Make, contain and freeze meals… our new adventure!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Hello everyone! Breathing easy, I hope! On this blog, I have written so much about so many things that it’s actually hard for me to remember not to repeat myself! I’m assuming you are like me and want to read about new things from your favorite author. Am I right? Did I just call myself your favorite author? Hmm.. do I even qualify as being an “author?” Well, I do write this blog but I’ll let you decide on if I’m your favorite. HAHA!

On Monday, K and I dove into a new adventure. Before I start anything new, I research the heck out of it. Pinterest is one of my favorite places to go for information. Then, I move on to Google search! Though, SIRI (on my phone) could find me the information I need faster, I’m the type to do the work myself. I think I learn more that way.

K and I decided, after months of me suggesting we should try this, to prepare a bunch of meals to throw in the freezers for the days where neither one of us are up to cooking. I do most of the cooking in our house and sometimes.. ok, a lot of times, I just don’t have the energy to make a great meal. Since I switched from using an inhaler to using a nebulizer recently, I’ve rediscovered some lost energy. I’m slowly starting to get more done around the house.

Word of warning: Don’t try this until you have one full day of time to cook and make sure you have everything you need before you start. I made a simple list of the order of cooking I wanted to accomplish and stuck it where it would always be right in front of me (on the face of the microwave!) We started with a half empty freezer out in our garage. Yes, we have a separate upright freezer. K bought me an upright freezer because he knew it would be difficult for me to bend over and search through a horizontal freezer. I also did an inventory of what can goods we had for the recipes that I chose to make to fill the freezer. By doing this, I could make a grocery list to make sure that we had all the food we needed. We only wanted to use fresh ground beef and fresh chicken because you shouldn’t thaw meat to cook and then refreeze it. You only want to freeze it once for quality sake.

I knew I had to save K some running around because he spent the day before at his mom’s house helping her with her yard work and her pond. I ordered all the food through Walmart’s Grocery pickup service. All K had to do was pick it up on Monday morning before we started cooking. I had already ordered and received from Amazon.com the foil pans that come with foiled cardboard lids (5 lb containers) and the Reditainer Extreme Freeze Deli Food Containers (with Lids, 16-Ounce, 36-Pack) to store our prepared food. We were ready to rock!

The beginning of our meal prep adventure!

Once K unloaded the food, he proceeded to tell me that he was going to take a shower, which he did, and then he took a 30 minute nap. I was like, what? Wait a minute! I kinda panicked but he reassured me that when I truly needed help, he’d be there. I knew he was tired. It’s the beginning of the holiday season and he really needed the sleep. So, I got started with cooking the meat. I bought 15 lbs of ground beef and 2 packages of 6 large chicken breasts. I think my brain didn’t register how much ground beef could actually fit in my largest frying pan because I had to cook it in 3 separate batches. I had to cook the chicken in two batches. For the chicken, I just boiled them with 2 chicken bouillon cubes, salt & pepper. I used the broth from the first batch of chicken (added a little more water) to cook the second batch of chicken. I also reserved the broth for use in a few of the recipes we were making. Don’t let it go to waste. We ended up freezing the remaining 2 cups of broth! You could use it in chicken enchiladas!

Cooking the meat!

Half of the cooked beef!

By the time I was done cooking the first wave of chicken and beef, I woke K up from his nap in the family room recliner. He’s my heavy lifter and chopping guru. He use to be a Sous Chef in his former career. So, he’s fast with a knife. Really fast. So fast that I’m kinda jealous. I’m too accident prone with sharp things to even attempt to compete with his skills. He was in charge of chopping the onion and all the chicken. Thankfully, I kept the empty milk jug gallon I just finished and used that to funnel all the ground beef grease into. NEVER pour that stuff down the drain.

Beef grease!

