Monday, September 28, 2009

Cream Puffs/ Eclairs

Cream Puffs/Eclairs
by Julianne


For Filling:
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix 2 cups milk

For Pastries:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

For Chocolate Glaze:
1 cup semisweet chocolate
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon milk

1. Mix together vanilla instant pudding mix and milk. Cover and refrigerate to set.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
3. In a large pot, bring water and butter to a rolling boil. Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball. Remove pot from heat. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet (smaller for bite-sized puffs).
4. Bake for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry. (Less time for smaller puffs.)
5. When the shells are cool, either split and fill them with the pudding mixture, or use a pastry bag to pipe the pudding into the shells.
6. Melt chocolate, 1 Tablespoon butter, and 1 Tablespoon milk microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over filled puffs.
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
by Julianne

3 pkgs cream cheese, softened
2 cups (12 oz.) mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1 cup sugar
1 extra-serving size graham cracker crust (9 oz.)
3 eggs
2 Tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
1 tsp. vanilla

· Heat oven to 450 degrees.
· Beat cream cheese & sugar. Add eggs & vanilla. Beat until very smooth.
· Gently stir in half of the mini chocolate chips. Pour mixture into crust. Bake 10 min.
· Without opening oven door, reduce temperature to 250. Bake 30 min at 250.
· Cool completely. Refrigerate until chilled.
· Place remaining chips and cream in bowl. Microwave 30 seconds or until chips are melted. Stir until smooth. Cool for 5 min.
· Spread over cheesecake & refrigerate at least 15 minutes.

Recipe's: Freezer Food from Carla Gutke

Café Rio Chicken
1 small bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 TB chili powder
1 TB cumin
3 cloves garlic--minced
5 lbs chicken breasts
Combine ingredients in crock-pot and cook on low 4-6 hours. Shred meat and cook one additional hour. Freeze in quart bags. Here are the recipes I used for dinner tonight. They are all from Kara's Kitchen Creations.
We love this chicken on salads, quesadillas, burritos, and chimichangas

I got this recipe from the 30 Day Gourmet Freezer Cooking Manual and have made a few adjustments to improve the taste and make it easier to assemble. It calls for ground beef, but I find they are much tastier with Cafe Rio Chicken. The following quantities make 32 chimchangas.

5 cups cooked chicken (use the Cafe Rio Chicken recipe)
32 oz salsa
32 oz refried beans
2 4-oz cans diced green chilies
2 envelopes taco seasoning (I buy my taco seasoning in a large container from Sam's Club and just mix it in to taste)
32 8" flour tortillas
8 cups shredded cheese (we like pepperjack)

In a large bowl combine chicken, salsa, refried beans, and green chilies. Stir in taco seasoning. Assemble by placing about 1/2 cup meat mixture in the center of a tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold in the sides and then roll up. Wrap in heavy foil to freeze. Wrap individually for one serving or bundle several together for a family dinner. We bundle 6 chimichangas for our family.

Reheat in the microwave or bake. I generally bake for about 30 minutes at 350. I then pour a can of enchilada sauce over top, sprinkle with more cheese, and bake an additional five minutes.

These next 3 recipes aren’t for freezing, but work great for a salad with the Café Rio Chicken:

Crock-pot Black Beans
2 cups dried black beans
About 3 cups of water
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp cumin
Wash the dried beans pick out any rocks or beans that look funky. Pour them into a pan and add water till it is at least 2 inches above the beans. Let soak overnight (or for 8 hours.)
Drain off the water and pour beans into a crock pot. Add the 3 cups of water and the remaining ingredients. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. During the last couple hours of cooking, you can add extra water if you want them saucy.
(I added about 1 1/2 cups more water than the recipe called for. I also cooked them on high for about 6 hours and then turned them down to low for another 3-4 hours. I'm not sure that 8 hours on low would be enough. They are also a tad salty. I will probably decrease it just a bit next time.)

