Category Archives: Food & Drink

You can freeze that?

Want to know a secret about me? I freeze everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but a lot of stuff. I have two freezers, and I use them both to their full potential. I often get into conversations about cooking or groceries and mention having something in my freezer when the person I’m speaking too gives me a strange look and says, “You can freeze that?” I often have leftovers, a freezer meal or two, cookie dough, and maybe some muffins or homemade burritos waiting to be devoured, but here are a few other things you may not have thought about keeping in your freezer.

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Chopped veggies
I have ziploc bags bell peppers, onions, and celery chopped and ready for use in my freezer at all times. If a recipe calls for half an onion (or one of the others), I cut up the rest and store it in the freezer. These are great for later recipes, pizzas, or omelets. I have also stored leftover diced tomatoes, onions, and peppers all in the same bag for quick omelets! I cook a lot, so this is a great time saver for me.

Broth/Stock Starters
I always have a bag in my freezer where I dump carrot, onion, celery, etc. extras. The last carrot that’s on the verge of going into the trash? Toss it in. The celery that’s not quite crunchy? Toss it in. Then when I have some deer bones or cook a whole chicken, I have everything I need to make my own broth.

Broth
When I make a batch of chicken or deer broth, I divide it into bags of 2 cups each and freeze it. It helps to lay the bags flat, as they take up less room frozen that way.

Fruit
Buy up those end of season, too ripe to last more than a couple of days fruits, and chop them up to freeze! Those are great for smoothies! Bananas too ripe but you don’t have time to bake? Put the whole thing in the freezer. When you’re ready to make banana bread (or another tasty treat), just thaw it and squeeze it into your mix.

Potatoes
Sometimes I buy lots of potatoes, and then our week gets crazy, and I have to rearrange my meal plan. Instead of having sprouting potatoes, peel and cut them to whatever size you like and blanch them. Then they can be frozen without fear of having a bag full of brown potatoes in the freezer.

Beans
I don’t remember the last time I bought canned beans. Raw beans are cheaper, easy to cook, and usually healthier. I’ve found bulk cooking to be easiest with beans. I like to cook a few different kinds and then store them in 2 cup quantities (most cans are 15 oz.). These are great for chili, soups, quesadillas, crockpot recipes, etc., pretty much any recipe you would use canned beans for.

Cheese
We love cheese and use tons of shredded cheese. I buy a lot when it’s on sale, and I toss the extra bags into our extra freezer.

Milk
This is the one most people give me strange looks about. We use a lot of milk. We are 25 miles from Kroger, and the smaller stores nearby are much more expensive, so this saves us a lot of money. I buy 5-6 gallons every 2 weeks, most in half gallon jugs.  I’ve found those thaw better. Those little circles on the sides of the milk jugs? When the milk expands during freezing, those pop out, so the plastic doesn’t crack. After the milk is thawed, shake it to mix it back up, and it’s good to go.

Bread
This is another one some people are weirded out by. There are a few tricks to it though. First, really cheap bread doesn’t freeze/thaw well. Second, it is best to not leave it frozen for long periods of time, though it would probably last longer if it was double-bagged. Ours is usually never frozen more than a couple of weeks, so I haven’t tried doubling up the bags.

Eggs
This isn’t something I freeze regularly, but on a few occasions I’ve been given more eggs than we could use in a reasonable time. I first crack them into muffin tins, stir a little to break up the yolks, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer. When they are frozen, I pop them out of the muffin pans into ziploc bags. I will say, I’ve only used frozen eggs in baking. They might do fine for breakfast eggs, but I have no experience with that.

Is there anything you freeze to save time or money? I’d love to hear about it!

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Filed under Food & Drink, grocery shopping, saving money, tips & tricks

Merry Kissmas and Peanut Butter Blossoms

I love chocolate. (Is there a girl that doesn’t?) Last week I was super excited to receive a Hershey’s Kissmas VoxBox from Influenster. (They send out fun new products to testers like me to try out and give feedback.)

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Free chocolate? Who would turn that down?! Not me.

I hid the box in an upper kitchen cabinet for a few days, trying to decide if I should just eat them all, bake something, or get crafty.

I had just been given one of these Kisses Christmas trees at a recent moms’ group meeting.

I thought these bigger trees were cute too.

Plus, they looked easy enough for my not-so-crafty self, but who am I kidding? I really wanted to eat them, not put a decorative, chocolate time bomb on my table for the toddler to enjoy at 4 a.m. without me.

Then I remembered my husband’s company Christmas party. Ah ha!

Peanut butter blossoms! When I was a kid we had a cookie day every year at my great-aunt’s house with my cousins and aunts. Peanut butter blossoms were one of my favorites we made. I’m sure you can guess why. 😄 The Hershey’s Kisses of course!

