Try Again…

Forgive me, again.  I know it’s been a looong time since my last post.  It seems like this has become a common theme, saying I will do better and then apologizing for not doing it.  I feel like I have been doing that a lot lately…eating better, working out more etc. but for one reason or another, it just doesn’t happen.  I turned 30 a month ago and had all these goals, it’s just been hard to feel motivated.  But I can dwell on it, or I can do better…so I’m going to, again, say I will do better and try harder.

Phew…enough with the emotional diarrhea Red, we’re here for the food.  Sorry, sorry…you’re right.  The FOOD.  My last post was like two and a half months ago (oops!)  so I have a couple updates for y’all.  One – my first fill-the-freezer cooking weekend. Two – safety in the kitchen.  So, lets start shall we?

1.  My Fill-The-Freezer Cooking Weekend

I have seen maaany pins for freezer meals but have never been that excited about it.  To me, the notion of freezer meals reminds me of all those nasty, bland, and totally unhealthy microwave dinners that you find at the grocery store. What I learned is that freezer meals can be delicious and as healthy as you want them to be.  The extra kick in the pants that I needed to get on this freezer meal bandwagon was that one of my very best friends was going in for surgery, leaving her husband and two very sweet kids to fend for themselves. Unacceptable. So I picked 5 meals out of my Pinterest arsenal and started planning.  I would make the full recipe for each dish and just split into two containers, one for her and one for me.  All in all, including grocery shopping, it took me 2 full days…9am to 11pm on day 1 and 830am to 4pm on day 2.  But it was actually SO fun…if I could do this for a career and actually pay bills, I totally would.  My friend has a lady that comes in to her house and cooks her Paleo meals…for like $250 bucks plus groceries.  I could do that.  Any takers??

Anyway, here are the meals I picked.  The pizza pops were kind of a spur of the moment decision when I was at the store and realized that there’s a fab italian market by my grocery store and they make fresh pizza dough.

  1. Cheesy Enchilada Casserole  *made with ground turkey instead of beef
  2. Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
  3. Sloppy Joe Mix
  4. Sausage, White Bean & Kale Soup  *I have a few pins for this soup, so I kind of took them as inspiration and winged it
  5. Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
  6. Pizza Pops  *this one was also used more as inspiration
The Haul

The Haul

Soup Ingredients Ready to Go

Soup Ingredients Ready to Go

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Sloppy Joe Mix Prepped & Ready

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Sausage for Soup (Left) & Ground Beef for Sloppy Joes (Right)

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Sloppy Joes – Done!

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes for Mac & Cheese

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Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese – Done!

Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole - Done!

Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole – Done!

As you can see, the Progress pictures quickly became the Done! pictures.  Day 2 I only took one picture, the Ta Da picture.   Whoops.  But I can’t do everything.  Shop, prep, cook, DO NOT BURN ANYTHING.  My focus was on the food, not so much on the photo ops.  Next time maybe I will hire a photographer to document the weekend.

I make it sound like I was on my own, but I DID have a couple of friends that helped along the way…

Tupperware Smooth Chopper:  This model has actually been discontinued and replaced with the Tupperware Power Chef System, which is basically the same thing except you get a funnel.  This thing chops and whips all with the pull of a cord.  Magic.

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Tupperware Power Chef

Tin Foil Pans:  Now, these don’t seem like a big helper but when a husband is left on his own to take care of a 5 year old and an 8 month old, dishes are not an option.  Read: Disposable = Awesome.

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Tin Foil Pans

Label Maker:  Oh label maker, how I love thee.  OCD much?  Yes.

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Label Maker

Aaaaaand, Drumroll Please!!  The finished product(s).  2 days of hard work, but it was really fun and I know that she really appreciated it.  And I appreciated it too.  It was SO nice to come home and have meals ready to go.  I will definitely do it again, so stay tuned for more freezer filler posts.  We are actually planning a potential girls weekend in January to cook, cook cook.

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Ta Da!! I forgot the soup in the photo, so sue me.

As a bonus, she got a pan of Baked Oatmeal too…because it is freaking easy, and freaking delicious (and I had extra).  Seriously, try this recipe. It’s like the easiest thing to customize…Don’t have blueberries? use raspberries!  Don’t want to add sugar, sub in apple sauce.  Can’t do dairy? Use almond milk, rice milk…whatever gets you going.  Throw it together, bake it for a half hour.  Breakfast all week?  Done.  Heat it up in the microwave with a splash of cream, milk, yogurt, ice cream and chocolate sauce…whatever!  Do it!

I know what you are thinking…how were the dishes?  Some were a success and some were a fail.  But that’s okay, because unless you try it you will never know, right?  I have at least one cooking fail per week.  Just yesterday I had to throw out an entire pot of red curry butternut squash soup because it was SO freaking spicy that I could not eat it.  Like, Could.Not.Eat.It.  But I will totally make the recipe again, with half the red curry paste, because I think it would have been awesome had it not burnt the tastebuds off my tongue.  Lesson learned.  The only real fail was the Sausage, White Bean & Kale soup…and I 100% blame the fail on me, not the recipes.  I have a few sausage & kale soup recipes pinned, so I kind of winged it based on the general idea of each recipe.  Brown the sausage, add the beans and broth, add the kale at the end.  Seems easy enough, no?  I am no expert, I am 100% just guessing, but I think the fail was because I used pork sausage instead of turkey sausage…the soup had a really strange after taste and I wonder if it was because I didn’t skim off enough of the pork fat (??)  But then there are LOTS of other soup recipes that call for pork sausage, so I really don’t know.  Whatever, live and learn.  The Chicken & Rice casserole had really great flavour, but next time I would add more liquid and I think I may have overcooked the rice because it was kind of mushy after it was reheated.  But would I try it again?  Yes.  The Sloppy Joe mix was pretty good, but extremely sweet.  Next time I will use half the sugar and probably add some hot sauce and/or chill powder.

The Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese and Pizza Pops were our faves.  The enchilada casserole was really filling and could easily be made vegetarian by taking out the meat and adding more beans, mushrooms, etc. to bulk it up.  The mac & cheese was awesome.  Obviously.  How can you NOT like mac & cheese?  And you totally can’t taste the sweet potato so it’s fab for picky kids.  And pizza pops?  Who remembers eating those as a hungry teenager?  These were similar…but with real dough, real sauce, real toppings and real cheese.  Not that weird cubed mozza that was in pizza pops and never seemed to melt properly.

Phew…I think that’s enough for one day.  Update #2 – Safety in the Kitchen will be posted soon, I promise!  But for now, my hands are tired!  And I bet you are sick of reading.  So go forth, enjoy the rest of your week…and if you are in Southern Alberta, stay warm!!

Chow for Now,

Red

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2 thoughts on “Try Again…

  1. Pingback: A New Year | The Pinterest Cooking Challenge

  2. Pingback: January Recap | The Pinterest Cooking Challenge

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