Lime Rice

4 cups water
2 cups white rice
½ cups fresh cilantro, chopped
4 TB butter
2-3 cloves minced garlic
4-5 tsp chicken bouillon
Juice of 1 lime

Saute rice in butter with garlic, cilantro, bouillon and lime juice over low heat until rice just begins to brown. Stir in water, reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender.

Cafe Rio Salad Dressing

1 cup mayo
1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 of a bunch of cilantro with stems chopped off
1/2 - 1 small jalapeno (if you don’t like it spicy, remove the seeds)
1 tsp lime juice
1-2 tomatillos (remove outer papery skin and cut up)
1 garlic clove
Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender.

Bran Muffins

5 tsp baking soda
2 cups boiling water
½ cup shortening
½ cup applesauce
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 TB salt
1 qt milk (I just reconstituted dry milk)
5 cups flour
2 cups bran flakes
4 cups all bran cereal
2 TB cinnamon
½ TB nutmeg

Dissolve soda in boiling water. Cream shortening, sugar and eggs. Combine salt , flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add flour mixture and milk alternately into shortening mixture until well blended. Blend in water and soda mixture. Stir in cereals. Let batter sit in fridge overnight to soften cereals. Bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes. Freeze in gallon ziploc bags. Makes 4-5 dozen muffins.

Freezer Food from Carla Gutke

My tips for freezer cooking
  • Make sure you have all ingredients before you start. Double check all recipes and your cupboards.
  • Have a big garbage can
  • Clean out your freezer and fridge first
  • When using a Ziploc bag, don’t pack it too full. It will explode and leak all over then freeze solid to the shelves. Spread food out in the bag to be no more than one inch thick.
  • Cook all the chicken at one time or hamburger at one time.
  • Make meals in sessions according meat, i.e. create all chicken recipes before starting any beef recipes
  • Wash bowls, pots and utensils as you go along.
  • Make sure your dishwasher is empty before you start cooking.
  • Clear the counters of any unnecessary items.
  • Don’t cook and shop on the same day.
  • Wear good shoes.
  • Turn down your freezer the night before. Leave it on the coldest setting for 24 hours.
  • Spread out the food in the freezer as much as possible so it will freeze quickly.
  • Cool items in the fridge before placing them in the freezer.
  • Use post-it notes to label dishes with cooking instructions
  • Freeze as many things as you can in Ziplocs. They take much less space and freeze & thaw faster.
  • When freezing in a casserole dish, cover the meal with plastic wrap. Press the plastic into the food to remove as much air as possible. Cover with lid or foil. Just be sure to remove the plastic wrap before baking.
  • Undercook noodles just a bit so they don’t get soggy after reheating.
  • Use your crockpot as much as possible. It’s great.
  • Cook on a day when you don’t have any other commitments.
  • Place recipes in page protectors and tape to cupboards so they are easy to see.

Necessary equipment

  • Very large saucepan
  • Heavy duty can opener
  • Cutting board that fits over your sink
  • Very sharp butcher knife
  • Several sets of measuring cups and spoons
  • 4-5 mixing spoons and spatulas
  • Big garbage can with good garbage bags
  • Ziploc freezer bags
  • Baking containers with lids (I like Glad plastic cookware)

At the end of this packet I have included most of the recipes I use when I bulk cook. They are all my normal recipes that I have used often. I have tried freezing each of them and they work just fine. When I try a new recipe for the freezer I usually only make one pan the first time unless I’m sure it will freeze fine. When I know it is a good recipe for the freezer and we like it, I add it to the freezer recipes section in my cookbook. Most of my recipes are more involved that the recipes you will find in the majority of freezer cookbooks. They try to make their recipes as easy as possible, but usually they lack flavor as well.

When deciding which recipes to make on a cooking day, I have a 15-minute rule. If the prep takes longer than 15 minutes prior to putting it in the oven, it is worth pre-making and freezing. If it takes only 15 minutes, I save that recipe for a Sunday when I have a little more time to cook. That way I also stretch my freezer meals out longer for when I really need them.
Other Resources
I went to and the library and found everything I could about freezer cooking. Here is about all I found. I included a short review of my own and the rating. You can also go to and read reviews there as well.

