Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I was recently asked:

"I have been drooling over most of the stuff on your blog, and I know you are a big believer in OAMC... so would you mind if I asked you some questions?

1. Where do you get your recipes? From the blogs on your site, books, combo? Any particular book/website you really recommend?

2. Do you only go grocery shopping once a month? Or is that just for the main ingredients- you still go for fruits/veggies etc.

3. On average, how much does the big shopping trip cost? (I know you're really good at shopping sales, but a general idea would be nice.)

4. Do you *need* a chest freezer to save everything you've made, or would a regular sized side-by-side freezer work? (On your blog you said it could fit, but I'd love an updated opinion juuuust to be sure!)

5. What are you favorite recipes? I've read most of the updates and ratings, but a quick list would be great.


1. I now get most of my recipes from regular cookbooks and allrecipes.com, as I found that making a bunch of brand new recipes lead to a lot of failures. And eating food we don't like sucks. I started with this book: Once A Month Cooking. It gave a great overview of the process, but I really didn't care for a lot of the actual recipes. DH is also really fussy, which makes it more challenging. I did one full set of their cooking to get the hang of it, and now I can just do my own thing.

2. Gosh no. I go shopping once a week and have zero aspirations to do it once a month. I go once before a big cooking session, but one of my "once a month" sessions usually lasts 3-4 months as we don't eat those meals every day. Usually on the weekends, we cook fresh. On Thursday, we make pizza. The frozen meals are just for busy days and lazy days. If you do want to try once a month shopping, the book "America's Cheapest Family" does outline how.

3. I've only costed it once. I spent $130 on the groceries, and the servings per recipe ranged from 4 to 10. Average cost/serving was about $1.75. It will vary based on what you make - lentil based dishes are cheaper than chicken breasts. So it depends what you like.

4. If you freeze things flat in freezer bags, you can fit an incredible amount in a small space. I would eat your freezer down a bit in the weeks leading up to freezing a bunch of meals, and you could stick to fewer recipes (I usually do 10-12; you could start with 5-6).

5. Lasagna, Sloppy Joes, Chicken Souvlaki, Grilled Fish, Beef Sandwiches Au Jus, Blackened Chicken (or Salmon), BBQ Pulled Pork, Aztec Quiche, Pizza Dough (made weekly on Sunday, frozen for Thursday), Chicken in Enchilada Sauce. Whew! Those are the definite winners I would happily eat again and again. Yes, they're all meaty. We're carnivourous. I make an effort to serve with a salad or veggie side.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Two Bite Brownies

Two Bite Brownies

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease 24 mini-muffin cups (or an 8 x8 pan).
In a large bowl, mix:
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar

6 tbsp cocoa powder (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
Mix well.

2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
Mix well again.

Use heaping teaspoons to fill mini muffin cups. Bake 10-12 min (watch carefully). For 8 x8 pan, bake 25 min.

This was my break-in recipe for my new mini muffin pans, and they are at least as tastey as the scarily shelf stable store bought variety. This is my go-to brownie recipe because I always have all the ingredients and it takes five minutes to mix up a batch.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Treats: Caramel, White Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate Popcorn

This is what I made this year for people I want to give small gifts to... in my family, that means cousins, aunts, and uncles mostly. I spend a lovely couple of hours with a friend, and we each got 14 bags to give away. We made a double batch of white and milk chocolate, and a single of the caramel (or about 1 cup of unpopped popcorn per type). The cost, including ribbon and bags, was less than $10 each. My favorite is the milk chocolate, but my friend preferred the white.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 quarts popped popcorn
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a very large bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
  3. Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
Milk Chocolate Popcorn
  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees.
  2. Grease a large roasting pan.
  3. Combine popcorn and nuts in prepared roasting pan.
  4. Combine morsels, corn syrup and butter in a medium, heavy-duty saucepan.
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils.
  6. Pour over popcorn and toss well to coat.
  7. Bake, stirring frequently for 30 to 40 minutes.
  8. Loosen popcorn from pan and allow to cool slightly in pan.
  9. Remove to a wax paper lined cookie sheet to cool completely.
White Chocolate Popcorn

2 cups white chocolate dipping wafers
1/2 cup popcorn (measured unpopped), air popped

  1. Pop popcorn.
  2. Melt white chocolate wafers in glass measuring cup in microwave.
  3. Pour white chocolate over popcorn. Stir well.
  4. Spread on wax paper lined cookie sheets. Allow to harden.
Update to anyone planning to try these: 2 weeks later, they all still taste great. The chocolate and caramel are still very crispy. The white chocolate has more of a soft texture, but has been well loved.

