Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crock Pot Meals and Bulk Food Prep

Hello!  It's been awhile since I posted, but I promise I've been staying on top of things throughout this busy winter spurt.  I have some new things to talk about soon, but in the meantime, I've tagged in Erica once again to talk about something fun we did on Sunday:

Last week on Facebook, someone had posted a picture of neatly arranged freezer bags on their kitchen countertop, stuffed full of food.  My first thought was "what is this?" and my immediate second thought was "I want to go to there."  There was a link to this blog post about preparing crock pot meals ahead of time and freezing them. 
I'm jumping on the frozen meal bandwagon.  I haven't really wanted to cook lately, other than usual standards out of necessity, and I love the idea of getting all the work (and clean-up) done in one day to last for several, so that lazier, future me can reap the rewards. 
Since we're trying to stay mostly vegetarian (we do meat meals maybe once a week) I didn't want to use all of the recipes in the link above, all of which called for meat.  I opted for the Healthy BBQ Chicken, which looks delicious, then went around the web hunting for vegetarian options.  I also decided to make a German Potato Soup, Beans Bourguinon (which is like beef bourguinon, I guess, without the beef or bacon), and a Butternut Squash Soup. 
(In hindsight I shouldn't have gone for two soups, and the squash soup is a little light in the bags so we might have to make both of them at once, and that's also not a crock pot recipe so it may very well not work out.  But, onward!)

First I assembled my grocery list and went on a shopping trip.  I don't think I've ever bought seven onions at once before.  Then, I divided up the ingredients into sections per recipe.

My haul.

Then I laid out my gallon freezer bags, labeled them with a marker, and wrote down the last-minute instructions I would be sure to forget, such as what liquids to add and how long to cook. After that, I laid out all of the recipes because I work better with instruction.

The plan.

Then came the chopping.  Lots and lots and lots of chopping.  That's pretty much all it was!  It got pretty Zen, after a while.  Each recipe produced two bags.

And three hours later:

 Ta daa!

We froze most of it, leaving one bag of beans bourguinon in the fridge for dinner this week.  It was easy to clean up since we didn't cook with any dishes, and I really hope these come out tasty.  Only time will tell!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Year with No TV: Month One Recap

I realize we're well in to the second month of the year, but time started getting away from me and I never updated about how my first month with no TV went.

First to answer a couple of questions I've been getting: Yes, we're still committed to this.  And No, I'm not having a mid-life crisis (mid-life?? really?) or anything like that.  I am, however, intentionally pulling myself outside of my own comfort zone in order to grow as a person.

So January came and went, and aside from really missing Modern Family, we pretty quickly got used to the status quo of having no TV.  My favorite thing that came out of the first month was getting more use out of our dining room table, and actually sitting and talking with my lady over dinner.

Some other good things that have come out of it so far: I rediscovered my love for Pandora, and through that, I'm getting back into music in general.  I'm also breezing through the backlog of collected trade comic books that we've been buying faster than we can read.

Some things I haven't gotten around to yet: carving out a good exercise routine.  I predicted this would be one of my biggest stumbling blocks, because even if I had all the time in the world, I hate to spend it exercising. I just hate it.  I've worked out a couple times, but nothing that comes close to consistent.  I also haven't played the piano or started planning my garden yet, both things I wanted to do before March.  But I still have time.

One of the biggest challenges I face is going to be not allowing something else to come fill the void where TV used to be.  Right now the biggest threats are general Internet surfing (backreading on sites like Failblog) and gaming on my new smartphone.  At least the phone eventually dies and kicks me off, heh.  I have a lot of stuff, I want to get done this year:  so my goal for February is to map it all out, and set goals for each month.  Let's see how that goes...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Blueberry Banana Blast Smoothie Recipe

I got a lot of awesome feedback from my last post about smoothies, and I promised I'd share a few recipes, so I'm starting with one I created myself.  It's very simple, but so tasty.  This one currently my favorite, but I think I found some unseasonably good blueberries.  If you try this, I wish you the same luck!
Definitely helps to have Grandma's old school blender--
it works better than anything they make today!

Blueberry Banana Blast Smoothie
2.5  Ripe Bananas
1 cup Blueberries
2.5 cups Milk  (or unflavored soy milk)

In your blender, pour about 1 cup of the milk in and add blueberries.  Blend well on a high setting, until there are no blueberry clumps. (You won't be able to completely mix in the blueberry skin, but that's okay.

Add another cup of the milk and the bananas.  Start on a low setting, increasing to high as the smoothie starts to come together.  Check periodically on the consistency: if it's too thick, add the remainder of the milk.
Yields about 5 cups.