Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Giveaway!

Hi everyone! I hope you've been enjoying my new blog topics and the recipes I've been sharing.  If you've tried out any of the recipes please let me know :) I'm attempting to de-clutter my house in the New Year and one of the things I have piles of in my scrapping room are magazines.  When you are published in Northridge Publishing you get two copies of everything so I have a lot of excess copies lying around, plus past issues of Creating Keepsakes and Scrapbooks ETC.  I thought maybe I could do two giveaways in order to help clear some space!  So just follow my blog, leave me a comment, and I'll pick 2 winners on Friday.  PLEASE make sure you check back on Friday because I won't email you....you will have 1 week to claim your prize.

Here's what's up for grabs

Prize 1: A collection of Northridge Publishing Magazines including Scrapbook Trends, CARDS, Create, and Cricut Magazines


Prize 2: A collection of past Creating Keepsakes, Papercrafting, Scrapbook and Cards Today, and Scrapbooks ETC publications





So just follow my blog, leave me a comment, and you'll be entered to win one of these prize packs :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Take on Cabbage Rolls

ETA:If you enjoy this recipe and are looking for more great and easy freezer meal recipes, please check out my e-Book, “Make Ahead Meals: Freezer Meal Recipes that Make Dinner Quick and Easy”. The book is both a step by step guide to getting started with freezer meals and a cookbook. The book contains over 50 recipes and printables for inventory tracking, labels, and grocery lists. All of the recipes use whole foods and each recipe lists the calorie content per serving (most are less than 500 calories per serving). This book will show you the best way to make and cook healthy and cost efficient freezer meals from start to finish! For more information please CLICK HERE, the book can be purchased either as an e-Book or hardcopy.

To purchase a PDF file of this e-Book (for $7.99) directly from myself please click the PayPal button below






To Purchase a Full Color, Hard Copy of this Book (for $21.99) please click the Amazon link below:

Amazon

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Hi everyone!  I'm here to share my latest freezer cooking batch.  I took a trip down to BJs with the family and decided to make some Asian Marinated steak, Cabbage rolls, and I also bought some marinated pork loin to freeze down.  I got kinda busy afterwards so I didn't make all these meals until a few days later; I just got home from work one day and spent about 2hours getting these meals together.  It was 7 meals all told (plus I had leftover meat mixture so I got another 2 cabbage roll meals the next day after buying more cabbage), so for less than 2 hours of work I was pretty happy with that!

 I got this cabbage roll recipe from one of my coworkers mother who makes them.  I found lots of recipes floating around out there but wanted to try something that was "tried and true"- and her recipe did not disappoint! I made a few little changes here and there so it's not exact and I'm sure hers taste better but I was definitely pleased with them.

Here's the modified recipe (mostly from memory so use your imagination), for appx 40 cabbage rolls (5 meals or so)

5 heads of cabbage
5lbs of meatloaf mix
3C of cauliflower rice (the original recipe called for real rice, but since we're doing atkins I substituted cauliflower rice instead)
3 sauteed onions (or onion powder)
Various spices (see below)
6 eggs
Jar of Spaghetti Sauce (appx 3C)
Half and Half (appx 1/3C)
3 Boullion cubes
3 cans of Campbells Mushroom Soup

First things first- I got all my labels printed and packaging ready.  I figured I'd make enough for 4 cabbage roll meals and 4 asian steak meals, just in case I had extra.  As I mentioned above I had extra meat but ran out of cabbage so I bought some more cabbage the next day and made two more meals (one we had for dinner that night and the other one I froze).  I put the cabbage rolls in 8x8 GLAD Ovensafe Bakeware (LOVE this stuff, totally reusable and can go straight from the freezer to the oven so long as you put it on a baking sheet).  I put the asian steaks in ziploc bags.


First up I bought 3 heads of cabbage that all needed to be cored and then boiled for a couple minutes each.



Once they were boiled I could peel off the leaves and lay out to cool on some paper towels.


While I was boiling cabbage I got to making some cauliflower rice.  I actually bought 4 HEADS of cauliflower and made a HUGE amount of cauliflower rice.  I only used about one heads worth of this in this recipe, but I wanted to save/freeze the rest for another day since I liked it so much the first time we had it.  It'll be good with stir fry I think!



Once the cabbage was cooling and the rice was all ready I started adding spices to the meat.  Since I forgot to buy onions (duhhhhh oops) I had to improvise.  I added onion powder, garlic, chili flakes, paprika, salt, dried parsley, thyme, and pepper.  I also added 6 eggs and the cauliflower rice and started mixing. (I need a bigger bowl, by the time I added the cauliflower rice in there I was spilling all over the place lol).


