Happy December! I love this time of year don’t you?
A few months back while shopping at my new favorite thrift store Sanford And Sons, I picked up this Gem for $2:
The dress looks black in the picture but it’a actually a deep Hunter green. Which means Christmas to me. It’s also a stretchy velvet which very comfortable and just pretty. A couple of things confused me about this one though…Why would a winter dress have short sleeves? Why is there slit in the front?
Anyway on to the transformation! First I did some snipping using a top I already had as a guide:
Then took a look. It was cold the day I refashioned this one. Very cold. That inspired me to add sleeves to this one. I have to say…I am scared of sleeves! Have you ever tried to cut one out and attach it? It’s not shaped like you would think.
Yea so me being me I decided to take some of the bottom scrap and just add it to the sleeve that was already there. It turned out pretty well don’t ya think?
This cute top was picture perfect for our small trip to Atlanta to get our pictures taken by my lovely sister-in-love Jessica Blackwood. Here are some of the shots:
Then it was off to help my other sister-in-love get ready for the new baby to come in January by cooking up some yummy freezer meals!
What you see is Brittany stirring her spaghetti sauce, us and our finished product, and 15 meals out of 8 recipes not counting the left overs that some of these recipes will yield! Check out the full experience on Brittany’s blog Here. Have a lovely day!
Now gather your printed recipes and divide them with your partner. Or if you are going at it alone separate the items to be cooked from the raw assembled. Then start cooking your bulk meats. These were the ones I used for this go around. I like to change it up from time to time. I take the ones that are tried and true and then add some new ones. If we don’t like the new ones so much then we just don’t use it again. Here is a list of the recipes that I used and the instructions:
Chicken Pot Pie
Yummy Pie Crust
Mango Chicken Bake
Cheesy Chicken and Rice
Slow Cooker Philly Cheesteaks
Chicken Pot Pie
(6) Celery Stalks
(3) Small Potatoes
(4) tablespoons butter
Chicken Broth (42oz)
3 cans peas
3 cans cream of chicken soup
3 Boxes of Re fridge pie crust ( I make my own)
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
Wash & Trim ALL the Chicken Breasts. Put (6) Breasts in a pot of water on the stove and cook on med high heat for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. While the Chicken is cooking… chop vegetables for chicken pot pie: (3) Onions, (6) Carrots, (6) Celery Stalks and (3) Small Potatoes. Put aside 1/8 cup chopped onion for another recipe. Melt (4) tablespoons butter in large sauce pot and add all chopped vegetables EXCEPT potatoes.
Chicken Pot Pie all wrapped up:
While the veggies are sauteing, shred the cooked chicken breast with two forks and set aside. Add Chicken Broth (42oz) & diced Potato to pot with sauteed veggies after about 5 minutes and let simmer over med-med high heat until reduced by half. Remove pre-made pie crust from fridge. It will need to sit for (10) minutes before placing in round foil pans. After the Chicken Broth has reduced by half with the veggies- stir in shredded chicken, 3 cans peas and 3 cans cream of chicken. Line each of the (3) foil round pans with a pie crust. Evenly distribute chicken/veg mixture into each pie pan. Top each with remaining pie crust. Pinch sides of each together using your fingers or a fork. Cut 2-3 vents in the top using a sharp knife. WRAP WELL with plastic wrap and foil. Using a permanent market- write on each one “Chicken Pot Pie, the date and 350 degrees 45 minutes” *or until golden and bubbly. Place in Freezer.
Just so you know that pot is huge!!!! As you can see it is filled to the rim. Since this has to cook for quite sometime I start with this one and it is the last one I wrap up. This one made 8 or 9 pie sized Chicken Pot Pies. Or you can make the personal ones. It will make A LOT of those! I usually try to make them but forgot to buy the little tins. When I do make them I make at least one large one with the small ones. I really like to make my own crust. It’s cheaper and way yummier than the store bought kind. If you are interested in making your own the recipe is below. I didn’t take pictures of the finished project because I was too darn tired. Sorry…you will be too. 😉
Yummy Pie Crust
2 1/2 C flour
1/2 C butter
1/2 C shortening
pinch of salt
ice cold water, add teaspoon by teaspoon until right consistency has formed
Place flour, salt, butter and shortening in bowl. Use your hands to combine ingredients until small pebbles form. Add cold water a teaspoon at a time until the dough begins to hold together and form a ball. Do not over handle the dough. Dough should be soft, moist but not wet. Divide dough in half. Place ball of dough onto wax paper and flatten. Place another piece of wax paper over the top and roll out the pastry into a circle. If your pie pan is 9 inch make sure your circle is bigger than 9 inches so you have enough for the edging. Remove the top layer of wax paper and place pastry into pie tin. Remove other piece of wax paper and press pastry into pan. Use your fingers to crimp the edge of the crust. Freeze for 30 minutes to firm up the pastry. This helps prevent pastry from shrinking during baking. Prick the bottom of crust to prevent bubbling during baking. If pie calls for a baked crust bake at 400 degrees. For the first 10-12 minutes keep the edges of pie covered with foil and then remove for the last 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown. This one is used for the Chicken pot pie so I do not pre-bake it.
