Friday, September 28, 2012

Freezer Meal: Turkey Tomato Mac Casserole, Ginger Carrots, and Lemon Pound Cake

I've been trying to post this for a month! I finally finished the instructions!

For my August Freezer meal exchange, I couldn't think of anything to make so I decided to make a casserole that I throw together for my family. I made 7 casseroles this month so I could have an extra for our family and to give away to some friends who just had babies. The concept of freezer cooking is pretty new to me and we're loving the convenience of having a weeknight meal from the freezer. We started up a new freezer meal exchange group in February and have been going strong ever since!

We usually have to add a fresh green salad or cut up some fruit to serve on the side, but most of preparation is just reheating, grilling, or putting something in the oven. We defrost the meals in the extra fridge in the garage for about 24 hours. Some meals you can go right from the freezer to the oven or reheat on the stove top.

On Sundays, I pull out the meal for Monday and place the packages in a 9x13 casserole dish to catch any liquids that may spill out from defrosting. I usually prepare a freezer meal on a Monday evening and use the leftovers for lunch the next day.

My August Menu:
Tomato Turkey Macaroni Casserole
Ginger Carrots
Lemon Pound Cake

Tomato Turkey Macaroni Casserole

  • 3/4 pound ground turkey (mix of light and dark meat)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried macaroni noodles
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn
  • 1/4 diced bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Seasoning - salt, pepper, paprika, oregano
Preparation for Freezing:
  • Cook macaroni noodles. Drain and set aside.
  • Saute onions and garlic with ground turkey. Then add corn and bell pepper. Season with salt, pepper, dried oregano, and smoked paprika. Add tomato sauce.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine noodles, turkey-veggie mixture and 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  • Line an 8x8 square baking dish with foil. Coat with cooking spray. Fill with casserole and add shredded cheese to the top. 
  • Cover dish with foil and place in the freezer for about 45 minutes.
  • Remove top layer of foil. Flip the casserole dish upside down gently on the counter. Then use the foil to cover the square casserole. 
  • Place packaged casserole in a gallon freezer plastic bag in the freezer.
Reheating Instructions:
  • Defrost in the fridge overnight. 
  • Gently take off the foil from the top of the package. Then slowly remove the bottom layer and place into a greased 8x8 casserole baking dish.
  • Cook for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven until bubbly.

Sweet Ginger Carrots 

Dump ingredients in a freezer pint plastic bag. Defrost in the refrigerator 24 hours. Then put contents in a sauce pan until carrots are tender. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. My friend, Windi's husband says these carrots taste like dessert!
  • 1 lb peeled, sliced carrots
  • 1 tsp ground fresh ginger
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
Lemon Pound Cake:
Defrost and enjoy!

I found the Lemon Pound Cake recipe on Pinterest that made 6 mini loaves of pound cake in a single batch. This is convenient since we prepare 5 complete meals and I usually make 6 so I have an extra meal for my own family. I got a mini loaf pan that makes 4 at once. Then with the rest of the batter, I used my mini muffin tin to make 6 minis for each family (12-total). I have a bit extra batter to bake a ramekin dish size mini cake. The entire recipe was a perfect amount and the lemon pound cake was delicious.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Introducing Breastfeeding USA

You might remember in February, I announced that I became accredited as a La Leche League Leader. After a year of reading and education about breastfeeding, I started to lead support meetings, answer questions via email and phone, and respond to questions in our private Facebook group. At the same time, my co-leaders: Ali and Sara started to pursue a new breastfeeding organization, Breastfeeding USA. So we closed our LLL chapter and opened up Indy Breastfeeding Moms, a chapter of Breastfeeding USA. During this process, I resigned as a LLL leader and started the accreditation process of becoming a Breastfeeding Counselor with Breastfeeding USA. It's been a crazy transition process! Since our group of leaders are an all-in-one unit, it was easier for me to dedicate my time going through the course. And since I had less than 2-years of experience as a LLL leader, I'm going through a comprehensive course and I should be complete in the beginning of the year. It really feels like a college course! I'm enjoying it though! I'm reading about the science of lactation in my first module of training.

Since Breastfeeding USA is a new organization, they went through a branding exercise. That's been fun to watch it with my marketing brain. They just did a big fundraising drive, which ended up exceeding their goal of raising money for the organization. I made a donation and received this really cool tote bag as a thank you gift! I wore it today for the first time. Aaron took the picture for me and then Ava wanted a picture too!

Ava and I are heading to Cincinnati on a day trip next Saturday for a tri-state Breastfeeding USA meeting with other BCs and BC applicants from Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. We'll spend the day planning the future of our local groups, which supports pregnant and nursing mothers through their journey of breastfeeding.

So now, I'm doing lots of reading and continuing to learn about all aspects of breastfeeding and supporting mothers. It's very rewarding! I benefited from the help of experienced breastfeeding mothers when I first gave birth to Ava and now I feel like it's my turn to give back! I'm still on the journey!