Freezer Meals

I can’t believe that I have been in school for almost a month! Time is definitely flying (especially with the endless amount of homework that is before both the hubby and I) which is a scary thing as that also means this little lady is getting closer to her debut. Since the badester came two weeks before his due date, that means this little girl could be here in 4 weeks (37 weeks) or more. (We are hoping for the “or more” option as we still have so much to do to prepare for her to join our little family.) When we have spare time (What was that again? Did it ever really exist?) we are trying to fit in the long-task list before us.

This last week I made a plan, to re-make several of the freezer meals that I  made in preparation for the badester. But their was no way that I was going to make them all in one day again, because I just do not have the time or the energy for that sort of thing right now. (Can you say exhausted?) So my plan is to make two freezer meals a week along with other items that I can prepare in quick larger batches (like diced onions, granola bars, Muffins, par-cooked broccoli, etc.) so that way we are all stocked up on food when this little lady comes and we won’t have to resort to take out (cause believe me 98% of the time if I don’t cook dinner, we don’t eat dinner unless we go out to eat, not speaking ill of my amazing hubby at all, but cooking is just not one of his forte’s, though I will say that last week he made this mixture of chicken with lemon pepper and cinnamon, bell peppers, and rice that was delicious!) Life is already stressful enough with a newborn, the last thing I want to worry about is the big ‘ole “What’s for dinner?” question. We also plan to can and/or freeze some chili, soups, and chicken, but that is for another post.

The great thing is that you don’t have to be having a baby to make freezer meals, and they are an incredible time saver. I have vowed to never be without some in my freezer again.

I have taken these recipes that we used last time and am revamping them a little bit, because most of them were kind of blah. I also recommend using a large sticker label to attach to your gallon freezer bags, because the Sharpie gets everywhere if you don’t. (I forgot this fact this time around and the end result was sharpie all over me and the counter as I tried to mix up the bags.)

My preference for freezer meals is that you combine a bunch of ingredients that need to be cooked, together and then dump them in the crock-pot lined with a crock-pot liner. This time instead of buying a ton of stuff at the store an totally blowing our budget for the month, we are trying to use what we have first, can get at the farmers market second (it’s way cheaper), and then buy things at the store. I am also making a list of how many freezer meals I have (two of each bag) and what the meals are so I can more effectively plan my meals and not just dig around in the freezer trying to find something to eat. (Though that worked last time.) I didn’t take any pictures this time around (pregnancy brain anyone?) but here are the pictures from last time. (Yeah this is a blog post two years in the making.)DSC01648 DSC01640 DSC01641 DSC01642 DSC01643 DSC01644 DSC01645 DSC01646 DSC01647

Ok! Now that you have seen all of that! Here the recipes that I used this week:

Beef Fajitas

2 lb beef round steak (we used some antelope steaks we had on hand)

2- 8 oz cans diced tomato’s with chilies

1 large onion, sliced or large diced

1 green pepper, cut into strips

1 red pepper, cut into strips

2 tsp cilantro

2 cloves garlic minced

1 jalapeno, diced (we omitted this – something to do with a two year old whom does not like them)

1. Split the items between two different bags, seal so that as little air as possible is in the bag (air is the enemy to freezing foods) and mix together well.

2. Make sure the bag is laying flat and then write the following on a sticker label and place on the bag:

Add 1 tsp chili powder and cumin, and 1/4 tsp paprika, onion, and garlic powder. Cook on low 5-6 hours. Scoop out with slotted spoon onto tortillas. Top with sour cream, avocado, shredded cheese, salsa/Pico de Gallo, etc.

Teriyaki Chicken

Medium-Large bag of small carrots (about 8 large carrots sliced)

Red Onion, sliced or large diced

2 large cans of pineapple tidbits, undrained

4 large garlic cloves

6 chicken breasts

1/2 c teriyaki sauce

1/2 soy sauce

1. Split the items between two different bags, seal so that as little air as possible is in the bag (air is the enemy to freezing foods) and mix together well.

2. Make sure the bag is laying flat and then write the following on a sticker label and place on the bag:

Add an additional 1/8 c teriyaki and soy sauce to crock pot. Cook on low 6-7 hours. Serve with hot rice.

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I hope you enjoy these recipes and that they make your life a little more simple! Let me know your freezer meal favorites below!

From my Family, to Yours..

Zaycon Foods

Today I want to share a quick little word with you about an awesome food movement. Have you heard of Zaycon Foods? No? Okay, let me share with you what they are all about!

“Zaycon Foods is a privately owned company based in Spokane, Washington. The company was founded in 2009 with the simple mission to bring farm fresh meats direct to consumers at wholesale prices. 

You see, we knew all the farmers who had the best stuff around. Thanks to our experience in the grocery industry, we knew how to quickly move that great stuff from point to point, preserving its freshness, taste, and nutrition.

