Cooking Party

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I work 10 hours a day now and I have to commute about an hour each way.  I really don’t want to have to come home and cook for dinner.  I have a cooking party where my hubby and I spend a day making food together and packaging them in our own homemade tv dinners.

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I’m not big on left-overs so I’m really surprised that this is working for me.  I’ve just learned a few things about how to re-heat my foods to bring them back to just like they were when I made them.  And we are still learning.

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The last time we had a cooking party was March 25, 2017.  A little over two months ago. Now, we have cooked a couple of things to throw in variety since then, but not a cooking party until the other day, which was June 6, 2017.  Wow!!  Right?  And we are still eating some of that food from the 25th of March, but then again, it was a really big cooking party.

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Back on March 25th, we made a healthy chicken avocado salad for 10 wraps, beef and Broccoli for 2 dinners and 2 lunches, fish tacos for 2 dinners and 4 lunches, chicken fajitas for 2 dinners and 4 lunches, cabbage sausage skillet for 1 dinner and 2 lunches, shrimp fried rice for 1 dinner and 4 lunches, 20 breakfast burritos, Pork Carnitas for 3+ dinners and 4 lunches, and Colorado Beef Burritos for 2 dinners and 2 lunches.

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Then, right after that, my hubby moved to his next position at work and they have their own chef who cooks them lunch.  I’m envious.  But anyway, without him eating the lunches that we made, it helped to stretch the food for as long as it has.

Yesterday we added to our menu 16 Breakfast Tacos, Southern Gumbo for 3 meals, Sausage Potato Hash for 2 meals, Blackened Tilapia for 2 meals, Grilled Chicken for 3 meals and Taco Meat for at least 3 meals. (You can click on the hyper links to take you straight to the particular recipes.  If there is not a hyper link, I just haven’t blogged the recipe yet).

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I freeze everything because I do not like to throw food out.  Now that I’ve started cooking and storing this way, I hardly ever throw away food anymore.  Yay!  I just hated wasting money like that.

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My menu plan is what I like to call a cascading menu.  Even though we have all these left-overs in the freezer, we don’t eat the same thing twice in a week.  If it is Taco Tuesday, then every Tuesday is filled in with a meal that I’m going to use the Taco Meat for.  The Chicken Enchiladas that I made ended up feeding 3 grown hungry men, 2 women and 2 children with 4 left-over lunches and 5 dinners for two.  So I’ll put the enchiladas on the menu for like, every Friday night.  Obviously, those will go on into next month.

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Then each weekend, we’ll cook 2-4 meals to add into our cascading menu.  It is a work in progress and it doesn’t always work out as planned, but this is working for us.  I’m ecstatic that I don’t waste food and have to throw it away because I had good intentions that I never got around to.

Do you have a plan that works for you?

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Sausage Potato Hash

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This is such an easy recipe and it comes together in only 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound polska kielbasa sausage, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow, red or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 medium to large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • olive oil, if needed…this will depend on your pan
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. Brown sausage in skillet. (I like to get mine to where it is caramelizing).
  2. Remove sausage from pan and add the veggies.  Saute until they are tender crisp.
  3. Add the sausage back to the pan and heat through.
  4. Serve nice and hot.

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Enjoy….so yummy for your tummy!

Shrimp, Sausage and Pepper Skillet

IMG_0726Quick and easy, you’re going to love this one.  I used andouille sausage because I like things a little spicy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound of sausage, sliced
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • Olive oil or coconut oil
  • Optional garnish: chopped parsley

Preparation:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with some olive or coconut oil.
  2. Season shrimp with Old Bay Seasoning.
  3. Cook shrimp about 3-4 minutes until opaque – remove and set aside.
  4. Cook onions and bell peppers in skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add sausage and zucchini to the skillet and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Put cooked shrimp back into skillet along with the garlic and cook everything for about 1 minute.
  7. Pour chicken stock into pan and mix through to moisten everything.
  8. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Remove from heat, garnish with parsley and serve hot.

