Freezer Meals!!

It has been raining by the bucket full for the past week. Since we’re getting electricity from solar panels, we haven’t been getting much. Today was the first day the sun came out long enough to catch up on laundry and dry it! Woo hoo!

All this rain is great for the rain collectors and plants, but makes cooking dinner and other meals a bit tricky. This morning I decided to google search precooked freezer meals. The plan here being maybe I could precook things and then just thaw out and reheat for a shorter time in the oven or on the stove. Saving electricity and making clean up a bit easier. Also it would give me a few days where I don’t have to hang out in the kitchen cooking.

I found a great website Happy Money Saver! I just love how well Karrie has her website organised, packed with loads of useful information AND recipes for freezing meals. I intend to visit often and glean all her pearls of wisdom. My goal after visiting her site today is to spend a day making 30 meals, then aim for 50! Sounds a bit intimidating, but after today’s success at making 7 meals in the 2 hours it didn’t rain, I think I totally could do it!

The first recipe that caught my attention was her Fried Rice freezer meal. I haven’t been super successful when it comes to freezing rice, but thought I’d give it a try again, using bags as storage this time!

I used her recipe more as a guide. I cooked a 2lb bag of brown rice and let it cool. While it was cooling I scrambled 8 eggs with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, then set it aside. While this was cooling off, I washed a bunch of ziploc bags I found while cleaning out my freezer.

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Crazy Fruit and Veggie Salad Cake

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 c Flour (feel free to use white whole wheat/whole wheat substituting 50% of the AP Flour or all of it.. I say… live a little)
  • 1/2 c Oats (rolled or instant is fine)
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed (opt’l)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 c Oil (something with very mild flavor, coconut oil works great!)
  • 1/2 c Honey
  • 1/2 c Milk (any type of milk works… coconut, cow’s, almond, soy, rice, fresh goat, etc)

Fruit and Veggie Ingredients

  • 1 medium ripe bananas (black spots good, green bad; approx. 1 cup)
  • 1/2 Pear (1/4 cup small chopped)
  • 1/2 Apple (1/4 cup small chopped)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 medium Carrot (1/4 cup shredded)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 f.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside for a little nap.
  3. Put wet ingredients in a Large bowl and, using a stick blender, puree until smooth. Add each fruit/vegetable ingredient one at a time, puree until smooth after each addition. (I like to just scoop/chop/shred right over the bowl, hence the approximate cup measurements. I personally think a little extra fruit/veggie really won’t screw this cake up.)
  4. When wet/FV mix is well incorporated (i. e smooth like whipped butter with some beautiful fruit peel flecks) dump the dry ingredients mixture right over it. Using a rubber spatula fold to combine until just moist. Scrap down the sides a few times as you go. But don’t get stuck on making all the whiteness dissappear.

Pan and Baking Options

Choose one  of the following types of pan:

  • 9×9 square pan
  • bundt pan
  • 13×9
  • 2- 12 ct muffin pans
Really the choice is yours. I don’t think the baking goddesses are going to judge you.
  1. Grease the pan(s) if they’re not nonstick.
  2. Scoop or scrape the batter into chosen pan. For muffins fill about 2/3 of the cup.
  3. Place in preheated oven (or in my case your toaster oven, yes… yes you can. ) and bake until golden brown and cracking on top. Approximately an hour for cake pan, probably about 30 minutes for muffins,  the key is testing with the insertion technique descibed below.
♥ Insert a clean knife, toothpick, straight smooth pointy ended non toxic item, in the center to test for doneness. If it comes out clean and free of batter, it’s done! If not, bake it for about 5-10 more minutes and test again. ♥

Don’t get stressed out about it if you have to do this a few times… you will get to eat this eventually.  So will you’re impatient beautiful children, who won’t stop asking if it’s done yet during the entire process.  Just breath in that delicious aroma wafting through your kitchen and sit with them and snuggle for a bit.

That’s what I like to do anyway.

Remember you’re oven temp may vary from my oven, so pick whatever setting you normally use for a basic cake, cupcake.