 

So we asked ourselves: “Why are there middlemen involved? Why aren’t we just getting this food directly from the farms to the people who are going to eat it?”

 

That idea grew into the company we are today.

 

When we started off just a few short years ago, we offered only a few meats in a few areas. But thanks to the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response we’ve gotten from all of you, Zaycon has grown like wildfire!

 

We now offer a wider range of fresh foods – from milk to berries to salmon filets – to an ever expanding list of regions. If we have not been to your area yet, let us know and you can bet we’ll be there soon. And if we’ve already been through a dozen times, you know we’re coming back again, too!”

 

Here is short video about how they get their products straight to their customers.

We just put in our order for their upcoming 93/7 Ground Beef and Applewood boneless Ham, (which I would do soon by the way, if you are interested in ordering from them) and can’t wait to pick it up! If you want to check out their site just click here.

Have you ever purchased from Zaycon Foods or anyplace like them before? Please tell us about your experience below.

Amazing Homemade Ranch

I try to be a good wife and mother and devote my time with my family strictly to them. I only write posts and things when little man is sleeping either during naptime or in the morning or evening and when the hubby is busy with school work. And then during that time I only let myself write posts when all my household duties are taken care of (cleaning, cooking, dishes, laundry etc you get the idea). To me, if my home falls apart because of time spent online I have truly failed indeed at my favorite and most important job. In life there are seasons, and we happen to be in one that demands my time, a lot. So when it’s been a while just know that I am still here, loving and thinking of you, but trying to do a million other things as well.

We really needed a dairy free version of Ranch Dressing especially when the little man decided that: 1. Dipping food is the second coolest creation ever; and 2. Ranch Dressing is so amazing that he will eat it plain. (True story). So I started scouring the internet trying to find a recipe that we could use to make some ranch.  Trouble is all of those recipes that I found are made with a soy alternative and that didn’t work for me (and I suspect the little man too) because I am allergic to that, too. Fun right? So then I had the idea to just try to make it with the dairy substitutes we already use. Right now we are currently using either unsweetened or original almondmilk and original coconutmilk. We prefer to use the almondmilk for the ranch. Of course you could always make this into regular ranch, though we honestly can’t taste the difference, with soured milk or buttermilk (you would just leave out the lemon juice).

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See we love this ranch, looks like it’s time to make more!

Ranch Dressing*

1 c Homemade Mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice, poured into a 1 cup measuring cup (leave out if using buttermilk)
7 1/2 tbsp Almondmilk, or pour the almondmilk into the cup containing the lemon juice until it reaches 1/2 cup
1/2 tsp dried Chives
1/2 tsp dried Parsley
1/2 tsp dried Dill Weed
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp dried Onion Flakes
TT fresh ground Sea Salt
TT fresh ground Black Pepper

1. Let the lemon juice and almond milk sit for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion flakes, and salt and pepper. Add in lemon and almondmilk mixture.
3. Let rest for 30 minutes in the fridge, (lf you can stand not eating it by the carrot stick full) and enjoy!
*We do like to make this doubled because we eat so much of it!

Hope you enjoy this ranch recipe! What is your favorite salad dressing/condiment?

From my Family, to Yours..

A Puffy Pancake

Today I want to share with you a delicious, easy and fun breakfast.

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This is a Puff Pancake.  And according to its name it is supposed to puff.  And it does!  Awesomely! Each time we make it we are excited to see how it will turn out.

Puff Pancake

5 eggs
1 c milk (or in our case, almond milk)
1 c unbleached flour
1/4 – 1/3 c Butter

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1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Dice up your butter (we only use 1/4 cup bit to each his own) and place it in a 9×13 pan and place it in the oven while it is pre-heating.
Fee

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Our pizza some is messy, keep forgetting to clean that...

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2. Combine the eggs, milk, and flour and whisk together for 3-5 minutes.  I only ever whipped it until around the three minute mark, but the longer you go the more air you incorporate and the more puffy your pancake is. This time I did five minutes and it was Huge! Make sure that when you are finished whipping it you immediately pour it into the hot pan, (which has been removed from the oven using hot pads) and then promptly return it to the oven.

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3.Cook the pancake for 25 minutes. When it is finished, make sure you have everyone gathered around to see how puffy the pancake is, because the center will fall shortly after it’s exit from the oven, and we don’t want anyone to miss it. At least, that’s what we do in our house.

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Little man watching the pancake rise. It is pretty mesmerizing.

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4. Delicious sliced and served with real maple syrup and some fruit. Or with applesauce, if you are my hubby.

We love this recipe and make it often.  What are your breakfast favorites?

From my Family, to Yours..