The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet: A Month of Meals Made Easy
by Tara Wohlenhaus and Nanci Slagle Rating: 5 stars
My Review:
Of freezer cookbooks this is by far the best. I like the layout of their book and the way it was organized. I think they have a lot of great suggestions and some decent recipes. Their website is definitely helpful. Check out their “5 simple steps to freezer cooking” for more tips.

The Once-a-Week Cooking Plan: The Incredible Cooking Program That Will Save You 10 to 20 Hours a Week (and Have Your Family Begging for More!)
by Joni Hilton Rating: 3 1/2 stars
My Review:
There is nothing special about this book, but nothing I particularly disliked. The cooking format is very different from the way I bulk cook, but it may work for someone else. The recipes look pretty good, but I haven’t tried any yet.

Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month
by Deborah Taylor-Hough Rating: 4 stars
My Review:
I really hated the format of this book. The layout was boring and plain. I did like how she described her cooking program and how she breaks it down. The recipes were ok, but nothing to brag about.
Frozen Assets Lite and Easy: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month
by Deborah Taylor-Hough Rating: 4 stars
My Review:
This book is highly improved over her original Frozen Assets. I liked these recipes better than other freezer books, and they were lighter versions. I really like how she has broken down cooking into mini-sessions based on the protein used such as beef or poultry. It makes it much easier to approach when you do five chicken recipes one day and 5 beef the next.

Once-a-Month Cooking, Revised Edition : A Proven System for Spending Less Time in the Kitchen and Enjoying Delicious, Homemade Meals Every Day
by Mary-Beth Lagerborg, Mimi Wilson Rating: 4 stars
My Review:
This book was pretty good. I liked some of the recipes. This book also has recipes for side dishes as well. Most of the recipes appear to be fairly easy, but also fairly boring.

Month of Meals: One Day to a Freezerful of Entrees
by Kelly Machel Rating: 4 stars
My Review:
This author’s main idea when it comes to cooking is having “stations” with one for mixing/chopping, the sink, stove, spices, and packaging. I just can’t see this working in a normal kitchen. I would be spending too much time worrying about whether everything is in its station. Also, none of the recipes appeal to me. I didn’t find one I wanted to cook. She spends way too much time worrying about the “process” and not nearly enough in developing the recipes.

Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer: Great-Tasting Meals You Can Make Ahead
by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell, and Bonnie Garcia. Rating: 4.5
This is currently my favorite cookbook. Some of the recipes are more time intensive, but better tasting. I just noticed that there is a sequel to this, which I am sure would also be good.

Fix, Freeze, Feast: Prepare in Bulk and Enjoy by the Serving - More than 125 Recipes
by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik Rating: 4.5
I got this at the library & liked the recipes I tried, though they didn’t make it onto my favorites list.

Dinner is Ready, Lunch is Ready , On the Side - 30 Meals in One Day
by Deanna Buxton. Rating: 5
This is actually 3 books in one. This one divides the recipe by cooking method (slow cooker, stove top, assemble & oven) & recommends that you chose a certain number of each for your cooking day. This one is interesting to me because you can get software to support it. You can use the software to chose what you will be cooking for the week or for your cooking day & it will generate shopping lists for you, print freezer labels, recipes & menus & manage your recipes.

