A Geek and her Babies

How one geeky Mom combines technology and old fashioned values to raise her babies.

Menu Plan Monday January 23, 2012

Filed under: Meal Plan — geekch1ck @ 8:22 pm
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Menu Plan Monday

I’m back to Menu Planning this week. It’s been an oddly crazy month full of doctor’s appointments, trips to Walmart, library programs and just general running around. Which, for us, translates to a lot of fast food meals if I do not have a plan in place ahead of time.

On the days that I have been home, I’ve been attempting to change “regular” recipes into slow cooker recipes. I have found that by the time I should be cooking dinner we are happily doing something else. If I can throw something in the crockpot in the morning and just dish it up at 5, I am a much happier Mom. I am planning on setting up a recipes site in the near future where I will post my successful dinners.

Here is my meal plan for this week:

Monday — Steak and Rice
Wednesday — Beef Vegetable Soup with Homemade bread
Thursday — Dinner Out (Jimmy’s Science Fair)
Friday — Pizza Casserole
Saturday — Chili with Cornbread
Sunday —  Pot Roast
What’s on your menu for this week? I’m linking up to Organizing Junkie. Check out the meal plan Monday posts for lots of great recipes.

Freezer Cooking November 9, 2011

Filed under: Meal Plan — geekch1ck @ 2:28 pm

No pictures. Sorry, still have not unpacked my camera. It’s here somewhere.

After not having a stove for a week, we finally found a free one on Freecycle. I’m so thrilled that we waited and didn’t go out and buy a brand new stove right away. I had to drive an hour to pick it up, but it is a beautiful stove and works wonderfully. I broke it in with my freezer cooking session in the new house.

I bought a bunch of meat on sale at one of the larger grocery stores in the area and quickly came up with a freezer plan. In a little over an hour, I froze the following packages:

2 packages of hamburger patties (formed but not cooked)
2 quarts hamburger, onions and peppers for pasta or tacos
1 package fajita steak (boy did that smell yummy)
2 packages pork chops in marinade (not cooked)
2 packages sirloin steak in marinade
3 quarts chicken soup
1 package shredded chicken

Here’s how I did it:

I put one of the chickens in the crockpot to “roast”. In the past I never really liked “crockpot chicken.” Recently, I have been scouring slow cooker recipe websites and I realized that I was putting too much water in with the chicken. This time, I just put the chicken in the pot with seasonings but no liquid. It turned out perfectly!

I also put another chicken into my stockpot with enough water to cover and some seasoning so it could boil down for soup.

Then, I started browning some of the ground beef with a green pepper and onion. As that was cooking, I formed the hamburger patties with the rest of the ground beef (I always add some bread crumbs, seasoning and an egg to my hamburger patties).

Once the ground beef was done browning, I transferred the meat into the freezer containers and used the same pan for the fajita steak. I cut the steak into strips, covered the strips with the juice of one lime, a tablespoon of minced garlic and some cayenne pepper and fried it up.

While that was frying, I stuck the sirloin steaks and pork chops in freezer bags and covered them with the marinades.

When the roast chicken was done, we ate some of it for supper and I shredded the rest.

Finally, I cut up the soup chicken, added the vegetables and noodles cooked it for a little bit more and then put the soup into containers. The soup containers went into the refrigerator for the night so I could skim off the fat before freezing it.

When I sat down to do my meal plan, I had enough meals for two weeks with at least 5 meals left over!

One hour’s work saved 14 hours later on down the road.


Using Store Bought Soups and Sauces October 5, 2011

Filed under: Meal Plan — geekch1ck @ 9:00 am

<There would be a picture here if I would ever remember to take a good one before we actually eat the food>

When I set up housekeeping with my first husband (can it really have been over 13 years ago already?) I believed that creating home cooked meals meant doing everything “from scratch”. If a recipe called for a cream base, I made it with flour and cream. Pasta sauce was started with fresh or home canned tomatoes. I had a freezer full of soup stock I made by boiling down bones. It was time consuming and I actually resented it a little bit.

That wasn’t how I was raised. My dad (the cook in our family) used store bought cream soups, pasta sauces and broth. It wasn’t even how my ex-husband was raised. His grandmother taught me many of the tricks I am going to share with you. It was just the way I thought it should be.

Over the years, I have come to realize the power of store bought red sauce, tomato products, soups and broths. I don’t usually serve them right out of the jar, but I use them every day.

