Jul 092009

Kitchen Fun with Carol

Carol2009cropHello everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday. We cooked out on the grill a lot over the weekend. We had steaks, grilled chicken, brats, hot dogs and grilled corn. You name it and we probably made it over the weekend. What fun!

Have you ever grilled corn on the cob? We have tried several different methods and they all seem to have great results. One of our favorites is to grill the corn right in the husks. Take the corn and soak it in the sink for at least 15 minutes before cooking it. We usually soak it for a half an hour. This gives the husks a little more moisture for steaming the corn inside the husks. Heat your grill to a medium heat. Place the husks on the grill and let them cook. You need to turn them about every 5-10 minutes so the corn inside does not char. When the husks are charred, the corn is done. Remove it from the grill with tongs. We use a dish towel to grab the husks and pull them off the corn cobs. Once all the husks and silk strands have been removed from the corn, run them under warm water to finish removing any stray silk strands and any ash that got on the cobs. Now you are ready to eat! Give it a try. It’s a fun way to cook corn.

Lessons Learned in My Summer Cooking Session
In many ways my cooking day was very similar to Nanci’s. I have been working on my summer menu. I try to have a lot of marinades in the freezer for those days it is just too hot to cook inside. I also like to have a lot of meals that are quick to make so you can “dine and dash” off to your next activity. It is a great way to save money if you know you can have dinner on the table quickly. You can just throw something together and not spend money on fast food. We have done this several times this summer and we are already seeing the financial benefits.

I also used meat that was on sale for my cooking day but some of it was purchased on sale a month or two ago and placed in the freezer for this cooking day. I am always watching for a great deal on meat. As a part of my weekly food budget I am constantly accumulating meat in the freezer for my next cooking day. I also stock up on dry goods, such as pastas, flour and sugar. For example, I will stock up on boneless, skinless chicken breasts if I find them for 1.80 a pound or less or chuck roast for 1.99 a pound. I also had frozen ground chuck (on sale for 1.25 a pound) and sausage (1.49 a pound) that I thawed in the refrigerator a day or two before my cooking day.

A common question I get about marinade is whether you can add marinade to frozen meats. The answer is a definiteYES! I buy a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breast that is frozen. It is perfect for marinades. Frozen marinades begin to work on the meat once it begins to thaw so adding marinade to frozen meat does not harm the meat or affect the end flavor of the recipe.

In the past I have described how I usually go through my previous years menus to decide what to make each season. This time I focused on what I had in my pantry, freezer and refrigerator instead. I wanted to use up my stock in order to save money so I picked recipes that would use the ingredients that I already had on hand. The Advantage Cooking Software can help with this as well. Let’s say you got a great deal on chuck roast. Go to the Ingredient tab, choose Chuck Roast, and then click on the recipes tab. You will see all the recipes that use chuck roast.

I also used the Advantage Cooking Software to plan my grocery shopping trip. A very useful feature is the ability to save the reports to an Excel spreadsheet. This is nice because you can remove ingredients that you already have on hand so that you don’t purchase them again.

Here is my list of recipes from my cooking day. I made a total of 33 entrees.



Soups and Sandwiches

  • Iowa State Fair Guinea Grinders – 1 recipe packaged as 12 individual servings for lunches
  • Wedding Soup – 1 recipe packaged in 8 individual servings for lunches and 1 dinner portion (12 servings)
  • Tuscan White Bean Soup – 1 recipe/6 servings
  • Sloppy Joes – 3 recipes flash frozen in muffin tins for individual servings (18 servings)


  • Lasagna Roll-ups – 2 recipes/8 servings
  • Cranberry Chuck Roast – 1 recipe/6 servings
  • Beef Kabobs – 2 recipes/8 servings
  • Rosemary-Sage London Broil – 1 recipe/6 servings




  • Lentil Rice Casserole – 2 recipes/8 servings

Breads and Breakfast

Now for the lessons that I learned this last cooking day.

