Freezer Food

Juggling a career and a family is challenging!

Today, to give me an edge, I did a little freezer cooking. Evan and Abby were out, so I made 100+ meatballs, ratatouille, and short rib crock-pot kits for later. Not only do you feel pretty good about yourself, you save $$$ big time! Buy in bulk, eat out less, control portion size

2 lbs sausage (not in casing)
5 lbs ground beef or turkey
4 eggs
1 cup grated parm
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 large onion minced
2 cups tomato sauce
Garlic to taste
Favorite herbs (I like rosemary, salt-free steak seasoning, and red pepper flake)

You gotta mix ’em by hand! There really is no better way to distribute all the ingredients and ensure well-balanced meatballs.

I measure mine with a tablespoon so they are just bite-sized.

They bake on a rack on a cookie sheet for about 20 minutes at 425F.

*no breadcrumbs today…I left them off the grocery list and that was that! The mozzarella helps to hold them together, but you do need to be gentle when pulling them off the baking rack.

Balsamic Beef Short Ribs

This is a crock pot kit. There is a little assembly work on this end, but when you’re ready to cook, you just dump it all in!

4 beef short ribs
1 large onion
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
4 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups beef broth

Start by browning the short ribs on all sides in a little olive oil. Remove them from the pan.

In the same pan, sauté the onions. Add water as needed to de-glaze all that yummy beef fond. Add the mushies and tomatoes and cook through.

Allow all ingredients to cool thoroughly before tossing them into a freezer bag.

Dump the bag of frozen veggies and meat into the crock pot.

Add the balsamic and beef broth.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until tender.

You can thicken the sauce with a tsp of cornstarch dissolved in water. Not necessary, IMHO.

Crock pot beef in a kit
Ready for you to make it!


Training Day

Today is our fourth day back to school.  We have in-service for two weeks before the kiddos arrive.  The days are loooong and tedious.  At the end of the day, the last thing I’m thinking about is dinner.  This is a perfect week to try out some freezer meals.

Cranberry Chicken

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 can of jellied cranberry sauce

1 package of onion soup mix

1/2 bottle of Catalina dressing

1 onion, roughly chopped

3-4 potatoes, roughly chopped 


I put the first four ingredients in a zipper bag and toss it in the freezer.  When I’m ready to make dinner, I just dump the frozen mixture into the crock pot with the onion. After about 6-8 hours on low, I add the potatoes and a little water.  I let it go for about another 30-60 minutes on high and dinner’s ready!


Dinner from the freezer

After all work and no play

A warm meal feels good,

On a long and busy day.



Coffee Meringue Ice-Cream Cake

Today I tackled what I would consider a labor-intensive, technical dish: the coffee meringue ice-cream cake from this month’s Martha Stewart Living.

This is just an overview. The full recipe can be found here.

You start by making the meringue over a double boiler.


Once the egg whites and sugar are combined and warm, you add the cream of tartar and salt. Then you whip until stiff peaks form and the mixture is cooled.


Then you divide the mixture and make two discs on parchment.



The recipe called for coffee extract, which I was unable to find at my local grocery (and I wasn’t in the mood to fight gourmet market traffic). I substituted extremely strong coffee.


The meringues bake at 200 degrees for what seems like four days, or until crisp through. It took nearly six hours.


The ice-cream filling is made with coffee ice-cream, toasted almonds, and freshly ground coffee beans.




It tasted great and looked beautiful.


Homemade meringue

Coffee ice-cream cake

Easy to eat

But challenging to make!

Book ’em

Today I put in some serious baby book hours. Up until recently, Abby just had a “baby pile of papers” instead of a baby book.

Here are some of the things I included:

-first solid foods
-first holidays
-newspaper from her birthday
-sonogram print-outs
-arriving home

I ordered a ton of shutterfly pictures and sorted them by event. I love shutterfly for their photo books, easy prints, and super-handy iPhone app.

I’m piecing together

Our Abby’s first year.

Some of the memories

Brought me a tear.

I love that I’m building

Her own special tale.

I can’t wait to read her

The Story of Abigail

Books for Babies, but not a Baby Book


74 Calories Per Serving

This last week, Abigail and I stayed with my parents and my sister. I went to a teacher workshop while Tia Sassy and Mémé looked after Abigail.

It was a very busy, exhausting week, but it was also a lot of fun. After the week was over, Evan drove down and spent the weekend with us. Then the three of us drove back together.

