I can’t remember the last time i had pumpkin soup so when our friend gave us some, I knew I had to make some for ourselves and freeze some too. It was unbelievably easy to make so why not make a pot for tonight?
1L chicken or vegetable stock (or 2 chicken cubes)
1/4 cup all purpose cream
Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add pumpkin, potato and stock and bring to the boil. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blend in batches.
Return soup to pan, stir through cream and reheat gently. Season and add a little more nutmeg if desired.
Freeze some so you can have this hearty soup anytime! Great for babies too. 🙂
Our househelp who knows how to cook left a month ago. We have a new one though but cooking is not exactly one of her skills. So I’m now back to being in charge with the family meals. For the past few months, I’ve been wishing for extra hours. Everyday is a struggle to juggle work, feeding Kenya, having time for Bryce, a little exercise and of course, trying to find time for my beloved blog. Most of the time, I don’t have an hour or two to prepare our meals and so we often resort to take-aways. I hate it because 1) I’m not sure how the food was prepared 2) It’s greasy, it’s unhealthy and it’s boring 3) It’s expensive 4) I don’t like Bryce being exposed to fast foods 5) Hubby and I are trying to eat clean.
I used to freeze meals but just one or two dishes, usually it is chili con carne or laing (taro leaves in spicy coconut cream) which freezes well and seems to get better over time. One day, I came across this thing called once-a-month cooking. It’s not exactly cooking all dishes in one day but rather preparing your month-worth meals in one day so that all you have to do is take the frozen meal out of the freezer the night before and then just dump it in the slow cooker or pop it in the oven when you’re ready to cook.
It sounds like the answer to my prayer so I made my own freezer meal plan–Filipino style! Did you know that it took me more than 5 hours to come up with the first set of recipes?! Haha! I had to consider prep time (I don’t have the whole day), family’s taste, available ingredients and my househelp’s ability to cook it on her own.
I have 3 dishes ready for the slow cooker, 3 for frying or baking and 3 for microwave (already cooked,when I’m feeling too lazy to even turn on the oven or slow cooker.) By the way, I think every household should have a slow cooker. I am so grateful to my Ninang Baby who introduced me to slow cooker. Life became so much easier and yummier when you can dump all ingredients at once in the pot before you hit the bed and wake up with a freshly cooked meal.
So here’s how I tackled the challenge. We went grocery shopping (my grocery list for my freezer meal plan) Tuesday night and marinated the pork for adobo right after dinner. I started quite late the following morning at 10am instead of the planned 8am. I cooked the adobo first and while it was simmering, I browned the beef for the stew and prepared the veggies. By 11am, the beef stew was all good in the slow cooker. I had to take a break to feed Kenya and went back to work at 11:45. I was done with the three slow cooker-ready meals after an hour. It would have been faster if I bought ready-made alfredo sauce but it was P190.00 a jar and I needed two! Being cheapo me, I decided to just make my own. Another break for lunch and then finished the tapa by 3pm. Another feeding and I fell asleep with Kenya and Bryce. I did the meatloaf the following day and decided not to cook the chili anymore since I don’t have enough space in the freezer.
My proud moment and our well-stocked freezer. Ziplock really does wonder! 🙂
Each prepared meal is good for 2-3 meals and can feed 3 adults and 1 fuzzy eater kid; this should be enough for two weeks. But since we’re going to have salad night every Tuesday and Friday and fish/veggies 2-3 times a week (to be bought from the local wet market on the same day), I think I could stretch this for a whole month! Our grocery cost for these including my pantry essentials and some other home stuff and toilettries: P6,957.59. Pretty cheap if our next grocery trip will be a month from now considering our average weekly grocery bill is P3,000.
Now I wish I have a bigger freezer so I can store frozen pasta, bread, more breakfast meals like burrito and home-made corned beef. Oops, I just realized, we don’t have room for ice cream!!!
Two of my most appreciated things in the kitchen are my slow cooker and convection oven. They are absolutely the lazy cook’s best friend. Here’s another recipe from Allrecipes.com, that’s quick and super easy even someone who doesn’t know a thing about cooking can do (such as my husband).
You only need 5 ingredients: chicken thigh/breast fillet, taco seasoning mix, a bottle of salsa, cheddar cheese and plain yogurt/sour cream.
First, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Then, place chicken breasts in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle taco seasoning on both sides of chicken breasts, and pour salsa over all.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is tender and juicy and its juices run clear. Sprinkle chicken evenly with cheese, and continue baking for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with sour cream if desired, and serve.