Finishing

  1. Remove from oven, let cool in pan for about 10 mins.
  2. Flip out onto a plate, slice and serve.

Serve with honey or butter or honey-butter or jam…

Really the choices are endless.

Heck yes, you could totally serve this a la mode!

Eat it warm or feeze it for approximately 3 months.. I think, but it probably won’t make it to the freezer, from people gobbling it up before you can locate an appropriate container for it. So note to self,  next time make two.

Have a beautiful day!
Dashaina

Football Season Snacktime:
Crostini Bar/Table

Football season is here.

Today’s game: NYJ at GB.

GO PACK GO!

It is time for our family to stick with healthy snacking/meals throughout the numerous tv games. The crostini bar/table is great for game time. Its easy to prepare different pates if you have a good food processor. With a head of broccoli cut up to fit inside the food processor I let it roar adding olive oil, vinegar, pepper, garlic, onion powder, salt, maybe mustard so its spreadable. The same with cauliflower, though the texture may be coarser, so steam it prior to processing for a smoother mash like potatoes effect.

Today, the cauliflower, one yellow squash and some onion were steamed and cooled. Into the food processor it went along with olive oil, vinegar, pepper, and saffron.

Sorry but no measurements, I just do it.

Today's mushroom pate included olives, vinegar, and fresh parsley picked from right outside my front door.
Today’s mushroom pate included olives, vinegar, and fresh parsley picked from right outside my front door.

Instead of toasted Italian bread, I bring out the dippable chips or crackers for spread.

Dip Dip Hooray!
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Apple-Pear Sauce

This recipe was inspired by the fact that we had an abundance of pears AND apples in our fruit box delivery these past few weeks. Aurora has decided she won’t eat these two fruit items whole, so what’s a mom to do?? Turn them into a toddler favourite! Apple-sauce!! Yum! She loves it, J loves it and it goes great in and on all sorts of things! Also its is super easy to make and modify!

Basic Apple-Pear Sauce

Ingredients
Water
Apples (any kind will do as long as they are not tart, unless you like that sort of thing, then be my guest 🙂
Pears (any type will do, just try to pick a type that you like and the size is comparable to the apple you choose)

Equipment Needed
Knife
Cutting board
Compost bucket ( to put your cores and peels into)
Saucepan
Stiring spoon or fork (I use a fork to test for doneness at the same time 🙂 )
Glass Jar with fitted lid (recycle a glass jar/lid from the jam you finished last nite 😉

1.Peel, core and cube/dice your fruit. Compost the remnants. Fruit ratio is 3 to 1 (apples to pears). For instance if you are using 3 medium apples, you would need 1 medium pear or 2 small pears. 🙂 I use approximately 8-10 really small apples and 2-3 medium/small pears. I find this will fill a 12oz jar and leave extra to eat right away.
2.Put the prepared fruit in the saucepan, making sure there is about a 2″ clearance from top, if not, get a bigger pot.
3.Fill a saucepan (size dependant on how much fruit you are using) with enough water to just cover the fruit, don’t put too much water, else you will have to drain a lot of your flavour at the end.
4.Put the pot on the stove over high heat until the water starts to boil vigorously, boil like this for 2 minutes and turn temp to low. Simmer fruit for about 30-45 minutes.
5.Remove from heat and let cool for about 10-15 minutes, pour into jar(s) and store in cold area (or your refrigerator).

Eat what wouldn’t fit in the jars as a treat for all your hard work, share some with your family if there is enough.

Use within a few weeks. This stuff doesn’t last long in my house, so I’m not sure about the shelf life :).
Goes great on home made crepes, as a side dish for lunch or in my strawberry apple cupcake recipe! 🙂

Enjoy!

Just 4 Cupcakes…

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook for a “Just 2 Chocolate Cupcake” recipe the other day.

I made them.

They were divine.

The recipe did, in fact, make just TWO cupcakes, EXACTLY.

Now I could curb my indulgence of eating an entire pan by myself…:)

Since it was late (about 10p), Aurora was already asleep, so I only had to share with J. I think he enjoyed the cupcake too!

