September 2006 Chewin’ the News

 2006, Chewin' the News  Comments Off on September 2006 Chewin’ the News
Sep 012006

Kitchen Fun with Carol

2006pool2Hello everyone! Welcome September! September to us means the end of summer. We celebrated the end of summer with one last visit to the community pool. You could feel the change in the wind. It was so much more like fall than summer. It feels like we spent the entire summer at the pool. We went almost every week with my sister-in-law and her children. It was fun and a great place to cool down. We have a lot of good memories from the time that we spent together.

September to us also means a new school year has started. This year my sons are sophomores. They are both taking a class called Food and Nutrition. They are learning about basic nutrition, cooking principles and techniques, and kitchen safety and  sanitation. Their main project for the semester is to create their own cookbook with fifty of their favorite recipes. They can take this cookbook with them when they move away from home. It was great to have them come in the door and say “Hey Mom – I need the recipe for your No-Bake Cookies, Brownie Trifle, and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!” Slowly, but surely, we will work our way through the cookbooks picking out recipes and adding them to their cookbooks. It is fun to hear which recipes are their favorite.

An interesting thing that has come from this class is the Great Pancake Debate. One of the first recipes the boys made in class were homemade pancakes. Our family tradition is to add chocolate chips to the pancakes! It is fun and the kids have always loved them this way. The tradition comes from my husband’s side of the family. His father has a whole list of ingredients that he likes to add to pancakes such as chocolate chips, sausage, bananas, blueberries, apples, etc. Since the boys like chocolate chips in their pancakes, they each brought a snack bag full of chocolate chips to class to add to the pancakes. At our house, we ladle the batter onto the griddle and add the chocolate chips before flipping the pancakes. People in class said you should add the chocolate chips to the batter before ladling it onto the griddle and the Great Pancake Debate was born.

The very next day we went to a family breakfast at my mother-in-law’s house. It was a group cooking effort. My brother-in-law made the omelets, my husband cooked the sausage, my sister-in-law, Lori, made the pancakes and the rest of us were on clean up crew. Lori followed the family tradition and made a whole variety of pancakes. There were some with chocolate chips, some with sausage, some with blueberries, and some with sausage and chocolate chips. As she was making these the Great Pancake Debate started again! Some people said that you should add the chocolate chips to the batter so that the chips don’t burn. Others said that if you cook the pancakes at a lower temperature the chips will not burn. It was amazing that the same discussion happened on two different days with two different groups of people!

Of course this spurred other discussions on cooking methods. We shared some of our tips on cooking. For example, did you know that a great way to make Loaded Baked Potato Soup is to use powdered milk instead of regular milk? You would normally have to stand there and carefully watch and stir the milk so it does burn. When you use powered milk, you can just boil the water, remove the pan from the burner and then add the powder. It’s so much easier! My sister-in-law, Lisa, took this one step further asking if you could apply this method to making white sauce. We all agreed that it should work.

Some of us cook using the 30 Day Gourmet method. We talked about the different ways that you can use this method. Lori is planning a big cooking day with a bunch of her friends. I, on the other hand, just finished my cooking for the quarter. Because I cook alone most of the time, I cook based on similar ingredients. I had several mini sessions over a couple weeks. I usually try to complete the cooking and/or assembly for each session in just a couple of hours. Here are some examples of some of the recipes I use in my mini cooking sessions.

Ground Beef


Chicken Leg Quarters (cooked in slow cooker and then boned)




Chicken Breasts


Slow Cooker (cooked anytime)

Our conclusion was that it does not matter if you have a big cooking day alone, cook with friends or cook in mini-sessions. What matters is that you do what works for you in your situation!

So a new school year has started. My meals are in the freezer and I am ready for another challenging school year. What a great opportunity we are given with our children. We get to teach them every day of the year and we often learn many lessons from them along the way.

Bonus Recipes

Black Bean Soup

I posted this recipe on the Cook’s Corner several years ago. It’s a great soup and a favorite at our house. You can control the spiciness by adjusting the amount of chili powder you use and the type of salsa. It freezes beautifully. Sometimes I freeze it in individual containers for lunches.

Country Pulled Pork

This is a nice change from just plain BBQ pork sandwiches. The sauce flavors the meat but does not cling to it like regular sauce. It is both sweet and spicy. I usually make this recipe for lunches. On serving day, I reheat it on the stove and send it in a pre-warmed thermos.

