No More Cooking!!

October 11, 2010

Ahhhh…words any busy person would love to speak, and words I can proudly say!  No need to fry, bake, grill, steam, microwave or boil anything in order to enjoy tasty delicacies for the next several weeks.

You may be wondering if I hired a cook, joined a meal delivery service or won the lottery and decided to be served my meals in a restaurant.  The answer is a resounding “no”.

So, why no cooking?

As you may or may not know, I’m a single woman who cooks full size meals and freezes them in individual serving sizes, a home-made and healthy version of frozen dinners.  I’m also someone who loves to cook a turkey at Thanksgiving — all for myself!  Not a tiny 12 pound turkey, rather one in the 18-22 pound range. Or bigger!  And I cook non-stop until all the turkey is used — in lasagna, chili, soup, pot pie, stew, stir fry, stuffed peppers and more.

With that holiday quickly approaching I need space as much space as possible in Fritz the Freezer…

…and the freezer above the fridge,

and I need more containers…

…and lids…

…so that when I’m done with my Thanksgiving cook-fest I have enough containers and storage space for the 6 to 7 dozen tasty  meals!

Hence the temporary ban on cooking.

Don’t worry that the non-cooking will leave me hungry or without variety.  I currently have 57 meals between the two freezers – a mix of pea soup, turkey soup, pinto bean soup, turkey pot pie, beef stew, stuffed peppers, turkey lasagna, ham lasagna and bean chili.

:-)


Do You Like Trees?

August 23, 2010

I do!  I love the shade they give the lawn and the house, and I even loved them when I lived in New England though their autumn colors gave me hours of raking and decorated my hands with blisters.

But…

Those aren’t the trees I’m referring to.

Nope.

The tree I’m talking about in this post is the yummy but tree-looking vegetable called broccoli!

I love to eat broccoli cooked, raw or dipped in salsa, but now I have a new favorite way to eat this veggie – in broccoli salad!  Assistant can take or leave broccoli, but even she loved this salad when I gave her a taste!!

Doesn’t it look tasty?

All your taste buds get to dance to the beat when you enjoy this — sweet, sour, salty, spicy — it’s just awesome!  It’s very easy to make and holds up well in the fridge for several days – what more could one want?

Here’s the recipe in case you’d like to make it too:

8 cups raw broccoli chopped

10 strips of bacon, cooked well and crumbled

1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds (I use roasted sunflower seed nuts)

1/3 cup raisins

1 small red onion, chopped

1 cup mayo (I use light Miracle Whip)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp cider vinegar

1 tsp pepper

Place cut broccoli in large bowl.  Put sunflower seeds,  red onion, raisins and bacon in a small bowl and mix well.  Add to broccoli and toss till blended.  Put mayo, sugar, cider vinegar and pepper in a bowl and stir ’til smooth.  Add to broccoli mix and toss until vegetables are coated.  Refrigerate and enjoy!

This is one recipe I haven’t experimented with as it taste perfect just as it is!  A couple of friends I have shared this with have suggested swapping the veggie from broccoli to cauliflower or green beans, and I may give those a whirl when I want some variety, but for now, it’s all about the trees!


Freezer Shuffle

August 19, 2010

The other morning I opened the kitchen freezer to grab something for lunch and was greeted by an annoyingly bright light, and not much else.

Everything in the door plus a bag of vegetables on the bottom shelf and some chicken breasts on the top shelf are ingredients, not meals I’ve made and frozen.

Speaking of the latter…is it time for a new cook-n-freeze fest or do I have a stash hiding somewhere??

:-)

YAY for Fritz the Freezer!!!

All of those meals…

…plus 3 DiGiorno pizzas…

…waiting to be shuffled to the kitchen.  PHEW!

Four trips later and meal choices are returned to my mornings – without cooking!

And though the pickings are a bit slimmer, Fritz still has contents within its walls so no major cook-n-freeze fest is on my horizon.

That’s not to say I won’t be cooking this weekend.  Blogger friend Jane and I swapped recipes so Sunday I’m going to make Chicken Adobo (I gave her an awesome broccoli salad recipe).  I’m also out of mini meat loaves and stuffed peppers.  The mini meat loaves will be a definite Saturday project but the stuffed peppers are an unknown — if peppers are a good price at the food store then I’ll make them as well, but if they’re pricey then my taste buds will have to continue craving them for another week.


Mmm…Mmm…Healthy?

June 8, 2010

Receptionist has been on a bit of a healthy lunch kick of late.  Instead of running to McDonald’s, El Pollo Loco or other fast food neighbors she stacks our bathroom/kitchen with her week’s worth of non-frozen meals.  The frozen ones she brings in with her each morning and tosses in the freezer.

Since receptionist is also on a strict budget, I have to admire this week’s find!

Yep, that’s what she paid for each of these…

That nice big Weight Watchers endorsement and zero points notice sparked my curiosity so I grabbed the container and turned it around to read the dreaded nutrition label.

So far so good…

But all good things must come to and end, and such is the case with this container of soup…

If you think that sodium level is bad for one serving, take a look at this…

YIKES!!!!  That tiny container of soup is actually TWO SERVINGS!!!

