One afternoon, a few bag of groceries, and a recipe book. What can you do?
Me? I prepared 14 meals and I even got 17 large waffles for some yummy breakfasts. My freezer is stuffed from the good cooking done for it today. I’m pretty sure that it whispered a “Thanks, mistress” as I closed it up tonight.
Join me on the ride.
As I’ve already posted, I got all my stuff and was ready to rock. I let the migraine eat at me for far too long. Thankfully, about halfway through my adventure – meds kicked in. Good thing because I was way woozy. I hate that. Migraines? They are the suck.
I first gathered my favourite kitchen helpers. Oh boys? Caramon and Joram were eager little beavers! My goal is to ensure when they leave my house, they know how to make food. I don’t want them starving. Plus, I figure he who can cook gets saved from odious roomate chores like toilet cleaning. “What bro, you can cook? You rock!” They might be kicked to the kitchen every day but at least they will eat well and not have to clean the toilet. I don’t even want to contemplate the squallor of a bathroom of an apartment full of men. *SHUDDER*
Besides, women love men who cook. They will have happy wives and hopefully this means my future daughters-in-law will love me. I gotta do something since I only have boys! HA!
We started with the breakfast meals. (Though truth be told we love breakfast so much we often have it for dinner. Noticed that in my menu plans? So we might eat these for dinner, but technically they are breakfast foods!)
Joram worked the waffle wonder. We have scratch recipes, but I decided to take it easy on him and myself. Good thing with this migraine. We used an entire box of “complete” pancake mix. You know the type. Just add water and away you go. Yeah. He did it all. First he measured out how much mix was in the box and then he figured out (rather quickly I might add – it even had a fraction!) how much water he needed. Joram then mixed up the batter, plugged in the waffle iron, and got to work.
See how industrious he is? He’s quite the pancake/waffle maker in our family. Not too bad for a 10 year old.
We laid the waffles out on cookie sheets to cool. Once they were cooled a little, we popped them in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This helps them to lose that sort of stickiness that fresh waffles have, hopefully making them far easier to seperate. Also, it allows us to lock in some of that moisture. We don’t want dry waffles! YUCK!
Our waffle maker has five hearts, making a large flower of hearts. Awwww. Isn’t it cute? Yup! I love that waffle maker! We made 17 waffles in all. (They are quite large. These aren’t Eggo waffles!) We bagged and tagged them and now we have waffles! I am debating making more tomorrow from a scratch recipe, just because with a family of four (and two being growing boys) we’ll plow right through those waffles like there’s no tomorrow. Besides, I’d kind of like some chocolate chip waffles. We didn’t add any chips to this batch. I haven’t decided. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.
Aren’t they pretty?
Meanwhile, at the table, Caramon cracked eggs for our breakfast bake. I fried up the breakfast sausage. I love these breakfast egg casserole things. They are beyond yummy. I was introduced to them while attending MOPS in Columbus, Ohio. Mmmm. OK, thinking about them? Totally making me hungry again!
I pulled our recipe off the web, and we tried it back at Christmas. In fact, this is what we ate Christmas morning. It was so fantastic to not have to cook while trying to do all the present stuff. This made our first two pans of freezer meals! Exciting!
Following that, I had to take a break. The pain in my head was too much. I really should have gone to my chiro, but I couldn’t bear the drive. I could feel it in my neck, I know something is not right in there. Caramon and Joram graciously rubbed my neck for me some. Thanks, boys!
While I was trying to will the jackhammer to stop pounding on my skull, Joram set two large pots of water to boil and finished up his waffle making. Once they were boiling I put in the elbow macaroni and angel hair pasta. Meanwhile the large skillet came out for browning the hamburger meat. This is the one step I forgot to photograph. Sorry!
I browned three pounds of ground beef at one time. When you brown it at one time it is so much faster. An easy way to know how much to put into a meal is that a half a pound of ground beef is 1 cup cooked. My MIL taught me that trick. My wrists are not up to full strength between whatever I did to them combined with the cold and arthritis. So draining three pounds of meat in a giant skillet? Caused me great pain. Grrrr.
Same for draining all that pasta. Joram helped me by holding the strainer so I could use both hands on the handles of my brand new double boiler (FREE AT BLOOM – woot for HAPPY POINTS) and my large pot. Caramon set out hot pads on the table and I put the drained pasta, returned to their pots, on the table.
We then measured out three pans worth of Spaghetti Casserole. This is a recipe I got from a magazine about a year ago and it’s fantastic. We all love it! Three more meals complete, we added these to the stack of two breakfast casseroles. Suddenly our hard work showed pay off. Five meals ready to roll!
It was at this point that Joram was able to bag and tag our waffles. So Caramon set to work cutting up kielbasa. This is a new addition to our freezer cook day. It sure sounds good, so we figure we’re good to go. Good thing because the recipe made three pans! Loads of goodies that we like! I mean yum yum yum!
Doesn’t that just look good? Yeah.
