Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brown the Beef

If you want to make life simpler in your kitchen, do some of your work ahead of time. I went grocery shopping this morning and bought 4 lbs. of organic ground beef. That's about what I buy for two weeks worth...two ground beef dishes a week. When I walked in the door, I immediately got out my big ol' family skillet and browned all four pounds of beef with about 1/2 of a large sweet onion. I drained it and now it is cooling.

I have labeled 4 freezer Ziploc bags for the meat once it has cooled. One will be for Crockpot Chili. The others are for spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and Cincinnati Chili. I will freeze the Crockpot Chili with all of the ingredients in with the beef...beans, tomatoes, spices. For the spaghetti sauce and lasagna, I just will split up the beef into their quart size bags to be ready for when I need it for sauce. For the Cincinnati Chili, I will just add the spices for that recipe, and freeze (in my cabinet I already have the tomato sauce and tomato paste for that recipe...and I took a Sharpie and put a big "X" on those cans so that I know they are to be used for freezer food).

Browning the beef ahead of time will save you time in the future because you only had to do it once instead of four times (which also decreases your dishwashing time!) and it also makes you know that you have meals planned and ready to go.

photos by dronir

Pecan Chicken Spread

As the holidays get closer, we always need some good stand-by appetizer or bring-to-a-party recipes. My sister has had this recipe for at least 20 years and it's always a crowd pleaser. It's original name was "Chicken Loaf", but let's face it...anything with "loaf" in it doesn't sound appetizing. So I renamed it. But it's just as delicious as ever.

1 1/2 cups cooked, minced chicken
1/3 cup minced celery
2 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. Heinz 57
1/2 tsp. curry
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Blend together cream cheese, Heinz 57 and curry. Add chicken and celery and stir. Form into ball or dome. Cover with parsley and nuts. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve with crackers.

I know. Sounds weird to have Heinz 57. But trust me, this is awesome!

photo by fuzuoko

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Seasonal Freezer Cooking

I am back at freezer cooking again. I now have a "fall freezer cooking" menu which gave me the great idea to do "seasonal freezer cooking". For me that means to come up with a new freezer cooking menu every three months according to the season of the year and the cravings that come when those seasons arrive. I usually prepare about 14 meals which will then be rotated six times. This keeps my thinking and planning to a minimum and allows me to pick up meat on sale when I shop knowing what I will do with it once I get home.

So here is what we just finished up eating and what I will prepare again later today:

Sesame Chicken
Teriyaki Chicken
Honey Lime Chicken
Cincinnati Chili
Crockpot Chili
Spaghetti Sauce
Steak Kebobs
Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kebobs
Citrus-Lime Pork Chops
Crockpot Cinnamon Pork Tenderloin
Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Easy and tasty meals put together quickly and stored away in Ziplocs in my freezer. Which frees
me up for all the crafty goodness I am doing in preparation for Holiday gift-giving! Cooking now means more time for creativity later!

What's a few of your favorite fall meals?

photo by wwsjr

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

This is a great grilled pork tenderloin recipe that feeds a crowd. Marinate, grill and slice into thin medallions. I marinate the pork and then freeze it in a Ziploc until I need it! Kroger has their pork tenderloins on sale this week for $1.99/lb so stock up and freeze them!

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. sherry
1 1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pinch garlic powder
2 (3/4 lb) pork tenderloins

Marinate 6-12 hours. Grill for 20 minutes.

photo by tiny bites

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Roasted Potatoes

We love potatoes. They are inexpensive, filling, and extremely versatile. And with our busy lives and crazy economy, those are great attributes to have! Potatoes can easily be your main dish when baked and served with lots o' toppings....or as a hearty side dish...and it's really hard to mess these guys up.

Our long time favorite way of eating potatoes is to roast them. My sister got me hooked on these about 15 years ago. Back then we just quartered red potatoes, put them in a 9x13 pan, drizzled a stick of butter over them, sprinkled some poultry seasoning, and then baked at 450 for an hour.

These days I do the same exact thing...I just substitute delicious lime-pepper seasoning for the poultry seasoning. Delish... and a staple with our cheeseburgers.

Another recipe that I tried this evening is for Garlic Red Potatoes. These were more "elegant" and would be wonderful paired with sauteed chicken breasts.

4 lbs. red potatoes, quartered
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. salt
2 lemons, juiced
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in a 9x13 pan. In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake COVERED 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. (I actually had to add another 10-12 minutes to that.)


Monday, October 6, 2008

Cutting A Red Pepper

You must run over to this blog and see how to cut a red pepper so that no pesky seeds are on your knife, cutting board, or pepper pieces.

Don't you just love clever cooking tips?