Garlic Lime Chicken
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Chewin' the News from 30 Day Gourmet
Kitchen Fun with Carol
Bonus Recipes
Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner
Closing Comments from Carol
Freezer Cooking News from Nanci
Company and Website News
Consultant News
Closing Comments
Cookin' at the Keyboard with Shelley
Recipe Section
Software Suggestions
Closing Comments from Shelley

Kitchen Fun with Carol



Hello everyone! It is just amazing how fast the summer flies by when you are busy. My sons have just completed their second year of summer physical education classes. Can you imagine having four hours of gym every day for three weeks? Sounds exhausting, huh! Oh how good it is to be young and to have so much energy. They have also completed the classroom portion of driver's education. That's another 3 hours of class a couple times a week. Add in two or three physical therapy sessions each week and you have lots of time running from here to there! 

All of this summer activity can really put your menu planning skills to the test! I read recently that 40 percent of the cooks out there decide what they'll have for dinner just by looking what they have in the fridge. Aren't you glad that you know there is a better way! I have my menus planned for the month. I keep a calendar (also known as Monthly Menu Planner - Worksheet G in The Freezer Cooking Manual)  posted in the kitchen with lunches and dinners planned for each day of the week.  Knowing what we had planned for the week made it so much easier. I was able to rearrange my menu so that I could have simple meals the days the boys had to have dinner early before driver's ed. I could make more complex meals when everyone was eating at the same time. 

If you're not into full menu planning, it is still a good to idea keep an updated copy of the Meal Inventory Checklist - Worksheet F (from The Freezer Cooking Manual). This worksheet helps you keep tabs on what you have left from your last cooking session. It also helps you plan for those on hand items you need to complete recipes (such as buns, tortillas, fresh vegetables, etc.). This worksheet is also helpful when putting together your weekly grocery shopping list.

I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July. It is great spending time with family and friends. We had lots of cookouts, saw a couple of firework displays, spent time swimming at the pool and at a local water park, and went to see a lighthouse on Lake Erie. We learned quickly that it is great to have snacks on hand that you can just "grab and go" to all the different group activities. Here are some recipes that are great to have in the freezer so you can just grab them when you are on the run:

 

 

It's also great to have a frozen dessert ready to serve to cool off with after a day in the sun. Here are some great recipes:

 



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Bonus Recipes



Chicken Kabobs
As I mentioned in the June newsletter, one of my goals for the summer was to try some shish kabob recipes. This recipe is my first (hopefully of many!). My family and I believe that it is a winner. Feel free to substitute any vegetables for ones that you like. You can use the traditional wooden skewers. Just make sure you soak them in water for a half an hour before grilling. This will help prevent the skewers from burning. This recipe is also a great marinade for chicken breasts if you are not interested in doing kabobs. Or you could do a mix if you have a picky eater in the house.

Click here to view/print this recipe!

Mexican Rice
This is one of our favorite side dish recipes and it freezes very well. We make this recipe as a "filler" when we are having Chicken Fajitas for dinner. You can also use it in Taco Salad. It can be spicy or mild. You can reduce the amount of chili powder to control the heat. One recipe is enough for two meals for a family of five or six when used as filler for Fajitas.

Click here to view/print this recipe!



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Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner



Our winner this month is Julie. Julie has a great story to share about how her experience cooking the 30 Day Gourmet way has grown into a ministry at her church.

Julie says:

"I purchased the 30 Day Gourmet Cooking Manual when I was 8 months pregnant with our second son; we thought it'd be handy to have prepared meals in our freezer for after his birth. Then after doing Freezer Cooking for over a year, I thought it'd be a fun thing to do with a larger group; so I asked a few girlfriends from church to join me at the building and give it a try. The software was incredibly helpful, and continues to be a huge benefit to our ministry, which we call Meals For A Month.


Our trial run was July 2004, and we offered Cooking Sessions for the next year, until we moved into our new church building. During the break of getting settled in, we had 6 months off, during which we tweaked and improved Meals For A Month even more.

Participants contribute $90 for a 10 entrees, serving 6-8 people each. The leadership team buys the groceries and selects the recipes for the month.

Participants come on the designated Cooking Day and, in VERY ORGANIZED team fashion, make 10 meals for each participating family for the month. We have four menus which we rotate over the year; in the winter, we substitute the grilled recipes for more winter-friendly foods.

Beginning in April of this year, we expanded from one Cooking Session to three. Participants reserve their spots for future Cooking Days by registering and paying in advance. Checks are not cashed until the first of the month, and until then, people are free to change their minds about participating.

The foods are all healthy--- we have calculated Weight Watchers Points for each entree; every participant takes home a packet with a refrigerator list- a summary of what non-perishables are needed to cook each entree, how they're prepared/served, some tips on Crock-Pot Cooking, business cards, and information about what we believe at our church.

