Thursday, August 8, 2013

Back to School Ideas- Solagratiamom Cooks!

Once school starts and I'm busy with day to day teaching, CC tutoring and Wonderful Wednesdays - the last thing I want to think about is cooking dinner!  I hope I'm not alone in my sentiment!  When I am done with my day, I just want to have dinner already made.  Since a chef is out of the question - I had a dilemma on my hands.  How do I expend so much energy into my kids education and the education of others and then still feed my family good healthy foods without spending gobs of time cooking at the end of my long day?  My number one favorite thing to accomplish my goal of having dinner ready at the end of my day is to use my Crockpot!
However, that wasn't a perfect system.  I still had to think ahead enough to have a recipe in mind and then assemble everything the morning - which on CC days and Wonderful Wednesday mornings, was hit or miss.  So, I discovered the marriage of freezer cooking with my Crockpot!  The way it works is I spend one Saturday a month cutting/assembling and then freeze my meals with labels.  I plan 3 meals to Crockpot a week.  I also have a list of quick throw together meals that I keep everything on hand for -this allows me to quickly cook a healthy meal the other two nights a week when I do "cook".

I'm going to share a few of my recipes I use and also some of the links to website that have been helpful to me in picking meals that appeal to my family to freeze ahead and Crockpot!  I hope this blesses those who are looking for a way to conquer family meals during the school year!

Favorite websites for Crockpot meals....

My Italian Dad has a dish he makes that is a staple in my house now that I'm on my own.  I have passed this on to friends and they love it too - so I'm going to share it with you as a quick meal to throw together.  It's a variation of Pasta Aglio e Olio.  :)  say that three times fast!

Dad's Pasta
1 glass of anchovies (about 6-8 achovies) - gives it a salty flavor and it's not "fishy" at all....I promise :)
1/3 cup of olive oil
6 garlic cloves minced
1 shallot minced (or small amount of onion works too)
2 cups of spinach (or kale is good)
1 can canellini beans
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Sea salt/pepper (to taste)

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil.  Then add anchovies and cook till they become somewhat dissolved in the olive oil mixture.  Add can of canellini beans and heat.  Add chopped spinach and cook till wilted.   Serve with red pepper and salt/pepper to taste.  

Variation - sometimes I omit the beans and just serve it over GF pasta.  It's great either way.  

Another quick meal that I use during our school year as a throw together, is what my family calls Chicken Dip.  I guess we started calling it that because we use corn chips to dip into and eat it instead of spoons/forks.  :)

Chicken Dip
2 jars of Trader Joes pineapple salsa (any salsa would do but this makes it yummy!)
1/2 cup of frozen corn
2 cans of black beans
1 frozen chicken breast
(optional at the end is cheese added and avocado slices to serve it with)

Just add all those ingredients into the Crockpot in the morning (except cheese - add that the last 30 minutes before you plan to serve it).  Let it cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.  Serve with avocado slices and favorite corn chips to dip!

Last quick meal I can throw together at the end of a school day is an Italian/Mexican Goulash.  My Dad also makes this one.  I've modified it a little to make it more healthy and varied it at times to make it Mexican instead of Italian (don't tell my Dad) LOL.

Italian Goulash
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 red pepper (diced)
1 onion (diced)
6 garlic crushed cloves (ok - I like garlic - it's inherited)
1 lb of ground turkey or beef
1 can of diced tomatoes (or fresh cut 2 tomatoes -deseeded)
1 cup of chopped kale (or spinach/swiss chard works too)
Pasta of your choice cooked separately
Italian seasoning to taste

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil.  Then add ground turkey or beef and cook until browned.  Add your italian seasonings.  Throw in your red pepper, diced tomatoes and kale.  Cook until done.  Serve over your choice of cooked pasta.  

To make it Mexican instead of Italian - I just change out the Italian seasoning and the tomatoes for salsa - then we serve it over rice instead of pasta. 

Those are my favorite four quick healthy meals you can throw together easily!  I'd suggest buddying up with a friend to cook your monthly Crockpot freezer meals (my BFF and I do it together) - it goes by faster and is a fun time of fellowship.  You will be glad you did it either way, when you just spend the month throwing a meal into your Crockpot in the morning right from the freezer before you start your school day!  Then when you are done with your day - viola! dinner is served!!!  Definitely worth the three or four hours you spend one Saturday a month to chop, assemble and freeze for the month!

Have a blessed school year!

No comments:

Post a Comment