  1. I brought my recycling bins into the house and placed them right next to the trash can. It made recycling easy and convenient since I did not have to run out to the garage every time.
  2. When you are going over your shopping list and crossing off the items that are in your pantry, make sure you actually find the items that you “think” you have. Actually it is best to get everything out that you need so you know where it is. In the middle of my cooking day I was unable to find the shredded coconut that I knew I had. I looked everywhere. I looked where it is usually stored. I looked where is it never stored and I still could not find it. I ended up running to the store in the middle of my cooking session which is a real waste of time. The kicker – I found it a week after my cooking day when cleaning out my pantry.
  3. Test your equipment before cooking day. I had two slow cookers. I use one for my everyday cooking and the other is generally only used for cooking day. My cooking day slow cooker decided to quit working in the middle of making soup. Luckily I figured it out before too much time had past so no harm was done.
  4. Make sure you have a place in the refrigerator to cool the food and a place in the freezer to safely put the food when it is ready to freeze. Now that I look back at the day, it was actually very comical! We placed the individual servings of Wedding Soup in the refrigerator freezer for lunches. When we went back later to put the breakfast burritos in the freezer, a container of soup fell on the floor and went everywhere in the kitchen. We promptly mopped up the mess. My son came home from work, ate a partial bowl of soup and put the remaining soup in the fridge (Of course the fridge is packed with food at the time). I opened the fridge and for the second time in one day soup came flying out of the fridge. It was too much excitement for one cooking day!

Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner

Our Freezer Cook of the Month is Beth from Indianapolis, IN. Beth has a great story about using 30 Day Gourmet to save money on her vacation.

Let’s hear Beth’s story:

My husband and I were wanting to go on a cruise with our large group of friends from church. Turns out, it is just too expensive. So we decided to go back to Gulf Shores Alabama (one of our favorite places). I complained that I love it there, but despise spending so much time grocery shopping and cooking, so my dear husband said that we will just eat out most meals. It would still be cheaper than a cruise. He gained brownie points, but practical me can’t see spending that much money. I have recently found a lovely group of women to do co-op cooking with (and they are great cooks!). I decided I was going to bring my freezer meals on the trip. My husband works for a pharmaceutical company and they had a damaged Styrofoam cooler that was going to get thrown away, so he brought it home and we packed it chuck full of meals for every night of our vacation. We stopped at an ice company on our way out of town and bought a small sheet of dry ice. Two 100 degrees days later, I unpacked this food proudly and proclaimed it ‘rock solid!’ I was just tickled pink! As unappetizing as chicken pot pie sounds when it is hot outside, it really hit the spot when we were starving one evening after boogie boarding all day long! We were even able to share it with another family. Tonight we are sharing with another family that is running out of meals. I just hope I use all of mine up before we leave for home! We saved a bundle of money, I didn’t have to spend the entire first day grocery shopping and I shove it in the oven and return to the pool for a time. I love freezer cooking and rave about it all the time. I used to do it alone, but am so thankful for a new group of friends as well as brand new recipes. I really appreciate having the support and networking of 30 Day Gourmet.



Currently eating well in Gulf Shores, Alabama!

What a great story! Thanks for sharing while on vacation. This is just another example of how to use 30 Day Gourmet to save time and money.

So, how do you make 30 Day Gourmet work for you? How do you use it to help you deal with a challenge in your life? How do you use it to help others? Do you have a funny cooking story to share? You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. 

Bonus Recipes

Caramel Apple DipCaramel Apple Dip

Here is a great dip for fruit, such as apples, or even celery. You can freezer it in little individual containers and send it for lunches during the school year.

Caramel Sauce

I am including this recipe for homemade caramel sauce in case you would to try your hand at making it yourself. This is a wonderful sauce that is easy to make and is very delicious. It is much better than most store bought versions. Use it in the Caramel Apple Dip recipe above or use it plain on ice cream.


Chicken Pizza RollupsChicken Pizza Rollups

I cook this recipe on the grill using a cast iron skillet on days when it is too hot to use the oven. I got “two thumps up” when I served this recipe for the first time to my family. It was an instant hit and I will definitely be adding it to the menu our next cooking day.

Closing Comments from Carol

I hope you enjoy the recipes. Calling all cooks – this is your last chance to submit your summertime recipes to share with everyone in the August newsletter. Also, think about your favorite ways to use up summer produce.

You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. Or 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!



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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