Sunday, November 3, 2013


I suppose I need to dust off this blog and start posting again.  I am not happy with myself that I just abandoned it.  In my ADD I also created a new blog, Missing A Few Stitches .  There my crochet, sewing and craft projects are shared (and somewhat organized, lol).

Anyway, I have been obsessing about putting together "Freezer to Crockpot" meals for months, and between work and other random things (like my craft ADD) I never take the time to put these together. I even made a list of pros vs cons of half preparing and freezing these meals.

Well, tonight I am happy to say I finally did it!!  The best part is, because most of these recipes are meant to feed 4+ people, and I am only cooking for 2, I get to try the "TV-Dinner" method of saving leftovers.  I personally think it will help cut down food waste.  We have a bad habit of forgetting about leftovers in the fridge or a container or two getting pushed too far back.  Yeah, not fun or money friendly.

These are my own recipes, inspired by the Freezer to Crockpot posts.

So anyway, I composed a shopping list and how I put these together.  I made 8 bags, plus prepped a bag of veggies to go with the pork roast in the freezer and have a few pounds of hamburger cooked and ready to dump into spaghetti, sloppy joe sammies or tacos/burritos.  Right now my guess is I should be getting a minimum of 20 servings from my "Freezer to Crockpot" prepped bags.

Shopping at Wal-Mart and the local grocery store I focused on the brands and items that were on sale and used a few coupons, everything listed in post totals less than $80.  Granted my total grocery bill was slightly higher (Halloween clearance candy.  Dove chocolate.  A few breakfast and lunch items.  Candy.  So much candy.), I feel I have been successful in figuring out how to be more cost effective with our food budget (without the candy, of course).

Oh and some tips when assembling these.  Use a clean pitcher to stand your freezer bag in, helps prevent spills.  I write out the directions on all the bags first then add the raw meat so I can be done handling it, then just drop the bag of meat into my pitcher and add everything else.  Seal, shake, and lay flat to freeze!

Shopping List

2 5-lb bag potatoes
5 lbs ground beef
8 lbs chicken (I used boneless thighs b/c they were on sale)
6 butterflied pork chops (again, on sale, I got them in 2-packs for approx $1 each)
1 pork roast
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 bag frozen tater tots
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
3 containers baby bella mushrooms
1/2 to 1 lb fresh string beans
1 bag carrots (or baby carrots, depends on preference)
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 can family size cream of mushroom (or whatever cream soup) soup
1 bunch of scallions
1 bulb of garlic
3 packets fajita seasoning
parsley flakes
dried oregano
dried dill
salt & pepper
1 16-oz bottle ranch dressing
3 lb bag of rice

So basically I write out the directions and what is inside each bag w/a permanent marker.  Helps me not forget and a certain someone to not have an excuse to get McDonalds for dinner. (uck)

Salsa Chicken (makes 2 bags)
Directions - Thaw. Cook on High 3-5 hrs or Low 5-6.  Serve with rice.

Put about 2 lbs of chicken into the bag, 1 can plus 1/2 a second can of diced tomatoes, 3 finely chopped scallions, and 1 1/2 packets fajita seasoning mix.  Seal tight and shake to mix.

Garlic and Herb Chops & Potatoes (makes 2 bags)
Directions - Thaw.  Cook on High 3-4 hrs or Low 6-7. Serve with veggies.

Place 2 butterflied chops and about 4-5 (depending on size) chopped potatoes per bag. Dice up a few scallions and add to bag. Roughly chop washed mushrooms and add about 1/2 - 3/4 container per bag. Dice up a few cloves of garlic or shake in garlic powder (we like lots, so use to your preference), add salt, pepper, about 1 Tbsp dill, and a few shakes of dried parsley.  Add no more than a few Tbsp water or olive oil, to help evenly distribute the herbs.  Seal tight and shake to mix.

Ranch Chicken & Potatoes (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw.  Cook on High 3-4 hrs or Low 5-6. Serve with salad/veggies.

Place about 2 lbs of chicken and 5-6 (depending on size) potatoes into bag.  Dice up a few scallions and add to bag. Pour over whole 16 oz bottle of ranch dressing (I use a little water at the end to shake it up and get the rest out).  Add a few cloves of chopped garlic or garlic powder (optional). Seal tight and shake to mix.