I just may repeat this next year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chewy Granola Bars... a thousand ways.

I posted this base recipe back in September. I just whipped up another batch to take to work this week. It’s a very forgiving, flexible recipe, so I thought I’d post some ideas on how to vary the ingredients to get your very favourite combination.

First choice: Cereal (4 ½ cups total)

Oatmeal is the base – keep at between 2 ½ cups and all 4 ½ cups

Other options: rice crispies, puffed wheat, Kashi Puffs, Cheerios, bran flakes... any non-sugar cereal

Second choice: Flour-ish stuff (1 cup total)

Whole wheat flour is the default choice. You could sub up to ½ cup with:

Ground flax seed, wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ, protein powder etc.

Third choice: Fruit puree

I use banana, but any fruit will add some moisture and a bit of flavour.

Applesauce, pureed prunes, pureed peaches, mashed pears.

Fourth choice: Sweeteners

The honey is important for stickiness, but corn syrup would work. White or brown sugar doesn’t matter much. Could add a little molasses in place of some of the honey.

Fifth choice: Candy

The recipe calls for 1 cup of chocolate chips. I usually go with about ½ cup. Other options:

Dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, Reeses pieces, anything that works in cookies.

Sixth choice: Dried fruit

Raisins is the default, but of course you could try:

Dried cherries, apples, blueberries, mango, pineapple, etc.

Last choice: Nuts

Almonds, peanuts, walnuts... whatever you like, or none at all. I was out of nuts, so I subbed ¼ c peanut butter for ¼ c honey.

There you have it! A thousand combinations of deliciousness.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Apple Cinnamon Mini Scones

It's the weekend, and as usual I had a hankering for warm delicious baked goods. So here we have it:

Apple Cinnamon Mini Scones, adapted from Simple Scones.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda cinnamon and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in apple.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
  5. Split dough in half. Place one half on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 3.5- to 4-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Repeat with other half of dough. Bake until golden, about 12 to 14 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.
I just love the pastry-like scones with apple and cinnamon. Very light and flaky. I made these half the normal size so I can indulge with just a little less guilt. wink

Friday, October 24, 2008

Call for links

I'm slowly creating a links list on the right. If you have a source for your OAMC recipes, or a tag on your blog for recipes that freeze well, or anything else you've found helpful in once-a-month or freezer cooking, leave me a comment so I can add it.

Also, feel free to link to me from your blog.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicken in Enchilada Sauce

I live in the frozen plains of Canada, and so the luxury of enchilada sauce from a can is unknown to me. As is the proper method of making enchiladas.  I know I could learn, but my lazy version is pretty good in the meantime.

Just shred 3-4 cooked chicken breast, and add enough of the following sauce to make it look good. Freezes and thaws extremely well. Serve in/with tortillas.

Ten Minute Enchilada Sauce 


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup New Mexico or California chili powder
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion salt
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and chili powder, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning flour.
  2. Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, and onion salt into the flour and chili powder until smooth, and continue cooking over medium heat approximately 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Monkey Bread

Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite things in the world... but they take a lot of effort. Monkey Bread is the lazy cook's cinnamon roll. This recipe uses dough made in the bread machine, but you can easily use a mixer with a dough hook or just do it up by hand.

Monkey Bread II


  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons margarine, softened
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup raisins


  1. Remove baking pan from machine. Place yeast, flour, ground cinnamon, salt, white sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and water in the order that is recommended for the bread maker. Make sure that no liquid comes in contact with the yeast. Select dough cycle and press start.
  2. When dough is complete, place dough on floured surface and knead 10 to 12 times.
  3. In a medium saucepan on low heat, melt one cup of butter, stir in brown sugar and raisins ( 1/4 cup of chopped nuts is good too!). Stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
  4. Cut dough in one inch chunks. Drop one chunk at a time into the butter sugar mixture. Thoroughly coat dough pieces, then layer them loosely in a greased Bundt or tube pan, staggering layers so you're plopping each dough chunk over a space between two below. Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until dough is just over the top of the pan, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F (190 degree C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes or till golden brown. Remove from oven, place a plate face down in top of the pan and, using oven mitts to hold plate on pan, turn over both until bread slides out onto plate. Serve warm...and enjoy.

