Can you believe it is the end of January and the Pantry Challenge is over? For the most part, it went really well for me. I was nervous and apprehensive when starting on the pantry challenge journey. It turns out that we had plenty of food in our cupboards and freezer. I did fairly well with sticking to my $40 a week food budget. I found that I could not resist some of the good deals that Harris Teeter and Kroger offered this month though. In total, I spent $175 in January on groceries; which averages to $43.75 a week.
Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom are hosting freezer cooking days this coming week. Freezer cooking is something that I want to do more of. This week is extremely busy for me as I prepare for Blissdom and Savvy Blogging. That means I will be doing little freezer cooking this week. Here are a few things I am working on though:
Pinto Beans & Refried Beans: I have never used dry beans before. I have the beans soaking today and will use a crock pot to cook them overnight. I plan to freeze some pinto beans for chili and make refried beans to make burritos for the freezer.
Butternut Squash Raviolis:
1 whole Butternut Squash
1 Tbls. Butter
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Square Wonton Wrappers
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Pierce the skin of the whole butternut squash with a fork. Place in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Place the whole butternut squash in a baking dish and bake for an hour, or until soft.
- Cut the squash in half, scoop out seeds and remove peel. Place squash in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Melt butter over medium heat and saute shallot until soft. Add in squash puree and Parmesan cheese.
- Place 1 tablespoon of filling on wonton wrapper. Brush water on the edge and fold wonton wrapper in the shape of a triangle. Press edges to seal. If you are going to freeze them, stop here.
- To freeze, lay flat on a cookie sheet and flash freeze. When frozen, place in a freezer container.
- To cook, place in a pot of boiling water for about 4 minutes or until they float to the top.
That is as far as I will get this week. What are your ideas for freezer meals?
Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Below she has fabulous tips for using a slow cooker. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!
I love a good and easy slow cooker meal. It’s the perfect supper for busy families who need a quick-to-serve meal or a meal that will be eaten in shifts. I’m always trying different recipes in my slow cooker. Many recipes can be cooked in the slow cooker with just a few alterations to the original recipe. When trying a stove top or oven recipe in your slow cooker, follow these guidelines:
1. The “Low” setting on the slow cooker is approximately 200 degrees in an oven. The “High” setting is approximately 300 degrees in an oven. In a slow cooker, 2 hours on “Low” equals approximately 1 hour on “High”.
2. Cut large pieces of meat into smaller pieces to fit comfortably into your slow cooker. This will help the meat to cook evenly and to the proper temperature. Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.
3. Fill your slow cooker at least half full and reduce cooking times when using smaller quantities of food.
4. Don’t peek. Each time to open the lid, you allow heat and moisture to escape which increases cooking time by 15 minutes and dries out the dish.
5. Dairy products tend to break down with extended cooking times, so add those at the end.
6. Generally, you can adapt a favorite recipe (except soups) so that it can be made in the slow cooker by reducing the amount of liquid by about half.
We eat only farm-raised pork and beef, so at this time of year, our freezer is full of fresh meat. I wanted to try a pork roast recipe that I could easily turn into a Leftover Makeover. My Mexican Pork Roast hit the nail on the head! First, we savored this tender and flavorful roast with smashed potatoes and peas. Then we enjoyed the shredded roast in tacos. With the last 2 cups of chopped pork, I made my version of yakisoba, an econmical dish made with ramen noodles. For those recipes, check out my blog Cook with Connie.
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle peppers, minced
½ c. water
½ c. chicken stock
1 t. chili mix
½ t. salt
½ t. ground cumin
½ t. dried Mexican oregano
1 boneless pork shoulder roast (4 lbs), trimmed and cut in half
In a large skillet, saute the onions, carrots, and garlic in oil for 3 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker; add chipotle peppers, water, and broth. In a small bowl, combine chili mix and next 3 ingredients; rub over roast halves; place in the slow cooker. *see note* Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until meat thermometer reads 170 degrees in center of roast. Transfer roast and vegetables to a serving platter; keep warm. Strain cooking juices and skim fat. Pour into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Serve with roast and vegetables.
*Note* Sometimes, when trimming this roast, the meat will “chunk up”, depending on the marbling of the meat. So, just firmly smash the seasoned pieces of pork together and place in slow cooker. To test doneness, place the meat thermometer in the center of the largest piece of meat about 15 minutes before end cook time.
So why Root Vegetable Chowder? It seems easy and filling. I am always looking for a way to get my children to eat their veggies. I am also trying to use things I have on hand. This seems like a super way to use white potatoes. I always buy the big bag and then can’t come up with anything to do with them other than make baked potatoes. What do you do with your massive amounts of white potatoes?
Have you taken advantage of the great deal on Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts at Harris Teeter this week? If so, you may be wondering what you will do with all of it!
A few weeks ago Harris Teeter ran a similar promotion. I ended up with (6) packages of the chicken tenderloins. I divided the chicken into family sized portions and placed them in zipper bags. A simple way to get ahead on dinner is to add the marinade to the meat before you freeze it! When you pull the chicken out to defrost, it will be marinating at the same time. I used three marinades: BBQ, Italian Dressing and Raspberry.
We would like to take a moment to thank Connie for her weekly post. She is an inspiration to all us “struggling for ideas” cooks. She has showed us how to make every meal count. She will be back next week to share more ideas and recipes. If you miss her click here to view her site.
The following recipe is brought to you by Connie! Make sure to check out additional recipes by Connie at her blog Cook With Connie.
This time of year is busy for everyone. Christmas parties, shopping, decorating, visiting…all in addition to the regularly scheduled chaos that is LIFE! Right now, I’m baking more than I usually do, so I want suppers that are quick, easy stovetop meals. “Saturday Night Special” is the ticket. When I was a kid, my mom used to make this dish. It’s a budget-friendly meal that can easily be thrown together with ingredients from your pantry. She always called it Saturday Night Special, but I honestly have no idea why. We ate it mostly on week nights since it’s so easy and quick to prepare.
The basic dish calls for only a few ingredients, but you can easily change the flavor by varying the tomatoes, corn, and baked beans. You can use tomatoes with green chiles for a little kick. Or use Mexicorn for a zesty Mexican flavor. There are numerous other canned tomatoes with added ingredients or spices, such as fire-roasted or garlic and herbs. And, baked beans come in many flavors, too. There’s anything from bold and spicy to maple bacon flavored. Cans of baked beans tend to go on sale during “cookout” season, so stock up then. Canned pork ‘n’ beans usually cost less than baked beans making them a thrifty choice. So, experiment and find your family’s favorite combination. While the basic recipe for Saturday Night Special is very simple, you can change the flavor every time you make it.
1 lb ground beef (or ground venison if you are lucky enough to have some!)
½ c. onion, chopped
1 t. steak seasoning
28 oz baked beans
1 can (14.5 oz) chopped tomatoes
16 oz frozen corn, thawed (or 1 (14.75-oz) can, drained)
1/3 c. brown sugar
In a Dutch oven, brown ground beef over medium high heat. Drain and return beef to pot. Reduce heat; add remaining ingredients; and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over steamed rice or with tortilla chips to scoop. Optional toppings include: shredded spinach or kale, bacon crumbles, chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips.