Sunday, January 24, 2016

The one with round two.

This post will be about the second round of meal prep.
Prepare each recipe in stations by laying out the dry ingredients and the bags or containers they will go in along with a recipe. 
First I want to explain a little about the selection of these meals. As I am looking through pintrest posts, other blogs, and several cookbooks I am keeping in mind the taste of the members in the group. This can be very tricky when you are prepping for  18 people that range in ages from 5 to 40. Fortunately we have all decided that lower carb/ gluten free main meals that can have sides added to please the littles in the group work best for us.
I invested in several large pots, giant cookie sheets, and large mixing bowls to help when I cater an event and they really come in handy for this.  You will also want to have freezer bags and 12x10 containers on hand-- and a Sharpie or something to write on the bags and foil.
Here is the menu, recipes, and review for this round:
Salisbury Meatballs: we repeated these from round one because they are so good. Round 1 link
Lemon-garlic Chicken : This is a dump recipe, so the prep is really easy. I served this with a cheap boxed pasta for the kids and for DH and I, sauteed some spinach and garlic and then added a few goat cheese medallions.
Pork Carnitas:
I did not use Boston Butt.  I picked up a pork tenderloin for each family at Sams.  We then mixed the seasonings on the pork and mixed the onion and garlic in the bag too. And that is how we froze it. When we went to Crock pot cook it we all kinda did different things. I did 1/2 cup tequila, 1/2 cup lime juice, and 1/2 cup water. It was good. We had so much left that I mixed all the rest with barbeque sauce and served it on buns the next night. They liked it with the bbq better than as a mexican dish. So one friend cooked hers with bbq to start with and her family really liked it. I feel like the seasoning is good- but do something interesting for the liquid. Try beer, balsamic, something with some flavor. When cooking in a crock pot your flavors should always start out on the stronger side.
extra step if you want to: Once the meat was done I shredded it and placed it on a cookie sheet. I spooned some liquid on it, and broiled it for 5 minutes or so.  It crisped up some of the ends and caramelized some of the onion pieces.

Coconut-Thai Chicken:

I doubled this recipe-- which made it a little tricky to divide between 4 freezer bags.

You will add a can and a half of coconut milk to each bag, then add the amount shown plus half to each bag of the following ingredients: sriracha, pesto, cilantro, soy sauce.
We used boneless skinless chicken thighs for this dish. I think there was about 10-12 per bag.  We divided the fish sauce in little ramekins. You do not add this until the last 15 min of cooking.
Serve with rice, thai noodles, or in lettuce wraps for a lower carb option.

Chicken-Broccoli Casserole: Make 4 12x10s
12 lbs chicken breast cut into chunks
 1⁄ cup (1 stick) butter
 2 pound fresh white mushrooms
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup flax meal and 1/2 cup flour to reduce the carbs)
2 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
 2 tablespoon curry powder (next time I am reducing this to 1 tbs and adding in some garlic powder)
 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
 4 cups water
 8 cups milk
4 tablespoons lemon juice
6 bags of frozen broccoli pieces
8 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (3lbs)

To prepare the casserole: saute the chicken in some olive oil or extra butter. I salt and pepper them too. Then divide it evenly among the dishes. divide the broccoli pieces in the dishes. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan or dutch oven.  once they have softened add the flour to make a roux. add in the bouillon granules, curry powder, and pepper.  Slowly mix in the milk and water. Once the sauce has thickened and is well mixed, stir in the lemon juice. Pour this evenly over the dishes. Top them with 2 cups cheese. Cover them well and freeze.
To serve: Defrost the casserole. Uncover and place in a 350 degree oven for 45 min to an hour.

I altered the recipe found in:
Neville, Kati; Lindsay Tkacsik (2010-09-15). Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family (p. 22). Storey Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.

The total for each family this week was $67.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The one with all the freezer meal excitement.

