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Once-a-Slightly Over Month Cooking

Today may be the last day of the year, but it was the first day of the month around the Boyack house.  Today was Once-a-Month-Cooking day.  The funny thing is that it usually ends up lasting longer than a month.  Our last big cooking day lasted from September to now.  The thing is, I don't always pull from the freezer.  Weekend we cook from scratch.  However, with my voice lessons in late afternoons and sometimes play practice or performance I am too tired to think about dinner.  Making dinner ahead saved me so much money from September to Christmas that I was able to pay for half of Christmas from the savings from the food budget.  Plus, we had much healthier meals!

After collecting which recipes we wanted to make, and making a shopping list, John headed to the store around noon.  We started the cooking and assembly around 1:00 and ended all the cooking by 7:00.  In that time we made 35 dinners.  We have the fix-in's in the cupboard to make 15 more quick and easy meals.  We spend $350. When John and I did we made dinner for around $1.60 per person per meal.  Now you see why it saved us so much money.

It is also a win win for mom because everyone hangs around and helps... sometimes under great duress... but they are there and it becomes a productive family activity.

I am not much on measuring.  In fact, I'd say I am more an -eyeball-it-and-dump kind of cook.  People have ask for recipes.  I will do my best, but remember, nothing at my house is exactly the same every time I make it.  I figure if it's in the ballpark, it's good enough.

This is a messy job.  This kitchen is not a sterile environment!.  People commented today on a Facebook post I made that they might want to join us.  Are you sure?  You might not want to if you could see how we do things.  LOL.

We didn't really make anything fancy.  This is mostly a chop and dump operation.  Here is what we made today:

Hawaiian Chicken

Eventually it will look something like this and will be served with rice...

Right now it looks like this...

This is easy... one bag of chicken thighs (we take the skins off), 1 can of pineapple chunks, 1/2 onion diced, 1 cup diced carrots, 1 jar of teriyaki sauce.  Done. (We made 2).

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Another chop and dump recipe... 2 bags of turkey meatballs, 1 can of pineapple, 1 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 onion chopped, 1 jar sweet and sour sauce, 1 cup water.  Done. (We made 2).

Tamale Pie

eventually it will look like this...

Right now it looks like this... 

1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, browned; 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained; 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained; 1 can corn, drained; 1 can tomato soup; 1/2 onion, chopped; 1 tsp chili powder; 1/2 tsp cumin...  mixed all together and placed in pans... topped with grated cheddar cheese and corn bread mix... 6 Tbs melted butter; 1 cup cornmeal; 3/4 cup flour; 1 Tbs. honey (we are about to go sugar free for a month); 1 1/2 tsp baking powder; 1/2 tsp baking soda; 1/4 tsp salt; 2 eggs, beaten; 1 1/2 cup buttermilk.  When it's time to cook it and eat it I bake it straight out of the freezer for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown and comes out clean when I poke it.  (We made 2 for the freezer and 1 large one for tomorrow's dinner).

Chicken Noodle Soup

Eventually is will look something like this...

Again... simple.  1 1/2 lb. chicken chopped into bite size pieces; 5 medium carrots, chopped; 1 onion, chopped; 4 celery stalk, chopped; 5 cloves garlic, minced; 3 Tbs olive oil; 6 cups chicken broth; 3/4 tsp thyme; 1/2 tsp rosemary; 1/2 tsp sage; 2 bay leaves; salt and pepper to taste.  On the day to cook it we run the bag under water to brake it loose from the soup.  Then we cook it in the crock pot 6-7 hours.  The last hour of cooking I add 2 cups dry egg noodles. (we made 2).

Lemon Pesto Chicken

This is tasty on noodles.

4 pieces of chicken in a tin pan; spread prepared pesto over the chicken; pour 1/8 cup lemon juice over the chicken; top with 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese. When it's time, bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes; remove the foil and broil for the last 5 minutes.  (we made 2).

Sausage Spinach Tomato Soup

More chop and dump... 1 lb ground spicy Italian sausage, browned; 1 24 oz spaghetti sauce; 3 cups chicken broth; 1 can red beans, drained; 2 cups spinach; 4 carrots, chopped; 1 onion, diced... cook in the crock pot 6-7 hours on low. (we made 1).

Beef Mushroom Barley Soup

2# steak cut into bite size pieces; 1 lb mushrooms; 2 carrots, chopped; 1 onion, diced; 1 can diced tomatoes (we used 1 jar of our home canned tomatoes from the garden); 2 stalks celery, chopped; 1 cup barley 2 quarts veggie broth.  Empty into the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. (we made 1).

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Eventually it will look like this...

Right now it looks like this... 
1 1/2 cups chicken cut into bite size pieces; 1 bag frozen broccoli; 2 jars alfredo sauce; 1 large green pepper, diced; 1 cup mushrooms... pour into crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours on low.  Serve over fettuccini.  A salad is nice with this dinner too!  (We made 2).

