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Freezer Meals

Are you done with me today? I know 5 (maybe 6) posts is a lot for one day. I’m sorry. They all go together though!!

Before we got pregnant and I was doing tons of reading and chatting with other ladies about all things newborn and what not. Many of them suggested stocking our freezer full of meals that we could just throw in the oven and not worry about any prep or clean up. I thought they were genius. Such a simple idea but it hadn’t dawned on me at all.

I started looking for different things to try and the best ways to freeze and how long things would keep. I came up surprisingly empty on the details. I live for details. I want specifics, I struggled to find them.

Then I happened upon The Illustrated Quick Cook, LOVE. Filled with recipes for saving time, freezing, saving money, tips, tricks the whole 9. I read through it twice already. Yes, I read a cook book. I’m cool like that!

Then one of our friends was nearing the end of her pregnancy and I found the perfect test subjects. One afternoon I made 4 complete 8 serving meals in 2 hours. Kept 4 servings for us and 4 servings for them. It was a perfect experiment!

CLICK HERE to see the meals that we have made and enjoyed.

If I make one freezer meal a week until Riley shows her beautiful face I will have nearly 3-4 weeks of meals saved up and ready to go! Thats a tall order for a procrastinator like myself so I will surprise both myself and all who know me if this actually happens.

What freezes?

Food Packaging Storage Life Defrost & Reheat
Soups & Stocks Freezer bags. Liquids will expand, so you need room for this. You can also freeze in ice cube trays and once frozen transfer to zip top bags Soups 3 months Stocks 6 monts Thaw Overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in a pan on the stove until hot
Sauces & Gravies If recipe called for egg or cream leave out and add before serving Freezer bags. Liquids will expand, so you need room for this. You can also freeze in ice cube trays and once frozen transfer to zip top bags Up to 3 months Thaw Overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in a pan on the stove until hot
Stews and Casseroles Remember to choose lean cuts of mean because foods with high fat will go bad after a couple months freezing Freezer bags or foil containers or even tupperware with tight lids. Be sure to cover meat with liquid Up to 3 months Thaw Overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in a pan on the stove until hot. Should not be reheated more than once
Pies and Pastries Pastry can be frozen cooked or uncooked Uncooked – Freeze in blocks layered with wax paper then wrapped in plastic. Cooked – shells and pies should be double wrapped in plastic Uncooked – 3 months.             Cooked – 6 months Uncooked – tart shells and pastries can be cooked frozen @ 400 for 15 min       Cooked – thaw overnight and reheated @ 350 for 30 minutes

What doesn’t Freeze?

  • Cream Cheese, Cottage cheese and cream. They separate and become watery (a.k.a. gross)
  • Mayonnaise & Hollandaise sauce will freeze but fall apart at defrosting time
  • Fatty Foods get fattier and turn rancid
  • Cucumber, lettuce, celery and tomatoes will turn to water when defrosting

Things to remember

  1. Use colored bags or boxes to help distinguish what is what in your freezer
  2. LABEL! What is it? When did you make it? How many servings? How do you reheat it?
  3. First in first out. Make sure that you are using in the order you froze so that everything gets used in time
  4. Freeze in portions. We won’t eat 8 servings at once so I’ll divide it in half and we’ll each get a dinner and lunch out of one portion.
  5. Air tight is key in keeping out the freezer burn.
  6. Don’t leave food on the counter to defrost, always overnight in the fridge. The counter is a quick way to pick up something unpleasant.

 



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2x4s Aren’t Really 2x4s

When the Man and I first moved into our home we had a hodge-podge of furniture. Nothing really matched but we aren’t of the picky variety and we didn’t care too much.

After the living & dining rooms was completed we started talking about the master bedroom. We held off but continued to search the webs and random stores looking for sets we liked. We finally found one, it was on the cheaper side but was exactly what we wanted for the time being. We just didn’t have the funds and knew we were only looking for something to last a few years or so.

We aren’t cheap and we aren’t broke but listen people…a bone simulator costs $1200 out-of-pocket after insurance. When you have a broken bone, that won’t grow and you’ve already been in a boot for 4 months with no sign of bone growth and when the decision comes down to a cheaper bedroom set or chopping off your foot, you go with the cheaper bed.

Speaking of, anyone trying to grow some bone? I know someone out there has got to have a broken bone that won’t heal. I should probably look into the legality of selling a major medical device.

Or you wait. But patience isn’t my thing. I find it quite tedious to wait. And like I said we aren’t planning on having it for more than a few years. My decorating tastes change like the weather.

Fast forward to 2 months ago, I roll over and all of sudden there is a loud boom and I’m slowly sliding toward the headboard. Yes, slowly, things as big as me don’t really “slide” quickly. I’m near tears, it’s because I can’t find my feet. I broke a solid wood bed rail.

So at 12:00am we are taking apart the bed and moving pieces into the guest room. We put the mattress and box spring on the floor. The next morning I actually looked at what had happened and realized there was a manufactures defect with the rail. The company replaced.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago and we are out-of-town, the bedroom window is leaking. I tell the Little to pull the bed away from the wall to keep the mattress and wood dry. She does. We return home and wouldn’t you know the freaking feet on the slats that support the box spring are snapped. WTH!!!