It was at this point I started to get worried. You see, I forgot the spaghetti casserole made three meals for us and I didn’t realize this one made three, either. The recs for both said two. Of course, dummy that I am, I forgot they wanted you to put it in a larger pan. I use these square ones because they are the right size for our family. Especially once you add salad or side dish and/or bread to these meals! Some we even have enough leftovers for my husband to take to work!
Some of my pans recently needed discarding. Hey, I love these pans. They get quite the workout. I bake brownies in them. I freezer cook in them. Store cookies in them. You name it! Somehow I’ve lost some lids, though. Usually the pans die before the lids. You see, you can’t cook the lids. (Important to remember! Happened once and that led to melty lid! Bad bad bad!) So generally the pans wear out from the freezer and baking. Extreme condtions, right? HA!
So I noticed my stack dwindling and I still had more meals. And I had some pans that didn’t have lids to go with them! Whatever would I do? Unfortunately none of today’s meals really worked for putting into ziplock bags. Rats. Thankfully my husband came up with a brilliant plan! I needed two more lids and these trays fit perfectly in a freezer bag! Just like it was made for the pan! So two of my enchilada meals went into freezer bags in a pan!
The boys were wrapping up the three cheese kielbasa meal while I was doing the work on the enchiladas. They mixed up ingredients for bowls, while I browned more hamburger meat. While the meat cooled (mostly because I needed to do the kielbasa meal), I laid out three pans and we had our bowls of various mixes for the bake. Dump, dump, sprinkle, sprinkle and three more meals were done!
Ooops, I forgot the number one cardinal rule of freezer cooking. LABELS! Thankfully, all my meals were still on my counter, so no worries. Once you throw them into the freezer though? Suddenly you get “Mystery Meal”. You need a label! You need a date so you know when the meal was made, you need the name so you aren’t eating Mystery Meal Surprise, and you need basic instructions. OK, so most are almost all the same: Bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes. But, what if you get a phone call? “Lady Ozma, Kate Kosior’s baby has arrived and she’s zonkered. She needs a meal!” It’s 4:30, what do you do? Pull out a freezer meal and race it to your friend and check out her adorable new baby she just adopted! (OK, so I’m really just thinking how exciting it is that she’s finally getting her baby in a few months. I know. Chances are she won’t even call me for a meal. I’ll just show up anyway for baby snuggles. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get some baby snuggles. KWIM? Your friends in need won’t know that freezer meals just involve 350 till done.
Neither do husbands who no matter how many years you’ve done this, still can’t figure it out. *Ahem* No I’m not speaking of any husbands I know. HA! What’s my husband going to do when I go off to Kate’s Pampered Chef party next week? He needs to know how to heat one of these suckers!
Caramon went in search of tape, Joram in search of scissors. I sat down and scrawled, as legibly as I could, labels.
And then it was time for enchilada making! Joram jumped in while Caramon did dishes. Two pans of enchiladas and oooops! Out of pans! Yikes!
The husband was almost home, so a quick phone call to him and he made an emergency Bloom run! I now have three new pans! YAY!
In one of my lidless, kind of melty, probably needs to be thrown away but I can’t bear because it’s good for the “make tonight” meals, pans I whipped up dinner. One of my meals that we call: The Good Stuff.
The Good Stuff? Ok, so it used to be called Cheater Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a white base instead of red, because that’s how we prefer it. Then we got our foreign exchange student last year and she loved this stuff. She said it was, “The Good Stuff”. The name sort of stuck around. I baked it up for dinner.
After all, what’s the point of freezer cooking if you have to go out to eat?
When my husband got home, I just preped the last two “Good Stuff” meals and the last enchilada meal. The Good Stuff is so fast, once the meat is browned it takes not even five minutes to make. And since we had everything out for the enchiladas, that went fast, too.
While I was waiting for my husband to get home and prepping our dinner while trying to put the two lidless enchilada meals into bags, Joram went through the freezer and tried to organize it some. Oh the joys of Freezer Tetris. HA! I was then able to place the meals into the freezer!
Doesn’t my freezer look great with all those meals stacked up? The rest went into the deep freeze downstairs. Except the one we ate, of course!
Now, no post about activities in the food room would be complete without our chihuahua, Nephi. Whenever anyone is in the food room, he’s under foot. “Supervising” he says. After all, we might eat all the food, and that would be a travesty. He must sample everything, especially if it has meat! That’s just the chihuahua way. Spoiled dog!
He is the biggest helper. After all, when Caramon got clumsy and dropped a HUGE amount of kielbasa on the floor? Nephi was there! Open snout and INHALE! And the sprinkling of cheese I dropped? Yeah, Hoover Dog to the rescue! I mean what we humans do without his care of our floor. Keeping it clean of all food debris!
Here he is in full food glory, our MVP in today’s cooking adventure, the wonder of all cuteness: NEPHI!
“I’m in your foodroom, eating all your food!”
And that’s how we make 14 meals and 17 waffles (really not sure how many meals the waffles are for us) in one afternoon!