Monday, February 11, 2013

Stockpile Meals: Freezer Meals II

Hello again, readers!

Sorry I've been absent from the blog lately. With the wedding coming up and everything else still on my plate, I've moved the blog to the back burner. But I promise I'll still update you guys from time to time on what's going on in my world!

I'm working to prepare for the wedding; at the ceremony, reception, and personal life. Freezer meals, as you guys know, saved my life last August. I was able to stress a lot less just knowing we could always have a hot meal on the table. Since my last big freezer meal day, I've been making a few freezer meals simply by doubling recipes and freezing the excess portion of the batch. Unfortunately, I don't always have time to cook twice the amount of food in the evenings. I had a really great time the last time I made freezer meals, so I thought I'd have another freezer meal cooking day!

I did this one on a Saturday afternoon, and it took me only 3 hours. That's right-- 9+ meals in just 3 hours!!! Totally worth it...

I've been planning this one out for weeks, mostly so I could watch store sales. I also reorganized my stockpile, so I made sure the list used as many ingredients I currently had in the house as possible, including meats. Actually, all I purchased on the day of my freezer meal cooking was an onion, mushrooms, and frozen potatoes. Pretty minimal, which was really nice.

Again, I began by piling everything I needed into one place. I can't emphasize how important this step is when you're cooking one dish and prepping another. The last thing you should be doing is running around looking for ingredients!

Mostly all of the ingredients--there were still a handful in the fridge

This time, I used some different pans. They are half-size tins typically used in stands by caterers. The size is about a 9x11.75, so almost a 9x13. They are 2 inches deep, which I really like. I purchased a 30-pack at Sam's Club, and they ended up costing less than $.20 each!

I decided to start my freezer meal cook-off with the chicken dishes, because my chicken was more thawed than my ground beef. I found the chicken on a pretty good sale a few weeks ago at Albertson's; it was 3 lbs for only $4.99. I purchased two bags of it, but only ended up using one bag for these freezer meals.

I was pretty satisfied with the way the chicken pot pie turned out in my last freezer meal cooking session, so I made it again. I also have lots of Pillsbury pie crusts to use up because they were on a great sale for only $.99! The chicken pot pie literally took me less than 20 minutes to make--and the recipe makes two of them! This is one that could easily be thrown together on a weeknight or while watching your favorite TV show :)

Chicken Pot Pies--one with the pie crust, one without (only for
the photo, of course)
 The second dish I worked on was a Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake. I've never tried this recipe before, fresh or frozen, so I only made one, in case it turned into a disaster. I also didn't fully know how to turn this one into a freezer meal, so I simply decided to bake it until it was almost fully done. I left instructions to myself on the aluminum foil lid to bake for one hour to reheat. I hope this one turns out ok, because it looks and sounds super yummy!
The Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake, before being baked in the oven
 While the Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake was in the oven, I made Salsa Chicken Wraps. This batch made 18 wraps. I use the "+" to represent this on my meal count, because it varies on the number of meals we could get from it. Typically, Matt has 3 wraps and I have 1, but that could vary depending on how hungry we are. I would estimate we would get about 4 meals out of this. These wraps are super convenient as grab-and-go meals, or perfect for a quick lunch if you forgot to pack on the night before.
This mixture is so delicious, I wanted to eat it all right then!

I wrapped each one, following Keeza's instructions.

After each wrap was wrapped up in plastic, I put them in a gallon-
sized Ziploc baggie, with the instructions

 While I was wrapping the Salsa Chicken Wraps, I was also browning my ground beef. I made two large pots of ground beef: one for the Tater Tot Casserole, and one for the Goulash. I did not take any pictures of either, though. For pictures of the Tater Tot Casserole, please see my Freezer Meals post from August.

And then Goulash. You might be wondering what it is. Goulash is a Hungarian/German dish that can be manipulated to be several different things (soups, etc.), but in my family we've always made it as a pasta dish. I'll post the recipe (and hopefully some pictures) in a separate post.

I ended my 3-hour stint of freezer meal cooking with the following dishes (linked to recipes):
2 Chicken Pot Pies
1 Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake
4 Goulash
2 Tater Tot Casserole
18 Salsa Chicken Wraps
This photo is missing 2 Goulash dishes, but I would still declare
this a successful 3 hours of Freezer Meal cooking!
I know my last freezer meal post was one of the more popular on my blog, and I've received a few comments/e-mails requesting for more. I hope this helps!

Questions for my readers:
  1. Do you make freezer meals? If so, what are your favorite recipes?
  2. Do freezer meals add to your sanity, or take away from it? That is: do you find the prep required is worth the results gained?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Sunday Post (10)

Hi everyone,

It's the last Sunday of the month, and you know what that means...

Time for another "Sunday Post"! The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and offers us book bloggers a chance to show our readers books we recently received, and discuss any other bookish news.

I received/purchased NO books in January! 

Isn't that crazy? Like a weird, apocalyptic crazy? I know, it scares me too.

In other bookish, bloggish news:

TBR Pile Count: 180 (down 6 from last month, but still 30 left until 2013 goal is met!)

Reviews waiting to be written:
The 9th Judgement by James Patterson
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
Kisscut by Karin Slaughter
The Personal Shopper by Carmen Reid 
Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

...eek! Obviously a little far behind!

So, readers, what books did you receive in January?