Recipe of the Month Contest Winner

August Recipe of the Month Update
I heard from Kristine after sending out the August newsletter. Let’s hear from Kristine:

My name is Kristine and I live in the North Denver area in Colorado with my husband, four kids and my Mom also lives with us. My kids are a daughter that is 9 and I also have triplets (boy, boy, girl) that are 6 years old. I am a stay at home Mom right now but since all four of my kids will be in school all day starting this fall I may at some point go back to work part time. I love to cook as well as trying and collecting new recipes. I also want my kids to enjoy cooking and learn in the process so I try to involve them in the kitchen whenever I can. I have been making things in the kitchen with them since they were little. They especially love to help make and eat snacks! So we especially love 30 Day Gourmet for this reason as well as many others! Since school will be starting soon I have been trying to get together a school lunch menu for items to make to pack in their school lunches. I want to be organized with this having four kids to make lunches for. So, we got three containers for snacks for school: one for the fridge foods (like small containers with pudding, Jello with fruit in small containers, carrot sticks, celery with peanut butter, grapes, apple, cheese cubes, etc) one for the pantry (chips, crackers, fruit rolls, etc.) and one large one for the freezer (with apple bars, muffins, granola bars, trail mix, snack mixes, brownie bites, cookies, bagel pizzas, pizza bites, pizza sticks, calzones, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tortilla wrap sandwiches, etc.). We hope this will help with making it easier for all of us to get lunches made and packed. I mostly do smaller sessions like doubling recipes like lasagna, chicken pot pie, etc. I also make cooked cubed chicken and cooked hamburger ready to go in the freezer as well as lots of breakfast foods for busy mornings. This seems to save a lot of time. I love the 30 Day Gourmet site and cookbooks I know it saves a lot of time and money doing this method. I have enjoyed all the new recipes and advice on there as well! We love the granola bar recipe and have been making it for years! The kids love to make these and eat them even the mix just before its put in the pan and its so versatile with the ingredients you want to put in or not put in!

Click here to view/print the August Recipe of the Month.

Recipe of the Month… Chicken ‘n Stuffing

Our winner this month is Chicken ‘n Stuffing. This is what I call a comfort food recipe! It is a great recipe to take to a potluck or to take to someone for a meal ministry. It’s very easy to make. You can also substitute some of the ingredients to make it healthier.

I was unable to reach the author of this recipe, so we’ll have to meet her next month. Cook’s Corner member Krisvs, if you read this, please contact me at to claim your prize!

Click here to view/print the September Recipe of the Month.

Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner

Our winner this month is Ande. Ande shares how she uses freezer cooking the 30 Day Gourmet way to stretch her food budget.

Ande says:

My husband is so picky about his meals, I have to sneak in new dishes – and even then he wants to read the recipe when he realizes he hasn’t had it before. So I started using the 30 Day Gourmet method with some of our own recipes, and did a few small cooking sessions to see how I liked it. After a few sessions, I had two weeks worth of meals in my deep freeze.We’re military, and you wouldn’t believe how often our pay gets messed up. So last month, we found ourselves over a week from payday with almost no groceries and $25 in our account. Being a young couple with only two little kids (2 years and 4 months), we don’t keep credit cards, so we had nothing to fall back on. Those meals in the freezer sure did come in handy – I honestly don’t know what we would have done without them. Since I don’t have anyone to cook with, and regular recipes make two meals for us, I just take half of whatever I’m making for dinner that night and stick it in the freezer. This way, with almost no extra effort, I’m stocking my freezer for the next time we don’t get our full paycheck for whatever reason.

On occasion, I do get together with a friend and have a full day of meal preparation, and we both come out with full freezers! Thanks so much for your wonderful site!

We’re glad that cooking the 30 Day Gourmet way has been so helpful to you and your family. Thanks for sharing your story with everyone!

Closing Comments from Carol

Do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!

Have fun in your kitchen!


June 2006 Chewin’ the News with Nanci

 2006, Chewin' the News  Comments Off on June 2006 Chewin’ the News with Nanci
Jun 012006

Freezer Cooking News from Nanci

Becky_at_grad_with_textHappy summer everyone! Summers are especially great when you’re a teacher! After a full school year of getting up at the crack of dawn and grading papers until I fall asleep with a red pen in my hand, it only takes me about 1 week to slide right into that “stay up late, get up late” mode. Of course, that wouldn’t work if my kids were still little but since mine are older it works GREAT! I read for about 3 hours every night – ahhhhhh. Now that’s what I call a vacation!

Of course, there are a million other things happening in my house (just like at yours). Kaytee, our oldest, just finished up summer classes at IU and will head back to Ball State U. in August. She’ll be home to live with us for a few weeks before classes start up again. Becky, our 18 year old, graduated on June 3rd. We had her open house the next day. Last weekend she registered for fall classes at Huntington University (about 2 hours north) to major in missions. Adam, our 16 year old, is in Morocco on vacation with his best friend. Jenna, our youngest, turns 13 in a few days. Bob and I will celebrate our 27th anniversary next week.

