Monday, October 28, 2013

All about BEEF!

So the husband has been complaining that we eat too much chicken.  Who doesn't love chicken?  It's pretty much my favourite meat, but he's more of a red meat fan.  This week I decided to be a kind wife and do ALL red meat.  Good thing ground beef was on sale last week when I went grocery shopping!

Last week I spent some time going through my cookbooks (yep, I took out the good OLD cookbooks!) and Pinterest, and looking through some pics that friends had recently posted on Facebook and Instagram.

With all of my research in my backpocket I decided on the meals I was going to make:

Ground Beef Wellington
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Beef Enchiladas

I only made three meals this weekend as I still had some yummy goodness in my chest freezer.  So I went ahead and pulled out a dish my mother-in-law made me a few weeks back - chicken thighs and drumsticks with a grape tomato coulis served over brown rice.  I absolutely LOVE pulling ready made meals out of the freezer.  But, even though they're already made they always require some sort of warming in the oven, or on the stove-top, so after a long day of work it still takes some time to get it on the table before the children are freaking out :)

As soon as I rose out of my slumber on Sunday morning I started prepping the ingredients for the slow cooker beef stew.  I've made this recipe over a dozen times and it always tastes amazing.  I used to own a Crock Pot brand slow cooker and this was a recipe from Crock Pot themselves.  I currently own a Hamilton Beach slow cooker which is just as good :)

Here is the recipe:

I usually modify this and add maybe two more potatoes, a total of three celery stalks, and two carrots.  In the past I have also thrown some mushrooms in the mix as well.  Cook it on low for 10 hours and it's perfect!  I did once follow the directions to cook it on high, and it definitely overcooked the meat a little too crisp for my liking.

After I had the crock pot up and running, I started out on the next recipe that called for ground beef!

This recipe I haven't made since I was on maternity leave with my son.  That year I made it more than a few times and it turns out great each time, and is really simple to make.  It's from one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks.  Jamie Oliver has some great recipes if you haven't checked him out before.  They're all relatively easy, and always turn out tasting great.

Here's the recipe from another food bloggers' web site:

The only modification I make to this recipe is that I do not put the frozen peas in.  I just really dislike peas.  They're mushy, and don't have a great taste (in my honest opinion) so I leave them out.  The recipe calls for fresh rosemary but I have always used the dried version just because I always forget to buy the fresh sprigs when I'm at the store.

Because I had only ever made this while on maternity leave I was always baking the recipe and serving it that same night.  When I realized that it takes an hour to bake I went ahead and baked it on Sunday, and let it cool completely and wrapped it in tin foil.  This dish we will have on Tuesday.  What I plan on doing is keeping it wrapped in the tin foil and placing it back in the oven to warm (probably at 350 for about 25 minutes).  I will then remove the foil and let it continue to bake for another few minutes before taking it out.

The last ground beef recipe I tackled has been an ongoing request from the husband over the last few months - beef enchiladas!  When I saw a friend of mine making them on Facebook a few weeks back I immediately contacted her for the goods!

She provided me with the following recipe:

I made a slight modification based on a tip from my well as the zucchini and onion that is in the ground beef mixture, I added some mushrooms too.  About 1/4 cup of sliced mushrooms.  I chopped up all of the vegetables extra small so that they would remain hidden from the kids.  My kiddies do not like zucchini or mushrooms so whenever I cook with those veggies I make them very well hidden :)  And NEITHER of them even knew they were in there tonight when we ate them! HA!

And as I set out making this recipe I realized I forgot to buy enchilada sauce!  Since I was already deep into Sunday Soup Kitchen at that point I decided to search my Pinterest board as I remembered pinning an enchilada sauce recipe a few weeks back.  Good thing it was there and pretty easy to make!

Here is the recipe for homemade red enchilada sauce:

Since it was pretty simple to make, I don't think I will ever buy pre-made enchilada sauce now!

For this recipe I cooked the ground beef/veggie mixture, made the enchilada sauce, assembled all of the enchiladas and then placed them in a dish and wrapped them in tin foil.  In the fridge they went as we were having them tonight (Monday).

So tonight I placed them in the oven covered in tin foil for 30 minutes at 350...then took them out and sprinkled cheese on them...then back in until the cheese melted.  They were delicious and everyone chowed down!

I ended up with a total of 15 enchiladas.  Enough for dinner for the four of us, and lunches for me and the husband!

And if you've been reading my blog, you should know by now that on Sunday I also made (of course!) banana chocolate chip muffins and pizza pinwheels.