I cut the sauce (margarine, brown sugar, raisins) in half, and I shouldn't have. It sounded like too much, but it would have been even ooier and goier with more caramel. This is actually my first try at monkey bread, and I think it's already my go-to "wow" recipe for a bake sale or office potluck.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Why OAMC rocks (Carmelized Pear and Walnut Salad with Orange Vinagarette)

Part of what makes Once a Month Cooking fabulous is that when the main course is taken care of, it's much easier to put some effort into a great side dish, like this salad. I served it with a previously made ham and cheese quiche.

Salad with Prosciutto and Caramelized Pears and Walnuts

  • 2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 pears - peeled, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 pound prosciutto, cut into thin strips
  • 2 romaine hearts, rinsed and torn


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat orange juice over medium-high heat, whisking often, until it is reduced by 1/4.
  2. Add to a blender, along with the vinegar, onion, sugar, wine, salt and pepper, and process until smooth. Then, while blending on a low speed, remove cap and slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify (thicken) the dressing. Chill until ready to use.
  3. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute pears and nuts in butter for 3 minutes. Add sugar and water and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, combine prosciutto, lettuce and the pear and walnut mixture. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve on a large Italian platter. Enjoy!
I scaled this down to just two servings and omitted the prosciutto. I also added a little feta cheese. I've been dreaming of this salad since I saw something very similar on a local-access cable cooking show months ago. It was worth the effort, as carmelized anything always is.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chicken Souvlaki Dump Chicken

Chicken Souvlaki Dump Chicken
4 chicken breasts, cooked, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp oil
1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine spices and oil. Add lemon juice. Place (or "dump") chicken in freezer container or bag, pour marinade over. Freeze.

To serve, heat in microwave in glass dish. Drain off excess mainade. Serve with baked potatoes and a veggie side, such as carrot sticks or steamed broccoli.

To prepare without freezing, place raw chicken in marinade for at least 30 min (up to a day). Thread onto skewers; broil or barbeque until done, approx. 5 min on each side.

We've already eaten both containers of Chicken Souvlaki, and it was one of the best chicken recipes I've made. Supper was on the table in less than 15 minutes, with only about 5 minutes of actual active work. I will be making this again. The same marinade also works with beef or venison; cubed round steak is perfect.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roasted Tomato Soup

My own adaptation of this recipe.

Roasted Tomato Soup

5 medium tomatoes (any variety, use 6-7 if they're smaller Romas)
1 large carrot
olive oil (to drizzle or spray)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock (or 2 tsp/cubes bullion + 2 cups water)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Quarter tomatoes. Arrange cut side up on baking tray. Peel carrot, cut into large pieces and add to tray. Spray with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 45 min at 375*F.

2. Dump veggies into blender or food processor. Add garlic, basil, vinegar, and 1 cup stock. Blend well. Taste, add more stock to thin to desired consistency. Serve either hot or chilled, ideally with a cheddar grilled cheese sandwich.

This soup will freeze well, and is a great way to preserve some of those wonderful summer tomatoes. I wanted to add a sprinkle of chipotle powder... but I seem to have misplaced it. It was yummy the way it was.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Homemade Pastry and Apple Pie

A long time ago, I took Home Ec and learned to make pie crust. Then my mom took over the farmer's market pie-and-coffee stall for a summer and we had to make pie weekly. This is the crust that got us through. It's just plain delicious. I know most of you fancy-pants cooks have a food processor do all the work, but I don't own one (and neither did my mom or grandma, who make a damn fine pie). So these are purely manual directions that may be adapted if you're more technologically advanced than I am.

Basic Pastry
1 cup shortening (Crisco, lard, butter, or marg)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 egg (beat and discard 1/2)
1/2 tbsp vinegar
1. Beat egg w/ fork in measuring cup. Leave 1/2 egg in cup. Add vinegar to egg and then add enough liquid to make 100 ml (scant 1/2 cup) liquid.
2. Measure dry ingredients into bowl. Stir. Cut in shortening using a pastry blender or 2 knives until the size of peas. Add liquids. Stir lightly with a fork, then mix into a ball with your hands.
3. Divide pastry in half. Roll between waxed paper. Ease one portion into pie pan. Remaining portion is for top crust.

Apple Pie
5-6 apples, peeled cored and sliced
2/3 c sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter/margarine
1. Preheat oven to 425*F.
2. Combine apples, flour, cinnamon, and sugar. Put into crust. Dot with butter.
3. Add top crust. Be sure to cut a few vents (holes), and seal the crusts together.
4. Bake 15 min. Reduce oven heat to 350*F and bake until crust is lightly browned - about 35 more minutes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mmmm, chicken.