During the Winter Break, some of my girls and I decided to have a marathon meal prep of freezer meals. I went online and grabbed some meals. We went an bought A LOT of meat and set out to prepare our meals. It took about three and half hours all together- which is not bad for our first time. I was skeptical about a few, but I should not have been. All of them were  FAB!!! I am not the only one saying so. The men and kids were so happy, we decided to do a round 2- and try some more recipes.  The group of reviews consists of 4 adult men, 4 adult women, 2 teenage boys, 4 preteen boys, 2 tween girl, and 2 younger boys.   : )
Here is a list of the Round 1 recipes. I will provide links to the ones I got online, and will share the alterations I made to them.
We started by boiling water and what seemed like a million chicken breast in two giant stock pots. I seasoned them with several bay leaves, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and onion. I let them boil while we prepped the meatballs. Then we just shredded the whole bunch and used it in the 2 chicken recipes.  The meatball recipe is same for both. I only used 1/3 the amount of bread crumbs and the rest I used parmesan cheese (because a few of us are watching our carbs, and that's how my Momma does it  :)).
Here is Mom's recipe- (the one in the book is basically the the same  except it was 5 times the amounts and it did not include the parmesan)
  • 1 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp.pepper
  • 1/2 c. parmesan. cheese
We made up the meat in big bowls and used ice cream scoops to portion out the meat. We cooked batches of like 30-40 meatballs in the oven on broil for 10-12 minutes.
Both Sauce recipes came from the book:
Neville, Kati; Lindsay Tkacsik (2010-09-15). Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family (p. 90). Storey Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.
Salisbury Meatballs-  The sauce is:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
11⁄2 pounds fresh white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups water
4 cups half-and-half (or light cream)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules (I could not find these so I used beef bullion cubes and crumbled them)
11⁄2 teaspoons black pepper
Meatballs in Marinara We used the Big batch tomato sauce found in the recipe book, but it left my husband underwhelmed.  So, I will be working on a better homemade sauce. But, you could easily use a store bought and alter it a little. We always add sugar, basil, onion powder and granulated garlic.
For both recipes I let the gallon sized bags defrost overnight and then let them cook on low in a crockpot most of the day.

Chicken Tortilla Soup  We increased the amounts by 4.  It was FULL of chicken and very yummy. we added a little more chicken broth than in the recipe.
Ranch Pork Chops   Increased by 4. Really tender pork. Great crock pot meal. I think I may add some carrots next time.
Chicken Tetrazzini  I increased all amounts by 4. This left us with 3 8x8s and 3 12x10s, all full to the brim. It was SOOOOO good. Rave reviews from the kids.

Each family paid 68$ for 5 meals. Some meals even stretched into 2 or at least a leftover or two.

We are making round 2 later today. I will take pictures this time, and blog about the results next weekend.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The one where I apologize, bare my soul, and show you a mural.

JANUARY 29!!!! REALLY.... that is the last post I created??!! Where did this year go? I feel like a huge failure, because I had planned on posting AT LEAST once a month this year. Here is a little story/excuse as to my absence.
I allowed my life to pull me down this past spring. I let the feelings of being overwhelmed, underappreciated, and not good enough take over and keep me from doing all the things I love. I really just wasn't myself.  I stopped sewing, stopped painting, stopped being me.  WELL-- DONE WITH THAT! I took control back this summer and have started working my way into a better me. I have started cooking again, sewing more, but I still have not done a lot of painting. I have signed up for a class with Este Macleod and am really looking forward to trying to get my mojo back.

I was not a total slacker this summer, I painted a mural in my middle son's school library.  The librarian is a great friend of mine and we collaborated on the characters in the mural. She wanted objects/characters from the top checked out books in her library.  My mom helped me with the painting. We had a lot of fun with it. I think it turned out great! Here are some photos of the space before and after.

I PROMISE to post about my class in a few weeks : )!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The one where I start a daily challenge and share the beginnings of my DLP 2015 (Documented Life Project).

I have been on skillshare for half a year, and really have done nothing with it. Well, I decided that was going to change! I took the first leap by taking the class Drawing Daily Monsters with Stefan G. Bucher. If you do not know his work, you really should go to his website and take a look- AMAZING.  In the class he shows you the intricacies of creating a blob using sumi ink and compressed air. Then you must examine your blob and find the hidden monster on the page. He also urges artists to create a challenge to do something everyday-- like make art everyday. Some have taken up the challenge as a 100 day challenge. I know myself and my absolute inability to stick to one thing for that long. SO I have created a 30 day challenge for myself. At the end of the 30 days, I will challenge myself to something else.  I want to use these challenges as a way to sharpen my skills at one particular aspect of art. This challenge of using only black, white, and grey tones is out of my comfort zone. I can see that it will increase my knowledge with shadowing and highlights. I am also using it to stretch my imagination away from the ordinary "girl art" I tend to create. Here are a few blobs before the creatures have appeared.

 I am currently on day 6. These are three of my favorites so far.  Two of them do not have eyes as I have been doing them in bed every night to wind down and I keep forgetting to grab my white pens from the studio.
I get frustrated when something doesn't immediately come out and introduce itself to ome. But I love where it is taking my mind, away from the same old same old. My three boys definitely find these cooler than the girls and mermaids I usually paint.

On the same idea of challenging myself, I have begun two art journals-- YES...Two.  One I have already introduced here on the blog. It is for Inspiration Wednesdays (IW15). It is only a twice a month thing, and is more abstract in thought and design. The second is the Documented Life Project by Art 5. LOVE that IT IS FREE! Every month there is a Theme. Every week there is an Art Challenge and a Prompt. Here are my first 2 entries for the January theme of "The Blank Page and how to Face it."

