July Freezer Cooking Roundup

Wrapping up this sweaty month of July! Haven’t wanted to be in the kitchen much, but cooking for Once a Month Mom and having summer guests has kept me going. Here’s this month’s roundup of all the freezer-friendly recipes I’ve been sharing. Maybe you’ll find one you like too!

{Unstuffed Pepper Bake}

{Southwest Chicken Salad}

{Sausage and Pepper Penne}

{Spicy Stuffed BBQ Chicken}

{Maple Oat Scones}

Monday Meal Plan

I feel like this should be called the “crazy week edition” as this week is already looking very busy. It’s the last full week of “summer” for  my kids as school starts next week. Mixed feelings there. . . .I’ve really loved spending the extra time with them working on our summer bucket list. So besides doctor appointments and PTA responsibilities I think we’ll be cramming in as many activities as we can which means I want to be thinking about cooking as little as possible. We’re eating from our freezer a lot this week, gearing up to re-fill the freezer with the soon-to-come OAMM August menu. What about you?
Monday:
  • Kiddie Lunch: Turkey and cheese pinwheels, baby carrots
  • Dinner: Shepherd’s Pie, fruit salad

Tuesday:

  • Kiddie Lunch: Spaghettios, fruit kabobs
  • Dinner {Mexican Night}: Salsa Chicken over rice, corn on the cob

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Unstuffed Pepper Bake

Friday:

  • Kiddie Lunch: Homemade “Lunchables” (crackers, cheese, lunchmeat), applesauce
  • Dinner {Pizza Night!}: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Saturday:

  • Lunch: leftovers
  • Dinner: Date Night

Sunday:

For more meal plan ideas, visit OrgJunkie.

Preserving Memories (and making peach jam)

This week we took a trip to a local farm to fulfill one of our summer bucket list activities: pick peaches. Although with the midwest heat and humidity we’ve been graced with, I opted to alter the summer goal and buy pre-picked peaches. Call me a wimp, but sweating my guts out while chasing three kids through an orchard, carrying (what’s starting to feel like) a watermelon AND picking peaches didn’t sound too fun to me. Maybe next year?

They were sure tasty though.

Though we skipped the picking, the summer heat must have gotten to me still. Or maybe it was that mommy brain kicking back in, because I got a bit ambitious and brought home three pecks. Which I soon realized was a lot considering they were tree-ripe (versus being picked green and shipped across the country) and needed to be used or eaten quickly. Canning intimidates me, but freezing–now that’s something I can do, and so I made freezer jam with the majority of the peaches.

If you’ve never made freezer jam before, let me encourage you! It’s really easy, and {I think} tastes much better and fresher than store-bought. And since you store it in the freezer, there’s no need to worry about boiling jars, or getting botulism, or having the perfect timing, etc. that you deal with when canning. Sigh. Maybe I’ll get brave one day.

Packaged cute, and the jam becomes an impressive neighbor gift!

Want to make some? You’ll need peaches. Yep.

First, you peel the peaches. Of course you could get out your paring knife and start to whiddle away, but I suggest an easier way if you are going to peel more than one or two. My mother-in-law taught me this trick a couple of years ago, and I swore she was a genius.

1. Boil a pot of water and fill a large bowl (or the kitchen sink) with cold water and lots of ice.

2. Place your peaches in the boiling water about 30 seconds, then strain.

3. Immediately place boiled peaches in the ice water.

4. When the peaches have cooled in the ice water, gently rub the skin. It should peel right off.

Save the manicure for after this job :)

Perfectly peeled peach

5. I didn’t take a picture of this step, but use a knife–or better yet, if your peaches are ripe, your hands–to half the peach and pull out the pit. Then place the peeled peaches in a bowl and mash them. I like my jam chunky, so I just squished  with my hands until I got the consistency I liked. It’s kind of therapeutic, actually. Feel free to mash with a potato masher or food processor if you prefer.

6. This next step may vary a bit depending on what brand of kind of pectin you use. Just make sure it’s the freezer jam type, and then follow the directions and measurements for mashed fruit versus sugar as directed.

7. Place in freezer containers or jars. In my opinion, the flat containers fit better in the freezer, but if you’re giving away the jam, jars are cuter. Especially when decorated :).

To decorate the jars I placed a rough cut square of burlap on top of the lid and tied it on tight with a piece of twine. Then I made the labels using two different sized circle punches.

Store jam in the freezer for up to a year, or in the fridge for three weeks.

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Free Fun in a Fort

A couple of weeks ago some friends were moving into a new house and thoughtfully saved the large appliance boxes for our kids. Although I’ll admit to grumbling a few times about how the boxes pretty much fill up all the walking space in our living room, my kids LOVE the boxes and watching them use their creativity to make forts/caves/tents/jails/hide-and-seek spaces/boats/etc. is worth the cramped living room space for now.

A bit of quiet-time privacy:

No more rained out tea parties.

In a box, microwave popcorn and a Netflix movie are as good as the drive-in theater.

But this–this is my favorite and almost makes me want to find a permanent space in our home for the boxes.

Such a cozy, comfy reading space.

If you’re interested in making your own cardboard box forts, try visiting an appliance or home-improvement store and ask if they’ll save a box or two for you. Most places just recycle the boxes, and don’t have a problem giving them away.

Errands with kids

So yesterday as naptime ended, and I looked at the clock.

“Hurry! We have 30 minutes to get to the post office before it closes!”

I triple checked the kids. . .

Faces washed.

Shoes on.

Clean {enough} clothes.

Hair acceptable.

Shoes BACK on.

Carseats buckled.

10 minutes into town (but not yet to the post office) I realized, I HAVE A CAKE IN THE OVEN!

Sigh. Honesty, some days I wonder where my brain is, and if I can REALLY handle four kids. Especially on days I need to go to the post office.

But the cake– that was good.