My Kitchen

DIY Cali Blend Freezer Packs

9:41 am

by Jennifer Freeman

cali blend freezer packs

DIY Cali Blend Freezer Packs

Make your own freezer packs of California Blend Vegetables.  It is super easy (or I wouldn’t be sharing it or doing it  myself!)  March is a perfect time of year to be getting deals on broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  If you are lucky enough to have Bountiful Baskets Co-op to order fantastic produce from, watch for the Cali-blend fresh packs for a great savings.

You do not have to use a Vacuum Pack Sealer (see deals), but it will make your packs last longer.

Cali-Blend Freezer Packs

 Ingredients

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
Gather Tools:
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • 3 bowls for your prepared veggies
  • Pot of boiling water
  • Bowl of cold water and ice
  • Colander and slotted spoon or scoop
  • Cookie sheet or large plate
  • Food Saver System or Freezer style Ziploc bags and a straw

Instructions

  1. Fill your pot with water, about 1/2 full.  Prep your veggies while bringing pot of water to a boil.
  2. Peel your carrots and slice about a 1/4 inch or so.  Crinkle cut if you prefer.   Set carrots in a bowl.
  3. Cut your cauliflower and broccoli into pieces. I use up the stems too. Just peel the hard skin/layer off and slice the soft white middles like you would the carrots.
  4. Once your water is boiling add a combination of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.  What ever the amount you want in  your individual freezer packs.
  5. Blanch your veggies by boiling for 4 minutes. This will preserve them for freezing. Broccoli will turn a bright pretty green and carrots will become vibrant and sink.
  6. DO NOT OVER COOK YOUR VEGETABLES! They will become too soft and mushy. Keep boiling process to just 4 minutes.
  7. Scoop out your veggies and plunge them in the bowl of ice water for 4 minutes.   This  stops the cooking process and keeps the veggies fresh & crisp.
  8. Remove from the water and pat your veggies with a towel.  Remove as much water as you can before putting your veggies up for the freezer so they don’t ice up while freezing.
  9. Lay dried veggies a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  10. After frozen, it’s time to pack them for the freezer.  Use the Food Saver System or fill your Ziploc freezer bags and zip it up with the straw sticking out and suck out as much of the air as you can then finish zipping it shut. The less air in the bags means less of a chance for freezer burn and water crystals to build up on your veggies.
  11. Label the bags with Cali-blend and the date.  Use them throughout the year!

 

 

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Easy 10 Minute Alfredo Sauce Recipe

Using only 4 main ingredients, this is a family favorite meal.  It’s quick, delicious and frugal!!  For years I have made this super easy Alfredo Pasta recipe.  The SECRET is the cream cheese!

This is what I call a “Convertible Meal”  which means once I make it I will convert into several other meals and no one will know we are eating leftovers.  I tend to double my Convertible Meal recipes — see my suggestions of additional Convertible Meals below.

I start my pasta water at the same time I begin the 10 Minute Alfredo Pasta Sauce and they are ready to serve at the same time.

10 Minute Alfredo Pasta Sauce

1/2 C butter
1 package cream cheese (8 ounce)
2 tsp garlic powder  (or 2 fresh garlic cloves minced)
1 3/4 C milk
6 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese (you can omit, but I wouldn’t)
1/8 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Using medium heat, melt butter in medium sauce pan then add cream cheese to melted butter.  Stir with whisk until smooth (about 3 minutes).   Add garlic powder and pepper.   Add milk a little at a time stirring with a whisk to keep sauce smooth.   Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Continue to stir Alfredo Sauce until desired thickness is achieved in just a few minutes.   If it is too thick for your liking, add just a touch of extra milk.

 

TIP:  Be sure not to boil recipe or the milk and butter will separate!

 

Convertible Meal Ideas:

Make a double batch of this recipe and convert into several meals.  I use what I have around the house and adjust my recipes accordingly.  I use whatever cheeses I have in the freeze (I buy cheese when on sale with coupons and freeze it for cooking).

White Chicken Lasagna

left over Alfredo Sauce (at least 3 cups)

Chopped cooked chicken (about 2 cups)
2 cups Ricotta cheese
2 chopped cloves garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
2 tsps fresh chopped basil (or 1 tsp dried basil)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded cheese (choose from mozzarella, monteray jack, white cheddar, etc)

Want to add some vegetables?  Add fresh or frozen spinach to the chicken mixture below.

Mix cooked chicken, ricotta cheese, garlic, basil, oregano and Parmesan cheese.  Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.   Place 1 cup Alfredo sauce in bottom of lasagna pan, add one layer noodles, spread noodles with chicken mixture and 1 cup Alfredo sauce.  Continue layering and end with the final cup of Alfredo sauce and 1 cup of cheese.  Bake until hot inside.  350 for about 35 minutes.

 

 

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Save money on milk! My favorite tip

7:00 am

by Jennifer Freeman

milk

Save money on milk!  My favorite tip

When I am running close to the expiration date on milk in the refrigerator, I freeze some in ice cube trays.  This saves me because I am not throwing it out and this frozen milk works beautifully in recipes!   I’ll also save 1/2 c in snack size zip top bags, just for cooking.

After the milk-cubes are frozen place them into a ziploc bag and label. Average cube is 1 ½ Tablespoons.

