Sunday, February 24, 2013

Freezer Meals: Take 1 {reviewed}

I'm here to report on my freezer meal experience.  You can read back HERE where I detailed the process.  All of the recipes I used during Take 1 were recipes we had never made before, so I wanted to make notes, etc for when I try Take 2.  I'm going to grade each recipe on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best) on taste, give my general impressions, note any changes I'd make, and also report how many meals it lasted.  (Unless otherwise noted, each discussion is for one bag of the recipe, as several of the recipes made two bags)

Cilantro Lime Chicken: 
Grade: 5
Will I make it again: Yes 
Serving Count: 3 adult, 2 kid

This was very yummy.  During the prep portion I cut the chicken into smaller pieces so once it cooked it was more like a filling than a stand alone meal.  You would either have to put it in some tortillas, over rice, or in a bowl.  If you left the chicken breasts intact it would still work, with the corn, beans, etc making a sauce of sorts for the chicken.  I heated corn tortillas and we made tacos.  For toppings we only used shredded cheese and sour cream.  The chicken wasn't overly lime-y or cilantro-y...they were more or less just taste after thoughts.    The only thing I would change with this recipe is to add a few more some peppers and maybe an onion.  

It was enough for Nathan, Miles & I for dinner and then Miles and I for lunch the following day. 

Cumin/Cinnamon Beef Stew: 
Grade: 1.5
Will I make it again: This recipe? No.  Beef Stew? Yes
Serving Count: 6 adult, 4 kid 

This was a major disappointment.  It smelled AMAZING while it cooked, but the taste was  It was bland and the cinnamon and cumin almost seemed to just be left over spices that happened to be in the crock pot when I cooked the stew.  After we ate it the first night I added an onion soup mix packet, some dehydrated onions, salt & pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, more garlic...and the reheat the following day wasn't as bad.  But it was still not good.  I am not a fan of the cumin/cinnamon duel going on in the background of my stew.  Next time I'll add more carrots, sliced onions, an onion soup mix packet, salt & pepper, and add a can of beef broth when I cook it. 

The stew fed Nathan, Miles and I for two dinners plus Miles & I for two lunches.  

Teriyaki Chicken
Grade: 3.5
Will I make it again:  Yes...but leave the pineapple out (see edit below)
Serving Count: 4 adult, 2 kid 

The night I made this I hadn't planned well enough in advance to use the slow cooker so I ended up cooking it in a large pot for 15-20 mins.  I steamed some rice to go with it.  It was good...simple, but good.  We'll definitely do it again mostly because it was so easy!  
**EDIT** Ok - we made the second bag a different way.  I thawed it and cooked it in the crock pot and it cooked great EXCEPT the pineapple.  By the time the meat was cooked the pineapple had turned VERY bitter.  So if I do this again I'd leave the pineapple out until the last 20 mins, add it and then serve.  

Chicken Curry
Grade: 2
Will I make it again:   Yes, but not without modifications
Serving Count: 3 adult, 2 kid 

We love curry at our house so I had high expectations...that may be why this recipe gets only a 2.  It was just ok.  But not curry-enough and not spicy enough...and definitely not enough veggies.  I added another Tbs of curry powder, some minced dried red peppers, a good squirt of rooster sauce, and 1/2C peanut butter...and that made it a little better, but not good enough.  When I make it again I'll add snow peas, bean sprouts, I'll julienne my carrots instead of slice them, and add more veggies in general.  I'll also use a curry paste instead of curry powder.  

Chicken Chili
Grade: 4
Will I make it again:  Yes
Serving Count: 3 adult (6 adult when using both bags)

I made this one night when we had friends over.  I cooked up BOTH of my bags of this chili.  It served four adults dinner and then 2 adults lunch the following day.  And we had heaping bowlfuls.  The chili was VERY yummy...BUT I did add in another tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp of chipotle, 1 tsp of chili powder, and a Tbs of dried onion.  It had been cooking in the crock pot for a couple hours and I decided to try it and check the was mild.  (I'm sensing this to be a theme for these recipes)  We like full, bold, flavorful meals at our house...hence the additional seasonings.  But it was delicious.  I served it with fresh bread and topped it with shredded cheese and a dollup of sour cream.   The only thing I'd change for next time is adding in the spices at first instead of after.  

