Friday, August 22, 2014

Review Fourth Crock Pot Meal - BBQ Pork Ribs

BBQ Pork Ribs

I actually remembered to bring this bag out 24 hours ahead of time, so by the time I needed to pour it into the crock pot, it was totally defrosted and ready to go. I also remembered the crock pot liner this time, so Daughter #1 will like that, since she is in charge of dishes.

They cooked on low and the meat simply FELL OFF THE BONE. It was so tender.  This meal is our first one that really is just the entree portion of the meal, and I have to prepare accompaniments for it. I chose a poor day for this, since we have a volleyball tournament, husband flying in from out of town and 100 different places to be at night.  That is my own fault. So, when you're doing the meals that require more than what's in the bag, keep in mind what your schedule will be like that evening.

We had 5 people eating and it was not enough meat for everyone, I would suggest doubling the batch if you are going to serve more than 4 people. We ate this with rice, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and Italian bread. It was a good combination.

I think the recipe was just fine, but I want to make a note about the cooking time. I made a mistake of leaving them in the crock-pot for too long.  This caused some of them to be dry almost to the point of crumbling.  However, the ones which still remained moist had a very good taste and texture.  The recipe calls for 6 hours of cook time.  If you are not ready to eat at that time, pull them out with the juice and let the sit until you're ready. I kept them on warm in the crock-pot for far too long.

I believe this to be a good recipe, when we make the second batch that I still have in the freezer, I believe it will be much better when I take them out at the appropriate time.

Our ranking system is Yummy, Good, Ok and Yuck.

From the peanut gallery:
Number 1 son:  Potentially good
Number 1 father in law: Potentially good
Number 2 daughter:   Potentially good
Number 3 daughter:  Potentially good
My personal opinion is:  Potentially good

The general feeling is that Mom goofed up the cooking on this one, but that the sauce had good flavor and the ribs which didn't dry out were very tasty.  We will try this one again and revisit this review.  I think this has the potential to be a very good dish. We just need to increase the amount of meat cooked and reduce the cook time to what the recipe calls for.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review Third Crock Pot Meal - Beef Barley Stew

Beef Barley Stew

This is our third meal from Crock Pot Ladies Freezer Meals. A special nod to them for preparing all the information so I could try this.

I seem to have a problem remembering to defrost these meals the day before, so this time I pulled it out about 6:30 a. m. and soaked it in water in the sink just to soften it up a bit.  I cut the bottom of the bag off with scissors, making a larger opening than the one with the zipper seal on it. It plopped out nicely into the crock pot and with a little butter knife action again, I had it ready to go. 

I sprinkled the 1 cup of uncooked barley from my pantry on top of the frozen blob and waited for it to get soft. I stirred it up and we were good to go for the rest of the 8 hours on low.

The recipe calls for cube beef, but the butcher gave me a hint. I actually used pinwheel steaks and cut them into squares.  They were already cut in 1" wide strips, so I just used kitchen scissors to snip them into squares.

Here is the finished product: 

Since the veggies and starch are already in the meal, I simply added a loaf of fresh French bread, a bowl of watermelon and something to drink. I love the convenience of this meal, because I was ON THE GO all day today, and it was ready when I needed it to be.

Our ranking system is Yummy, Good, Ok and Yuck.

From the peanut gallery:
Number 1 son:  OK
Number 1 daughter: OK   
Number 2 daughter:   OK
Number 3 daughter:  OK 
My personal opinion is:  OK

The general feeling is that it is 'fine'. Nothing great, nothing you'd want to have as leftovers the next day, but not bad.  We found it to be not a very filling meal, and next time we should serve it with a salad to help fill us up.

I already have the pork ribs out for tomorrow, they require 24 hours of thaw time, so they are in the refrigerator. My plan for them is to serve with fresh Brussels sprouts and mushrooms. Should be tasty tomorrow night.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review Second Crock Pot Meal -- Cheesy Potatoes and Ham

Cheesy Potatoes and Ham

Today is the our first frozen meal.  I took the bag out of the freezer around 6:30 a.m. and put it in the fridge. The bag clearly read "Low - 6 hrs", so I knew if I wanted to eat at 5, I had to get it in the crockpot by 11:00.