Well, we have indeed been a hungry bunch. So far, the recipes have been hits. Chicken fried rice did pretty good, although I'd make a few changes next time. I undercooked the rice a little, and it didn't really cook through on the reheating. So I'd advise cooking it to done. It also needed more carrots. So 3/5 as made, but it can easily be better.

Chicken Souvlaki was great - I will make it again, just the same. Big pieces are the key, as they get very well marinaded. To leave a bit of chicken taste, the pieces should be about twice as big as they would be if you were eating them the day they were made.  5/5

Chicken in Enchilada Sauce - also great. The sauce definitely thins upon thawing, but it's still very tasty. Served with Black Bean and Corn Salad and tortillas. A nice, easy meal for after we got back from our weekend road trip. 5/5

I really feel like I'm getting better at choosing recipes that freeze well. I have my doubts about the Pineapple Chicken Curry, but time will tell.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chewy Granola Bars

I was looking to make something new and a little healthy last night, and I came upon this recipe.

Then I read all the reviews and modified it kind of a lot. So I present to you:

Uncanny's Chewy Granola Bars
3 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup rice crispies
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter/margarine
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips (mini if you've got 'em)
1/2 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or other nuts)

1. Preheat oven to 325*. Grease a 9" x 13" pan.
2. In large bowl, mix everything except the chocolate raisins and nuts. Add those after the oatmeal mixture is well mixed. Mix it up so everything is well distributed.
3. Press into pan. Bake for 18-22 min, until golden brown. Cool 10 min, slice. Cool completely before removing from pan.

There is lots of room to change this recipe to your liking - add more fruit and less chocolate, more chocolate and less nuts. Use whatever strikes your fancy. Add some puffed wheat. Take out the rice crispies. As long as the general proportions are right, it'll be fine.

And my oh my, is it fine. About a hundred times better than anything that comes in a wrapper.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fried Rice

The recipe I used was from the Looneyspoons cookbook. I can't find it online anywhere, but I'm off today so you're lucky enough to get it typed:

The Rice is Right (Fried Rice)

Original recipe:

1/2 cup eggs (2)

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp canola oil

1 c chopped onions

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 c each chopped carrots and celery

1/2 c chopped green onions

1 tsp grated ginger root

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

4 cups cooked brown rice

1. Whisk eggs and sesame oil. Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet or wok. Pour in eggs, cook until set (about 3 min). Remove from pan and cut into bite-size pieces.

2. Spray skillet with a little more oil/nonstick spray. Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, green onions, and ginger. Stir fry over medium heat for about 5 min, until veggies are softened. Add soy sauce, honey, egg, rice. Mix well, cook 2-3 min until heated through.

Modifications I made last time:

Subbed chicken for egg (about 2 breasts, we like it chickeny)

Used half white/half brown rice

Used only carrots and snow peas, as DH doesn't like onions, celery, or green onions. I do add a lot of onion powder to replace the flavour.

It's a yummy, really easy recipe.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How to shop... big.

I've read every Once A Month or freezer cookbook my library has to offer. One wonderful thing I picked up from one of them was how to strategize a shopping list. You're probably thinking "I've been shopping for years. How hard can it be?" Harder than you think. It's condensing a few weeks of random meals into one trip. It's also kind of hard to keep track of what you need to buy vs. what's already in the house.

So I present to you the Once A Month Cooking Shopping List . It makes it easy to record what each recipe requires, sum it all up, subtract what you've got, and then move it over to a printable, easy to follow in the store list. Considering the fact that half the published cookbooks seem to screw up the shopping list, using a method like this is a godsend. If you're the type of person that just menu plans every week, or if you're just learning to cook and slowly getting a full pantry going, this would also be useful. It makes it much easier to buy exactly what you need - no more, no less.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Aching Feet, Full Freezer.

Mission accomplished! Today's mega-menu included:
1. Simple Lasagna
2. Sloppy Joes
3. Grilled Fish
4. Sweet n Hot Pasta Sauce
5. Ham and Swiss Quiche
6. Chicken Fried Rice
7. Chicken Enchilada filling
8. Chicken Curry with pineapple
9. Chicken Souvlaki

I used the usual plan of attack. I put the meat into the fridge last night to thaw. It didn't quite make it to "thawed", but the chicken just went into the oven anyway. The hamburger spent a couple minutes in the microwave and turned out fine. As soon as the chicken was roasting, I put on the rice. I like to cook my rice like pasta - lots of water, drain when the time's up. It works better for me that way, and it's impossible to burn.