I make a pretty darn good chili (if I do say so myself) and I start it with store bought spaghetti sauce. The first time I saw my grandmother in law do this I was appalled. Spaghetti sauce in chili? What in the world? Then she reminded me that spaghetti sauce has exactly the same ingredients you put in chili sans the chili pepper. Oh my God…she changed my world!  A jar of spaghetti sauce, some chili seasoning, meat and beans and you’ve got a bangin’ dinner!

I also start my vegetable soup with a can of tomato soup. I could never get just the right tomato taste with my “from scratch” version. Something was always missing. Even if I boil down a beef leg bone for the broth, I add a can of tomato soup (the store brand is fine) to the mix to give it that extra oomph.

I use cream of chicken soup and canned chicken broth in my chicken meat pie. If I’m making a beef meat pie, I use a jar of gravy or cream of mushroom soup. Actually, I very rarely make gravy from scratch any more. I never get it right and the store brand is fine.

I’m working on a ebook of recipes that use “doctored” up sauces and soups. Until I started thinking about it, I never realized how often I do this.

Are there any shortcuts you use that you think are unique? If so, let me know. I’m always looking for new ways to cut corners while cooking. I like to cook, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t have as much time for it as I used to!


Freezer Cooking October 4, 2011

Filed under: Meal Plan — geekch1ck @ 9:00 am

Source: food.com via Kristen on Pinterest

Friday was grocery shopping day. Normally, when I come home from shopping, I put everything away and cook my meals the day we are going to eat them. I may make up hamburger patties and marinate the meat before freezing them, but that is the extent of my prep work.This time, I decided to try something new. In a little more than two hours I had at least 8 meals prepped and ready to go. Here’s the list of the freezer meals I made:

If you are interested, here’s is how I did it:

Friday (1 hour 15 minutes)

As soon as I walked in the door, I turned on the oven so I could roast the chicken. Then I put 5 lbs of ground beef on the stove to fry. While, the chicken and the ground beef were cooking, I cut up onions and peppers to add to the ground chicken and cut up a roast to add to the tomato soup. I then made the base for the chili and the vegetable soup and placed it in gallon zip lock bags.

The roast and a bag of frozen veggies was added to the vegetable soup bag and that was placed in the freezer. It will go in the crockpot the day we are going to eat it.

The chili base received a third of the hamburger and a can of tomatoes and was placed in the freezer. The whole bag will be placed in the crockpot with a can of kidney beans on meal day.

The rest of the hamburger was separated into two Tupperware containers. labeled and placed in the freezer. On meal day, one container will be placed in the crockpot with a couple of jars of store bought sauce. That leaves only boiling the pasta to be done at meal time.

When the chicken was done, I pulled the meat off the bone. Half of the chicken was chopped for chicken pockets.

The other half was placed in a freezer bag with some Teriyaki sauce.  On meal day, I thaw some frozen broccoli in a saute pan and then add the chicken mixture. Pair with some rice and call it a meal.

Saturday (1 hour):

When it was time to cook on Saturday, I started the pizza dough in the bread machine. While the dough was being mixed, I finished up the chicken pockets and froze them (hint: next time I would omit the additional breading).  When the dough was finished, I made the pizza pockets and froze them.

We ate a few of the chicken and pizza pockets for dinner Saturday night. My family thinks that I should have switched the dough. In other words, the crecent rolls should have been used for the pizza pockets and the pizza dough should have been used for the chicken pockets. Next time I will try that.

Do you practice freezer meals? Do you have any favorite recipes?


Meal Plan Monday July 19, 2010

Filed under: Meal Plan — geekch1ck @ 10:13 am

This week starts a new series where I list our planned meals for the week along with any recipes that I’m using. I only plan for the dinner meal since the rest of the day we just forage as we get hungry or have time to eat. Working at home

Today I’m going to try out my “new to me” pasta machine to create my very first homemade pasta. I’ll let you know how it goes. This weekend we’re going camping so our regular camp food is on the list. To make things easier on me we always have the same thing when camping. No one ever seems to mind. Now, without further adieu…

Monday – Fresh pasta, meat sauce, summer vegetables tossed with olive oil
Tuesday – Grilled barbeque Chicken, baked potato, steamed broccoli
Wednesday – Lemon Pepper Pork Chops, Seasoned Rice, Green Beans (I’ll post the rice seasoning recipe on Thursday after I test it).
Thursday – Hot ham and cheese, pasta salad
Friday – Chicken Packets (I’ll post my recipe and photos next week when we get back!)
Saturday – Hamburgers and chips
Sunday – Hot Dogs and baked beans

What are you having for dinner this week?