Monday, May 6, 2013

Freezer Entree Series Coming in June--Power Hour

Braised Beef Cube Mix

Did you know that some freezer entrees can be assembled as you are putting away groceries or flipping some pancakes for Saturday brunch? Did you know that you can quite possibly put four or six entrees in the freezer in under an hour with just a litte preplanning and organization? And that you can become a freezer cook without carving out three or four days of shopping, precooking, cooking, bagging, labeling, and freezing?

I have been an avid freezer cook for twenty-three years next month! I started out small with the Make a Mix Cookery cookbook (which has a few freezer entrees and "starters") and within a few years it wasn't uncommon for me to have fifty to two hundred freezer entrees, side dishes, soup starters, and more in my freezers at any given time.

I homeschooled six children at one time during one point in our parenting (seven children total), so my days of school and discipling and disciplining were long. While we taught our children to work hard, and they did all have kitchen duties every day, including breakfast prepaations, lunch duty, and assistant chef to Mom in the evenings (and eventually full responsibility for an evening meal each week), it was still a lot to think about/pull off daily cooking of that much food for that many people for all three meals. My freezer cooking made this aspect of my life so much easier.

However, like many freezer cooks you might know, it was quite a production during cooking week. It usually took at least three days to really shop, cook, and freeze meals and side dishes. It was exhausting but so worth it.

Fast forward now when I am at a point in my life in which I only homeschool one child and I work full time hours on writing, editing, teaching (testing my books), blogging, speaking, etc. My schedule isn't flexible enough right now to take off for three or four days to do freezer cooking any more. Yet I still have a houseful of adults (four kids ages fourteen through twenty-two and two parents) to feed!

Enter the freezer cooking method I have been utilizing more and more in the past few years--that of coooking multiple batches of one recipe at one time and using one of them for that day's meal and freezing three, four, or five others for later. It takes very little prep time, small amounts of planning, and I have entrees in the freezer in a flash.

Join me this summer as I share recipes, along with the measurements/scaling needed to do Power Hour freezer cooking for your family--and end up with a freezer full of entrees this fall with only an hour of work once or twice a week. I will share our old favorites, the recipes I began freezer cooking with twenty-three years ago (like the Braised Beef Cube mix in the picture above and Grandma's Meatloaf), as well as newer ones (like beef enchiladas and marinated meats for stir fries). I'll throw in some desserts and side dishes here and there. And without setting aside an entire week or taking a lengthy class, you, too, can become a freezer cook. And you will absolutely love the convenience and ease of having freezer entrees.

Hope you will join us! You might want to subscribe to this feed via email (in addition to FB) to ensure that you don't miss any. Watch for the header Power Hour Freezer Cooking!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Patience with Your Kids

Graduation Time: Butterfinger Dessert

It's graduation time around here again! Sixth graduate from Training for Triumph Family Academy in twelve years--with only one to go as of a couple of weeks from now! While graduation is a lot of stress and work, it is also a joyful time as we reminisce, put together photograph slide shows, work on scrapbooks, plan the graduate's favorite foods for his party, and just celebrate the wonderful person that the graduate is!

I am using Pinterest to start collecting and organizing my recipes. We always use a lot of tried and true favorites to start with then add to the menu. This year Josiah wants a Nacho Bar/Taco Salad Bar, and I am all for that because it is easier than making up individual sandwiches, potatoes, side dishes, etc. Get it all ready and put it out for everybody to build their own! I will post my meat recipes for that as it gets closer.

In the meantime, here is one of the desserts we will have there--assuming it tastes as good as it looks. (We are testing it out at our ballroom dance tonight!) It is super easy, and we can make it in little individual plastic cups/bowls to put on the dessert table, which is super fun to create.

I got the recipe from Key Ingredient, and it was low fat and low sugar. I like to serve the real thing when I have parties or take things to events, assuming that the people there want something that looks ooey, gooey, and yummy to taste ooey, gooey, and yummy too! :) So here is my version of it.

12 oz prepared angel food cake, cut into 1" cubes
3 small packages of butterscotch pudding, instant
4 cups milk
1 (16 oz) tub of whipped topping, thawed in fridge
18 fun sized Butterfinger candy bars, chopped (sons like to do this with a mallet in a zip lock bag)

1. Prepare pudding with milk and refrigerate for at least fifteen minutes (longer is fine).

2. Spray 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray and sprinkle half of the angel food cake cubes over the bottom of the pan. (Note: This is heaping for a 9 x 13 pan--do not plan to cover it. Next time, I might do a jelly roll or a 9 x 13 and an 8 x 8.... or at the very least use a deep foil pan if I don't care about aescetics!)

3. Fold whipped topping into pudding with rubber spatula. (Do not use a mixer or whisk or your whipped topping may become liquid.)

4. Pour half of the whipped topping/pudding mixture over the angel food cake cubes.

5. Sprinkle half of the Butterfinger candy over the pudding mixture.

6. Repeat layers, ending with candy.