I’ve noticed people seem to have a lot of peculiarities about their chocolate chip cookies. Some people like thick chewy ones, others want a crunchier bite. Some people add in ingredients like peanut butter or pumpkin to the batch and some like it straight off the bag.
This recipe appeals to the first crowd. The Chewy is a chocolate chip recipe with a fluffy dough that rises thanks to some instant vanilla pudding in the batter. It’s a very cake-like cookie which should come as no surprise since so many cakes have pudding in them as well. The mix of white and brown sugar also leads to a very soft cookie.
This cookie is all about the texture. It’s also great for freezing. I made this at the same time I made my M&M cookies and I froze 4 dozen of these cookies and 3 dozen of those cookies. I may have sampled some in the meantime and I promise you I gobbled them up all too willingly.
- 2 cups butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 2 (3.4 ounce) packs instant vanilla pudding
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 20 ounces milk chocolate chips
- Cream together the butter, sugars, and pudding mix. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
- Combine the flour and baking soda. While stirring, add the dry ingredients gradually to the wet ingredients.
- Mix in the chocolate chips.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
I’m not really a dressing or stuffing person, much to my mom’s disappointment. I just was never much a fan of the taste or texture. This dressing is different. It starts with cornbread and buttermilk biscuits (Jiffy and from a can are just fine or you can use your favorite recipe) to add a more solid texture. (If you want a really firm dressing, try making croutons out of the crumbs instead of just letting the breads go stale.) I also cut back on the amount of broth compared to most stuffing recipes so it is just moistened. The eggs in it work to bind the whole thing together too.
For a look at how this can be prepped in advance, check out my Thanksgiving Day timeline. Since there are only 2 people in my household, I split this dish in half and only cooked the first half for my meal. The other half was packed away in a foil tin uncooked. When I’m ready to eat that part, I’ll thaw it completely and bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.
The best part of this recipe isn’t the wonderful texture or even how easy it is to freeze. I really just love the taste. Using a sweet cornbread allows for a mix of sweet and savory. It’s the perfect match for the crockpot turkey.
- 6 cups cornbread crumbs (about 8 muffins)--try this recipe
- 3 cups buttermilk biscuit crumbs (about 4 biscuits)
- 4 oz butter
- 2 cups onion, chopped
- 2 cups celery, chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup turkey drippings
- 2 Tablespoons fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 eggs
- Prepare the cornbread and biscuits a few days in advance. Let them sit in the open so they go stale. On Thanksgiving Day, crumble the biscuits and cornbread in a large bowl.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add in the onion and celery. Cook until tender.
- Add the vegetables into the crumbs and stir till combines. Stir in the broth and drippings, then add the seasonings and beaten eggs.
- Bake in a casserole dish for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.
I’ll admit that sometimes in life, I can go a little overboard. I mentioned before that I had some eggs to use up before I left town for my vacation and the apple bread just didn’t cut it. I decided this would be the perfect time for me to get ready for Christmas. That’s right, back on September 12 I decided to bake 11 dozen cookies for Christmas. I made 6 dozen chocolate chip ones (recipe coming soon!) and 5 dozen of today’s recipe, M&M cookies.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I did in fact bake 11 dozen cookies and packed them away in 3 separate containers. One container was eaten in the week before my trip. It held 2 dozen cookies. The other 9 dozen were split between 2 more containers and one is still safely tucked away for Christmas. The other has been eaten in the month since I returned. This is how I roll. I bake a bunch of cookies, eat most of them and save a couple dozen for Christmas. Over the next few months I’ll stock it with some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, gingerbread and sugar cookies (undecorated), and some double chocolate chip ones. The ones I don’t eat by Christmas become a January snack, though to be honest I’m usually cookied-out by then.
I store my cookies for up to 3 months in an airtight stackable container already cooked. I just pull them out about 90 minutes before I eat them and they’re perfect.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups shortening
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tablespoons vanilla
- 6 Tablespoons water
- 5 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 Tablespoon salt
- 1/2 Tablespoon baking soda
- 10 oz mini M&Ms
- Cream together the sugars and the shortening. Blend in the eggs, vanilla, and water.
- In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients and gradually add them to your wet ingredients.
- Gently stir in your mini M&Ms (regular will work as well) and bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes.
