April Freezer Cooking Results and Recipes Part 1

I got everything on my list for today done! I am just happy that I was able to accomplish everything I had planned plus I made brownies, brats and mashed potatoes for dinner.

As I said in my planning post, I did a few things over the weekend. I doubled this sourdough english muffin recipe. Homemade english muffins are SO much better than the store bought ones. There are recipes out there that don’t require a sourdough starter as well,  if you want to try them. With the english muffins I made sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches for Dallas. I had all 5 burners on my stove going to cook them all! I then sliced up some sausage and cooked that. I scrambled some eggs together and cooked them in some metal biscuit cutters to get a round shape for freezing. Mixing the egg yolk and white together is better for freezing so the eggs don’t get a funny texture. We just wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in a ziplock to freeze. They take about 30-45 seconds to heat in the microwave.

English muffins "baking"

Look at those yummy nooks and crannies!

Our assembly line!

I also made some crockpot black beans over the weekend.

This morning I started with my main freezer cooking list before I took Lance to school. First, I rinsed some pinto beans and threw them in the crockpot with some hot water on high. Then, I mixed up 5 batches of my no knead pizza dough (3 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1/4 tsp yeast, 1/2 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar….stir it all up and put in a baggie or covered bowl and into the fridge.). There is a full tutorial on homemade pizza HERE. I will let it ferment in the fridge for 24 hours then freeze. I will also be using one of them tomorrow for my BBQ Cheeseburger Muffin Bites. To thaw…put in the fridge the night before pizza or on the counter for the afternoon works too 😉 All of that took maybe 15 minutes.

Mmmm. Pizza dough.

When we got home from school around noon Lance wanted to make a cake, but we settled on brownies instead, so we whipped those up quick together. I did cut them and freeze them so I won’t eat the whole pan sitting on the counter! I didn’t know Lance took this picture until I looked at them while writing this post!

Lance taking a picture of himself after licking the brownie spoon!

I put some brown rice on to boil using my homemade chicken stock instead of water and some parsley from my moms garden. My husband won’t eat most brown rice, but we really like “sweet brown rice” that I buy in bulk at the health food store. It has a much better flavor than other brown rice. I cooked up 2 cups of dry rice which made enough for 4 dinners for us. I just thaw and heat with a tablespoon or 2 of water covered in the microwave. It saves a ton of time at dinner since brown rice takes so much longer to cook than white rice and I never remember to put it on the stove in time!

4 dinners of cooked brown rice.

4 dinners of cooked brown rice.

While the rice was bubbling away, I mixed up some Honey Wheat Buns out of my grandma’s cookbook. These are so soft and yummy. It makes a huge batch though, so I can’t use my mixer and I have to knead it by hand. It’s a good arm workout! Today I made 28 dinner rolls, 6 hotdog buns and 2 loaves of bread from one batch of this. You can make any combination you like. It makes 4 loaves of bread of you just do that. I have no idea how many rolls it makes of you only make rolls. A lot I would imagine! I always make a combination of things, so I don’t know. As for the loaves, I like preslice before I put them in the freezer so that I can pull out 1 or 2 for toast or a sandwich. I also wrap my loaves in plastic wrap and then foil to keep them fresh. Make sure you freeze as soon as it’s cool to keep maximum freshness.

Honey Wheat Buns

Blend in blender: 1 cup cottage cheese and 1/2 cup warm water

Mix: 3 cups warm water, 2 packages of yeast (4 1/2 tsp), 2 Tbsp sugar, let sit 5 min.

Add:

cottage cheese mixture

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

2 1/2 tsp salt

3 cups whole wheat flour

6 1/2 cups white flour (this may vary a bit depending on your climate)

Knead well, about 5-6 min. Rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Form into buns, rolls, loaves or whatever you want. I like to weigh my rolls so they are even in size. I like 1 1/2 oz for dinner rolls and 2 1/2 oz for hotdog buns. Rise until double in bulk again. Bake rolls at 375° for 15-20 min (depends on size, 15 for dinner rolls, 20 for hotdog buns). Bake loaves at 350° for 35-40 min. I actually bake mine at 325, but my oven runs a bit hot for bread. Butter tops while hot.

Dough after first rise taking up the entire bowl!

Hot buns out of the oven.

Still working on the best way to shape hotdog buns....

2 loaves too!!

While the bread was baking I started on my double batch of nacho dip. This is for Dallas to take on the boys camping trip later this month. They all like it a ton….well I do too. It is mighty tasty. I forgot to take a picture, so you will just have to imagine some yummy cheesyness.

