Frozen Grapes

You know how you can buy a huge amount of grapes at a place like Costco? Our family loves fruit, so I tend to buy things there. It’s four pounds of grapes. I got pretty angry when I bought one container of grapes there and we ate maybe a third of them before they went bad. I hate wasting money, and I learned this in college, so I started freezing our grapes. The bonus is that the three of us who can currently eat them, love them, so I do this all the time. In fact, we rarely have unfrozen grapes any more. Unless we buy the small containers at Wawa that include cheese and crackers.

Anyway. First, I clean the grapes. [The thing they’re in is actually a part of my fridge. I also use a regular colander from time to time.]

The I measure them out in one cup servings. I use a Pampered Chef prep bowl to measure them out, just because it’s easier for me to handle.

Pour them into plastic baggies, throw them into the freezer, and voila! You have frozen grapes!

I got ten bags out of this container, but I usually get more. I used part of the fruit for a chicken salad I made for our Easter Egg Hunt lunch yesterday. Here’s a bonus shot for you. Butter, enjoying a snack while he watched TV the other day.

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Chicken Parmesan

On Saturday morning, we saw stuffed shells on Sprout. I immediately started making sauce for them. Then I realized I had chicken in the fridge that had to be used, so I decided to make Chicken Parmesan instead.

I followed Giada’s recipe again, with a few minor tweaks.

 The ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 chicken cutlets [about 3 oz each]
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup Marinara Sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir the oil and herbs to blend. [you will notice I only have two herbs. I don’t like rosemary, so I didn’t use it.]

Brush both sides of the cutlets with the herb oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet over a high flame. Add the cutlets and cook just until brown, about 1 minute per side. [It took about 3 minutes for them to get brown on my stove.]

Remove from heat. Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of mozzarella over each cutlet, then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of Parmesan over each. Dot the tops with the butter pieces, and bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. [If you are like my family, you enjoy crispy cheese. You can put a little extra in the pan so no one fights over the burnt cheese.]

Plate and eat. It’s delicious, and totally Butter and LB approved.

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Marinara Sauce

I started this post ages ago.

In keeping with my ‘I’m looking for ways to save money’ theme, I thought I’d post what we normally do for marinara sauce in our house.

It’s ridiculously easy.

Please note that this recipe is heavily influenced by Giada De Laurentiis, but I haven’t followed it to the letter since the first time I made it. M follows the list of ingredients and then gets fancy from there.

What you need:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • onions
  • garlic cloves
  • celery
  • carrots
  • salt [sea or kosher]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • canned tomatoes
  • dried bay leaves

Heat the oil over medium high heat.

This is where I always mess up. I put the onions in first. M swears by putting the carrots in first, as they take the longest to cook. I should have done that this past time, but I didn’t. I’m still kicking myself.

S0 anyway. I do onions, carrots, celery, garlic. Get those all nice and soft. It takes around ten minutes.

Then put the canned tomatoes and bay leaves in the pot and let it simmer for about an hour, uncovered.

The recipe calls for crushed tomatoes, but I used what we had on hand, which was a can of crushed and a couple of cans of whole, peeled tomatoes. Not a big deal. After everything came to temperature, I used a stick blender to get the sauce to a smooth consistency.

Do not burn the sauce. It will make your husband ask you how much tomato paste you put in it. Not that I would know this from experience or anything. Ahem.

After the sauce cools, we put a couple of cups in gallon size freezer bags, lay them on cookie sheets, and freeze them in our chest freezer.  That was M’s idea, and I think it’s rather brilliant. We do the same thing with left over soups. It ensures more space in the freezer. I haven’t taken a picture of that, but I will. If you don’t have a chest freezer and can afford to have a bit of bulk in said freezer for a few hours, find something with the most flat surface area you can and lay the bags down in/on it. Works like a charm.