"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." ~Romans 12:2 NKJV~

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Everyday Cooking

If you happen to be one of my regular readers then you know I post curriculum reviews from time to time because I’m part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Did you know they also have a Molly Crew review team too? I was happy to be selected to participate in their first product review. Go ahead and grab a cup of coffee or tea and maybe a little snack. Now sit back and enjoy while I tell you all about the product we were sent.

Everyday Homemaking is a great site for getting “ideas and tools to help you better manage your household and time. They provide practical ideas, time and money saving tips. There are useful products, and even links to their favorite sites.” You will not only find things on homemaking but homeschooling too. Their Motto is “Practical Ideas for Busy Families”. The goal is to carry out the scripture from God’s Word that says…

". . .Encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." Titus 2:4-5 (NASB)

To learn more behind Everyday Homemaking see their about us page. I think their story is pretty amazing. The crew were sent one of the two items Everyday Homemaking asked us to review. Everyday Cooking and Everyday Family Chore System. Continue reading to learn about the one I received.

Photobucket Everyday Cooking
by: Vicki Bentley
Type/price: e-book download/$14.99
Type/price: print, 100 pages, coil-bound with glossy cover/$17.99

Everyday Cooking is a “collection of tried-and-true recipes and hints for simple, everyday cooking with an emphasis on whole foods–from a busy homeschooling mother of eight”. I received the e-book version of this cookbook for review. In it you will find timesaving tips, breakfast ideas, recipes for appetizers, snacks, and desserts, bread/grains, main dish meals, soups, and sides. There is also basic measurements and helps, meal and menu planning, sample menus, and shopping hints.

I took advantage of the ideas for do-ahead meal preparation. These reduces your time in the kitchen so that getting a meal on the table takes less time. One of the ideas for this is cooking a big batch of rice to have on hand for any meal you may need it for. Rice freezes and thaws with no problems. Here are some pictures I took of the process on my cooking day making batch parboiled rice.

First up is me making rice on the stove:

Here is my other batch made in my rice cooker:

This is how much I ended up with after they were bagged and ready to freeze. 

As you can see I used my rice cooker and a regular pot to cook my rice in. I used part homemade chicken broth (cubes I had on hand from the freezer) and water whenever I cook my rice. There’s no need to use butter when I do it this way. Each pot had 1.5 cups water, and broth cubes (equals to 1.5 cups). Then I put 2 cups of parboiled rice in each and cooked until done. I ended up with 5 bags of rice. Two bags had 2 cups of rice and the others had 3 cups.

I also made use of her tips on cooking a large amount of ground beef at once. I went grocery shopping and saw there was some meat that was marked down that was still in great shape. I bought 2 3lb. packs of ground beef, 2 packs of Italian turkey sausage, and 2 packs of Cajun sausage.

So what did I do with all this meat? Keep on reading.

I sprayed my 4.5 quart crock pot, opened 1 pack of the ground beef, and put it in the crock. I added 2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes(I usually chop up a fresh onion but I was being lazy this day) , 1.5 tsp. minced garlic, and 1/2 cup of water. I cooked it on High for 2 hours stirring it every 30 minutes to evenly brown. I turned the crockpot off and let cool a bit before going on to the next step. I got out 3 quart size Ziploc bags and labeled them. I divided the meat up between the Ziploc bags squeezing all the air out so they would lay flat in the freezer. Each bags has 2 cups of meat in them which equals 1 lb. of meat.  I let the meat in the bags cool down then laid them flat down in the freezer to freeze. Having these bags of meat on hand allows you to just pull them out of the freezer to use in any meals that needs 1 lb. ground beef. You have saved yourself some cooking time because that’s one less thing you have to cook. I also strained the broth from the meat to use later in when making soup. I let it sit in the fridge over night so the fat can rise to the top. The next day I take the fat off and put the broth into an ice cube tray to freeze into cubes then pop out and place in a Ziploc bag. 

With the remaining pack of ground beef, Italian Turkey, and Cajun sausages I made up a master meat mixture for making a meatloaf, 2 muffin pans of mini meatloaves, and some porcupine meatballs (recipe in this cookbook). I froze the whole meatloaf raw by double wrapping with some foil and kept in my loaf dish to freeze. Once it was mostly frozen I transferred the foil wrapped meatloaf to a labeled gallon size Ziploc bag. To cook you just take it out the night before to start thawing for cooking the next day. The 2 pans of mini meatloaves turned into 4 meals for us. Since they were already cooked I just carefully took them out of the muffin pan and placed on a cookie sheet to flash freeze. Once they were frozen I put them in labeled Ziploc bags. The day before I planned to have them for dinner I would take them out of the freezer before I went to bed then they would be ready to heat up in the microwave to go with our meal.

