Monday, October 31, 2011

Pictures from Yesterday

I am really not a photographer.  I am not sure how to make all the food look wonderful and pretty, so I just take pictures and hope for the best :)

Here are a couple of photos from yesterday:
The first is the set up for distributing the chicken and dumplings to the freezer bowls.  If you look closely, you can see that the freezer bowls have ice cubes in them.  It is important to cool the food down as quickly as possible to prevent bacterial growth.  So I put ice cubes in the containers of anything like soup, broth, etc. Then I pour the soup in, cover tightly, and shake (or you can stir) the contents so the ice gets through the whole thing.

This is both pots of chicken and dumplings ready to be put in the freezer.  Again, we need these things to cool as quickly as possible, so when I put things in the freezer, I turn up the freezer (if I can), and spread the containers out (instead of stacking them) and put previously frozen food around the containers (frozen hard pans of lasagne do very well for helping the process along :) ).

I also put the chicken and dumplings into various sizes of containers.  That way I have sizes for a snack, a lunch, a supper, or a supper for Wonderbee :)

I should have gotten photos of my chicken wings!  I made up two large batches, one spicy, one not.  I emptied two bags of frozen wings into two pots and boiled them til they were cooked through.  Then I used two boxes of ready made batter mix as a breading and fried them in my little electric pan thing (which I LOVE).

Remember the arm roast I was afraid was going to end up tough?  I had started it frozen in the oven and cooked it at between 350 and 375 all day.  It came out wonderfully!  I had checked the meat about 3 hours in and it was done but VERY tough.  I was a bit disappointed, but figured I would just let it keep cooking--I had nothing to lose. 

WHAT A CHANGE by the time Wonderbee came home!  Thank the Lord! The beef was fall apart tender!  I found some of the refrigerator biscuits that I was going to use for muffin tin meals (those would not have worked by the way, they are entirely too rubbery to spread up the sides of a muffin tin).  So he made himself a few steak and biscuits, and the rest of the meat I placed in gallon baggies, and squished flat.  That way I can just break off what I might need for a soup, stew, breakfast, or more biscuits :)

I also saved the drippings from the pan and some of the fat and bone....I cannot WAIT to make some Tex Mex soup with that!

Keep sending recipes and ideas and stories in!  I love posting them :).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spontaneous Cooking Fest :)

My darling bees!  How have you been?  Hopefully getting some GREAT ideas about doing some freezer cooking!  Don't be shy, feel free to post any and all recent tries, successes, even failures (which are just successes still in their early stages :) ).

Today Wonderbee had to work.  Usually I use Sunday for laundry and football, after Wonderbee does our Bible study with us.

However, today I was too restless to sit in front of the tv.  So I went to two of my freezers to see what mischief I could get into.

First place I hit was my chest freezer.  We buy most of our meat (pork and beef and roasting chickens) from a meat company down in Delta.  They grow their own beef, source well their chickens and pork, as well as a ton of other stuff (yak, buffalo, etc).  I usually place an order per year with them and get a quarter of beef and a side of pork.  Their beef has no antibiotics, no hormones, and is grass finished.  Their bacon is REALLY the best ever (I know I have mentioned this before!).

Well we are getting down to the bottom of the chest freezer where I keep my uncooked meat (I keep cooked stuff and frozen veg, etc in a different freezer).  So I grabbed two chuck steaks and an arm roast (which I had NO idea what to use for) and figured I would cook those off.  I placed them, still frozen, in my largest pyrex, poured in much quantity of water, wine, herbs, water, onion flakes, pepper, etc and sealed the top with tinfoil and placed it in a 350 degree oven to cook ALL.  DAY.  LONG.  The liquid and the sealed top should allow the meat to have a steam bath to make it more tender.  Later on in the day I added some brewed black tea to act as a tenderizer as well (I am REALLY fretting about that arm roast and wondering if it is going to be tough :) ). 

