Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Food & BD update, 3 1/2 weeks to go...

Had a Dr appt and while he would like to put me on bedrest, he has learned that I take care of my pregnancy and I'm pretty stubborn :) (Did I really just admit that? hmmm, guess that's where the kids get it, LOL).
I'm only 1 cm dialated at 35weeks 3days, so I will continue to do what it takes to take care of my kids, and hubby is being amazing about helping with housework and anything else that I can't do right now <3

Having escaped bedrest for a little longer, with the well meaning advice to "rest as much as possible, drink plenty of water and make sure you sit down when anything hurts" haha... I went for some more blood tests, and I was on my way home!!

I came home to my mom doing "science" with the girls, homemade ice cream!! So much fun, but I think I need coffee cans for them for next time. They made vanilla and loved it, but next time we need to be more adventurous, add fruit or chocolate chips! I love when they have fun learning new things, and my mom is great at coming up with fun ways to learn new things!!
After we ate the, umm, ice milk (they are 4 & 1, so we were impressed and enjoyed what they did!), my mom hung out with them a while longer so I could finally finish the Beef Vegetable Soup.

So added to my tally is 4 bags of Cheeseburger macaroni sauce (after eating it for dinner one night too!) and 8 bags of Beef Vegetable soup (again, after eating it for dinner last night!).
We have already eaten a few of the freezer meals, and still have 51 meals made this month in the freezer!!

We decided to modify the plan since I can only stand for 10-20 minutes, and so many things have come up this month that were not planned but kept me from cooking :(... so some meals have been scrapped from the original list. I want to spend the last 2 weeks just enjoying our littles and preparing for BD, in hopes of keeping him in until eviction day!
This morning I'm thawing 4 1/2 lbs of chicken so that hopefully in the next 2 days I can make Chicken Vegetable lasagna which is the plan for dinner tomorrow.
Then, I will make the Enchilada Casseroles this weekend.
I think I am going to make the meatballs at the beginning of next week, and I'm debating about the Chipotle Chicken Chili next week.
Hubby can go shopping and cook simple meals if we do run out, but with our huge chest freezer about 2/3 full and our side-by-side indoor freezer filled, I think we will have more than enough to last us until I feel like cooking again, or it's warm enough for him to start grilling!!

Off I go to cook chicken... hope the girls let me and I hope the boy quits head butting my, uhh, hips so I can get something done today.  Just glad that he has stayed head down for a week, so while it hurts it also makes me happy :D

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Food Prep for BD - Day 6... or time to hurry!!

So, we didn't get Doodle this weekend :(
After labor pains on friday, we sent the girls with my parents for another weekend. I got some folding done so I'm almost done with regular and new baby laundry, and food prep was only what I could do sitting down.
Tried to rest and relax all weekend, Hubby had lots of work to keep him busy and I feel a sudden sense of urgency to be ready for BD. So hopefully my next post is about more food, not his birth, but we shall see. God won't give us more than we can handle and only he knows if we or I can handle any more right now.

So I sat and chopped veggies and cheeses when I didn't want to just sit... Hubby finished my homemade beef stock and so I was easily able to take over this morning with adding onions and meat to pots.

Cheeseburger Macaroni x4 in one: Browned 4lbs of ground beef w/2 onions, drained and added flour, milk, cheddar & velveeta, dijon mustard, and spices (S&P, thyme, sage).

Into the other is 4+lbs of beef stew cubes with onion, aminos, and beef stock until they are tender. I will add carrots and potatoes that I chopped already. Then diced tomatoes, shredded cabbage, frozen lima & green beans and peas. Spices and such to make it taste right, then they will both cool.

Each should make 4 meals or more, putting us at over 50 meals :D So we should easily have more than the original 70+ planned meals at this rate, even if I don't finish everything!!

The Veg-beef soup is just thaw, heat and serve.
The Cheeseburger Mac is thaw then heat with a 3/4 to a full box of fresh cooked pasta.

Hope this is helping someone :) If not, atleast I know the internet will never lose my recipes!! So if I ever need to cook for a month or more again, I won't have to re-create these ones :D

Friday, March 25, 2011

Food Prep for BD - Day 5... or what do I call my soup??

