Monday, October 31, 2011

BOO!  Happy Halloween Everyone!

What is it about kids looking like food?!

So cute!

What are you and/or your little ones dressing up as??

Sunday, October 30, 2011

And the winner is...

... Leslie!!!

Currently in the oven - the newly named "Leslie Varney Buffalo Chicken Lasagna"!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My feet are killing me...

...from spending the last 9 hours cooking. 

There'll be more details coming later, with recipes, pictures, helpful hints (I'll give one away now - make sure your rice cooker hasn't $#!t the bed before you go to make a ton of rice for freezer meals of teriyaki chicken and fried rice).

So far, there's been meatballs, turkey burgers, a new taco casserole concoction (because of the need to not waste too much of the rice that didn't survive the attempt at regular stove top cooking), chili, BBQ chicken calzone, cheesy chicken, chicken with cornbread stuffing.  That doesn't include the sloppy joes still simmering in the slow cooker or the teriyaki chicken in the skillet, or the rice pudding that is an attempt to salvage even more of the aforementioned rice.

Total casualties for the day - rice (started with 2 cups uncooked), the rice cooker, the OXO "slap chop" thingy (Thanks, cheap plastic for breaking so the spring could go BOOOOOIIIIINNNNNNGGGGGG), and a thumb knuckle from a knife washing incident. 

Time for a glass of wine.

Dr. Bob out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Menu needed

Dr. Bob and I are getting ready to plan out another big freezer cooking day so we have meals for the majority of next month.  While all of our food was delicious this month, we want to take a break from some of can only eat so much mac&cheese and chicken&rice soup!  We are looking for some new things to try out and would like to hear what some of your favorite recipes are!

I am pretty sure we are going to make a turkey chili of sorts, baked potato soup, and I just found an interesting chicken spaghetti casserole.  

What do you recommend?!

Friday, October 21, 2011

An apple a day....

....tastes delicious!  :-)

Apple picking has been a long time fall tradition for me.  It was a little bittersweet this year though.  I have had a tradition with two of my very dear friends since we were in college where we would have an apple picking weekend in a place I deemed "Cow Town."  Really it is in Washington County, NY not too far from Lake George.

Here we are in 2003 at the orchard.

Please don't judge my TERRIBLE haircut!  
I was trying to grow it out after some horrific trims!

And here we are enjoying some yummy treats from our harvest.

Fast forward to 2009 where we are all married and keeping the tradition alive!

There were even 2 little ones joining in the festivities!

Man I miss those days!

I was absolutely going to make sure that the tradition lived on even if I couldn't be with my favorite apple pickers.  I guess this guy will have to do:  :-P

Apple picking farms aren't as common in GA as they are in NY so we had to drive an hour and a half to find the first one.  It was a bit more commercialized than I am used to, but it had what we were looking for and that's all that mattered!

So we brought our dozens of apples home, scrubbed them clean,

 and got to baking!

We ended up making:

2 apple crisps (not pictured):

Recipe comes straight off my old Hick's Apple Orchard picking bags:

Peel and slice 4 or 5 large apples into a baking dish.  Sprinkle with a crumb topping of 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1 tsp cinnamon.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Note: I often find that the amount of butter in this recipe is too much for the flour, sugar, and cinnamon amounts so I will often double the amounts of sugar, flour, and cinnamon...because really, the crisp is all about the topping!

apple dumplings (too yummy to remember to take a picture and I highly recommend you giving this recipe a shot!),

3-4 apple breads (it is a zucchini bread recipe but they give you the option of making it into an apple bread), 3-4 apple cranberry breads (follow the same directions as the apple bread and add some cranberries),

apple sauce,

Recipe: (I will warn you, it's a typical Dr. Bob recipe...Megg you can start cringing now!)

Chop apples, put them in a pot with a little water on the bottom, add sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (and cranberries if desired; use whole berry canned sauce).  Cook until softened enough to mash.  Taste and adjust spices.

apple chips.  They totally didn't work out for me which is sad because I was excited to give them a try.  I think I cut them too thin because everyone else that has tried the recipe has had great success.  I will have to give them another go next year.

Pre-baking disaster
And 5-6 bags of apple slices all seasoned up and frozen ready for a fresh apple pie or crisp on those dark, dreary days of February.