By the time the second batch of ground hamburger was finish, I was started to get tired. Unfortunately, as I dumped the cooked beef in my jumbo mixing bowl, I dumped some of it on the kitchen floor. Guess who got to clean up that mess? Yep, my dog.. Rocco to the rescue. Ugh! It’s ok, I had plenty of beef to share. K decided to make the leftover cooked hamburger (about 2 pounds) into taco meat to freeze into 2 separate quart sized ziplock bags. Once we had all the meat cooked and the onions diced and sautéed in a little of the beef grease (K’s idea!), it was time to start preparing the marinara (in my largest fry pan that I used to cook the beef in) and the chili (in the crockpot). It was 2 hours later when K went to stir and taste test the chili, that he told me what I forgot to add… yep, the chili powder. Oops! Where was my brain at THAT moment? I’m not sure how good the chili will taste but I’m hoping by the time we thaw and eat it, I can tweak it to taste better. haha! I may just stick tater tots & a ton of cheese on the top of it and bake it in the oven on the days we thaw some out. Chili is so versatile, isn’t it? *wink*

Marinara for the Lasagna!

Packaging up the lasagna in 4 foil pans! SIDE NOTE: Yes I crocheted those pot pads!

BONUS NOTE: Make sure you pre-cook enough lasagna noodles for the pans you’re preparing! I cook mine to where they are just pliable because I’m freezing the pans of lasagna. I don’t want the noodles to be mushy when they thaw. I don’t prebake the lasagna before freezing either. I definitely misjudged how many noodles I needed. So, it took two batches. Overall, I think we did pretty good. We worked well as a team without killing each other. K let me be leader in this adventure which was nice. I really wanted this to work. By the time we were done, I was super exhausted. My legs & lower back hurt. We started at 10:30am and finished around 3:30pm. I think I shocked K. I don’t think he thought I would be able to pull this off. I showed him, huh? *wink* And then, I realized I had to get up at 8:30am the next morning for a doctor appointment. UGH! haha!

I was in charge of making space in our freezer. I was able to free up 2 shelves because the freezer was already half empty (or half full!). K was in charge of carrying all the prepared food to the garage and loading the freezer. He only sent me out there because we had to squeeze in one more larger pan of Impossible broccoli pie. I love that stuff. So, I made sure to fit it in the freezer without blocking the vents in the freezer. You have to have enough room the freezer for the cold air to circulate to maintain proper freezer temperature. Overall, we spent $135 on food for this project. We already had about half of the canned goods we needed. The meat alone was about $65. Then the containers cost about $33. The plastic containers are reusuable. Here’s our freezer now:

Lots of meals in our freezer!

The list of meals we made on Monday is as followed:

Impossible Broccoli Pie – 1 big pan made
Broccoli, Chicken & Rice Casseroles – 4 9×5 pans made
Lasagna – 4 9×5 pans made
Taco Soup – saved in 16oz bowls (didn’t count)
Chili – saved in 16oz bowls (didn’t count)
Burrito Pie – 3 9×5 pans
Taco meat – 2 1-quart ziplock bags
The remaining diced cooked chicken breasts in several quart-sized ziplock bags to make chimichangas or chicken quesadillas.

Overall, this adventure was a success and it proved to me that I can do something this major as long as I have some help. Yes I was very drained and I had to sit down a couple of times while I spooning food into containers or writing labels. Would I do this again with help? Yes I think so. I may try a few different recipes though. I don’t think I would try to make so many recipes at once again but K thinks we could do just as much next time. There are somethings I would PRE-MAKE ahead of time the next time we do this. Like, precook and then refrigerate the beef and chicken the day or night before. That would save a lot of time if I could get at least half of the meat cooked ahead of time. I’ll try to get some recipes that I used on my blog later this week.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of This is Christine’s Life! lol! Stay warm everyone. It’s getting cold down here in Texas.

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It’s blazin’ hot here…

Living On O2 for Life

For the past two weeks or so it’s in the upper 90s and in a few days the forecast is 105 degrees. What that means for me is: Stay indoors with the a/c cranked. Well, that’s what I would usually do but life has a way of creating drama. You know, the kind of drama like your “Check Engine Soon” light coming on when I least expected it. Then there’s the strawberry plants that stopped producing! What? I know… I was nearly devastated. haha! There’s more drama that happened but I don’t want to bore you. I want to tell you about the fun stuff!