Soo, I made homemade kidney beans (from dry... nothing fancy, just takes a while and then I have to use them!) so that I could make a pasta/bean soup.
Minestrone? Pasta e fagioli?
IDK, but I wanted soup with pasta and beans, in a little bit of broth with tomatoes that I could add ground beef to. Ohh, and it had to be yummy...
I have made this a million times, but it was not until after Lady bug was months old that it occurred to me that I should write down and save my creations/recipes, so that I could re-make them.
This is the first time since then that I have wanted to make this, so in search of a recipe that fit :D
Friends sent me their favorites, and I googled... but no, no recipes gave me what I wanted. Sadly, pregnancy takes away my ability to substitute something "similar but easier" when I have a craving. So I had to create my soup from scratch.
Here is what I made, we all loved it here! Just no idea what to call it :D HAHA!

Pasta/Bean "Stoup"
(note: I made 4x this amount and it gave us one meal last night and 8 in the freezer)
1/2 lb ground beef cooked to crumbles then drained, with
1 crushed clove of garlic, 1/2 an onion diced, 1 diced carrot, and 1 diced celery stalk
- meanwhile cook 1 dry cup of your fav small pasta (I used shells)
then mix the meat mixture with the cooked pasta, and 1 can (or 2 cups cooked) beans, 1 small can diced tomatoes, 1 cup sliced zucchini, and 1 cup cut green beans and 4 cups of stock (I used homemade turkey!)
to the meat and then to the "stoup" I added about 1/2 tsp each of: S&P, basil, oregano, and parsley

Hubby doesn't like cooked spinach or I would have added that, and if theres more veggies that I could think of, I would have added them to, but for my first atttempt in almost 2 years, the family & I were happy with the results! .... and when pregnant, I think thats all that matters :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cleaning & a visit, Baby shower and no food prep...

So hubby was on a mission last week to help me clean house. Thinking he was on board with my baby countdown, I dropped the food and focused on cleaning and we got a lot done! Just in time as a friend needed me to take her kids a few times for some minor emergencies.
Hubby's reason, I found out friday, was much better!! We had company :D
Being a non-Doodle weekend, my parents take the girls sat & sun to get Ladybug used to being away from mommy & daddy (prep for baby) and they also reward a week of good behavior with a friday trip.

So friday we were kidless and I was craving chinese. Hubby went to get it and came home with 4 dinners, and my best friend! She moved out of state months ago and with both of us adding a 4th child this year, we had no idea when either of us could visit the other.
Or so I thought.... She planned with my hubby to stay with us for the weekend so she could be here for my baby shower. My other best friend gave me a shower even though this is my 3rd pregnancy & our 4th child... but this will be my first boy, and every child should be celebrated!! So we had a wonderful brunch with lots of chatting, (no games, lol) and hanging out being kidless moms!
We all had fun and I love and thank each wonderful friend there that cares about my family, our coming son, and I. Thank you all!!

We spent a great weekend and even had our first double date as married couples (or ever!) and got to sort through lots of baby clothes. Things that had been passed down to me for my boy and things my 1 yr old has outgrown for her coming girl!! Now we both are a lot closer to being ready to clothe our coming babes, and I got a weekend to refresh and feel like me. It ended with a dinner/play visit from another friend and I felt ready to face this week.

The week started by saying good bye to my friend, my tire going flat, and having to run all over downtown :P Then a morning of taking on extra kids for an unexpected hospital trip for their baby brother.
Finally, an ultrasound of our BD. He is finally head down, and measuring a bit small, but hopefully thats fine when we see the Dr again next week.
So now we look to finish this week on a high note, after amusing the meat market again with buying 25 lbs of meat, again, and promising to see them next week :D
They like me, or they like my money!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Food Prep for Baby D - Day 4 ... after a great family weekend!!