What I love most is that I can take all that wonderful liquid that the meat has been stewing in all day and save that for a starter for a soup (probably with the meat )! 

I am kinda bonkers for saving the broth, drippings, water from stuff that has cooked.  I cannot tell you how many times I save the water from homemade noodles (spaetzle).  I just look at it and think that it looks PERFECT for if someone needs a carb rich, mild broth to eat, or to use as a base for a stew or something.

Next,  I knew I was out of my previous batches of freezer chicken and dumplings, plus I had the bones, skin, and some meat of a chicken I had roasted a few days ago in the freezer.  So I got that out, and put it in one of my bigger pots.

When I had roasted the chicken last week, there were all those wonderful drippings at the bottom of the pyrex.  I had poured those into a container and froze those as well.  That was PERFECT because I went to the chest freezer and found some boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins that were past their prime (a little icy and a little freezer burned).  Now, because they had been frozen, they were not BAD, they just were not as great of a quality as non-freezer burned stuff.  So they went into my other big pot with water and the left over chicken drippings.  The flavor from meat to make soup, etc, comes from the bones, skin, fat.  But boneless, skinless chicken has none of that (and frankly, unless you deep fry them or smother them with butter or teryaki sauce or something, they do not taste like much either).  So with the drippings, I had a ready made start to the broth for the chicken and dumpings.

I let those two pots with miscellaneous chicken just boil and boil to get every bit of numminess out of the carcass.  Then I got the bones and skin out, had Superbee help me make dumplings, then put the pots back on to make wonderful chicken and dumplings.

THEN I wanted to try a mock sourdough bread.  I get into sourdough cravings from time to time, but cannot seem to a)keep a starter going and b)make the sourdough SOUR.  It is not as easy as one might think, but rather depends on length of resting, temperature the starter is kept at, temperature the dough is kept out, overhydrating, underhydrating, blah blah blah.  Truth is I have tried all the different variations that the internet promises me will make a sour bread and never really get it.

Besides maintaining a starter is a committment that I am just not into right now :).  So I wanted to find something easy. 

It is still a work in progress.  The first loaf I used malt vinegar, but it was entirely too astringent.  The second loaf I used balsamic vinegar, milk, and sugar and that was somewhat better, but still needs work.  I read that some people use yogurt, so I will try that as well.

My last project for the day, I think, is going to be frying up a bunch of chicken wingies to go in the freezer.  I LOVE fried chicken and the little chicken wingies are just the perfect way to get the fried food flavor without committing to a LOT of chicken or runs to Popeyes.

So that is what I have been doing (what I won't do to get out of folding laundry :D )...let me know what you have been doing!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Storage Containers

Morning darlings!!

I just thought I would share a link to the storage containers I use. This set is very inexpensive and extremely convenient as the lids lock together (and to the bottom of the stack of dishes) to keep the cupboard neat.   They are square and therefore fit better in the freezer.  All rubbermaid food storage products are BPA free :)

As I mentioned before, I also use 8x8 disposable aluminum pans to freeze casseroles because they fit perfectly in gallon baggies.  I just pop the casserole out of the pan while it is frozen and put it in my one pyrex 8x8 pan for the microwave, which I have sprayed with cooking spray  (for easier clean up).  If I am baking the casserole, then I leave it in the aluminum and set the aluminum pan in the pyrex in the oven.

What are you going to try this week? :)  Have you looked in your cupboards and fridge/freezer and seen any meat, veg, etc that could be made into something for the freezer?  The year is going to get REALLY busy with the holidays, so now is a GREAT time to stock that freezer!

Have a great day!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wrap up :)

Let's tally, shall we? :)
4 pans of Spanish Rice
58 lumpia
59 bean burritos
3 extra bowls of chip dip

I did not get to my oven baked chicken or my fried chicken wingies.  But still, not too shabby for a day's work!  Remember, you would be able to do this much faster than I...I took a lot of time taking pics and posting, etc :) 

Because we cleaned up as we went, this is what the kitchen looks like.  About 10 dishes in the sink.  That's it!!!  And Peekiebee is the one who has to do dishes, so that is not even my cat :)

Now, my dear queen bees, let me tell you what might happen.  You will get to the end of the day weary, full from sampling and adjusting spices and someone will meander into the kitchen and say "So, what's for supper?" (OR "Can we order pizza?").

