Mar 012008

Kitchen Fun with Carol

carol2007Hello everyone! It is hard to believe that it is the beginning of March already! Another track season starts this week and before you know it Easter will have come and gone. Time has really flown by and so much has happened so far this year. The boys are juniors this year and they are in the process of taking college entrance exams, selecting colleges to apply to in the fall, and picking out their classes for their senior year of high school. It does not seem possible that it is almost time for them to graduate. Where has the time gone?

The weather has been crazy this winter all over the country. I think that almost everyone has experienced extreme weather from tornados and flooding to ice and snow storms. Our area just experienced a blizzard. It was the largest amount of snowfall in a 24 hour period in over 100 years! I know it is probably nothing compared to what people experience in the snow belt but it was a lot of snow for our area. And through all of this crazy winter weather my sons have been learning to drive on their own! What an experience as a mother to let your kids drive in bad weather alone for the first time. They are doing a great job and we are very proud of them.

Blizzard08_14Every newsletter I always ask for suggestions on topics you would like to cover. I have said this before. This newsletter is for you and I want to talk about the topics you have questions about. My motto has always been that no question is a too big or too small. It is almost guaranteed that for every question you ask there is at least one other 30 Day Gourmet cook out there with the same exact question – so ask away! I will do my best to answer your questions.

I have received several emails on topics to cover in the newsletter. Several of you have requested that I publish more menu ideas. I have also had questions on how to freezer cook for one or two instead of a whole family as well as questions on what freezer burn is, what causes it and what can you do to prevent it. Others are interested in cooking healthier meals for their families. These are all great suggestions and I plan on covering these topics in upcoming newsletters.

I have been amazed at the prices I have seen in the grocery store lately (and the gas station!). My son and I went to the store to pick up some odds and ends the other evening. I needed eggs for a recipe that I was making. The eggs at the store were 1.99 a dozen. I told my husband that I have never paid that much for eggs in my life! Luckily I was able to find them for a better price at another store. And that is just one example. The price of food has really jumped up in the past few months.

I do not know what effect this has had on your budget but this has really changed the way that I plan my cooking days. I keep a close eye on the Meal Inventory Checklist (Worksheet F) to make sure that I do not make a recipe that I already have on hand. I also rely more on my On-Hand Inventory List (Worksheet A) so I don’t spend more on ingredients than I need to for my cooking day. Also, instead of having a large session where I make all my recipes at once I have been cooking based on what is on sale. For example, this week my neighborhood grocery store has flash frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale for 3.99 for a 3 pound bag. That is a great deal at 1.33 a pound!

So I quickly planned a chicken cooking day. I need to restock my lunch supply so I will be making Turkey and Noodles (with chicken), Montreal Chicken Sandwiches, chunk chicken for Chicken Salad Sandwiches, and Bowtie Soup and Chicken Pockets ( both from the Freezer Lunches to Go ebook). To make sure there are no leftovers I have measured each recipe and noted how many lunch servings each makes versus dinner servings. There is only so much soup that will fit in a thermos! For example, one Turkey and Noodles recipe is six dinner servings. When sent for lunch, one recipe will fill about twelve thermoses which is three lunches for my family.

I am not quite finished creating my spring menu but I still want to take advantage of this sale. I estimate that we eat approximately ten chicken meals per month. On average, four of those meals will use 2 to 3 cups of chunk chicken. These are some examples of our favorite recipes that use chunk chicken – Freezer QuesadillasChicken Fried Rice, my own rendition of Italian Chicken and Santa Fe Chicken. That is about 10 chicken breasts for the chunked chicken. That leaves about 24 breasts (6 meals times 4 breasts per meal) for the remaining recipes. This is a total of 34 breasts for the month or about 5 bags of chicken. With a little quick planning, I can easily take advantage of a great sale to save my family some money.

How are you and your family coping with the rising prices? Do you have any helpful hints or cooking day tips to share with the rest of the readers? Click here to email your suggestions to me and I will share them in the next newsletter with the rest of the 30 Day Gourmet cooks.