We went to a hotel this weekend. It had been a month since we had seen Doodle, and since he's getting older and doing more with school functions, and friends up there... we decided if we can only have him for 24 hours, we would make the best of it!!
So we cashed in some of Hubby's points from his massive travelling this summer for a hotel 5 mins from Doodle's house, took the drive in our "new to us" mini-van (YAY!!!) and enjoyed every minute that we had with him... even though there wasn't much to do there, I still think we all had a great time with swimming & talking & hanging out!!

So this week is full of appts and plans, but I am determined to still get some extra meals cooked!!
After a morning dr appt to check on BD, I made 6 Tacaroni bakes (seriously; cook 1 lb of meat with onions, add taco seasoning & 2 "cans" of beans - add pasta, cover with cheese and bake 20 mins).
So I froze 5 bags of the meat/bean mix, and then made the last one into dinner for us!

I also finished marinating the chicken for the divans and bagged those for the freezer! Somehow I have 4 bags of chicken, but 3 bags of sauce.

Today's Recipe : Chicken Divan
3 lbs of chopped (raw) chicken - (orig recipe makes 2 meals, so you can make 1 and freeze one for a busy night!) - into a lemon-herb marinade
Here's mine:
zest & juice of 1 lemon,   1 small onion grated or minced,     1/4 cup olive oil,    
1 tsp each: garli, parsley, basil, oregano, & salt
1/2 tsp each: thyme, celery seed, & pepper
 - Mix well, divide into 2 bags the night before cooking. 1 in fridge to marinate for next day and 1 in the freezer for another day.

Cream Sauce:
3 TBLS butter & 2 TBLS flour - melted & cooked for 2 mins
add 2  1/2 cups milk, whisk in, cook until thickened and remove from heat
add 1  1/2 cups shredded cheddar, 1 cup grated parmesan, 1/4 cup mayo, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp curry powder & 1/2 tsp pepper.

Put 1 bag (1 1/2 lbs) of marinated chicken, cream sauce, and a 12-16 oz bag of chopped frozen broccoli into slow coooker for 6 hours on low.  Serve over fresh cooked, hot rice :)

Funny story:
As I write this, Butterfly & Ladybug are playing in the toy room... they are putting food into pots, pans and casseroles :D Butterfly keeps getting upset at Ladybug "eating" the chicken that she's "trying to freeze so we can eat it next month!".
I love that my girls learn from trying to copy me!!

Now onto a morning of making Taco stuffed shells, and an afternoon of getting ready for a visitation :P

Friday, March 11, 2011

Food Prep for Baby D - Day 3... or the 2 err, 1 day of grounding...

So... like I said, Butterfly was grounded yesterday. The negotiations showed me that she was getting the idea that attitude and aggressive behaviour are NOT acceptable. She very sweetly tried to convince me all day that she had learned her lesson and so 1 day was enough. So after only seeing her for meals and snacks, she was let off this morning on good behavior (she is still 4 and my baby, and I missed her... plus I really NEED her to distract Ladybug from hanging on me :D).

Lesson learned = reward for everyone!!

So yesterday, during the girls breakfast; I started the morning by draining, rinsing and starting the beans that had soaked overnight. Thanks to my parents no longer needing big crockpots, I have 3 so I can make Kidney, Black, and Pinto for refried; all at the same time!

Butterfly went to her room and I left Ladybug in her highchair. She watched me peel onions and chop them in the processor and throw them in the pot with 4 lbs of meat. I don't know what it is, but since our switch to the grass-fed beef from a local meat market the ground beef just melts into crumbles and as long as I move it around a bit, I don't have to chop it like I always did before!
So I left that to start cooking, and started making spagetti sauce and slicing mushrooms.

By this time, Ladybug was wandering the kitchen and toy room asking for her sister and throwing fits when I told her that sister was "nite-nite"... so I started feeding her snacks of mushrooms, cheese, and anything else I could find :D
Meat drained, spices & mushrooms... I had to find my BIG pot before I could add the sauce! More fun playing with Ladybug, until she melted so I got her down for a nap.