Whew! The summer is already flying by and I haven’t had a big cooking day yet. I really want to stockpile my freezer before school starts. Eating a decent breakfast, packing lunches and eating supper at home saves so much money! I have meats in marinade and a few salads and some desserts in “frozen storage” but it’s really time for a marathon cooking spree. I’ll start planning one and tell you all about it next time.

I’m an “old pro” at this planning bit but If you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. Many cooks know that they should plan ahead and freeze foods but they just don’t know where to begin. Our manual walks you straight through the process and our message boards have some great info and ideas to help you. When you see a great sale on chicken or pork or beef just clear an afternoon and buy several pounds. Cook some and freeze in portions to use for quick meals (sloppy joes, tacos, pork barbecue, etc.) and use the rest to make a few tried and true freezable recipes. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you can put 10 entrees into the freezer and by how much money you save.

We do a lot of last minute, drop-in type entertaining in the summer. I’ve gotten pretty good at always having chicken in marinade and hamburgers in the freezers and desserts are always easy to come up with but salads had me stumped. I never have enough time to do a Jell-O salad and get it into the fridge. Last week I went on the hunt for frozen fruit salads that I could make up and get into the freezer for our drop-in company. Both of the salads below turned out great and were big hits with our friends. One tip for salads: package them in portions that you will eat in one serving. Use the little freezer cups for individual servings. It’s a pain to thaw a giant salad so that you can carve off enough for your lunch – ha!

Click here to view/print a recipe for Lemon Fruit Salad!

Click here to view/print a recipe for Strawberry-Banana Frozen Salad.

Check out these other great salad recipes on our website:
Frozen Cranberry Salad 
Frozen Waldorf Salad 
Fruit Slush 
Celebration Salad 
Seafoam Salad

Company and Website News

Summer is a time for playing “catch up” in the 30 Day Gourmet office. Since Becky will be heading off to college in a few months, we’re trying to stockpile ebooks on CD and get a myriad of other things crossed off our office “to do” list. The goal of having our Freezer Cooking Manual available as an ebook is still on the list as well.

I got an unexpected e-mail from Mary Hunt’s editor the other day (of Cheapskate Monthly now Debt Proof Living fame) requesting a review copy of the Freezer Cooking Manual. Wow – getting a mention in one of her Woman’s Day articles would really be something.

Hearts at Home fans should sign up for Karen Ehman’s workshop on hospitality titled A Life That Says Welcome:Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others at the fall conferences in Minnesota or Michigan. She mentions 30 Day Gourmet in her new book (by the same title) and gives you lots of great ways to model hospitality for your children.


Here’s a quick list of our items.

Emails from Happy Customer

I have been a 30 day gourmet fan for many years. I keep buying the freezer manual and friends borrow it and don’t return it. I purchased my third book and have yet to get it back. I’m not loaning this book out anymore and friends that ask will just get one for Christmas!!                

Amy S. 

Thank you! You are a god send! Our realtor suggested we bake cookies before an open house to get that homey feeling……..So I made the mix and put it in my pantry and I figured this would be a cinch to bake a dozen cookies before the open house. But then I realized I had packed your cookbook, I was having a hard time breathing normally! hahahahaha Anyway, I thank you again! We have a few more open houses scheduled! Have a wonderful day!
Marie R.

Customer Question

QUESTION: I have purchased your Freezer Manual and have a question. If we have 15+ people in our cooking group how do we split the cost of the groceries??? Do we each purchase the groceries for our recipe, cook, divide the recipe by 15 then charge everyone accordingly?? Have thought about getting the Co-Op Cooking Book also. Please help.

NANCI’S ANSWER: Wow – that’s a large group. Since everyone is probably purchasing things for the cooking day, I would just have your most mathematical person take charge of receipts and payments. Everyone should turn in their receipts. She writes down all of the expenses and who paid what. Then tally it up and divide by the number of people. That will tell you what each person should be paying for the cooking day. Then look at the list that tells you who already paid what. Let’s say the total is $1500. That’s $100 per person. Have a central pot (a literal bowl or something) and based on the list have people contribute what they owe. If you bought $75 worth of groceries you would owe $25. Put it in the pot. After everyone who owes money puts it in then the people who paid over $100 for their groceries, etc. take their money out. Obviously, this works better if people bring cash. It gets very messy when Sally owes the pot $25 and Mary is OWED $27 so Sally writes her check to Mary, etc. etc. Just use the pot and make them bring cash.

This is pretty much the method that Jan recommends in the Co-op Cooking ebook. She has some great worksheets in there to help you keep everything straight. Have fun! Hope this helps!

Closing Comments

Enjoy your summer! E-mail me about how you make freezer cooking work best in the summertime.