The Freezer is my Best Friend Part 2: More Easy Ground Beef Recipes

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Since we decided to sell our house in June, my menu planning has been non-existent. It’s funny that I wrote about getting my groove back, only to have it all go haywire again.

Now that we are in the new house, we are not quite settled in. Actually, we don’t even have a pantry or space in our new small kitchen for food. This is our current pantry… Gasp! It’s terrible. I.DO.NOT.LIKE.IT. Actually, it’s not even a pantry- yet!

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I love organization so this has been driving me crazy. The new pantry we ordered to extend our kitchen cabinets cannot ARRIVE FAST ENOUGH. (Floor to ceiling double pantry cabinets that will match the kitchen cabinets!) Until then, I remain feeling unsettled. Out of sorts.

Thank goodness for my freezer. It really is my best friend. It has saved me almost everyday.

I had a brilliant little spurt a few weeks ago where I found great deals on ground chuck (4 pounds!), flank steaks, and chicken. I had a mini-freezer cooking frenzy. I marinated a few chicken breasts and froze them. We marinated a few flank steaks and froze them. We browned and seasoned all four pounds of ground chuck and portioned them into eleven ziplocs.

Almost everyday between 4-5pm, I realize I don’t have a thing planned for dinner. Why does this sneak up on me EVERY SINGLE DAY lately? The ground chuck is by far the most versatile for last minute meals. (In my opinion)

Besides spaghetti, here’s what we’ve had for dinner lately, thrown together at the very last minute.

Chili:
At around 5 pm last week, I googled “Easy Chili.” This was the first recipe I read, and just went with it. Click here to see the recipe. I did omit the beans and added more than a pinch of the chili powder and other seasonings. It was quite good. I wouldn’t say it was the best chili ever, but I’ll make it again. I also made Jiffy cornbread mini-loaves. I have a little mini meatloaf pan and like to use that for our cornbread. To make the cornbread dairy free and egg free, I used almond milk and Ener-G Egg Replacer. It turned out to be a great (last minute!) meal. And it fed us for a few days. Score!

Here’s a pic of the chili (with safe crackers and not the cornbread.)

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Picadillo:

You will need to first make sofrito.

Ingredients:
1 lb or so of ground beef, chuck, round (whatever!)
Green pepper (Optional, I didn’t use it last time bc I didn’t have it.)
2-3 cubes of Sofrito (I freeze mine in ice cube trays. 1 cube=approx 1 ounce)
Either 3 TBS tomato paste OR 5-6 oz tomato sauce
1/2 to 1 cup of water
Lots of oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Adobo seasoning (Go light handed on this one!!)
2 tsp olive juice
As many or as little of green Spanish olives as you like (I use a lot!!)

Note: This is one of those family recipes that really don’t have measurements. The measurements are approximate and my mom and I have worked together to create these measurements as a guideline because I need measurements! However, this is a taste and add more if needed recipe.

Directions:
1. Dump frozen pre-cooked ground beef into a heated pan. Add all of the ingredients, bring to a boil and let simmer. Taste and adjust according to your preference. This is supposed to taste very seasoned- not bland. So be very generous when adding your seasonings! As it simmers, you may or may not need to add more water. You don’t want the picadillo to be too soupy or too dry. You want a little bit of liquid but not too much.
2. Serve over rice. (This is where the liquid is delicious- flavoring the rice!)

Here’s what my most recent picadillo looked like.

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The freezer has really been a lifeline lately. You fellow food allergy mamas know we can not just order take out. We have to have a plan or at least something frozen that can save us from insanity (or sadness. There, I said it. I had a moment this week where I felt sorry for myself because I was tired, the Huzz was traveling for work, and I wanted to pick up a $5 Little Cesaer’s pizza. I couldn’t and didn’t, of course. I ended up making the picadillo. I was rewarded when my toddler said, “I like this beef and rice!”) But I digress…

If you want to see my recipes for other ways to use ground beef and freeze it, click here.

If you have some recipes to share, please do! I need more things to cook today in an hour and a half when it’s dinnertime… Thanks! 🙂

Milk in Hand Soap???

