Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Take on Freezer Cooking

So Baby B #5 is just five weeks away from making his appearance!  And while my house cleaning nesting has yet to kick in, my cooking nesting is hitting full force!  So I am going to do my take on freezer meals, mainly just so I can have it written down somewhere so I can do it again!  Warning: this will be a long post, and I'm not going to put pictures on here so it will be boring LOL!

Here is a list of the meals I will be doing: (C=crock pot; O=Oven; S=Stovetop)

Taco Soup (C)
Red Beans and Rice (C)
Italian Wonderpot (S)
Potato Soup (C)
Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole (O)
Sour Cream Noodle Bake (O)

So there's 6 (well, technically 7, the Rice Casserole makes 2! And technically you can freeze the leftovers from the Red Beans and Rice for another meal too!) meals, in your freezer, ready to cook!  Let's get started!

To begin, you are going to need one 9x13 foil pan, two 8x8 foil pans (from the dollar store!) and 4 gallon ziploc bags.  That's it!

Next, get your ingredients.  Here is a master list, just to make it easy:

2 lbs ground beef (you will cook this)
1 lb Italian sausage (you will cook this)
1 pkg smoked sausage or kielbasa
3 cups cooked chicken (shredded or diced, your choice)
1 small bag bacon pieces

2 Tbsp. minced garlic (or you can use 4 cloves minced)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped green onion (if you like alot, use 1/2 cup)
8-10 oz chopped fresh spinach
3 medium onions (two chopped, one thinly sliced)
2 medium bell peppers, chopped

Canned Goods
1 can corn
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
 2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 32 oz box vegetable broth
1 32 oz box chicken broth
2 cans chicken broth
1 can beef broth
4 cans red beans
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 small can green chiles

1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch seasoning
1.5 T Creole seasoning
Rice (at least 8 cups)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 box linguini
8 oz wide egg noodles

5 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c sour cream
1 1/4 c cottage cheese
mozzarella cheese
1 bag frozen potatoes (the ones that are square shaped)
16 oz bag frozen broccoli
1 8 oz cream cheese

Now that you have the ingredients, prep your bags/pans with the directions.

Write on bag: Taco Soup (date) Cook on low 6-7 hours. Top with sour cream, green onions avocado, tortilla chips, if desired.

Write on bag: Potato Soup (date) Cook on low 5 hours.  Add softened cream cheese, shredded cheese, and bacon pieces.  Cook for another 20-30 minutes.  Top with additional cheese, bacon, and green onions if desired.

Write on bag: Red Beans and Rice (date) Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Blend one can of red beans and add in last 30 minutes.  Serve over hot rice.

Write on bag: Italian Wonderpot (date) Dump half of bag in pot on stove, break pasta in half, put in pot, dump other half of bag on top.  Bring to a boil, covered.  Remove lid and turn to medium heat.  Cook for 10-15 minutes until pasta is cooked, stirring occasionally.  Top with mozzarella cheese.

Write on top of pan (I use aluminum foil to store it if there is no top): Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole (date) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Write on top of pan: Sour Cream Noodle Bake (date) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Once your pans/bags are ready to go, now you assemble them!  Chop all the veggies that need chopped, open all of the cans and drain/rinse them, and cook all the meat that needs to be cooked. 

Here are the recipes, and assembly instructions.  Once you have a bag filled, get out all the air, seal, then lay flat to freeze:

In your bag, combine:

half of your ground beef
1 can of corn, drained
8 oz can tomato sauce
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch seasoning
1 can green chiles
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
In your bag, combine:

1 bag frozen potatoes (square)
1 small-medium onion, chopped (your preference on how much)
2 cans chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup

Additional ingredients NOT in bag:
Cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon pieces

In your bag, combine:

smoked sausage or kielbasa, sliced
1-2 cups shredded or diced chicken
1 box chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp Creole seasoning
3 cans red beans, drained and rinsed

Additional ingredients NOT in bag: 1 can of red beans, rice (in last 30 minutes of cooking, blend this can of beans and add to pot.  Serve over hot rice)

In your bag, combine:

1 box vegetable broth
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
8 oz chopped spinach
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp minced garlic (or 4 cloves minced if you don't use the jar kind)
1/2 Tbsp Basil
1/2 Tbsp oregano

Additional ingredients NOT in bag: 1 box linguini (add this when cooking), mozzarella cheese

CHICKEN BROCCOLI RICE CASSEROLE (remember, this make two!)

In a large bowl, combine:

5 cups cooked rice
2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or diced, your choice)
1 16 oz bag frozen broccoli, slightly cooked
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together, then divide between 2 8x8 foil pans.  Top, then freeze! You can either freeze one and eat one right away, or freeze both.

In a bowl, combine:

15 oz can tomato sauce
1 lb cooked ground beef.
1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of black pepper

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine:
1/2 c sour cream
1 1/4 c cottage cheese.
Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Add to noodles and stir. Add green onions and stir.

To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on half the grated cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese.  Top with lid, and freeze!

I think that is all the instructions!  PLEASE, I beg you, ask questions if there is something that is not clear!  This is my first time writing all of this down, and while this is clear in my mind, I want to make sure it is clear in yours!