I did the beef dishes first. Lasagna was a little fiddly for a Big Cook day. It will be good, but I'm not sure I'll try to do it in with everything else again. I lined the pan with foil before filling it, so the plan is to reclaim my pan after the lasagna is a nicely frozen brick. Sloppy Joes went much quicker and again smelled so good I can't wait to eat them.

Chicken came second. I avoided vinegar-based sauces this time. The fried rice looks fabulous, and the enchilada sauce is always great. I will admit: I don't even really know what an enchilada is supposed to be. I live a loooong way from Mexico. I do know that this sauce + chicken = delicious.

Last but not least, I did the other stuff. Mixing a marinade for the fish, whipping up some pasta sauce, and assembling two quiche. Quiche is currently on my shit-list, as it's impossible to get frozen without making a mess. I think I give up, and I doubt I'll make them again. Which kills me, as they are so, so tastey. I guess I'll have to suck it up and just make one the day I want it.

Once again, it took about 3 hours of actual cooking and another 20 minutes or so to do the dishes and clean up. I expect this will last us about 6 weeks, although it could be a little less as we're both more busy now that fall has come.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

One Bite At A Time

Okay, I know you're all dissappointed because I was going to do a round of cooking this weekend, and I didn't. I got distracted. See... after Easter, there was a sale and frozen turkeys were 88 cents a pound. That is some cheap poultry, so despite the fact that I've never cooked a turkey, and despite the fact that we are a two-person household... I bought a turkey. I rooted around and bought the smallest one I could find, which was about 9 pounds. Then it slowly migrated to the bottom of the freezer, where I've ignored it since April.

Well, while looking for recipes for this round of cooking in this book, I realized it was time to get the turkey out of the freezer... and probably, back into the freezer. I managed to remember to throw it in the fridge to thaw on Thursday, and yesterday, I cooked my very first turkey all by myself. I wish  I had taken a picture. I didn't. We were in a hurry to eat and get to church, so I'll just pretend this is my turkey:
I mean, it looked like a turkey. Only I threw some potatoes in for the last 45 minutes to roast along with it. And then I made some stovetop stuffing, and we had a lovely turkey dinner for no reason at all.
So now we're in the blessed "leftover turkey" phase. This afternoon, I made a batch of turkey-noodle soup from scratch, including boiling the carcass and bones and skin and everything else that was too much work or too icky to eat on it's own. I considered trying to make some more interesting turkey dishes to freeze... and then realized that my husband is actually really enjoying having some ready to eat meat in the fridge. So I think I'll just leave it as is, and throw some of the meat into the freezer tomorrow if it looks like we won't eat it all. 
Oh hey - and the book I linked to up above (Frozen Assets: Light and Easy) looks like a very cool book. It's organized into "mini-sessions" that only deal with one protein source. So there's a chicken breast section and a ground beef section and so on, designed to be done in 2-3 hours. It's organized well, but I'm not sure I'll do it as I'm finding when I make stuff we usually eat, we like it, and when I make a  bunch of new recipes, it's very hit and miss.
Don't worry, fair reader, my freezer is bare. Soon it will be time for a real cooking session, and then we will be ready to eat well for another month.

The last couple ratings...

Sweet and Sour Ginger Chicken: It was pretty good, very gingery - 4/5. I'm glad ginger seems to freeze well. Again, the vinegar in the sauce became much more pronounced. I'm thinking I need to leave the chicken in bigger pieces if I try the "dump chicken" method again. I had it in 1 inch cubes. I think I would cut each breat into at most 4 pieces next time.

Ginger Beef: 4/5 as prepared... could be a 5/5 dish if the brocolli wasn't totally cooked to mush. Next time I would just barely blanch the veggies. Cooking the beef ahead worked well, and premaking the sauce sped up the whole meal a lot. And I just love that sauce.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Ratings

We haven't quite eaten it all yet, but I thought I'd offer up my reviews of what we have had:

Chili Con Carne: thaws great, a solid staple meal. Nothing spectacular, but good on the nights we had it. 4/5.
Asian Chicken: I didn't think this was as good as it is when I make it fresh... it tasted okay, but the vinegar becomes more prominent, and without the grilling, it's not quite the same. 3/5.
Grilled Fish: A keeper again. 5/5. Just plain delicious.
Sweet and Hot Pasta Sauce: Very convenient to have in the freezer. Plan to do it again - 5/5.
Baked Herb Fish: Okay, but nothing to write home about. 3/5.
Aztec Quiche: Fan-freaking-tastic. But it had a couple cups of shredded cheese and whole cream in it... so how could it not be? I was mostly impressed that raw eggs can be frozen and thawed, then baked, and taste great. 5/5 for taste and 0/5 for health of my poor arteries.
Spiced Citrus Chicken: Very orange. Had a lot of paprika and was an almost Indian-influenced dish. Pretty good. 4/5.
Honey Sesame Chicken: Not my favorite - very beige. Might be okay if I toasted the sesame seeds, but wouldn't make it again as written. 2/5.
Sloppy Joes: I fell in love when I simmered them, then fell in love all over again when we ate them. I will absolutely make these again. 5/5.

