Sunday, August 19, 2012

cooking day #3

things have been sooooo busy at our house!! i have been trying to think of ways to simplify especially when it comes to cleaning and cooking. i have been making weekly menus for years and lately have been trying to arrange those menus around what is on sale at the store to help moneywise. we cannot afford to eat out and i certainly want us to eat healthy which is almost impossible to do when eating out. i also needed a way to send food with my hubby when he is at school. so i talked to my college friend, anna and perused this site-- there are a few posts on cooking days/freezer cooking. i also read the book "don't panic dinner is in the freezer". about 3 weeks ago i decided to tackle a cooking day...well it turned into 2 days but that's ok cause it was my first try. today my goal was to cook/make 7 meals--2 breakfasts and 5 dinners. i was able to make all but 1 dinner! woohoo!!! and the only reason i didn't make it is because i didn't realize i was out of bacon (and i had already send my hubby to the store for a couple other things i needed; he's so sweet!) but i can cook it tomorrow. yesterday both of the girls went with my hubby on an errand so i took advantage of that and got started on my list! i made cereal balls, which are.. well... not really balls anymore. making them into balls is way too time consuming but the name stuck. i kind of made my own recipe for the cereal balls and you can find that here. some people have been curious about how i do this and believe me i am no expert...remember this is my 3rd time!! but i am more than happy to share what i am doing to make our life easier! i started about 8:30am by getting my ingredients together for my 2 crockpot meals--lime cilantro chicken tacos and chicken taco chili.  oh and chicken breasts were on sale at kroger last week so i got these for $1.99/lb!!!

lime cilantro chicken tacos
chicken taco chili
the lime cilantro chicken is a new recipe this week and it turned out sooooo good!!!!!! i followed the recipe exactly except i did not use any jalapenos. the chicken taco chili is a staple at our house...everyone loves it!! it makes a ton which is wonderful because i was able to make some to eat this week and then froze about 3 meal portions of it! when cooking the chili, i follow the recipe and use the girl's tips in red. i also make my own taco seasoning which you can find here. i will never go back to buying store taco seasoning; it is so easy to make and tastes a ton better. i made sure to start these 2 items first since they both needed to cook for about 6 hours. after they were switched on--and i set the timer!-- i started making the blueberry muffins. i want to try this recipe for blueberry muffins but i had a box of duncan hines simple mornings mix to use. the recipe calls for eggs, oil and water; i substitute skim milk for the water and it makes a big difference! so yummy!!! while the muffins were cooking, i made more of the taco seasoning and set out the cream cheese to warm to room temperature. can't wait to have these in the morning!!

after baby sophia woke up from her nap, i started cooking the ground turkey for the taco cupcakes and the bacon cheeseburger puffs. both recipes call for 1/2 pound (recipe says beef but i always use turkey instead) so i cooked the whole pound and then took out half before i added the black beans for the taco cupcake recipe. the bacon cheeseburger recipe doesn't call for any seasoning but last time we made them, it seemed like they could use a little something to put them over the edge. that was another reason i cooked the whole pound together so i could put in 2 tbsp of my taco seasoning. again i couldn't finish the puffs because i don't have any bacon, so i just set aside the meat and put it the frig after it cooled. one less step this week when i do make them! for the taco cupcakes i follow the recipe more generally when it comes to measurements; i just place "scoops" of the queso, meat, salsa, and cheese. i don't bother measuring it all out for each muffin tin. and i use the whole can of black beans...what on earth would i do with 1/4 of the can anyway! before i started on my assembly line for the cupcakes, i put some chicken broth and water in my pasta pot so it could be coming to a takes forever to boil!!! here is my assembly line with the first wonton squares in the pan. oh and the wonton wrappers are usually in the deli/produce section; at my kroger they are in the refrigerated organic section.

after i got the taco cupcakes in the oven, i started on my last meal!!! baked cream cheese spaghetti. i followed the recipe except i used ground turkey instead of ground beef and i also put the minced garlic in while the ground turkey cooked to flavor the meat. since we weren't eating this tonight, i divided the ingredients into 2 pans, layered like in the recipe; included a label for the next step; and after they cooled, put in the frig.
by the time i finished all that, i had about an hour before the crockpot meals would be ready. both meals needed the chicken rough chopped and then stirred back in the crockpot before serving. we had the lime cilantro chicken for dinner tonight so i didn't have to worry about getting that cooled off; however, i had to try to cool off that huge pot of chili! i scooped out a few bowlfuls and let them cool off. i learned from anna and the book, that the best way to freeze things is flat in a freezer ziploc bag. i wanted to get that chili cool enough to put it in bags in serving size portions for my hubby to take.
well i am exhausted... it took pretty much all day to do all that cooking but, rest assured, i wasn't cooking literally all day either. with 2 girls and the hubby at home--and usually in the kitchen with me, i had some wonderful distractions (o: it was a nice laid back cooking day with my family...doesn't get much better than that! at least it didn't take me 2 whole days like it did the first time. even though it makes for a long day, i really really appreciate it during the week. i don't have to wonder what is for dinner or how long it will take to cook or if my sweet baby will let me cook that night, etc. nope i just open the fridge and pop it in the oven or microwave and dinner is served!! my 4 1/2 year old really appreciates the quick prep when she is just so starving she "can't handle it" (o;
here is what i sent with my honey bunny---container of lime cilantro chicken with shredded cheese (he already had tortillas and salsa), 3 ziplocs of one serving each of chicken taco chili (2 of which he will freeze), pan of baked cream cheese spaghetti with a ziploc of parmasean cheese taped to it with instructions for cooking, a container of 4 taco cupcakes, ziploc of grapes, an apple, and a ziploc of strawberries.
hope that wasn't too jumbled or rambly!! let me know if you have any questions (o:


  1. I love freezer cooking! Thanks for sharing the recipes...I will definitely try these!

    1. so glad to know someone else who does it!! would love to have some of your favorite freezer recipes!

    2. Definitely! I'll message you some through FB. I use to be in a group of girls that did this every month. We each cooked 4 meals worth of one dish and then we met up and swapped so we ended up with 4 different meals in our freezer. It was wonderful!