Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Day in the Kitchen

It must be something about this chilly weather that is putting me in the mood to cook, bake, and store up for winter. I love to cook and to bake....when time permits. I will often talk about what I'm making for dinner or my love of crock pots on facebook, and a few people have recommended I share my recipes on my blog. I will try to find the time to do that when I come across a new recipe or make one of my favorites. Typing recipes can be time-consuming though!

Here is a time saving trick I figure out a couple weeks ago (genius, if I do say so myself) when I wanted to make Chicken Wild Rice Soup (I will share that recipe one of these days--so good!) and didn't have any left over chicken to use. I threw a few chicken breasts in the crock pot before leaving for work and then shredded it when I got home. There was more than I needed use for the soup, so I froze the rest. Hello??? Why haven't I been doing this for years? Putting chicken in the crock pot takes like 2 minutes, and I can have frozen, ready to use shredded chicken anytime I want it!

I already used those left overs, so I have more in the crock pot today. Here's what you do: Put as many chicken breasts as you want (today I put a whole bag of frozen chicken breasts in) in the crock pot. Pour a cup of chicken broth over them (to keep them from drying out) and cook on low 6-8 hours or until it falls apart with a fork. Shred it, let it cool, and then separate it into quart size freezer bags. Next time you want to make soup, enchiladas, casserole, bbq chicken sandwiches, etc., all you have to do is defrost a bag. Such a time saver!

I am also going to attempt to make and freeze my own hashbrowns today. The grocery stores often have BOGO deals on 5-pound bags of potatoes, but I have never taken advantage of the coupons because we can hardly get through one bag of potatoes before they rot. With prices as they are right now, I realized I should be taking advantage of those kinds of deals, so today I went for it---10 pounds of potatoes for $2.99 (BOGO coupon in the Cub coupon books--good through 9/24). I am going to peel and shred one of the five pound bags so we can have hashbrowns for the winter. Here are the directions I found online, so I'm hoping it will work!

To freeze potatoes for hash browns, shred potatoes; hold in a bowl of cold water until all potatoes are shredded. Drain and blanch in boiling water about 3 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again and pat dry. Pack into freezer containers or resealable bags. Store in the freezer for up to 1 year. Use frozen in favorite dishes calling for frozen hash brown potatoes.

I have also taken advantage of seasonal prices by freezing blueberries (for muffins) and corn when corn on the cob is cheap--just boil it for a few minutes so it is slightly cooked, cut it off the cob, cool, and put into freezer bags. Then you can just steam or boil it like store bought frozen veggies).

My other kitchen project today: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (my favorites!)

Here's what you need:
-1 cup margarine or butter
-1 cup peanut butter
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 cup brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1 tsp. vanilla
-2 1/2 cups flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1 cup oats
-1 cup chocolate chips
-1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Drop teaspoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 5-6 dozen cookies!

That is what I'm up to today. I love learning time and money saving tips, so feel free to share yours with me!

On a personal note, day care is going well for the Con-man. He has adjusted beautifully and is already so much more comfortable around other kids--one of the main reasons I wanted to send him. He has a little friend named Nate who is about a year older than him. It is so cute the way Connor looks up to him. He seems like a nice boy, and so far Connor hasn't picked up anything TOO naughty from him. Hope all is well for everyone out there!