic and equal parts olive oil and water.  I’m very excited to use my peppers in future recipes and I’m so excited that I made them myself for a fraction of the usual cost!