PLEASE my darlings, try to restrain yourself from heaving the pan of 28  burritos at them!  Just smile lovingly, take them by the arm and lead them gently to the freezer. Open the door grandly and say "Darling, the world is your burrito.  Take your pick.  I am going to take a bath." and leave them there figuring out how to nuke lumpia.

Or order pizza.  Either way :D

Last Dish of the Night (I think :) ) BURRITOS!!!

We are taking our incredible rolling skills that we honed making lumpia to a whole new level....BURRITOS!  Stacks and stacks of beany, salsa-y, burritos. 
Ok, I do not eat beans (green beans, yes,, so it is hard for me to get all het up about this one :). BUT BUT BUT the great thing about the freezer meals is that I can cook something I do not like, but that my family loves, and without me having to eat cereal for supper some night :). Plus they are incredibly handy for lunches :)

Really folks, make ONE batch.  Don't double it.  Because this is what you get when you do.....

 A mess. :)

 The tortillas will have to be heated and moisturized in order to be flexible enough to be folded into burrito shapes.  There are many methods, but I use the "Put entirely too many on a plate with a wet paper towel and nuke the mess out of it" method. 

Everything ready for the great assembly :)  Our pan of bean stuff, a stack of tortillas, and a bowl of cheese :)  I had lined a cookie sheet with tinfoil and sprayed it with nonstick spray.  The burritos will need to freeze solid before putting them in baggies, or they will just fall apart.

Some bean stuff.

A sprinkling of cheese.  Not too much because these are even better when you melt cheese ON TOP when you reheat them :)

 My second pan full.  Altogether I made 59 burritos.

This was how much was left over after my FIRST PAN FULL of rolled burritos!!!!  Really.  One batch is fine.  :)  Buy LOTS of tortillas even for one batch.
I ran out of tortillas WAY before I ran out of beans.  I probably needed at least another three or four packs of tortillas.  Wonderbee offered that I could just put the rest of the bean filling into freezer canisters to mix with sour cream and more cheese to make a dip for football.  BRILLIANT that man is!  It ALMOST makes up for his "Sooo.....what are you thinking about for supper?" comment an hour and a half ago. Almost. ;)

Lumpia, Part 2

Let's Roll, Baby! :)

Empty lumpia wrapper.  Don't be tempted to double up on the wrappers, I promise you will not need to :)

Put a generous spoonful of filling on one end of the wrapper.  Make sure not to get the liquid that will be at the bottom of the bowl as that will make the wrapper unpretty and soggy.

Fold the bottom edge up and roll one turn.

Fold in one side.....

Then the other.  Then continue rolling til you reach the edge.

Place seam side down on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed liberally with oil.  When you have filled the pan, spray or brush the top of the lumpia with oil as well.

One pan going in (left), the other coming out (right) :).  They took about 25 minutes to bake.  The amount of filling actually works perfectly with the two boxes of wrappers!  

Lumpia!! Part 1

Bagged Coleslaw makes lumpia EASY.  Notice the type of lumpia wrappers--they have paper in between each wrapper to make it easy to separate the wrappers.  2 boxes, 2 bags :)

Season and brown the pork til its cooked through entirely.

Put the pork in the bowl with the coleslaw.  The measuring cup at the bottom has soy, port, worcestershire, and seasonings.

Everything mixed together :)
Next up:  Rolling!

Spanish Rice Part 2

This is how much three batches of Spanish Rice makes WITHOUT the cheese.  It was a slight miscalculation on my part :) 

No worries. Adapt and Overcome :) Just scoop the rice into the pans and add the cheese there! :)

Bagged, Tagged, and cooling slightly.  I had these cool for about 20 minutes, but no longer.  Food safety is KEY.