Chicken & Mushroom (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw.  Add gravy or whisk bliss to crock pot before cooking. Cook on High 3-4 hrs or Low 5-6. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Place about 2 lbs of chicken and 1 to 1 1/2 package roughly chopped (and washed) mushrooms to bag.  Add chopped garlic or garlic powder, salt and pepper. Seal tight and shake to mix.

Garlic Pork w/Broccoli & Mushroom (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw.  Cook on High 4 hours or Low 5-6.  Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Place 2 butterflied pork chops in bag with 1 bag frozen broccoli and 1/2 to 1 container roughly chopped mushrooms.  Add chopped garlic or garlic powder and a few Tbs water.  Seal tight and shake to mix.

Tater Tot Casserole (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw.  Pour bag into crock pot.  Top with bag of frozen tater tots.  Cook 2-4 hrs low heat or 1-3 hours high heat.  Top with cheese the last 45 min or so of cooking so it melts.

Cook and drain 1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground beef (with onions and peppers if desired).  Allow to cool off some before putting in bag with 1 bag of mixed veggies, 1 can cream soup and 1/2 cup water.  Seal tight and shake to mix.

Pork Roast Veggies (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw pork roast and put in crock pot.  Add bag with no more than 1 cup water approx 2-3 hours into cooking.  Cook high 6 hrs or low 8-9.

Wash and chop 5-6 potatoes (depending on size), 3-4 carrots, 1 onion (optional).  Clean string beans (ends and any bad spots) and add to bag with a few cloves chopped garlic, salt & pepper.  Seal tight.

So I mentioned at the beginning of this post the "TV-Dinner" method of saving leftovers.  Rich loves food he can have in a few minutes or less, so this seemed perfect.  I got some plastic storage containers (I'm trying the Rubbermaid, Ziplock and off brand kinds of containers to see if any are better than the others in the freezer) and after dinner portion out the remainder into the containers.  I can even stick a homemade treat into a sandwich bag and stick it in with it before I close up tight and stick in the freezer.  Now instead of a high sodium, empty calorie, hungry in a half hour later, over priced boxed microwave meal, he can have healthy, yummy and filling food. (Also keeps him away from McDonalds!!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Busy Day Cake

My mom was a busy woman.  She was a stay at home mom with 4 kids with a self-employed husband.  Being small business owners, that meant even though she "stayed at home," she always had something going on.  From business related tasks, household chores, kids to take care of, kids to pick up from band practice/football practice/church meetings/boy scout functions, not to mention her own craft projects, mom always had something going on.

Even though she always had (and still has) something going on, she would always make time to cook dinner for the family and on Monday nights have an activity and treat prepared for family night.  I don't know if this cake was ironically named or was something she came up with, but it is super yummy, fast and easy.  This made from scratch cake recipe is almost as easy as opening a box of cake mix, but with the satisfaction that you made it yourself and it is much tastier!


1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup self rising flour
3/4 cup milk

additional 1-2 Tbsp Milk
1/2 cup blueberries


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Place shortening in a mixing bowl.  Add sugar, egg, vanilla and mix until moistened.

2. Gradually add flour and milk at the same time.  If desired, add extra milk and blueberries and gently stir until incorporated.

3. Bake in a greased and floured 9x9x2 pan for about 25 minutes.

Just a quick note.  If you do not have self rising flour, you can make your own by sifting together 1 teaspoon baking powder for each 1 cup of flour

Mom's Banana Muffins

Growing up, my mom loved (and still does) to go blackberry and blueberry picking.

Near dad's shop there was an area that grew tons of wild blackberry bushes that we would go picking in.  The thing was, there was a barbed wire fence up from when there used to be cows in that particular area.  We had to carefully climb through the barbed wire, avoid stepping on small pear cactus (or old cow pie), and then (watching out for rattlesnakes) we would hike around looking for juicy blackberries to fill our buckets.

