Monday, October 31, 2011

Crock Pot Meals

So this is my first try at preparing crock pot meals and freezing them.  This is the beef.

And this is the chicken...

Since I was doing the big preparation, I made a crock pot meal too.  Since I had everything out anyways and I sure didn't feel like making another meal.

It didn't look all that pretty to eat, but it was very yummy.  So I am trying a frozen meal tomorrow and plan on doing the prep work for the pork and turkey in my frig. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Darn it...

Yup my brain is in over drive again... I have my crock pot/freezer meals project running around in there.  Now I have added Emma's school Halloween party, her birthday party and chalkboard paint.  This is going to be a fun weekend.

Crock Pot and Meal Freezing Do's & Don'ts

I thought I would be a good idea before I started this crock pot/meal freezing adventure to get some guidelines.  Do I really know what can and cant be frozen?  When do you add pasta or rice?  Should you add pasta and rice?  What about cream cheese and coconut milk?  So I set out to get some answers.  Here is what I can up with after a massive search.

1- If you don't put enough food in the pot you can burn the meal.  Make sure you are using the right size for the amount of people you are cooking for and how much food you are cooking.

2- Browning meat and softening the veggies may take a bit more time, but adds to the flavor.

3- Either spray the pot with nonstick spray or use a crock pot bag.  Makes for easier clean up.

4- Cut root veggies into about 1" squares to insure they are done in the same amount of time as the meat.  Also layer the root veggies on the bottom with the meat on top since they are slower cooking.

5- Put all your solids in first.  Then add your liquid.

6- Check for food doneness so it doesn't overcook.

7- Add the tender veggies, pasta, rice, seafood, dairy and fresh herbs in the last 30-60 minutes.

8- If you are using the herbs for flavor only, put them in a cheesecloth bag for easy retrieval.

9- Pre cook ground meat and sausage to render out most of the fat.

10- Don't preheat until recipe states otherwise.

11- Don't add frozen veggies, it can mess with the temperature

12- Don't fill the pot more then 3/4 full because the contents will expand while cooking.

13- Keep the lid on.

14- Don't reheat in the crock pot, the food could spoil.

15- Don't freeze the following: raw potatoes (can turn black), sour cream, lettuce, mayo and fully cooked pasta (under cook pasta if you are going to freeze it).

16- Label.. Label.. Label

17- Trim the fat off the meat to be frozen

So I hope this helps me and you make better meals.  Now that I have some guidelines, I'm ready to start.

Crock Pot here I come......

I have always had a crock pot, but never really used it.  Cooking in it for 1 always seemed silly to me  Now with 4 to feed, it seems like a good idea.  I'm a bulk food buyer anyways, so why not make it work better and easier for me.  Trying to figure out whats for dinner 6 nights a week gets crazy.  I always have a full freezer of meats (gotta love my hubby who got me the Food Saver last year for Christmas), veggies, fruit and herbs.  And my pantry is always stocked with pasta sauces, coconut milk, canned tomatoes and condensed soup.  Having these ready staples has helped in my meal cooking, but not so much the planning.  When we do our monthly Costco run I always get the big bag of veggies and other fresh items.  Which most of it ending up in the trash because I didn't use it or waiting till the last moment to freeze it and its too far gone.  So my mission, which I have chosen to accept, is to bag the meals and freeze them to be tossed into the crock pot.  Wish me luck.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ghostly Handprints!

My MOMS® Club was over today for a Fall/Halloween playdate.  I found many different ways to do handprint art for Halloween, but didn't really 'love' any thing I saw.  Then I found The Crafting Chicks (  They had the cutest idea for Handprint Ghost.  It was love at first sight.

So here is how I did mine:

Step 1:  Bought 3 pack Canvas Panels 5"x7" and painted them with a high gloss black paint.  And yes I did that many.  We were having a houseful of moms and kids.

Step 2:  Paint the kids hand with white paint.  As you can see I had wipes ready for clean up.

Step 3:  Press hand fast..This was a challenge with the younger ones.  My sons is a smeared ghost and my daughters turned out beautiful.  When I was telling her how I needed her hand she informed me, "I know what I'd doing Mommy."  Gotta love preschool.

Step 4:  Awww the pretty hand print

Step 5:  Sprinkle glitter over the hand print.  (Missed the picture of this step)  Paint the eyes (and this).  Most of the hand have a ready made mouth, but if there isn't one then make a mouth too.  Write child's name and year on it with a paint pen.  I used a silver one.  I guess you could write it on the back if you didn't want it on the front.  I liked having it on the front. 

Let dry and display.  I added ribbon with hot glue to hang up.  (I changed the ribbon to black because I didn't like the white as much as I thought I was going too)  I was planning on getting some sorta Halloween ribbon, but every time I hit the craft store I forgot. 

This really was a great craft project for our playdate today.  Even though it wasn't a normal craft where the kids are doing all the work, the kids were all excited to paint their hands and watch me sprinkle the glitter and write their names.  I will keep this in my book of tricks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My brain on over-drive

My MOMS Club® Mommies are coming over tomorrow and I keep going over everything that needs to be done.  Yes I have a list going... I got the app for that.  Thank you Apple for the wonder that is my iPhone.  Any rate, I have the little grab bags done, have the mini cupcakes that I bought instead of baked.  Ran out of time for that, have to make pumpkin dip and pick up the toy that covers every inch of my downstairs floor.  And then it is what it is.  I already cleaned the bathroom so I'm good there.  Isn't it just amazing how we live in our homes every day and are fine with the way it is.  But as soon as company comes we feel like we live in a dirty rotten mess.  Is it just me? 

Dragonfly Wall Art Holder

As I was trying to find things to put in My Mini Me's room I found an art hanger with birdhouses and birds.  It was so cute I brought it home.  Then I looked at it and thought.."this has nothing to do with her room".  So I took it our and looked at it and returned it.  Then I went to the local craft store and got wood dragonflies and tulips, thin rope, small clothes pins, glue and paint.  I got to work.  In between running to the potty (we were in the middle of potty training), nursing, changing diapers and life I got them painted and glued together.  I loved it.  Finally she had something on her walls.

The start of my Mini Me's 'big girl room'

When my daughter was born I had a hard time finding things to decorate her room with.  So it ended up being very plain.  Cute but plain.  It stayed that way until it was time to switch her to a 'big girl bed'. 

We were having our son and his room was fully decorated with baseball themed items from top to bottom.  I started feeling bad for Emma, my Mini Me, and felt like I had fallen short on the mommy thing. 

I knew that this was the last time I'd have full power on how her room was decorated.  Next time I knew she'd have an opinion on everything.  So I decided to take full advantage of this fact.  I wanted to do tulips for her baby room, but they are very hard if not impossible to find.  Tulips I would have one way or another.

Luckily Daddy found her bedding at Pottery Barn Kids and I was off to a good start.  Or so I thought.  I remembered why her room was the way it was.  There isn't a tulip to be found that is child-like.  Next step was to get my crafty on.