Monday, February 25, 2013

Prepping Your Kitchen for Speedbo!

It's almost here! The biggest, busiest, book-writingest month of the year!

March is the official month for Speedbo, and your opportunity to write a novel -  a whole novel - in just one month!

Woo hoo!

(And if you aren't Speedbo savvy yet, here's where to get the scoop: SPEEDBO)

Now, the big thing about Speedbo is that we authors want to stick our bottoms in a chair, our fingers on the keyboard and write, write, write...but you know, every once in awhile, reality intervenes. Things jobs...children...dogs....

Cutest Corgi puppy ever!
And believe or not, our families actually expect food.

Even when we're writing.

The Cretans.

But never fear. Your friendly neighborhood Yankee Belle Cafe comes to your rescue once again. All through the month of March we'll be wowing you with easy, quick and family pleasing recipes to keep everyone's tummy filled.

Between now and Friday, though, there are things you can do to make the month's cooking duties even easier.

The key is preparation. Just like you get your character sketches done, or your outline written, or your research explored, you can do things to get your kitchen ready for the onslaught.

Here are some basic preps I do:

1. Ground beef. A lot of recipes start with a pound (or two) of ground beef. BROWNED. We all know the drill. You're ready to cook, your children are starving (or you are!), and you're looking at an extra 10-20 minutes cooking time. Here's the hint - one day this week, when you're browning ground beef for dinner anyway, throw in an extra pound or two...or ten. After it's cooked and drained, put it in freezer bags (about 2 1/2 cups equals one pound), and save it for those last minute casseroles. You can pull one out the night before and thaw it in your fridge.

2. Chicken. How many casseroles and soups call for "2 cups cooked chicken, diced"? Tons. Almost as many as want you to brown that ground beef. I buy chicken breasts on sale (or in a huge amount at Sam's Club). Put the breasts on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven for about 45 minutes. Once they cool, cut them up and freeze the cooked meat in freezer bags - put two cups in each bag and you're ahead of the game.

If you want to use whole chickens instead of breasts, the same principle applies. Cook them off, debone the bird, and freeze the meat. You can make stock at the same time - a double plus.

And if you happen to have a turkey in the freezer, all the better. Pull it out today, cook it on Thursday, and you have enough meat for casseroles all month.

3. Onions. Chopping onions is one of those time consuming chores that'll just make you want to forget about cooking. Cut up a couple onions at a time and freeze the chopped pieces. You can use what you need straight out of the bag.

4. Cheese. If you don't buy the bags of pre-shredded cheese at the store, you can make your own. Your food processor is great for this. You can shred a whole pound in just a few minutes.

Warning: only use your food processor for the harder cheeses. Velveeta doesn't shred well. Not at all.

These are only a few ideas, but I'm sure you have more! What are some of your favorite do-ahead cooking tips?

I can't believe I almost forgot this! Make sure you don't neglect stocking up on the most important food group of all!


  1. Very true, all of this!

    Whenever we're expecting a baby (which happen rather regularly around here) I start stocking up on those things: chopped chicken, ground beef, pans of lasagne, quarts of home made spaghetti sauce, casseroles that refreeze.

    Who knew all that 'I have a tin baby and don't hav time to cook' stuff would prepare me for the great SPEEDBO!!!

    1. EVERYTHING prepares you for writing!

      I learned a lot of these skills while homeschooling - putting meals on the table in less than 30 minutes was a priority!

  2. Excellent tips, Jan. As always:-) My tip would be in getting ready for Speedbo, throw together a few casseroles than can be easily frozen. Then all you have to do is pull them out and pop them in the oven. Can't get much easier than that. Even the Cretans can do that:-)

    And if you're looking for casserole ideas, just scroll through the sidebar on the right until you come to casseroles.

    1. Oh yes, I love casseroles in the freezer! I like making two at a time - one for dinner that night, and one in the freezer.

      And those Yankee Belle casserole ideas? We tried your "King Ranch Casserole Meets Mac and Cheese" last week - multiple thumbs up on that one!

  3. Great tips, Jan!! I've done the beef tip before and it truly is a big time saver.

    I'm totally laughing at what a mess Velveeta would make in the food processor!! :) :)

    1. I've never tried it...but I'm taking someone else's word for it!

    2. I mean I've never tried the Velveeta in the food processor.

      I use the ground beef tip ALL the time :)

  4. I like that Munoz/Carmichael is having "tin" babies.


    "sall I'm sayin'! :)

    I love these tips. I double up so often (learned when dealing with two jobs, six kids and everyone in sports or clubs every day, and in different venues. Stocking the freezer and the cupboards, and "late" suppers (9 PM or later) were common. Sports and academics came first.

    But I loved having stuff done ahead and tucked in the freezer! Great tips, Jan!

    1. Yeah, um. I wasn't going to mention the "tin" babies. After all, she does talk to machines.

      But her children don't look like they're tin. Maybe they grow out of it?