Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Getting Ready for Back-to-School in the Kitchen

What a summer it has been!  I fell into a routine with my daughters' food allergies and started a catering business on the side.  I, unfortunately, have to now begin the routine of back to school within the next week.  But I am doing so with a well-prepared freezer.  I have been making a number of make-ahead meals, snacks, and goodies to help make our days easier.  We, like so many, have school, work, sports, homework, and family time on a daily basis.  To assist our days I prepared a few freezer meals in the form of baked pastas.  I prepare my pasta according to package instructions and set aside.  I then can open an allergy-friendly bottle of marinara bought or homemade, add sliced pepperoni, and toss with pasta. Place in aluminum pan, top with cheese, and place in freezer for a quick dinner.  Another version is that I combine leftover Sloppy Joe mixture from a different dinner and toss with pasta.  Place in another aluminum pan and top with monterey jack cheese and freeze for the future.  The sloppy joe pasta bake is my son's fave.  For those fast-upon us breakfasts; make a ton of waffles and freeze, toss in toaster and you're set.  I also buy and prepare a huge box of sausage links and place in freezer bag, microwave for 15 seconds and you've got a great, healthy side for your waffles.  Something new for me are my mini-omelets.  They are so cute and were super easy to make.  I save my egg whites from all the ice cream I've been making.  To my mini muffin tin; I butter the bottom of my tin and add whatever fillings I want such as cheese, veggies, ham, etc.  I whip the egg whites with a little bit of milk and seasoning, fill my muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees until done (usually 20-25 minutes).  I throw these into freezer bags as well; they go great as a side, on a sandwich, or as a snack. I never look forward to my kiddos starting back to school because I miss them so much, but I am blessed that they love school as much as they do.  It makes it a little easier knowing that they look forward to their new routine, and I know I'm doing myself a favor getting all their goodies ready ahead of time.  This way, I have more time to hang out with them.  If you're new to all of these ideas, don't get overwhelmed.  Pick something and just spend a morning preparing it for your freezer.  As you get more acclimated you will be able to handle more meals, desserts, whatever.  Good luck to you all!