We've still got a chicken dish or two in the freezer, plus the ginger beef that I'm a little curious to see how it thaws. I'm starting to plan for the next cooking session and taking note of what we really liked and what we could leave, and scouting for new recipes. If you have a favourite recipe that freezes well, leave me a comment so I can check it out! I'm definitely considering adding a lasagna, and I'm on the lookout for a really good freezable soup (i.e. not thickened with flour/cornstarch).

Freezable Pizza Dough

I love pizza. And pizza is really, really quick when the crust is already made. Sure, you can buy them, but this is better. And cheaper. And customizable to your every whim. I first made this recipe in Home Ec class about a decade ago, and it's served me well ever since. The recipe doubles or triples well if you're doing it by hand. Make sure you have enough pans to freeze it on, though. It's fine to use a cookie sheet for pizza.

Pizza Dough
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 whole wheat and 1 all purpose)
Mix water and oil, then add yeast, sugar, and salt. If you wish, add 1 tsp. seasoning, such as garlic powder or Italian seasoning. Add 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Also works well in bread maker - set to "basic dough" or "white dough".

To freeze: after dough has risen, flatten out onto your pizza pan. I just use my hands to make it into a circle. Freeze on pan. Wrap in plastic wrap/bags the next day.

To use: no need to thaw. Top while frozen with your favourite pizza toppings - we usually do tomato sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, and mozzarella. Also makes nice bread sticks to go with pasta - brush with Italian salad dressing and top with some Parmesan.

Bake 10-12 min at 450*F. Serve with a salad if you're seeking more vegetables.

Chicken Pesto Pizza: use basil pesto in place of tomato sauce, top with slices of chicken breast, mushrooms, other veggies, mozza.

Teryaki Chicken Pizza: teryaki sauce (thick), chicken, green onions, pineapple, cheese

BBQ Chicken/Beef Pizza: bbq sauce, sliced chicken or beef... you get the idea.

Gourmet pizza is such an easy thing to make! Look at your favourite delivery menu and DIY.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Grilled Fish

This is my favourite recipe from my first round of cooking. I made it again last time, and it ended up being our anniversary dinner. :) There's really nothing about it that makes it a freezer meal - it's also very easy to throw together an hour before you want to eat.

Grilled Fish

1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 c water
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/4 lb frozen fish fillets (halibut, swordfish, tilapia, orange roughy)

Whisk marinade ingredients. If freezing, freeze marinade in a Ziploc bag. Tape to fish package.

To prepare for serving, thaw marinade and fish. Marinade fish for at least 30 min (up to a few hours). Remove fish from marinade. Set oven to broil (550*F). Place fish on cookie sheet and broil 10 min / inch thickness. If fish is more than 1" thick, turn after 10 minutes.

Serve with potatoes and Sautéed Napa Cabbage.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Iced Cap knock-off

All right... this recipe isn't for your freezer, but it's pretty darn good on a hot summer afternoon. We Canadians are familiar with the Tim Horton's Iced Cap - this is not exactly the same, but it's very very good.

Iced Cap
(can be made with regular coffee or decaf)
2 oz. boiling water
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 heaping tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute)
4-6 ice cubes
1/3 cup 15% cream. (or chocolate milk...or regular milk)
Mix first 3 ingredients together to make a syrup, put into blender. Add ice cubes and blend until slushy. Add cream and blend until frothy.

T-Ho's makes it with cream, which is part of what makes it so freaking awesome, but I can't do that in my kitchen without terrible guilt. We actually take the healthy route ;) and order them with chocolate milk when we do buy them. The at-home version is much, much cheaper, though, and doesn't involve me going away from my comfy house.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blackened Chicken


* 1 tablespoon paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon pepper
* 1 teaspoon onion powder
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning


1. Blend all.
2. For Salmon: Rub onto 6 salmon fillets. Fry on med-hi for 2-3 min per side.
3. For Chicken: Rub onto 4 chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 350*F. Heat frying pan on med-hi. Cook 1 min/side to blacken. Transfer to oven. Bake 5-10 min until juices run clear.

