Italian Meatball Soup
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Chewin' the News from 30 Day Gourmet
Kitchen Fun with Carol
Bonus Recipes
Freezer Cook of the Month
Closing Comments from Carol
Cookin' at the Keyboard with Shelley
Recipe Section
Software Suggestions
Closing Comments from Shelley

Kitchen Fun with Carol



 

Hello everyone and welcome Spring! I am so glad that it is finally warming up and the sun is coming out. All the daffodils are blooming and the crabapples will be blooming soon. I am looking forward to opening up the windows in the house and letting the fresh air inside. I have several pots of Amaryllis bulbs that my mom gave me when we moved into our house. Every April the flowers start to come out and there are usually some flowers left on the plant when I move it out to our deck for the summer. They are spectacular!    
     
Another sign of Spring that I always watch for is the pair of ducks that nest near our house every year. We have a creek that runs behind our house and the ducks like to take the baby ducks there to get to a pond that is down the street. It is always so much fun to watch the "parade" go by as the momma duck leads the babies to the creek. We also enjoy going down to the pond and watching all the duck families swim around together.    


Last month I promised that I would share my Spring menu with you. This time I took a different approach to menu planning. I tried to select recipes based upon the cost to make them and the general nutritional value of the recipe. This is difficult since many lower cost recipes can be higher in fat or have high carbohydrates.

I decided to concentrate on soups, crock pot meals and recipes with chopped meats (stir fry recipes, casseroles, etc.). These are generally less expensive than making a roast or serving chicken breasts. For example, I can make beef stew for the family and use one pound of meat for a six to eight servings. A roast for the entire family would require at least 2 pounds to match the same number of servings.

I also decided to group my recipes together by cooking method. I started with a blank Worksheet G - Monthly Menu Planner. I chose my recipes and filled in the menu by category. I decided that 

 

  • Sunday is quick and easy recipes for after church
  • Monday is recipes cooked in the oven
  • Tuesday is soup and salad night
  • Wednesday is grill night
  • Thursday is slow cooker meals
  • Friday is stovetop recipes
  • Saturday is reserved for Dad to lend a hand in the kitchen or on the grill

 

Here is my Spring menu:

 

Quick/Easy Oven Soup Grill Crockpot Stovetop Dad's recipes
Brats or Chili Dogs (members can access online) Polynesian Barbeque Pork Marinade Beef and Barley Soup Grilled Chicken Parmesan White Chicken Chili Spaghetti and Meatballs Hoisin Chicken Marinade (below)
Burritos and Rice Meatloaf Italian Meatball Soup BBQ Chicken or Country Pulled Pork Beef and Noodles Ravioli Pizza
Chicken Patty Sandwiches (members can access online) Parsley Parmesan Chicken Chicken Tortilla Soup (below) Hamburgers Crock Pot Mac and Cheese Chicken Stir Fry Pancakes and Eggs (members can access online)
Italian Chicken Wet Tacos Beef Stew Ocean City Pork Chops Crock Pot Chicken Lasagna Chicken Fajitas Pizza

 

 

Here are some of the rules that I apply when trying to cook healthy meals for my family:

 

  • I added a soup day to my menu and tried to choose soups that are lower in fat and full of vegetables.
  • I try to cook with leaner cuts of meat. That means watching for and taking advantage of good sale prices since the leaner cuts are generally more expensive.
  • I use reduced fat ingredients. I always substitute reduced fat or fat free sour cream for regular sour cream. I cook with reduced fat cheeses and try to use cheese less often. 
  • I have been cooking with high fiber or whole wheat pastas. I use whole wheat bread and buns for sandwiches. I also try to use more brown rice in recipes.
  • I have discovered that my family enjoys salads so I am incorporating them in the menus more often.  
  • I make Fat Free White Sauce from The Freezer Cooking Manual instead of using canned soups.

