Meal Prep Week 1 of 4

With the shut down of NY from COVID-19 I have been laid off from my job at the law office.

But if you know me at all a little thing like being laid off is not going to slow me down from earning the money we need to survive AND still getting our debt paid down.

Before this shutdown, on top of working two days at the law office, I had also started working the closing shift at the grocery store two nights a week and I had resurrected my bakery home delivery service again. And of course I was still rocking the Etsy sales selling my vintage dishware, dress patterns, linens, flatware and other odd trinkets like cat calendars from the 1970’s and 1980s.

When all of this hit I had to stop the two days at the office and now have shifted to working two nights and two days at the store plus home delivery and Etsy.

My 18 year old son also works at the store as a cashier and with his senior year of high school pretty much over with the pandemic he is working more hours than ever before.

My husband is also working his normal hours because his company sells medical oxygen and welding supplies and gases.

I know we are very fortunate to be working but it does put us in harms way. It’s a classic Catch-22 with no good answer.

Now that I have all of that background out of the way I have to admit I have been struggling with getting food ready for all of us. I am so tired after doing home deliveries on Wednesdays and working opposite shifts from my guys that I just don’t want to cook and I am REALLY tired of pizza.

I came up with an idea to have certain grab and go items ready for all of us without having to stand there and cook every night.

It’s not a new concept by any means but it made me feel better just thinking about it.

I made a list up of food ideas and here it is:

Homemade Salsa

Apples with carmel dip – Yum right!?

Homemade Mac and Cheese – Great for a leftover too

Pepperoni and moz cheese, sauce and bagels – Make mini pizzas when you don’t have time to cook a big meal

Cut up fruit – easy to snack on

Taco Meat for Nachos – I also keep a can of black beans on hand for the protein if I don’t have taco meat available.

Deviled and Boiled Eggs – The boiled eggs can go on salads!

Grilled Veggies – warm up with grilled chicken and add to a flour tortilla for a great quick dinner!

Salad Fixings – Always good to have on hand

Cabbage for slaw – making slaw is easy and can be used for over a week in the fridge

Grilled Chicken Breast – so many uses. Salads anyone?

Veggies and Dip – perfect snack! And if I don’t use them all by the end of a week I’ll toss them into a stir-fry or steam them for a side. It’s handy to have them washed, cut up and ready to go.

Pckles/Olives – We love munching on these

I spent about a day working with all of these ideas. Made my list and shopped, chopped, minced and prepared everything. I even cleaned out my fridge. I mean REALLY cleaned it. Took all the shelves out and everything!

Let me tell you…what a huge help this all was for me. The homemade salsa alone saved my butt more than once. You see the salsa has many of the starting ingredients that I would use in other dishes. The onions, peppers, tomatoes and garlic all ready to go meant I could just use it on the fly for pot roasts and even as a base for spaghetti sauce.

I also organized my spice and ingredient cabinet which was a big mess. It is much easier to find things now!

These are all suggestions and I hope it helps give you some inspiration. I’ll get some more ideas together and get back to you with more next week.

Stay safe everyone! – MM

Prepping Mixes-Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the food service industry, prepping is crucial. Preparing ahead of time cuts your time in half when it comes to cooking for a crowd or getting ready for a party.

I have created more than a dozen dry mixes that I use in the bakery every day. I am going to share these mixes and the recipes to bake the finished products through the next few weeks.

Cookie mixes are my favorite because all you have to do is grab a couple bags of the mix, add eggs, some kind of oil (butter, shortening or oil) a little water and some vanilla and voila! In less than 10 minutes you’re scooping dough onto a cookie sheet. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It is!

Essentially what you are doing with these mixes is preparing the dry ingredients to your recipes ahead of time which is a real time saver especially if you prep multiple batches.

For the chocolate chip cookie dry  mix you will need:

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

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1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar

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The two sugars make up your first bag

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Twist tie the bag and set aside

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Next you will need 4-1/2 cups of all purpose flour

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2 tsp of salt and 2 tsp of baking soda

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This makes up your second bag.

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That’s it! Easy right? The reason we keep the sugar separate from the flour is that in most recipes it calls for the sugars to be creamed with the shortening and egg. Then you add the other dry ingredients so it is easier to have to separate bags.

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At the bakery I build to 6 mixes per recipe. In other words for this chocolate chip recipe I would make enough dry mix for 6 batches of cookies. At home for the 3 of us I would probably make 3 batches to store away for later use.

Now when you want to make a batch of cookies here is the rest of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dump the bag of brown and white sugars into a mixer bowl and add 2 cups of shortening, a 1/4 cup of water and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Cream these ingredients with a mixer or by hand with a sturdy spoon. Next add 4 large eggs and mix in until incorporated.

Next, dump the second bag with the flour, soda and salt into the bowl with the creamed ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Do Not Over Mix! Then by hand add 4 cups of chocolate chips and fold in until just incorporated.

Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets. If you want more uniform cookies use a spring action ice cream scoop to form the dough and drop onto the parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until browned and not wet in the middle.

Here is the full recipe:

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 cups of shortening

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup water

4 large eggs

4-1/2 cups of all purpose flour

2 tsp of salt

2 tsp of baking soda

4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

This recipe makes 4 doz good sized cookies.

chocolate chips

Here is a pic of my shelves at the bakery.

mixes

On these shelves I have mixes for chocolate crinkle cookies, snickerdoodle, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, ginger snap, cornbread, frosted sour cream cookies, oatmeal cookies, scones, chocolate chocolate chip cookies, jam thumbprints, and peanut butter cookies.

I will be sharing more mix recipes over the next few weeks so watch for more.

Also you can take your own recipes and make mixes out of them like I did. It makes life a whole lot easier when you have something already prepared in the pantry. -MM