At the halfway point of each cooking session, we break for brunch and a short Bible study and prayer. MFAM’s mission is to reach out, invite and involve people who might not otherwise come into a church building, and who don’t know Jesus. It provides a non-threatening way to ask someone to come to church. After all, we all eat, enjoy new healthy foods, save money, and like feeling organized. What a fun way to bring along a guest, introduce them to other Christians, and have fun all at the same time! We stress that this is a non-profit ministry. The planners/leadership team do this as a ministry, not a job.

Another thing we do is prepare Sharing Meals at each session. Those are freezer meals which are assembled, and come with all non-perishable ingredients and preparation instructions, to be distributed to someone who could use a pick-me-up. A friend who's feeling blue, a new mom, someone recovering from surgery, a new person who moves to the neighborhood, etc.

*Over 2700 meals prepared so far, plus more than 230 Sharing Meals prepared
* Over 160 people have participated, including 62 who aren’t members at our church
* 27 Bible studies

http://www.westhoustonchurch.org/connections/ministries/mfam.htm

Thanks for reading...and thanks even more for all of the help you have provided to our ministry, and to over 160 families in the Northwest Houston area!"

Wow... what a great story! It is amazing how cooking for a month for your own family grew into such a great ministry and opportunity to share your knowledge with others. Thanks for sharing your story with everyone!

So, how do you make 30 Day Gourmet work for you? How do you use it to help you deal with a challenge in your life? How do you use it to help others? Do you have a funny cooking story to share? Email me at carol@30daygourmet.com to be entered in our contest.



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Closing Comments from Carol



I hope you enjoy the recipes! 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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Freezer Cooking News from Nanci



Where is the summer going? It happens the same way every year and yet every year it takes me by surprise. Seems like once the 4th of July comes and goes there is a counter going off in the back of my head.

 

So it's time to kick things into gear and get that "to do" list pared down. I have already cleaned out closets, hauled bags to Goodwill, hosted several kid sleepovers, read 9 books, shopped for and purchased two used cars, defrosted my big freezer, taken my kids to Indiana Beach, attended a college registration weekend, tackled the maze of college funding for 2 kids, started paying all of my bills online, and updated our insurance and investments.

After all of that, it's amazing that there is still so much left to do. Doctor and dentist appointments, that back-to-school cooking day, back-to-school supply shopping, and classes to prepare for. Oh - and there's still that 20 lbs. that I was going to lose this summer. Ha!
 

As a part of my on again, off again diet plan (can anyone relate?) I have tested several low carb recipes. Here's one that I just love. The spinach and cream cheese filling tastes great and you really don't miss the pasta at all. Since I am really the only low carb eater in my household (and the only one who weighs more than 150 lbs.) I generally freeze my low carb foods in individual portions that I can take to school or eat while the rest of the family is enjoying their layers of noodles.
 

Click here to view/print a recipe for Low Carb Spinach Lasagna!

 

After last month's frozen salad recipes, I heard from a woman who only lives about 10 miles from me. She emailed a frozen salad that sounded wonderful. I tried it and made a few adaptations. Thanks, Denise.

 

Click here to view/print a recipe for Pretty as Pink Frozen Salad!



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Company and Website News



Last month I mentioned that we had been contacted by Mary Hunt's people at www.debtproofliving.com. They have begun purchasing manuals from us to sell on their website. Mary has lots of great info there about all things finance related. Check it out. I especially like to click on the "Everyday Cheapskate" link on the left which links to Mary's newspaper columns. The "Browse Tips" link takes you to reader tips for saving money.

One of my summer goals has been to get all of our finances "online". Since Bob turns 50 next month, we have begun to get mail from the AARP. Ha - now that's a wake up call! I have become more vigorous about our retirement savings while at the same time figuring out how to put 4 children through college. Since everything in the budget is "up for grabs" I am taking a look at how much money we are spending on food. According to an article on The Motley Fool website, "the average American household in 2003 spent an average of $3,129 on food at home and $2,211 on eating out, for a grand total of $5,340." Wow! The article goes on to encourage us to eat less, save money and put that money toward our retirement.

I've been giving that idea a lot of thought.

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Consultant News



One new consultant joined our team this past month. Please welcome:

Stacy E. from Westwood, Kansas selattar@kc.rr.com

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Closing Comments



Enjoy the rest of your summer! I still hope to fit a big cooking day in before school starts! Why not join me?

         Nanci

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Cookin' at the Keyboard with Shelley



Summer Harvest

I'm back! Life has finally settled down enough for me to send a newsletter. I certainly didn't plan to take a three-month leave of absence. I had great intentions, but just couldn't make time for everything.

The Sound of Music production that the girls were in consumed half of April and most of May. There were 43 cast members, 150 costume changes, and four performances. The twins shared the role of Brigitta. They did a great job and caught the audience by surprise at the curtain call.

After all the excitement, several in our family fell into bed with the flu. We rallied in time to make a trip to California for a niece's graduation. For three weeks in June, we either had company, or we were company.

Once the dust had settled, I realized that it was time for strawberries. With Sarah on a missions trip to Mexico, four girls and I grabbed some boxes and headed for the fields. This year the picking conditions were perfect: no rain, dry fields, cloud cover, no allergies, and lots of large berries! After an hour or so, I suggested that we probably had picked enough. But the girls were having so much fun, they didn't want to leave. When I finally called an end to it all, we had picked 75 pounds of berries!