When it comes time to add milk to cooking or baking, thaw frozen milk-cubes and use like fresh milk. When the summer is hot and a milkshake is a perfect cool treat, add the frozen milk-ice-cubes to your homemade milk shakes.

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How to Save on Meat and Cheese

1:00 pm

by Jennifer Freeman

meat and cheese Time-Tested Ways to Save on Meat and Cheese

 

Buy meat and cheese in bulk and you will be set for several weeks worth of meals.  It will save you money.  With these simple time-tested tips you can save make it simple also.  Learn to store your meats and cheeses without waste! I get asked often about how to save on meats and here are a few tips that will help save you money and time.

  • Ground Beef: Divide it up. Purchase several family-size packages of ground beef at a time. But don’t just toss it in the freezer, divide up your meat into hamburgers, meatballs, etc. Also try dividing it up into 12 oz sections, not 1 lb sections.  This will save you money by cooking with 12 ounces instead of the usual pound and you won’t even miss those couple of ounces, but your pocket book will thank you!
  • Chicken: Cook it in advance.  10 lb bags of legs and thighs are very economical.  You can bring it home, cook it, and shred it, or chop and freeze. A single meal for your family might only mean six thighs or drumsticks.  Once you have cooked it, package in meal size portions in zip top bags and freeze. This will save you a great deal of time and make meal planning easier.  Plus if you have the chicken cooked and ready, you may not grab a convenience meal out!  Saving you money.
  • Cheese: Stick it in the freezer. Buy grated cheese in the 5 pound packets, put it in the freezer as is. When you need some, just thump the bag in the counter a few times and enough cheese will release in a frozen clump.  Once I freeze cheese, I use it for cooking only.
  • Pork: Slice smaller portions. Buy it in big portions, then cut it into slabs yourself. Use the pork for chops, or cut into smaller portions for stir-fries. Freeze the chops in gallon-size zip-top plastic bags. Use quart size bags for a meals worth of the smaller portions.
  • Beef: Cut it or cook it. Cut beef into cubes for stews, or strips for stir-fries. The more cutting you do before your meat hits the freezer, the quicker your meals come together.

 

  • Lunch Meat Savings:  Instead of paying a premium for sliced lunch meat, purchase a whole ham or pre-cooked seasoned turkey breast, and thinly slice the meat making your own lunch meats.  I freeze the sliced meats in 8 ounce packages and put them in the refrigerator the night before I plan to use them for sandwiches.

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cereal bar recipes

 

It’s not my intention to teach you how to cook – because I am sure you know how!  My intent is to help you think of recipes and ideas to help you stop wasting food.  The less food wasted or more items re-purposed, the less money is spent replacing and rebuying.  I find it fun to make a new recipe and use up all my leftovers or the seemingly unusable bottom of the box contents.

Does your cereal cabinet look like mine? 8 boxes of cereal and no box has enough cereal for a full bowl.   My kids tire of he cereal and then move to the next box, leaving an almost empty box!  Then what?  Ah, you need my Bottom Of The Cereal Box recipes.

I like the challenge to come up with a way to use up the final left overs with a new way that no one realizes it’s the same thing.  This keeps us living a frugal lifestyle and using our money for more important things like rides on the $2 a shot carrousel ride that the twins love!!    Be warned now the Bottom Of The Box Cereal Bar recipe does have a lot of sugar, and I am sure with a bit of adapting you can lower the sugar content.  I make these 2 or 3 times a year so on occasion sugar overload in okay (because we are leaving the house and  heading to the carrousel anyway right!)

I am SURE many of you have some great original “Bottom Of The Cereal Box” recipes — do share yours in the comments below or HERE!!

 

cereal coupons

Garbage Bars – no oven recipe.

I don’t know where the name came from, it could be better.

Bars:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 6 cups of any leftover cereal or snacks (I used a combination of Rice Krispies, corn Chex and Chow Mein Noodles. Pretzels, Ritz Crackers and Cheerios would also be good options)

Topping:

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.  For easy stirring this sticky concoction, spray spoon/spatula with cooking spray.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Repeat again until the mixture bubbles  and begins to boil.

Remove from microwave and add and stir until smooth 1-1/2 cups peanut butter.   Add the cereal/snack combination.

Pour in the prepared 9×13 pan.  Hint:  re-spray the spoon or spatula

In a small, microwavable bowl combine the chocolate chips and 1/3 cup peanut butter.  Microwave  for 2 minutes.  Stir and if needed, microwave for another 30 seconds to finish melting the chocolate chips.  Stir until smooth and spread over the bars.

Cool and cut into bars.

 

 

Garbage Cookies  Bottom Of The Box Cookies

  • package of or box of sugar cookies (Betty Crocker,  Krusteaz etc)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups cereal

Heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl combine sugar cookie mix, butter, egg mix into a soft dough.  Add 3 cups any variety of cereal.  Drop by the spoonful and cook for 8-10 minutes.

 

AND suggest a NEW NAME for these recipes!!

PLEASE!!

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How to Clean a Scorched Pan, Making it NEW!

12:15 am

by Jennifer Freeman

clean a scorched pan

Get Stubborn Cooked On Food Off Your Pan Easily! (Not that this has ever happened to me..yeah, right) 

If you have a pan with cooked or scorched food stuck on it, put it on the stove with enough water to cover the cooked-on food and add 1/4 c baking soda. 

Bring to a boil and watch the food begin to flake off.  It  works like magic.

 

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