Spinach Tomato Tortellini Soup

It's a great dump in and call it good recipe.  1 lb sausage, browned; 2 boxes of Pacific tomato soup, 3 cup spinach, 2 boxes of dry tortillini... Pour into the crock pot and cook for 4 hours on low.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  This is a favorite.  (we made 1 and we have the fix-in's in the cupboard for another for a day that we aren't quite as busy).

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Nice and easy...10 cups cooked rice; 4 cups cooked chicken, cut to bite size pieces; 4 cups chopped broccoli; 2 cans cream of mushroom soup; 2 cans cream of chicken soup; 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese.  Mix it all together.  Scoop into pans.  Top with cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 for 45-ish minutes.  Bam! (We made 4).

Sausage spinach and White Bean Soup

2 lb prepared sausages (like the kind you grill); 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1/2 onion, chopped; 3 carrots, chopped; 2 stalks celery, chopped; 2 cans Great Northern Beans, 1/2 tsp oregano; 2 bay leaves; 4 cups chicken broth; 3 cups spinach.  Pour into the crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours. (We made 1).

Chili and Rice Casserole

1 lb ground beef, browned; 1 packet chili seasoning; 1 can red beans; 1 can black beans; 2 cans crushed tomatoes (we used the tomatoes from the garden we canned); 1 can green chilies, minced; 2 cups rice, cooked... Mix everything but the rice together.  Pat down rice on the bottom of a pan.  Cover with the meat mixture.  Top with cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. (We made 3).

Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini

1 1/2 lb of chicken cooked and cut into bite size pieces; 1/2 tsp salt; 3 tsp garlic; 1/4 tsp black pepper; 1 1/2 tsp dried tarragon; 1 cup diced onion; 2 cup mushroom; 1 pkg soft cream cheese; 3/4 lb of bacon cooked and chopped; spaghetti noodle, cooked and mozzarella cheese.  Mix everything but the noodles and mozzarella.  Pour into pan. Top with cooked noddles and mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.  This is a family favorite.  (We made 3).

Creamy Chicken Fajita Soup

1 lb chicken cut to bite size pieces; 2 can cream of chicken soup; 2 cup salsa; 2 cup frozen corn; 1 can black beans; 1 tsp cumin; 1 1/2 cup water.  Pour into the crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours on low. serve with cheddar cheese and sour cream. (we made 2).

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

1 1/2 lb chicken, chopped; 2 cup chopped carrots; 2 stalks celery, chopped; 1 can cream of chicken soup; 1 can chicken broth; 2 cups water; 1 box Uncle Ben's Wild Rice.  Pour into a crock pot and cook 4-6 hours on low. (We made 2)

Alfredo Chicken Lasagna

Mix 3 cooked chicken breast, diced, 1 jar Alfredo sauce plus 1/2 jar of water; 2 pints ricotta cheese; a dash of salt and pepper.  Layer in pan, chicken mixture, spinach, mozzarella cheese; noddles, repeat.  Top with 1/2 jar Alfredo sauce and mozzarella cheese.  I put the noodles in uncooked.  After freezing them the cook nicely.  I have found that pre-cooked noodles become nasty and soggy.  Bake at 350 for 60 minutes.  (We made 3 large pans of this - a definite family favorite).

When you add this to the 80 hot pockets we made just before Christmas, we are set until March!

Oh... one more thing.  I have learned to double bag my meals to help avoid freezer burn.  Most meals can be kept in the freezer for 3-4 months... if you can last that long. ;)

Ok... I'm adding a shopping list because I have had more than one request.  Please remember that this list is for the amounts of food I prepared and a few items intended to be used throughout the week.

Shopping List

3 bags of spinach
5 boxes of sliced mushrooms
2 stalks of celery
3 heads of broccoli
5# carrots
minced garlic
4 green peppers
1 jar of pesto

11 bags of 3# of chicken breast
2# bacon
4 bags of turkey meatballs
2 bags of 3# chicken thighs
2# steak
6# ground turkey/beef (whatever your family enjoys)
2# andouille sausage

3 bags grated mozzarella cheese
2 pints ricotta cheese
2 pkg cream cheese
3 bags grated cheddar cheese

Frozen foods
2 bags frozen corn
2 bags frozen chopped broccoli

bay leaves

Canned goods
5 cans of veggie broth
4 cans kidney beans
6 cans black beans
2 jars salsa
5 boxes Pacific... tomato soup
4 cans great Northern beans
2 cans diced green chilies ( the larger size)
2 chili seasoning packets
2 can tomato soup concentrate
4 jars prepared Alfredo sauce
1 can prepared spaghetti sauce
10 cans cream of chicken soup
10 can chicken broth
2 jars sweet and sour sauce
4 cans pineapple chunks
4 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 jars teriyaki sauce

Dry goods
2 boxes dry tortellini
1 fettuccine
2 pkg lasagna noodles
2 pkg spaghetti noodles
2 Uncle Ben's wild rice
10 square tin pans
3 large deep tin pans
1 large box of Gallon size freezer bags
1 large bag quart size freezer bags


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