freezer cooking

Fill Your Freezer: Bread-Machine Sandwich Bread

The good news is — my sink is still functional and not completely disassembled — so I can wash some dishes today!!

I got a bread-machine for Christmas [from my mom].  I had been making bread “the old fashioned way” but I am way too impatient while it’s rising.  I can throw ingredients in the bread-machine and go on with my day (I don’t even have to be home!) and it kneads and rises all by itself.

At first, I was disappointed because the bread was dense and crumbly.  Then, I found this recipe at that suggested a fix!!  Sandwich bread needs to be fluffier, which means it needs to rise longer.  This recipe calls for three rise cycles – but my machine only does two rise cycles (even on the “sandwich” setting).  So, after the first rise is over, I shut my machine off and start it over.  Works like a dream.

Here is my recipe~~

Ingredients: (this is the order my machine calls for)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water (1 & 1/8 cups)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 & 3/4 cups flour – I’ve used white bread flour, regular wheat flour, or a mix
2 & 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

However, I do it a little differently than what the machine says to do.  I add the sugar, yeast, and water first.  I let it sit until it gets foamy.

Then I add the other “wet” ingredients, then the other “dry” ingredients.  I set the machine for “Basic” on the “light” setting.  That setting takes 3 hours – and the second rise cycle starts 30 minutes into it.  My machine beeps when it starts the next cycle, I get a reminder if I forget about restarting the machine.

We don’t eat bread too often, but often enough that we need to have some in the house.  I cut these loaves in half crosswise and freeze one-half.  I’m making 2 or 3 loaves (depending on how much flour I have on hand) to freeze for the next month.

And when my feet get tired, I set up a burrito filling station on a tray table in the living room… 🙂

If you’re interested in how I will use my {almost} fully stocked freezer during my postpartum weeks, make sure you subscribe!

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freezer cooking, menu

Fill Your Freezer: Lasagna Casserole

FINALLY!!  I finally made lasagna casserole.  This recipe has been on my to-do list since before my Third Trimester Freezer Cooking Session.  I’m not a fan of cottage cheese, so I don’t keep any on hand and I don’t know what a good price is.  Since I had so much ground beef to use up, I finally sucked-it-up and bought enough cottage cheese to make 3 casseroles.

Looks yummy!  While constructing casserole #3, I knocked over the strainer that held all of my noodles… and they scattered all over the floor.  Thankfully, it was only the last half of the last casserole.  And thankfully, my seven-year-old mopped last night.  Yes, Landon mopped the kitchen floor.  It’s amazing what a savings goal (some obscure Lego set) can do for someone’s work ethic!!  I never thought I’d hear, “Mom, do we need to work in the garden this week?”  [But, I digress]  So, I carefully inspected and rinsed everysingleone of the handful of noodles I spilled, and added them to the casserole.  Five-second-rule, right??
Unfortunately, my kitchen is being disassembled tonight…  I’m getting a new sink, garbage disposal, cabinets, and a built-in dishwasher!!  My freezer cooking plan for tomorrow is to fill some more tortillas for brown bag burritos, because I already have the filling made and I don’t have to stand up to do it!!

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freezer cooking

Fill Your Freezer: Pizza Casserole & More Taco Meat

Tuesday is still my “go in town” day — but before the stores opened, I got a little freezer cooking done!

I was surprised to learn that this pizza casserole recipe actually makes TWO casseroles.  Now, I’m really glad I didn’t plan to triple it!!

I used two more pounds of the ground beef to make more taco meat (without beans added). That means I only have two pounds of ground beef left to use!! I’m going to make more Brown Bag Burritos because I have some enchilada sauce left that needs to be used.  I just need to get some more tortillas…

I also managed to hurt myself.  My first freezer cooking injury:  I punched through a plastic container trying to get frozen ground beef out of it.  It looked a lot worse last night….

What’s left on my plan?

  • Lasagna Casserole
  • Brown Bag Burritos (1&1/2 recipe of filling to fill as many tortillas as possible)
  • Waffles (as many as I can crank out – this will feed my seven-year-old all summer)
  • Sandwich Bread (in the bread machine)
  • Make a freezer inventory list
  • Sit down with my feet propped up and relax!!
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dinner, freezer cooking, recipes

Fill Your Freezer: Chicken Cordon Bleu, Rosemary Porkchops, Sloppy Joes

I’m getting more adventurous in my freezer cooking sessions!  Today I made 2 pans of Chicken Cordon Bleu (one for tomorrow, and one to freeze), 3 recipes of Rosemary Porkchops, and 3 recipes of Sloppy Joes.