Girls had snack time, I finished the meat sauce and put it in a bowl to cool and started lunch. While they had lunch I entertained them with more onions then mushrooms in the food processor :)
Then I started the mushroom alfredo & the divan cream sauces in the pots and sent Butterfly back to her room.
Ladybug tried to "help" me with the cream sauces and then finally she went down for another nap and I finished them. Along with shredding a lot of cheese, and making the "cheese sauce" layer for the lasagna. I was ready to assemble and had the creams off the heat and cooling by the time Ladybug woke up.
Assembling took a lot longer than planned with my lil "helper" but I got 5 done out of the planned 4, so even with eating 1 for dinner (with lunch leftovers for hubby!) I put 4 more meals in the freezer!
Plus 4 1/2 bags of mushroom alfredo for stroganoff, and 3 bags of divan sauce means after I bag and freeze the meat (chicken divan marinade today) I am closer!!

Today's Recipe - Homemade Mushroom Alfredo
1/2 an onion, minced
3 TBLS butter & 2 TBLS flour
an 8oz pack of mushrooms thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup parmesan & 1/4 cup mozzerella cheese
salt, pepper & 1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp garlic powder (side note: I normally use 1 lg clove, but this much cooking = some cheating!)

Saute onions in butter until soft, add mushrooms until juicy, add flour and spices then cook 2 minutes. Slowly mix in milk (easier if warm, but I never remember) stir occasionally until thickened, remove from heat and stir in cheeses.

I usually use this with 1 1/2 lbs of beef cubes mixed with some Braggs Aminos for a Beef stroganoff. Throw beef and sauce into crockpot on low all day (8hrs+) then mix in 1/2 cup sour cream at the end, make egg noodles, and add a veggie side dish = Dinner!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

more prep, shopping & kids...

To make this whole experience a bit easier on our food budget, I am only buying massive quantities of things as they go on sale each week.
So last week I bought some sourdough bread 1/2 price, bought 6- 3lb bags of potatoes for $1 each (the 5lb bags next to it were $3.99 for comparison) and 15- 8 oz mushrooms, and some other things.

Yesterday, I toasted the bread and made breadcrumbs for the freezer (until I'm ready to make meatballs) then I sliced and froze the mushrooms that I wasn't using today & tomorrow. Yes, you can freeze mushrooms!! Fresh or cooked, lay them on a sheet pan with wax paper (I did 3 layers the second time and it worked a lot better) then a few hours later they go into a bag - like mushroom chips! Then I sorted 3 kinds of beans to soak overnight in crockpots so I can start cooking them today. Along with a grocery trip to buy more cheese, noodles, and meat at my new favorite meat market!

My plan for today & tomorrow is to make the veggie packs/starts to the roasts, the mushroom alfredo for the stroganoff, the chicken divan marinated chicken & cream sauces (separatly), and lasagnas.

I have gotten to thinking....
I multiplied each of these recipes by 3 or 4, but when I made 1 enchilada bake last week, it made 2 - 8x8s, and an 8x8 is enough for a meal for us (usually). So I think the lasagna should make 6 or 8 - 8x8s and one of those extras will be tonights dinner as well :)
With that math, hopefully some of these things will double as lunch the day after we make them, which wasn't in my original plan, so I can save money later with buying less "lunch stuff"!!

I am hoping that Ladybug will let me get plenty done, but we will see.
Today starts with Butterfly being grounded for 2 days...
Yes, she's almost 5 and this is her 2nd grounding.
Dad, Mom, I'm sorry for everything I put you though. If she is just like me, then there's hope... right?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Food Prep for Baby D - Day 2... or 6 done, 67 more planned

After a long morning of trying to figure out a way to budget this massive food trip... with no answers, I decided to finish what I started the day before!!
Last night I found 2 packs of 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs in the freezer, while looking for a sweet treat to make me feel better. I found some homemade Zucchini bread and that made me happy :)
So the thighs were put in a crockpot and covered with water on low over night. I removed them in the morning and put them in the fridge to cool (HAHA, dogs can't open the fridge :P).

