Dec 212008

Cookin’ at the Keyboard with Shelley

ShelleyScraping Bottom

Have your frozen dinners run out just when you need them the most? Does your freezer look more like an empty reservoir than an enabling resource? With Christmas just around the corner, now may not be the time to restock the freezer, but we can do some damage control and plan to reclaim the territory that has served us so well. Here are a few suggestions:


  1. Look at your January calendar and plan your next cooking session. It may take a day, an afternoon, or an entire weekend. Whatever your plan, schedule it now! I’ll be cooking on January 9 & 10.
  2. Now schedule a few hours to plan the cooking session that you just put on the calendar. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need some time to anticipate the cooking day before it gets here…otherwise it will never happen. Select recipes, enter the new ones in your Advantage Cooking database, and print a grocery report.
  3. Now let’s do some damage control by planning next week’s menu. Look at the calendar and choose one night (maybe two?) to be in the kitchen to prepare one of your more time consuming meals that you’re hungry for. My favorite is always stir-fry, but it takes forever to cut all those fresh veggies! Double-batch all or part of the recipe if possible and put it in the freezer for next week.
  4. Inventory the freezer. There’s probably several meal’s worth of food hiding in there somewhere. Pull it all to the front, or stash it on the door for easy access. Make a list and add it to the meal plan.
  5. Don’t overlook the leftovers. Your refrigerator probably has a meal or two waiting for you. Make a fresh batch of muffins and the leftovers are easier to sell to your picky eaters.
  6. Be realistic and buy some prepackaged, easy-to-fix foods. I’m always an idealistic when I’m walking the aisles at the grocery store; I always think I’ll find time to cook from scratch and avoid all the processed foods. But reality strikes when I get home to the kitchen and the holiday schedule. So avoid the fast-food franchise and stock some things that will look like dinner when you add a salad and a vegetable.


Although the holiday schedule is looming large, and my empty freezer has caught me by surprise, I can still be the master of my kitchen and the food I feed my family.

Bonus Recipes from Shelley

The girls made these last year to give to their friends, teachers, and the neighborhood children. It’s a simple and inexpensive gift that’s always received with delight.




StrawberryPretzelDessertStrawberry Pretzel Dessert 
When my husband brought home this recipe from an office luncheon, I took one look at the pretzel crust and put it aside. But when I finally got around to making it, I loved it! And so does everyone else. The dessert is not too heavy and the perfect color for the season.



Software Suggestions

New Software Version
For those of you who are waiting for the Vista-friendly version of the software, it’s on it’s way! We’re in the beta-testing phase, which means that my husband has completed his portion of the programming, and now it’s my turn to do the testing and uncover any problems. I can’t imagine I’ll get too far this month, so I’ll let you know how I’m doing in my next issue.

In the mean time, the current version of Advantage Cooking will run under Vista if it’s installed in the C:\AdvCooking directory, instead of the default directory. Vista doesn’t like data files in the program directory, but it will work if you make that adjustment. The current help menu doesn’t work under Vista, but the complete manual in .pdf format is available. The upcoming Vista-friendly version will be available as a free upgrade, so you have nothing to lose.

Download a trial version of the software! It’s free!

Closing Comments

Here are some encouraging words from a mom who has been temporarily bed-ridden but has rediscovered the blessing of freezer meals.

Dear Shelley, Thank you so much for all your help. You have no idea. My mom and dad and daughters cooked lots of meals for us using the Advantage software. Thank you for all the newsletter articles as well! When I am better I know they will help for years to come. You guys are wonderful people, tears are in my eyes as I speak. God bless you.

Have a Merry, Merry Christmas! Joy to the world; the Lord has come!

Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

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