Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Food: Making Meals for a New Mom (and Freezer Meals for Me!)

Babies!! They are everywhere! I kid you not, in the past month, I have had 7 (yes, seven) friends have a baby.  And for those who know me personally, no, I was not part of this baby boom. But it sure gave me the opportunity to get my baby fix...and to serve the mamas who are either brand new moms or moms to a brand new baby. I love (love, love, love, love) to be able to help out new moms as they make that transition from hospital to home. I remember what it was like to get visitors in the hospital, but when I got home, there was a bit of loneliness. Once Joe went back to work, I was home, by myself (and now, looking back, suffering postpartum depression) with my little one(s). So getting visitors was actually kind of nice. So I want to be able to do that for new moms. What better way than to bring some yummy goodness for the family to enjoy for at least the first week home?!

I didn't want to bring the traditional lasagna over. I had just read a blog about a new mom who was grateful for the food-gifts, but had a freezer stocked full of lasagna. So, lasagna was off my list...sort of. I researched recipes that would be easy to freeze. Also, I wanted something that, in the most part, could be removed from the freezer by single servings. When it's just mom at home, there's no point in heating up an entire casserole. I found a lot of helpful recipes. So I collected all my ingredients, strapped on my apron, and spent an exhausting, but rewarding, 6 hours cooking in my kitchen. It was totally worth it! And since I doubled the ingredients, I was able to also finally able to do some of that freezer cooking that's on my New Year's Resolution list. Below I am going to show the picture of what I made, give a brief explanation when necessary, and give you the website where I found the recipe.

1. BBQ: I didn't really need a website for this one. I just got about 2 pound of pork, a bottle of bbq sauce, and my trusty crockpot. Making bbq in my crockpot is the norm in my house. Anytime I make a roast (whether beef, pork, or chicken), I normally make bbq out of what's left. And because I made so much, I was able to split what I made in half to give to my friend and the other half went in my freezer.

2. French Bread Rolls: What better thing to go with bbq than rolls? You can eat them separate or make a sandwich. And since I love to make bread, making bread once a week is part of my NYR, and my french bread rolls are a house favorite, these were a perfect choice. YUM!

3. Muffin Pan Chicken Pot Pies: I have not been a fan of chicken pot pie. I just don't like bread mixed in with my food. BUT, the idea of using  my large muffin pan to make meal-sized servings was appealing to me. And most people like CPP, right? So I figured I would give it a shot. And they turned out great! I had enough to make for my friend and still had enough left over for my hubby to take to work....and then I braved the recipe again last night to make for my family. They LOVED it! A side note if you plan on making these: The recipe calls for you to make your own crust. The first time I made this (for my friend), the crust turned out great. The second time, it was too flaky. The next time I'm going to try to make it, I'm going to use the Pillsbury ready-made pie crust that you roll out (the same stuff I use when I make pop tarts). If you are nervous about making your own pie crust, first, give it a try. If it doesn't work, then try the pre-made stuff.

4. Lasagna Cups: Here was another opportunity to use my muffin pans. For this recipe, I used the regular-sized muffin pans (because it makes good serving sizes AND my large muffin pan was being used for the chicken pot pies). This made a TON of little individual servings. This recipe I started the night before with the bbq. I used a smaller crockpot, dumped in my lean, ground beef, set it on low, and let it brown my meat overnight. In the morning, I drained the fat, and prepped the rest of the ingredients. What I really like about this recipe is that it used wonton wrappers instead of pasta noodles. So cool! Anyway, this turned out great. I wrapped each one individually to be pulled out for evenings when my husband has to work late, and I don't want to make an entire meal for me and 3 kids who don't normally eat a lot anyway. I pulled them out of the freezer, opened up (but did not remove) the foil, and put them in my toaster oven at 350 until the cheese started bubbling again (maybe 15 minutes). These are great and would also work great at parties as well.

So for some reason I didn't take pictures of what was left. Sorry! If I make it again (which I am SURE I will do), I will upload a photo. :) 

5. Summer Porridge (or cold oatmeal) Yum. Seriously yum. The website has about 6 different recipes for summer porridge (really, all have the same base, but what you ADD to it varies). I made the Maple Blueberry and the Vanilla Raspberry. I doubled the recipe so my family could have some as well. I really wanted to try this. AND I really think you could freeze this as well. I was taken back by the first taste of mine. My head was saying, "Oatmeal should be hot" but my tongue was saying, "This porridge is cold!...but lovely." It tastes a lot like those yogurt parfaits. I wanted to provide some breakfast or "lighter" snacks for my new mom friend, so this worked great!

6. Corn and Potato Chowder. The recipe calls for the frozen corn to be "roasted". Uh...Wal-Mart didn't have "roasted", so I just added some Mrs. Dash to the corn. This was decently easy to make (and if I wasn't making 6 other things at the same time, I don't think it would have taken so long). Once this soup cools, it's great to freeze and then reheat later. We are quickly approaching warmer weather (yesterday was a record 93 degrees!! In April!) so I didn't want to do too many soups, but I figured one would be okay.

7. Homemade Biscuits Like Grandma Made: These I prepped but did not cook. If you read my post on them, they make great individual biscuits. I thought these biscuits would go well with the chowder. So they were a natural choice for me to provide for my friend. Here's a picture of what I've done in the past:

8. Pre-Made Pancakes. Wal-Mart has these bags in the frozen food section. When I was still teaching and my boys were itty bitty, I found these little treasures. They come 3-in-a-pack and take about 45 seconds to heat up. Before I started making my own pre-made pancakes, these were a life saver. They work great on Sunday mornings. We are rushing to get out the door for church, and the kids normally eat something that is filling but can be eaten in the car. These fit that bill. If you are looking for a recipe to make your own pre-made pancakes, I use this recipe at least once a week. My addition is about 2 tsp of vanilla to the batter. I normally make about 20 small pancakes (about 4 inches). Whatever is leftover, I freeze for those mornings we need a quick breakfast or I just don't feel like cooking.

So it took me about 6 straight hours of cooking. I studied the recipes the night before and planned which course of action I should take. It was worth every second. I was able to serve my friend and her family, and I was able to finally get my freezer cooking done. It would also be a good idea to make one or two of these and freeze so when a friend, family member, or someone in your church or community gets sick, has a baby, or is just in need of being served, you can pull one of these out, get a nice little cooler bag and spend some time loving on your neighbor.

And just so you can see why I love doing this, here is the joy I get in helping new moms:

Mmm...See how I'm getting my baby fix? Love holding those little ones! 

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