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Monday, April 18, 2011

Little Life Lessons

I know he’s only 8 months old.  I know he’s cute. I know he won’t learn all of life’s lessons at once … but if he could please, PLEASE learn the following as soon as possible:

1.  Mommy’s hair is not for pulling as hard as you can
2.  Mommy’s hair is not to be used as a tool to keep your balance
3.  Mommy’s hair is not to be used as a climbing device
4.  Pulling the hair of the woman in front of you in church is definitely not OK
5.  Mommy’s shirt is not a Kleenex

That’d be great.


The girl behind the lama .. AKA

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Once a Month Cooking–Recap Thoughts

So, what did I really think of once a month cooking?  I think for spending 2.5 hours in the kitchen it was a huge success!  I think on a normal day I would probably cook with more vegetables, but for a quick and easy meal that I’ll grab on a day that I’m too tired to cook – I’ll take it.

I think there were a few key things that made it such a success.

1.  I had a great partner.  Since he’s my husband we work really well together.  He was anticipating my moves and was always right where I needed him to be.  He was so efficient he even cleaned a spoon before I was done with it.  I was anticipating what he would be doing next and prepped his labels for the bags or got his ingredients to him before he even knew he needed them.

2.  Good pots.  I think I used 3 different pots and 2 cookie sheets throughout the night.  I absolutely love my Rachael Ray cast iron pots and they served me well last night.  I believe I have both a 5 quart and a 7 quart.   I personally would love to get a few Le Creuset pots if I could (hint, hint family members!).  I also used one other large pot while the cast iron ones had food that was being packaged in them.

3.  I skipped all the pasta.  I don’t care for pasta dishes that are frozen and then reheated.  Maybe you can help me and tell me what I’m doing wrong, but mine always end up mushy and kind of bleh.  The way I see it, if I’m too tired to cook I’ll grab a frozen dish.  If I’m too tired to also boil up the pasta to go with it, I’m probably too tired to throw a casserole into the oven. 

4.  Look ahead!  I found that as I was cooking I had some down time.  Why not get started on another recipe while you wait for meat to brown up?  Take advantage of every spare minute you have and you’ll finish ahead of schedule.  This also means reading and almost studying the instructions ahead of time.  You may be able to find shortcuts that work for you by reading everything over first.

5.  Food processor.  Amen to whomever it was that bought us the food processor as a wedding present.  I’ll admit, I don’t use it much.  Pie crust … bread crumbs … sometimes baby food, but that’s about it.  I don’t know how long it would have taken me to chop all of those vegetables.  So pay attention to the notes in the direction that denote veggies that you can use the food processor to chop.

6.  Counter space.  Room to groove meant I had a place for a soup to sit for awhile until I got the next sauce going.  Once that didn’t need my attention I could package up the soup.  I recommend using every inch of counter/table/floor space your kitchen will allow.

7.  Fast rinsing.  Do yourself a favor, rinse all those pots out ASAP before anything gets caked on!!  You know how long it would have taken to get all the broccoli cheese soup out of that pot?  If you rinse it while it’s still warm and hasn’t started to stick, it cleans in a jiffy!

8.  Parchment paper.  I recently discovered parchment paper and I’m not sure how I ever lived without it before.  It keeps everything on your cookie sheet perfectly cooked without over browning and it’s so easy to just throw it out, no clean up necessary!

We’ve got two freezer dinners on the menu for this week and we’ve been eating waffles and pop tarts galore.

I’m really encouraged by how many comments I’ve received about this both here on my blog, my lamaworks facebook fan page and my personal facebook page.  Keep them coming!  I’ll try to post again the next time I try it out.  Maybe we can all try it together!

Next on my list is once a month baby food … that is as soon as I use up the 50 bags we already have in the freezer – I’ll admit that I’m addicted to making baby food, but that’s for another post.

Thanks for reading!!!

Until the next time…
The girl behind the lama

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Once a Month Cooking–How did it go??

I would consider our first attempt at once a month cooking a success! 

If you’re looking for the recipes that we went with check out this post.

First thing Friday morning I loaded 8 chicken breasts into the slow cooker so that by the time we started at 7 I had that ready to be cubed.  You have no idea how much time this alone saved!  So much easier than cubing the chicken … then sautéing.  Great idea!

Throughout the day I got all of the vegetables chopped.  All but the asparagus could be finely chopped, which meant I could make good use of the food processor.  With a zip, zip, zip I had 3 onions, 2 carrots, 2 heads of garlic and 4 heads of broccoli chopped.  That took maybe 30- 40 minutes?


We finished dinner and my hubby got the kitchen spotless and ready to go.  We started right around 7. I did a majority of the cooking and he followed me around stealing my dirty dishes and packaging up the stuff to freeze.  He was also on baby duty and managed to wash a load of diapers, give the kiddo a bottle and get him down for the night.  I truly couldn’t have done it without him. He had my pots clean before I even realized I needed for another dish. He also kept things moving into the freezer to cool, then into labeled bags to freeze. 

I got the beef going for the taco sleeping bags and taco pasta while he got the baby ready for bed and make the Teriyaki chicken.  While that was cooking up I got the batter all set for the waffles.  With the waffle batter done I finished up both the taco dishes. Delish!  We had already made both of these earlier in the week so we knew they were good.



While Andrew got those packed up and started making the waffles, I got the broccoli soup going.  I added a bit extra cheese to the soup, but I grew up in Wisconsin, I add extra cheese to everything.  At this point it was 8:00, only one hour in!