K and I were fortunate enough to be able to visit with one of my cousins and her family while they were here with their church. There was a choir event that we went to and wow were the kid who sang good! We had a great time catching up. I hadn’t seen them in over 18 years.

You know from the last post that I’m slowly increasing my experience in yeast bread. Well… I experimented with making Honey Oatmeal Wheat rolls. Unfortunately, K doesn’t like wheat or oatmeal in his bread. Lesson learned! So, I shared them with his mother. See picture in the right column under Instagram. If you scroll down you’ll see them. It was a lot of fun! We also ate our first two ears of corn that K grew. Our experiment with growing corn has been successful thus far. We have 7 more ears left growing from a separate, later planted seeds. Whew.. they were delicious and I hope we plant more next year. I’m making quite the farmer out of my man. I’m SO proud!

Unfortunately, one of our pond goldfish kicked the bucket. He was floating belly up one day and we still don’t know why or what caused it. Rest in peace little man… But, we still have 7 left… so… HOORAY Goldfish! haha! My newest Need a Hug afghan is coming along nicely. I already have the recipient in mind to ship it to. I’m hoping to get it finished within a month. *fingers crossed*

This past week has been terribly hot and humid. It’s been trying to rain but in our area it’s only coming down in the lightest sprinkle occasionally which is making it HARD for me to breathe and tired a lot. I want to try to get that yummy Cinnamon Swirl Bread made today. K said, “Double to the cinnamon swirl!” So, if I’m not too tired, I’ll make it today and increase the swirl! haha! I’m going to share half of it with K’s mom. She really liked my first loaf. YAY!

Be well and be careful with this heat. *hugs*

My adventure today…

Living On Oxygen for Life

This was my adventure today. I made cinnamon swirl bread because K asked me to try to make it. It came out a little muffin-topped but when it cooled down a bit I cut a slice off and ate it warm with butter. It’s delicious even though I forgot to add salt. Oops! I read that it makes great French toast. Uh, who doesn’t like French toast???

From start to finish, this bread took me 3 hours to make. While I waited for the rise time to finish, I rinsed the dishes I used and ran a load of laundry through the washing machine. I’m still getting use to our new high-efficiency washing machine that looks like it barely uses enough water to dampen the clothes and has no real clothes agitator. Is it just me or do you wonder how or if the clothing even gets clean? It boggles my mind.

It’s definitely quiet time now at 5:30 pm and I’m ready for a power nap. So, I’m going to strap on my bipap machine with my oxygen and lie down to recharge enough to make dinner in about an hour or so. It feels like it’s been a long day.

I hope everyone has had a good day so far!

My Rookie Experience in Trying a New Thing and How to keep life interesting.

Living On Oxygen for Life

The past few months, I have lost a lot of interest in doing a lot of things that I normally would enjoy. Part of it is from depression and the other part is a decline in health. I’ve slowed down quite a bit. I still “garden” but K waters the garden for me. I still crochet but it takes me longer to complete an afghan. I don’t leave the house on my own as much because it drains me a lot. But I still do it because I need to feel like my old self as much as possible. I get out of the house more WITH K than alone.

I try to find different things to experiment with to keep my interest and find the happiness I need to keep me getting out of bed while K is working. So, I look to Pinterest a lot. Recently, I’ve challenged myself into conquering Yeast Rolls. Since I don’t have a KitchenAid stand mixer or a bread machine, I thought mixing and kneading the dough by hand would wear me out. When I finally found a recipe the creates only 4 rolls, I thought… “What the heck! Even I can do THAT!” Right? So, my foray into baking with yeast begins. My first time I produce the 4 rolls but the crust was too hard and they were dense. The third time I tried, I found the perfect recipe! This recipe calls for more milk than water and 2 eggs. Wow! Who knew that these changes would produce awesome dinner rolls?