Receptionist eats one of these for lunch plus a Smart Ones frozen meal.  I did a quick scan of the sodium content on yesterday’s meal and it was 590 mg.   Thanks to the two servings, the soup alone was 58% of the recommended daily sodium intake and the meal most likely added another 20% (I didn’t think to check the percentage) so receptionist’s lunch, though inexpensive, used up 78% of the allotted sodium for the day.

Inexpensive, yes, but healthy???  Hhhmmm…not so sure.

Good thing cash-strapped Receptionist buys and drinks bottles of Smart Water instead of filling a large glass with free bottled water from our water cooler, huh?

Ahh…to be a 20-something kid again…!  Thanks but no thanks!


The Cookfest Continues…

May 30, 2010

Yesterday was an exhausting but productive cookfest round one.  I’d been preparing for the day for a couple of weeks so I was raring to go.

First up was shopping for supplies.  This is why I did that chore early Friday morning…

…at 6AM it was pretty much just me and the stock people.  YAY!

Saturday morning began with me plugging in Fritz the freezer.  He was so happy to be void of frost and happy to be refreezing so he could be filled with goodies!  Nest up was emptying the dishwasher that had run overnight and hand-washing the dishes that still needed to be washed and put away.  Do you know that I hate to wash dishes (and that even includes emptying the dishwasher)?!?!

After all the dishes were put away all the supplies needed for the cookfest were stacked on the counter.  And there were lots of them.  One stock pot, two pots for cooking pasta, one pan for frying, two crock pots, two lasagna pans and five cooling racks!  Then there were mixing bowls, utensils, measuring supplies and storage containers.  YIKES!  All of those things and I haven’t even mentioned ingredients!!!

First up was turkey soup using the stock I made this past winter.  I added some bouillon, one can of diced tomatoes, one bag of uncooked pasta and one bag of frozen veggies.  Everything else had to be cut up before being added – carrots, celery, onion, broccoli and turkey (also frozen since this past winter).  The stock pot was full to within an inch of the top!

While that was simmering I cut up more turkey and cooked that with the tomato based ingredients for lasagna, then compiled the lasagna.  That sat in one baking pan while I repeated the process but using a chunk of the ham that I had gotten from work for Christmas (a 5-lb ham that I cut into 10 blocks and froze).  The ham needed to go through the blender first so that it would be shredded and therefore easy to spread.

Once both lasagnas were in the oven I turned my attention to the beef stew.  I cut up stew beef into smaller chunks, peeled and cut two potatoes and one butternut squash, chopped some onion, celery, broccoli and carrots, then poured in a bag of frozen corn, a bag of frozen peas, two cans of kidney beans, two cans of diced tomatoes (one with green chilies) and a can of tomato soup.  A few spices later the lid was on the crock pot, it was plugged in and turned on.

As you can imagine from the four meals now cooking away, the counter was pretty full of dirty dishes.  Yep, I stopped and hand washed the dishes.  Have I told you how much I hate washing dishes?

By the time the dish chore was done the lasagnas were done and I deemed the soup done as well.  I ladled the soup into 22 containers and placed them and the lasagnas on cooling racks to…well…cool!

Time to hand wash the stock pot then refill it with ingredients.  This time it was with split peas, onion, carrots, shredded ham and water.

My attention then turned to crock pot number two.  Elbow pasta cooked al-dente filled the crock just over halfway, and after adding evaporated milk, shredded cheese, whole milk, butter, white pepper, salt, frozen peas and Parmesan cheese this crock was turned on as well.

With the last three meals underway I covered the containers of turkey soup and moved them all to Fritz.  The two lasagnas were then cut, each piece wrapped in foil, foiled pieces put into labeled freezer bags and bags put in the freezer.

After a couple of hours of relaxing and occasionally stirring the stew and soup, I divided the last the meals into individual containers and while they cooled I hand washed the dishes…again.

You do remember how much I hate washing dishes, right?

If you heard a really loud noise late yesterday afternoon that would have been me.  Why?

I forgot to wash these guys!  And they don’t go in the dishwasher!!  :-(

Final tally for yesterday is 62 meals — 22 turkey soup, 9 ham lasagna, 9 turkey lasagna, 7 beef stew, 6 macaroni and cheese (counting the serving I ate for dinner) and 9 pea soup.  Fritz is soooo happy now (even though he worked hard all day freezing everything).

I wanted to make my Mom’s spaghetti sauce but discovered that I hadn’t bought enough tomato paste.  I also wanted to make next week’s jumbo salads but I used some of the ingredients for the meals. In order for the cookfest to continue on Monday, this morning I made a quick trip to the food store to get the missing ingredients and was handsomely rewarded for my efforts!  Look what jumped into my cart — at 18 cents each!

As for today, it’s all about ME!  I’m going to get some chicken breasts marinating in a Judy experimental marinade (crushed ginger snap cookies, apple juice, garlic and olive oil) then sit back and enjoy the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 while knitting!

I’ll finish these red gem socks and then start a new pair.

