Give your dishwasher a break.

One reason I love freezer cooking is the time it saves which enables you to do other things. A favorite book of mine "Confessions of an Organized Homemaker" by Deniece Schofield calls this saved time "accrued benefits".  Accrued benefits from saving time in small ways throughout the day allow you to have time for the things that really matter. And really, that's what it's all about. 

But freezer cooking is not the only way to save time. Another way that has helped me save time is to assign a water cup to each person and keep them near the fridge.

When someone needs a drink, they use their cup and put it back. The cups get washed every other day or so. My dishwasher is not full of cups that have just been used one time for a drink of water. And I get to spend that extra time however I would like. 


Homemade Wheat Bread - The tip that makes it quick and easy!

Recently I started making homemade wheat bread again. My family loves it, but it can take the entire morning by the time you grind the wheat and then make the bread. I decided to use my freezer to help out with this problem. I spent one morning grinding wheat and then putting 12 cup portions into freezer bags (that's the amount my recipe calls for). 

 Now when it's time to make bread I pull a bag of flour out of the freezer and dump it in my recipe, no measuring needed. My recipe calls for an additional 3-4 cups of bread flour so I can adjust that flour to make the bread the right consistency. This has saved me so much time. I make bread at least once a week now and my family is really enjoying it. I love that it is simple and doesn't take my entire day!

Here is my recipe, it is very simple and so good!!!
Single Rise Wheat Bread 
Add the following to mixer:
6 cups warm water
3 tablespoons Instant yeast
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 tablespoons salt
1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
1 can applesauce (about 2 cups)
12 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups bread flour

Mix all but flour a few times. Add whole wheat flour. Add bread flour one cup at a time until it pulls away from sides of bowl.  Let mixer mix the dough for 10 minutes. Shape into 5-6 loaves and put in a cold oven to rise until double - about one hour. Set oven temp. to 350 ℉ and timer to 32 minutes and bake. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack. Brush tops with butter. 


Calvin and Hobbes - The Walls are Just Packed

 Our family has a thing for Calvin and Hobbes. My boys can usually be found reading a Calvin and Hobbes comic book at some point in the day. For my 9 year old's birthday I decided to make him a wall size comic strip for his room. It was so much fun. I used to paint quite a bit, but the last 10 years or so I really haven't done much. It was fun to dust off the paint brushes and tackle this project.
Supplies were fairly simple. We used 8 stretched canvas's and acrylic craft paint. I think the hardest part was deciding which comic to use. 

I started out by sketching it onto the canvas in pencil, next I outlined everything in black. I put the colored paint on one color at a time. (I would color all the red on all 8 canvas's, and then the blue, etc. )Then I went back and touched up the black and added a few details. 
What it's all about

The birthday boy even helped out. He was happy to help me paint. 




Finally I put a coat of a clear water based polyurethane on each canvas. This helps to protect the surface and keeps the paint from flaking off.  We attached it to the wall with 3M Command strips.  (Love those!)

The finished comic strip hung on the wall. Happy birthday T-man!


Freezer Friday: Ground Beef Stroganoff

A family favorite that everyone in our house likes is Lion House Ground Beef Stroganoff. If you have some of this in your freezer it makes a quick delicious meal for a busy weekday night.

On a day when you have a few minutes make multiple batches of this recipe. Then just divide it up into quart or gallon size freezer bags, label and freeze. It's easy to pull it out and heat it up while you cook the pasta, and throw a salad together.

Ground Beef Stroganoff - Lion House

½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
Sauté in one teaspoon butter until tender.
Stir in:
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt                               
¼ teaspoon pepper
Sauté until meat loses its color.
1 cup sliced mushrooms -( I like to dice these pretty small - my kids don't love mushrooms)
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Simmer 10 minutes.
Stir in:
1 cup sour cream and heat but do not boil. Add a little milk if needed. Serve on hot rice or noodles. Makes 4-6 servings. Freezes well in zip-lock bags. 

To use from frozen, simply put in microwave safe dish with lid and heat through. Serve on hot rice or noodles. 


Freezer Friday: I made freezer meals, now what?!! Freezer Inventory

I love freezer cooking. It has been my go to method of cooking for as long as I can remember but it is not always easy to keep track of what you have in your freezer. I don't want all of my hard work to go to waste.

Here is an idea to use that extra white board you have. I used 3m strips (love those!) to attach the white board to my freezer. I love that I can "see" what is in my freezer without opening it. This will be even more important in the hot summer months.

Tally marks indicate how many of each item are inside. When I take something out, I just erase a tally mark. If I take the last one I erase the entire name off. When I put something in I just add it to the list. Nothing fancy but it really helps me make sure we use what I have worked so hard to make!