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Once A Month Cooking Whether you cook for a month or just double your dinners, this is the place to share ideas.

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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 02-08-2007, 09:02 AM
mindybean's Avatar
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We met for our third entree exchange today. It's so nice to sit and have coffee & goodies and get to talk to my neighbors for a couple of hours. It's almost like the food is a bonus.

I made meatloaf this month. I bought almost 14 lbs of ground beef at Costco and with it I made 6 meatloafs (5 for the exchange) one batch of meatballs, and I browned 2 lbs for future meals.

I received -
a whole baked chicken w/ stuffing
pork stir-fry (w/ pork, rice, a bag of stir-fry veggies, sauce, and fortune cookies)
pizza casserole
pizza rolls
white chili

With the food I prepared and froze for myself and the food I received at the exchange I have several meals ready for this month. I love this exchange!

The only thing from last month that I didn't try was the beef stew. It had a lot of veggies in it (including corn which my dh refuses to eat) so I new I'd be the only one in my family to eat it. I sent it home with my Mom for her and Dad. She said it was okay, but everything was a little mushy. I didn't try any of it, but it's the only meal so far that hasn't been well-received. Everything I've had from the exchange has been delicious.

Our next exchange is March 8th. We didn't assign any meat-types this time. We're free to bring anything we want. Now I need to go dig through some more recipes, check the sale ads, and plan my next cooking adventure.
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Mindy

Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens...Chinese Fortune Cookie
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  #12 (permalink)  
Old 03-06-2007, 12:00 PM
mindybean's Avatar
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Location: Indiana
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Wow! It's been another month again already. We're meeting this Thursday for our 4th exchange. I still have the stir fry, the white chili, and half of the pizza pockets left from last month. The whole chicken had so much meat on it that after eating chicken & stuffing for 2 meals I made a large batch of chicken & noodles w/ the leftovers.

This morning I spent 3 hours making my entrees for this month. I made Beef Penne Pasta Casserole. I found a recipe on a website, but it called for wine which I didn't have, & boullion which I thought was kind of weird. Of course, I changed the recipe around but I haven't tried it yet.

Beef Penne Pasta Casserole (my version)
1 lb penne pasta (prepared according to package directions)
1/2 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
2 1/3 c water
1 t crushed garlic
1/2 T italian seasoning
salt to taste
2 c shredded monterey jack cheese

1. Cook ground beef & onions in a large pan, drain
2. For sauce, add to browned ground beef - water, tomato paste, garlic, italian seasoning, pinch of salt - heat on low for 15 minutes.
3. Add cooked pasta to sauce, mix together.
4. Layer in 9X13 pan - 1/2 pasta/sauce mixture, 1 c cheese, remaining pasta/sauce, top w/ remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes.

For Freeze Ahead Meal:
Prepare as above; do not bake. Cover; freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350; bake for 45-55 minutes or until heated through & cheese is melted. Season w/ salt.

I'm planning to make mine next week, I hope it's good. I can't wait to see what I get at the entree exchange!

One of the ladies got a full time job so she's no longer doing the exchange. We're still making all the dishes this time and we're giving the extras to some of our neighbors. One is going to have her 4th baby this Friday - her oldest will be 5 on March 17th. Another neighbor is fairly young (I think 30's),her dh is in a nursing home & she has 2 teenagers & she's going to school. So this time we're sharing the extras but I'm not sure what we'll do next month if there are still only 5 of us.
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Mindy

Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens...Chinese Fortune Cookie

Last edited by mindybean; 03-06-2007 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 03-06-2007, 12:30 PM
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Location: Ohio
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Mindy, the Penna Pasta sounds good. It would be fun and such a help to be in an exchange. I'm surprised the one family dropped out I would think now more than ever the Mom would need some meals in the freezer to pop into the oven.