Our Little Oily Life

I feel like a lot of my posts lately are sharing with you all of the new things we are doing in our “Nourishing” life. I hope you are not tired of them yet we just think these new things we are doing are all just so exciting! And today I’m going to share with you one of my favorites!

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About seven months ago, some of our friends introduced the hubby and me to essential oils. I had heard of aromatherapy growing up (though I didn’t really know what was used in it), and more recently I had vaguely come across essential oil references in the health literature I had been reading.
The only thing I knew was that lavender was my favorite scent and Frankincense and Myrrh (I didn’t know they were essential oils) were two of the three gifts given to Jesus Christ by the three wise men. They explained what essential oils were (the life-blood of plants), and that because they are not made synthetically (which makes their basic structure a mirror image of what ours is and, consequently, incompatible with ours) they work with our bodies to produce some pretty amazing results. When they said that we were like, O…K… …so what does that mean?
Basically it means that you can use these oils to help your body heal from certain ailments naturally. I sure liked the sound of that, but the hubby silently asked the question, “Yeah, but does it really.” It turns out that they had just signed up to be Independent Product Consultants with doTERRA, a company that has the highest grade of essential oils available to mankind. They are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade making them the best of the best, and safe enough to be consumed interally and even used on infants and children. Not something that you can say about most OTC medicine’s.

They gave us some samples to take home including: Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, DigestZen, and Deep Blue Rub. Two nights later, Little Man, broke out in a fever in conjunction with him teething and I wanted to try the Peppermint to help alleviate his symptoms. I asked our friends for some guidance and applied the peppermint as needed to the Little Man. Immediately he started cooling down and we were excited by the results. We started using the essential oils more and more and when the hubby asked for some peppermint to relieve his headache, before even trying the Tylenol, I knew he had come around to the idea that they work. Not long ago, we decided to sign up as Independent Product Consultants as well to get our oils at wholesale price, and the rest, as they say, is history. We already have so many great stories to share and that is what, every so often, I will do. These essential oils are improving our health one day at a time and we have opportunities to witness the little miracles that come from them every day.

If you are interested in learning more about doTERRA essential oils check our our website here. It has information about essential oils and doTERRA as a company, and if you are interested in purchasing any oils or other products you can also do so there. There are some pretty awesome promotions this month that doTERRA is offering.

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During February, you can save 10% on the essential oil Whisper. “Whisper is a perfect balance of several CPTG® essential oils unified to impart beauty, femininity, and allure. Whisper’s subtle fragrance, once applied, mingles with your individual scent to enhance the essence that is all your own.” It’s pretty awesome, it really does create a perfect scent for you!
The product of the month is Oregano. This is an excellent oil because it is antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiseptic to the respiratory system, antiviral, and an immune system stimulant. It kills everything from Candida to Whooping Cough, Ebola to Staph infections, and from MRSA to the Plague. The product of the month promotion is simple, you only need to place one monthly Loyalty Rewards order totaling 125 PV or more.  Make sure it is scheduled to ship on or before the 15th of each month, and your order will include a free product! We love taking advantage of these great deals to get free oils!

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They also have this great promotion for a limited time. Stainless steel roller balls that you can put into the oil bottles themselves to make your own “rollers”. I would jump on this deal if you want it, because when they are gone they won’t be back for awhile, if at all.

If you would like to purchase your oils at wholesale price, get free oils, and also potentially have a side-business (it can do anything from pay for your oils, to replacing your full time job, if you work at it) then either click here or email me at thesnickerplum@gmail.com for more information.

One last thing, if you are interested in learning more about essential oils and live in the Rexburg, Idaho area we are going to be co-hosting a class this Saturday, February 15 at 5:30 PM, please email me for the address. I am really excited for this class and we will also be doing a giveaway! If you are not in this area but would like to attend either this class through Skype, a class at another time, or a class in your area, email me and we will find a class that works with your schedule/location.

I promise I will not spam the blog with doTERRA posts, but I wanted to have the links and dates available if you were interested.

I am excited about this journey that we are on, and can’t wait to share it with you along the way.

From my Family, to Yours..

Meatball Soup

Today I want to share a great winter recipe with you that is very easy to make and delicious! I love this recipe too because I made it with a ton of homemade ingredients!

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Meatball Soup
Serves 6-8
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 medium Sweet Onion, diced, see note below
2-3 ribs of Celery, depending on the size
2-3 cloves of Garlic, minced
7-8 cups of Homemade Chicken Stock, or a brand you trust
1/2 jar home-canned Stewed Tomatoes, or 1 can of brand you trust
15 Homemade Meatballs, or a brand you trust
Salt TT
Pepper TT
1 Tbsp. Italian Seasonings
1/3 – 1/2 cup Pasta, or I just did about a quarter of a box of linguine broken into fourths (little man loves to slurp the noodles) but any pasta will work.

