Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Get organized to relieve holiday stress...

Yes... I actually practice what I preach.
We are going away for a week soon, and I have been prepping for the last 5 days for it.
Just made all the lists, did the shopping, and now it's time to assemble the food
I am going to prepare during our stay.
Here is my menu, and how I am prepping...
Chicken Enchiladas & Rice
I am making them all ahead of time, cooking them, then we will reheat on site.
To make it easier for when I actually assemble... I've preshredded the cheese, and pre cooked the chicken. Easy Peasy.
I've precooked the rice, and all I have to do is add the seasonings and the frozen corn and it's done! It freezes really well.
Salmon Spread
Pre cut the green onions, drained the canned salmon.
Hot Dogs
(Hebrew National, pricey... but the ONLY ones not made with butts or noses)
I chopped all the onions and bought a can of chili to top them with.
Corn Chowder
Cut all the onions, made the chicken stock, bought the potatoes.
Corn Bread Bake
Chopped all the onions, peppers, bought the chicken and apple sausage, and the best cornbread mix ever, Trader Joes brand.
Tuna Salad
Chopped all the onion
(see a pattern here??? I did all the onions ALL AT ONCE. saved me a lot of time.)
Chopped the sweet pickle
Mixed the mayo with Dill mix, grainy mustard, and salt and pepper so it is flavorful.
When I actually begin to do the cooking and assembling... all I will have to do is grab the items out of the fridge, and do it. It won't take me hours and hours, just maybe about 1-2 hours,
and I will have 7 days worth of meals, for pennies on the dollar.
These are just the main meals, and we will have fruit, lunch meats, salads etc...
to round out the meals.
It sounds like a lot of work... but when it is done over days and spread out into manageable parts, you hardly feel it!
The last thing I want to do is do all kinds of cooking and slaving over a stove just before leaving for a holiday... that's too much torture.
Breaking it down into bite size pieces is much more fun, and it doesn't feel so overwhelming.
More tomorrow!
Going to go back to the archives and get some of the basics for ya... stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Get ready... get set... DON'T STRESS!

Christmas is almost upon us.
Are you overwhelmed by all you have to do?
Are you wondering how you are going to get it all done?
Are you stressed about how you are going to be able to afford to buy the food and
specialty items you want and need?
Please don't worry about such things... and let me help you.
But first... remember this...
No one ever died because the table wasn't just so, or someone forgot to make a certain dish.
It's gonna be okay...
Oh! Just had an earthquake! A little one... but I felt it... Oh.. there are the kids yelling to let me know we had one...
Okay where was I...
Oh yes...
let me help you.
Are you the baker?
Get those pie doughs made and FREEZE THEM NOW! Yes, they are freezable,
and turn out lovely!
Are you responsible for side dishes?
Stock up on frozen veggies and create your own medley when the time comes to cook!
I microwave my frozen veggies in my Rice Cooker Plus for about 8 minutes
Drain the water that accumlates, and add a little butter and my favorite
Seasoning... All Purpose Dill Mix. Yum! and SO EASY AND QUICK!
Need to bring or make something sweet?
here is the Pampered Chefs Recipe for
2 step Fudge.
1 can chocolate frosting
1 12 oz. bag chocolate chips.
Melt the chips on low heat in a non stick pan... take off the heat when they are all melted.
Stir in the frosting...
Love nuts in your fudge?
Stir them in with the frosting!
Spread it all out on a baking sheet or casserole pan (8x8)
Put it in the fridge to set and cut the pieces in the size and shape you want.
You can make peanut butter flavored fudge by stirring and melting 1/2 cup peanut butter
into the chocolate chips!
Try different flavors and colors!
White chocolate chips and white frosting!
Pink Frosting and White Chips
or swirl them!
I know.. I know.. you love me...
Send money. No coins please.
Applause is good too...

Monday, December 08, 2008

PREP 101 AGAIN....