I like to make jam, but I don't like to make room in my freezer for all that sugar. So once again, I take the SANE (some assembly needed eventually) approach. I mash enough berries for one recipe of freezer jam and freeze in a quart-sized bag. When we run out of jam, we thaw the berries and make another batch.

The rest of the berries (except for the ones I put into pies - see the recipe below) were frozen on a cookie sheet and put into freezer bags. We'll use them for smoothies this year. Even with all the freezer cooking we like to do, it's nice to have some space for a summer harvest, even when it comes in unexpected quantities!



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Recipe Section



Strawberry Glaze Pie

With so many berries on hand, I made two of these pies last month. Unfortunately, they were gone before I could get a picture. I think it's the cream cheese layer that made them irresistible. Although this is not a freezer-friendly recipe, all of you Advantage Cooking software users will appreciate being able to import this recipe into your database. What a delicious way to celebrate summer!

 

Click here to view/print this recipe!



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Software Suggestions



Advantage Cooking Conversions (Part 2)

And now we resume our intriguing discussion of ingredient conversions. If you missed the first installment, or need a refresher course, take a moment to read my previous conversion explanation.

Our last discussion focused on conversions as related to weight and volume measures of ingredients. Conversions are also important when it comes to ingredients that aren't easily purchased at the grocery store. Many of my recipes call for crumbled bacon or cooked and chopped chicken, neither of which I can buy off the shelf. I would prefer that the grocery report would tell me how many pounds of bacon or chicken to buy, instead of how many cups. These conversions take two steps to complete. Let's start with the bacon.

Locate "Bacon" in the ingredient list.
Under the Packaging tab enter "Pound Package".

Locate "Bacon, crumbled" in the ingredient list.
Under the Packaging tab, be sure there are no entries.


Under the Conversion tab, enter the following:

From Amount From Measure To Amount To Measure To Ingredient
2 Cup 1 Pound Bacon
16 Slices 1 Pound Bacon
1 Pound 1 Pound Bacon

These entries tell the software that if the recipe calls for 1 cup of crumbled bacon, add 1/2 pound of bacon to my grocery list. If the recipe calls for 8 slices of crumbled bacon, I want to see 1/2 pound of bacon on my grocery list. If the recipe calls for 1 pound of crumbled bacon, put 1 pound of bacon on my grocery list. No matter how the ingredient appears on my recipe, the software will do all the calculating, and tell me know many pounds of bacon to buy.

When it comes to cooked and chopped chicken, I prefer to buy chicken breasts. Here are the entries to make for the conversion:
Locate "Chicken Breasts" in the ingredient list.
Under the Packaging tab enter "Pound Package".

Locate "Chicken, cooked and chopped" in the ingredient list.
Under the Packaging tab, be sure there are no entries.


Under the Conversion tab, enter the following:

From Amount From Measure To Amount To Measure To Ingredient
2 Cup 1.5 Pound Chicken Breast
1 Pound 1 Pound Chicken Breast

If a recipe calls for 2 cups of cooked, chopped chicken, then the grocery report will tell me to buy 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts. Otherwise, a pound of cooked chicken will equal a pound of raw chicken.

Locate "Onion" in the ingredient list.
Under the Packaging tab enter "Each".

Locate "Onion, chopped" in the ingredient list.
Under the Packaging tab, be sure there are no entries.


Under the Conversion tab, enter the following:

From Amount From Measure To Amount To Measure To Ingredient
1 Cup 1 Each Onion
1 Each 1 Each Onion

You can adjust the conversions based on the size of onions that you usually buy. Larger onions might yield more than a cup of chopped onion, while smaller onions might yield less.

When it comes to shredded cheese, I prefer to buy the cheese and shred it myself. If you buy cheese already shredded, the following conversion is not necessary.

Locate "Cheddar Cheese" in the ingredient list.
Under the Packaging tab enter as many varieties of packaging as desired,
e.g. "Pound Package", "2 Pound Package", "5 Pound Package"

Locate "Cheddar Cheese, shredded" in the ingredient list.
Under the Packaging tab, be sure there are no entries.


Under the Conversion tab, enter the following:

From Amount From Measure To Amount To Measure To Ingredient
1 Cup 4 Ounce Cheddar Cheese
1 Pound 1 Pound Cheddar Cheese

Again, you can adjust the conversion based on your preference (e.g. 1 cup of shredded cheese = 3 oz. cheese).

Whenever I find something on my grocery list that makes me stop and think about how much of that ingredient I need to purchase, I take the time to add a conversion. A little bit of "brain work" at the computer saves me the frustration of "guessing" at the grocery store.

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



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Closing Comments from Shelley



The ingredient conversions in Advantage Cooking are one of the keys to making the software a powerful tool, especially when generating a grocery report. If you have any questions, or need an example for a specific ingredient, email me at shelley@30DayGourmet.com. Have a great summer!

 

         Shelley



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