Why My Present Self is Thanking My Past Self

This time of year, hey?  Running ourselves ragged, trying to get everything done (she says as her Christmas cards are not quite ready for the post office…) and always feeling behind the eight ball.  I get it and I am there with you!  But I want to tell you how a couple of things I did in the fall is helping me out SO MUCH right now.

All of those tomatoes I froze.  I chose to forgo canning this year because our fall was nuts, and pulling out all of the canning gear was more than I could handle.  Instead, I cooked up tomatoes when I had a bunch (and let’s be real – usually they did not have a lot of days left before composting was necessary) and I cooked them up into sauce.

One thing I have learned over the past decade is that we use tomato sauce more than anything else.  My mom will juice some, my sister cans whole tomatoes (because she uses them in several different ways) but really sauce is where this household lives.

I don’t even really follow a recipe, to be honest.  Sometimes I added onions, sometimes herbs, and sometimes a paste.  But really, I just cooked them down in the time that I had, put them into a bag and used my vacuum sealer, dated it and threw it into my chest freezer.

The only downside for me with freezing vs canning is the excess water.  When I plan to use the sauce for dinner, I try to allot a little extra time for it too cook down a bit more.  The freezing process adds some more liquid and it is too runny if I don’t cook it down some.  Ok, fine, we have eaten it many times runny, it isn’t inedible.  But if you can, allow some extra time to cook the sauce a bit.

I had the kids make cookie dough and didn’t bake it all right away.  FIRST OFF, can I get an amen for kids that can help out in the kitchen?!  The past few years, I have been offloading a lot of kitchen prep to the kids.  This was the first year I had the kids miz most (if not all) of the Christmas cookie dough!  It has been awesome!  In some cases (i.e. early in the season when I had more time), they made the dough and then I rolled them into cookies and froze them.  Makes it super easy to just pull out a few and cook them up as you need them.  Has been the best thing I did this season!!

In other cases (i.e. lately), the kids mix up the dough, I use half up or so that day and then wait a few days/a week and bake up more.  In this instance, it was gingerbread and sugar cookies, ones I had to roll out and cut and wasn’t sure how easy it would be to freeze them in their shapes.   It has also worked great and really made me enjoy the act of baking cookies  because I am not baking for 8 hours in one day!

One other note, having the dough hang out in the fridge gives the ingredients time to age, much like a good steak!  It can change the flavor and even cooking times, so you want to keep an eye out when you bake them up, but I have never had a bad experience with refrigerating the dough for a couple days!!

Leftovers.  Now, my mother is currently laughing uproariously as she reads this, because this family is terrible at eating leftovers!!   None of us are a big fan and oftentimes they go into the garbage a week {month} later.  However, I crockpotted 2 pork loins last week and it was the best pulled pork I have ever done because there is no fat to weed through!  As a result, I am using the heck outta that meat!  Pulled pork sandwiches are SO easy on concert nights (like last night and the night before and tomorrow night…) however, my kids are getting really sick of the same thing.  So, to use up the last bit, I am throwing it into the sauce from above for dinner tonight.  I get that women have been doing this for ages, but I feel like a mega genius right now, people.  I may also throw in some pulled chicken I have to use up, too.  Because let’s be honest, pork and chicken in tomato sauce will taste pretty much the same!

One last tip for leftovers….freeze them!  If you don’t think you will use them in a few days, throw them in the freezer!  Can anyone guess what’s for dinner tonight?  Here’s a hint…I made it in October!


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