So many people feel the crunch of the Holidays... and get a case of the Have to's and Need to's.
You know... the
Have to... shop, wrap, visit, shop some more, cook an 8 course meal, clean, blog, knit, sew,
and on and on and on...
And all the Need to's ... I need to lose weight, cut my hair, do all the laundry, clean out the cupboards, iron all my clothes, etc...
Love our family...
Be kind to yourself and others...
Do what you can/want to do, and don't stress the rest!
LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of people hate to cook.
I get told this by at least 2 people at every single show.
They, inevitably, buy the most products.
Every time.
Here's what I believe...
A lot of the hatred of cooking is really the stress and worry of not knowing what to cook and not having the ingredients at the ready.
Really, it's all the steps leading up the to the actual cooking that people don't like.
Cooking is the easy, less time consuming step.
Well... if you have been reading this blog for some time, and you haven't taken my advice and haven't been trying to look at cooking from my perspective... well then... I don't know what to tell ya. Hop on board.
Prep is the way to Kitchen Nirvana.
I promise.
Meal planning is great.
It's a great first step.
You MUST go one step further though... to really get in the swing of things.
You must PREPare yourself ahead of time.
Let's face it... you wouldn't go for a drive without your car... would you?
Or go shopping without your wallet?
or play baseball without a bat? would you?
No... of course not!
So why enter your kitchen every night and start from scratch every. single. time?
Why do that to yourself!
Right now...
Go get an onion.
Go on... I'll wait...
Tick tock... tick tock, tick tock... tick tock...
Okay... now get a knife. Hurry!
Chop it up or slice it now. Now! Go on!
Put those bits into a zip lock bag and put it in the fridge. Go ahead... it won't hurt.
Now... got grab some frozen chicken or ground beef from the freezer.
Defrost it and cook it up, and place THAT into a zip lock bag.
Now... how long did that take you?
You are now free to cure cancer and promote world peace.
See what I mean?
It does NOT TAKE UP YOUR WHOLE DAY to prep food for another day or 6.
The first time is ALWAYS the hardest. ALWAYS!
You have just prepped the beginnings of either
Sloppy Joes
Meat Sauce
See what I mean? Once you PREPare yourself, the possibilities are ENDLESS!
No go on...
Get your prep on... and report back here and tell me what you chopped, sliced, diced or precooked.
I'll post my menu in a bit.
Letti, this one was for you.
I know you hate to cook... but girl... you need to make it easy on yourself.
You live 2 doors down from me.
Get your butt over here and watch what I do... and do it at home.
I don't enjoy cooking either... believe me.
I just like buying the tools and selling the stuff.
I'm waiting...come on now...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stock up on Frozen Goodness

Make mealtimes quick and easy...
I shop at Smart N Final or Costco for almost all my groceries.
I stock up on
frozen corn
chinese type veggies.
That way... in a pinch, I can add... oh I don't know... say...
Frozen strawberries to my blender with a little fruit juice and make my own
"syrup" for pancakes. It only takes a second and it TASTES FABULOUS over pancakes or a white BOX cakes mix, instead of frosting.
The frozen veggies can be plopped into a microwave safe bowl, and nuked for a few minutes.
Add a pat of butter and a little salt... and viola! Veggies side dish!
I love the Pacific Sea boxed soups from Smart N Final, but they are boring for the kids...
so while it's cooking, I throw in some frozen veggies and it bulks the soup up.
Add some crusty bread and a beautiful salad... and Yummy Yum Yum!
Easy supper!
With all the running around, shopping, kid parties, soccer tournaments, practices, school functions etc...
Dinner needs to be quick, easy and delicious!
Frozen FRESH foods...
They are a Great Thing!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Stock up lists for Christmas

Man... I have really got to get on the ball here, and get to posting on this more often.
Things are crazy!
I'm cookin' just not posting!
Allow me to rectify the situation...
Prep for Christmas...
Start buying now and freeze if you are not Italian...
Frozen Veggies
Pie Crusts (if you don't bake)
Make your own crusts and freeze it too.
Non frozen goodies include...
Stuffing mix
Powdered Sugar
Food coloring
Cookie Cutters
Canned or homemade frosting
If you are Italiana and do the Feast of Seven Fishes...
Stock up on these now and buy a little each week because it can get really expensive...
Reggiano Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano Cheese
Good Olive Oil
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Crush Tomatoes (no seasoning)
Last minute
Buy your bread or make your bread fresh no more than one day before the feast.
More later!