So then it was time to roll the cabbage.  Just take a leaf and slice out the middle core.


Add a few tablespoons of your meat mixture to the center then roll, tuck in the sides and finish rolling.


On the bottom of your pan add a couple leaves of cabbage (PS no I'm not sponsored by GLAD haha)


Here are all the rolls in the dish, I was able to fit 8 per pan.  If I make these again I might fill up a 9x13inch pan instead of the smaller ones, this is about enough for 1 meal for 2 people (my hubby eats a lot ha); so next time might make sense to freeze down less meals but bigger portions.


Last was the sauce.  The original recipe called for Golden Cream of Mushroom Soup, but I couldnt find that at BJs so I just figured the only difference between that and regular cream of mushroom was probably chicken stock?  I have no idea, this is just what I guessed.  Do you know the difference?  Enlighten me!  Anyways, I added some boullion cubes to a few cans of cream of mushroom and dissolved them.  Next I added some tomato sauce and some half and half to make a sauce which I layered on top of my cabbage rolls.



So that was it!  Not too difficult really, a little more assembly than most meals but nice because I didn't have to cook/ sautee anything.  Cooking instructions on the picture above :)

Next up was the Asian Marinated Steaks which were super easy.  The recipe is in THIS cookbook.  Basically it was soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and siracha.  I just mixed it all in a measuring cup.  Then I added two steaks per ziploc bag and divided up the marinade among the four bags.


And that was it!  Here are all my meals ready to go in the freezer (minus the extra cabbage rolls I made the next day of course).  So now I probably won't make another freezer meal batch for another month or so because we're pretty well stocked up right now.  The nice thing about this is that I have such a good variety or meals in the freezer that I won't need to buy dinners for the next month- just breakfast and lunch food so it saves lots of money!  I hope that gives you an idea of how I fit everything into my schedule and how easy bulk cooking can be.  Stay tuned for a giveaway in the next few days :)


These are the storage containers that I recommend for making these recipes. The OvenWare trays and Ball Freezer Jars are all reusable and the bags are heavy duty and freezer proof.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two New Layouts to Share

Hi everyone! Here are a few new layouts I made these past few weeks. Told you I wouldn't forget about the scrappy projects :)

The first one was made using a Becky Fleck PageMaps sketch and some more Easter photos (i just love these photos so much I can't stop scrapping them!). I also used Noel Mignon's kit Primrose Lane :)



The second is made using a Noel Mignon sketch and her kit Homespun


Hope you enjoy! I'll be back with my take on cabbage rolls in a few days :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Shrimp Scampi with Cauliflower Rice

ETA:If you enjoy these tips/recipes and are looking for more great and easy freezer meal recipes, please check out my e-Book, “Make Ahead Meals: Freezer Meal Recipes that Make Dinner Quick and Easy”. The book is both a step by step guide to getting started with freezer meals and a cookbook. The book contains over 50 recipes and printables for inventory tracking, labels, and grocery lists. All of the recipes use whole foods and each recipe lists the calorie content per serving (most are less than 500 calories per serving). This book will show you the best way to make and cook healthy and cost efficient freezer meals from start to finish! For more information please CLICK HERE, the book can be purchased either as an e-Book or hardcopy.

To purchase a PDF file of this e-Book (for $7.99) directly from myself please click the PayPal button below





To Purchase a Full Color, Hard Copy of this Book (for $21.99) please click the Amazon link below:

Amazon

--------------------------------------------
Hi everyone!  I'm here to share an example of how we're working the Atkins thing in with the freezer meal thing.  Here's an example of what we had for dinner last night.  First, I grabbed a shrimp scampi freezer meal.  This recipe is super easy and double yum.  I made 4 of these meals at once (bags of frozen shrimp were on sale!) a month or so ago -- I just dumped one bag of peeled shrimp into each container added some wine/oil and covered with the butter/panko/shallot topping (i just quadrupled the recipe then split it into 4 portions). I love this recipe because I don't need to let them thaw overnight before cooking. I can cook it straight from frozen.   There's also LOTS of liquid sauce so it works nicely because you can put it over pasta or rice and still have enough sauce to coat.


Since I can't have pasta or rice I decided to try out a cauliflower rice recipe I had heard about.  Once the shrimp was cooking away in the oven I cut a head of cauliflower into small florets (stems too!) and processed in the food processor for a few pulses until it looked like rice.  Then I added to a pan and started sauteeing. I added some garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese just to give it some extra flavor.