This recipe is super easy, yummy, and gluten free as a bonus, so they were the perfect use for my Hershey’s Kisses. That little pyramid of chocolate on top totally makes the cookie.

The cookies were gobbled up at the party, so I’m assuming everyone else enjoyed them as much as I do. However, I was sure to make extra dough for myself to have naptime treats the rest of the week.

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Which is exactly what I’m doing right now. Yum!

Do you have a favorite craft or recipe using Hershey’s Kisses?

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.*

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Filed under Food & Drink, holidays, Product review, recipe, Uncategorized

Tball Begins & a Call for Slow Cooker Recipes

Our schedule got a little more hectic in the last couple of weeks with the start of tball. Our two sons are playing on the same team, and last night was their first game!

tballboys

Daddy has turned into an extra coach. With 3-5 year olds, it’s all hands on deck.

But with the extra time being taken up by games and practices, meal planning has become a bit more challenging. That’s where you come in. 🙂 I need more slow cooker recipes or easy prepare-ahead meals! Pinterest is full of ideas but I’d like to see what my readers love for ball game nights (or dance or gymnastics or piano or church – whatever your kiddos are involved in). Leave a comment with a link to a yummy and easy meal your family enjoys.

And here are a few more pictures for you to enjoy.

boyrunning

playingtball
boyrunningtobase
boyjumpingonbase

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Filed under daily adventures, Food & Drink, raising boys

Emily’s Broccoli Cheese Soup {a no meat meal my husband actually liked!!}

I try really hard to carefully plan out our meals every two weeks. I browse through my notebook of tried recipes and my boards on Pinterest, print recipes, carefully check ingredient lists with what I have on hand, and make my grocery list. However, the reality of it is, all this usually occurs on on a Friday or Saturday afternoon while my kids are running around playing, fighting, and asking for a snack or help in the bathroom every 45 seconds. It’s a wonder I even make it to the store with a list, much less a list that will actually result in yummy meals. There’s always that one recipe that I totally goof up on. It never fails. I forget to write down an ingredient on my shopping list, I look at a jar of sauce or a spice in my cabinet wrong, or I under estimate how much of something my kids will devour before I get around to actually cooking the meal. Then I never realize it until I’m in the middle of prepping that meal. Happens every time.

Last week it was this recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup. The original post claims it to be a great copycat of Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup. I can’t help ya there. I’ve never actually had the broccoli cheddar soup at Panera, so I have no idea how close it is, or even what that recipe tastes like. 🙂 If someone tries it though, let me know how it turns out. My version of that recipe turned out great, so that’s what I’ll be making from now on. It even got a thumbs up from my husband. I am quite certain this is the ONLY non-meat soup recipe that he has ever said that about. He’s pretty darn picky about soup. He basically likes meat and vegetables with a bit of liquid. So here it is…

 

Emily’s Broccoli Cheese Soup
(makes 4 servings)

Ingredients
1/2 stick of butter (I may have used a tbsp more)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups half and half
3 cups homemade chicken stock
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4  tsp. nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1 large and 1 small carrot, chopped
1 head of broccoli florets (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups grated marble cheddar cheese
1 8 oz. bar colby jack cheese, cubed
Salt & Pepper to taste

measuring cup of cheese

 

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Directions:
Cook butter, onion, and garlic on medium heat until tender
Slowly add half and half and chicken stock.
In small bowl, mix the corn starch with a little water and stir until smooth.
Add corn starch mixture.
Add nutmeg and bay leaves .
Cook on medium until it has thickened.
Add the carrot and broccoli and simmer until desired tenderness.
Spoon out the bay leaves and discard them.
Add the cheese.
Stir until the cheese is completely melted.
Add salt & pepper, serve, and enjoy!

broccoli and cheese soup

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Filed under food, Food & Drink, recipe

3 ingredient biscuits

I know you are reading that title and wondering what kind of cardboard I’m eating, but I promise they are good. My husband even approved, and he’s a very honest critic!

Technically there are 4 ingredients, (2 are optional!) but one of those is melted butter that I poured on top of them. This is actually a combination/variation of a couple of different recipes I found online. I never have what recipes call for, so I just substitute, adjust, and see what happens.

*Please excuse the sippy cup, pacifier, etc. on my counter. My kitchen will never be spotless. 🙂 I also forgot to take a picture until there were only 2 left. Oops.

Here’s what you need:

3 C. self-rising flour
1.5 C. milk
1 Tbsp sugar, optional
4 Tbsp. butter, melted, optional

Heat the oven to 450°F.

Lightly grease a baking sheet, cake pan, or whatever you want to use. I actually used a pizza pan just because it was on top in the drawer.

Mix the flour with the milk, and add a tablespoon of sugar if you want to. Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto the greased baking sheet.  Pour melted butter over top.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or tops lightly browned.

Take them out of the oven and enjoy!

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Filed under Food & Drink