Freezer Meals · Gluten Free · One-Pot · Slow Cooker · Soup · Vegan

Lost and Alone

Vegetable Chili

chili

Another one of my awesome freezer meals – this time one that also doubles as a great way to clean out the fridge/freezer!  Once we had finished prepping my list of meals, I checked what I had left and decided I could squeeze out at least one more meal.  This hodge podge of ingredients was fantastic last weekend when Mother Nature decided we needed another round of cold weather, to include snow!

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We topped this with cheese but chives, sour cream, guacamole or nothing would also work.  As for the vegetables, whatever you have on hand will work.

Casserole · Freezer Meals · Gluten Free · Slow Cooker · Vegan

Nearly Forgot

Spinach and Mushroom Stroganoff
stroganoff

In the weeks leading up to little one’s arrival, I tried to prep as much as possible in regards to food so that even if I was functioning on two hours there would still be something edible.  With that, about a month before D-day my mom and sister came up from VA for a day of (in my opinion) fun prepping two dozen freezer meals.  While a few of them were some old favorites (stuffed shells, enchiladas, and lasagna) that would just need to be popped in the oven, the rest were variations of recipes I had been collecting and tweaking in order to make them freezer AND slow cooker ready.  I read soooo many articles about freezer meals, taking notes on what freezes super well (presoaked bagged beans, tomatoes, peppers, etc) and what does not (coconut milk, sour cream, cream cheese) and special items where the other ingredients determined if it would freeze well (tofu is awesome solo or just with veggies but no sauces).  Once I had identified what meals I wanted to try I then set out to make the ultimate shopping list while keeping to a very tight under $10 per meal with each meal making 4-6 servings.

Some of these meals, everything is in the bag and it just goes straight in.  With others there are things to add day of (extra stock, coconut milk, etc) or a side dish that needs to be prepped.  Like today’s dish, Spinach and Mushroom Stroganoff.  This was one of the first dishes on my list and is a variation of my standard stroganoff just with more “green stuff”.

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One of the biggest tips I can give is if you are having people helping you make sure the ingredients are set up in a way that flows.  This is something I did not do and it resulted in lots of extra work until I put my Lean Sigma hat on (yes, I’m a dork) and figured out how to eliminate a good chunk of the transportation/motion waste that was happening.    To get the meals out of the freezer bag, place in bag in hot water for 5 minutes then use a knife to cut a slit along the side of the bag, then open the top and peel back from the corner (if using a zipper bag cut the side the zipper is one when closed).

Appetizer · Gluten Free · Slow Cooker · Soup · Vegan

Are You Ready

Tailgate Round-Up

One more sign of fall – Football season is here!  I’m not a huge fan of football, more of a hockey girl, but now that we are living in a football town I feel like I have to at least show some team spirit.  So with that in mind, below are some awesome dishes perfect for tailgating.

Corn Salsa

Corn Salsa

Sweet Potato Chili

Sweet Potato Chili

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

 Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili

Garlic Feta Dip

Garlic Feta Dip

 Hot Artichoke Dip

Hot Artichoke Dip

These are also the same dips that I rotate in and out for gaming days – with the Garlic Feta Dip being everyone’s favorite.  It also makes a great burger topping, be it meat or otherwise.   Chili is also the perfect group dish since it can easily be doubled and switched to a stock pan if it becomes too much for the slow cooker.

Gluten Free · One-Pot · Secret Recipe Club · Slow Cooker · Soup · Vegan

We Had Everything

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Lentil Soup

Sweet Potato Lentil Soup

I’ve gotten lucky again with being able to adopt an almost orphan blog from Group B of the SRC.  In going through Corey’s Learning Patience – Hinz Adventures I was blown away by all the options.  However I was greatly limited in time, between getting the blog on Thursday and then having a medical procedure bumped up a few days (plus bed rest) – but then I saw THE recipe.  Not only did it call for ingredients already in my pantry but it allowed me to use my slow cooker, the kitchen tool that has saved me on many a day.  So I got out my trusty friend and got to work on her incredible Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Lentil Soup, which tastes (and smells!) as good as it sounds!  I did make a slight adjustment as I am not a fan of cooked celery, so I increased the other veggies and replaced some of the regular salt with celery salt.