A Small Snack

Cooking takes a lot out of you and I was getting HUNGRY! :) My snack:

Coffee and homemade Double Chocolate Pumpkin Bread.  All those bits you see are chocolate chips...NUM!!!

My Coffee Bar has a wide selection.  For my first coffee of the day was Boca Java's Atomic Java with 50% more caffeine....
However, for my next coffee, I chose to mellow out with Community Coffee with Chicory.  Chicory a)is a relaxant  (which we need when we are doing a big project..esp one where our onions have to be thrown out :) )  b)it is good for the digestion/liver (perfect for a cooking day!) c)increases appetite (ok, this is not exactly what I need, but I will be nibbling all day anyway, chicory or not, so I figured it would not hurt :) ).

Spanish Rice Part 1

First we brown the rice in a little (lot) of butter :)  It starts to smell wonderfully nutty! 

These are some of the ingredients for Spanish Rice.  I tripled the recipe.  I am not sure how many 8x8 pans it will make, but we will soon find out! :)

My onions from the freezer :)  An ounce of preparedness is worth a pound of "Hon, I need you to run to the store QUICK!!" :)

I seasoned ground pork (or you can use bacon or sausage) and cooked it.  Then I added back the onions and rice, added all the rest of the ingredients except the cheese.  I then moved that pot to the back burner to simmer while I started browning the next batch of ground pork for the lumpia :)

Our First Snafu....

Of course no plan survives contact with reality :)....All my onions were bad.  Onions are a staple ingredient, so this is problematic.

HOWEVER, I did have some frozen onions that I had sliced and placed into baggies!  So now I have onions and my potential catastrophe is now just a blip on my screen :).

This brings to mind a couple of tips:  things mess up :).  The more you can prepare the less problems can affect you.

Also, we must try to keep a positive attitude, even when things are a mess :)  It makes the day better and is a blessing to everyone around us :).

Prepping the Chef :)

I completely forgot to mention the prep work for ME :).  I am in a very comfortable, light weight dress to keep me cool.  The sleeves are 3/4, as constantly pushing up sleeves is distracting :).  I have big thick socks on to keep my tootsies comfy as I stand all day.  I have one of my pretty brocade aprons on, my makeup on, my hair up and out of my way.  I feel put together, which provides a nice start to the day :).    My prayers are said. My list is made.  Let's actually start cooking! :)

P.S.  I also wanted to mention that it is vital to have a nice, protein breakfast before starting.  We need lots of long-lasting energy today! 

Prep Work

The very first thing to do in the morning is start with a clean sink, an empty dishwasher, and an empty dish rack :)  Cleaning as you go makes life so much happier :)

The stove is shining and pots are out and ready for cooking.  The pie plate will be used for defrosting meat and will stay in the microwave through the day.

 The coffee is ready, the computer is ready for recipes and blogging, the disposable tins are waiting.  I have fresh papertowels, a canister of wipes for quick clean up, hand sanitizer, a nice candle, and the moral support of a little fuzzy friend  (don't worry, I am VERY hygienic and he does not get to help with the cooking :) ).
I also have paper plates for the family to use as I cook, as well as some easy things that they can get to eat so I do not have to break my stride.  There were doughnuts for breakfast, and sandwiches for lunch :)

Getting Ready for a Day of Cooking

I am not an organized person.  However, organization really is key in this sort of event :).

Yesterday I went to the store and bought some of the items I needed.  I am slowly starting to work toward "themes" of my freezer cooking in order to streamline the process.  For example, I do not try to bake bread, make pies, do pasta sauce and lasagne, and do spanish rice.  Each of those dishes uses different ingredients, different processes, different dishes.  That makes for a LOT of work :) 

So instead I might make rice dishes OR pasta dishes OR breads, etc.  Today I plan to make "roll up" dishes such as burritos and lumpia.  I also will make spanish rice, as it takes the same sort of meat as the lumpia. 

