Archives- Fat Tuesday- A Bag of Stew, Burned Chicken and a Plan

Original post- February 21, 2012

Oh how I’ve missed my blog. I also fell off the cooking wagon. Between Russ’ school, Andrea’s constant dance/gymnastics/soccer practices, and trying to figure out the ins and outs of a colicky baby, I’m not going to be too hard on myself. Fast food is just too readily accessible. The fact that my house is less than, or right at, a mile from at least 10 fast food joints does not help my situation one bit. I have a plan though. I’ll get to that in a minute…

So I decided to be one of those crazy freezer ladies. The one that goes on a crazy shopping and cooking spree and then stocks up like it’s Armageddon. I’m not savvy with coupons so I didn’t save a lick of money, but I made 10 freezer meals for right at a $100 so I’m not going to complain. I would be happy to post all the recipes for you if you like. They will appear over time as we try each meal though.

Monday night rolled around and I came home from work and voila, dinner was ready. I seriously love my crock-pot. It’s my best friend besides Russ (oh and my George Foreman grill). I decided to try out the beef stew from the freezer. I’ve never made it before, but it is definitely going to be a staple. The kids hated it, but Russ and I loved it. I think they were frightened by the fresh colors and the odd shapes of real food. Andrea told me it was yucky, but I was still a good cook. I think she is starting to get the idea that it’s better to not say anything, than to say something that’s not nice. However, she still has that cute four year old innocence that lets her say exactly what’s on her mind. Which will one of these days probably bite me in the butt, but that’s a different blog entirely.

Tonight I was feeling great (and brave) so we went to the grocery store right after our library trip to pick up dinner supplies. Andrea decided on Chicken Parmesan. I got the necessities, sat on the couch to fold clothes, and realized I was exhausted. I think I may have actually fallen asleep briefly while sitting up. Anyhow, I was no longer inspired to cook. I was inspired to waste gas and money and keep filling my sweet kids with toxic goop being passed off as food. Andrea told me I was going to cook. I think I literally stomped into the kitchen (come to think of it….that may be where she learned that trait!). I made chicken Parmesan, sort of. I made a glob of something that looked like angel hair pasta and I burned the chicken terribly. I actually should have butterflied the chicken, but I’m just going to say George and his grill really let me down today. Either way, it turned out edible. Both the kids had a full serving of dinner along with garlic bread sticks and milk and were very pleasant. I even got out sugar cookies and let Andrea go to town cutting the roll of dough with a butter knife and placing them on the baking sheet.

My plan is this: Tomorrow is Lent. I’m not Catholic (my husband is/was), but I have joined my mom and brother for the past couple of  years in giving up things.  In the past we gave up:

2010- chocolate… I did pretty well!
2011- Dr.Pepper… I convinced myself drinking Mr.Pibb was not cheating.
2012- fast food completely

To verify (and I’m doing this as a way of holding myself accountable) this means absolutely NO food from fast food chains and no drinks from fast food chains (goodbye Sonic Route 44 Dr.Peppers). I’m hoping this will stop the cycle. I hoping after 40 days of cooking I’m capable of cooking chicken properly and capable of feeding my family (without teaching my children bad habits) in a way that will be healthy and help us all feel better. It’s a lofty goal, but I’m pretty determined when I set my mind to it.

Recipe for Freezer Beef Stew-
Notes: I did not follow this recipe exactly. It was taken from a recipe I found on the internet, but the link is constantly broken so this was the closest I could find. I did not use celery in mine and I used red potatoes to try and be healthier. I used all fresh ingredients, but think the frozen are a good idea and it may be worth it. I also doubled this recipe and made multiple bags. I suggest Ziploc Gallon Freezer bags and DOUBLE bag it. Mine leaked a little once it started freezing. Happy cooking!

Freezer Beef Stew in a Bag

2 small chopped onions
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups chopped potatoes
1.5 cups chopped green beans (I used frozen in two bags and fresh in another)
1.5 cups diced celery
Whatever other veggies you might like in your stew
2 lbs preferred beef, chopped into large chunks (I had a 7ish lb roast that I split between 3 bags)
3.5 cups beef stock
3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. pepper
¼. tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
4 T. flour
1 tsp. garlic
3 tsp. tomato paste

Layer all the meat and veggies into a gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag. The prettier, the better, hehe. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Mix spices, broth, and paste into a bowl and taste test before dumping into the bag as well…adjust according to your tastes. Be sure to label your bags with the date and cooking instructions.

To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and cook in a crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. You can also do it on the stove on low for about 35-40 minutes, according to Real Mom Kitchen. Just cook until the stew is thick and the veggies are cooked thoroughly. If you like your stew thicker, mix a bit of cornstarch and cold water together, then add to the pot and keep simmering.