Cut apples into desired size as you would for a pie or crisp.  Measure them out to fit in your baking dish.  Put in freezer bag.  Add a hearty "splash" of lemon juice (helps apples not to brown in freezing process), cinnamon and sugar.  Mix so that all slices are covered.  Pop in freezer.

We specifically made some breads for the freezer so that we could enjoy them in the months to come, so we wrapped them in paper towels and put them in freezer bags.  We will eventually take them out of the freezer, let them thaw on the counter and then enjoy as we would had they just come out of the oven.  Yum!

So that was our apple adventure for 2011.  All this apple talk is making me crave some apple bread.  It might have to happen soon!

What are you favorite apple recipes??

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Freezer Cooking ~ Part 2

Hey Kids,
Sorry Part 2 is a bit delayed. I was going to write it up yesterday but spent most of my day fighting with our cable company. They have been nothing but hassle since we moved down here. It been frustrating. But I think we are set (for the time being) so I am glad that is out of the way. So due to all of that, I figured I should hold off on writing this up until I was in a better space! :-)

Before I get into all the yummy deliciousness that took place, I will mention that I was asked to make a little something extra for my book club taking place Sunday evening. So Bob was kind enough to whip up a delicious pot of Baked Potato Soup. It never disappoints!

Alright, Sunday consisted of enchiladas, orange chicken, apple crisp, apple dumplings, the 2nd pizza of the weekend, and some buffalo baked chicken. I don't have pictures of all dishes, but I will have recipes/descriptions:

1. Enchiladas - BAM! The sauce came from, you got it, Emeril Lagasse via the Food Network and can be found here. And the recipe/how to put it all together came from Recipe Girl and can be found here. Broken record warning - obviously we used ground turkey rather than ground beef, but you can use whichever you choose. This recipe is easy and delicious.

And here is the end result:

*Side note - we made a double batch of the sauce because we like it "saucy" in "The Bob's" household. We used all the sauce we wanted and froze the rest for next time.

After all the enchilada's cooled, we put some brown rice (that we steamed in our Rice Cooker) in the bottom of our storage containers and then placed 2 enchiladas on top of the rice. These were then placed in the freezer.
We used small soft tortilla which allowed us to make 14 enchiladas = 7 frozen meals.

2. Orange Chicken - This recipe came from "The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook" (which if you are looking for some great crock pot recipes, this is the book for you!)

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons spiced ginger preserves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 large orange, sliced into 1/8 inch - thick slices
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 pound)

1. Whisk together the soy sauce, preserves, and juice in a small bowl.
2. Arrange the orange slices along the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Top with the chicken breasts. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cook for 3 hours on low or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Per Serving
Calories: 170| Fat: 2.5g| Sodium: 560mg| Carbs: 10g| Fiber: 1g| Protein: 26g

Okay so thoughts on this recipe - I will admit I was not a fan of this recipe. Try as we might, we were unable to find the spiced ginger preserves. We used sweet orange preserves which ended up making it too sweet/orange-y. Dr. Bob thought it was too orange-y as well and wished he had added some more soy sauce and a little chili or sesame oil to round out the flavors.

We will most likely not make this recipe again -- Can't be perfect all the time right?! ;-)

3. Apple crisp - I am actually going to be a tease here and not give you the recipe yet because I intend to do a post full of apple recipes (soon, I promise). I will say that it was delish and my book club members that tried it, quite enjoyed it.

*Random side note - one book club gal actually skipped over it because she thought someone put beef (yes I said beef) on top of the apples and she doesn't eat meat. First of all gross, and second of all - who would do that?! Oh well!

4. Apple dumplings - Tease againq. Stay tuned!

5. Pizza - I was informed that because we were not going out to watch the Lions (Dr. Bob's team) play, he needed some football food so he kindly requested "delicious pizza." How could I turn him down?? If you missed it on Friday, you can find the recipe here.

6. Baked Buffalo Chicken - We were looking for some other football munchy food so we cut up some chicken, pan fried/simmered it in the buffalo sauce. We dipped it in some ranch. Yum!

I would ultimately like to get chicken *on* the pizza but we always seem to cook the chicken after the pizza goes in the oven. We will get there eventually.

That sums up our afternoon of cooking this past Sunday. Quite productive. We actually could not freeze everything we made over this weekend because our 2 freezers became over filled. So we made sure to plan our meals accordingly this week.