Once it was rice like in texture and cooked through I started assembling dinner!  First, salads with some tomatoes and feta cheese.


Then the cauliflower rice.


Next the shrimp scampi was done.  Typically I would brown the top but Charlie's dinner was getting cold (he had hot dogs, tater tots, and cheese sticks.  boy were those tots tempting, I so wanted to steal one! lol) and I needed to get moving.


So I just added some shrimp and sauce to the cauliflower rice and voila, I was done.  Took about 15 minutes of work to make a full meal for Robb and I and a separate meal for Charlie.

The cauliflower rice was actually pretty tasty, kind of like cous cous-- it was so easy we'll definitely be having it again! Robb was a happy customer :)


Technically the panko isn't very Atkins friendly but there wasn't that much of it.  The only other unhealthy thing in the meal was the butter and little bit of wine in the sauce but butter is Atkins friendly so whatever!

So that was a low carb/freezer meal!  Hope you enjoy, and try out the recipe, it's super yummy :)  I'll be back in a few days to share some  new scrapbooking layouts!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weight Loss in 2013


Hi everyone! I'm here today to talk about my hopeful weight loss plans this year.  It's not a New Years Resolution or anything but my husband and I did decide to give Atkins a shot this year.  It's been a week and a half so far and it's going OK for me, and of course super duper great for Robb because he's a boy and it takes almost no effort for boys to lose weight GRRRR :)  So my plan here is to update once a week or so with my progress and hopefully this will keep me accountable for keeping up with my plan!  So far the hubs has lost 13lbs and I'm down a whopping 5lbs haha.

My weight has fluctuated like crazy pretty much ever since I graduated college.  Most recently I lost 22lbs this summer but then gained back even more back over this past winter (ugh).  I think at this point in my life I've lost over 100lbs if you tallied it all up but then I've gained even more haha.  I'm not going crazy with rules this time, I'm gonna take it one day at a time and  if I need to eat a slice of bread, whatever, I'm going to just do the best I can and not over analyze it.  I think sometimes when i start a diet I overplan and it becomes too burdensome to keep up with; it works in the short term but I lose interest after a few months.  This time I'm just gonna try and make it work into my schedule while still realizing that everyday might not be perfect and that's okay.  I'm hoping I'll have more long term success with this approach!

I also wanted to show you how I'm  organizing my meals and fitting this new way of eating into my freezer meal system.  First off, I buy lots of vegetables each week and then wash and store them in tupperware in the fridge.  This means they are easy access, it's one of the first things I see when I open the fridge door so I remember to eat them!  It's also quick, just reach in and grab a handful of lettuce.  done.  Plus I've noticed greens stay much fresher stored this way instead of in bags that are half opened and shoved into the crisper drawer ;).  Here's a view of my fridge.  I have tupperware for spinach, salad greens, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and celery.


Since this is Atkins I'm also eating a lot of cheese! I tried to add some variety so i don't get too sick of it (too late, I'm sick of cheese already lol)



So usually I'll make Robb and I salads for lunch and I'll pack some cheese, avocado, celery, etc for snacks.  For breakfast we've started doing Atkins shakes because theyre convenient but I did make a giant batch of eggs once that worked out really nice.  Just one dozen eggs, one block of frozen spinach, 1/4C parmesan cheese, 1/4C milk, 1 chopped pepper, 5 slices bacon; scrambled all together and then put into 5 tupperware containers.  We would just grab a tupperware and heat it up when we got to work for breakfast.  I might do this again next week because we'll probably be sick of the shakes :)

So how does all this no carb and high fat work with my freezer cooking? Pretty nicely actually! Aside from the casseroles and lasagna most of the meals I freeze are mostly low carb.  So far we've had BBQ chicken, smothered pork chops, chili, chicken stir fry, and a variety of other freezer meals-- I certainly will not let any of those meals go to waste!  The casseroles I'll start eating in a month or so, once we've kind of gotten into the no-carb groove it will be easier to start adding some carbs back in.  The casseroles are usually made with whole grain brown rice and other healthy ingredients anyways so shouldn't be that big of a deal.

Do you have any weight loss goals this year? Have you ever done Atkins too? Tell me about it!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Some Recent Layouts

Hi everyone!

