Cooking for Days…Round 2

Hey friends here is my round two recipes for nap-time bulk cooking! I am able to get most of the cooking and prep done during Hudson’s nap. He usually sleeps for 2+ hours which is more than enough time to brown meat or boil soup, let cool and place in freezer bags.

The first is classic comfort food for any Montana girl, Beef Stew with Potatoes and Carrots. This is one of my all time favorite meals, Husby too. I LOVE it as a make ahead frozen meal, its hearty and so perfect for cold winter night.

Beef Stew

1.5 lbs of beef stew

1 box of Pacific beef broth

1 yellow onion, quartered

4 russet potatoes, cubed

1 qt of  cremini mushrooms, quartered

4-5 carrots, peeled and cut to preferred size

1 packet beef stew seasoning

2 sprigs of fresh Thyme

  1. Brown stew meat, salt and pepper to taste
  2. Add uncooked onions, potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms to the freezer bag.
  3. Pour half the beef broth into the bag with the seasoning packet
  4. Add cooled, cooked meat to the bag, seal and freeze flat

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If you are going to eat one batch the day of prep a quick gravy from the drippings would be heaven. A gravy is possible later but only if there is enough liquid in the crock pot. If so add a little flour and butter to a pan, make a quick roux and add the liquid from the crock pot to the roux. Stir continually until smooth and thickened. Cook all ingredients until potatoes and carrots are fork tender.

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Make sure to write thawing and cooking instructions on the bag. Also, I make enough for Jordan to take back to work with him. The instructions ensure he knows how to make it without calling or texting me a billion time. I also like to double bag any freezer meal,  just in case there is a rip or tear in the bag I can’t see right away.

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Second is, chicken tortilla soup, it is really inexpensive to double and freeze for a later date.  I really enjoy it for lunch, with all the mix-ins it’s very filling. Also, since it is not a cream based soup its a healthy lunch choice. Just be careful how many tortilla chips you use….half a bag is a bit too much…..speaking from experience. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 rotisserie or leftover chicken

½ White onion, chopped

1  32 oz box of Organic Low sodium Chicken stock

1 one can of diced tomatoes

1 can of black beans, rinsed

1 can of diced green chilies

½ bag of frozen organic sweet corn

1 packet of taco seasoning

3 cloves of garlic , minced or pressed

1 bunch of  fresh cilantro

2 ripe avocados, sliced

  1. Shred chicken, avoid using the skin. Place in a heavy bottomed pot, add chopped onions, seasoning pack and garlic. Cook on medium heat, until onions and garlic are caramelized.
  2. Add half  the box of chicken stock, all three cans of tomatoes, black beans and green chilies.
  3. Add additional chicken stock if more juice is desired.
  4. Add half the bag of frozen corn. Bring soup to a boil for 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve hot with sour cream, cheese, chopped cilantro, slices of avocados and tortilla chips.

What are your favorite make ahead meals?

Happy Cooking Friends!

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Cooking for Days…

I don’t know about you but I know I struggle on a regular basis to have lunch or dinners ready or on hand. Dinner time rolls around and I am scrambling to find something to make. I have found it easiest to do one day of bulk cooking. I make a giant pot of soup, refrigerate part of it and freeze the rest for a later date. It makes life much easier. I do meal plan, some days are fresh quick meals and on days we are busy I use my back up freezer meals.  They are really helpful when Hudson is STARVING...and latched to my leg in the kitchen, I  can pull out an on hand meal.

I have also found freezer meals handy when Hudson is sick or I don’t feel like cooking while Jordan is home. Most of the time I can get one or two done during a nap time which is great. It doesn’t always work out nicely but Hudson likes to help stir or just sit on the counter while I finish up. I have also done 12 meals it took most of a day but was so worth it later. On those days I enlist my sisters or mom to help with Hudson.

Yesterday I was able to make two soups for lunch or dinner. If you use them for dinner I would add a sandwich or salad to be more filling. During the winter months soups are my go-to for lunch but sometimes dinner. The first was from my FAVORITE morning show and second is my own recipe.

Tomato and Roasted Vegetable Soup, it was super easy and all the vegetables are so tasty after roasting. I would recommend vegetable stock instead of chicken stock to thin the soup out. I only had chicken stock so I used it but the soup tastes more like chicken then vegetables which was kind of a bummer.

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In addition to the tomato soup I made my Spicy sausage, kale and butternut squash soup. This one is so EASY!

Sausage, Kale Butternut Squash soup 

1 container of store bought plain Butternut Squash soup, I use the organic boxed brand Pacific
1 lb of breakfast sausage pork or turkey, I use spicy pork sausage.
1 bunch of Kale, shopped
4 leaves of fresh Sage, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon of dry sage
1 package Parmesan cheese
1 box chicken stock, Low Sodium Pacific brand too.
Salt and pepper each step. I use more pepper than salt.
1. Chop Kale let it marinate in a cup or two of chicken stock while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. I would recommend about 20-30 mins of marinating but not necessary.
2. Pour soup into saucepan and warm
3. Brown sausage on low to medium heat,Add chopped kale. cook until it begins to wilt, add a splash of chicken stock, the steam will help it wilt faster.
4. Stir in dry sage, minced garlic and fresh sage. Until you can start to smell them slightly. Garlic should be golden brown and sage should be slightly browned.
5. Drain sausage, add to the warmed soup. Bring the heat up until the soup begins to boil slightly.
6. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with a side salad.
If you browned the sausage, you could toss everything in the slow cooker for the flavor to marinate all day. You could double everything and freeze one in a gallon freezer bag. Let it cool completely before putting in the bag, lay flat to freeze to save space.
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I have more recipes of bulk nap time cooking. I will share in a couple days once I get the measurements and recipes perfected. I hope these recipes can help you stay sane during your busy week!
Happy Cooking Friends!

 

Homemade Chicken Stock

I have been trying to be less wasteful, in reference to the Paleo Banana Bread post a week-ish ago. I have been buying organic rotisserie chickens for some time now, its an easy go to for Hudson’s lunch. Toss in a quesadila or pieces along side some noddles. But I toss the carcass every time. Well I finally decided to take the plunge and try to make chicken stock from it. Why not right!? It was easy peasy! By making it myself I had control of every ingredient. I will not have to search a label because I MADE IT!

 

Okay, I am a wing it kind of person in the kitchen I add a little of this or that, then forget how to replicate it. Anywho, the same premise was applied to the chicken stock. I rummaged through my pantry and looked up a couple recipes on line to get a guideline. So here it is.

Recipe:

One Chicken Carcass, keep the bones and the dark meat there is a lot of flavor in both. About 5-6 carrots washed and cut in half. Same amount of celery and same process. An entire white onion, quartered. A few sprigs of Thyme( because I had it on hand, you could use rosemeary or sage.) I added some salt and pepper. Put everything in a heavy bottomed pot and add enough water to cover the chicken. Let it simmer for 4 hours on low-medium heat. I would stir it every once in awhile. After the time it up strain the liquid from the bits and pieces. Then toss the bits. Let the liquid cool and store it in a glass jar for up to a month. Easy Right! Try it out, for the first attempt it tasted AMAZING!

Tasty! Have a good week Friends!