This scales up nicely - I keep a bottle in my cupboard for whenever the mood strikes for fantastic blackened meat.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Take Two: Ginger and Old Favorites

This month's menu:

Chili Con Carne
Asian Chicken
Roast Beef Sandwiches Au Jus
Grilled Fish
Ginger Beef (modified)
BBQ Pulled Pork
Sweet and Hot Pasta Sauce
Baked Herb Fish
Aztec Quiche
Spiced Citrus Chicken
Honey Sesame Chicken
Sweet and Sour Ginger Chicken

Sloppy Joes

Yesterday, I started cooking a little after 11 am again (this seems to be when I get really moving on a Saturday), and was totally done by about 3 pm. Not all of this time was cooking, as I made a point to take a break and put my feet up for about 5 minutes every hour.

This month I also tried many more family favorite recipes. Last time, I just did what the book told me. This time, I used some recipes from the same book as last month (the fish recipes, sloppy joes, roast beef au jus, and aztec quiche). The rest are linked to the source, except BBQ pulled pork which is so easy I don't use a recipe. Just roast the roast in a slow cooker, drain and shred, and mix in as much barbeque sauce as it takes to make it a good texture.

I was somewhat less prepared this month than last month, but here is a step by step of my preparation:
1. Defrost 16 chicken breasts in microwave. (Should have taken them out and put them in the fridge a couple days before cook day... but this worked fine.)
2. Put them into 2 roasters and cook 50 minutes at 375*F.

3. Defrost 2 lb hamburger in microwave. Brown in frying pan.
4. Chop all veggies - 1 head broccoli, 3 carrots, 3 inches ginger. Juice lime. Separate 13 cloves of garlic.
5. Defrost round steak. Slice.
6. Assemble Beef recipes:
Chili - put together first, simmer in saucepan.
Sloppy Joes - assemble in frying pan beef was cooked in, simmer 10 min

Ginger Beef - cook steak slices, cook veggies (undercook slightly), assemble sauce. Froze this in 3 separate bags.
7. Assemble Chicken recipes:
Cube all chicken and divide into 4 containers.
Mix up each sauce, dump into one container. Label and freeze.
8. Assemble Pasta Sauce recipe. Simmer while doing fish recipes.
9. Assemble Fish recipes:
Put marinade or coating in bag. Freeze near fish.
10. Make sure everything is packaged and ready to be frozen!

The major gains of OAMC are in the things that are shared - cooking 4 meals of chicken at once, then splitting. Cooking the hamburger together and splitting saves dishes and time. Using the garlic press all day, then washing it at the end. Slicing a big chunk of ginger up all at once.

This month's menu is a little light on vegetable content, but veggies are easy to serve as a side. I typically microwave frozen veggies or microwave steam fresh veggies - either way, they take less than 5 minutes. Typical starchy sides will be potatoes (also often microwaved), rice (brown or white or a mixture), buns (the triangle ones from Costco), and whole-wheat pasta.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Here's the deal: I like to cook. Really. It's kind of fun to try new recipes, and it's way cheaper than eating out. Healthier, too.

The problem is that I work full time. It's not a terribly physically taxing job, but when I get home... I'm done. I don't really want to think up what to make for supper. I don't really want to do it. And neither does my husband.

Enter Once a Month Cooking (OAMC). I've only attempted this once, but so far, so good. The general idea is to cook and freeze a whole bunch of entrees, then eat them as you need them. We're just a two-person household, so a "two week menu" has nicely done us four weeks. I've been posting on the forums at The Nest, so my first few posts will just recap what I've said there. I hope to include some recipes and document my experience so I can get better at this crazy giant cooking.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Update (again)

I think I'm a convert.

We're down to the last few meals - tonight is Chicken Cattiatore. It's been probably about 50/50 on eating freezer meals and eating something else in our house. We have a weekly potluck, I don't mind cooking on the weekend, and we usually have homemade pizza once in a week. For the rest of the nights... it's been a lifesaver. I love not having to decide what's for dinner. I love knowing the major part of making it is done. I feel less resentment to DH for not cooking more. He helped do the big cooking day, so he's kind of "off the hook" in my head.

I'm planning my next round of cooking. I did 12 meals last time, and it lasted us about a month, so I'll aim for a similar amount this time. It took 4 cooking hours, plus a couple shopping hours. That's a little over an hour/week investment for sooo much peace.