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We are almost done potty training SG. Hip, hip, HOORAY! This now means, however, that we must visit every public restroom in every store at least once- sometimes two or three times! I’ve wondered if the various hand soaps we’ve used have been safe or not. Since the hand soaps are attached to the wall, I have not been able to check or know if they are safe or not.

SG has not broken out or reacted to any hand soaps. I do not have her scrub her hands as much as she does at home- just in case. A quick suds when we’re out and I rinse her off as fast as I can.

A few days ago, we went to Ulta and of course, SG “had” to go potty when she saw the bathroom. Fast forward to washing our hands… Ulta actually had a bottle of soap from their store for use and it was the only soap option. I grabbed the soap and read the ingredients…It had LACTOSE in it. Lactose in hand soap? Sigh. We obviously couldn’t use the soap. I marched into the break room (Hey, there was no one around and the door was open.) I explained our situation and that the hand soap had MILK in it. We went through the soaps in the store and found a safe one for us to use to wash our hands. Problem solved. (Thanks to the Ulta manager who helped us. I truly appreciate it!!!)

However, I am now hesitant to use soaps when we’re out. Yes, she’s been fine. But really, it’s not worth the risk.

I thought about it all that afternoon. Here’s what I came up with for a solution. I went to Target and bought a Purell hand sanitizer in a gel sling. I took it home, squeezed out all of the sanitizer, washed it out with soap and water, and then (ever so carefully) squeezed in safe hand soap. Wow, the opening to the Purell bottle is teeny. Proceed carefully!

I attached it to the outside of my purse with the gel sling. Coincidentally, we use a clear hand soap so it looks like I’m carrying around hand sanitizer. Not that I really care, but it’s kind of cool it worked out that way.

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We now have an easy way to carry around safe hand soap.

What about you, friend? Have you had problems with any kind of dairy or nuts in hand soaps? How do you work around it? Please share.

Moving On

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My little blog has been oddly quiet this past month or so. There is a reason. In Letting Go Of Our Maybe Baby, I mentioned we decided to let go of something major that I wasn’t ready to share. It might not seem so dramatic, but here it is. We sold our house.

As a family who moves often with job transfers, moving is a part of our life. Only this time we stayed local. Why move then? After much prayer and discussion, we decided to let go of our beautiful house. Although I know I don’t have to share our reasons, I will.

To become debt free: We are HUGE Dave Ramsey fans. We have been debt free except for the house for many years, but kept making the mistake of relocating and buying expensive houses. Expensive house = Big mortgage. We were doing fine financially, but knew we could do better. The Huzz has this wonderful idea of paying our house off and OWNING it completely. The goal seemed too far away with our old house. With this house, our goal is within reach. We prayed about it, felt peace, listed it, and sold it!

We are ready to, as Dave says to, “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.”

We are ready to truly be debt free. Proverbs 22:7 says, “…the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

To help me let go of our maybe baby: We had a three bedroom house. The third bedroom held a sleeper sofa and SG’s extra toys. But in my heart, it was a reminder of the second baby’s nursery room that is yet to be. Not unless the Lords blesses my womb again. And if you don’t know our story of infertility, click here to read it. We decided a two bedroom was a bonus of downsizing. We have just enough space and the perfect number of rooms for our little family. We don’t need a three bedroom house at this point in our life. We are truly surrendering this to The Lord. House, family, finances and all.

We now have a small but adorable two bedroom ranch condo. It has a finished basement with a rec room for all of SG’s toys (with a non-conforming third bedroom in the basement for guests. Yes, it’s kind of a third bedroom but I have no attachment to it as a future child’s room and it’s in the basement and opens to the storage area… Not something I see every day or envisioned as a nursery.)

To say we are happy is an understatement. We have finally made a smart decision in home buying. (It only took us 5 home purchases to get it right.)

So now you know why the blog has been quiet. I was busy cleaning all the time for showings, going through our own house hunt, moving, and in general, I was exhausted from it all. In fact, we haven’t even been in our new place a week yet. It already feels like home. Through every move, I have learned a house is just a house. Home is where we are all together. And this place is home. A beautiful little condo, with my gorgeous Huzz and precious SG.