Remember my centerpiece from September with all those apples? The centerpiece sat on my table for most of the month but I headed out of town on the 19th so I hated to let the apples go to waste. On top of that, I had some eggs that would go bad while I was out of town so I figured doing some baking with the apples was a good way to use some up. I wanted a recipe that I could stick in the freezer and eat when I came back home too. Luckily, apple bread was the perfect solution.
This recipe makes two disposable loaf pans of apple bread. To freeze it, bake the apple bread and let it cool completely. Let it cool another hour more, just to be safe. Place the entire loaf pan into a gallon sized freezer bag and remove all the air you can. Place the bags into the freezer flat and store for up to a month. If you want to store these longer, remove them from the loaf pans and wrap in plastic wrap before putting them in the freezer bag.
Coming back from vacation I had virtually no food I could cook left in my house. I had been up for about 20 hours before crashing at night and the next morning I didn’t want to be eating cereal without milk so the apple bread was a welcome treat. To thaw, just leave out on the counter overnight and it will be perfect in the morning.
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 Tablespoon almond extract
- 2 cups skinless diced apples (about 2 apples)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
- Beat together the eggs, sugar, applesauce, oil, and almond extract.
- Slowly add in your dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed.
- Add in your diced apples and chopped walnuts.
- Pour batter into two greased loaf pans and bake at 1 hour for 350 degrees.
The hot weather finally calmed down but I don’t trust it will stay away for long so I wanted to make this next recipe before summer really sets in. The hour of baking for this recipe means you do not want to prep this in the heat of summer. Many people think you can’t freeze potatoes. I’ve had a failure where all the potatoes turn black and I’ve had mashed potatoes that did alright but were never quite as good as the original without a little work. This recipe for freezer twice baked potatoes is a standout because they taste incredible after being in the freezer. The secret is that you freeze them after only the single bake and then you cook them in the oven right in their frozen state.
I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes from my local grocery store for only $2. I had used about 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes for other meals so I used 7 1/2 pounds (or 25 potatoes) for this recipe. I’ll share the full 10 pound recipe for you guys so you can just use a bag and not have to do a lot of guesswork. With so many potatoes, you’ll want to rotate the pans in the oven every half hour. I like to put my potatoes on baking sheets according to size so if the smallest potatoes finish after an hour I can just remove the small potato baking sheet and let the larger potatoes keep cooking until they have some give.
I like to make my potatoes a little healthier so I try to use skim milk, laughing cow cheese (the queso and garlic ones are my favorites), and I leave the shredded cheese off my pieces. When I bake them I add cheese and bacon to my husband’s portions and I top mine with sour cream or Greek yogurt after I’ve baked mine. These also taste incredible with some pesto drizzled on top. The possibilities are endless. If you don’t care about those adjustments, regular milk or even half and half work for your liquid and regular cream cheese works perfectly with this recipe. I’ve done it all.
When you store your items, make sure to let them freeze flat first. Then you can pop them in containers. I found these containers at the Dollar Store and I love the flat tops, they’re perfect for easy stacking. I usually fit between 4 and 8 halves in each container. When reheating I cook the entire package on a cookie sheet and eat any leftovers during the week with my lunch. My favorite way to eat these for lunch is to take some chili and pour it over a potato half. It’s perfection.
- 10 lbs large baking potatoes
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups skim milk
- 6 ounces fat free cream cheese or laughing cow cheese
- 4 teaspoons salt (to taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Clean potatoes and dry. Place them on baking sheets. 10 pounds of potatoes usually requires 3 baking sheets.
- Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and kosher salt.
- Bake potatoes for 1 to 1/2 hours depending on the size.
- Allow potatoes to cool around 15 minutes. While cooling, mix together butter, cream cheese (or laughing cow), salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut potatoes in half lengthwise taking care not to damage the rest of the skins.
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the inside of the potatoes, leaving a thin layer of potato attached to the skin. Put the middles you scoop out into the mixer with your butter cheese blend.
- Once you've scooped out all the potatoes, place the shells back on the baking sheet with the skin side down.
- Blend potato and butter/cheese mix in your mixer. Add milk as needed until potatoes resemble stiff mashed potatoes.
- Spoon the potato mix back into the shells. If you are adding shredded cheese, sprinkle and press onto potatoes.
- Place pan back into the oven and bake 15-25 minutes.
- Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and place baking sheet in freezer until potatoes are completely frozen.
- Remove potatoes from baking sheet and place in plastic bags or foil containers with baking instructions written on them.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and place potatoes on baking sheet. Loosely cover with foil.
- Bake about 45 minutes. Uncover foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
A few years ago I had a friend mention to me that she had discovered a new ice cream place. She said it was an amazing place but considering she lived in Ohio I wasn’t going to make the drive. Besides, the had mentioned that her favorite flavor was olive oil. Olive oil? In ice cream? I was unconvinced.
Then one day I discovered this amazing book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. Flipping through the book I quickly realized this was the Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams that my friend had told me about. The book even had the recipe for that same olive oil ice cream.
The book is so much more than a cookbook; Jeni shares advice on ingredients, entrepreneurship, and her growth in the kitchen. I really love how Jeni shares her failures and how owning a restaurant is so much more than knowing how to cook. It’s very refreshing. I read the book, saw all the amazing recipes and fell in love. I wondered in my head if I wasn’t overhyping how good her ice cream really was. I had to find out for myself but there was no way I could drive to Ohio.
Enter Straub’s Markets. Jeni’s has retail partners across the country that stock the ice cream flavors Jeni created. In St. Louis, Straub’s is the closest location to me that carries her ice creams. I was already across the river at a museum so I stopped by Straub’s to see their selection. They didn’t have that infamous olive oil flavor but they did have Jeni’s Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream. As STL locals know, gooey butter cake is our thing. Did an outsider have what it took?
Jeni nailed it. The hype around Jeni’s is that her ice cream isn’t full of ice crystals like all those other ice creams. It was weird taking that first bite and not hearing or feeling that usual crunch you feel when you eat most ice creams. This really was just like eating cream. Cream that was flavored with honey, butter, and butter cake. You can tell this is quality ice cream from your first taste to your first look, with so many vanilla beans lacing the ice cream.
Gooey butter cake ice cream is one of the many recipes Jeni includes in her book. She has 53 ice creams, 7 frozen yogurts, 9 sorbets, and 13 desserts in her big book of recipes. She divides the book up into seasons so you can mimic her love of fresh, seasonal goods in your ice cream making. For spring she has a twist on classic strawberry ice cream with her version- Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream. Summer has a more dramatic twist in the Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Ice Cream. You can tell Jeni loves autumn because most of her recipes fall in this category and this is where you’ll find that olive oil ice cream, her most famous salty caramel ice cream, and even a nod to her beloved Ohio with The Buckeye State Ice Cream (Honeyed Peanut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Freckles). Winter is where Jeni keeps her top chocolate recipes so feel free to indulge.
Expect lots of posts coming up this spring and summer as I start making some recipes from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home as I attempt to fill up my freezer with some amazing treats. I’m already searching the stores for rhubarb so I can tackle one of her frozen yogurt creations.
Have you been to Jeni’s? I’d love to hear your favorite flavors so I know what to make next.Pin It
So the other day I shared my top 5 tips for freezer cooking and as promised I’m back to show you how I prepped 26 meals while I cooked dinner and cleaned the dishes. This big project focused on Step 2: Make Your Meals Speedy. Do you ever run into that dreaded feeling around 5 o’clock that you didn’t pull anything out to thaw and now dinner won’t be ready until the end of time when all you want to do is sit on the couch, drink some wine and watch some trash TV? I hope I’m not alone in those kind of days.
The best way to avoid those days is to cook your meat ahead of time. I don’t suggest cooking all meats ahead of time by any means but ground beef and chicken cuts are the perfect thing to prepare and have ready in a pinch.
Pay close attention to these supplies as you plan your freezer cooking. You’ll be cooking several meats so save money by shopping the sales (rule 5) and visiting Costco (rule 4). I also had luck at my local Aldi store since you can’t beat their celery prices most days.
- An empty dishwasher
- A clean stockpot
- A clean crockpot
- 10 pounds ground beef
- 1 stalk celery
- 9 chicken breasts
- Water, chicken broth, or a combination of the two
- Measuring cup
- Containers (I used Ziplock bags)
- Labeling tools (sharpie, address labels)
- Bonus: A kitchenaid mixer, a strainer, and a food processor
The night before your cooking day, thaw some chicken breasts. Some people will stick frozen chicken breasts straight in a crockpot and while some modern crockpots may keep your food in a safe zone, it’s safer to put thawed chicken in your crockpot so that’s what we’ll be doing for this project.
