Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cook Off Date!

I have an amazing husband. I knew he was amazing even when I started crushing on him in Grade 9. Let me tell ya - he only gets better with age. We were talking one night about where our hearts were at and I shared how I was feeling a little overwhelmed with "Blink" (my photography business). I have been starting to feel that every spare minute I have where the kids don't need me and after they go to bed is being spent on photo shoots, communicating with clients and post processing... meaning that my house is barely tidy and not clean and that often the day reaches 5:00pm and I haven't even thought about what to make for supper.

A solution to one of the issues is to pre-make a bunch of meals and store them in the freezer. I suggested that it would be more fun and less daunting if he would do it with me - like a date... he said "Absolutely". I just love him.

On the week of the cooking date we sat down and made a list of meals that we enjoyed and worked well as freezer meals and then narrowed that down to 4 meals with the intention of making at least 3 of each. On the Sunday I went out and power shopped for all of our ingredients while he put the kids down to sleep.

This is how we started...


And... 15 minutes in the boy one joined us. He's phasing out of napping.... and looking pretty stellar in his "Cars" apron ready to help!


I could have used a few more stove elements... and a few more pots!


We started by prepping all the vegetables.


Hamburger soup! So great on a chilly fall day!


The tall one chopping cabbage.


Hanners didn't nap very long either and joined us... in her cowboy hat.


Mixing/eating Chicken Tetrazzini. My friend Amanda made this when we did freezer meals. It's a Martha Stewart recipe. Martha suggests that it makes 2 casseroles but I'm able to make 3 meals out of it for our size of family. It's really yummy, you can check it out here.


My Rolkuchen bowl came in handy for mixing copious amounts of pasta!




Wow... I am a hot mess in this picture but it proves I was there.


During out cooking date we made:
- 3 meals of meatballs to go with various sauces and rice
- 3 Chicken Tetrazzini casseroles
- 3 Hashbrown casseroles with farmer sausage
- 4 pots of Hamburger Soup

Meatballs are one of our "go to" freezer meals. It's easy to make loads of them and then you can freeze them in meal size portions to go with any sauce. I try to make the meatballs a bit healthier by adding black beans. Here's how:

- Rinse and drain one can of black beans
- Puree the beans and add to one pound of extra lean ground beef
- Add 1 egg, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and 1 tsp ginger
- mix it all up and roll your meatballs
- Freeze them on a tray before dividing into freezer bags

*When I baked these the other day there was virtually no grease in the dish at all. They taste great and you can't even taste the black beans but they add lots of great fibre and cut down on the amount of fat!

One of our favourite sauces for the meatballs is from the Simply Delicious magazine (if you haven't checked it out you need to.)

Cranberry Chili Meatballs
- 1 can jellied cranberry sauce
- 1 jar sweet chili dipping sauce
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp chili powder

Mix it all together and pour over meatballs halfway through baking. Serve with rice. They are delish and definitely have a bit of kick!

We had such a great time cooking together and even with the kids awake and "helping", we managed half a month of meals in 2.5 hours. Can't wait to do it again. What are your favourite freezer meal recipes?




2 comments:

  1. When I do a Big Cook, I usually make some Zippy Pork Chops, some Saucy Chicken, and Pasta Bakes- all from the Big Cook cookbook. Lasagnas, chili, and corn chowder are also favorite. Isn't it amazing how much easier it makes life? Last night we ate orange-ginger beef with rice- it only took 15 minutes (with using the slow cooker). Thanks for the recipes- I'll have to try them next time!

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