}]; Noreen's Kitchen: 02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

All Hail The Power of the Pizza!

Those of you who have been following me for any length of time know that every Thursday in our house is pizza night.  We rotate between homemade, frozen and our favorite take out joints.  This is something that simply happened.  A very long time ago, about 10 years ago, to be precise, Rick and I were in the early stages of our relationship.  You see, pizza night was born out of the television schedule.  Thursday nights were for Survivor in the fall and winter and Big Brother in the summer.  Reality T.V. is something that Rick told me he "Loathed", when I first met him, but that is another story for another time.  Needless to say he no longer loathes some of it.  On Thursday nights we would order, buy or make pizza.  My girls were very young and this just became a tradition.  In fact it has woven it's way into our family life so much so, that Rick has decided that if we do not have pizza on any given Thursday, that a hole will be torn in the space time continuum and the earth may just be thrown off it's axis.  This in turn could set in motion a course of events that would eventually wipe out mankind.  So we eat pizza on Thursday nights.  Just to be safe.  I have yet to point out that for the last eleven Thanksgivings we have been safe.  I don't know if he realizes that or not.  Best to just let sleeping dogs lie.
In any case, pizza is something that most people enjoy.  It is so simple in its construction that you really can go anywhere with it.  In our house we have many favorites from the simple cheese pizza which must always be served a la Kevin McAllister to Rick's favorite, pepperoni, my favorite sausage, Molly's favorite Hawaiian or anything in between.  We love pizza.  Pizza is good food.  It is cheap and it is nutritious and it can be made even more nutritious by making it at home and adding more great stuff to it.  We have had very bad pizza and we have had very good pizza.  But in the end pizza is comfort food and no matter how you slice it, it's just plain good!

Sometimes it helps to start with a theme or a basic idea when building a pizza.  We usually go with the basic cheese and pepperoni for regular pizza nights.  However we have been known to jazz things up from time to time.  Here is a list of some of the pizzas I have made over the years:

I am currently working on sharing how to make your own, homemade frozen pizza.  There are a couple of tricks to it, but it is a really simple process.  I know you are going to love it.  So be sure to stay tuned to the channel for that!

If you are looking for inspiration to make an out of the box pizza, all you have to do is look to your favorite sandwich or meal and think of how you would turn that into a pizza.   The truth is, you can make a pizza out of anything you like.   In the end, you are the only one who has to love it!  So go make some pizza and enjoy every bite!

Till next time, I'll see ya!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Freezer Banking for your Future!

The new year is officially back in full swing.  Kids are back in school, noses back to grindstones and schedules are back to a better, manageable flow.   Goals that were set have been put into play. I am sure many of you have done the same  I have been busy working on a number of projects, 

The one thing that I really want to do this year is more freezer banking!  This is also known by other names such as "bulk cooking" "Freezer Meals" and things like that.  I like the term freezer banking because that explains the task to a tee!  I don't want to spend an entire day or two preparing a months worth of meals, because, truth be told, I am not the biggest fan of leftovers.  In fact, I really kind of loathe them.  That is not to say I don't eat them, but anyone who knows me, knows that leftovers are simply eaten in an effort to not waste, which is one of my biggest pet peeves.  There are a few dishes that I actually enjoy leftover, such as spaghetti, chili and stuffed cabbage, mostly I don't like reheated whole meats such as grilled and roasted chicken, steak and/or pork.  In their ground versions, they seem to be more palatable when leftover, but for the most part, I am always looking for better ways to reinvent my leftovers and fool myself into eating them.

I know that I am not alone!  I know that somewhere out there, among you there are people just like me.  You know who you are!  I would rather eat cold leftovers than reheat them.  I have been known to indulge and enjoy cold spaghetti or takeout cashew chicken, right from the paper carton!  Meatballs are better cold than reheated and chicken is definitely something that is best eating out of hand cold straight from the fridge than reheated and rubbery.  There is a solution to the leftover dilemma that I face and freezer banking is the answer.

I have found that when making anything from soups to casseroles to bakes, making enough for two, three or four meals all at one time is just as easy to achieve as making enough for a single meal.  The difference here is in the construction.  Building the dish and then preparing it for the freezer before the final cooking is the secret to never having a leftover 'tasting" meal.  At least that is what I think.  The best part about freezer banking is that you end up stocking your freezer over time and rotating out what you are eating instead of filling up the freezer and being forced to eat what you thought you might like to have for an entire month or two or even three in some cases.  Bulk cooking works for some, but for me, it isn't something I enjoy.

Freezer banking is also an option for people who don't wish to do home canning.  It is a way for you to make extra, freeze and have a meal ready anytime you need it.  We all have those nights when we didn't thaw out the meat or we just don't have the energy to decide what to have for supper.  When you have a freezer full of options this is never a problem.  Just open the door, choose your dinner, pop in the oven and multi task away.  Add a few sides like fresh salad and crunch bread or biscuts if you like and dinner is served, hot and ready, while you were getting important stuff done, like laundry, quality time or "me" time.  

Lots of dishes lend themselves to freezer banking, with some exceptions.  I have freezer banked the following items that my family loves:

This is just a few examples of things that I have freezer banked in the past and some I actually have in my freezer right now.  These are a great way to have a meal ready to go that you can work into your menu rotation and not have a bunch of work to do when you get home from work.  It frees up time when you know you will be busy and still allows you to feed your family a healthy and nutritious meal while avoiding the drive through.  It also helps you save money because you are able to take advantage of what is on sale that particular week and stretch that savings to a couple of other meals.

Coming soon, I will be helping you to focus on how to start freezer banking in your own life.  You don't have to spend days cooking pounds of ground beef and shredding pounds of cheese and eating the same things over and over again just to save money, time and effort.  You can just do it a little at a time and build your freezer bank to suit your own needs.  

I hope this inspires you to want to freezer bank on your own as well.  I think we all do this to some degree, but if we ramp it up just a little you might be surprised at how much you can save in so many ways!

So the next time you make something for dinner.  Think about how you can turn that into an opportunity for freezer banking.  My year is already off to a great start and I have high aspirations for the rest of the year!  Let's all try to make freezer banking a habit!