Saturday was just one of those perfect days. We decided to go to the zoo. In order to avoid the heat and the possible afternoon thunderstorm, we planned to be leaving by 10:00am. Just as we started to get dressed, my mom received a message from the seafood market that blue crabs were in! While we all got dressed and ready, Evan and Dad drove across town to pick up 4 DOZEN crabs.

We stayed at the zoo for about two hours. It was hot, and Abby had done extremely well, but she was ready to go home. She loved the fish and the bush dogs. Evan liked what he called the “Cornish game frog.” Later on, my sister realized her last trip to this (or any) zoo was in 1997. Not only have I been back since then, but I have visited seven other zoos/aquariums in that time. I guess I like the zoo!

Back to the crabs…a 3-ounce portion only has 74 calories.

1. Mix one part water and one part vinegar in the bottom of a LARGE pot with a steaming rack

2. Layer crabs and seasoning mixture (Dad uses Old Bay, Louisiana shrimp boil, cayenne, red pepper flake, salt, a few others I can’t name if I want my inheritance.)

3. Steam until the crabs turn from blue to red

4. Pick ’em and eat ’em

The crabs are best with a cold beverage. We had beer and a 7-Down cocktail. If you have a better name, please comment!

-1/3 cup fresh lemon and lime juice
-1 cup white sugar
-1 cup vodka
-1 cup lemoncello
-Club soda

Make a simple syrup with the sugar and juice. Use the zest, if you like.

Combine the syrup with the vodka and lemoncello.

Pour 1-3 oz of mixture into a glass of ice and club soda.

Feeling crabby?



The “crab-termath”


Just seventy-four calories

In a portion of blue crab

Sadly, I had twenty servings

And I don’t really feel that bad


Of course, another party post!

This weekend, we threw a BaBy-Q/library shower for some friends of ours who are expecting baby #2. We had a blast putting together a fun, low-key, celebration for 25 guests. We grilled burgers and hotdogs, just kept it simple and All-American.

A couple great ideas from the party:

-make your own sundae bar with pre-scooped ice cream in cupcake wrappers

-pennant banner from book pages

-picnic blanket in the yard as a “kids’ table”

-ultra-awesome space-themed refinished bookshelf (It was a steal at a resale shop, and with a little TLC, I was jealous of my own gift!)


Little blue number two

A baby-q to welcome you!

Books galore for your bookcase

Can’t wait to meet you, baby cakes!

Happy Birthday Day

You know we love a good party! This time we had two birthdays to celebrate: America and my brother’s girlfriend.

In honor of America, we continued the 15-year tradition of watching the City of Schertz parade. My dad always sets up camp on the same corner (Schertz Parkway and Main Street). Our corner is getting a little too small for our growing family. Maybe we need double-decker folding chairs? Anyhow, the parade was a blast. Abigail stole the show; we heard eight different people IN the parade comment on how adorable she was in her little tutu and giant bow.

After the parade, we went back to my parents’ house for a birthday BBQ in honor of Miss S. Mom made cupcakes with her signature frosting and a yummy mascarpone filling.

Creamy Mascarpone Filling (great as frosting too, must be refrigerated)
-2 parts mascarpone
-2 parts heavy whipping cream
-1 part powdered sugar
(I just remember “a cup, a cup, a half a cup”)
put it all in the mixer and beat it on medium-low speed until it forms stiff peaks

The other dish we all devoured was my mother-in-law’s famous dip. This dip is great on tortilla chips, but it’s also yummy on grilled chicken, fish, and especially, fajitas!

Heidi’s Dip
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 avocados, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 can yellow corn, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Garlic salt

Dice the ingredients so they are all about the size of a bean/corn kernel.
Combine first six ingredients in a shallow dish (better for dipping).
To dress: go twice around the dish with drizzled olive oil, once around with drizzled balsamic.
Season to taste with garlic salt and pepper; remember that chips are salty too.

There are no food pics because everything was so good! We remembered about blogging AFTER we ate it all.

Here’s a look at the star of the Schertz Jubilee Parade, Abigail!


Another favorite tradition of mine is PBS Capitol Fourth. I’ve actually been twice and hope to take Abigail many times. I didn’t get to watch, as we were traveling back home during both broadcasts. I caught a little bit on the radio and my mom DVRed it for me, so no spoilers! The cool parts of driving back to Pflugerville that evening were the SIX municipal firework shows we saw as we drove up IH-35. Not quite Washington Monument and National Symphony Orchestra, but they were all fun in their own ways.

Happy birthday to you

You live in a zoo

Your life is so crazy

Oh wait, that’s me