So after lunch, the girls went down for naps, and I chopped chicken! then I mixed the 1/2 the chicken, 1/2 the cooked veggies, 1/2 a bag of broccoli, 1/2 bag of green beans... darn, no peas! (Oh well, hubby isn't a big fan, so we'll just go with it). Added some sauce until it was nice and creamy, then put it in 2 bags to freeze (these sat in my pie plate so I'm sure I have the right amount!!). Then I did it again with the rest of the chicken and veggies, adding sauce until it was creamy.
I finished with 4 bags of Chicken Pot Pie filling, and a 2 cup bag of Savory cream sauce! Guess I made too much :)

As I was getting the food out of the fridge, I saw the ground turkey that I had thawed the night before... but I already had a frozen lasagna in the oven (2 1/2 hour baking time) so I decided to go ahead and make last night's Enchilada Casserole and just freeze it for later.

So I did, and the original recipe is for a 9x13, but with my changes, it made 2 full 8x8s!!
That's 6 meals into the freezer :) and 2 are bonus, unplanned meals!

The Chicken pot Pie recipe is in Day 1.
But here's the recipe for the Enchilada Casserole - with my HM Enchilada Sauce & HM Taco seasoning recipes. (Orig casserole recipe thanks to Katie Rienke)

Homemade Taco seasoning:
1 TBLS each: chili powder, cornstarch
1 tsp minced garlic or 2 garlic cloves or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 a small onion or 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, or 10 shakes of Red Hot
1/2 tsp each: oregano, paprika, black pepper
1 tsp salt
1  1/2 tsp ground cumin
I usually add the garlic and onion to the cooking meat, then after draining the fat I add the rest with about 3/4 cup of water and keep over med heat until it thickens, stirring regularly.

Homemade Enchilada sauce
1 28oz can of tomato puree
1 taco seasoning
1 TBLS cornstarch (yes, extra added to the taco seasoning)
Stir and heat until thickened.

Enchilada Casserole          (makes about 1 9x13 or 2 8x8s)
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 taco seasoning
1 can or 2 cups corn
1 can or 2 cups HM black beans
1 enchilada sauce (28oz)
12 corn tortillas
12 oz shredded cheddar
While heating enchilada sauce. Cook ground beef with onion and taco seasoning, add corn and beans until warm, then mix in 1/2 the sauce.
Layer in baking dish: sauce, tortillas, 1/2 meat mix, little cheese, tortillas, 1/2 meat mix, little cheese, tortillas, rest of sauce, rest of cheese.
Bake 20 mins or until cheese melts (can freeze before baking, bake frozen 35-45 mins).
Serve with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and sour cream or your favorite taco toppings.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Food Prep for Baby D - Day 1... or "the dogs got the meat"

First, the idea behind this was that I had been craving Turkey and stuffing... and we had a whole Turkey in the freezer!!
So I had Hubby get it out and we thawed it, then cooked it with a small batch of stuffing (If i knew how to freeze that, I soo would!! Homemade sourdough stuffing is amazing). Back to the point. I was making Turkey stock from the bones, and had a lot of turkey meat left since I only wanted it for the one meal. So I decided to make pot pies to freeze for Baby since they didn't sound good to me right now (crazy preggo, I know).

So I chopped and measured the turkey and had almost 8 cups. I think 2 cups is about a lb, so I started planning to make 4 pot pies.
I chopped the potatoes, carrots and celery and boiled them.
I made the sauce.
Mind you, to write each step takes seconds, but to do each step took over an hour each with Butterfly "helping", Ladybug copying and needing diapers or drink refills, both of them needing snacks, stopping for lunch, letting the dogs in and out, and me getting exhausted so easily.

Now for the fun part of the day:
Everything was almost cool, so I took the turkey out of the fridge and set it on the table (so I could sit and mix instead of standing at the counter... it seemed like a good idea at the time!)
The girls had just woken up from their naps, so they wanted to taste the veggies and the turkey... I left the lid off the turkey bowl and we all went for a bathroom/diaper break and for me to check the time of an event that we were supposed to go to that night.
So just as I sit down to find the time, I heard a thump and a mad scramble from the dogs... yup! you guessed it, I got in the kitchen just in time to see them eating the last bites of turkey off the floor :(
* Mommy had a meltdown *
Then we put everything away, I scrapped dinner plans, totally forgot about going out, and we used our BOGO free Chipotle coupons and watched a movie.