About 4 hours before dinner, place your thawed chicken breasts in a crockpot. I have a small Rival crockpot so 9 chicken breasts fit about perfectly. This will vary based on the size of your crockpot and chicken pieces. You’ll want to fill the crockpot at least halfway with liquid. I like to pour in one can of chicken broth and fill the rest with water. Set your crockpot on high and cook about 4 hours.
Let the cooking begin!
I was making a long but hands off meal in the kitchen so I prepped my meal and my bulk cooking at the same time and finished assembling while dinner was in the oven.
First, I chopped up the entire stalk of celery. Rather than waste time with a knife I just threw it in my food processor attachment and chopped it up very finely. I had two separate packs of ground beef I had gotten on sale so I chose the smaller pack (3.4 pounds) and threw it and the diced celery into the preheated stockpot on the stove. I use my Pampered Chef Mix n Chop to separate the beef, then I throw the lid on so the meat cooks faster. After about 10 minutes with some occasional stirring, all my meat was cooked and finely chopped. I poured the meat into a strainer to drain the fat and let it cool. While it was cooling I cooked the other 6.6 pounds of meat I had in the same method, sans celery. You can season these meat batches any way you want while cooking them.
While the beef was cooking and dinner was still in the oven, I had strained my chicken of all the liquids. I then threw the chicken breasts into my Kitchenaid mixer with the batter blade attached and in seconds I had perfectly shredded chicken. I could easily chop the chicken by hand but remember, this is a speed run.
My dinner was nearing completion as I rushed to finish my last pre-dinner task. I used my handy Pampered Chef Measure-All Cup and set it for 2 cups. I had quart sized Ziplock bags* set aside and I filled each bag with 2 cups (1 lb) of whatever meat I had prepped. I threw an address label on some bags and wrote out what was in the bag (1 lb ground beef + veggies) and the date. I left all the bags open and on the counter to finish cooling (since steam=water=ice crystals=freezer burn) and I served up that night’s dinner while the cooling took place.
After dinner I came in, sealed the bags after squeezing out as much air as possible, and stacked them flat in my freezer. After frozen you can store the bags upright in a mail crate in your deep freeze. One person takes care of the bags while the other loads the dishwasher and you can still fit in your wine and TV time.
*Some people might freak out at Ziplock bags but here’s the deal: since you’re working with cooked meat you can reuse the bags and they take up the least amount of space in a freezer. Just cover up your old label with your new one each time you cook and you are good to go.
My chicken batch produced 7 1/2 cups of shredded chicken. This meant I had 3 bags plus a small container set aside for a lunch. I can thaw a bag of cooked chicken on the counter in 30 minutes, under hot water in 5 minutes, or it can go straight onto the stove. I use the shredded chicken for chicken salad, chicken pot pies, chicken burritos, or many other dishes. The chicken batch created 4 meals.
My ground beef mixed with celery started off as 3.4 pounds of meat but the vegetable added stretched it to 12 cups. I would have had 7 bags of meat but I cheated and used one bag’s worth of meat in that night’s dinner. I thaw it the same way as the chicken and I use the meat+veggie combo in tomato based dishes like sloppy joes and spaghetti. The ground beef plus veggies batch created 7 meals.
My plain ground beef batch started as 6.6 pounds of meat and created 25 cups of beef. I separated these into 10-2 cup batches that I’ll use for tacos and lasagna and 5-1 cup batches when I want a meal light on meat like ziti. The ground beef batch created 15 meals.
The average cost of my beef packs ended up at $1.40 per pack since my original 10 pounds of ground beef turned into 22 meals. I don’t remember the chicken price but I’ll take a look the next time I stop by Costco.
While I don’t have 26 complete meals on hand, I prepped ingredients so now none of the above recipes will take longer than boiling noodles. That’s a huge way to shave time off your cooking and with most of your prep work done on those meals, you’ll have more time to watch Game of Thrones or How I Met Your Mother.
