Friday, August 20, 2010

Time savers in the kitchen

Hey, there folks. Got some time saver tips for the kitchen and getting some yummy goodies on the table fast now that school has started. School means busier schedules unfortunately. It seems with sports and extra curricular activities, it's hard to sit down as a family for a meal. But I have some tips for you to get some yummy goodness on everyone's plate. The time saver: the freezer. Yes, you read that right, the freezer!!
Make good use of your freezer. Freeze meals ahead of time to pop in the oven or defrost a day or two ahead and bake them off. My favorite freezer goodies: spaghetti sauce (make a big batch divide it up in ziploc bags and you are good to go for a quick plate of spaghetti, lasagna, or stuffed shells and cheese), stuffed shells filling, mexican lasagna (I make up the meat mixture and sauce mixture, put the grated cheese and corn tortillas in separate zip loc bags and freeze them together), taco meat already cooked, meatloaf, chicken pot pie mixture with a frozen pie crust or puff pastry sheet, no knead rolls, muffins, and desserts.

Know the secret to hot out of the oven cookies (so you don't eat the whole batch in two days cause they are all staring at you from the cookie jar or zip loc bag you store them in)? Bake off a dozen when you make your cookie dough--- wait I need to say a thing or two first about cookies. Please, please don't buy that ready made cookie dough in the biscuit section of the grocery store. You know the stuff I am talking about. It's got so many preservatives and really, how hard is it to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough? Not hard. You take 15 min. tops. Okay enough about that. Anyway, make your cookie dough and then scoop out a dozen and bake them off. You need those cookies for today cause you just can't help yourself, you know. Next, scoop out all the rest of the dough and place it pretty close together on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place dough balls in the freezer uncovered so they get firm and partially frozen, about 15- 30 min. Now take those frozen balls of homemade goodness and dump them in a zip loc freezer bag. Freeze. Now you can just pull out a half a dozen or so cookie dough balls at a time and bake them off so the school kids have a yummy gooey warm treat when they walk in the door and you don't eat them all. :) You get one or two with the kids.

Now the other things that you can make ahead are breads: yes, you can make bread. Look for the no-knead kind from King Arthur's website and recipe gallery and from Pioneer Woman's recipe site. I have tried them and they are yummy and super easy.

So hey, make the use of an hour or two on the weekend or while the little ones/big kids are at school and make your busy life easier. Your family will get homemade goodness during the week and you'll be better prepared for the busyness of life.

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