The recipe for my pot pies:
to make 1 -
1 lb (2 cups cooked) chicken, chopped
1 cup potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup each: carrots, celery, broccoli, peas, and green beans (1st 2 chopped, last 3 frozen)

Savory Sauce:
1/3 cup each: minced onion, butter, flour - I usually guess that 1/2 a small onion is good
1/2 tsp each: salt, celery seed, sage, ground thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1  1/2 cups chicken broth (I used turkey!)
1 cup milk

Pie crust (1 or 2, your choice, and I'll share my recipe later)

Preheat oven to 425.
Mix raw veggies (and chicken if raw) in a pot, cover with water and boil 12-15 minutes.
Drain, and let cool.

To make sauce: melt butter in a saucepan, add onion and cook until translucent.
Whisk in flour and spices, then let cook 2 minutes.
Slowly add broth and milk (slightly warm if you remember) and whisk until thick.
set aside to cool.

If freezing, let everything cool completly. Mix and freeze. Thaw, then assemble before baking.

Mix everything together, pour into pie crust or pie plate (your choice).
Top with crust, seal edges, cut slits. * can brush with egg wash if desired.

Bake 30-35 mins or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Family variation: double potatoes, omit crust, can use ground turkey - 8x8 baking dish for 20-25 mins. Serve with biscuits if desired for a different budget friendly meal.

Food Prep for Baby D - Intro...

We are 7 weeks from "BD" (Baby D, he's #4)'s eviction day.

 - Short background story on that: With Ladybug we had a lot of issues/complications at the end of the pregnancy that caused us to need an immediate induction. To avoid the re-occurance of some of those issues and avoid some new possible ones from such close pregnancies; we have already set the induction date for this baby as long as we can keep him in that long.

Back to this week: I realized looking at the calendar that we are running out of time! Standing on my feet for very long, bending over, and general "keeping up with kids and feeding the family" has gotten beyond difficult. Yet our family doesn't eat "typically".
We don't eat processed or pre-packaged foods, we avoid all artificial colors and especially sweeteners, and we generally try to make as much as possible from scratch to help our health and our budget.

I know after baby comes, a lot of people buy frozen meals or wind up eating out so that they don't have to cook. We don't have that option.
So I have come up with a plan that I will try to share with you, and we will find out together if it works!

Step 1 - Collect "freezable" recipes, make ingredient lists, and figure out how much food I need to buy to make enough food for us to last the final month of pregnancy and the first 6-8 weeks after BD comes.
Each meal has 10 mins or less of final prep, because I figure Hubby or I can only spare about that much time :D

So here's my list:
4 Turkey, err Chicken Pot Pies (filling and crust separate)
4 Meatloafs (orig recipe thanks Mommie)
4 batches of meatballs(orig recipe thanks Mommie)
4 Batches of Chili (Regular Beef Chili)
4 Enchilada Casseroles (orig, recipe thanks Katie Reinke)
4 batches of Beef Veggie Soup
2 batches of Pasta e fagioli soup
4 "Tacaroni" Bakes
4 Cheeseburger Macaroni Bakes
4 Taco Stuffed Shells (orig recipe on a food site posted by Laura Foor)
4 regular Lasagnas
4 Chicken Vegetable Lasagnas
3 batches of Chipotle Chicken Chili
4 meals from 2 Roasts with veggies, each doubles as Beef Stew a day or 2 later
3 Slow cooker Chicken Divan (orig recipe from Sandra Lee)
4 Beef Stroganoff
and some helpful starts:
3 Marinated Chipotle Chicken - for burritos
4 Marinated Teriyaki Chicken and peanuts - for Asian Wraps
4 Marinated Salsa Chicken - for Baked Chicken and Rice

So there you have it, 71 meals... (maybe more, some of these are 4x a 9x13 recipe and I have found that an 8x8 is enough for dinner so this amount might make 6 lasagnas instead of 4??)