I don't remember a summer that I didn't have scratches and pricks all over my arms, lol.  We would go out several times, usually a day or two after a really good rain shower, and gather pounds and pounds of wild blackberries.  Mom's bucket was always a lot more full than ours since she seemed to have the willpower to not eat every sweet, juicy berry she came across.  It is funny to recall how the kids mouth's and mom's fingertips would be stained purple.

Blueberry picking was a lot more fun for us, no prickly bushes at least.  We didn't do this too much since we usually had to find a "U pick" place.  We didn't always have the money to pay by the pound, so we made do with just getting a little bit when we went and gathering more blackberries.

After a morning of picking we would go home, wash the berries and pick out any twigs and leaves, then bag them up to be labeled and frozen.  Mom would make amazing pies, muffins, just about anything you could think of, even when the berries were out of season.

I am not sure when my mom started making these muffins, but they are a family favorite.  After a while she had to start doubling the recipe because they went so fast.  The recipe calls for blueberries, however, occasionally instead of blueberries she would substitute blackberries.  Mmmm so good.


2 extra ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup blueberries/blackberries
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/8 cup flour
1 1/8 cup wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
handful or so chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Puree the banana in a blender/food processor, should be about 1 cup.

2. In a medium bowl, combine banana puree, eggs, sugar and applesauce until well blended.

3. In a separate large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until evenly moistened.

4. Spoon the batter into well greased 2 1/2 inch muffin cups.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of muffin comes out clean.

These really are best served warm.

This recipe yields 12 muffins.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


So I finally figured out that keeping an actual recipe binder is very difficult, not to mention dangerous.  I have had to re-do several pages due to spills, splashes, drops and other messes that get made when cooking.  So I decided that I would back up all my recipes to my computer.

That got me thinking about the computer before I had this one, how it crashed so hard nothing could retrieve my files or even get the thing to acknowledge that the power button was being pressed.  I definitely don't want to go to all the work of typing up my recipes, formatting, etc just to lose them because my machine gets an attitude.

Thus, why this blog was born.  It would be pretty hard to crash the world wide Internet compared to just my computer.  Not to mention, I enjoy sharing recipes and cooking tips with others!  Nice solution, I think.

I also figured it would be a great way for me to sit down and type out my thoughts, ideas and other ramblings.  It is very helpful, for me at least, when I want to do something or get too much going on in my brain to sit down and brainstorm it out.  The problem is, I don't have an organized way  of doing so at the moment so I can go back later if I need to refresh details of something or remind myself how I came to a certain conclusion.  Now I sound like an idiot, lol, I'm just really easily distracted.

Speaking of easily distracted, I have to share an adventure I had with one of my cats (I have 2), Bouncer aka "Fat Tony."

                             Socks (on the left) and Bouncer (on the right) chillin' on the sectional

I got my two kitties at the Washington County Humane Society.  They are great.  Bouncer likes to eat, eat, eat, get petted, sleep and then go eat some more, thus the nickname.  Socks is shy, and has just learned that she can kick Bouncer's butt when he tries to steal her breakfast (which makes for some funny early morning antics in the kitchen).

So anyway, I work 3rd shift, so in the morning when I get home, I feed them, feed myself, shower and go to BED!  Without fail almost EVERY morning, Bouncer sits in the stairway and starts meowing (kind of howling is a more accurate way of describing it).  It sounds like he is yelling "He-llo, HE-LLO" and even "MAMA" on occasion.  I wouldn't have believed it except my significant other heard him one day and gave me a funny look. "Did he just call you mama?" LOL.

So anyway, usually this racket is made in the stairway.  Just a few nights ago, I awoke to a cold nose and rough tongue on my forehead.  I startled and moved my face back to see Bouncer, who yelled at the top of his lungs "He-LLO ... MAMA."  Wow, being at ground zero of that, just coming out of a deep sleep is quite a shock.  Apparently I forgot to give him breakfast and he was letting me know.

Rich (significant other) and I joke that people try to get their kids to talk for the first 2 years of their life then try to get them to shut up the rest.  I didn't teach or encourage my cat to talk, but he certainly learned how!  And although it makes me laugh sometimes, I really wish he would un-learn!

So anyway, I have rambled enough for now.  I was charged with making tacos for dinner (yes at 1am, 3rd shift workers keep an odd meal schedule) and I should get to that task.  Adios!