Yields:  About 4 servings.

Yummy for your Tummy, I say!

Blackened Tilapia with Zucchini

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This recipe was adapted from Naive Cook Books.  It is really, really good and so easy to make.  It is quite a bit spicy so if you don’t like the heat, cut back on the pepper.

Ingredients:

Blackened Spice Mix:

  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano

Blackened Tilapia:

  • 1 pound tilapia filets, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • salt and pepper, optional

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. All all the spices in a bowl and mix.  Taste and adjust if necessary.
  3. Line your baking sheet to your preference.  I use my own oil in a spray bottle but you can spray with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  4. Brush fish with butter and generously rub seasonings on both sides.
  5. Brush the zucchini with the remaining butter and season with salt & pepper if desired.
  6. Distribute the zucchini in the empty space around the fish on the sheet pan.
  7. Bake for 7 minutes.
  8. Flip tilapia after 7 minutes and cook for another 7 minutes for the other side.
  9. You will know the fish is cooked because it will turn white inside and will be soft and flaky.

Yield: 2-3 servings

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Do enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookies

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I used to bake all the time but when I got into main dish recipes, I kind of quit baking. Then whenever we’d have a get together, someone else baked the desserts.  I’m now planning to combine all that I do, my gift shop business, photography and my love for cooking and entertaining into one and open a Bed and Breakfast.  We’re on a 5 year plan to make it happen so I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, you’ll get to enjoy some sweet treats along the way as I get back into practice with baking.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, if you like.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the peanut butter, butter, sugar and brown sugar.  Beat together until smooth and creamy, best if using a stand mixer or hand mixer.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue to mix until well combined.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until well combined.
  6. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in white granulated sugar and place onto baking sheet.
  7. Using a fork, press down on each ball of dough to slightly flatten and create a criss-cross pattern.
  8. Bake for 8-9 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet for  few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

These keep well for a couple of days in an airtight container.

Yield:  About 30 cookies

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Southern Gumbo

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There are many ways to make gumbo depending on your preferences.  This recipe is adapted from Southern Living Recipes and is by far my favorite gumbo recipe and I probably make it different each time depending on what I have on hand and what I’m in the mood for.  You can add any kind of meat that you like but what makes this gumbo so wonderful is the dark roux, so be patient because it is a lot of stirring and stirring and stirring….and it gets pretty hot in the kitchen.  But oh so worth it.

Andouille sausage is a bit spicy so if you don’t like the spice you may want to stick with your favorite link sausage.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 2 pounds shrimp, tails removed, peeled and deveined
  • 12 ounces craw-fish
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Gumbo file, optional

Preparation:

  1. Brown sausage in a pan over medium heat; remove to paper towels, leaving drippings in the pan.
  2. Brown chicken in drippings; remove to paper towels, reserving drippings.
  3. Measure drippings, adding enough vegetable oil to measure 1/2 cup.
  4. Heat the oil in your pan over medium heat until hot. Add flour to hot oil; cook, stirring constantly, until roux is the color of chocolate (about 30 minutes).
  5. Add onion, green pepper and celery; cook until vegetables are tender, stirring often.
  6. Pour your chicken broth to a Dutch oven and slowly add your roux mixture; bring to a boil.
  7. Add the chicken back into your gumbo mixture. Add garlic and next 4 ingredients.
  8. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for about 1 hour.
  9. Add in the sausage and cook for another 30 minutes.
  10. Stir in green onions, shrimp and craw-fish and cook for another 30 minutes.
  11. Add salt if desired.
  12. Serve gumbo over rice and sprinkle gumbo file if used.

Yield: 8 servings

The shrimp and craw-fish are extra meats that I added.  If your gumbo seems too thick due to the extra meats, just add a little water.  Your gumbo will be fine.

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Enjoy!!!