Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pictureless Food Post

Alright, so I'm back at it making tons of food for tons of people. 
And that's how you know I've settled back into life. 

For example between yesterday and October 16th (that's about two weeks of time), I will feed (or have fed)

  • Lifegroup x3 (14-17 people a time)
  • The Mitchell family x2 (11 people a time) [The Mitchell's are out of town so ppl are helping feed their kids]
  • Thanksgiving Dinner x1 (15 people)

That adds up to a lot of food! And since I feed LG every week it also involves creativity. And because I only wanted to grocery shop once in each two week period it involved a lot of planning!

Now you should also know, I've been afraid to use my Crock Pot. I've had one since we got married but have never used it. I know, I know, I hear they are amazing but I was chicken. 

Well, no more. 

I had decided I wanted to make Mexican Pie next week for the Mitchell's and for LG which would mean cooking up a whole bunch of ground beef. Instead of freezing it for the week then defrosting it and cooking it, I thought it would be easiest to cook it first then thaw it to use in the meal. I'd heard here about cooking ground beef in the Crock Pot and decided to try that out. So after grocery shopping I threw the ground beef into the pot to cook while I sorted the rest of my groceries. 

Keeping in mind this was my first time using my slow cooker and there was an accidental hour where I left it on "keep warm" instead of "hot", it was cooked under 3 hours and easy to remove, drain and freeze. All I need to do is thaw it, add taco seasoning and voila!

Since this was a success I decided to use the Crock Pot to cook the Pork Tenderloin I'd bought for LG this week. Since I have been sick this week and still working, I decided anything that would help me cook something ahead would be a win. I had Paul put the marinated pork into the pot with a half cup of Yoshida Marinade and a half cup of water. Now I probably cooked too much at once, about 3 pounds, but it still worked! Cooked in 5 hours.  Normally I marinade tenderloin in Yoshida sauce and bake it in the oven - it's always tasty, though a bit drier than I'd like. This came out so so so tender. Cooked through but amazingly tender. I am now converted. I will never again cook pork in the oven if I have the time to slow cook it. 

Last night I learned another valuable lesson - sometimes it's hard to judge how much meat you'll need. Truth. I'd bought a pork tenderloin at Costco for $15 but didn't know if it would feed all 14 of us. I got nervous and added another half of a tenderloin I had in my freezer. Well, I definitely could have used just the tenderloin from Costco, since I have a huge amount of the amazing meat leftover. 

Also this lesson applies to all food. 
The menu for last night was:
  • Garlic sauteed Green Beans
  • Johnny's Garlic Spread seasoned Roasted Asparagus
  • Rice (6 cups of dried rice)
  • Pesto Pasta
  • Yoshida Pork
  • Garlic Bread (3 loaves)

We still have enough Pork to feed 6 people, enough veggies to feed 4 people, enough rice to feed 10 people and enough bread to feed 4 people. When will I learn?

Oh well, I'd rather have too much and then get leftovers for the week than not have enough and feel sad for those at LG who don't get to eat. 

And now for a Baking half win, half fail. 

I'd forgotten to get a dessert volunteer (and drats I just realize I forgot again for next week) and our group definitely has a sweet tooth. I remembered I had brownie mix in the pantry, but feared making plain brownies because Christina made brownies last week for LG that were to die for. Seriously, everyone was raving about them and I didn't want to compete. Then I remembered that I had half a container of pumpkin puree in my fridge. Then I realized it was fall and people LOVE pumpkin treats in the fall and that I'd recently seen this recipe. Genius. 

So I decided I'd follow this recipe, but since I only had half a container of pumpkin, and not a full can, I thought I should keep the regular wet ingredients from the brownie mix, and simply add the pumpkin as well. Since the blog writer mentioned that the pumpkin brownies tasted a bit different, I decided to add chocolate chunks into the mix to give it more brownie flavor. 

My brownies looked and smelt great. And they tasted good.
They felt weird though. Like chewy...chewy like spongey, not like chewy brownies. 
Some people liked them, some people loved them, some people were indifferent and some people did not like them. I'm thankful for John and Dustin who adored them and said they were the best brownies ever, that because of the pumpkin they were healthy (not really) but also tasty. 

So note to self, brownies don't need that many wet ingredients. Follow recipes!
And another note to self; adding chocolate chips or chunks is always a good idea! Do this more!

Next up in the world of bulk cooking...

Thanksgiving Dinner for 15 ppl / Menu:
  • Turkey ($13 at Walmart! - Courtesy of my Dad - though I'll cook it)
  • Ham (Courtesy of my Dad again - though again I'll cook it)
  • Mashed Potatoes (Dad's famous!)
  • Green Bean Casserole (Classic Favorite)
  • Roasted Veggies (Carrots, Zucchini, Peppers, and Mushrooms)
  • Cauliflower and Broccoli (w. Cheese Sauce)
  • Garlic Cheddar Buns
  • Apple Blondies
  • Pumpkin Cake (Courtesy of Jodi H!)

Mitchell's (12 ppl) & Lifegroup (14-17 ppl) October 8th/9th:
  • Mexican Pie - I will be making a double batch of this during the Holiday Monday to serve at both places. I think I will make two tinfoil containers full for each meal. 
  • Chips w. homemade Guacamole and Salsa

Mitchell's (12 ppl) & Lifegroup (14-17 ppl) October 15th/16th:
  • Meatball Casserole w. roasted vegetables added to trick the kids and our LG guys into eating veggies :)
  • Salad & Garlic bread

After that for LG I have some exciting meals planned including: Taco Bar, Zucchini & Noodle Lasagna,  Chicken Toquitoes, Unstuffed Shells, Pumpkin Soup w. Beer Bread, and many other tasty meals. I planned out every week until Christmas because in October I'm heading down to the states for some grocery shopping and wanted to be able to get most of my non-perishable ingredients there and some of the cheeses and meats to cut costs. 

Tonight we will feast on leftovers, tomorrow we will feast on leftovers and most likely Friday, we will feast on leftovers. And we won't mind one bit. Because with Saturday comes a day of cooking and a turkey dinner. Mmmmm.

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