The Chicken Cordon Bleu was really easy.  I didn’t use nearly as much cream of chicken soup as it called for.  The bigger pan went into the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner and this week’s lunches.  The pie pan went into the freezer (once frozen it will go in a ziploc).

I had two big trays of porkchops that were taking up room in the deep-freeze, so I turned them into Rosemary Porkchops!!  This is my mom’s recipe and my husband LOVES it.

Rosemary Porkchops 

In a Ziploc bag, place:
4 boneless porkchops
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dried rosemary

Shake bag to mix. [Here is where I freeze it.]
Marinate in fridge for 3 hours [Or, let thaw overnight in fridge]
Place in baking dish and cook for 30-35 minutes at 250 degrees.

Yes, when I’m running out of soy sauce, I cheat and use the packets from the Chinese take-out place.  Just FYI, fourteen packets get me the 1/2-cup of soy sauce that I need for this recipe!!  I also don’t use all the rosemary this recipe calls for because it seems like a lot to me.  I usually throw everything into the crockpot (frozen) before I go to work.  But if I’m not working, I cook it per the original instructions.

I browned 3 pounds of ground beef for the triple-recipe of lasagna casserole that I plan to make.  I also browned 6 pounds for a triple recipe of these sloppy joes.

That means I only have 6 pounds of ground beef left to use!!  Should I use the rest tripling this Pizza Casserole recipe?  Or do you have a favorite ground beef recipe I should try?

Next up?  Pizza Casserole & More Taco Meat

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freezer cooking

Fill Your Freezer: Brown Bag Burritos

I made these Brown Bag Burritos during my very first freezer cooking attempt.  My husband loves that he can grab a few of these to take for lunch when there are no leftovers in the fridge.  I’m not a fan of food this spicy, but I love that the recipe makes so many burritos!!

This took care of 2 more pounds of my ground beef stockpile… 5 down, 15 to go!!  I threw the onions in with the beef instead of adding them later.

I had trouble getting the filling to simmer without making a huge mess.  Next time I’ll probably make the filling in a stock pot instead.

I had two “taco kits” that needed to be used up – so I used the 20 teeny-tiny tortillas from those along with a pack of 10 regular-sized tortillas.  I still have a little less than half of the filling left.  I froze it until I can get to the store to buy more tortillas.  Hubby will have lunch for at least a month!!

Next up:  Chicken Cordon Bleu, Rosemary Porkchops, & Sloppy Joes

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freezer cooking

Fill Your Freezer: Tacos’s freezer cooking challenge came at the perfect time for me!  There are 27 days left until my due date and lots of meals that need prepared for those sleep-deprived days to follow.  Since ground beef is on sale at Martin’s this week ($1.99/lb), I bought around 20 lbs of it.  Now, I need to turn that into something quick and easy for hubby to thaw and eat.
First up:  Tacos!!
I decided to start easy and work my way up.  I took 3 lbs of ground beef and browned it.  I combined that with two taco seasoning packets and two cans of dark red kidney beans.  Then, I split that between four bowls and flash-froze them.  When they were completely frozen later that night, I popped them out of the bowls and put two servings each in freezer bags.  Four easy-peasy taco dinners ready to go.

Now, I need ideas for the other 17 lbs of ground beef!! 

Next up:  Brown Bag Burritos

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freezer cooking

Third Trimester Freezer Cooking

I have a month and a half of work left before I can kick back and relax (and frantically rush to get everything ready) until the baby arrives.  I’m sure I’ll start to feel more tired, more cranky, and less motivated to do anything nonbaby related.  Freezer meals make my life so much easier!! When I don’t get home until 6:00 pm and our son goes to bed at 8:00 pm, I don’t want to spend an hour of that time cooking dinner! (On a side note:  I’m really considering, and praying a lot, about being a SAHM after the baby is born in June!!)

Another reason I like freezer cooking is because it helps me stay within our grocery budget.  If I buy all of the groceries for the month at one time, I can avoid those nightly trips to the store to grab sour cream (or Doritos…) that really start to add up.  I can plan a few weeks or even a month’s menu around one week’s sales and curb our spending a bit.