Another tip is that I make a list of dishes I want to make, but am perfectly willing to NOT finish the list.  I am very ambitious and have a poor sense of time, so I always think I can do more than I can do.  No worries though :).  If I get even one large batch of something in the freezer, that is probably 4-6 meals I have taken care of for the next week.  Don't over extend yourself, it will make you miserable and take all the fun out of it! :)  Only start the dishes you know you can finish, and be willing to be flexible :)

A Day of Cooking

My darling, wonderful bees!

Today I thought I would try to take photos while I did a freezer meal day.  I also thought I would document what I am doing as a step-by-step.  We will see how this turns out :)....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

Hello my lovely bees :)
Here is a sweet treat for your sweet tooth!  The warmest, moistest, most chocolatey bit of heaven that was ever found in a disposable loaf pan :).  Eat one and freeze the rest or give them away.  They are a huge hit!

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

1 Cup butter

3 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla (optional)

1 large can of pumpkin (about 4 cups)

2 cups sour cream

5 cups flour

8 Tbls cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 and ½ bags of semi sweet chocolate chips.

Mix dry ingredients and set aside.  In VERY large bowl, combine melted butter, sugar and rest of ingredients.  Add in dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into 5-1 lb sized disposable loaf pans.

Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes until done.

Mini Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

21 oz chicken (3 tyson packets of the "ready to use" chicken)

16 oz frozen peas with carrots, defrosted

2 cans potatoes, (drain one can but reserve half of  the water of the other can in case the mix is too dry but it probably will not be) 

1T onion powder

1/2 T garlic powder

1/2 T black pepper

5-8 boxes of refrigerated pie crusts (I know that is a big spread, but it really depends on the way you cut the crusts)

Heat oven to 350. In a large pot on the stove, dump all ingredients in a large pot and heat through. Remove from heat.

Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Unroll each pie crust and cut two sizes of circles--one large enough to cover bottom and sides of the muffin cups and come up a little past the top edge of the muffin cup, and a smaller one to serve as the cover crust. I found a wide mouthed sports cup for the large one, and a regular drinking glass for the small one.  I took the scraps and re-rolled them to make more top and bottom crusts.

Cut large circles and fit into muffin cups. Spoon enough pot pie filling to come just below the top of the cup, so that it still gives you enough room to press the top crust to the bottom crust along the edges. Cover with the smaller crust circle and press (as well as you can) the rims together. Sometimes this worked better than others, but as long as most of the rims were pressed, the pot pies held together.

Prick top crust to create vents. Cook at 350 for approximately 25 minutes or until the crusts were a nice golden brown.

Let cool in pan for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove and place on cooling rack. The easiest way I found to remove them without messing up the crust was to go between the edge of the tin and the pot pie with a very thin knife to make sure nothing was sticking, then use a fork placed near the top of the pot pie on the side and GENTLY sort of encourage the pot pie out. If I tried to scoop from the bottom, sometimes I punctured the crust. However, if you do puncture the crust, just flip the pot pie upside down on the cooling rack to keep everything from leaking.

Place on a cookie sheet in freezer. As soon as they freeze solid, place in baggies. To reheat, microwave for about 3 minutes.

Mini Chicken Pot Pies!!

My darling, wonderful Queen Bees!  I hope this finds you doing fantastically well and blessed in the Lord!

Today let's talk Chicken Pot Pies!  A little backstory....

After years of those off-the-shelf lunch meals, I have been trying to send lunch to work with Wonderbee.  The freezer meals that we have been working on have been wonderful for that purpose! 

Well he mentioned last week that, if I wanted to, I could pick him up some of the microwaveable chicken pot pies in the single serve sizes.  I really prefer him to have homecooked lunches, but I went to the aisle and read the ingredients.  There was no HFCS (one of my hot buttons), but there was a lot of....stuff.  And more sodium than I thought needed to be there.  It truly was not the WORST meal I could pick up for him, but I wanted to see if I could do it at home (I always get ambitious at the grocery store!).