I told you I'd still have scrapbooking stuff to share now didn't I? hehe.  I actually haven't scrapped anything since probably very early November- it stinks! I'm always feeling rushed when I scrap lately because Charlie hasn't been napping very much so I just haven't been able to get in the groove. Anyways, hopefully I'll get more scrapping done in the New Year because i am QUITE behind on using up some of my supplies!  At any rate, here are my last two layouts :)

 This one was made using the Little Black Dress Kit Club's most recent kit, which was filled with lots of awesome black and gold!  I added some aqua in to complement this silly photo of my friend Kim.


This one was made using Noel Mignon's kit "Primrose Lane", I love these colors for Easter layouts!


Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Introduction to My Version of Freezer Cooking

ETA:If you enjoy these tips and are looking for some great and easy freezer meal recipes, please check out my e-Book, “Make Ahead Meals: Freezer Meal Recipes that Make Dinner Quick and Easy”. The book is both a step by step guide to getting started with freezer meals and a cookbook. The book contains over 50 recipes and printables for inventory tracking, labels, and grocery lists. All of the recipes use whole foods and each recipe lists the calorie content per serving (most are less than 500 calories per serving). This book will show you the best way to make and cook healthy and cost efficient freezer meals from start to finish! For more information please CLICK HERE, the book can be purchased either as an e-Book or hardcopy.

To purchase a PDF file of this e-Book (for $7.99) directly from myself please click the PayPal button below





To Purchase a Full Color, Hard Copy of this Book (for $21.99) please click the Amazon link below:

Amazon

----------------------------------------------------

Hi everyone!  I'm here to start off an introductory post to one of the new topics I will be covering in the blog this year :)  One of my  most recent favorite topics- freezer cooking!  I am LOVING it so far, it takes a little planning but is so worth it.  This is a very long post so be forewarned :)

If you don't know what freezer meals are I'll give you a quick definition- although I am by  no means an expert.  For me, freezer meals are two fold.  One way I do it is Crockpot Freezer Meals which is just chopping and mix raw meat and veggies in a bag and then the whole thing can be thrown in the crockpot and cook all day while I'm at work.  Very easy but there are a lot of crappy crockpot freezer meal recipes floating around.  The other way I do it is by cooking huge batches of things like lasanga, meatballs, meatloaf, chili, and other meals and freezing down dinner size portions.  Almost anything can be frozen!  And I've found that making triple or quadruple the recipe is hardly any more work and not much more money than just making it once.  Ahhh efficiency!

I label everything with directions for cooking and then I can thaw my meal the night before and leave instructions for my nanny for getting cooking started (usually it just involves throwing it in the crockpot at a certain time), when I get home I put the finishing touches on the meal.  Easy peasy.

Here's a view of my stocked freezer.  When our refrigerator broke a few months ago I had to take out a line of credit to buy a new one and I happened to have enough left after the new fridge for a little freezer, which has been fantastic.  It saves us a lot of time and money.



 The door:


You'll see the second shelf is a little messy right now!  Oops!  I have the freezer broken up this way:

Shelf 1: Chicken
Shelf 2: Beef/Pork
Shelf 3: Casseroles
Bottom Drawer: frozen veggies/chicken stock that is required for the above meals
Door: Frozen chicken breast, shrimp, fish, steaks.  Anything frozen in jars (chili, taco meat, etc)

Mixed in with whatever shelf has the most room I usually store miscellaneous items like twice baked potatoes.

So that's a quick tour of my freezer.  I also have a little pantry cupboard right next to my freezer in the basement to store pantry items that go along with any of the meals.  I try to buy everything I will need for each meal up front and store it away until it's time to make it, that way I'll always have what I need on hand for last minute meal decisions.


Here's a view of the inside (broth, sauce, coconut milk, saltines, rice, just pantry staples)


Most of my meals are stored in either gallon size Ziploc Freezer Bags, GLAD Ovensafe bakeware (highly reccomend this! Just make sure you put it on a sheet pan in the oven.  But they're reusable as well!), and tupperware.  I store all of this stuff together in my little freezer area of the basement.
These are the storage containers that I recommend for making these recipes. The OvenWare trays and Ball Freezer Jars are all reusable and the bags are heavy duty and freezer proof.



So now on to the meals themselves.  How do I find my recipes?  I use Pinterest a lot but have had hit or miss luck with some of the recipes (in particular the crockpot freezer meals).  This is my Pinterest Freezer Meal Board.  I went to a bunch of sites and compiled a list of my dream freezer inventory and then got started cooking.  One of the best sites I found was this one.