Recipes since the last update:
Grilled fish - the best recipe of the bunch. Will make again next round.
Chicken spaghetti - freezing pasta is a mistake. Barely edible.
Mandarin Orange Chicken - okay... 3 stars of 5 for us.
Grilled Chile Pepper Cheeseburgers - fantastic. We cheated and used Costco burgers, but the concept was in the pre-made meal plan.
Rainy Day Chicken w/ Rice - my husband liked it better than me. Reminded me of something Mom used to make... a little to "cream of" for my taste.
Polynesian Pork Loin - again, a 3/5 recipe. Good, but a bit dry.
Blackened Chicken Breast - Fantastic! I already had this in my rotation. I love it.
Chicken Caccitore - 4/5. Pretty good, but not remarkable.
Meal on the Run Pork Loin - Great! Moist, easy, tastey.
Savory Beef - 3/5.

All we haven't tried is the Chile Verde. Wow! We still have a meal of the stew, and possibly another MOTR pork loin.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Well, it's been just over a week since my cook-a-thon Saturday that put 10 dinner recipes into my freezer. So far we've eaten:
Hearty Hamburger Stew - meh. We ate this for two meals, and there's another bag in the freezer that will do one. It was edible, but I won't make it again. I'll make chile next time.

Chinese Chicken Morsels - all right. Cooked really well, marinaded beautifully. Will probably sub in a marinade I know we like better next time, but will remake the concept.

Roast Beef Sandwiches Au Jus - delicious, hubby pleaser, will make again.

It's been great to not have to decide what's for dinner. I have the calender that was in the cookbook on the fridge. The night before I know we'll need a meal, I take it out and put it in the fridge. Next night after work, I just take it out and do what it says. It can still take up to an hour to get it on the table, but that's generally baking a casserole time, not actual doing stuff in the kitchen time. I'm looking forward to trying another round of cooking in a few weeks.

It has been a huge help during the workweek. I am not a person that can sit down and meal plan, so this has done it for me. Decide if we're eating at home tomorrow, take next item on list out of freezer. Decision made, meal ready to go. It's great.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Big Cook Day Complete!

Between 11 am and 3 pm on Saturday, I made:
Hearty Hamburger Stew (2 meals worth, at least)
Chinese Chicken Morsels
Prepped roast for roast beef sandwhiches au jus
Marinade for grilled fish
Chicken Spaghetti
Manadarin Orange Chicken
Rainy Day Chicken and Rice
Polynesian Pork Loin
Chicken Caccitore
Meal-on-the-run Pork Loin x 2
Chile Verde
Savory Beef

And in addition, already had the other two pretty much in the freezer, so I skipped prepping:
Blackened Chicken Breast (had the spice already mixed)
Grilled Chile Pepper Cheeseburgers (the shopping list was wrong, so I didn't have the ground beef, so I guess premade Costco burgers will suffice).

I don't have pictures because the vast majority of recipes are now in giant Ziplocks and all look the same (imagine a large Ziplock full of mush). All of the recipes looked and smelled great while prepping, and we'll see how the next few weeks go for eating. :)

I spent $130 on the groceries, and the servings per recipe range from 4 to 10. Average cost/serving is about $1.75.

I wasn't that happy with the book I got. The recipes seemed good, but the shopping list and prep directions were horribly inaccurate. And a couple recipes were missing sections.

(This is the one I used: Once a Month Cooking)

I still have 2 cups of unused sliced carrots in the fridge, and a loaf of french bread dough, and a can of beans. And this is after I tried my best to fix the shopping list.

Total time was 4 hours. I didn't do any prep before hand, but DH did about half an hour of veggie washing and chopping for me. I did some of the prep as the first couple recipes were cooking, and it did save a lot of time to cook all the ground beef at once and all the chicken breast at once (in the oven, in a couple casserole dishes). The book did a great job of ordering the recipes and prep, so I would now feel more confident to try it on my own with other recipes.

Shopping time would add another hour or two - I ended up going to 3 stores (dry goods while doing regular shopping, Costco for mostly meat, and then Co-op for the rest of meat).

It actually doesn't take up much space. They would easily fit in a fridge freezer if I stacked them better and didn't have so much flotsam in there. We do have a tiny chest freezer, as we get meat from my parents. Almost all the meals ended up in 1 gallon ziploc freezer bags, which stack nicely and waste no space (not to mention having very low start-up costs).