Happy freezing! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day

I have been writing and re-writing this over and over, so I have it just right and so it has the right tone (but I know SOMEONE is bound to get offended...we are human after all).  That is NOT my intention at all, and I have tried to word this as graciously as I could.  The past week, I have opened up my Facebook and all I have seen is article after article of why Mother's Day is so terrible for people.  Listen, I get it.  I really do.  But think of how it can make a mother feel...

To the child who has lost a mother, I don't know how you feel.  I still have my mother and I thank God for her every day.  But I can see how this day could be hard for you.  It's okay.  It's okay to have a rough day and be sad and miss your mom.  But use this day to honor her memory.  Thank the Lord for her.

To the mother who has lost a child.  I DO know how you feel.  I have been there, and yes, it hurts.  Yes there is pain.  But I say to you, rejoice in the few precious moments you had with that child.  From the moment you knew that child was coming in your life, you are blessed.  You are a mother.  Nothing in this world will ever EVER change that.  Celebrate that.  And again, it's ok to be sad.  I admit, when I found a moment alone yesterday, I cried.  I cried for that baby that spent just a few short weeks on this Earth.  But I thanked God as well for that memory, and that hope that I will see him again.

To the woman who longs for a child, but does not have one.  I feel for you and although I will never know that longing, know that I pray for you.  I cannot imaging how difficult that is, and how many tears are shed.  I can see how this day will be hard for you.

In all these situations, yes, it is hard.  But I will be honest with you, seeing all those posts and the negativity (and yes, hurt) made me feel very guilty!  I am not even CLOSE to supermom, but this was a day where I felt appreciated by my family.  It is also a day where I could show my appreciation to MY mother.  Seeing all those articles started to make me feel guilty for having children, instead of being thankful and grateful to God for those blessings.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about this, and this verse came to my mind: Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.  There is one day out of the year that those who are mothers are honored....and it is by their children.  I don't honor myself.  I honor my mother.  If my children choose to honor me (and one day they will understand this day and truly show that honor) then I am so blessed.  When I turn my focus off of myself, it makes me have such a new perspective on this day!  Serving others is one of the easiest ways to get a blessing!

I guess the point of this is to say that it is okay to feel bad.  But let's take the focus off of ourselves and honor those around us who do the difficult and rewarding job of motherhood.  I know that is something that I am CONSTANTLY trying to do...less of me, more of others. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Five Years Later

It's hard to know where to begin a post like this.  Five years.  Five years since the day we said goodbye to our little peanut.  A lot has happened in those five years, it is hard to even begin to tell it all.  We are so blessed.  Beyond anything we could ever imagine, we are blessed. 

Five years ago, the Lord decided that Malachi would be better off in Heaven.  What a lucky child, to never have the hardships of this world weigh him down; to go straight from a mother's loving womb into the arms of Jesus.  I will never understand the why.  That is really not for me to understand.  All I can do is to cherish those precious few weeks that I held him close to my heart. 

Five years.  In those five years we have welcomed two new children into our home.  Those two children have been so precious and healing to my heart.  All three of my children have been.  I praise and thank God for them every single day.

Five weeks ago, we learned that there is another precious child preparing to join our home.  This one is a little bit harder for me to not worry about, since the timing is almost the same as when we lost our Malachi.  These past few days have been an EXTREME lesson in trust and faith in the Lord.  This child has brought me even closer to the Father as I learn even more to depend on him for our future.

Five years.  In those five years, I have cried with many other mothers who have had children go to Jesus.  In a way, that has been healing to me as well.  They may never know how their faith has helped my faith.  One such lady is Kristin Schmucker.  You can read her story here. I cannot even imagine going through what she has gone through, but through it all, she has been an amazing source of encouragement and hope to me.  Her precious daughter Sophia, went to live with Jesus just weeks before she was due to join her precious family here on Earth.  The incredible strength that they displayed has been my inspiration.  She too is experiencing her "rainbow baby" and is due in about a month.  Throughout her journey I have once again been encouraged at her strength.  Thank you from the bottom of my hear, Kristin, for being a godly lady that I can look up to and draw strength from every day!

Five years.  Five years of keeping my precious child's memory alive in my heart.  Five years of loving my children here on Earth.  Five years of God's mercy and grace becoming more and more evident in my life.  Five years that I will never forget, and always cherish.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chops

In our house, we love pork.  It is a nice way to break up the chicken routine that I tend to put us through at times.  This is tonight's dinner, and I must say that I am pretty excited about this...mainly because its finished and it is only 12:00!  I took this recipe from Completerecipes.com and added some things to it to make it my own.  Oh yummy.  Let me know how yours turns out!

My yummy ingredients!


  So I love this crock pot.  I have a bigger one that is digital, but I use this one more.  It's the perfect size for our family.

Mix the stuffing with the chicken broth.

Cream cheese/soup mixture over the chops.

It smells SO GOOD cooking!  That is the only problem with a crock pot meal!

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chops

1 box instant stuffing
1 cup chicken broth
1 small can cream of mushroom soup
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
4-5 pork chops
1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper (although I use Cavender's Greek Seasoning...on pretty much everything)

1. Mix stuffing mix and chicken broth in separate bowl.  I do this step first so the broth can soak into the stuffing.
2. In another bowl, mix the cream cheese and the soup.
3. In the bottom of your crock pot, place the pork chops (I used boneless) and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or yummy Cavender's).
4. Spread the cream cheese/soup mixture over the chops.
5. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.
6. Spread the stuffing on top.
7. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-7 hours.

(I have not received any compensation for brands mentioned in this post)