Roberta
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Old 03-08-2007, 08:45 AM
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Roberta, I was thinking the same thing. I don't know if she thought we wouldn't want her in the exchange because she won't be able to attend the actual swap. None of us would have cared. Another of my neighbors wants to join either next month or in May. She's having her 4th baby tomorrow so I'm not sure she'll be up to it in time for next month. I was able to take 3 meals to her today. She was so excited. I hope she joins, I didn't really know the other ladies when I started but they're all nice. My neighbor who might join is one of my friends so it would be great for her to join the group. She's worried because she doesn't cook as much so she doesn't have many recipes. I told her that she can just look online or in cookbooks for easy recipes and she'll be fine. I'll even help her if she needs it.

Today we had to miss most of the exchange. DD2 woke up w/ a slight fever (99.8) so I didn't want to infect everyone. We went over at the end just for the actual exchange. I missed having coffee & conversation w/ the gals.

I received:
Shepherd's Pie
Cheesy Chicken Potato Casserole
Cheddar Chowder (not sure what that one is & no recipe was provided)
Breakfast Egg Bake

We've never done breakfast foods before but we didn't assign specific categories this month. A breakfast dish occassionally will be okay but dinner entrees are the most needed.

Not gettng a recipe for some of the dishes is disappointing. Most of these meals are wonderful and I want to add them to my binder of recipes. I even sent an email reminder to everyone to bring their recipes and if they didn't provide a recipe last month I asked them to bring that also. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

The next exchange is April 19th at my house. Now I need to get busy decluttering the play room so the kids can play in there. I'll also need to deep clean my downstairs. Fun, fun!

I have a well stocked freezer right now. I still have 2 1/2 entrees from last month & I have some meatballs, browned ground beef, & chili that I froze for my family. Now I have no excuses for not making dinner every night.

What will I make for next month??? I'd better get out the cookbooks & surf the web so I can come up w/ some ideas.
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Mindy

Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens...Chinese Fortune Cookie
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Old 04-26-2007, 10:18 AM
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Mindy
How is the exchange going now that you have a few months under your belt?

Roberta
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Old 05-13-2007, 05:02 PM
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We're still enjoying the exchange. We meet again this Thursday. I'm not sure what I'm making this time. I think I'm going to take the summer off. We'll hopefully be camping a lot this summer and I don't want to feel like I'm letting someone down by missing an exchange if we're not home. A couple of the ladies want to take a break for the summer and some want to continue. I guess we'll find out what we're doing this Thursday.
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Mindy

Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens...Chinese Fortune Cookie
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Old 07-05-2007, 06:52 AM
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Well, we had our last meeting in May. Most of us are taking the summer off, a couple of ladies might continue w/ the exchange between themselves during the summer. I was getting a little disappointed. It seemed like more and more ladies were forgetting to bring the recipes for the dishes they brought. And after the first couple of meetings we stopped assigning meat types and we were getting some duplicates. It wasn't a big deal, but it wasn't as organized as in the beginning. Since I wasn't really friends with any of the ladies before the exchange began I didn't want to say anything that might ruffle feathers.

We've had such a busy summer already. I feel like I'm always doing something. I keep planning to do a freezer cooking session just for my family but so far it hasn't happened. I need to just plan it and do it. I never had any trouble getting my dishes prepared for the exchange because there was a set date that they had to be done by. I need to make the same commitment to my family as I did to the others and pick a date and cook away. I miss having food in the freezer on those crazy days...and most days are crazy days anymore!
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Mindy

Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens...Chinese Fortune Cookie
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  #18 (permalink)  
Old 07-05-2007, 07:53 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Ohio
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I know I really liked having meatloaf mix in the freezer. I mixed up 4 loafs when I did it then froze 3 in plastic bags just had to thaw it out and bake in a pan. I just used the last one this week so will do that again.

I've also found it very helpful to have hamburger patties in the freezer instead of just a solid chunk of hamburger.

When I make lasagna it is just as easy to double the recipe and freeze the second one in 2 single meal size pans 8x8 instead of the normal 9x13 pan.

Roberta
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