There are some people on my FaceBook Page (Living On O2 for Life) have seen my posts about my experience with baking yeast rolls and want the recipe of the rolls I made this week. So, here it is… I hope you understand my method of explanation:

Buttery Soft Top Yeast Rolls

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
4 cups flour + a couple of tablespoons if needed (I used all-purpose flour)
2 1/4 tsp of instant yeast (1 package or 1 pkg of active yeast)

I used instant yeast this time but you can use active yeast because I do the same process of proofing the yeast for either kind.

TIP #1: I use glass and tupperware bowls to make the dough.
TIP #2: When measuring flour, ALWAYS spoon it into your measuring cup without packing it in or shaking the flour down. Level off with a straight edge.

Combine milk, 2 tsp of the sugar (the rest goes in the big bowl) & water. Warm in the microwave about 30 seconds on high, stir and then microwave another 30 seconds and stir again. Test with a thermometer and make sure the liquid reaches approximately 110 degrees. NO HOTTER or you could kill off your yeast. (make sure you have the sugar in there for the yeast to eat!) Once your Milk/Water/Sugar is warm, add yeast and stir softly and set aside to froth & foam for 10 minutes. (it smells so good!)

Melt butter in the microwave in a small bowl and let it cool.

While using a blender (I used my hand mixer) to combine 1 cup of flour & 2 (room temperature) eggs and then add in the butter once it’s cooled but still liquid.

Add the frothy yeast/milk/water/sugar to the Flour/eggs/butter that you just combine with the mixer and use the blender while adding another cup of flour. By this time, unless you have a stand mixer, you’ll need to change over to using a rubber spatula to add the rest of your flour. I had to do this last part with a rubber spatula because I don’t have a kitchenaid stand mixer. Don’t worry, it’s not that hard or tiresome.

The dough will seem a little sticky after you incorporate the four cups of flour but it shouldn’t stick to the bowl. If you need a little flour, add it by the tablespoon. I only needed about 2 tablespoons of extra flour. It will be sticky but it shouldn’t stick to your fingers.

Let the dough rest a few minutes in the bowl (I needed a little few minutes of a break) and then knead the dough. I kneaded my dough in the bowl instead of on a countertop for about 5 to 10 minutes (closer to about 10). It saved me from getting my countertop dirty. I eyeballed how much kneading was needed by testing its stretchiness (something about a window of dough)!

After kneading, I just left the dough in the bowl and covered it with a Turkey Roasting oven bag since I had a box of them from when I thought I would try roasting a turkey one year. That didn’t happen. *rolling my eyes* The roasting bag fits nicely over the big, gigantic bowl I use to make the dough. I set the covered bowl in my warm garage (it’s in the 90s here now) and then the waiting started for the dough to rise to twice its original size. About an hour, maybe more, maybe less.

Meanwhile, I cleaned up my mess and read a book on my Kindle app while occasionally glancing at the TV. Yeah, I’m that good! haha! When the dough is twice its original size, I brought it back into the kitchen and pressed/punched it down. I used my cutting board and a 8-inch sharp knife to cut the dough in equal portions. You should be able to get 15 pieces that you can form into approximately 2 – 2.5 inch balls. Don’t over manipulate the dough. Just gently fold the edges under and pinch the bottom seam together.

Rolls after rising to twice their size.


Place dough balls, seam side down, into a Pam sprayed 9 X 13 inch pan. I put my pan with the rolls back into the Roasting Bag and moved them back out into the garage to rise again to twice the size. By the time they have risen, they’ll spread to fill the pan. Take them out of the bag, preheat oven to 375 degrees and used melted butter to brush on top of each roll. Add a pan or baking dish of water on the bottom rake in the over under the place the rolls will go. It helps to bake them with this water to make the tops softer. Bake for 13 – 16 minutes depending on your altitude where you live. They should be nicely golden brown on the top. When they are done, butter the tops again and sprinkle with sea salt (I used Mediterranean Pink Sea Salt). Then eat one! Or two or three! YUM.