I had some Costco pesto in my fridge nearing the expiration date so the night before my cook day I threw it into ice cube trays and froze it. While I was bagging all my other goods I put the ice cubes into some bags and stored them back in my freezer. Now I have perfect servings of pesto for baked potatoes or pasta, I didn’t waste my goods and I followed rule 5: freeze seasonally. If you can fit all 5 freezing rules into one cook day, you know you’ve done well.Pin It
Shortly after I got married my parents passed down their aging deep freeze to me and my husband. I had a great time filling it and using it to store goods long term. Sadly, last year our freezer passed on and went to freezer heaven. It chose to go around 5 in the morning so we spent the early hours running items from a deep freezer we once loved to our tiny refrigerator’s freezer. Some goods didn’t make it while others were cooked up that day. The unexpected loss of our freezer put an end to our bulk cooking days.
Early this year a family member had to downsize her home and during her downsizing sale I managed to snag a great deal on a chest freezer. I immediately shifted some of our items down to the new freezer but since then I haven’t done any bulk cooking or baking to stock it up. I wanted to really plan out what I wanted to stock it up with and what were my favorite ways to use it.
Tip #1: Freeze Seasonally
Think about what you should be freezing this very moment. It’s spring right now so I want to be freezing food that will last our household the next 3 months. In the summer it is hot, I’m usually doing tons of projects, and I certainly don’t want to be running my oven on 90 degree days. In contrast, at winter time I’m always so cold that I want warm meals without having to get out from under my blankets to cook a huge meal. I’ve created a calendar to show what I like to freeze and when.
I’m always trying to flash freeze seasonal ingredients and quick meals but these are all specialty items I like to do each season to keep my freezer well-stocked. In the fall it’s the perfect time to roll out sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies and freeze them in fun cut out shapes. That way come winter you just need to decorate them. When you make your winter cookies like chocolate chip, make a triple batch, scoop the dough into balls and freeze so you have cookies all spring long and you don’t just eat cookies over the holidays.
Tip #2: Make Your Meals Speedy
I love the idea of freezing entire meals but they tend to take up so much space or lose a certain amount of quality when frozen. I do have exceptions that I’ll be sharing in the future but in general, I don’t freeze entire meals. I do freeze ingredients though. I love freezing pre-cooked and seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken. They come in so handy on a night I need a quick meal without going out to eat.
My other tips are to freeze breads and doughs. I buy buns and freeze them or I make a double batch of pizza dough and freeze the dough for later. I just pop the dough out of the freezer in the morning, place it in a bowl on the counter and when I come home I just roll it out.
Tip #3: Buy Quality Packaging
I try to buy top Ziplock and gladware products for freezing because I know my items will be better preserved and it increases the chances of me being able to recycle the containers. If you buy foil pans, look for ones with flat lids instead of plastic ones. The plastic lids crack easier and you could experience the dreaded freezer burn when that happens. It also makes labeling your containers easy and that’s a must. I love using blank address label stickers to label my frozen meals with the item and date. The best flat-topped foil pans I’ve found at my local stores are actually from the dollar store. 3 pans for $1 is a deal I can’t resist.
Tip #4: Invest in Costco
There are no words that accurately describe my Costco love. I love that I get quality meats there, I love that they have frozen herb cubes, I love their rotisserie chickens, I love their cheap flower bulbs, I love their dog food, I love their cheap gas, I love their smoothies. For a deep freezer they are a dream. I buy boneless skinless chicken breasts there and the cut is so perfect I don’t waste a bite. I can get steaks, pot roasts and pork roasts there for a rate much cheaper than I can at my local grocer. I buy frozen berries for smoothies and I can’t wait to try the new herb cubes my friend Wendy just told me about. Right now I already buy a huge jar of Costco’s pesto and freeze it so I can’t wait to try more herbs from them. My membership more than pays for itself with the discounts I receive and my membership allows me to get cash back.
Tip #5: Shop the Sales
Costco isn’t the only place I get deals. After the price of bacon shot up nearly $5 a pack, I realized I didn’t want bacon to be a luxury. Now I stock up on bacon, hot dogs, and butter when there’s a great sale (watch during Superbowl, BBQ and Christmas seasons respectively) and freeze all the items. I’ve never had a problem with the quality and it ensures I don’t pay the $7.50 cents my grocer tried to charge me for bacon when there wasn’t a sale.
I’ll be back later this week to show you how I prepped 26 meals while I made dinner and cleaned the dishes.Pin It