Friday, June 12, 2009
Book Tells You How to Cook One Day and Eat All Month
Several years ago, my friend, Chrissie, and I decided to try out the "cook and freeze" method of meal preparation. Our children were young and summer was approaching. We both went and bought the cookbook that I'm reviewing today. The book is Once-a-Month Cooking: A Time-saving, Budget-Stretching Plan to Prepare Delicious Meals by MiMi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. It was published by Focus on the Family Publishing in 1992, but earlier versions were entitled Freeze and Save in 1982 and Dinner's Ready in 1984. The ISBN is 1-56179-041-9.
As Chrissie and I first experimented with this concept, I made two weeks worth of meals to put in my freezer, but over the phone, I learned that Chrissie had gone "whole hog" and made a month's worth of meals in one day. Wow! was her husband, Mark, surprised when he came in from playing golf and she said, "take your pick for tonight's dinner and pointed toward the counter tops which were covered with food to be frozen. She then realized that she didn't have enough freezer space to accommodate this much food and panic set in. She called neighbors asking to use freezer space, and stowed one week's worth in the fridge to be used immediately (for that week). She also realized that she didn't have enough freezer containers. Oops!
These funny experiences were just a few bumps along the road to success, though, because we both agreed that the month went much easier knowing that dinner was thawed each morning, and with a few minor preparations, was ready for that evening. We also decided, after our initial test runs, that maybe you should start by making just a couple of week's worth of meals ahead.
There are tips in the book that will save you from our learning curve. In hind sight, our problem was skipping the tips and moving directly to the recipes. I highly recommend this book if you need to save time and money and/or you have a hectic dinner hour. Cooking with one child in the high chair and one at your feet is a tough way to get dinner on the table; been there, done that! Give this book a look.
P. 59 Heavenly Chicken
One 10-oz. pkg. frozen, chopped spinach
1/2 C sliced green onions
2 TBSP margarine
2 TBSP flour
1 C milk
1 C soda cracker crumbs
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
8 boneless chicken breast halves, skinned, about 3 3/4 lbs.
1 C cooked, cubed ham
In small saucepan, cook spinach according to directions; drain well. In a medium saucepan, make white sauce; saute' onions in margarine over low heat until tender. Stir in flour, adding milk all at once. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until bubbly. Boil and stir one minute more until smooth and thickened.
Combine cracker crumbs and cheese. Dip chicken breast halves in crumb mixture to coat lightly. Arrange pieces in a 13'x9'x2' baking dish. Seal leftover crumb mixture in a 1 qt. bag. Stir spinach and ham into white sauce; spoon sauce over chicken breasts. Allow to cool and cover baking dish w/ foil, attaching bag of crumb mixture to side of dish.
To prepare for serving, thaw dish and bake covered in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 60-75 min. Uncover, and sprinkle top w/ crumbs. Bake 10 min. more. Makes 8 servings.
Summary of processes:
Slice 1/2 C green onions crush 1 C cracker crumbs; cut 1 C ham into cubes
Freeze in: 13x9x2 baking dish; 1 qt. bag
Serve with: Pineapple chunks and Mandarin oranges sprinkled w/ coconut, cranberry tea (page 139)
Note: This is practically a meal in one dish.
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