food | What Else Michelle

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My First Try on Freezer Meals

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.

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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.

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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!!!

I’ll let you know how my freezer cooking go… :)

Recipe for the Lazy #2

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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.salsa-chicken2

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.

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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.

See, quick and easy!


My Family Comfort Food: Creamy Carbonara

carbonaraIt’s Sunday again and I have all the excuses to have a totally laid-back day and I honestly am not in the mood to cook anything. And when days like these hit me, pasta will always be our meal, no questions asked. Fortunately, my family never complains. Bryce, my three-year old kid, can finish his plate without us quarreling, whenever we have pasta. And the hubby, well, he eats anything.

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I’m sharing one of my favorite pasta recipes that is quick and easy to prepare so we can all have extra time to spend with our families… and to sleep in. :) I found this recipe from Nestle Cream’s facebook page, but I tweaked it a bit by adding onion, chopped ham, one beaten egg, using one pack of Nestle Cream instead of two and omitting grated Cheddar cheese. This is my feeble attempt to reduce the calories. Hehe!step1

Chopping bacon into tiny bits is a lot easier when the bacon is still frozen so forego thawing (also applicable to ham). Whenever I cook, I always try to use the least cooking oil as possible so I fried the bacon on a non-stick pan without oil. It’s only a matter of seconds before your bits are swimming in its own fat. While frying the bacon, cook the pasta. Once the bits are crisp, set them aside and scoop out the oil in the pan leaving just about a teaspoon or two.

This is why it’s called quick. Pasta cooking time is usually just 8 minutes plus boiling time, about 3 minutes. So the whole 10-11 minutes is allotted for the preparation of the sauce. I think I mastered it quite well. I can cook this meal in under 30 minutes including chopping the ingredients.
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Saute garlic and onion until fragrant and onion is translucent then add diced cooked ham. After about a minute, pour a pack of Nestle cream. I added 1/4 cup of water as I don’t want my carbonara to turn out too dry. If you’re freezing or refrigerating the left-over, having a milky consistency is a good idea because the pasta will get drier after reheating.
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Season the mixture with half chicken bouillon cube , pepper, parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley. Bring it to a boil then turn off the heat immediately. By this time, your pasta should be done. Quickly drain it and add it onto the sauce.step4

While pasta and sauce are still hot, pour in the beaten egg and toss everything together. Add more parsley of you like. For some reason, I don’t like cooking carbonara without the egg. It just doesn’t feel right. Haha!carbonara-nestleFinally, garnish with bacon bits, pasley and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with garlic bread or toast while still hot.

For more creamy and delightful recipes your family will surely enjoy, check out Nestle Cream’s facebook page.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but the photos and thoughts are originally mine.


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