About 10:00, I put it out on the counter for a last little thaw and then around 11:15 I unzipped the bag and dropped out a pretty strong smelling, square block of food.  

Frozen block of food

With the help of a butter knife, I managed to break it up enough to get the lid on the crockpot. By 1:00 it was able to be stirred and mixed together.   

Almost ready
It's 4:00 and the meal looks ready.   There was a bit too much watery broth, so I let it cook another hour.  The ham and broccoli have good flavor, but we are not fans of the frozen potatoes.  At first they tasted very watery and bland, but after another 45 minutes, it tasted much better. It needed the full 6 hours of cooking time. It is a complete meal: veggie, taters and meat all included. 

I served it with a loaf of homemade bread.

Our ranking system is Yummy, Good, Ok and Yuck.

Turned out pretty good

From the peanut gallery:
Number 1 son: Good
Number 1 daughter:  OK
Number 2 daughter:  OK
Number 3 daughter:  Yummy
My personal opinion is: Good

I rather like it. It's fast, easy and has everything we need in it. Is it the best tasting concoction I've ever tasted? No. Is it an acceptable and filling meal ready when we need it? Yes. 

Overall thoughts are there is a lot of ham and the cheese was a bit overwhelming. At first the frozen potato taste was a little off putting, but as it sat a bit, that got better. The recipe warns this is salty, and indeed it is. I have a feeling indigestion might be visiting us tonite.  For a first meal, it was fine and it made dinner easy and simple. Cleanup won't be too bad either.

Stay tuned for our next review.  How do you feel about this recipe? Click on the link above to go to the recipe website.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review First Crockpot Meal -- Brown Sugar Meatloaf

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

The first review of my crockpot meal adventure is here.  For the recipe, click on the link above.  Thanks again to the Crockpot Ladies for their blog on this.

Here it is .. all THREE POUNDS of it.

It cooked beautifully in about 6 hours. For the last 20 minutes I poured the homemade sauce over the top.  Only needed about 1/2 the sauce, but it was very tasty.

Clean up was not bad, didn't have my liners yet, so hubby had to wash, but it didn't burn or get sticky.  Cooked on low as suggested. Done completely through without being dry.

My husband enjoyed the taste of the Onion Soup Mix in it, as did my daughter. It's a dense meatloaf with good flavor. Not too salty.  The sauce made it for me.  That added just the right amount of sweet to counteract the savory in the meatloaf.  If I make this again, I will be cutting the recipe in half.  3 pounds of meatloaf is too much food, even for my family of 6.

I would suggest serving this with a loaf of bread, mashed potatoes and a veggie on the side.  I was exhausted today, so the family got the meatloaf with a big broccoli salad.

It was very filling. I think this one is a thumbs up.  I can't say how it would freeze, because we did this one straight into the crockpot because we needed a meal tonite.  Overall, I'm pleased with the outcome.

Stay tuned for the next recipe out of the freezer and I'll let you know what I think! Let me know if you decide to make one of these and what you thought of it. Any questions, let me know.

10 Crockpot Meals -- Review

No time for good food!

Volleyball season and school starting .. what to do?

I went out searching for some crockpot recipes I could freeze to have them ready for the weekdays when there is simply no time to prepare a meal.  We have been eating like *#$)% the past few weeks and it needed to get under control.  I found this website: 10 Easy Crockpot Freezer Meals . I was impressed with her organization, her shopping list, the recipes and her tips.  So, we bit the bullet and went ahead, printed off all the recipes and the list and dove right in.