Best Spaghetti Sauce Ever!!!
2 lb. hamburger
1 lb Italian Sausage Chopped
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 cans (14.5 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes (puree until smooth)
4 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
4 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
4 Tablespoons Dried Basil
2 teaspoons Salt
In a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes. Divide in half to freeze. I like to freeze mine in gallon sized Ziplock bags labeled Spaghetti Sauce and the date. I use this sauce for my lasagna and baked ziti.
I didn’t take many photos but here is my big pot full. I will double this recipe from time to time to make 4 meals out of it.
2 pounds t-bone steaks
2 teaspoons meat tenderizer
0.5 cups ketchup
2 Tablepoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine (or sub grape juice)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1/2 teaspoons chili powder
In a glass baking dish or plastic container, place the steaks. Pierce both sides of the steak with a fork at 1/2 inch intervals. Sprinkle both sides of meat with meat tenderizer. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Marinate steak for 4 hours turning several times throughout the process. Place steak on the grill close to the hot fire and brown on both sides. Remove from direct heat and continue to grill 5-10 minutes on each side or until desired rareness is achieved. Baste frequently.
Prepare meat and marinade as directed. Place both in a gallon freezer bag and freeze. To serve: Thaw. Place steak on the grill close to the hot fire and brown on both sides. Remove from direct heat and continue to grill 5-10 minutes on each side or until desired rareness is achieved. Baste frequently. Servings: 4 I try to give credit where its due but for the life of me I can’t seem to find where I got the recipe! I know it was from Pinterest…
Mango Chicken Vegetable Bake
1 pound boneless chicken breasts
5 cups fresh diced vegetables (I used carrots, zucchini and broccoli)
1 mango peeled, cored and diced
2 sliced green onions
0.5 cups cilantro
0.5 cups water
0.25 cups lime juice
Spray 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray. Place chicken in pan. In a food processor, process mango, water and lime juice until pureed. Stir in green onions and cilantro. Pour over chicken. Place diced vegetables on top and around chicken. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for one hour or until chicken has reached 165 degrees.
Prepare as directed above but do not bake. Cover and freeze. To serve: Thaw. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for one hour or until chicken has reached 165 degrees. Servings: 4 I actually got 3 meals out of this one! It was good but I think it might need a bit more salt. Again can’t remember where I got it from but I know it was a link on Pinterest.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
1 to 8 ounce box Zatarain’s Yellow Rice Mix, cooked according to directions
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 to 10.5 ounce can cream of chicken soup (regular or fat free)
1 to 15 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker. Scatter chopped onion over top. Spoon cream soup over top of that. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. A few minutes before serving, add in cooked rice, corn, and cheese. Stir to combine. Serve hot. I made yeast rolls to go with it as well. It was great! Here is the link for this one: http://www.southernplate.com/2010/09/slow-cooker-cheesy-chicken-and-rice
Slow Cooker Sweet and Tangy Meatballs
1 (16-18 oz) jar grape jelly
1 Bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
1 (2 lb) package frozen meatballs
In a bowl, combine Sweet Baby Ray’s and grape jelly until smooth. Place meatballs in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Pour in the sauce mixture and mix together in the bag until thoroughly combined. Zip bag closed. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 1-2 hours or LOW for 3-4 hours. Serve over rice or with toothpicks (makes a great appetizer too!). Love love love this one!! We either eat them like they are or on toasted sub rolls with cheese.
CROCK POT BBQ BEEF
8 oz Tomato paste
1 Tbsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 (16 oz) bottle Baby Rays BBQ sauce
3 to 4 lb. boneless roast
PREPARE FOR FREEZING: Combine tomato sauce, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and pinch of sugar, add BBQ sauce. Place sauce in gallon freezer bag. Place roast in a roaster or pan that can catch drippings and cover with lid or foil. Cook roast at 350 for 5-6 hours. Let cool. Divide if needed and place in freezer bag with sauce and freeze.