Now, let me preface this by saying this recipe is not 100%, homemade, I-grew-the-mushrooms-corn-peas-chicken-ground the wheat-myself type of thing.  For us, I am happy with incremental measures of better eating.  I have NO problem trying out a new recipe with a few ready made shelf items to see if it will even work before spending hours hand rolling pie crust before realizing that we do not really like the recipe at all. :)    I think that sometimes we get so eager to do well that we feel that we need to suddenly go 100% into uber healthy, organic, homemade, carob-not-chocolate eating and just get discouraged (and our families start to revolt sometimes lolol).  Small steps make for big gains :)

I wanted to make these in the giant muffin tins, but could not find them at the store, so I used regular muffin tins.  Let me tell you how CUTE they were!  And REALLY easy.  The longest part was cutting out the circles of dough :).

I ran out of crusts (these make a LOT) and tried some of the biscuit dough that I had in the fridge for another "muffin cup recipe".  UGH what a nightmare.  It was like trying to roll rubber bands out flat.  I realized that those refrigerator biscuits will not work for muffin cup recipes.  I ended up throwing that mess out.

It was a bit of an anxious time--I have NEVER EVER eaten a pot pie.  I am not that much of a mixed food person (ate my first pizza at 12 and my first PBJ at 35).  I am a raw veg person.  So I did not even know how these were supposed to taste.  I gingerly tried some of the chicken stuff (trying to avoid a cooked pea at ALLL costs lol).  I also got Peekiebee to try some.  We both decided that it would probably be ok.  So I assembled them and they ended up being SO CUTE!  I was eager for him to try them, but he decided to leave me in suspense til the following lunch.  He LOVED them!  They were easy to make, easy to carry, easy to warm up in the microwave at work.

Recipe to follow! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hello Darling Bees!

Here is a recipe for lumpia (also known as eggroll or spring roll depending on the country).  These are SOOO easy to make!  Bagged coleslaw mix makes for an instant veggie base for this dish.  I will often just boil a pot of rice to have with these, and that is supper :).

Please check my blog for more information regarding TASTE TESTING of baked vs fried and best reheat method :)

Lumpia (eggroll, spring roll).


2 boxes frozen lumpia wrappers, thawed*
2 bags coleslaw mix

1 package ground pork
1 cup soy sauce

3 Tbls Worcestershire
1 Tbls powdered ginger
5 Tbls dried minced onion

Liberal quantities of pepper to taste.

2-3 Tbls Port (optional.  Gives barest hint of sweetness, which compliments the rest of the ingredients.  You can try other things like orange juice, apple juice, etc)

 Brown pork on medium heat until cooked through, breaking the pork into small pieces as it cooks (about pea sized).   Drain and set aside.

In a LARGE mixing bowl, empty both bags of coleslaw mix.  Set aside.

Mix remaining ingredients in measuring cup.  It seems like a lot of soy sauce, but a)some of it drains and b)this makes at least 56 lumpia.

Put pork in cabbage mix, and pour sauce over all of it.  Mix thoroughly.  You can taste to see if there are enough seasonings in there for your tastes.

Lay lumpia wrapper out on flat surface.  Place one large spoonful of mixture at one end of lumpia wrapper and roll like a burrito (roll a little, tuck sides in, then finish rolling).

--If you are going to fry these, then place in about ¾ inch hot oil (approx. 375 degrees).  Fry until golden brown then flip.  Fry on that side til golden brown, then remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

--If you are going to bake these, spray baking sheet  with oil (we still need the oil to crunch up the crust, or it gets tough and chewy :) .  Brush both sides LIBERALLY with oil (or spray with REAL oil, not Pam.  I tried both ways:  brushing oil with a basting brush and spraying from an olive oil pump that you can find next to the Pam in the store.  Both worked fine. ).  Lay lumpia seam side down on baking sheet and bake at 375 for 15-25 minutes until golden brown.