Let me know if I made any mistakes or if you have any helpful tips in the comment section.

Life: full of fun!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Happy Day After April Fools Day! I’ve never been into the whole “April Fools” thing since the time my little sister wrapped a raw egg in foil and put it in my bed while I slept. Yep, I rolled over onto it and the egg broke, leaked egg guts and made a mess in my bed. Yuck! So, April Fools? No thank you! haha!

K and I have been BUSY lately. My garden is growing like crazy! We have little tiny cherry tomatoes growing (3 of them…wow!) and my potato plants are getting huge. I even ate my first strawberry from the garden and it was DELICIOUS! So sweet! Yes, I shared it with K. I didn’t really want to because it was so good but there was only one berry and it would have been rude of me not to share. Right?

I’ve started crocheting again. I had stopped in October since K was having trouble with his eyes. Things got hectic with his Glaucoma and Detached retina problems. And I thought taking care of my own problems was hard. Add helping K with his medical stuff (no lifting heavy things for 2 weeks for each eye surgery), it was a little crazy around here. Here’s what I’m working on right now:

I’ve been a little inventive in the kitchen lately. I created a protein shake that can rival Starbucks’ mocha, caramel frappuccino. It is delicious and I want to try making a peanut butter, chocolate protein shake (without the bananas). Here’s the ingredients that I used:

Rivals Starbucks Frappuccino!

I told you I’ve been busy lately. In fact, K made one of my dreams come true. Yay K! My older sister dug up a pond liner (hard shell) from their yard when they moved into their house and gave it to us. Of course, K said no we can’t have a pond. So, many, many years I have been working on him about having a pond. Yes, we kept it THAT long. Out of the blue, he asked me a couple of weeks ago, what I thought about having a pond. Of course I was overjoyed, ecstatic even. Naturally I said YES! Picture me jumping up and and down cheering and then bending over out of breath saying… “Whew, I’m tired now. But, let’s do this!”

I have to let you know. I AM A PLANNER. I like researching things I want to do so I know what I’m doing once I start a project. K is the opposite. Kind of. So, it took us a couple of tries to stack the flagstone to make it look almost the way we want it. Let me tell you… those are so heavy! K did all the hard labor but I still wanted to help with some of the physical stuff. I tried moving the flagstone and after four stones, I was done. K told me to go sit down. I like being involved in our house projects. The way I was involved was helping pick out the type of stone, fish, and planning how the pond will look. K wanted to name the goldfish with Beatles names. Ugh! Really? I named one of the goldfish, Thunder! K named one of them White (not Whitey, he says)… So, I call him White Ghost because he’s an all white fish. Clever, I know! We have a total of 8 fish. 5 small goldfish and 3 medium goldfish. It was hard to get K to wait until the water was ready for fish.

Bamboos just added my dream pond.

I also have 9 flowers on my lemon tree! NINE!!!
Please don’t fall off… Please don’t fall off!
I even caught a sale at the grocery store for fresh green beans! Late last night, I washed and blanched them so that I could freeze them. They are so much better than green beans from a can. Blech! I only wish that I had bought 2 bags of them instead of one. Darn it!

Yes, life is good. I have things to look forward to every day. Feed my fish, check my garden, and pray for lemons to produce on my Meyer lemon tree. Hooray! All these things help keep me happy which distract me from bad breathing days which is awesome. I hope life is going well for all of you.

The Weekend with Company

Living On Oxygen for Life

I had my older sister and her family in town for a visit this last weekend and had a great time. However, I could tell almost right away that my health has drastically changed since the last time they visited. It was a real eye-opener for me and quite discouraging too.

Thankfully, I was already in the habit of preparing in advance a meal or two to be able to pull out of the fridge or freezer and heat up. Mostly, these were for dinner. I have found this to be extremely time and energy efficient for me. Well, really, for everyone. My sister now knows that I can’t help her much in the kitchen and still have energy to talk with her. I get pretty short of breath. So, after dinner, she would have me go sit down and she would take over to clean the whole kitchen.