Here is what my Freezer Inventory looks like today (yes I keep a detailed inventory!  Must be the Quality Control Scientist in me :P). I keep track of what I put in, how much, the date, and whenever I remove something I list how many removed/remaining.  I also have a column for "Out of Stock" so whenever something is gone I can remember to make some more.  I keep a pen right next to the inventory so it's easy to remember to log things in or out.


So how do I have time to make all of these meals?  or the money?  Well, if I have a week where we don't need to buy a lot of food (like Charlie food or lunch food) I will put some money aside to make freezer meals.  Honestly, they're typically not very expensive to make....mostly it's buying the protein, and everything else is usually on hand aside from veggies or cheese.  I pick what meal I make based on what protein is on sale that week or what is at a good price.  If I buy food to make two different types of freezer meal batches I'll usually spend an hour on Sunday making one batch (a batch to me is 3-4 meals) and I'll spend another hour or so during the week making the second meal.  So your inventory grows very fast doing that.  I would also recommend a membership to a large supply store (like BJs or Costco), this helps keep my pantry well stocked which makes assembling the meals quick and low cost each week.  Plus its easier buying big trays of meat than 4 little trays.  I usually go about once every 3 months because when I DO go it gets very pricey.


So that's my introduction to freezer meals.  They've been great for my family- I have a long commute so when I get home I only have an hour or so before dinner and I'd rather spend that time playing with Charlie, cleaning, or doing other errands than cooking dinner.  Plus less dishes :)  Not to mention it saves a lot of money!  Do you have any good freezer recipes to share?




Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Changes in 2013 and a New Header

Hi everyone!  I'm going to start updating my blog more often so get used to seeing more of me!  Yes yes yes I am!  Busy schedule be damned ;)

First up, I have a new header to share!  Check it out:


Whatcha think?  I loved the color scheme from this pin on Pinterest so I wanted to replicate it, I think I got decently close but maybe a little more masculine because I added the dark brown:


And in case you forgot these were my last two headers (for the 3 years before that I think that I just used nothing?  How blah! lol)

2011:


2010:



So I was thinking about some of my interests the other day and decided I want to change some of the focus on my blog.  Main focus is definitely still scrapbooking/cardmaking/papercrafting.  Absolutely!  But I want to start bringing in some other parts of my life in here.  This way I will be able to update more often even if I don't have a scrapbook layout to share, plus, maybe there'll be something there that catches your interest as well!  Here's what I'm thinking the blog will be broken down into

1. Scrapbooking and all things crafty
2. Freezer Meals
3. Family Photo's, CF Maintenance, etc
4. Weight Loss (this is mostly for my accountability haha! I'll keep you posted on my progress and that will hopefully keep me progressing, KWIM?)

I think it might be fun to add a few more points of interest to the blog and I will be posting an introductory post on each topic so you can see where I'll be going with it.  I've become quite the freezer meal expert in the past few months as well so I'm looking forward to sharing what I've learned ;)  So what do you guys think? Sound like fun to you?


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Top Twelve of 2012

Hi everyone! Sorry I've been so absent lately (I seem to be saying that a lot booo!).  I just haven't had a spare second to scrap anything lately.....it's been like 2 months.  Freakin stinks! So I'm hoping to get my crafty mojo back in the next few days....after all, with a new year it means I need to make a new header for my blog!  Yippee, that's always fun and I have some cool ideas :)

Anyways, since it's the end of the year I wanted to do my "Top Twelve" layouts of 2012.  These actually aren't my top 12, I've been so lucky this year to have LOADS of stuff picked up for publication so unfortunately I can't show you my actual favorite layouts of the year, but these all come in a close second :)  Hopefully you'll like them just the same :)

18 Months:

One Great Grandfather: Made using Noel Mignon's kit "Salt Water Taffy"


2 Peas(e) in a Pod: Part of my work Guest Designing for American Crafts :)


Here Comes Trouble: As seen in the most recent issue of Creating Keepsakes, made for Burlap and Buttercups kit club


Dapper Easter Attire: Runner up of Crate Paper's Au Natural Challenge


Beware of Porcupine: Made using Noel Mignon's kit "Something Wicked"


October 31st: Made using Noel Mignon's kit "Something Wicked"


The Colors of Fall: Made using Noel Mignon's kit "Hudson Valley"


Eolia Mansion: Made for Pretty Little Studio


I Love His Sense of Wonder: Made for Little Black Dress Kit Club


Celebrating 30 Years of Happy


Simply Enchanting: Another layout from my guest design stint at American Crafts


Anyways I hope everyone's 2012 went well and that 2013 goes even better :)  Be back soon with a new header!

-Cass