PREPARE AFTER FREEZING: Thaw. Warm in oven at 350 for 1-2 hours. Slice and serve on hamburger buns or your favorite bread. I freeze this one raw and thaw it out the night before then proceed to cook it in the crock pot. Works great! Here is the link for this one: Crock Pot BBQ Beef
Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteaks
1.5 to 2 lbs round steak, thinly sliced (the more thinly they are sliced, the less cooking time is required)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
32 oz low-sodium beef broth
6 French rolls
12 slices of Provolone, American, or other cheese
Rub the steak with pepper and garlic powder. Place in the slow cooker. Add onion, bell pepper and beef broth. Stir to mix. Cook on low for 5-7 hours or until meat is tender. Toast open rolls for several minutes until slightly crusty. Lay a piece of cheese on both sides of the roll. Use tongs to remove meat, onions and bell pepper from slow cooker (letting juices drip off) and pile on top of rolls. Return to the oven to melt cheese. Serve hot!
To Freeze: Assemble all ingredients in a gallon sized Ziplock bag and label with directions. Easy Peasy! Here is the Link: Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteak
2 lbs ground beef
1 bell pepper
About a cup of oatmeal
Mix all ingredients. Place in loaf pan bake at 350 for 1 hour. Spread ketchup to taste over top and bake for 10 minutes more.
To Freeze: Wrap with saran wrap and foil then label with instructions. Be sure to thaw before cooking!
And that’s it! These recipes made about 20 meals all together. I didn’t count this time. Oops 🙂 But you have to keep in mind too that some of them will have left overs. Giving you lunch and dinner again if you choose. Remember also to add to the ingredients according to your family size. Since its just the two of us I usually make for 4 so as to have left overs or seconds. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any more trouble shooting! Happy cooking!
A year ago I discovered something wonderful. FREEZER COOKING! Why is it wonderful? Well, I’ll tell ya. It saves money, time, and stress. I can also control what we eat. That, my friends, is good enough for me! Allot of people will not embark on this daunting task because they don’t know where to start. I am in no way an expert on this subject but my system works for me. If you would like to know more then read on!
The first step is to gather your recipes all in one place. Then decide which ones you would like to cook for the month. Pinterest of course is my go to site for finding great recipes to try. I try to throw in some new recipes each time along with the tried and true ones. I like to use the free app Pepperplate for organizing my recipes and shopping lists. But there are several good apps. I like to discuss recipes with my husband. I call them out and closely watch his face for signs of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This part can be a challenge as he is not very expressive. This is his least favorite part of the whole thing! Ha.
Then it is time to make your shopping list. With pepperplate all you do is click a recipe and add to shopping list. Sometimes I will double a recipe. Pepperplate also gives you this option. Be sure to go shopping in your own cupboard first! You would be amazed at the stuff you already have. Then check out your local grocery store for sales and coupons for the stuff on your list. This can save a ton! You may want to add throw away bake ware to your list as well as gallon sized Ziplock bags. Don’t forget Saran wrap and foil! Don’t go cheap on your bake ware or on your gallon sized bags. Just trust me mmmk?
Go shopping! I take my husband with me. With two of us shopping it is done in less than an hour usually. If you have children I suggest a babysitter. Or if they are older, turn it into a game and have them help.
Keep it organized! I print out the recipes on my list and divide them between my hubs and I. I know that it can be a waste to do it that way but I just function better with paper. Call me old fashioned! As we finish with a recipe, we either throw away the paper or keep it in a binder for next time. The next thing to do is to clean your kitchen. Get all of those dirty dishes clean! I usually do this the night before right before bed. This helps for real! Clear your house. Once again a babysitter lined up for cooking day will help out allot unless they are older and would be a help.
Label your bags before you fill them!! Very important step! I keep a sharpie handy. Put the date, title, and instructions. This makes it easier for your loved ones and for you. An easy way to fill your bags is to put them down in an empty blender. It holds your bags in place making it a breeze.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. I also wear an apron. It can get dirty up in that kitchen honey!
Next it’s time to cook. I usually go shopping one day and cook the next. It’s easier that way. As far as cooking goes my husband helps allot. I usually have things that just need to be assembled and things that actually need cooking. I do the cooking he does the assembling. We get it done in half the time! By myself it can take up to 8 hours. That’s a work day folks! Ain’t no body got time foe dat! Find you a buddy. You will be glad you did. There are allot of women that actually do everything together. They have cooking groups. The sky is the limit.
As far where to start in the cooking process, that is solely up to you. I like to cook my spaghetti sauce and the filling for my Chicken Pot Pies first thing. Cook any meat that needs cooking as well. For example, if you have allot of recipes that require browned ground beef, cook it all at the same time then divide it among your recipes. Same goes for chicken. If you have allot of chicken that needs precooking, cook it all at once and set it aside to cool. While it is cooling, chop your veggies. There are lots of ways to do this and as long as it gets done you are doing it right! You will also learn techniques that work better for you.
I will be posting some of my recipes and my most recent freezer cooking adventure soon. If you have any questions please feel free to fill out the form below! I would love to answer them if I can!
Refashioning, Recycling, and Creating A Better Environment