Stock The Freezer Party

by HEAB on March 23, 2014

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Not too long ago, a good friend emailed a group of us asking if we’d like to take part in one those stock the freezer parties she’d been reading about on Facebook.  Spending a morning in the kitchen with friends sounded great to me, and the fact that I’d walk away with five delicious meals to feed my family made it sound even better.  The organizer (cannot thank her enough!) asked us for some of our favorite recipes, made a master list, and then did all of the grocery shopping.  Another friend offered to host and secured a babysitter for the kiddos.  I basically showed up and chopped onions…but there were A LOT of onions!

Following are the recipes we made:

Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas (with black beans & corn added to the filling)

Here is how it all went down.  We met at the hostess’s house at 9 AM on a Friday morning.  The organizer got there a few minutes early with all the groceries and detailed print-outs of the recipes.  By the way, she did all the grocery shopping in one night at one grocery store (Kroger).  We corraled the kids upstairs (mine spent the morning at Nonna’s house and on a field trip to the botanical gardens) and then quickly separated the dry goods from what needed to be refrigerated.  We then commenced the food prep.  Honestly, I’m not sure what all was happening while I was chopping.   Because of nap time, we knew we had to be done by 1 PM, and therefore, we had no time to waste.  Everyone pitched in and after the chopping, cutting, and mincing were all done, we all just took charge of one recipe each and then helped one another with keeping an eye on whatever was cooking on the stove-top.  There were six of us, and the total cost for each was $58.00, plus the additional cost of a baby-sitter.

I can’t believe how quickly it all came together and how smooth the entire process went.  The meals beginning to pile up as we got them finished, divided into containers, and labeled with baking times…

The babysitter kept the toddlers entertained upstairs while the tiny ones slept or hung out in Ergo’s.  Thankfully, it was a pretty day, and the older kids were able to eat lunch on the back porch and play a few games outside while we finished up in the kitchen.  The time went by so fast, and we got just about everything done.  We’d hoped to fully cook the chicken meatballs so that we could simply freeze and reheat but ran out of time.  So, we  just sent them home with the prepared roasted tomato sauce and baking instructions.  No biggie.  We also had plans to make oatmeal cookie dough but since it was almost time to go, and we didn’t want to leave the host with a huge mess, one of the girls kindly offered to take the ingredients home, prepare the dough, and bring us each a portion.  Perfect!

What made our party a success:
  • My VERY organized friend.  You really need one individual who can take charge and is good at follow-through.  Bonus if she (or he) is a list maker and enjoys spreadsheets. She went through all of her recipes and those that others submitted and presented us with a great list of easy-to-prepare, freezable, and not to mention delicious meals.  She then went through each recipe and figured out all the ingredients and the amounts needed for five different recipes for six families.  Finally, she did all the grocery shopping…yeah, she’s pretty amazing.  Of course, you could divide up some of these responsiblities, and we hope to next time as it was a lot for one person to do.
  • A great kitchen with some elbow room.  The host has a wonderful open kitchen with a large island, and the extra counter-space was really helpful.  Also, it helped that her dining room table was in view of the kitchen as we organized all of the dry goods there and it was easy to quickly grab whatever groceries we needed next.
  • Good knives – we all brought our favorites.
  • Plenty of good pots & pans – the bigger, the better.  After preparing some of these meals, I realized that my kitchen is lacking.  We make due with what we have, and really, it’s fine, but wow, could I have some fun in Williams-Sonoma!
  • Food processor – made a lot of the chopping much easier.
  • None of us are very picky eaters.  Everyone seemed happy with the recipes as they were, and thankfully, we weren’t dealing with any major food allergies among us.  If you decide to try something like this, just keep that in mind when you are planning the party.  For instance, if your family eats vegetarian, then either do an all vegetarian party or make sure to include recipes that can be made with or without meat.  Also, if there are gluten sensitivities, just make sure all participants are aware.  I think this one is pretty easy to get around with all of the amazing gluten-free products available nowadays, like brown rice pasta, corn tortillas, etc.
  • If you have kids, hire a good babysitter, or hold the party after bedtime as there is no way we could have kept up with all the kids plus gotten all the cooking done.
  • And last but not least, pick a group of people that you know you’ll work well with and make it fun.  We shared stories and laughed all morning.  Makes me wish I could do all my cooking with friends!
 Thus far, we’ve eaten three of the freezer party meals and loved them.  The recipes were mostly new to me (been of fan of that butter roasted tomato sauce for a while now), and I will definitely be making all of them again.

Buffalo Stuffed Chicken

Bow Tie Fiesta Pasta

The above plate was for my kids.  Did they eat it?  Nope, and I’m really starting to wonder about their taste buds because it was delicious.  Anyway, I can’t tell you how nice it has been to have a freezer full of prepared meals.  If I know I’m not going to have time to cook dinner one night during the week, I simply stick a frozen meal in the fridge for a day or two and then follow the reheating instructions. It’s so great, and I can’t wait for our next party!

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The Beloved Bean

by HEAB on March 10, 2014

It’s been way too long!  I have several blog posts written in my head, but I’m just not on the computer much these days.  Nor am I on my yoga mat.  My yoga challenge simply did not happen.  I had such good intentions, even set my alarm everyday for 5 AM for a week straight…and then proceeded to shut it off  and sleep until I heard Hannah stir. I told myself I’d do it at night, and I did…twice (was sore for days!).  I was downloading longer flow-type classes, but simply wasn’t up for it by the time we got all the kids to bed.  Hmm, I thought, maybe some gentle yin-type yoga is just what I need.  So, I downloaded a few classes…and never did one.   Needless to say, January was not the month of enlightening yoga I’d hoped it would be, but I did learn plenty about my mind and body.  Yoga used to be a priority, but it’s not now.  I could make time for it, but I don’t want to.  I’m pretty sure I will someday, but for now, I’d rather spend the few quiet moments I have in the morning with a cup of coffee and email/news.  In the evening, I’d rather sit down to dinner with my husband and then perhaps read or work on craft projects.  The mat will always be there, and I hope to be back on it someday.

Where have I been?  Believe it or not, I’ve been back in the kitchen, experimenting with various recipes, trying to figure out how to feed a family of six.  We’ve been eating A LOT of beans – they’re inexpensive, easy, and so versatile.  About once or twice a week, I soak a pot of beans overnight or all morning and then cook them.  The cooked beans then go in the fridge for different recipes throughout the week.  The following are some of our favorites…

Cuban Black Beans

A friend brought us the above chicken dish after Hannah was born, and now we eat it at least once a week.  We’ve also served it for dinner parties with all the fixings for a taco salad bar.  So good!

Jenna’s Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Beans with Kale…Charlie likes to point out his bites.

Favorite bean recipe?

 

 

 

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