And before I sign off, in other good news I am now a member of the Food Bloggers of Canada!  They have a great website that provides links to a bunch of amazing food bloggers across Canada so if you're looking for inspiration and ideas check them out!

Nitey nite!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Soup Kitchen Partner's in Cooking!

So today was AMAZING and sooo much fun!  Cooking with a friend made it easier, different, and we ended up with TONS of food for our freezer!

In total we spent around $100 between the both of us and made all sorts of goodness for only $50 each!  I can't believe the amount of food I went home with :)

There are many important factors we had to keep in mind to make this go off without a hitch:

1.  Organization
2.  High quantity of food
3.  Grocery list completed in advance
4.  Groceries purchased in advance
5.  Recipes printed/on hand
6.  And for me - loading everything up in the car to bring to her house!

We each purchased our own groceries for two meals each that we were going to make, and double, and bringing enough stuff from our pantry for banana bread chocolate chip muffins, and I bought the fixins for a batch of pizza pinwheels for our kids.

When I showed up on her doorstep I had to take a picture of all that I came with because it was beyond ridiculous.  The hubby asked me where the heck I was going with all that stuff!  Used every single thing in my baskets/bags.  We had so much fun prepping, chatting and catching up, and cooking up a storm in what was only 4 hours in total!

So we made two slow cooker meals which we got prepped and in the crockpots right away as they both took 4 hours on high to make.  Perfect timing with everything else we were making while those meals were on the go.

I made a white bean chicken chili was was easy, and smells divine!  The only thing I did in advance prior to getting to her house, was dice the chicken in advance.  Side note:  I HATE touching raw chicken.  Biggest pet peeve ever!

My friend made a delicious squash and chickpea curry that made a huge batch as well and tastes YUM!

So while our meals were cooking in the crockpot we began our other recipes.

My friend made a ridiculously yummy stuffed meatloaf.  The recipe is from a cookbook which I forgot to take a picture of, but here is a recipe link that is similar to the one she made:

She used a combination of ground beef and ground chicken.  I can't wait to try it out this week!  We didn't cook it, just wrapped the meatloaf in tin foil to be cooked whenever we want to make it.  I have one in the freezer and one in my fridge :)

Next up I was working on a blackbean, corn, and red pepper salad with a lime/cilantro vinaigrette.  We each tried a bowl of the finished product - to die for!  I've placed my baggies of the salad in the freezer to use at a later date :)

After we finished up these recipes we made some of Miriam's Sunday Soup Kitchen staples:  Banana bread choco-chip muffins, and pizza pinwheels.  Her kiddies taste tested the finished product and they were a hit!  Into the freezer they all went!

We were so impressed with all the food we made, and we've made a pact to keep this up once a month, get together, cook, and share some laughs all while filling our freezer for our families.

This last pic made my day - the complete batch cooking!

And remember, it only cost us $50 each - AMAZING.

Happy cooking to all my peeps!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Batch cooking with a friend this Sunday!

Been a little slacker over the last hit with a mega cold so soup kitchen didn't happen last weekend :(

Thank goodness this Sunday is the day that a friend and I are getting together in her kitchen to cook up a storm!

We've been planning this out for weeks now..what to shopping lists...and how to do it!

We're going to get together first thing in the morning and cook in one kitchen, each making two dinners and double batching them so we will walk away with four meals each!  Plus we're going to bake some muffins double batch style, and pizza rolls double batch as well.  We'll have some yummy stuff in the freezer.  Thank goodness for big chest freezers.  Last week when I was sick I had tons of dinners in there that I pulled out!

Over the last few days we had barbacoa beef tacos, chicken noodle soup, shepherds pie, and then one day of "brupper" - a.k.a. breakfast for supper - bacon and eggs!  Kids always love it when it's a brupper night.

So for this Sunday the line up is:

I'm making chicken and white bean chili in the crockpot, and a big batch of blackbean/corn/red pepper salad that goes awesome as a huge side to a meal.

The chicken/corn/white bean chili recipe is here:

The black bean salad with corn/red peppers/avocado/lime/cilantro is here:

This salad will go in the freezer, but I won't add the avocados till the day we pull it out and eat it - avocados don't freeze well, or refrigerate well in my opinion after you have opened and cut it up.  So unless you want brown avocado mush in it I wouldn't add that until the day of.

Thinking of also making our garlic soup as it always makes a huge double batch and then she can have a batch too in her freezer.

I'll be bringing all my ingredients and my crockpot.  Completed my grocery shopping for everything as well!  All set!

My friend will be making some yummy stuffed meatloaves (will post recipe Sunday) and a vegetarian dish - a squash and chickpea curry which you can find the recipe for here:

What are you cooking/baking this weekend?