Veggie Soup
Grade: 5
Will I make it again:  Yes!!
Serving Count: 5 adult, 2 child

When I made this soup, I didn't use the crock pot.  I didn't want the veggies to get all soggy.  I just pulled it out of the freezer, put it in a large stock pot and added a carton of beef stock, one of these Knorr Beef Stock Pots, some salt & pepper and another 1/2C quinoa.  I let it cook until the veggies were done (about 20 minutes) and paired it with fresh baked bread.  Oh my...this soup is simple but OH. SO. GOOD.  Mmmmmm.  The quinoa gave it some protein, stay-full power and the little bit of beef flavor kept it from being bland.  It was delicious and will definitely be on the freezer meal list EVERY time!
**EDIT**  I made the second bag of this almost exactly the same, but I added one pound of browned ground turkey...and it was delicious.  This recipe is great!! 

Ginger Cranberry Pork Roast
Grade: 4
Will I make it again:  Yes
Serving Count: 4 adult, 2 child

I cooked this pork roast just as the directions said, paired it with some steamed broccoli and it was quite delicious.  The cranberry and ginger were a very nice compliment to the pork. 

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Yesterday was our case you didn't already guess that by reading THIS post.  We had originally planned to make this year wicked awesome.  Our tenth anniversary was spent in simple fashion - going out to dinner somewhere local.  It had to be simple - we had just moved 4800 miles to another country and were living out of suitcases in our friends' spare we had a eight month old.  So we vowed to make our 11th amazing - we figured we never do anything according to tradition anyway.  Case in point?  I had my wedding dress purchased before Nathan even proposed.  And we had our full nursery bought and paid for (crib, dresser, coordinating bedding, rugs, lamps, etc) YEARS before we got Miles.  Ya, we are just weird that way I guess.  So last October when we were in Paris to take Miles to Disney Paris we decided we would celebrate our eleventh anniversary in Paris, sans Miles.  But as it got closer we realized we wouldn't have the money to do that (with Christmas, and my parents' two week visit) so we relegated ourselves to somewhere Rome, Florence or the Amalfi Coast.  (do you hate me yet?!)  I searched and found a great hotel for a pretty good price and waited to hear back on Nathan's request to take a day off work.  But in that time Miles decided to catch the snot machine, congested lungs and head, horrible diarrhea bug.  Nice.  I didn't want to leave him with anyone in that condition so plans were scrapped.  

Yesterday as I sat on the floor playing trucks with our feverish, snot machine who would ONLY allow me to touch cars he WASN'T playing with while my husband was at work...I had a momentary pang of sadness and guilt.  This was our eleventh anniversary afterall!  But then I thought about how great my life is.  In the last year I have stood atop the Eiffel Tower, swam in the Mediterranean, sunbathed on beautiful beaches in southern Italy, eaten wiener schnitzel IN Germany, walked the streets of Innsbruck, Austria, driven the windy panoramic Amalfi Coast...that's pretty awesome.  So in reality I've had the most epic tenth anniversary celebration ever.  I guess I just needed to change my perspective.  

So yesterday as we ended our hugely unromantic day sitting on the couch in our freezing cold house, wearing matching sweatpants, watching Netflix, eating pizza straight out of the box...I couldn't help but feel just how lucky I really am to be attached to this guy for the rest of forever.     

Love you sweetie - and let the most epic tenth (and eleventh, and twelfth) anniversary celebration continue!

Friday, February 01, 2013


Eleven years ago at noon on a Friday we were wed in Logan, Utah.
The week prior saw freezing temps and lots of snow. 

This year our anniversary falls on a Friday,
and Logan, Utah has been cold and getting buried in snow. 

Glad we're in Italy!

Happy Anniversary sweetie -

here's to many more!