My Favorite Freezer Meal
The whole concept of "freezer cooking" is new to me. In the past, my only form of freezer cooking was throwing a few meals in the freezer prior to one of my baby's arrivals. (And I rarely even did that.) So, when I heard a radio broadcast about how you can cook for one day and have entrees for a whole month, I was fascinated. Some of it made sense - you make all the mess and dishes at once, thereby maximizing your use of time. Some of it wasn't practical for me - dedicating a whole day to cooking with 5 kiddos ages 6 & under. Um, not happening. But I could take the concept and make some small changes in my cooking.
I don't consider myself a "freezer cook," but I am enjoying having quick meals in the freezer for those inevitable busy days when I don't have time to prepare an evening meal. What changes did I make to my cooking to have freezer meals on hand? I made 3 small changes.
1) Whenever possible, as I prepare the evening meal for my family, I make 2 or 3 meals and freeze the extras
2) Participate in a freezer meal exchange with friends (We each bring a freezer meal for everyone else in the group. For example, I may bring a 9x13 pan of lasanga for everyone. We swap and go home with a variety of freezer meals.)
3) Always keep my favorite freezer meal on hand
In regards to #3, here is my favorite freezer meal. I like it because it is simple, delicious, & stores in a quart Ziploc baggie in my freezer!
Cheesy Beef & Rice to Freeze
1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/4 tsp of minced garlic)
2 T butter
2 medium shredded carrots
1 tsp beef boullion
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp minced onion
1lb ground beef (or venison or turkey)
1/2-1 tsp salt
Directions: Brown ground beef and remove from heat. Add butter, carrots, & spices. Stir well. Cool slightly. Put into a quart Ziploc bag & freeze.
When you are ready to use it, thaw it and add 1 cup of uncooked long grain rice and 3 cups of water. Bake in a covered dish at 350 for 1 hour. Add 1/2-1 cup of shredded cheese and bake until the cheese is melted.
Thanks for stopping by & happy freezer cooking!
Simple Homemade Tortillas
Today, I have a simple recipe to share that's a staple around here - tortillas! With only 5 ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen, you can whip up delicious tortillas for tacos, egg wraps, quesadillas, or just a simple tortilla with cheese like my boys enjoy. (Please note: I found this recipe online several years ago, and I couldn't find the site today to give credit. If anyone knows where it comes from, I would be glad to give credit to the source.) So, whet your Mexican taste buds & grab your rolling pin!
3 c flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup oil
1 cup hot water
Directions: Mix the dry ingredients. Add the oil and mix until the mixture is crumbly. Add the water to form a dough ball. Let set for 30 minutes (or in the fridge overnight). Divide into 12 small balls. Roll out with a rolling pin, and fry in a dry skillet.
My notes: I use 1 cup of wheat flour and 2 cups of white flour. The wheat flour does make them a bit more difficult to roll out; the dough is just a bit stiffer. The water can just be hot water from your tap - no need to boil or anything. I tried doubling this, and it works fine, but my arms were sore the next day from rolling out 24 tortillas. Perhaps I'm just a bit wimpy, but 12 is a lot more doable. Although, 12 will be gone in NO TIME once your family tries them. I'm not sure why these are so much better than store-bought, but my guess is the lack of preservatives. On that note, I do store leftover ones in the fridge.
So, taco night, anyone?
Our Pumpkin Supper
We call ourselves a "homestead." What that means to me is a topic for another post, but, part of what it means to me to be a "homesteader" is to make use of the materials you have on hand. A "material" that has been on hand at our homestead the past few weeks is some free pumpkins - some given to us & some plucked (with permission) from a kind neighbor's field after the harvest. These pumpkins have been beckoning me from their cozy spot on the front porch nestled in beside the straw bale and old chicken crate.
In previous years, I've made only 1 or 2 pumpkins into puree for the freezer. I use the puree to make pumpkin baked goods, such as whoopie pies and bread. This year, I had 3 very large neck pumpkins and a fairy tale pumpkin. Our neighbor told us that fairy tale pumkins are excellent for making pies.
In the midst of my peeling and chopping and cooking to make pumpkin puree, I thought, this is going to be WAAAAY too much pumpkin puree for baked goods. Hmmm...how I could I turn it into a meal? I remembered that I had just heard about making pumpkin soup, and the idea kind of snowballed from there. So, this was what was on the menu at Russell Homestead for supper last evening. (Note: If you get bored with all the recipes, just skip down to the Pumpkin Smoothie - it was by far the crowning jewel of the meal!)
I used a recipe from the Pioneer Woman. However, I did not do my pumpkins like she did, which changed the pumpkin measurements. I also didn't have cream on hand, so I used goat milk and butter. Here's my version.
5 cups of pumpkin puree
4 cups of chicken broth
1/3 cup of maple syrup
3/4 cup of milk
2 Tablespoons of butter
Directions: Combine puree, broth, and syrup in a kettle and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Slowly add some of the puree mixture to the milk to heat up the milk before pouring it into the soup (to help to avoid curdling). Add the warmed up milk and butter. Add the three spices until your taste buds agree it is enough. I added about 1 teaspoon of salt and just a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Eat with roasted pumpkin seeds (see recipe below).
Roasted Salted Pumpkin Seeds
My wonderful husband introduced me to roasted pumpkin seeds many years ago. We roast seeds from all types of pumpkins. The classic big orange carving pumpkins seem to have the best seeds, but they are all delicious.
To make them pull the seeds from the fleshy part of the pumpkin. It is okay if some of the flesh remains. Put the seeds on a cookie sheet. Coat with oil and add salt. Roast in the oven on 350 for 10-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
We eat these for snacks, but on this particular night, we ate them in our pumpkin soup.
Rolls with Honey Butter Spread
Okay, so this recipe didn't fit my pumpkin theme. I should've made pumpkin butter, but I remembered this recipe I had made before for honey butter spread and thought it would complement the soup well.
The rolls are an old favorite around our house. Bread and dinner rolls are two things I haven't mastered yet, but these rolls are easy and quick. I use them as hamburger rolls and dinner rolls. Since I didn't alter either of these recipes significantly, I will simply provide the links to the Taste of Home 40-minutes hamburger buns recipe and Eat Cake for Dinner's cinnamon honey butter spread.
As I mentioned previously, this was the crowing jewel of the meal. I didn't think pumpkin smoothies sounded all that great, but these were delicious! I searched online for yummy sounding pumpkin smoothie recipe, but nothing appealed to me. I decided to try my method of making fruit smoothies. Note: I froze pumpkin puree in an ice cube tray about 5 hours before making the recipe.
1 ice cube tray full of frozen pumpkin puree
Directions: Put pumpkin cubes in the blender and cover with milk. (Note: I used goat milk, which is very creamy. If you don't have goat milk, whole milk will yield the best results. My milk was also slushy from being previously frozen, which made blending difficult, but yielded an "ice cream like" texture). Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, & vanilla to taste. If you like measurements, I did approximately 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Let's just say, after tasting these, the remainder of my pumpkin puree got frozen in ice cube trays to make these again sometime.
My recap of the meal: It was fun making use of what we had on hand. The soup was tasty, but, once a year during pumpkin season is probably the only time it will make an appearance on the Russell table. The pumpkin seeds were already a fall staple around here, and pumpkin smoothies will certainly be joining them!
Thanks for stopping by! What are you doing with the bounties of the PA pumpkin harvest?
Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
Independent Field Representative