January 1
Art Challenge: Book Paper
Journal Prompt: Be Your Own Goal Keeper
For this one I tore up all kinds of paper and collaged them down.  I then stamped, gessoed and gel mediumed all over them.  I took some distress inks and sprayed and dripped them and created a really lively colorful background. I liked the prompt-- meaning I should be the one setting my GOALS and then I should be the one to finish them. I black gessoed two area and wrote a quote about that in each space. I then took my black ink pen and decoratively wrote a bunch of my goals all over the page. I like that the background is so busy you have to hunt for them-- it kind of keeps them secretively mine. Making me the KEEPER of my GOALS.

January 10
Art Challenge:  Gesso
Journal Prompt:  “The beginning is always today.” -Mary Shelley
I started out by laying down a printed napkin and covering it in clear gesso. I knew I wanted a quote on the page so I made a really smooth surface with black gesso (loving this stuff). I ran some washi tape between the two- and yes, it is a little crooked.  I decided to break out my Shiva oil sticks and create a bride and groom using them since they don't see a lot of action. I liked the Mary Shelly quote-- but it did not ring home for me. SO I found this one by Fawn Weaver:
"The difference between an ordinary marriage and an extraordinary marriage is in giving just a little 'extra' as often as possible, for as long as we both shall live."
I feel like it coincided with the Mary Shelly quote, because any day is a good day to start thinking that way about your marriage.

So I decided to not get stressed about staying up to task every single week on this journal-- nothing needs to add to my stress. And since I really like working on multiple pages at a time, I created these little white tags. They have the theme, challenge, and prompt written on them.  I keep them wrapped around the envelope in the front of the cover of the journal. When I am ready to work on the next spread the info will be right there waiting. I will also be able to quickly see what "I was going for" when I come back to these pages in the future. 

The one with the girl in the brooch.

 The MATS (Make Art That Sells) assignment for January was all about Edwardian brooches. I was so intimidated by the intricacies of the metal work details and was really struggling with how I was going to show the facets in gemstone. I sketched out a few images, and waited for the information on what the final product needed to be.

The final product needed to be a journal/diary cover still using the idea of the brooches. I sat and stared at my sketches.  I drooled at all the other people submissions to the classroom in Facebook. I kept coming back to this brooch and seeing it like a girl, wearing a fancy headdress. 
So I sketched it out and painted it with my watercolors. I loved it, but I was baffled with how I was going to make a background that complemented the colors and style of the piece, and  was still interesting enough to be a journal cover.
I have a very large abstract painting hanging in my studio that I have been tinkering with for months. I took a few snapshots of various pieces of the painting and decided to try and incorporate it into the background digitally.

  I brought the brooch girl in Photoshop and removed the paper from her background. I brought in the painting, made some adjustments in lightroom and cropped it to be the adequate size for a journal. I then merged the two layers, added a text and binding, and I was done.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The one about Inspiration Wednesday, 1/7/15

I finally was able to create the Inspiration Journal for Donna Downey's class that just started this week. I created it using  some multimedia paper for the main pages, and then used various materials laying around the house to create the "flaps" that are in between all the pages (transparency film, envelopes, thank you cards, tags, and handmade paper). I then Sewed together some scrap fabric and made the cover. 

The first video came out the last Wednesday (while I was at home recovering from a stomach bug) and I was anxious to get started. I run up to the studio and started gathering supplies. Would you believe I do not have ANY letter stencils? I have letter stamps and punches, but no stencils. I was also very concerned because my first" flap" was transparency, which would not do well with any kind of gel medium. When I think of transparency I think of water. So I obviously decided to do something with a mermaid. I decided to use alcohol ink to create a watery texture on the transparency. Donna was mainly showing use of three dimensional texture and glazing technique. I thought this would work well to create a wave like surround for my mermaid logo. I used a sand grit texture for the background and then the heavy gel and my bubble stencil to add some water bubbles around the logo.

I used a teal glaze, then a dark blue glaze, a lime distress stain, and some gold/green gilding paste to bring out the texture of the page.
I have  had all of these mediums for almost two years no and have rarely picked them up. This inspiration Wednesday was just what I needed to pick them up and give them a little play time.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The One with All the Classes

I may be a slight online art class junkie. Here are some of the ones I have taken in the past. The ones with an (*) I am still technically working on or are enrolled in.
*MATS Bootcamp
*Studying Under the Masters
*Studying Under the Masters: Portraits Creative Girl: The Land of Light and Shadows (with Danielle Donaldson)
*Plaster and Wax 101
*Woodland Girls
*Storybooks and Studious Girls (with Danielle Donaldson) 
Draw Happy
Supplies Me
Express Yourself
 *Life Book 2014
 Rainbow Mermaid
 Quirky Birds
 Book Worm Girl
Whimsy Mermaids
Whimsy Fairies
Day of the Dead Workshop