Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jar Crazy: Mason Jar Luminaries

It's no longer a secret: I've gone jar crazy. It all started with the Redneck Wine Glasses. They're so simple yet so much fun! I've been making the glasses for a little while, and I've recently been thinking 'What ELSE can I do with these jars?'

Enter the internet and Pinterest. I'm also now addicted to Pinterest, but that's another blog post (coming soon!). I was browsing around and found that lots of crafty people have been making glass jar luminaries. Brilliant! Of course I had to try it. I'm trying to get a head start on holiday crafting, so I started with Halloween. The pic above is my result: Halloween Luminaries!

The process is very simple. All you need is a glass jar - I used quart size plain jars from Walmart, mod podge, tissue paper, and a foam brush. A lot of the tutorials I've seen out there say to cut the tissue paper into strips. That's a good way to do it, but I wasn't entirely happy with the way it came out. You can kind of see the strips on the Frankenstein luminary above. I decided to try one large piece of tissue paper applied to the jar all at once. I liked it much better, as it appears a little more seamless - that one was the orange jack o'lantern above. When I was finished and everything was completely dry, I just plopped a tea light in the jars to light them up, and voila!

I'll do a full tutorial soon, with pictures and everything, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I'll have to write down all of these luminary ideas I now have swirling around in my head.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cheeseburger Meatloaf - The Recipe

-- Photo Courtesy of MoneySavingMom --

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

1 lb. ground beef
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup uncooked regular oats (I had to substitute crushed Ritz crackers - still yummy!)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. minced onion (I used chopped raw onion)
1 large egg
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 dry mustard
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup chili sauce (I substituted barbecue sauce instead)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 11 ingredients in a large bowl; stir just until blended. Shape mixture into a loaf, and place in an ungreased 8×4-inch loafpan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Pour chili sauce over meat loaf, and bake 40 more minutes or until meat is no longer pink in center. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and cut into 8 slices.

To freeze: If you used meat that had not yet been frozen, you can freeze this uncooked. When you’re ready to eat, thaw, and follow the instructions above for cooking.

If your meat had already been frozen, bake without chili sauce on top. Freeze. When you’re ready to eat, thaw meatloaf. Pour chili sauce (or BBQ sauce) on top and heat in oven until hot.

---> Shannon's Note -> Freezer Packaging: Form into loaf, then wrap in plastic wrap. Wrap again in foil, label, and toss in the freezer.

-- Recipe and photo courtesy of Money Saving Mom

My First Attempt at Freezer Cooking - And Not the Last!

--Photo Courtesy of DailyDishRecipes 

Freezer cooking. Have you tried it? A few months ago I decided I would give it a go and see what it's all about. I had read about it on sites such as Money Saving Mom and Once a Month Mom, and was intrigued. You mean I can prepare and/or cook a bunch of meals in one day and then throw them in the freezer for later? Then on a busy weeknight just throw something in the oven and be done? I'm in.

I actually didn't even go overboard on this project - shocker I know. I decided that I would buy a cookbook and look online, pick out a few recipes, then prepare enough meals for a week's worth of dinners. I did a bit of research and found Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer on Amazon, used some Amazon gift cards I got from Swagbucks, and poof! it was at my door in a couple of days. Have I mentioned lately that I love Amazon? Anyway...As soon as I received the book I was going through and making lists; tons of great recipes that even my kids would eat. Cheesy Chicken Bundles? Done. Hawaiian Chicken in the Crockpot? You betcha. There's even a recipe for Teriyaki Sauce that looks good, but I still need to make.

So I did my shopping, hit Sam's Club for the huge trays of ground beef and chicken breasts, the regular grocery store for the fill-in ingredients and I was ready. I temporarily misplaced my camera, so I didn't get any pictures, but here's a list of what I prepared:
  • 2 pounds of taco meat (browned ground beef with taco seasoning)
  • 2 loaves of Cheeseburger Meatloaf (check "Recipes" page for details)
  • 1 Hawaiian Chicken Crockpot dish - just need to thaw it and throw it in the crockpot - done!
  • 8 or 10 (I forget) Cheesy Chicken Bundles - probably enough for 2 meals, the way the kids eat
  • About 2 dozen meatballs - and I LOVE meatballs, so this will just be enough for one meal
All in all, I have about 8 meals ready and waiting in my freezer, and I did this all on a Sunday afternoon. There was very little cooking involved, thankfully - really the only cooking I did was the ground beef for tacos. Everything else I just prepared, packaged, and tossed in the freezer. Love it! Now all I have to do is figure out what we're having when, take it out of the freezer to thaw, then pop it in the oven. Dinner's ready! I love making taco filling ahead of time; all I have to do is warm up the meat, set up the taco toppings, and dinner's ready in about 5 minutes. Perfect.

If you're new to Freezer Cooking, or Once a Month or Week Cooking, I highly recommend Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer. There are lots of other books out there on the subject, and excellent blogs and ideas online, but this is the book I used. They explain in great detail the best way to package the meals for the freezer, and all of the recipes sound yummy.

I'll post the recipe for the Cheeseburger Meatloaf right after this one. Its SO yum. You'll love it.

In my research for this post, I also found Daily Dish Recipes, and am totally in love. I'll be doing lots of recipe-printing in a few minutes!