Friday, September 30, 2011

Freezer Cooking Fridays

I decided to start a new little feature here on the ol' blog: Freezer Cooking Fridays. I've talked about Freezer Cooking, or Cooking Ahead, before, and I've become a huge fan of it. It's so easy to get a bunch of meals planned and prepped and stashed in the freezer, then have them ready to go on a busy weeknight. And let's face it, is there ever a weeknight that's not busy? Not in our house. Both my husband and I work full time, and we have two small children who are in school all day. By the time we're all home, we barely have enough time to get dinner on the table and the kids bathed before it's time for bed. Who wants to cook? Not me.

Enter freezer cooking. Some people do a month's worth of meals ahead of time, but I'm not that organized. Plus I don't have enough space in my freezer for all of that, plus the giant bags of chicken nuggets and fishsticks that are staples. I generally prepare enough meals for about 2 weeks...or whatever I have time to whip up after the kids are in bed.

Here's the plan: every week I'll feature what I have prepared in the previous week and have in the freezer. Not necessarily a menu (again, not that organized), but just a list, and maybe it'll inspire some of you out there to try it. I know you all are busy too, and I can't thank you enough for stopping in and reading!

This week, I started with 5 pounds of ground beef, and 6 pounds of giant boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I love Sam's Club. On Tuesday night I started with the ground beef. Here was my plan:

I knew I wouldn't have time to do the chicken and ground beef in one night, so I'm planning on doing the chicken this weekend.

From the ground beef, I made:
  • 1 batch of enchiladas (recipe coming!)
  • 2 batches (entrees) of No Boil Baked Penne - the recipe calls for a 9x13 pan, but I split it into 2-8x8 pans.
  • 2 pounds of taco meat - ground beef seasoned with Old El Paso taco seasoning. We eat tacos A LOT
  • 1 pound uncooked meat that was supposed to be Cheeseburger Meatloaf, but it was 10:30pm and I still had cleaning up to do, so I skipped it and froze the uncooked meat.
This weekend I'll be working on the chicken side of things. The plan, as shown above, is:
  • Teriyaki Marinated Chicken - I made my own teriyaki sauce a few weeks ago from a recipe in Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer. This cookbook is my main inspiration for freezer cooking. You should check it out!
  • Crockpot Salsa Chicken (recipe coming soon!)
  • Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing - I haven't figured out how I'm going to make this ahead yet. More details to come...
  • Cheddar & Cracker Chicken - this looks super yummy and I can't wait to try it!
I"ll post the missing recipes soon, and will continue to feature different recipes each week to help you on your way to a stocked freezer. Be sure to stop in next week for more freezer cooking fun!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Typography Thursday

Well, Typography Tuesday might sound better, but since it's Thursday, I'm going with that. Maybe in the future I'll actually plan posts instead of posting willy-nilly. One can hope, right? But, I digress.

I've always been a fan of typography. I love love love all of the font sites such as where you can download any number of fonts of all kinds for free, or for a small donation. I'm a self-proclaimed font geek. I have so many in my collection that sometimes I don't even know where to start! But I still want more..

According to Wikipedia, the definition of Typography is "the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible." I believe it really is an art, and once upon a time when I was pursuing a degree in Graphic Design (never finished), the typography courses were my favorite.

I've recently rediscovered playing with fonts, and come up with a few fun prints that I thought I would put out there and see what the internet at large thinks. The first is an idea I've seen on Pinterest, and I thought I would give it my own touch. Just a simple print framed behind glass that can be used as a dry erase board to write in your own sentiment.

Cute, right? What a great gift to give to a new couple on their wedding day. These are available in any color you choose, and listed in the shop now.

This idea came to me after listening to "Someone Like You" by Adele a few times. I thought it might be fun on a postcard, or a card to give someone when you're breaking up, or when you've been dumped. Don't ask where my thoughts come from; I couldn't tell you. Or, maybe you just really like the song...

I really just wanted to use these colors and this part of the song. I haven't made this print into anything yet, but if you're interested, just let me know what you'd like!

So, that's what I've been working on. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pinterest: Be Warned, It's Addictive

Have you discovered Pinterest? If you haven't, you must go there. Now. Go on, I'll wait.

You're back? Good. See what I mean? There are SO MANY great ideas on there that I think I could literally spend days and days going through it all. Artwork, party ideas, quotes, recipes (OMG, the recipes!), crafty things, the list goes on and on. I love Pinterest because it's easy to keep everything that looks great to me all in one place. If I see a recipe I want to try, I just "pin it" to my recipes board so I can easily go back to it later. It sure beats bookmarking every little thing, or even worse, printing it out and then trying to find that paper later.

And it's not just ON Pinterest that you can pin things. You can install a handy little button on your browser menu bar so you can pin anything, no matter what site you're on. I.Love.It. And I'm an addict. It doesn't help that you can also get a Pinterest App. It's true. I use it.

I'm still on the fence about it, but I believe that Pinterest can also be used as a marketing tool. You don't want to constantly pin your own things, but I think that every now and then, like if you have a product you've created that you are really excited about, go ahead and pin it. I don't know how effective it is, but what could it hurt? Get your stuff out there. But again, don't go crazy with it. The Pinterest Etiquette states: "...try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion." If you have enough readers on your blog or in your shop, chances are it would be pinned anyway.

So, what have you been pinning?

Want to see what I've been up to? Follow my pins.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Frosted Mason Jar Luminaries

I'm obsessed. There, I admitted it. I'm still going crazy with mason jars! The latest idea just sort of came to me; why not frost a mason jar to use as a luminary? And, why not add personalization? So, here we have a Frosted Mason Jar Luminary, personalized! On the first jar I did, I only used a single letter for personalization. Then I had a custom order through my Etsy shop for a full monogram, which is pictured above. I think I love that even more than the single letter! I fell in love immediately.

If you want to do it yourself, it's super easy. All you need is a mason jar, or an old spaghetti sauce/pickle/canning/whateverkindofjar, Frosted Glass Spray Paint (found at your local hardware store or Walmart),a tea light candle or LED tea light, and a way to monogram/personalize. I used my Pazzles die cut machine to cut out vinyl lettering, but you could also use paint, or good old fashioned glue and construction paper. I also used flat black spray paint to paint the ring of the lid to make it all matchy-matchy.

I'll try to put up a full tutorial with pictures and everything very soon, but that list should get you started! Have fun!

The picture above has an LED tea light in it. I just love the glow, and it even flickers a bit like a real candle would. So cute!


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