One thing I’ve learned about both of my sisters is that when they do something at my house for me, it’s because they want to. Mainly because they don’t want me to wear myself out just because they are there to visit and because they actually WANT to do it.

It’s just like my older sister to bring me her special Christmas cookies as part of my Christmas gift from her. Before I was even able to get one, everyone started eating them. I was like… Heeeyyyy… *pout* They are that good. I was willing to share but gee wiz. So, she went to the store to buy all the ingredients that I didn’t already have to make another batch for me. Yay!!! As she’s whipping up another batch of sugar cookie dough, I was amazed at how easy it was for her and she wasn’t even tired! I had to go sit down after a little bit of watching, help with cleaning, and holding the cookie pans so that my niece and sister could place the cookies on each pan. I helped Frost some too but my niece did all of the Sprinkles artwork!

Christmas cookies

After they left for home, I was so tired but I had stuff to do Monday and we ended up having to take Rocco to the vet on Tuesday because he tweaked his back and we wanted to make sure he hadn’t damaged anything. He’s going to be ok. No jumping for a while.

So, today is recovery day. I’m resting all of today. I already told K not to even ask me to do anything or go anywhere because I just needed one whole day of quiet rest. I’m going to post the recipe of one of the dinners I premade for my sister’s visit in case you want to try it. It will be under the In the Kitchen link of my blog’s menu. Beef Tips is what I made and my sister asked for the recipe. I’ll try to get my enchiladas recipe on here too but I’ll do that in a few days. Take care everyone.

The Hair Dryer’s other danger…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I had a thought the other day about hair dryers. You know the ones that are handheld. Not the one’s that my mom use to sit under with curlers in her hair. I can still see her in my head sitting there with her rollers in waiting for her hair to dry. Wow.. She was a patient woman for beauty. She would while her time away painting her nails. She was skilled at that. Me? Not so much. *shrug*

My thought that I had was about a danger that I hadn’t thought of before. Mostly people know about the danger of not using or leaving a plugged in hair dryer near or in a bathtub of water. Yikes! Electric shock would ruin anyone’s day (or should I say life?). No, I was thinking about people who use oxygen while trying to dry their hair with that handheld hair dryer. It has a danger to it. Did you know?

Have you ever seen a hair dryer spark when you turn it on? I have. That in itself is dangerous because most people don’t clean the lint out of the vent of the hair dryer until it’s coated in the stuff. Now, we also need to remember about the heating element of the hair dryer. It glows red when you have the dryer on warm or hot, right?

Imagine yourself and how you use your hair dryer. Is it close to your face as you dry the underneath parts of your hair? Are you wearing your oxygen while drying your hair? I have to use my oxygen all the time. The thing is… I don’t dry my hair using a hair dryer but once in a blue moon (mostly in the Winter when I don’t want wet hair if I have to go outside). So, naturally, I didn’t really think of the danger that could happen if you mix a spark from a hair dryer and the oxygen that I or you use. In fact, at the website: Consumer Product Safety Commission, near the bottom of the page, it says not to operate a hair dryer where oxygen is being administered.

As for me, I air dry my hair. Using a hair dryer to dry my thick, long hair takes forever and makes me tired. Plus, I don’t like how it treats my hair. I end up looking like a fluff ball most of the time. Now that I have had this thought about the danger of using hair dryers with oxygen in use, I’m very cautious. I’ll admit that I still use one on RARE occasion but I know I shouldn’t. I hold the dryer as far from my hair as possible just to add an element of a buffer zone. I clean out the lint too. I make sure it’s in good working condition. I certainly don’t want a fire on my head!

Now, I’m not saying that you should use a hair dryer but if you still want to, I can’t stop you. Do it with extreme caution. Keep your hair dryer in peak condition and away from your oxygen. If it sparks, you’re gonna have problems.