 

How do you change recipes to be healthy or more nutritious? Do you have any helpful hints or cooking day tips to share with the rest of the readers? Send your suggestions to me at carol@30daygourmet.com and I will share them in the next newsletter with the rest of the 30 Day Gourmet cooks.



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Bonus Recipes



Chicken Tortilla Soup
This is a great soup! It is fun and easy to make your own tortilla strips for the garnish. We have had Chicken Tortilla Soup at restaurants and this soup is very similar to what we have tried in the past.

 

 

Click here to view/print this recipe!

 

Hoisin Chicken Marinade
We are always looking for a good marinade. The family really enjoys this one. Hoisin sauce is a thick, dark sauce that is spicy-sweet. Hoisin sauce can be found in the Chinese food section at your local grocery store. 

 

Click here to view/print this recipe!



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Freezer Cook of the Month



Update from Last Month's Winner
In last month's newsletter, the Freezer Cook of the Month, Michelle, shared a story with us about Tracey. She was in an automobile accident and Michelle made meals for Tracey's family while she was in the hospital. Michelle wanted to share an update on Tracey's condition:

Update on the family - Tracey spent 2 weeks in Iowa City until the clotting got under control, and spent another 3 weeks at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo. She is now home, and moving around a little, but with supervision. Her mother from Indiana has came in to help for a little while. I have made more meals for the family, this time though I had a couple of other John Deere wives that helped me.

It is so encouraging to hear how you help others in need. Thanks, Michelle, for sharing this update with us.  

Freezer Cook of the Month Winner  
Our winner this month is Cindy from Missouri. Cindy shares her story of how she was introduced to 30 Day Gourmet and how she has used 30 Day Gourmet to help others.  

Let's hear from Cindy:  
I have never been much of a planner as far as meals go but last May I was racing my daughters and tore the cartilage in my knee.  I was laid up for 6 weeks before my surgery and then for 8 weeks after.  During that time a good friend brought the 30 Day Gourmet Freezer cooking book to my attention.  I read through it and made a list of dishes I thought my children would like.  My mom came to help me before the surgery so she got the pleasure if taking me to the grocery store to get the items on my list.  I was able to do a little prep work but the next day my friend, Kim, came over and we made a months worth of meals.   For us it lasted a little longer.  It was such a wonderful blessing for my family.  I still do freezer cooking on a smaller scale but I always have 10-15 meals in my freezer.  For my story it ends there but I have more to add.    Last week someone came to me and said her neighbor was a drug rep.  It had been raining for a few days so she pulled her van into the drive to load her supplies.  All that they can figure is she forgot to put it in park.  As she loaded it, the van began to roll back pinning her underneath.  She was drug down her driveway, across the street, and into the neighbors yard.  She survived but has broken arm and leg.  This lady is a single mom and can't make food for her son.  I sent several of my freezer meals over to her.  Her son is able to make the food because of the simplicity of your recipes.  I want to thank you and all the other 30 Day Gourmet crew for making recipes so easy to follow that a 10 year old can care for his mother or as in my case an 11 year daughter can start supper before dad gets home from work.  This cookbook is a blessing to so many.  I pray you will have continued success.    

To enter our contests, please post your stories on our message boards or e-mail them to me at carol@30daygourmet.com.

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Closing Comments from Carol



I hope everyone is enjoying your Spring. Next month I will share some slow cooker recipes. I love using my slow cooker for meals. It works out well for days when we have track meets and we need to eat a late supper when we get home. We walk in the door and dinner is ready! It is also great to have slow cooker recipes that you make on cooking day.   

Do you have any other topics that you would like to cover? Do you have any nagging questions that need to be answered? Email me at carol@30daygourmet.com. I enjoy hearing from you!             

Carol      

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Cookin' at the Keyboard with Shelley



 Time Will Tell

...and time has told on me. I guess I've been busy, or distracted, or something. I can't think of a good reason, but it's been months since I've sent a newsletter your way. In the closing comments of my last edition, I promised that we would hear from my second-oldest daughter, Lauren.

