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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Break

Ok, it's finally time to update the blog!!!  Hopefully you will be seeing several posts over the next few days.  That's the hope.  I will try to go in chronological order, except for this one.

So, for some reason I have a very hard time relaxing without feeling guilty.  There is ALWAYS something I feel like I should be doing.  Some day I hope to figure out how to just let go, but that day is not today.  As follows then, despite my three week "break" I have been very busy!!!  The bulk of this business comes from the idea I had that in order to be able to eat good food, cheaply and quickly during the upcoming semester I could make a whole bunch over the break and then freeze it.

I started by collecting a good variety of recipes off of pinterest that I felt would be decently cheap, had potential to freeze ok and that, of course, looked yummy.  Then I created an excel spreadsheet for the ingredients.  Next I drove way out to Walmart in King of Prussia (this is kind of far) and started cooking away!  I hoped that it would only take me maybe 3 days of cooking all day or something, because I've read other posts online of people who've done so.  But, it probably took me a week.  I've lost track.  Part of this is because I have a tiny, tiny kitchen.  Part of it is because I am a very inexperienced cook (although a bit less experienced now!).  And, part of it is because, well, I'm lazy.

But, I finished!!!  Well, actually, I'm not 100% finished.  I still need to freeze a bunch of bread dough and freeze some more yogurt cubes for my smoothie packs, but I finished the last meal today, so I'm writing a blog post!

Just FYI, this next part will probably be pretty boring, but I left in a lot of info in case I decide to make these meals again and for anyone else who would like to make them.

Here are the recipes that I made:

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Banana Bites:

These were surprisingly good and SO easy.  Tom and I became addicted and ate the first batch so I had to make another because they're supposed to be for school!  We skipped the coconut, because I don't like it.

Coconut Curry Chicken:

This one turned out a bit too salty.  Tom liked it but I didn't.  There's another curry recipe I made another time that I should have made instead.

Crab Cream Cheese Wontons:

These didn't turn out so well either.  First off, I couldn't find wonton wrappers, so I used egg roll ones.  Bad idea.  Second, the recipe asked for way too much green onion!  Made them taste bitter!   I substituted crab for lobster which was probably fine and finally, I left out the siracha, because I couldn't find it, which was probably fine.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes:

Had no idea pancakes could be frozen.  Great make in advance breakfast.  I think these turned out rather well.  I just wish I'd doubled the batch.

Smoothie Packs:

Tried one of these babies out today at it was pretty good.  Just bought a big back of mixed frozen fruit (strawberries, pineapple, mango, etc.), added frozen vanilla yogurt that I froze in the ice cube tray and some bananas left over from the banana bites.  

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Lasagna:

Haven't tried this yet, but tried the sauce that is one of the components and that was pretty good.  Tasted like Alfredo sauce.  I have high hopes here.

Cafe Rio's Pork Barbacoa / Costa Vida's Sweet Pork:

If you've ever been to either of those restaurants (they're the same - Costa Vida was created by some employees who stole the recipes from Cafe Rio) then you're probably familiar with this.  You can use it for tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, salad, burritos, etc.  I usually go with tacos because it's just easy.  We couldn't help but try some of this before freezing it and IT WAS SO GOOD.  It has taken all of my self control to leave the rest in there til school starts.  We tried it in taco form with just lightly fried tortillas and some romaine lettuce.  Again, so good.  Also, despite taking a while to cook it's quite easy.  There is just a lot of waiting.  Oh, and I just grabbed the cheapest pork I could find.  I can't even remember what kind.

Mongolian Beef:

Haven't tried this yet but it looked and smelled quit good.  I froze the uncooked meat and sauce separately because in the recipe you cover the meat in corn starch then brown it and then cook it with the sauce.  Just seemed like those steps would be better to do day of.  Should have made double batch for this as well.

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta:

Definitely should have double or even quadrupled this one.  Didn't make much.  Looked good, but didn't try it because there was so little of it!

Baked Spaghetti:

The recipe had a few kinks.  First off, it was supposed to be done it a 6 x 10 dish, which I thought was an odd size.  Plus, all I have is an 11 x 16, so ya know, I did it in that and improvised!  There seemed to be enough noodles for that size, but I would have increased the meat / sauce mixture and the vegetable / cream cheese mixture.  The recipe instructs to cook the chopped onion in the microwave with some butter for 4 minutes.  This is WAY too long.  Burned it the first time then did it for half the time the second time around and that was perfect.  Also, you're supposed to spread the cream cheese mixture over the top which was difficult to do.  I microwave it to make it a bit more runny, which helped, but it was still problematic.  Didn't try it, it looked good.  Oh, and this is the last dish I made!

Cafe Rio / Costa Azul Ranch Dressing:

This goes with the sweet pork if I decide to make a salad or burrito with it.  Heck I might use it on tacos too.  Pretty easy and tastes pretty good.  Who knew you could freeze ranch dressing?  I looked it up.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas:

So good.  So good.  I top it with more green enchilada sauce after I heat it up.  They weren't too difficult either.  This will be a recipe I make often for years to come.  I even snuck one after freezing and they're still good sure enough.

Broccoli Cheese Soup:

Recipe made a TON, which is good because it tastes pretty scrumptious.  

Sugar Cookies:

Just made the dough, rolled it into a log and froze it.  Hopefully they're good!

Chocolaty Chocolate Cookies:

Don't these look heavenly?  Yeah, I really wanted to make them, but I didn't.  Turns out chocolate powder is quite expensive.  Plus, my store doesn't have hazelnuts.  But what I did do is buy a box mix for double chocolate cookies, made it and froze the dough.

And Thats It!

Doesn't seem like as much now that I've documented it all, but it sure seemed like it!  I never want to wash another dish again!  Can't wait to actually start eating this food!  Makes me actually excited for break to end.


  1. I found that I read every word because I am a recipe/cooking geek. I really want to try the Cafe Rio stuff and the smoothie packs and, and... well, lots of other stuff too. Great ideas and it all looked really good. I guess I'll take your word for the stuff you said was not good. Missed you two at Christmas!

  2. I know how you feel about feeling guilty not doing anything. I'm so proud of you taking on this cooking task. It will be a relief when you go to use them and are really swamped. They look like some yummy recipes. I think I've had the Cafe Rio pork one. Karol Riches made it a couple of times for RS activities. It was really great.

  3. I am going to try like all of these!!! Why can't you live closer so we can do this together?!?! I have tons of cocoa powder. Maybe I'll send you some : )