School has started, ministries are kicking off, life is in full swing, and I have flecks of beef popsicle melting in my hair. I got the dinner blues, baby.
In an effort to not eat Aunt Jemima Complete Pancake Mix pancakes for dinner more than once a week, I am trying to get better organized on the cooking front. I have perfected the art of meat muffins, which, as funky as they sound, are a life saver. Anything you can make in bulk out of ground beef can be frozen in individual servings in a muffin tin. My favorites are sloppy joes and taco meat.
A recipe I learned from my friend Shelley is to put all of the ingredients for beef stew in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the potatoes or they won't keep well. You can store it in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it for future use. (This is how I ended up with beef stew popsicle all over my head. I had just a little trouble getting the block out of the ziploc bag. Shards of broth were flying...I almost got the goggles out of my kids' tool box.)
Last weekend I decided at the last minute to attend our block party, which of course meant I needed a dish to pass. A single serving of chili saved the day. That, and my love of all things cheese. I spread cream cheese in a pie plate, topped that with the chili, and sprinkled it with some shredded cheddar. While that was baking I ran to Pick-n-Save for tortilla chips. Voila'...a dish to pass.
My downfall, though, to preplanning, is skimming, not reading, the recipe. I made a big pan of lasagna for my mom's birthday celebration one year. In an effort to be the gracious hostess not tied up in the kitchen, I made it earlier in the week and froze it. I read the baking directions: cook for 45 minutes without foil. No problem...except when I took it out from the oven it was still frozen solid. I had missed the part that said cook for one hour with the foil on top. There I was in the kitchen sawing frozen lasagna into chunks to put in the microwave. That, and a screaming infant in the Johnny-Jump-Up swinging from the kitchen door, made it a night to remember.
What tips do you have to share to keep from singing the dinner blues? Anything you do ahead of time to keep the bewitching hour unbewitched? I know I have a lot of smart friends out there, and most of us are tired of rotating the same six meals. Let's share our ideas.
Some of my favorite, albeit under-utilized, resources are:
Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade cookbooks
Taste of Home cookbooks
If you are a blogger, let's link up our posts. If you are reading this on FB, leave your best thoughts in a comment. I'm looking forward to sharing life with you!