Thursday, February 13, 2014

All This Snow Is Keeping Me in the Kitchen!

I don't know what it is, but there's something about seeing our yard blanketed with snow that makes me want to cook and bake! I know I'm not the only one, because many of my friends on Facebook have been sharing their adventures in the kitchen today.

We're snowed in today, with over a foot of white stuff, but my "snow cooking" actually started on Tuesday. I was already planning on doing some freezer meals, as  mentioned in my Menu Plan Monday post this week, and then I realized I needed to re-stock several of our homemade "staples." On top of that, I had a strong urge to try a few new recipes from Pinterest. So, I literally spent most of the last three mornings cooking and baking.
The irony is that over the weekend a friend was just asking me how much time I spent in the kitchen. I told her "Not that much, really!" And then I spent the next few days cooking for hours at a time! Sorry, Laura, I didn't mean to lie to you... I guess "not that much" is all relative!
Anyway, here's what I've been up to in the last 72 hours. Thanks to my Time Suck Challenge, I have a pretty good idea of just how much time I spent in the kitchen!

The Freezer Meals:

I started on Tuesday by making four Lasagna Casseroles. A friend has been having some health issues, so I made two for her family and two for us. That way we could each eat one this week and put one in the freezer for later. Four casseroles at once might sound a bit overwhelming, but as long as you have a large pot (or two) to cook the pasta, it's not too bad. The best part is that I can make 4 meals and only clean up once!
 Then today I  made three different Freezer-to-Crock Pot Meals. There was a really good sale on chicken breasts so I made Garlic Honey Chicken, Buffalo Chicken for sandwiches, and a half-batch of Balsamic Chicken. For each, I just dumped all the ingredients into a gallon freezer bag, sealed the bag, and put them in the freezer for later. Now all I have to do is thaw the bag overnight and dump it into the crock pot to cook in the morning. Three meals in roughly an hour? Not bad!
Whoops! I marked the bags as 2013, not 2014.

The Staples:

On Wednesday, I made 4 loaves each of sandwich bread and zucchini bread, and a batch of granola bars. It was a big undertaking, but with today's storm on the way, I wanted to make sure we were well-stocked in the chance we lost power.

I made the bread dough Tuesday,let it refrigerate overnight, and shaped the loaves first thing in the morning. While they were rising, Kiddo and I mixed up the granola bars. About 20 minutes after they came out of the oven, it was time for the bread to go in. While the bread was baking, we mixed up the dry ingredients for the zucchini bread. Since the bread pans were in use, we couldn't fully mix up the batter, but it made it a lot easier when it came time to mix up the bread later. After Kiddo went down for his nap, I finished the zucchini bread and cut and wrapped the granola bars, and sliced the bread.
The granola bars went into a basket in the pantry and the breads went into the freezer, ready to defrost when we need them. We're stocked in case we lose power. :)

The Pinterest Experiments

We had 3 leftover hot dogs in the fridge, so on Tuesday I tried making these mini corn dog muffins, from Iowa Girl Eats. I made half a batch using white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and they turned out perfect! When Kiddo saw them, he thought they were cookies, so I told him to taste one and see. His expression was priceless when he realized they were hot dogs and "bread." We both enjoyed them, and I will definitely make them again!
"Mommy, there's hot dogs in there!"
Then today, I turned to Pinterest to decide what to make with my chicken breasts. I used most of them to make the crock pot kits mentioned above, but when I saw a recipe for homemade chicken nuggets, I knew I had to try them! Upon suggestions in the comments, I added a bit of paprika and parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs for a little extra flavor. The finished nuggets were a little dry, but I definitely plan on tweaking the recipe and trying them again.

The extra corn dog bites and nuggets all went in the freezer to heat up for an easy lunch sometime in the future. We've been getting into a lunch rut lately, so I'm excited to have some new recipes to throw in the mix!

A few things to note: First, I don't normally go this all-out in the kitchen in one week, and I certainly don't do this much every week. Second, after spending all morning (and part of the afternoon) cooking and baking, I spent hardly any time in the kitchen at dinner time. In fact, I served freezer meals or leftovers each night, so all I had to do was heat things up and prep a veggie. Third, I was fortunate that Kiddo was incredibly cooperative through all of this. He loves to help in the kitchen, so he either helped, played by himself, or colored at the island while I worked. Of course, I did have to take several breaks to check in on him, change diapers, and redirect behavior, but I expected that with a two-year-old.
Whew! I think I'm ready for a cooking break! With leftovers planned for dinner tomorrow and a crock pot meal on Saturday, I think I can make that happen. Although, I do plan to make a Valentine's treat for Hubby tomorrow night... It's a good thing I love to cook and bake! :)

So what about you? Were you snowed in today? What did you do with your time? Shoveling? Cooking or baking? Crafting? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Like daughter/like mother or vice versa - made 2 chicken tettrazini casseroles, a huge crockpot full of cranberry applesauce, crockpot plain yogurt and Asian chicken soup while the flakes flew outside.


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