1. Heat the Olive Oil on the stove in the pot your soup will be in. (I am all about having to do as little dishes as possible.) While the oil is heating dice your onion, slice the celery, and dice the garlic. Cook the onions and celery until they are soft and the onions are translucent. Then add the garlic in just before you add the broth.

2. Once the broth is added in, then place the stewed tomatoes, meatballs, and seasonings into the pot. Bring it to a boil over medium to medium-high heat.

3. Once it is boiling add in the noodles and cook according to the manufacturers directions, usually anywhere from 7-12 minutes.

4. Once the noodles are cooked through your soup is done! It is delicious served with yummy toasted sourdough bread with garlic butter. The leftovers, if you are lucky enough to have any, are even better. The trick I have found with leftovers though is to re-season them liberally.

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Note: I used to use only yellow onions all the time, now I prefer sweet onions for their flavor, and red onions when necessary.

Thanks for stopping by today. What is your favorite quick winter-time soup? Share in the comments below!

From my Family, to Yours..

Our (un)Nourishing Life: Foods Part #2

So last Friday I broke the bomb shell that we can’t consume Dairy products. And let me tell you that was one BIG unwelcome bomb shell. It was really hard to not eat something that we had consumed our whole lives.

But nevertheless we decided to remove dairy products from our diet. NOT an easy decision at all, but one that significantly improved our quality of life. In fact, the severe stomach cramps for the hubby almost completely disappeared. That is for a while, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  We switched to Soy Milk first. But it turns out I’m allergic to soy, and I am highly suspicious that little man is too. (It probably didn’t help that almost all of the soy crops that are produced in the US -94% in 2011- are GMO’s and soy isn’t really safe to consume unless it is in it’s fermented form.) So then we realized that we now had to avoid two food items that are in maybe 60% of “foods” that are available today.

-Detour- Wait a minute you think. Soy?  Like soy sauce and icky tofu soy? In a large percentage of foods that I eat?  Yeah right, this lady is off her rocker.
Well, start checking your food labels. You would be surprised just how often dairy and soy products pop up on food labels, I know I was. Even if it is in the “processed in the same plant as” section it more then likely has dairy or soy in it. In fact, dairy and soy products are just two out of the eight most allergenic foods. They are, in no particular order: Milk, Eggs, Fish, Shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp), Soy,  Wheat, Peanuts (which are actually not a nut but a legume), and Tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews).
Milk, soy, wheat, and eggs, I would say, are in 70% of the “foods” we eat in the Standard American Diet (SAD).  Why are we so allergic to these foods? Do we eat them too much? Why are they continually so prevalent in our diets when they are so allergenic?
But, I leave that to you. That is not our focus today. -End Detour-

Continuing on with our new “milks” that we were trying. We then tried hemp milk.  Icky, not for us.  Coconut milk, good but too sweet for certain things like gravy. Then finally we have settled on unsweetened almond milk. So far that has been the best for us and it works comparably for the hubby’s milk and cookies treat, which he loves.

-Another slight detour- During these new “milk” trials I started reading about the evils of dairy. Now before you start thinking I am going to agree with that I want you to know, from the beginning that I don’t.  I think that man kind has historically been dependent upon dairy products for a reason.  They can be a healing and nourishing food. However, I do think that any dairy (as with all other foods) that we consume should be a living food. Meaning it has not been altered from its orginal state when it reaches the consumer. All of the original vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are intact and unaltered. Raw milk is a living food with many health benefits, including the enzyme lactase, which helps those who are lactose intolerant break down the milk. Click here to learn about the history of milk and why milk had to be pasteurized. We have not tried it yet but we are seeking out a certified raw milk seller and will update you how we handle it. Again we may have a dairy allergy which is very different from lactose intolerance and would make any milk impossible to drink. -End Detour-

Then because we had to read the food labels on basically everything we ate to identify if dairy or soy were in it, we started noticing just how many ingredients in our foods we did not recognize as food items, seeming to be something instead from a science experiment. Because of this experience we now want to know what we put into our bodies. We are very careful about not buying processed foods with who knows what in them. We are buying foods that are organically and preferably locally grown using sustainable agriculture and farming methods. Topics that I will cover more in subsequent postings. We try to make as much from scratch as possible but fill in where and when we need to. Life does not always go according to plan.

So for now we are feeling better probably about 93% of the time, but we still have symptoms occasionally which leads me to believe we have one or more unknown allergies that we still need to identify. I am hoping it’s not gluten, a conditioner and structural builder in several grains, but I think it might be. We shall see what happens next in this food journey, shan’t we?

From my Family, to Yours…

Thank you for letting me share my stories with you. Please feel free to share yours below, I would love to hear them!