Have you tried any of the recipes we have posted? If so, which ones?

If you haven't but want to try one - which one(s)?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Freezer Cooking ~ Part 1

We here in the "Bob's" household has been tracking our food spending the past 2 months. It was started for 2 reasons:

1. To get an idea of what our food budget should be in our new city.
2. Give us the wake up call that we often spend too much money on food when there are just 2 mouths to feed.

It has been working. I am not going to give out numbers or anything but we have had some good conversations figuring out ways to cut back on groceries, portion sizes, how often we eat out, and other changes we can make.

Now before we really start talking about the changes, we should talk about our "eating out" habits. Like many of you know, we are social beings. We like to meet people. We like to make friends. Right now we are establishing our social circles in our new city. We are feeling people out. We are seeing if we like them and we're weeding out "the crazies." Obviously we are not going to invite complete strangers to our home until we have met and vetted them. This means we have to meet people in public places and this often revolves around food. Hence our pretty big "eating out" bill the past few months (however we have become excellent deal finders for restaurants). Hopefully that will decline in the coming months as we have been making friends and starting to have people over for meals rather than always going out to eat.

Okay enough of that, onto the good stuff!

Our plan for the month of October is to pick 6 or 7 meals, make them all at the same time and then freeze them in individual sized containers so that we have meals ready to go throughout the month. We wanted a variety so that we weren't sick of eating the same thing for 5 meals in a row. We have done a similar concept in the past but we did not make such the variety. So we did a BIG grocery shopping trip Friday after Dr. Bob got out of work and then we got to work.

Part 1 took part Friday night and we made the following:

Recipe #1: Southwest Rollups. I got this recipe from Money Saving Mom who does this same concept of cooking for the freezer. She has 3 little ones so she spreads the cooking out where she tries to do an hour of cooking a day where it is purposely made for future meals. Plus her blog has a team that helps comb the web for daily deals, coupons, etc. Check her out if you have the chance.

I prepped 14 roll ups with refried beans, chicken (from a roasted chicken found in my deli section), salsa, and cheese. Super EASY recipe. I will absolutely make this recipe again however I may add a bit more chicken next time. I only used 2 cups because that is all I had left after snacking on some of it before I got started (oops! I was starving though and dinner wasn't ready yet!). Next time I will make sure to have the recommended 4 cups.
I will also remember to warm the wraps in the microwave briefly so it is easier to roll them up and I won't end up with 2 busting open (hence the ones in the container).
And I am even able to be a bit "greener" and reuse my bags that the wraps originally came in.
Recipe #2: Chicken and Rice Soup. Dr. Bob developed this recipe by taking a few recipes and melding them altogether. Here is his "off the cuff" recipe (Megg, I know you love these!)

~ 6 cups of chicken broth;
~ 3 cups of cooked rice that has been steamed off in the rice cooker;
~ a pack of chicken that is diced, pan cooked, and seasoned (salt, pepper, oregano, garlic);
~ a cup of finely diced onion;
~ a cup of finely diced carrots;

Cook on low for about 3 hours in a cock pot. (We used a 5 quart crock pot for this recipe)

If you like your vege's soft rather than crispy combine all of the above, minus the chicken, on low for 2-3 hours. Then add chicken and keep on low for an additional 30 minutes to an hour.

Make sure to keep an eye on the soup. If the rice starts to get too soft or the broth looks too "starchy," it is time to shut the crock pot off.

Then package in individual containers, let cool, and freeze.
Recipe #3: Homemade pizza! While all of this yummy cooking was going on we had to eat some sort of dinner.

I have been wanting to find a good pizza crust recipe for a LONG time and I have finally been successful...YAY! I got the recipe from Ready, Set, Simplify. And you can find the recipe here. It is actually from I am a fan of this site. (Hint: always make sure to read the reviews of a recipe you are going to make because they have some helpful tips on what to add, how to tweak the recipe a bit, etc).

This pizza recipe has become a BIG fan favorite quickly.
Man, I'm drooling again just looking at this picture.

So that was our Friday night. We ended up with 7 helpings of Southwest Rollups, 8 servings of soup, and a big, delicious pizza!

Stay tuned for Part 2....lots more deliciousness to come!