I'm going to be writing about each meal that we make and what we think of it, what we might change, and any tips you might want to take into account if you want to make the meal.  All of these meals could be made right in the crockpot, but we made all of them and froze them. Now, when we need something, I can reach in the freezer the night before, pull out a bag, thaw it overnight and put it in the crockpot the next day.  She has many tips for how to label the bags, fill the bags, etc.  I'm so happy she put in the time and effort to make this for us.

The best tip I got from the blog was this right here:

The Tupperware pitcher holds the gallon sized zipper back beautifully and allows you to fill with no muss or fuss.  It also keeps the air down in the bag, so it's virtually air free if you remove it properly.  We didn't have any mess at all with this method. I have another Tupperware oval modular mate that worked great also. Same basic size and shape.

All of the meat, except Ham Steaks
We went to Country Meat Market  in Fort Worth for all of our meat. I cannot tell you how much this helped.  I was purchasing cuts of meat I don't usually buy and the folks there were so helpful. Nothing is frozen, everything fresh, and that is important.  I did learn that a chicken breast is not a chicken breast.  That's a discussion for another time.  Anyway, they helped me a lot. I was making a double batch (in for a penny, in for a pound) of everything, so they weighed and cut things for me and wrapped into separate packages.  When we walked out of there, it was $176, but since this makes 80 meals, I figure that's not too bad.  We did have to pick up some ham steaks from Albertsons because the meat market doesn't carry them.  

Another must for the sanity of the person doing the dishes in your house are Crock Pot Liners!  Pick up some of those and save yourself a lot of time!

The grocery list was clear and accurate, we were not missing anything when we got home.  That was quite nice. The only thing I would comment on is that the list calls for 2-2 1/2 pounds of broccoli.  That is WAY TOO MUCH. 2 pounds of broccoli cut up to be 8 cups and I only needed 4 for the recipe.  So, that is the only change I would make to the grocery list.

Big, clear work space!
We set up in the dining room. Standing for three hours preparing food is not my idea of a good time.  I had two helpers.  I was in charge of meat, Kathryn was in charge of the rest of the ingredients and Michael was tasked with the meatloaf prep and the ground beef browning for another recipe.  We made two of each meal, bagging up 20 meals in about 3 hours today. It was fun to work with others. I think doing this on my own would have been very boring and tedious. I suggest a friend or family member. Perhaps make a set for yourself and for a friend together. 1/2 a days work and everyone walks away with 10 meals.

Looks pretty good

Labeled with cooking directions, air burped out and stored flat, our first meal was finished fairly quickly.  All the meals serve between 4-5 people with the exception of the meatloaf which serves 10.  With the addition of veggies and bread, I believe one meal will feed my entire family.

If the recipe called for it to be thawed 24 hours before cooking, I wrote that on the bag to let me know that one needed additional time. 

Anything extra needing to be added is listed on each bag.

Come back soon to learn what we think of each of these recipes.  Special thanks to the Crockpot Ladies who made this possible.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Various Projects

Christmas Presents

I made quite a few of the popular 'ruffle' scarves this holiday season to give to folks and to sell to folks to give to other folks.  I sold out of my stash of yarn and am pleased to say that what I sold more than paid for what I gave as gifts, a very pleasing way to go.  I am always available to make a scarf for anyone who wants one, just let me know what colors and I'll get on it.  

The Sisters' Afghan is complete

Finally, we have reached completion!

Many hours of work have resulted in a fine looking afghan.

Janet conceived this idea and the two of us worked from May through October to make it a reality.  There are many skeins of yarn, many hours of work and much frustration and love stitched into this beautiful afghan.  My father in law helped me block it and I am most excited to use it.  Or I will be ... you see there were some construction issues. None of the individual squares are falling apart, but the way I joined some of them together was incorrect, and they are now beginning to pull apart. So I need to spend quite a bit of time going back and restitching the seams to make them strong enough to stand up to the weight of the afghan.

However, that being said, here is the final result before repairs are made. 

I am very pleased with the outcome. Once the
repairs are made, this will be my favorite thing to use.

Currently Waiting on Janet to Decide on Her Pattern for Her Afghan!!