*PLEASE do yourself a favor and get the lumpia wrappers that are in between paper sheets.  :)  Trust me, it will save you a lot of time and make this go SO smoothly!

These freeze wonderfully!  When cool, simply place in a ziplock bag.  Avoid rough handling until they are thoroughly frozen.  Reheat by baking at 375 until cooked through.

Baked vs Fried...the Verdict

My darling, wonderful Queen Bees!
Ok, because I am thoroughly scientific and REALLY hungry, I took time this morning to see what baked and fried lumpia survived the freezing and the reheating. :)
--I froze both the baked and the fried lumpia last night. I took three lumpia from each bag this morning.
--I then heated up a little oil on the stove and fried both a Baked Lumpia (BL) and a Fried Lumpia (FL).
--I microwaved both a BL and an FL.
--And I baked (in the toaster oven at 375) both a BL and an FL.
--Then I made the kids try them all with me and give me their verdict.
Reheat by frying: We all decided that the FL that was refried was just entirely too greasy for words. Edible? Only if you have spent the better part of your life preparing for that moment with routine trips to various fried chicken and fish places. I have, so I was ready for the grease. It was too much for both Superbee and Peekiebee. They both rated fried lumpia that was refried today as a definite "ew".
The BL that we fried was not bad. It was not as greasy as the fried lumpia was yesterday, but still was pretty oil saturated. More distressingly though was that it was not PRETTY. Edible, but not pretty.
Reheat by microwaving: These were the softest of them all. However, they were both edible. Superbee did not like the lumpia that was baked yesterday then microwaved today, but Peekiebee thought it was "ok". I would definitely just nuke the lumpia if it was just me grabbing a quick lunch--the ends of the lumpia still had a little crunch even microwaved--but I would not serve these to others.
Reheat by oven: This was definitely the best way to reheat the lumpia, baked or fried. The kids both preferred the fried lumpia that was baked to reheat. I preferred the baked lumpia that was baked to reheat. Peekiebee also agreed that that was good. Most of all, though, both lumpia were PRETTY when they were in the toaster oven. They held their shape, they did not glisten with grease or liquid like fried or microwaved can do. The baked lumpia was slightly less chewy on the inner layers than it was yesterday and more crisp. The fried lumpia was still crisp. The flavor of the insides was still wonderful in the baked lumpia, and actually seemed to be slightly improved in the fried lumpia that was baked to reheat. However, that might have just been my different tastes from last night til today.

Final results: Bake the lumpia (it is easy and healthier). Heat by baking. OR fry the lumpia but reheat by baking. Avoid frying the lumpia then refrying to reheat. Microwave is ok only if you are one of those people who are laid back about texture, etc.
Have a great day! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Baked Vs Fried Lumpia

Good evening my busy bees!
Today I decided I was going to make a mega batch of lumpia (eggrolls).
Now, if you have read this blog, gone out to supper with me, or met me at all, you KNOW that I have no problem with fried foods :).
However, after I had to DRAIN THE OIL from each roll of the first batch of lumpia, I decided to try baking them instead (and prayed they would work well!)
I made the lumpia and then coated liberally with oil by spraying some and brushing on others (to see which worked better :) ). Why did I coat them with oil? Because I still wanted that crunchy, crispy, nummy crust. I just did not want to have to wring out the rolls. :) So they only got the oil they needed to make the wrapper crisp, without having oil soak into the filling.
The verdict? I actually prefer the baked ones. The crust is a little more chewy, BUT you can actually taste the filling (as a lot of grease tends to overpower more delicate flavors). I am freezing both (because I ended up with 56 lumpia total!), and will see what reheating method works better and which type stands up to freezing and reheating :)
Stay tuned for the results! :)
My Darling Bees!
It is cold/flu/football/band practice/parent teacher conference season :)
Why not make it easy on yourself in case you happen to succumb to any of those situations (hee hee!) and take time THIS WEEK to make a few freezer meals?
How about a SUPER easy batch of bean burritos? (seriously, if you eat bean burritos AT ALL, make these. They are BEYOND easy and, apparently, as nummy as Taco Bell according to Peekiebee).
Perhaps some mac and cheese with ham thrown in?
What about a nice homemade batch of chicken noodle soup in case the flu bug bites? (In the past 4 days, I have found out that THREE of my friends have it!)
It's almost payday. Make a list of pantry ingredients, a few fridge items, and get a little food insurance going in case you get busy :) That way you will not feel guilty, rushed, forced to cook when you are sick, or spend more money than you mean to by ordering pizza for the record breaking third night in a row (NOT that I mind that myself :D).
Love, QB