Bonus Recipes

Corn Bread Muffin Mix
This recipe is an absolute staple at our house. It is a wonderful mix to have on hand when you are in a hurry. We serve the muffins with Taco Chili, Beef Stew, and Ham and Lentil Soup. They are good buttered or with a little bit of honey on them. This is one of our family favorites.

PumpkinDessert_01Pumpkin Dessert
I know it is a weird time of the year to share a pumpkin recipe with you but one of my husband’s favorite desserts is pumpkin pie. I made this dessert for him to celebrate Valentine’s Day since he loves pumpkin so much. My sons love to eat this for breakfast during the school week. It is an old recipe that I found in my recipe box so I am not sure where it came from but it is very good and it freezes well.

Freezer Cook of the Month

Our winner this month is Michelle from Iowa. Michelle shares her story about helping others out with 30 Day Gourmet.

Let’s hear from Michelle:

There is a new guy that started working with my husband, his name is Dave. Dave and his family recently moved to our state from Indiana so they do not have family here. Just a few new found buddies, mainly the people Dave works with. Dave’s wife, Tracey, and their 3 kids were in a terrible car accident. The guy driving the other vehicle was the cause of the accident. He had a heart attack while going through his red light. He ended up dying, not only because of his heart attack, but because he was ejected out through the windshield. He was not wearing a seat belt. I feel bad for that guy, having to die in such a brutal way.

Well anyways, he hit Tracey’s vehicle, t-boned them on the driver’s side. Tracey took the brunt of the hit. She ended up with a fractured neck, broken pelvis in multiple places, and some internal injuries. Dave and Tracey’s oldest daughter was in the front seat with her, she ended up getting over 30 stitches, and her poor face looked like a pin cushion from all the flying glass, her right knee also had a gash in it from hitting the dash, so there are some more stitches. Thank heavens the 2 younger children were in the third seat. Dave had commented if they were not the one on the drivers side they would have been killed. The other 2 kids were fine, just shook up. Dave was at work when this happened. He thought the boys at work were messing with him when he got the call. They play pranks on each other once in awhile to stay sane from all the stress. Once he realized what had happened and that is was true, he immediately went to the hospital where he found his family in the Emergency Room.

Well with them just moving here and having no family around, I talked to my husband. He wanted me to just send flowers. I said no, flowers just die and she can not enjoy them being in the state she was in. So I suggested I wanted to make some freezer meals. My husband said that is a stellar idea and they would be much more appreciated than flowers. I made a total of 10 meals in one day (I was in the kitchen all day, never done any freezer meals before). Well I work at the hospital that Dave’s wife is at, so I called him that same afternoon and asked if I could meet him somewhere. I had a gift for him and his family. Well the next day I had to work second shift and he was just leaving to go home from the day of being there. He had his 3 kids with him. I asked him to pull his vehicle around to my vehicle and so he did. I opened my truck and there were all the meals. He gave me a big hug and had tears in his eyes, he said he was so grateful to have met such nice people. He had tears in his eyes, which of course made me tear up. All the kids said thank you because they were getting tired of “DAD’S COOKING”. And Dave also said he was running out of ideas of what to cook, and getting tired of eating out, and how expensive that was. That moment made me feel so special and that I have done a great deed for someone in need.

Since all the meals, I have seen Dave, he has told a lot of people what I have done. My husbands’ boss heard the story and he was just ecstatic, (the boss is also Dave’s boss) and wants me to do it again for them, and he wants to pay for all the ingredients this time.

Tracey on the other hand, we just found out on Friday, that she has taken the turn for the worse, she was transferred to University of Iowa Hospital, her blood is clotting, and they have found clots in her lungs and possibly one in her brain. When I saw Dave last week he had commented that he is working on the last couple of meals. So I am going to make more meals for him and his family.

Closing Comments from Carol

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter! Next month I will share my Spring menu with you and I will talk about my efforts to make healthier recipes for my family.

Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’d love to try and share them with everyone. 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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