That created a dilema for me. What would we give Aurora whenever we made these next? Also, I am not a big fan of giving kids sweets, chocolate, things that don’t really benefit them in the nutritional sense. I decided to create a 4 cupcake recipe, based on the 2 cupcake recipe, and make it something SHE would like, in the flavour department.

Also, I don’t really like cleaning up a million different cups and spoons and bowls. So I wanted something that would use just measuring spoons, a spoon and a small bowl, basically.

Here is the outcome of my inspiration!

Enjoy!

Four Strawberry-Apple Cupcakes

Ingredients
6 Tbs Flour
4 Tbs Sugar
3 Tbs Rolled Oats (whatever kind you have on hand)
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/8 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsp Salt
4 Tbs Cold Water
2 Tbs Oil
1 Tbs Strawberry Jam (Got Home-made? Even Better!) or Any Flavour Jam
1 Tbs Unsweetened Apple Sauce (Use my home-made Apple-Pear sauce recipe, Divine!!)
1/4 tsp Vanilla

Equipment Needed
Small mixing bowl
Measuring spoons
Spoon (teaspoon, not a measuring teaspoon)
Small rubber spatula
Muffin Tin
Cupcake liners

1.Preheat oven to 325°F.
2.In a Small mixing bowl, combine ALL dry ingredients (Flour, Sugar, Oats, B.Powder & Soda, Salt). Stir the dry ingredients until mixed together.
3.Add ALL wet ingredients to dry ingredients bowl, using a small teaspoon, stir until all dry ingredients are well moistened.
4.Line a muffin tin with 4 cupcake cups. Spoon 3 heaping teaspoon fulls into each cup. Take a rubber spatula and evenly distribute the remaining 4ish teaspoons.
5.Place the cupcakes in the oven and set your timer for 18-22 minutes. You know they are done when you can put a knife or toothpick in the center and it comes out clean, if it doesn’t, pop them in for another 1-2 minutes and check again. 🙂
6.Serve warm with butter or frosting or just eat them plain! 🙂

Spanish Inspired Ground Beef & Rice Salad

Today my friends L&S came over for a quick lunch visit!

It was so nice to have them visiting us, albeit brief, L had trapeze lessons to get to by 5p for her show in a week, so it was understood! 🙂

Since S is gluten free, I had to think of something easy to make, that was light enough for lunch and didn’t consist of sandwiches!

In came the idea for rice and beef! I like rice for a few reasons…but mostly because it is light and airy and easy to ignore on the stove.

You can’t really go wrong with rice.

I think rice is almost as good as potatoes, almost.

Here is what I came up with, using stuff I had on hand…or should I say in the pantry/fridge already. 🙂

Spanish Inspired Beef & Rice Salad

Ingredients
1-2 Tbs Cooking Oil (veg, sunflower, olive, whatever you have on hand will suffice!)
1 Medium Onion (diced)
2-3 Garlic Cloves (minced)
10 Sugar Snap Peas* (sliced thin, horizontally) * You can sub bell pepper for this, just dice them up! 🙂
1/2 jar Pasta Sauce* (any flavor) * You can Sub tomato sauce or 3-4 diced med. tomatoes and a can of tomato paste
1 lb Ground Beef (or pork, chicken, turkey, soy or TVP!! whatever ground protein you’d like will work!
Blend Seasonings (1Tbs salt, 1/2 Tbs black pepper, 1/2 tsp of each: chili powder, paprika & cumin.)
2-3 cups Cooked White Rice (make as much as you need, have extra? Make my rice pudding recipe! 🙂 )
1 bag Mixed Salad Greens
1 Jar Salsa (homemade works too, see my salsa recipe and fall in love!)
1-2 cups Shredded Mild Cheddar (as much as you’d like)
1 bag Corn Tortilla Chips
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt or Mayonaise