Freezing Techniques

  • Ziploc Bags: Ziplocs work well for most foods I freeze. The best part about them is that they freeze flat and stack easily. They store well in your freezer and take up a minimal amount of space. I use Ziplocs for just about everything including soups, marinades, most pastas (except formed pasta like lasagna), etc.
  • Only fill about half full.
  • Place bag into a glass or larger container and fold top zipper around the edges of the container to make it easier to fill.
  • Squeeze out as much air as possible.
  • Lay on a shelf to freeze flat and then stack. The bag shouldn't be more than about 1 inch thick when frozen.
  • Don't go cheap on plastic bags. Buy the heavy freezer bags. I definitely prefer Ziplocs over the store brand quality.
  • Muffin Tins: Muffin tins work perfect for single servings of sandwich fillings such as Sloppy Joes or BBQ pork. Simply fill almost full and put in the freezer to freeze until firm. Once frozen pop the servings out and place in a Ziploc bag. You can easily pull out the number of portions you need and thaw in the microwave. I prefer using the silicon muffin pans for this because it makes it so simple to pop out the portions.
  • Crock-pot dinners: Freeze all your ingredients for a favorite crock-pot dinner. Thaw in the fridge for about a day and place in your crock-pot to cook. I would first place the meal in a crock-pot liner then into a Ziploc for freezing.
  • 8x8 and 9x13 pans: Pans present the biggest challenge for freezing because they take so much space and are more likely to allow freezer burn. I freeze my meals in Gladware ovensafe plastic pans. After assembling, I place a layer of foil over the dish then top with the pan lid. Unfortunately, they aren't readily available anymore. I had to really search the internet about six months ago when I wanted to buy more. I haven't seen them in stores in quite a while. The other easy option is purchasing disposable aluminium pans for freezing certain recipes. You can also freeze in a glass or metal pan.
  • A final option is to freeze your dish in the pan and then remove once frozen. Line your pan with foil, assemble as normal and place in the freezer. Once frozen simply lift out and wrap well with foil. When thawing, unwrap while frozen and place back in the pan to thaw and cook. This technique will use the least amount of freezer space and will not require you to purchase multiple extra pans.
  • Foil: Foil works well for certain foods such as chimichangas that already have form, and I am bundling together. I use heavy foil and purchased a large box from the restaurant supply section of Sam's Club. I generally wrap most foods in at least two layers of foil.
  • Labeling: Don't forget to label and date your food in the freezer. Also make sure you include any specific cooking information if needed. I write this information on the Ziploc bag or with a black marker on the foil covering my meal. Dating is very important. Most things freeze well for about three months. Every cookbook I have read has a different idea on the amount of time a meal can sit in the freezer and retain it's quality, but I try to stick with three months.
  • Organization: Develop some type of organization for your freezer that works for you. I previously posted about my spreadsheet to help me remember what is in the freezer. I also organize my freezer when I do any major freezer cooking so that I can readily find what I want.

Websites -- This is my sister’s blog. She just started it, but she has some great info on it (& I am totally unbiased!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guatemalen Guacamol

  • 2 medium ripe avocados (dark and soft to the touch, not too soft)
  • 2 Tbls Chopped onions
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garlic Powder to taste
  • 2 Tsp Oregano

Mash avocados until it looks very pasty and then add the rest of the ingredients, you should add enough salt so it doesn't taste too bitter and then enjoy with nachos.

Guatemalan Fritios (Fired Plantains)

  • 3 or 4 Plantains, they have to be completely yellow with black spots, the older they look the sweeter and better they taste
  • 1/2 cup Oil
  • Sugar & Cinnamon to taste

Peel and cut the plantains in a diagonal shape. Put oil in frying pan over medium heat. Check if oil is ready by placing a small piece of plantain, the oil should bubble up.

Fry them in the oil until they are brown on one side, then turn over and brown other side. You should only turn them once. They will be very soft. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to remove some of the oil.

Guatemalan Refried Beans

  • 2 Lbs dry black beans
  • 1 Head of Garlic
  • Salt to taste

Put all ingredients in a pressure cooker and cover with water about 4 inches above the beans. Cook until the pressure cooker starts making the whistling sound, then an additional 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Open and check to make sure the beans are completely cooked, they should be nice and soft. Remove head of garlic from beans and discard. Blend about 2 cups of the beans with some of the bean juice from the pressure cooker, set aside. On a frying pan fry some onion until golden brown and add to the blended beans. Cook and stir until the beans begin to get thicker. Cook for as long or as little for a consistency to your liking.