Preserving Summer: A Round-Up of Inspiration

In case you wanted to approach Labor Day weekend in a very literal sense, I’m sharing a round-up of preserving tutorials for seasonal fruits and vegetables today. I’ve set aside some time tomorrow to pack my freezer with certain vegetables and berries that I know will be disappearing from the market soon.

For a practical application of this post, may I suggest you first scan the list below, then take note of what you and your family will use the most. After that, think about what you are able to source – Is blueberry season over? Are your favorite saucing apples ripe yet? – before deciding on a weekend project.

Here is more practical advice on how to make time and get organized to can and preserve the harvest. Have fun!

[Read more…]

More Warm Weather Batch Cooking

I‘ll bet that you didn’t expect to see homemade salad dressing as the top photo for a post about batch cooking, did you?

The term ‘batch cooking’ refers to dishes that are made in double or quadruple batches, and frozen for convenience. It usually refers to vats of chili, seas of lasagna, and spaghetti sauce by the gallon.

Here’s the thing. For me, batch cooking (and baking) applies to all aspects of feeding the family, not just hearty, ‘wintery’ main dishes. Summer is a busy time and I’m sure you don’t want to hang out forever in the kitchen any more than I do. Right? We want to get in there, be immensely productive, and then hit the beach with girlfriends. Or in my slightly less glamorous case, the plastic kiddie pool on the back lawn.

Batch cooking in summer allows you to get a leg up on dinner. These suggestions are not necessarily entire meals unto themselves, but all provide the base of wholesome -and delicious- summer fare. Last summer I introduced my warm weather batch cooking theory and covered ideas such as pizza dough, homemade pesto, and even a do-ahead dessert. Be sure to revisit that post for more inspiration!

Now we’ve just wrapped a series on frozen treats, but as everyone knows, man cannot live on popsicles and ice cream alone (although some of us would sure like to try), so here are few ideas for more substantial fare.

[Read more…]

Cooking for Others: A Guide to Giving Sympathy Meals

Our recent Q&A on sympathy meals received a tremendous response. Thank you to all who took the time to share your experiences with either giving or receiving meals. It was very, very interesting to read your comments and I took note of all the questions. I hope to answer them in this follow-up post.

We agreed that there are people in need all around us, and a small gesture like giving a meal can be a blessing both to giver and receiver. In fact, by the sounds of things, lives were very nearly saved just because a meal -or series of meals- was received during a time of need.

It was interesting that many more readers had given a meal than accepted one. Those who had been recipients spoke passionately about how touched they were and how helpful it was to be given a practical gift, in lieu of flowers. And there was another theme – the food that was brought is the best, or very near to the best, food that they had ever eaten. I’d have to agree with that one, too.

Plenty of questions also arose, all of them extremely pertinent. When is the best time to deliver a meal? What about allergies? Should a casserole be pre-baked or not? Hot or cold? Frozen or fresh?

This post will highlight the best tips, helpful suggestions, and friendly advice on bringing meals to others. Hopefully you will be encouraged to look around and reach out to people in your community through a hot meal.

[Read more…]

7 Favorite Do-Ahead Dinners for Winter (recipe: Chocolate Chip Chili)

A little blogging conference called Blissdom is happening in a few weeks in Nashville and I’m skipping the country to attend. I’ll also be skipping out on four days of laundry, lunch-packing and cooking. Woo-hoo!

Hmm, the last time I traveled internationally on my own? It was over a decade ago and included sights such as the alluring Tuscan countryside, Thailand’s best beaches, and the most memorable spice market in Istanbul, Turkey. This trip isn’t going to be quite as exotic, and I’ll be inside a sprawling hotel most of the time, but it provides the opportunity to meet some very dear food blogging friends, not to mention, the whole Simple Living Media team. I’m so excited!

Freezer Cooking

To make up for this mom-bloggers’ absence, I’ve been slowly stocking the freezer with meals for Danny to heat and serve to the kids for the five dinners I’ll be gone. Sure he knows his way about the kitchen, but we’ve agreed it is best for him to focus on our little ones as much as possible. I’m also stashing a few extra meals, because I know I’m going to need a couple days when I get back to connect with Blissdom alumni on Twitter get back on my feet.

We’ve talked about warm weather batch cooking, practical do-ahead ideas to help jump start dinner, but I haven’t shared some of our cold weather favorites. Like most families, we enjoy classics such as lasagna, stew, and –my boys current favorite– spaghetti & meatballs, but they do tend to get rather old though, wouldn’t you agree?

Today I’m giving suggestions for recipes that are suitable for freezing, adapt well to big batches, and provide a fresh take on family favorites. Macaroni & Cheese with vitamin-A rich butternut squash? Slow-cooker chili with a handful of chocolate chips? Homemade chicken fingers kept moist with buttermilk? It all sounds so good, I almost wish I was staying home to dine with the family. Almost.

[Read more…]

Roasting Pumpkin 101: How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Purée

Written by Lynn Craig.

When fall crisps the air and chills the nights, my thoughts invariably turn to pumpkins. For some reason I start craving pumpkin dishes. Pumpkin pie is a natural, yes, but I start dreaming of ways I can put pumpkin in all baked goods.

Muffins, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls are just the beginning for me. I’ve been known to wake from a sound sleep and scribble something on my bedside notepad that in the morning looks like it may or may not say pumpkin pudding.

To fuel this hectic pumpkin mania in my kitchen, I need a lot of pumpkin. Of course, it is easy to just pick up a can of pumpkin at the grocery store. I frequently go this route and won’t think less of you if you choose to do so.

It is fun, however, to take a pumpkin you’ve picked, bake it, purée it, and then turn it into your own dream pumpkin creation.

Baking pumpkins is super simple. You only need a pumpkin, a rimmed baking sheet, a sheet of aluminum foil, and an oven.

[Read more…]

Quantcast