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!


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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