If you ever wonder if it's all worth it, if your family really appreciates the effort you make, and if your children will ever acknowledge everything you've invested in them, I think you'll be encouraged by what Lauren has to share. Be patient and persistent, because time will tell.

 

From a Child's Point of View
by Lauren Miller

My mom started freezer cooking 10 years ago when I was about six years old. In the same way that I didn’t understand exactly why we needed to freezer cook, I didn’t understand what it actually was. My six-year-old ignorance was barring my ability to see the reason my mom was grating such a huge amount of cheese.

The first time I was able to take advantage of freezer cooking was when I was 8 years old. My mom taught me how to make Sloppy Joe Buns, an accomplishment I was quite proud of at the time because my older sister didn’t know how. No raw hamburger, no knives, no frying pan…just the frozen package of ground beef, the seasonings, and the rolls - and I could make lunch. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to imply that life’s problems can be solved with a frozen package of ground beef. Many recipes we make take more overhead than just cooked hamburger.

Over the years, as I’ve become more experienced I’ve been able to take advantage of the results of freezer cooking to a greater degree. Since my Sloppy Joe Bun days, I’ve been making meals on a regular schedule. I’ve been able to ask, “So Mom, what do I make for dinner?” She might reply, “You can make lasagna – the Italian sausage and ground beef are thawing on the counter, the ricotta cheese is in the fridge, and the noodles are in the bottom drawer.” Yeah, wow? That’s what I thought.

Now, most people shrink away from the thought of freezer cooking, and I would as well, except for the fact that my parents produced a software program called Advantage Cooking. You enter your own recipe ingredients and instructions…and ding!...it makes your grocery list, and generates all the different reports you’ll need to make your cooking day run smoothly. It’s so easy you can have your kids do it, which is something my mom took advantage of…hence, I’m speaking from experience! :-)

Looking back on the impact that freezer cooking has had on me as a child and my continually increasing appreciation for it as I grow up, I’ve realized that freezer cooking has been one of my mom’s many gifts to me. As I analyze the possible outcomes of these past 10 years, I cringe to think what life would have been like if she had not started freezer cooking. Those many days of cooking with my mom have been great instructional times for me, as well as an opportunity to work alongside her and my older sister on something beneficial for the whole family. I will be forever grateful for the gift that she has brought to our family through freezer cooking, and I look forward to the days when it will be my responsibility to provide that gift to my family.



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Recipe Section



Sloppy Joe Buns

This is the recipe that Lauren talked about. They're the perfect freezer meal: easy to make, easy to serve. They even have a SANE option (Some Assembly Needed Eventually) for your cooking day.

I love to eat these in the car. Pull the individually wrapped buns out of the oven and place in a paper bag. Pass them around the van when it's time to eat. They're an easy, inexpensive, healthier-than-fast-food, hot meal.

 

Click here to view/print this recipe!



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Software Suggestions



"Merge" Right
The ingredient file can easily become cluttered with entries that represent the same food item. For example, “Ground Beef” may already exist in your ingredient list. When a new recipe is imported (whether from the newsletter, website, or a friend), a redundant ingredient, such as "Hamburger", could be automatically added to your list. This is a great feature of the software, and I wouldn't want it any other way. But it is also a little inconvenient when it comes to reading the Grocery Report. I don't want to see both "Ground Beef" and "Hamburger" on my shopping list.  

To eliminate the clutter in the ingredient file, as well as on the Grocery Report, use the Merge option. It's a powerful feature, and fun to use, especially if you're an organizational addict like me.  

For an explanation of how to use the "merge" feature, read my article: Merge Right    

Download a trial version of the software! It's free!



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Closing Comments from Shelley



 Mother's Day is just around the corner, and what mother wouldn't want some help in the kitchen? The Advantage Cooking software package would make a great gift. Or consider one of the e-books! All of the recipes in any of the e-books can be easily imported into the software.

Until next time...



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