Thursday, October 27, 2011

Caramel & Pumpkin

Caramel & Pumpkin. No, not together...although, that could be interesting. I was really in a Fall sweets mood yesterday, and did not feel like writing a paper for grad school, so here are the results:

Caramel Corn Recipe

7 quarts plain popped popcorn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts (optional)
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.Place the popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking pans. You may use roasting pans, jelly roll pans, or disposable roasting pans. Add the peanuts to the popped corn if using. Set aside.
2.Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
3.Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don't worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.
4.Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes. Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags.

**Folks, I cannot rave about this recipe enough. Everyone who has tried it, has melted as much as the caramel in their mouths. Trust me, it's goooood.

Pumpkin Dip
- my good friend Audra, and

1 15 oz can of pumpkin pie mix
1 5 oz box of instant vanilla pudding
1 16 oz container of cool whip {low fat}
1/2 tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tbsp Cinnamon

Hand mix well, all ingredients together except for the cinnamon. Chill for several hours in the fridge, and sprinkle with cinnamon before serving. Serve with apple slices, graham crackers, nilla wafers, whatever floats your boat. :)



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beans, Chilis, and Stews...Oh my!

Hi friends! I hope you all are having a good week. I went a little crazy today, in an effort to avoid writing my grad school papers (sorry, Mom). My husband always teases me that I am MOST productive around the house when I am being LEAST productive in schoolwork. It's true. I would much rather be cooking or prepping than reading or writing.

Anyway, enough talk. This is already going to be a pretty lengthy post. I didn't take pictures today, because I feel like it's not so exciting seeing these meals in their freezer bags. I will update with pictures as I make a few. Here are my newest freezer to crockpot meals. You'll notice they are much warmer and heartier, thanks to Fall :) I ended up making about 11 VERY full bags today. Honestly, about enough food for a month and a half, lunches and dinners, and I spent...get ready...a whopping $80.00 on it all. Yeah, it's like that. Try this people, I'm serious! Without further ranting, here are the recipes of the month (and a half?). Enjoy!

**All of these recipes are adapted recipes from the Fix it and Forget it Crockpot cookbook.**

Barbeque Beans and Weenies

4 15 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups bbq sauce of choice
2 15 ounce packages cut up hot dogs or lil smokies
Mix together, freeze, thaw, and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Presidential Chili

1 pound lean ground meat (I used turkey)
5 to 6 medium tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
1 large onion
1 green bell pepper
1 15 ounce can kidney beans
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Mix all ingredients together, bag and freeze, thaw, and cook on low 7-9 hours.
**FYI, I do NOT pre-cook or brown poultry or lean meats. They do not have enough fat to worry about.**

White Bean and Apple Chili

3 tablespoons butter (added the morning of)
2 15 ounce cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion chopped
2 green apples diced
3 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar (added when ready to serve)
Mix ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook on low 8 hours.


2 15 ounce cans beans of your choice (I used kidney), rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can tomatoes with juice
1 15 ounce can corn and juice
2 cups chopped frozen vegetables
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Mix ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Harvest Stew

1 yellow onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 sweet potato, chopped
3 red potatoes, chopped
1 acorn squash, chopped
1 pound ground turkey or chicken
1 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 10 ounce can tomatoes and chilies (Rotel)
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
**I did not have cloves or allspice, and opted to use pumpkin pie spice instead**
Mix ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook on low 7-9 hours.

Apple, Cheddar, and Turkey Meatballs

1 1/2 pounds extra lean turkey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 green apple shredded
1/2 cup sharp cheddar shredded
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
Mix all ingredients, make golf ball size balls, freeze, thaw, and cook for 8 hours on low.

Brown Sugar Chicken

12-14 chicken thighs
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup Sprite or Sierra Mist
Mix all ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook for 6-9 hours on low.

Sloppy Joes

1 pound lean ground meat (turkey)
1 1.5 ounce packet sloppy joe mix
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 cup warm water (added morning of)
Mix all ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook on low 6-7 hours.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Freezer to Crockpot Meals...Again

I.can't.stop. But I don't want to either! I am LOVING this whole DUMP crockpot method. I cannot tell you folks how much time and money it is saving me during the month. I created some new ones based on recipes I found in my Fix it and Forget it cookbook. My favorites are definitely the Chili and the Bean Soup, although the hubby was partial to the Teriyaki Drummettes. My suggestion, try them all. ;)

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

4 pounds chicken wings and/or drumsticks
1 (14 ounce) jar chipotle salsa
1 (11 ounce) jar apricot preserves
Vegetables of your choice (I used fresh apricots, peaches, and red and yellow peppers)
As usual, freeze, thaw for 30 minutes, and cook on low for about 8 hours.

Teriyaki Drummettes

2 pounds chicken drumettes
½ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry sherry
3 garlic cloves minced
Vegetables of your choice (I used a large frozen bag of Asian inspired veggies, including snow pea pods, carrots, water chestnuts, etc.)
Same process as above for cooking.

Bean Soup

1 (16 ounce) bag fifteen (or sixteen, whatever you can find) dry bean soup mix (discard flavor packet)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons of your favorite spice blend
1 (14 ounce) can Italian style diced tomatoes with liquid
Salt and pepper to taste
**Add enough water to completely cover the beans, plus an additional 3 inches or so if making this without freezing. IF FREEZING, only use enough water to cover about half of what will resemble a frozen bean block, and add more if you see fit later on. Also, I did notice that when freezing dried beans, they take longer to thaw. Therefore, I typically cook this soup overnight on low for about 10-12 hours.**

**I added sausage to this. Just your regular old chain of cooked sausage - turkey, italian seasoned, whatever you choose, cut/diced and tossed in for flavor and to beef it up a bit for the men. However, this soup is great with just beans as a vegetarian option.**

Basic Chili

1 pound ground meat (turkey works great), browned and drained
4 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 large (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce (tastes fine without, too)
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 whole jalapeno peppers

I really hope you enjoy these. They are very adaptable, so feel free to play around a little. Oh, and I HIGHLY suggest dancing and listening to music whilst prepping these puppies. It is quite enjoyable (for me and the neighbors).