And to think there’s still one more day to this weekend!  HAPPY DANCE!  :-)


YAY — Final Banana

May 28, 2010

Woo-hoo it’s here!!!  Final banana day…err…the Friday before a long holiday weekend, that annoying day that needs to be overcome in order to start the weekend!

This will be a short post ‘cuz I only have a few minutes before I need to hop in the shower and get to the food store.  Yep, I’m going to do my holiday weekend shopping BEFORE going to work!!  There’s no way I want to dodge all the other holiday weekend shoppers later in the day so I’m going to head out really early and just dodge the shelf stockers instead.

And it’s a BIG food shopping trip today…really big.

Why, do I have lots of company coming this weekend?

Nope – just lots of relaxing.

So…why the uncharacteristically big food shopping trip?

Fritz is empty!

For the first time in 2-1/2 years, Fritz the chest freezer in my garage is void of containers of  home-made meals!!  And this morning he’s even emptier than this photo since the frost has melted…!

Lest you think I don’t have any meals to take to work with me today, here’s the freezer in the kitchen…

I temporarily transferred the couple dozen containers from Fritz to this freezer so that I could defrost the chest freezer.

Tomorrow I’m spending the morning and part of the afternoon cooking…lots…so that Fritz can be refilled with oodles of goodies!  It’s scary to me to be down to just a few options when it comes time to pull something out for lunch so time to cook up a storm!

Have no fear…you’ll read all about it in Sunday’s post…you’ll get all the fun with none of the work!  BUT…I get to eat it and you don’t so I guess it all works in my favor in the end  :-)

Gotta to…time to shower so I can get to the store by 6AM!


Crazy For Creativity

April 1, 2010

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that creativity rules my life on a daily basis.  Yes, my job is to oversee the development of craft products sold worldwide, but more than those 50 or so hours a week, I express my creativity in nearly everything I do.

Want proof?

Okay, to state the obvious, every time you visit this blog you are reading or seeing my creativity in action, maybe even in overdrive!  I am always writing, making even the most mundane interesting (if comments are to be believed), and invariably my photographic creativity is accompanying the words.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with that nice big laundry room project of mine, a shining example of my creativity in action.  No?  Click here to see the end result…I promise you won’t be disappointed!

The backyard overhaul I’m diligently working on…over-working on if truth be told…well it screams CREATIVITY!  Why?  All those plants that I’m adding in an attempt to mix textures, colors and structures in a most interesting and appealing way.  I’m just over half done so if you’d like to drop in and check it out, click here, but be sure to check back on Monday the 5th to see the nearly finished project!

Even the cooking that I do is something I consider to be creative — blending all those ingredients, spices, textures and flavors to create an edible treat that is not only awesome fresh from the stove/grill/microwave/wok/crock pot, but also stupendous after being frozen in individual portions and reheated for lunches!

Then there is that whole realm of traditional creativity, that world that instantly jumps to the forefront when people start discussing the creative world.  I knit, crochet, macrame, cross stitch, needlepoint, draw, latch hook, locker hook, rug hook, paint, scrapbook, bead, felt, sew, quilt, quill, etc, etc, etc.

Here are some stash pix just in case you have any doubts…

That’s the neat side of my craft closet, the messy side, behind the other door, is going to remain hidden.  Trust me, it’s overflowing with supplies!

Here’s a basket of counted cross stitch kits waiting for my attention…

…and here’s a bucket of sock yarn waiting to be knit into foot adornments.  The yarns for sweaters, afghans, etc are in the aforementioned craft closet…

…and hidden behind these white doors and drawers.

Just so you don’t think all my creative stuff is of the “to do” kind, here are some pix of finished projects.

A Neil Diamond sweater I designed and knit back in 1989 when I had front row center tix to his Hartford, CT concert…

The fabric locker hooking cosmos wall hanging I designed and hooked that now graces my bedroom wall…

The first pair of sox I knit for myself…

Ornaments I cross stitched for my nieces and nephews for Christmas 2009…

I could play show-and-tell for pages but I know that I’ll lose your interest along the way, so I won’t play.

I will pose a question though.  With all the creative outlets that I have, is there any that I have missed?  I bet you’ll be surprised to hear me say YES!

Huh?

I have never tried tatting!  This craft has always interested me and the completed projects by those who are proficient have amazed and enthralled me.  So why the hesitation to jump in?  FEAR!  Honestly — the completed projects I’ve seen are so awesome that I am terrified that I’ll screw up tatting given my tendency to skim instructions instead of read them thoroughly (sometimes I curse my creative experience that tells me I don’t really to read every word of instructions).

Today as I write this post I am now committed to becoming a tatting fool.  Why now?  A few weeks ago I stopped by my friend Terrie Lee’s blog and left a comment on a post.  The other day one of her readers stopped by my blog and told me about hers — TattingChic.  I stopped by and WOAH…a feast for the eyes!  Not only are there awesome pix of projects, but the posts are very friendly, so friendly that I feel confident if I try tatting and get stuck I have a resource…

Of course, first up is finishing that backyard overhaul, but that’s a week, two at most.  While there are additional outdoor projects vying for my attention, there will also be lots of indoor time to be filled.

Can you say Tatter-In-Training?  No?  Okay, then just say JUDY as they’re one in the same!


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