Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gearing Up for a Busy Time with Big Recipes

My very busy season is beginning. Summer finds me busy with mowing the lawn, weeding and caring for the garden, and dealing with the harvest, as it does many people. With four-five times as many tomato plants out in the garden this year as last year, I'm looking at a big canning season in a few months. Not to mention the increase in the amount of peppers and corn and squashes and beans. Anyone who's kept up with a garden while preserving the harvest will know what I mean.

When you include in these activities the fact that summer is also a busy time of holidays, family, friends, and occasionally traveling, it can seem overwhelming.

But I have a plan. I plan on spending any rainy days from now till harvesting begins working on busy time prep. Since I can't go outside and work, and there's not anything that has to be processed yet, I can use this down time to my advantage.

Yesterday I spent the day making extra quick breakfasts and got a 1 1/2 doz. breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos put together and in the freezer. I also made a quadruple batch of sweet n sour sauce, divided and froze it, for quick dinners made from chopped veggies and leftovers of pork or chicken.

Today, I've planned pasta for dinner, so I'll double or triple what I usually make, and put it together as individual pasta bakes. I mix the pasta and sauce and a little cheese all together and then spoon it into small pyrex dishes. These are wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, labeled, and frozen. It makes an easy dish to have on a hot busy day, since they can be heated in the the toaster oven.

I'm going to apply the same tactic tomorrow, when I have a baked potato bar planned for dinner, by baking most of the bag of potatoes and turning all the leftovers into frozen twice baked potatoes.

I'm also including cleaning in my plan, since I really fell back on cleaning last summer, I want to try harder to keep the house company ready. So, on the rainy days or the slower ones, I'll remember to add at least one bigger cleaning or organizing project. Such as wiping down the cupboards, moving everything and scrubbing the counters, deep cleaning the bathrooms, vacuming the couch, etc.

Here are some of the recipes mentioned in this post:

Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast Burritos
I used these homemade tortillas
and filled them by following the same procedure of baking scrambled eggs in a dish described in the egg sandwich post, but for the burritos I mixed a bit of sour cream, salsa and cheddar cheese into the eggs as I was scrambling them. This extra moisture did cause the eggs to take longer than usual to set, but made them very southwestern. Also, baking the toppings into the eggs makes the burritos easier to eat, since they can't crumble or drip out.

Sweet n Sour Sauce
I pretty much follow the recipe on Tammy's Recipes
But I put it together in a much different way.
Into a jar measure all the spices and the cornstarch, add half of the liquid (water in the recipe, but I use chicken broth, and orange juice or pineapple juice are good too), and shake it up well to combine. Then in the saucepan mix together the other half of the liquid, the sugar, the vinegar, the soy sauce, and the ketchup. Whisk in the shaken up contents of the jar, and whisk until boiled and thickened. So my version leaves out the flour and the oil. Then you're left with the seasoned sauce and you can mix in pinapple chunks, chunked onion and peppers and bamboo shoots and broccoli, and chopped up leftover cooked meat, like roasted chicken or pork chops. We also like to add toasted sesame seeds and serve it all over rice. This is a tasty dinner that's just as much of a treat as going out to the buffet.

Twice Baked Potatoes
I can't really say it any better about these than Ree does. She's right about leaving the green onion out if you're freezing them! But I will add a pinch of onion or garlic powder to the whole mix so I can still get that taste.

Enjoy the recipes, and if you have any more good ideas about how I can stay ahead of busy times without falling behind on meals and cleaning, I'd love to hear them!

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Captain's Wife - Jennifer said...

Way cool! I love the cook ahead idea. I have done a few things from time to time, but I would love to get more organized and do more on a regular basis. I will definitely be checking out those recipes. Thanks Bethany! :)

Mrs. Mordecai said...

Those are all great ideas. I've been doubling up on my normal dinners to freeze lately, too. I should always do it; it doesn't take much longer and saves so much time later.

Bethany said...

You're welcome.

Doubling up regular meals is a great idea, and works really well to get a freezer stocked.

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