Hamburger Cheese Dip

1 lb hamburger browned (I only used 1 1/2 lb for my double batch)

1 lb velveeta cheese cut up

1 can rotel tomatoes and green chilis

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 Tbsp chili powder

Mix all together and put in crockpot to melt and cook on low. Serve with tortilla chips.

At last, my beans were done. They seemed to take forever today and I am not sure why. I cooked them on high for 8 hours! I pulverized, and I mean demolished, some onions and garlic in my food processor. Dallas does not like chunky onions, so I have to make them into juice! I put that, along with the beans, a little bean juice and some santa maria seasoning (our favorite seasoning around here) in a pan and smashed them all together with my potato masher. Once they were smooshed to my liking and thickened a bit, I put them in baggies to freeze. The beans take a bit of salt, but santa maria’s has quite a lot in it, so I don’t add extra. I am not sure how much of the dry beans I cooked since I just dumped out of my big bag, but I ended up with 5 dinners worth in the end.

Finally, the beans are done.

Smashing, smashing , smashing...

Ready for bagging...

Whew, all done….time to veg on the couch now…until tomorrow.

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Monthly Menu and Freezer Plan Cooking for April

I have made my menu plan for the month of April. A lot of what we will be eating is already in the freezer. I love that. It makes life easier for me! We are also trying a few new recipes this month from the weight watchers site. I am excited to try a few new things instead of our usual standbys. Here is a scan of my menu for the month. Below the picture I will post my plan for freezer cooking. Since most of our dinners are already taken care of, I will be concentrating my freezer cooking on breakfasts and snacks as well as some bread items. My husband is also going on a camping trip with the boys this month, so I will be making some convenience foods for him to take with him.

I went to the store to pick up a few things for cooking this month, I spent $45 on supplies as well as some staples of milk and produce. Here is my list of what I will be making tomorrow and Wednesday for my freezer cooking days:

  1. Homemade Sourdough English Muffins made into egg, sausage, and cheese breakfast sandwiches. I did this on Sunday while Lance was sleeping.
  2. Black Beans I made these in the crockpot on Sunday for my Frugal Tip of the Week
  3. Pizza Crust x5
  4. Dinner Rolls: I think I am going to make Honey Wheat ones, but I haven’t completely decided yet!
  5. BBQ Cheeseburger Muffin Bites
  6. Refried pinto beans
  7. nacho dip
  8. Tortillas
  9. Freezer Cinnamon Rolls
  10. Rice with chicken stock and parsley

If I have time I may make chili and granola bars, but we shall see.

My Plan of action:

Tuesday AM before taking Lance to School: Mix up Pizza dough and put beans on high in crockpot.

Tuesday afternoon: Rice, dinner rolls, nacho dip, refry the beans

Wednesday afternoon: Cheeseburger muffin bites, freezer cinnamon rolls, tortillas

Frugal Tip of the Week: Crockpot Beans

Spring break will be over on Tuesday, so now I don’t have an excuse not to get back into the swing of posting. This weeks frugal tip is simple, make your own beans instead of buying canned. I generally keep several kinds of dry beans around in the pantry. Black, pinto and kidney are the staples, but white and pink are good for soups in the winter. I usually buy my pinto beans at Sam’s club for the cheapest price at about $0.65/lb (I think if I bought the giant 50lb bag it would be cheaper, but we don’t go through quite THAT many!). For the other beans I aim for $1.00 or less per pound.

Cooking beans from scratch may seem a bit daunting at first. You can rinse them, soak them and cook them in a pot for a few hours on the stove. Personally, I don’t like to babysit a big pot of beans, so I do mine in the crockpot. I rinse them up, throw them in the crockpot and cover them with hot water so there is twice as much water as beans. Now you can go to bed, run errands, go to work or do whatever you need to while your beans cook!

I can do a 1 lb bag easily in my 5 qt. crockpot. You really don’t want to overload it too much. Now, the time can depend on the bean size and if you do them on high or low. I like to do mine overnight while I sleep. For pinto beans on low it takes 10 hours or so. Kidney beans take about 12. Black about 8. If you cook on high, cut that time in half. Just cook until nice and tender. You can season at this point if you like.

I divide mine into 2 cup portions with a little of the juice and freeze. Just like a can of beans, but you can control the extras like salt and seasonings to your taste! Pull it out when you need them. I also make my own refried beans as well. After the pintos (or black beans) are cooked put them on a skillet and mash with a potato masher or fork. Add some garlic, onion, salt and whatever other seasoning you like and cook a bit until thick. Portion out and freeze. I cooked up some of these for my freezer as part of my freezer cooking for the month of April. Later this week I will be posting my monthly meal plan, my freezer cooking plan as well as my recipes and results, so be on the look out for those.