Broccoli soup was easy enough, and the chicken chili was even easier!  Dump all ingredients into pot, simmer for 20 minutes!  Chili was a little spicy for my liking, but I think a good dollop of sour cream will take it down a bit.


While that simmered away I made the pesto.  I don’t make pesto enough, and I should because I grow bushels of herbs in the summer.  I’ve never had one made with asparagus, and it actually was pretty tasty!


Not much left after that!  We threw together the artichoke sundried tomato chicken pasta minus the sundried tomatoes because I realized mine were really old and way past the point that I could rehydrate them.  We decided we’d just freeze as is and mix it with pasta sauce when we ate it later.

I’m pretty sure Andrew was still working on waffles at this point.  I kept walking past the waffle iron and couldn’t wait to try one.  It make the kitchen smell like a snicker doodle cookie.  YUM!  We had some for breakfast this morning and they were delish!

We closed the night with some pop tarts that I forgot to take pictures of.   I filled the pop tarts with peach butter and apple butter that I made last fall and man, are they good!

We made all 10 recipes in about 2.5 hours.  We ended up making 13 dinners, 7 lunches and about 14 breakfasts.  Not bad for a Friday night hey?

More to come later on my thoughts on the whole process … for another post!

Think you’ll try it?

Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Once a Month–Let’s Go!

So earlier this week I posted a bit about once a month cooking.  I’ll admit, I’m intrigued.  I cook a lot, so I don’t feel like I need to cook all of my food for the month, but it sure would be handy to have a bunch of meals in the freezer for those days that I just don’t want to cook or when I have a friend or family member that needs an extra meal.

We tried a few recipes last weekend and they were a hit! 

So here we go!  We are using 9 of the recipes from the April OAMC menu and one from last August because I couldn’t resist:

So last night I did a little grocery shopping – total cost?? $120

That’s right, $120!  Out of this cooking adventure I should be able to make 14 dinners, about 2 weeks worth of lunches and about a month’s worth of grab and go breakfasts for the two of us.  Officially each recipe is supposed to make 2 dinners for a family of 4.

I cannot tell you how much I love this website!  The organization of how the meals and ingredients are chosen, the grocery lists, the step by step instructions, the “how to” instructions are just all fantastic!

So here we go!  I *think* I can do all of this cooking in about 4 hours.  The hubby and I are looking forward to a fun date night cooking together!  Who says you need to go out to have fun?  Why not a night in the kitchen?

Stay tuned for a review of what actually happened!!

Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Maybe a new way to look at cooking?

I love to cook for my family.  Love, love, love!  Not every day though.  So what do we do on those days that I just don’t want to cook?  We go out to eat.  We order pizza.  We stare longing in the fridge just hoping that something will magically appear. Let’s face it.  Options one and two cost money and option three will probably lead to options one or two.  We are not unlike many families that are trying to live on a budget so going out to eat every time I don’t want to cook is just bad for the budget.

Today I happened to stumble upon a website called Once A Month Mom.  I actually found it when I was looking for new baby food recipes, but I think I’m going to use it more for big people food.  Each month she posts about 15-20 recipes.  The theory is that you shop throughout the month for the ingredients you need and cook all day (or over the course of two days) to have all these meals ready to go.  She plans the menus seasonally so a fair number of ingredients should be on sale during that particular month.

Now, it’s designed for two people to cook together.  Two people split the cost of the food and spend a day or two working together and at the end of it, each of you has 15-20 meals that will feed your family of 4.  Genius! It’s not enough to feed your family every night of the month but it’s definitely enough to keep you going on those days you’re just too busy or too tired to cook.

What I really love is the organization of her recipes.  She not only has a spreadsheet for you to keep track of the food you need and how much you spent on it, but her instructions are fabulous!  She optimizes everything from the order in which you chop the vegetables to the order in which you cook things. Example, you’re making Taco Sleeping Bags (a nifty taco hot pocket to pop in the microwave for lunch) and Taco pasta.  Make all the taco meat together, kill two birds with one stone!

Did I also mention that she also has labels you can slap on your freezer bags to remind you of what is is and how to reheat it??

I’m not ready to dive right in quite yet but I did test out a few of the ideas.  The Taco Sleeping Bags were a huge hit for lunch today!  I also made the taco pasta sauce.  I’m thinking I’ll freeze the sauce and while I reheat it make the pasta.  I personally have never been able to freeze pasta without it coming out all mushy.  So that cooking took me about 30 minutes and included 3 lb of beef, 2 packets of taco seasoning, 3 tubes of crescent rolls, a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced chilis.  What did I get?  Enough taco sleeping bags for 4 lunches and a meal of taco pasta. 

This might be my solution to having quick breakfasts, lunches, and a few meals in the freezer ready for me when I’m just too tired to cook.

Think you’ll try it??

Until the next time …
The girl behind the Lama

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Introducing ….

The first 3 Envelopements invitation suites available through LamaWorks!!   I’d like to introduce you to ….

Pamela and George


Elizabeth and Philip


and Aubrey and Isiah


Step one was to convert all of my current listings to the new paper and pricing.  Step two is to sort through all of the Envelopments templates and figure out which ones I have the fonts for.  There are plenty more to come! 

I’ve got my design and parts kits so I can start to get together my own designs soon.  My hope is to have some ideas done by the end of the week, order the paper while I’m gone for Easter and get some new listings up at the end of the month!

What do you think???

Until the next time…
The girl behind the lama

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