Equipment Needed
Large Skillet & Lid
Wooden Spoon
Small mixing bowl

1.Prep all your ingredients.
2.Set your uncooked rice to boil or if you are lucky and have a rice cooker, set that baby up!
3.Heat the oil over low heat until pan is hot.
4.Toss in the onions, stir and cover. Cook until just beginning to yellow.
5.Add the garlic, stir, cover. Cook until just all ingredients just browning.
6.Toss in sugar snap peas (or bell pepper), stir, cover. Continue cooking until peas or peppers soften just slightly (about 3-4 minutes).
7.Stir your rice or just twiddle your thumbs for a quick second.
8.Add the pasta sauce (or tom sauce), stir, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickens just slightly. Add about 2 tsp of the seasoning mix, stir to blend.
9.Remove from heat and pour into a small mixing bowl, set aside.
10.Stir your rice again or scratch that place between your shoulder blades that has been bugging you.
11.Place the skillet back on the stove, don’t worry about the remnants, add the beef. Over medium low, brown the ground beef.
12.Add the sauce you just set aside, stir until well mixed with beef, cover. Cook on low heat for about 15 minutes or so, basically you want the moisture to absorb into the meat. The longer you cook it the tastier it gets! 🙂
13.At some point the rice should be done, so keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t burn. Or just wait for the ding. 🙂
14.You could shred the cheese now, if you don’t buy it in those fancy pre-shredded packages. You could also set up your bowls with salad on the bottom or you could wait. 🙂
15.Once the beef/sauce mixture has reached the consistency you like, it shouldn’t be saucy really, add a little more of your seasoning blend to taste, stir well. Remove from heat.

To create your salad:

In a salad bowl or large plate pile the items in the following order:

1.Mixed greens
2.Rice
3.Beef mixture
4.Shredded cheese
5.Salsa
6.Dollop of Sour Cream, Mayonaise or Plain Yogurt if you like 🙂

Arrange corn tortilla chips around the outside of the greens.
Lightly sprinkle your seasoning blend over the whole thing for flair.
Serve immediately with a fork!

Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables Recipe

Roasted Vegetables
Serves approximately 4-6 humans or large toddlers, depending on the size of your vegetables. Can be easily adapted to feed more or less. 🙂

Vegetables Needed
1 Medium Potato
1/2 medium Sweet Potato
1/2 head small Broccoli
1/4 head small Cauliflower
1/2 medium Onion
1 medium Carrot
1 medium Apple (I know it isn’t a veg, but it will taste good with the veg, just do it!)

Ingredients Needed
1/4 cup olive oil (or enough to coat the veg)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp herbs (I used a mixture of rosemary, thyme, savory, marjoram, basil, oregano)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesean

Equipment Needed
Medium/Large Mixing Bowl
13×9 Casserole pan or Large Cookie Sheet
Wooden Spoon
Foil
Small bowl

1.Preheat oven.
2.Rough chop your vegetables (you can peel them if you want, but I don’t and the peels have nutrients in them, so eat them.). You probably want to core your apple. 🙂
3.In medium/large (big enough to hold all your vegetables and room to mix/toss them) mix all ingredients with your spoon or your hands, EXCEPT breadcrumbs and parmesean.
4.Spread your vegetable mixture out onto a large cookie sheet or 13×9 casserole dish, cover tightly with foil.
5.Bake for approximately 45-1hr (if you like crisper broccoli, check at 45 minutes).
6.Mix bread crumbs and parmesean in a small bowl.
7.Remove veg from oven (don’t turn it off) and carefully remove foil (steam burns suck!), sprinkle breadcrumb/parma mixture over the veg and return to the oven until parmasean cheese is just melted and starting to golden, approximately 3-4 minutes, keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!

Serve with your favorite protein! I served this with my Baked Whole Bass Recipe.

Baked Stuffed Whole Bass

So I searched all over the internet looking for a recipe for Baked WHOLE bass and couldn’t find anything that either A.) I had the ingredients B.) Liked the ingredients or C.)Didn’t require me to cut the fish into FILLETS!!

I mean what part of WHOLE fish was Google search NOT getting!! So after perusing a few recipes, I got some ideas of what I could do with fish and what I wouldn’t do with fish. Here is what I came up with, using stuff I had on hand. Cook this with my Roasted Vegetables Recipe and enjoy a whole easy dinner with a WHOLE fish!

It is delicate, delicious and divine! Mmmmmm….

I love fish.

