How to Make Back-to-School Tacos {Freezer Cooking}

Back to School TacosI scored 5 pounds of lean ground turkey for $5. It’s the little things that make this momma happy. I immediately jumped on it and prepared it for back-to-school tacos. While most parents are stocking up on school supplies, I’m stocking my freezer for the busy school year ahead. T minus two weeks for me and three weeks for my kiddos.

It was such a busy semester last year, I cleaned out my freezer completely. I didn’t have time to freezer cook or blog, sorry friends. I’m trying my best to get back into the swing of things and update my blogs (cooking and teaching).

I’m always jumping into new adventures and my new one this year is my principal license. Last school year it was National Board certification and this year I’m adding another 24 hours onto my teacher duties. So, I need to woman up and start cookin’ again.

Here’s what I’ve done so far. Taco meat and lots of it. 5 batches in the freezer for those easy peasy 5-minute taco nights for hubby take his turn cooking, lol.

Here’s my best tips for freezer cooking taco meat.

  1. Purchase meat on sale
  2. Make sure you pan is large enough for several pounds of meat (I have a huge cast iron that holds 5#)
  3. Add water and use your potato masher to make finely ground meat like Taco Bell (see my tip here)
  4. Add your seasoning with your water to allow the flavors to cook with the meat. (make your own using my recipe here)
  5. Allow it to cool to room temperature before bagging.
  6. Make sure your quart bags are labeled with sharpies with contents and dates.
  7. Squeeze air out and freeze flat.

See my full post how to freezer cook taco meat here. Do you have any questions about freezer cooking? I’d love to answer them!

How are you preparing for back to school?

 

 

 

Packing Potatoes Keeps You Humble

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Every summer I attempt volunteering with our family. We all have different schedules, especially my teenagers, but we make an attempt and we finally served at Manna Food Bank on two different occasions. Packing potatoes will keep a family humble. The rotten potato smell will surround you when you enter and cause you to become lightheaded at times. Just a few or a dozen rotten potatoes will make the warehouse smell pretty bad.

IMG_4302 (1)Our first week with the teens was sweet potato packing with a few rotten ones in the bunch.

IMG_4301 (1)Gloves are a must when packing ten sweet potatoes.

IMG_4388The following week was red potatoes and there were many more rotten ones in these bins. The smell knocked was almost too much for my weak stomach. Let’s just say it made me appreciate freshly picked vegetables. My kiddos were appreciative we didn’t have to gather our harvest this way. It also made us think about the less fortunate and hoped they would be able to use the good potatoes in some resourceful way.

I sort of wished I was there to help show them how to cook these potatoes in a delicious way. We had a discussion how cooking education was a missing link when giving out free produce. So many times, folks don’t know how to cook vegetables.

Both potato packing times turned out to be a meaningful serving experience and we hope to do it again a couple more times before school starts back in three weeks. Yikes! Are you ready?

We’re getting there. I’m finished my summer professional development and started some online coursework. I’ve applied for graduate school starting August 21. I much to do prepare my classroom.

Have you taken time to serve the less fortunate this summer? I’d love to know what opportunities you’ve found.

Why I Took a Break from Blogging

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After many weeks of rest and relaxation I have come to the conclusion that I miss blogging. I needed a long break in case you haven’t noticed. It was a challenging school year and I admit that I needed a month to revitalize myself as a teacher, mom, blogger, parent, wife, cook, soccer driver and more. I had too much on my plate for one person to handle and it came to a resting point.

After a lot of extra sleep, a family beach vacation, college tours with my senior daughter and a mini-vacation to Dollywood, I’m back feeling like myself. I’m already enjoying summer and my family.

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I see not only one rainbow, but two and God is good. I feel revitalized and ready for a new adventure. Now what will it be? I’m praying and ready to hear his voice. Usually I set New Year’s goals, but I’m thinking of new school year goals for my family of six. My oldest daughter is entering her senior year and my oldest son is going to be a freshman. My two youngest are in elementary and my husband and I are still plugging along in our middle school and high school teaching jobs.

Life is good. God is good. I’m savoring the season. I am back to blogging! How about you? How is God revitalizing you?

Celebrating the Prom, Mother’s Day and Hitting Submit

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I went another year to prom where I teach. I went with my high school sweetheart after 24 years!

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I celebrated my Mom who taught me everything I know about cooking. I made my first biscuits when I was 5 or 6; can’t remember which.

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I finally hit submit after countless hours and lack of sleep deprivation. I feel like I put my life on hold during this crazy semester and now it’s almost over. I’ve done the hard work and I’ll sit back and wait until November to here. But oh how I am relieved and I’m finally prepping meals again.

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So many times I had to quote. I’m grateful to be back blogging and thank you for your patience. Happy Saturday.

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Freezer Friendly Homemade Pizza Sauce from REAL tomatoes {New Recipe}

tomatoesWhat do you make when you have a 25# box of tomatoes and 50 teenagers? Pizza Sauce! My four foods classes tried a new recipe and we loved it. Students couldn’t believe the aroma of the fresh diced tomatoes and basil.

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They were into the dicing and presentation.

tomatoes3I was quite surprised with the recipe after simmering 90 minutes. It was humorous hearing them read the recipe and and dramatically say, 90 minutes! Seriously, the simmering made all the difference and the whole second floor was begging for the recipe.

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The immersion blender turned it into a rich delicious pizza sauce.

pizza sauce 2We made my homemade naan pizza crust the day before and now onto toppings. Since I was focusing on nutrients for this cooking lab, students had a variety of choices. Most preferred the usual teen pizza.

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Although, I had a handful throw some nutrients on their pizza.

pizza sauce3Now on with the recipe we used. Recipe adapted from Kitchen Treaty

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about three large cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 2 pounds diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil.
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute. If you’re using dried oregano, add that along with the garlic. If you’re using fresh, add it to the sauce at the end of the cooking time.
  3. Increase the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
  4. Leave over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Reduce heat to low for a nice simmer.
  5. Simmer uncovered for 90 minutes.
  6. Stir in fresh basil
  7. Allow the sauce to cool to a safe temperature and then, using an immersion blender or working in batches with a blender,
  8. Allow it to cool completely if you are planning to freeze.

You can see my freezing tutorial here.

Now have a happy pizza sauce dance because you will have a tremendous amount!

 

Just Being Real

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I promise to be a better blogger and friend, but this past month has been crazy and busy. School has been overwhelming. Our club has been preparing for a state leadership meeting in Greensboro. My oldest daughter tore her ACL and meniscus and had to have surgery.

Needless to say, I haven’t taken the time and had very little energy to post anything new on my blog. We are going in different directions on Easter so we tried to get a picture the Sunday before. So here we go, we made it to the park in front of this beautiful lake.

Yes, I managed to get the kiddos to wear their matching clothes, but they hated it. They complained, they complained some more and we barely got a picture. Oh we were planning to have a picnic, but we forget the packed cooler at home.

But oh so funny, my husband posted our picture on his facebook and it got 100 likes. If only they knew we aren’t picture perfect. NEVER.

I’m a sinner in need of my Savior and I’m so thankful to celebrate Good Friday with you.

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This Sunday I am celebrating, He is Risen! I am forgiven for my past, present and future sin.

I am blessed to be real with you. I have so much on my plate, juggling four children, teaching four foods classes, writing new foods curriculum, writing  three components for my National Boards and trying to be a REAL blogger. I’m not doing the best job as the blogger, but I’m forgiven and I hope to update my blog much sooner as my school year draws to a close.

May your Easter be filled with peace, joy and comfort knowing we have a Risen Savior. He’s REAL and ALIVE and lives in me!!