Today’s “menu” includes:
Cupcakes (for the birthday party on Saturday)
Shredded Chicken Breasts
Pot Roast
Cheeseburger Meatloaf
Macaroni and Cheese
Chicken Ranch Casserole
Southwest Rollups
BBQ Chicken
Marinated Chicken

As soon as I got up this morning I threw the frozen chicken breast in the crockpot.  I’ve found this is the easiest way to cook it when I plan to shred it, because it just falls apart when I take it out.  I’ve also found that I like using boneless chicken breasts — because it’s less work, and still cheaper than buying shredded chicken in a can.

After taking my son to the bus stop, I headed to the grocery store.  I needed cake mix (because he requested chocolate), eggs, milk, and various things for the party.  But, the cake needed to go in first so I didn’t forget about it!

While the cupcakes were baking, I called my grandmother to ask for her peanut butter icing recipe.  Of course, she is one who cooks without recipes most of the time, so she offered to just make it for me.  She’s going to “try” to write down what she does.  🙂 We’ll see.

I stopped for a mid-morning snack 🙂 When I was pregnant with my son, I would “make” brownies, just so I could eat the batter.  Chocolate chocolate chunk… yummm.

The pot roastI made on Thursday was a huge hit, so I decided to throw together another one to freeze.  I needed to use up some onions and potatoes that have been in the cupboard for awhile, so this keeps me from wasting them.

We haven’t tried this cheeseburger meatloaf, yet.  But, judging from how delicious it looked when I mixed it up, I’m sure it won’t stay in the freezer for long!

I boiled some rotini noodles for the macaroni and cheese.  Then I stopped to take a baby-bump picture (25 wks)!  Look, my flirty apronstill fits.. kind of.  I also desperately need a hair cut…

When I freeze a casserole, or anything that goes in a specific dish, I first line the dish with foil, then plastic wrap.  Then, after the food is frozen solid, I can take it out of the dish and use the dish for something else!  These are two 1.5 qt casserole dishes that I use to make the macaroni and cheese.

The noodles are done!  As you’ll notice, I do not have “kitchen counters”.  I have a dishwasher (that does not work) with a butcher block on top that I use as a prep station, but my crockpot has to sit on top of my stove when I use it.  Probably not the safest idea, but I am not typically using the stove-top when I have the crockpot out.

Another side note is that I LOVE these pots!  Cleaning my plastic strainer was the bane of my existence, until my grandmother-in-law gave me these for Christmas.  No more strainer!!

It took me a really long time to get the milk to thicken for the macaroni and cheese.  I whisked and whisked and whisked — and took a potty break because someone was kicking my bladder — and whisked, and whisked, and whisked.  Finally, I turned the heat up to medium-high, and it thickened right away.  The cheese melted really easily, too.

The chicken ranch casserole is all wrapped up in the freezer.  I have to figure out how to make this recipe without scorching milk on the bottom of my pots and pans.  I made this with rotini this time, but last time I used choo-choo wheels.  Food should be fun 🙂

Next up was the Southwest Rollups from’s Freezer Cooking eBook.  These were really easy and folded up a lot more nicely than I thought they would.  I only made half the recipe since we’ve never tried them before and I only had 8 tortillas.

The chicken in the crockpot took about 6 hours on low.  I used four chicken breasts from Sam’s Club.  Usually the Sam’s Club chicken is a lot bigger and juicy than the chicken from our local grocery stores.  It shred very easily after being the the crockpot!

I only had tiny snack bags to bag the chicken, but I fit one cup in each bag.  I got 6-1/2 cups of chicken and that’s after I used 1-1/2 cups in the chicken ranch casserole and 1 cup in the Southwest Rollups.  I eat these on salads and my husband likes to make chicken salad with crackers.

I didn’t get to EVERYTHING on my list… but I think I did a pretty good job.  The two chicken meals I skipped are simply marinade+chicken to be cooked in the crockpot.  My son will be disappointed that I didn’t get to the waffles!!
Now… if only the “dishwashing fairies” weren’t already booked for today…  This is actually my third sinkful of dishes.  I try to use the same dishes all day long and just wash them over and over to stay on top of things.  Maybe someday I’ll invest in a functioning dishwasher!!
Happy Cooking!
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