Monday, September 10, 2012

Bread Goof

Today I decided to bust out the ole bread machine to whip up a french bread loaf to eat with our leftover stew. Unfortunately, prego brain got the best of me. I used 1/2 of the recipe for an Italian herb loaf before I realized that I was looking at the wrong recipe. There is a little more water and sugar to the Italian loaf recipe, in addition to oil (which is not at ALL in the french recipe.) I decided to say, "the hell with it" and see what comes out at the end.

The unfortunate thing is that if this bread turns out to be mind blowing, it's probably not reproducible. Oh well.

On a side note, tomorrow is 39 weeks pregnant. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and if she tells me (again) that I have not made any progress I am going to be quite upset. I have been reading about foods that people swear by to induce labor. Are there any that have been successful for you or someone you know?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meal Prep for Baby and Other Considerations

Nesting is in full gear now that I am 38 weeks pregnant. At my last appointment, I was 70% effaced, which means I think little man will be pleasantly punctual, if not a little early bird. With that in mind, the 2 lasagnas and the 20 breakfast burritos I made a few weeks back in prep just don't seem like enough to get us through those first few weeks of caring for a newborn, so I decided to shop a little ($100 later at the grocer) and prep a few more meals.

Since Praha (Czech) Stew is such a staple around here, I decided to go ahead and make a huge batch of that. Also, I saw some individual sized tins for pot pies. So, I decided to make both of those today.

Yes, I know those pots are WAAAY too full.
Normally, I would scold myself for this, but today I'm pulling the pregnancy card.

Now if you don't recall, stew has a very critical right and wrong way to be prepped in this household, lest we have a repeat of the "winter of our discontent." So, I could have sworn I had the recipe posted up here for you guys, but I cannot find it! Just understand that it is a beef stew, with potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, and Tony's.

Also, here is the Chicken Pot Pie Recipe. I just made a bigger batch and doled it out into the little tins. Thankfully, there was enough left over to make a small batch for tonight's dinner. That makes this a double win. Here's the low down. Cook the recipe double or triple until you have as much as you need for your prep. I made 6 indiviudal sizes and one family size. Today, I used about 4 chicken breasts, 2 small bags of frozen mixed veggies, one large can of cream of chicken soup, 3/4 of that can of water, spices, and about 1/2 lb of cheddar.

Once all that was cooked together, I used a ladle to fill the tins and allowed them to cool a bit as to not bake the thawed puff pastry that was going on top. Using a small prep bowl that was about the size of the tin, I cut a rough circle of thawed puff pastry for each tin. No Polly Perfects here.

Two puff pastry sheets got me 6 tins and enough to cover tonight's small
Corningware sized container. There was about four small tops per sheet.

Pre and post puff pastry topper. Not perfect but good enough.
Make sure to cut a vent in the top to prevent overflow.
To prevent freezer burn, I covered these little pies with foil THEN their plastic lid. You can write the cooking directions or meal descriptions on the foil. Basically, the pie needs to defrost for about 40 minutes. This is all because of the puff pastry. If you try to cook it frozen, the insides will be fine, but the pastry will be flat and not as delicious.

Digression: Puff Pastry is made up of about 9 million layers of butter and dough. To truly fluff up, those butter layers have to be at room temperature before baking. Also, this is not a dough that likes a lot of manipulation. Do your best to treat it gently and then don't fuss with it. A lot of compression and crimping will compact the butter layers, preventing the puff. Consider yourself warned.

"Thaw 40 minutes and bake 400* for approximately 20 minutes."
An important thing to remember: Remove that foil before baking. It is simply there for freezer burn protection. I don't know if we will be eating these this weekend or in 2 weeks, so I wanted the extra level of freezer burn protection. God knows what will turn out if you bake it with the foil on. Again, you have been warned.

As far as the "other considerations" mentioned in the title... One should really consider how much freezer space is available before prepping and purchasing too many things. Our new house came with a french style freezer that is narrow as hell. Luckily, I was able to cram all these in there after a good rearranging. However, there have been incidences of frozen pizzas that have to be cooked immediately due their diameter being wider than the shelves. I just had a panic attack wondering how I'm going to containers of stew that is still cooking in there. Oh well, live and learn.