I can get the equivalent of about 6-7 cans of beans for 1 lb of dry. That make for cheap beans. They are excellent with my Whole Wheat Tortillas with cheese and brown rice you have a complete protein and a cheap, healthy meal!

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It’s Spring Break and I am not Writing

Well this weeks has been busy around here. Lance is on spring break and I haven’t had the time to do my usual writing. It’s more important to spend the time with him while he’s home. However, I did read a fabulous post this morning by Jessica at Life as Mom. It’s about learning to not set your goals so high as a mom that you sacrifice time with your family or your well being. Click here to read it and have a wonderful day!

Frugal Tip of the Week: Fun in the Kitchen with your Kids

I am a huge advocate of living WITH your kids. Meaning including them in your life in things you do, not just living your life with them as an accessory. I hope that makes sense! One way we practice this in our house is by letting Lance in on all the fun in the kitchen. The other day after dinner. I decided to make a cake, just because I felt like it. I pulled a chair over for Lance and we set to work making a chocolate cake singing a song we made up as we were doing it. “Today is a special day. Today is Chocolate cake day!” That was our song. We sang and mixed up our ingredients. My husband was on the phone with my brother while we were doing this, and they were both getting a kick out of our wackiness. But hey, we were having fun and that’s all that matters! Lance helped me measure, pour and stir. Once we got the cake in the oven, we whipped up some frosting for the top. No recipe, just dumped some butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and almond flavor in the bowl and mixed it up. As you can see in the picture, Lance really enjoyed licking the frosting off the mixing paddle!

Including your kids in the kitchen is a great way to have frugal fun with them. Especially since it was something you were going to be doing anyway, why not let them learn and have fun with it. They really enjoy helping out and eating whatever they make. I also let Lance help me make dinner quite often. He eats so much better when he was the one to make it. I think it’s a sense of pride in knowing he put the work into the food. It is a great way to practice his counting, learning volume and fractions. I can tell you I learned all my fractions, and their relationships to each other, from baking in the kitchen as a child. By the time I got to fractions in school, I was practically an expert! Who doesn’t love a little math lesson along with the fun!

They may make a mess, but hey, that’s half the fun! They you can teach them to clean up after themselves by including them in the cleanup as well. Life lessons are just as important as math lessons! Just remember to enjoy every minute you have with them. They grow so fast and change everyday.

Baking Day: Monster Cookies

Where to start with monster cookies….it is not a family function around these parts without monster cookies. Whether it’s a holiday or a baby shower, we have monster cookies. These are probably the favorite cookie out of “the book”. You know, that cookbook of my grandma’s that I talk about. I don’t know how you can top the chewy, peanut buttery, chocolate goodness of these cookies. Are you drooling yet? I am, but I am smelling these baking in the oven right now!!!

So you have fair warning, these need a big bowl to mix up. I mean as big as you have!

Monster Cookies

5 eggs

2 1/4 cups brown sugar

2 cups white sugar

1 cup butter-softened

Cream the above together. Then beat in:

2 2/3 cups peanut butter

8 cups oatmeal

1 1/4 tablespoons baking soda

Then stir in:

12 oz bag chocolate chips (I like milk chocolate)

1 lb bag of M&Ms (I used easter colored ones since they were on sale)

Drop by 1/4 cup on greased baking sheets. I like to use my large cookie scoop for this. Flatten them a bit with your fingers or the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350° for 8-9 minutes. Do not overbake! These are supposed to be chewy. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before moving to cooling rack.

These are a flourless cookie! And, even better, all whole grain. Although, I think the amount of butter and sugar counteract the whole grains, but I still like to think of them as a healthier cookie! They are great for breakfast….yes I eat cookies for breakfast!

If you are a big peanut butter fans like we are, I highly recommend making them with peanut butter chips and Reese’s pieces in place of the M&Ms and chocolate chips for a total peanut butter party in your mouth!

Visit the Ultimate Recipe Swap this week as Life as Mom for more baked goods recipes.

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Selling My Wrap Cardigan

A few weeks ago I posted about a wrap cardigan that I had made for my yoga teacher for her birthday. She liked it so much and has had so many people ask where she got it that she wants me to make some for her to sell in her little shop she has at the yoga studio! WOOOHOOO! So, I have been on the hunt for fabric for the past couple weeks, but the stores around me didn’t have the thin jersey type fabric that I was looking for. The other day my mom made a venture into LA for a yardage textile show. Near the show is one of the best places in LA to get fabric and they sell it by the pound. I got a ton of great fabric for  CHEAP. Now I just have to get a few supplies like thread and such to go with the fabrics and I can get started making more of these. I am so excited, I just had to share.

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