Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Big Freezer Stock Up - Round 2

I mentioned that I have a chest freezer almost bursting in the basement. I'm pretty excited. Pear's arrival is sneaking closer and closer, and the Girl Scout in me needs to be prepared on all fronts. Food is obviously the most important thing to prep, since everything else (nursery decor, new clothes, sleep) is really just icing on the cake. Fun icing, but not really essential in the end. Food, though? Absolutely essential. 

I am so blessed to have a crew of incredible mamas who are doing a Meal Train for us in the first weeks after Pear's birth, but after that, I still don't want to have to cook. My hope is to go a full month without having to make anything more complicated than a sandwich. To that end, I have been stockpiling, batch cooking, and freezing like mad. The last few freezer parties I had were great fun, and the lists and recipes for those are wonderful (and can be found here), but this time it was easier to just do the prep on my own. I stretched it out over a few weeks and just cooked when I had time, or when Jude took a really long nap. I also added some breakfasts to the usual dinner freezer prep, because nothing is worse than a hangry nursing mama with a newbie to deal with. 

Since I didn't actually plan a party, I don't have a full shopping list or printable labels for you at the moment. I may get around to it, I may not. Depends on this girl and her time table:) In the meantime, here is a grand list of recipes for all of the things I have stocked up for the next month! Hopefully you can find a little inspiration here to get you stocking up for September and the dreaded beginning of school!


Strawberry Banana Muffins - This recipe is great, and freezes well. I did substitute whole wheat flour for white, so I increase the yogurt by 1/2 a cup.

Oven Baked Fajitas - I froze these in large aluminum pans with the plastic tops. Double wrap the pan with foil, add a package of shredded cheese and a package of fajitas on top with your note for baking info, and pop the plastic top over it all. That way your full meal is ready to go when you pull it from the freezer. No hunting for ingredients!

Enchiladas - No you don't need to make your own sauce, but it is worth it if you have time!

Beef Chili - I really like this Emeril recipe. It has chocolate and beer in it. No brainer!

Meat Lovers Lasagna - I make it different every time, but here's a good recipe for it!

Honey Dijon Curried Chicken - This is a new one for me, so I don't have a review yet. I added a sliced onion and peppers to each pan with the chicken, and plan to serve it over rice. it sounds delish, so here's hoping since I prepped three pans full!

Fish Cakes with Corn and Cilantro - I made these a few weeks ago and Jude loved them! I add a handful of finely chopped cilantro and some cayenne to the mix and they froze up beautifully!

French Fried Onion Chicken Fingers - I changed this recipe up a lot as well, but the onion in the breading is key! Dip and bread your fingers, line them on a baking sheet ad freeze. Once they are frozen solid, toss them in a big ziploc bag for safekeeping and you can pull out a few at a time to bake!

BBQ Pulled Pork - I did a huge pork shoulder in the crock pot, served up half for dinner and froze the rest. This makes great fare for sandwiches, pizza, nachos, anything! It may not be a full meal in one pan, but it is still a good time saver! I love this recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution. Hands down the best slow cooker cook book ever, by the way!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Peach Pie FTW!

We have about 3 weeks until the arrival of Baby Pear, and this house is in full nesting swing. The nursery is almost completed, the freezer is almost fully stocked with meals, and we have just enough time to squeeze in some more family summer fun before she arrives. Today's adventure was the Peach Festival at our favorite summer market: Ramsey Farmer's Market.

Of course, because I'm a maniac, I decided this morning to bake a peach pie for the contest they were hosting. I've never made a peach pie before, Actually, I've never made a pie before! My grandmother makes the world's best pies, so I have never felt the need to bake my own. But there I was, a huge bag of peaches on the kitchen counter and a few hours to fill before market opening, so a pie I made. I used the crust recipe my mom swears by, and modified my peach cobbler filling a bit (since I am out of bourbon, the shame!). Of course, my peaches felt a touch under-ripe to me, so I blanched them a bit longer than usual and ended up freaking out that I had overcooked them. Then Jude started climbing on me, I spilled a bunch of cream on the floor, we had a matchbox car emergency, and in the end, the pie came out of the oven at 11:45, 15 minutes before I had to enter it in the contest. I didn't have high hopes, though it did look pretty! I had to carry the hot as lava pie plate at a full preggo clip through the crammed market, but thankfully the judges were all late. I was all nervous to see one of the judges was Produce Pete, so I assumed he'd be a tough judge and figured, whatever, at least I'll have pie to stuff in my face later. To my surprise, about half an hour later they announced the winner and it was me! Sweet! Apparently the winners from a bunch of markets have to compete in a regional contest for a big prize, but that takes place in September, a few weeks after Miss Pear's due date. Methinks I will have to pass, but you never know. If preggo hormones inspired me to bake today, nursing hormones may inspire me to do it again!

Prize Winning Brown Sugar Peach Pie

3 cups AP flour
2 Tbls granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks plus 2 Tbls. chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 Tbls white vinegar
1/2 cup ice water (you likely won't need it all)

8 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbls. cornstarch

2 Tbls heavy cream
raw sugar

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse flour, salt and sugar to combine. Add chilled butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add vinegar and 8 Tbls. of the ice water and pulse until just combined. If the dough is too dry, add more ice water by the teaspoon and pulse quickly until the dough begins to come together. This happens fast and you don't want to add too much water or overwork the dough, so be careful! Turn dough out onto your work surface and gently shape into a mound. Cut the mound into two pieces, press each into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Prepare the peach filling. In a large bowl, toss peaches with brown sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, and cornstarch. Set aside.

Once the dough is fully chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one disc of dough and roll out on a floured surface. Place dough into a pie plate, fill the shell with foil and pie weights or dried beans and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and beans/weights and allow to cool.

Using a slotted spoon, spoon peaches into bottom crust. Discard excess juices. Remove second disc of dough from the refrigerator and roll onto a floured surface. Cut into 1/2 inch strips. The quick cheat way to make the lattice top is to simply layer 6 stripes across the pie horizontally, about 1/2 inch apart, then lay the other strips on top of them going vertically. If you'd like it to be fancy and official, you can weave them ala Martha. Press your strips gently to adhere to the bottom crust and trim any overhang. Brush lattice top with heavy cream and sprinkle with raw sugar. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. If your pie is beginning to bubble over, slide a cookie sheet underneath to catch any drips! Cover loosely with foil if the crust is beginning to over brown and bake another 20 minutes until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

He wouldn't stop chewing for a second, not even to smile. I guess it was good!