The next day I finished up the rest of my batch cooking by taking a pack of the Italian Turkey sausage out of their casing and browned until done. I did the same with one pack of the Cajun sausage too. I took both and mixed each one with a bag of cooked ground beef (I had some cooked ground turkey on hand so I used the cooked turkey sausage with it). I sauted a bunch of chopped mushrooms, onion, garlic, and bell pepper and made a few batches of homemade spaghetti sauce in my crockpots to freezer for use later. There was 5 jars of spaghetti sauce but I ended up using one for our dinner because we ate spaghetti that evening. We also had crockpot stuffed bell peppers one evening with some of the cooked ground beef from the freezer. All that cooking from those two days made me really tired but it was so worth it when it came time for dinner each day because half the work had already been done. Ground beef and sausage were not the only meats I tried. I also cooked a chicken recipe for dinner and I have a picture of that right here.

My beautiful picture
I made the Chicken Schnitzel recipe from the cookbook. I will admit I made some changes to it. For one I had to use an extra cup of bread crumbs because 1 cup wasn’t enough for my pieces. They were pretty big even though I cut the breasts in half the way Vicki suggests. Another change I made was instead of finishing the chicken in the skillet like the recipe said to do, I put the chicken pieces on a baking sheet after browning then finished cooking in the oven for 20-30 minutes on 350 degrees. I served in with some homemade yellow rice, green beans, and some sweet iced tea with lemon. I have to say the chicken was pretty tasty. We even had enough for leftovers the next day. No one mind eating it again the next day because it was so good.

Many of the recipes in Everyday Cooking were not new to me because I have already heard of them before and others I’ve cooked from time to time. I did see several I want to try but haven’t had a chance to yet. Some of the tips she shared were ones I’ve already been doing or had not done in a while. I was thankful for the reminder to get back to doing those things because they help out so much. While I love cooking in my crockpot Vicki has now convinced me to get myself a pressure cooker. That is next on my wish list as well as the stainless steal cookware she uses that is shown in the Kitchen Equipment section of the book. I plan to try more recipes and even use it to do some beginning cooking lessons with my soon to be 13 year old son.  She shares different recipes from her cookbook each month on the website. This month she has chocolate-covered toffee, sweet rolls, and even how to make homemade vanilla. I haven’t tried her bread recipe yet but looking at it makes your mouth water. All I could think of was “pass the butter please”. I have never made that much bread at one time but it sure would be good to be able to pull out a loaf from the freezer when you need one for that day.

You can view sample pages of Everyday Cooking here. If you’re on Facebook go ahead and like Everyday Homemaking’s fan page to keep up with the latest happenings. Don’t forget to stop by and read more Everyday Cooking and  Everyday Family Chore System reviews from the other members.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this review are entirely my own. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I was not paid to write this but received the E-book “Everyday Cooking” at no cost to me for review purposes, and to give my honest opinion.


April Bradley said...

I never thought of ground beef in a crock pot. Good idea! I always fry it in bulk, but this is easier.

Neat review!


Growing In God's Wisdom said...

Hey April. I discovered this tip last year when I was doing a Google search for cooking ground beef in bulk. I made the mistake of dropping the meat in whole straight from the package. DON'T do that! Crumble it up first or it will cook whole and be hard to stir when checking on it. Having a little water on the bottom helps to give it some moisture to cook too.

Cristi said...

I loved all the working ahead ideas that I learned in the Everyday Cooking book, and I'm really excited to try your idea about cooking the ground beef in a crockpot.

My So Called Homeschool Life said...


Loved your review! It's one of my favorites so far!

Ann (from The Crew)

Growing In God's Wisdom said...

Wow...really? Thanks Ann. Hey Cristi! Yes those do ahead ideas were my main focus. hehe~

Jennifer aGlimpseOfOurLife said...

Those pictures make the process seem even more simple. I like the time saving ideas.

Vicki said...

The schnitzel is a family favorite here, too! (Well, I guess most of the recipes are, or they wouldn't be in there, but the schnitzel is a big request for birthday dinners!) What great photos, and great tips for adaptations. Thanks for your thorough review.

Growing In God's Wisdom said...

Thank you Vicki for letting me review your cookbook. Thanks for the comment as well!

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