Baked Whole Bass Stuffed

Ingredients
3 Hamburger Buns (cubed)
1,1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp mixed dried (or chopped fresh) herbs (I used rosemary, thyme, savory, marjoram, oregano, basil mixture)
10 Tbs Butter
1/2 medium Onion diced
1 medium carrot shredded
1 tsp Lemon juice
3/4 cup water
Whole Bass (de-scaled and gutted) 1.5lbs – 2lbs

Equipment Needed
Medium Mixing Bowl
Wooden Spoon
Small Saucepan
Cookie Sheet (large enough for the fish)
Foil

Preheat your oven, if you haven’t already for the Roasted Vegetables Recipe, to 200c/425f.

1.Put cubed bread, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp dried herb mix in medium mixing bowl.
2.In a small saucepan melt 2Tbs of the butter.
3.Add chopped onions and shredded carrots, cook over medium low until onions are translucent (approx. 5 minutes). Make sure you stir them occasionally.
4.Pour over breadcrumbs and toss lightly or mix with spoon. Make sure the mixture is well blend together.
5.In the same saucepan you just used for carrots & onions (that is now empty, but doesn’t have to be clean) put the water, 4 Tbs butter, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 tsp salt, heat on stove until butter is melted.
6.Pour over breadcrumbs and mix well with a spoon until all breadcrumbs are moist.
7.Tear off of sheet of foil big enough to wrap the fish in, like a packet (or you can just put the fish right on the cookie sheet and cover the cookie sheet with foil, I just find this is easier clean up), place fish on foil/cookie sheet and using your hands or wooden spoon place stuffing inside the fish, you can pack it in or fill loosely, up to you. Put remaining breadcrumb mixture around and on top of the fish. Melt remaining 2 Tbs butter and pour over the fish/breadcrumbs. Close/cover with foil.
8.Put the fish in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 200c/425f. The fish is done when the meat flakes off easily when you scrape a fork across the top.

Be careful of the bones when eating!!
Serve immediately. 🙂

Enjoy!

**You can cook the fish and the roasted veggies in the same pan, just put the fish in a foil packet or right in the center of the veg after you’ve cooked the vegetables for 15 minutes.**

Simple Breakfast Syrup

Simple Breakfast Syrup

Ingredients Needed
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Brown sugar
1/4 tsp Vanilla

Equipment Needed
Small Saucepan
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoon.
Spoon

1.On HIGH heat, boil water.
2.Add sugar to water and stir until completely dissolved.
3.Add vanilla.
4.Continue boiling until water has reduced by 50%, check on it so that it doesn’t burn. You don’t want it thick or it will not be syrup it will be sticky and hard to eat :).
5.Remove from heat, enjoy with Buttermilk Pancake Recipe.

Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

Buttermilk Pancakes

Ingredients
1 Cup Flour
1 Tbs Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Egg
1 cup Buttermilk** Homemade Buttermilk Recipe http://dashainasfamilycooks.blogspot.com/2012/03/buttermilk.html
1 Tbs Oil or Melted Butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Equipment Needed
Mixing Bowl
Whisk
Measuring Cups & Spoons
Spoon
Spatula
Frying Pan

** If you’re making it from semi scratch, do it first. **

1.In a medium bowl combine all of your DRY ingredients (Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt) with a whisk.
2.Go get your buttermilk creation. Shake well.
3.Add (to the jar) the egg, oil and vanilla. Shake well.
4.Pour WET ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients.
5.Mix with a spoon until all DRY ingredients are just moist but still lumpy. Set aside for 5 minutes.
6.Make my Simple Breakfast Syrup Recipe, while you wait! 🙂 or just do some dishes.
7.Heat a pan over medium low, add a Tbs of oil to pan.
8.Once oil is heated add a 1/4 cup of your batter to the center of the pan. Or you can just make whatever size makes you happy. 🙂
9.Cook until the bubbles that will form have all popped (mostly all).
10.Flip, with a spatula, pancake over and continue cooking for another 2 minutes or so, until the bottom is golden brown.
11.Repeat for remaining batter.

Enjoy with my Simple Breakfast Syrup Recipe!