We slept like mummies to two days; afraid that any movement would cause the bed to collapse. This time the company said they would replace the feet but the bed shouldn’t be moved. WTH!!! I can’t move my furniture?

So we went to Home Depot, bought some 2×4’s and rigged the bed.

See that little leg at the very bottom off to the right. That’s what snapped. Part of the problem is that our floors are uneven so the leveler on the bottom of the feet have to be extended and then some don’t even touch the floor. It was disaster waiting to happen.

Tell me that’s not freaking ridiculous.

Note please, that 2x4s are not precise. They are more like 2 1/4 x 3 3/4. When you need 8.15 (ish) inches of wood you may think that 2 stacked 2x4s and a shim will do. You will be wrong.

Also be aware that a 2×4 is the strongest material to have ever met our drill.

It ate the screw head. And still didn’t go through the wood.

When my dad was over doing our cabinets he asked the Man to hand him our “screw gun”. The Mans only power tool. It was a low blow. The Man did not like his DRILL being called a screw gun. Thus I found myself at Sears Hardware inspecting DRILLS. Big powerful ones.

Somehow going for a real drill turned into getting 2 power saws as well. The one with the round blade that spins really fast and threatens fingers and hands, it might be circular saw. The one is the type with the long ruler like blade that power saws back and forth and to and fro and threatens the other hands fingers. I do know the name of it, I know I know the name of it because when my pops brought his to the house and told me to go get it, using it’s proper name, I went and came back with the right item. I just can’t for the life of me remember it. I know I think it’s named wrong though.

I think he got a light or something too. I don’t’ know. I stopped paying attention when I saw the circle blade.

I shouldn’t really let him see all my dads toys because he always finds something “that we could use”.

It’s a good thing we got the saws though because as previously stated a 2×4 is full of false advertisement and aren’t really 4 inches. We had to cut the edges off the beams to wedge under the slats to make them high enough.

Alls well that ends well and should I ever get the urge to jump on the bed like a 3yr old I don’t have to worry about it falling apart.

Not that I’ll try it or anything!

Now that so much work has been put into this bedroom set, it’s no longer just for a few years. It’s a lifer. I do not do that much manual labor for “a few years”. By “I” obviously I mean The Man.

I’m a fabulous spectator. I sing. I skip. I inspect and direct!

I bet if I could find my feet this never would have happened.

On the plus side though, the Man has power tools and I have a bed with enough support for me, the Man, both dogs, another dog or two (should I successfuly convince him that it’s the right thing to do).

Love That Board

I’m brutal on cutting boards. Because I am so in tune with my destructive abilities I keep all my nice wooden boards safely hidden in my appliance cabinet (read: garage). I personally use plastic boards, the thin ones you can purchase at Bed Bath and Beyond in sets of 5 for $10.

Why? Hello! Did you seriously just ask that question? No, I guess I did but I’ll still explain. I have no counter tops (YET) so to avoid cutting my veggies on the same board that I just cut chicken I need to have something light weight that I can easily toss into my sink to get it out of my way. Also, they are wicked cheap, easily replaceable and can go in the dishwasher.

Correction, most can go in the dishwasher. If you buy the cute kind that has the silicone bottoms to avoid slippage they cannot go in the dishwasher. That silicone (if it even is, I think its more of a painted on rubber by-product) melts and comes off, effectively staining both your hands and your light-colored food the next time you use them. Don’t go there, it’s gross. It also takes forever to figure out why your chicken breast has a greenish blue hue. Blech.

If your worried about slippage of the plastic boards get a piece of rubber carpet mesh. BB&B sells it by the roll and you only need a few inches to slide under your board. If you don’t want to buy a whole role just snip a piece from under your friends area rug next time your there. I kid, I kid!

Anyway, as I’ve stated for 2 weeks my cabinets & counter are in and I’m patiently waiting to go pick them up and then I’m busting out the real cutting boards. Little did I know at the time of this decision that they actually required care, beyond the washing afterwards. Here’s what I learned, which will hopefully help your (and my) wooden cutting boards last forever.

  • Prior to use apply slightly warm mineral oil with a cloth in the direction of the grain. Let soak for 15 minutes
  • Keep repeating until the board doesn’t take anymore oil, around 4 or 5 times
  • Scrub and wash with a mild soap and hot water after every use, do not submerge the board in the water, stand upright to dry and don’t store until completely dry
  • Use lemon juice and coarse salt for a good scrubbing every couple of uses and a spritz of vinegar to disinfect.
  • It is NOT recommended to use any form of bleach on your wooden cutting boards
  • Do NOT put in the dishwasher
  • When the wood begins to lighten repeat the oil process, this will prevent your board from cracking

I can probably honestly say that I won’t follow the rules, then I’ll be massively upset when the board is ruined, then I’ll sing the praises of mineral oil after I replace the board. Lazy. 

Wooden cutting boards naturally have antibacterial properties, last the longest and are easy on knife blades. A bit of care and love will make them last a long time and save your expensive knives as well.

Glass is another option. It’s nonporous, heat-resistant and easy to clean. It’s also rough on your knife blades and the sounds produced by running honed steel across a glass board will make you go deaf. If you can deal, go for it. I can’t. Noises are part of my OCD, the sound would probably bring me to tears. Just thinking about it gives me chills and makes me want to cry.