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pasta Sauce

Good Morning!

Here is a pasta sauce that I use based off of a recipe I found online called “'Baby’s Got Sauce' Italian Sauce". I tweaked it a bit. I hope you like it!

1 Batch--------------------------------------------2 batches-------------------------------4 Batches

Olive Oil----------------------------------------same----------------------------------same

1 large onion-----------------------------------2 onions------------------------------4 onions

7-8 cloves garlic, crushed---------------------14-16 cloves--------------------------28-32 cloves

Italian Sausage-6-8 links or 1 lb ground—12-16 links or 2 lbs-------------------24-32 links or 4 lbs

1 can Tomato paste----------------------------2 cans tomato paste-----------------4 cans tomato paste

2-28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes--------4-28 oz cans--------------------------8-28 oz cans

1-28 oz can Crushed or diced Tomatoes----2 cans ---------------------------------4 cans

2-4 3.5 oz jars of baby food carrots-----------4-8 jars------------------------------8-16 jars

Fresh Basil diced fine--------------------------same---------------------------------same

Fresh Oregano diced fine----------------------same---------------------------------same

Fresh Thyme diced fine------------------------same---------------------------------same

5 Bay Leaves ------------------------------------10 bay leaves-----------------------20 bay leaves

Port or sweet red wine (optional but REALLY adds to the flavor)



Crushed Red Pepper (about a tablespoon)

A large, deep pot




Red Bell Pepper


Put 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in pot to brown sausage. Remove from pot and set aside. Add enough olive oil to cover bottom of pot 1/8-1/4 inch and bring back to hot temperature. Saute onions in pot until they become translucent. Lightly salt and pepper onions.

Add crushed garlic, can of tomato paste. Cook on medium high for a few minutes to mellow flavor of tomato paste. Watch carefully to prevent burning, especially of garlic.

Add whole peeled tomatoes.* Add diced/crushed tomatoes**.

Add herbs***

Add sausage back in.

Add baby food carrots. Carrots give the sauce a wonderful light bit of sweetness. You can mince whole carrots, but I found that baby food carrots are exceptional in the recipe, and much easier to use.

Continue to taste every twenty minutes to gauge flavor of sauce to see if salt or pepper is necessary. If you like spicy sauce, add crushed red peppers.

Optional: Port or sweet red wine (merlot, etc). Port gives and incredible depth and compliment of flavor to the meat and tomatoes. In fact, we often put a splash of port in everything from soup to chili. It truly just ties all the flavors together in such a perfect way, giving a depth and richness. A few Tablespoons should do, but you can taste and see if more is needed.

*These need to be crushed either in the pot or in the can. I find it much easier to crush/chop them in the can. OR you can use already diced tomatoes in the larger cans.

**I like to use fire roasted tomatoes or other flavored tomatoes.

***I often use dried herbs. I would start with 1 Tbls and see how strong they taste. You can also get tubes of herbs in the fresh produce section, which are very convenient.

The longer this cooks, the better it tastes. I generally make this first for my freezer meal days and let it simmer all day long until I assemble lasagne at the end of the day :) It also freezes well by itself for spaghetti sauce.