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I served this with some crusty whole wheat sourdough bread and a bit of leftover salad, have to sneak the greens in somehow!  This soup was perfection, and it allowed me to follow doctor’s orders while making sure we had a delicious dinner.  I can’t wait to try out more of Corey’s recipes, especially her most amazing cookies ever because Nutella is AMAZING!

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Asian · Gluten Free · One-Pot · Slow Cooker · Vegan

As Fast as You Can

Aloo Baingan (or Spicy Potatoes with Eggplant)

Aloo Baingan

Over the past week I’ve been reminded of the deep and undying love I have for my slow cooker.  While it’s getting on in age, it’s dependable and loyal – constantly serving up delicious dishes with very little effort.  This past year I received a new book just for this technological wonder “The Indian Slow Cooker“, and boy was I ever thrilled.   I’ve made a few recipes directly from the book in the short time I’ve had it, and have already started adjusting dishes in order to better fit my family.  Today’s recipe falls in to that second category, as the original dish required adjusting flavors halfway thru the cooking time – which (for me) negates the purpose of a slow cooker.  When I use a slow cooker, I want to toss things in and forget about them until it’s time to eat.  Maybe some slight adjustments at the end, adding cheese or breadcrumbs or similar topping, but mostly just want to be done with it as fast as possible.

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This dish has a bit of a kick to it, but can be cooled down by dropping out the chilies or adding some plain yogurt to take the edge off.  We both enjoyed ours as is, serving over top of some brown rice.  One of these days I’m going to figure out how to make naan and then I’ll be all ready for a real Indian dinner.

Baking · Dessert · Gluten Free · Slow Cooker · Vegan

Of Forever

Vegan Rice Pudding

Vegan Rice Pudding

Welcome to 2014!  I have high hopes for this year, as well as some lofty goals for myself.   In blogging world I’m hoping to up my posting schedule – and with that plan recipes in advance so that events in “real life” don’t effect my blogging world.  I had hoped to do this last year but as usual life got in the way, however I’m starting 2014 on the right foot with six posts mostly written and ready to go!  My ultimate plan for this year is to have three posts a week with 52weeksofcooking posts every Thursday in an attempt to keep that organized.  The first Monday of every month (starting in February) will still be Secret Recipe Club (!!!) with subsequent Mondays featuring other monthly blog challenges, including a return to Dom’s Random Recipes.   With that plan I’m currently looking to join at least two more monthly link-ups, so let me know if you have any suggestions 😀  This will leave one weekly post to highlight whatever ingredient or cooking technique or new toy or restaurant that I’m currently enjoying – which is where today’s recipe falls.

Ever since Joe and I started dated we have rotated off the major holidays with our respective families, and this year we decided to take advantage of (finally) having a dining room and hosting both of our family around the winter holidays.  First on the schedule was Joe’s family, for which I did an Italian dinner featuring a mix of old and new recipes.   One of the bigger challenges for me was figuring out a simple and delicious vegan dessert that could either be done well in advance or using my slow cooker – since I knew my burners and oven would already be occupied.  After tossing around a few ideas I decided to go with a Vegan Rice Pudding, which I could make in my slow cooker and then transfer to the fridge until it was time to serve.

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This recipe was a HUGE hit!  While I was more than a bit nervous about it, since I had never made rice pudding vegan or otherwise before – but it was fantastic.  It was also delicious the next day when my SiL enjoyed the few remains as a post shopping snack.  I can easily see this recipe becoming a staple, and enjoy trying different variations in the future.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store – new city, (hopefully) new job, and lots of new food!

Home Cooking · Slow Cooker · Soup · Vegan

Wait for You

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

For the record, stomach bugs and food blogs don’t really go hand in hand – however I’m slowly getting back to normal and with that slowly getting back in the kitchen.   When I’m sick, be it stomach flu or otherwise, I tend to go toward simple dishes – mostly because being on my feet for an extended amount of time is bad.  I also tend to use tools such as my slow cooker and dutch oven, since both lend themselves to being set up and walked away from.  This delicious lentil soup is simple, hearty, and easy on the stomach in addition to being adaptable for either slow cooker or dutch oven.

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Since I had spent more than a fair amount of the day in bed, I went for the dutch oven this time around.  For a slow cooker, precook the onions then add everything else and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 2.   If cooking on low, turn to high for 30 minutes before serving in order to ensure the pasta has cooked thru – adding more liquid at this point if needed.