Another post to follow after Sunday's cook-a-thon!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Swim lessons, karate, skating lessons, dance lessons, and soup kitchen!

Weekends are busy now with all of the stuff the kids have going on!!  Insane! But today I knocked off a bunch of recipes one by one. 

On the list today:

Balsamic crock pot chicken
Chicken noodle soup
Chicken leek and mushroom pot pie
Banana chocolate chip muffins
Pizza pinwheels

And yesterday made pulled beef in the crockpot for tacos!  That turned out super yum and have another half batch that went in the freezer. I used this recipe here:

I followed the recipe to a tee and they were perfect! 

Today I started out with balsamic chicken in the crockpot. Such an easy recipe which you can find here:

I used five chicken breasts. The only modification was I added a little bit more balsamic. Like three tablespoons more than was called for. And it only takes 3.5 hrs on high!

Next up was chicken noodle soup. So easy!!  I make up the recipe myself. So here goes:

Three carrots peeled and diced small
Three celery stalks sliced
A bunch of green onion sliced
One potatoe diced small
One white onion diced
4 cups of chicken stock
6 cups of water
Tablespoon of both parsley and oregano
Dash of salt and pepper

Place all the vegetables and spices in a pot over medium high with your stock and water. Keep it in there for about forty five minutes and then throw some shredded chicken in!  Leave it for another ten and it's done!  I made some small pasta shells that will go in the soup as well BUT  a good friend today told me the trick. Don't put the pasta or whatever starch you're using in until you serve the soup!  So I just placed my cooked pasta in a large ziplock bag in the fridge and added a drop of olive oil to keep it from not sticking together :). That's tomorrow nights dinner!

Chicken leek and mushroom pot pie is easy and tastes amazing. I found this recipe years ago while sitting on the blasted go train commuting to work, in the metro daily paper.   So I can't find the link to this online, but have posted a pic of the recipe from the paper for you here :). There's actually two recipes in this clip so just use the correct one :p

And of course, my usual weekend recipes of banana chocolate chip muffins and pizza pinwheels to restock the freezer. 

And that's a wrap! I'll be browsing Pinterest this week for some new goodies to cook up next weekend....oh wait it's also thanksgiving. Oh boy it's going to be a busy weekend!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

An ambitious soup kitchen this weekend....

So I made a jump start to soup kitchen this weekend. I had a pretty crazy list of what I wanted to make on Sunday that was more than the normal amount I usually tackle. SO, I decided to go grocery shopping on Friday night. I know, thrilling?  First of all the store was empty which was lovely, and I got out of there quicker than how I fare on Saturday mornings!

The problem with my list of meals for Sunday was that it included multiple soups and making homemade tomato sauce (both of which to stock for the freezer). 

So I decided (since it's not like we had anything better to do) to make homemade tomato sauce on a Friday night! 

After researching a bunch of tomato sauce recipes I decided on a Jamie Oliver one, that's packed (and very well hidden) with veggies. The kids will NEVER know!  

Here's the recipe link. For all you moms with picky eaters out there this sauce was easy, has three servings of veggies in it, and took only an hour cook time!

I wanted to make sauce because I'm sick of buying it for recipes I'm making. A lot of recipes that I make call for a cup and it makes me livid to have to buy it!  

So this recipe made a boat load of sauce!  You blitz it in the blender at the very end to whatever consistency you would like. Super easy and tastes yummy too. I ended up placing the sauce in freezer bags in 8 oz quantities and one bag of 12 oz. 

As I was pouring the sauce into baggies over the stove, my lovely husband who's happily watching TV on the couch tells me it sounds like I'm having diarrhea in there. From the sound of the sauce hitting the bag. He's so classy :)

And between dance lessons, skating lessons and cleaning the house today I made a Rachel Ray recipe from her 30/60 minute meals cookbook. Yes I took out a cookbook. I made this a couple weeks ago and it was delicious so I made it again. It's for lunch for me and the husband. It has too much spice for kids FYI. 

Here's a pic of the recipe from my cookbook. You can also find it online too. 

It truly takes only 60 minutes to make and is a filling soup. Served great with a crusty roll ;)

I've got a lot more to make tomorrow too. My goal in October is to make double batches as often as I can to restock my freezer. 

Tomorrow on the menu will be:

Balsamic crock pot chicken
Chicken leek and mushroom pie
Chicken noodle soup
Banana chocolate chip muffins
Some more pizza pinwheels

And I've got a roast in the crockpot right now for pulled beef tacos tonight! I'll post pics tomorrow. 

Stay tuned!