40 POUNDS OF CHICKEN!!! {and, a giveaway}

That’s right. 40 pounds of chicken. People, that is A LOT of chicken. And, I got it for free. Why? ‘Cause Zaycon Foods wanted me to tell you all about them. I am SO HAPPY to tell you all about them.Why?


Seriously! The BEST! And people, I’ve had A LOT of chicken in my day.

What makes their chicken so great? The fact that two days before it was on my counter it was walking around on the farm enjoying the good life. When I received it, it was fresh and hadn’t been frozen. It was DELICIOUS chicken.

Do you want to see what 40 pounds of chicken looks like?

Yep, that’s a big box of chicken. Now, take a look at the size of the breasts…

Seriously amazing right!

It did take me a couple hours to break down this massive box of chicken. It was worth every minute. I threw about half of it into my three crock pots with some Italian dressing.

After it was done, I was able to chop it up and mix up double batches of three different casseroles for the freezer.

A batch of buffalo chicken dip for the next day.

And still have an entire container of chopped chicken that I eventually baggied into 2 cup portions and put in the freezer.

I also froze several breasts (cut in half) for our enjoyment later on.

40 pounds of chicken goes a long way and will be feeding our family (and others) for quite awhile. The next time I have an opportunity to get some, I will for sure be PURCHASING it!

That’s right! Zaycon Foods is launching distribution in GA (and MANY OTHER STATES) this fall, and we can purchase it! You and me both! Amazingly fresh chicken breasts for $1.69 a pound. Whoop!

I got an email from Zaycon Foods yesterday saying that they would be in Georgia sometime between September 28 and October 5. They will be visiting several of the metro-area cities and even further south : Norcross, Canton, Columbus, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Warner Robbins. If you are in or near any of these cities, you need to jump online and sign up now!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to Zaycon Foods and register. You MUST do this so that they can notify you when they will be in the area. (I would love if you would use the reference “houseofhills” so I can get a credit. You can then get a link to email your friends so you can get credits. It’s a win win.)
  2. They will email you when they will be in your area and tell you of the deal they’ll be offering.
  3. You order and pay online.
  4. You drive to appointed place at the appointed time and they fill your trunk with quality meat.
  5. You go home and start breaking it down thinking of all the yumminess your family will enjoy for weeks to come.

If you are not in Georgia, I encourage you to go online and register anyway. Then, when they are coming to a city near you, you will be notified.

Zaycon Foods is so excited about their launch (I am too. Can you tell?) that they are doing a giveaway right here on the House of Hills! Can I get a whoop whoop!?

They are giving away a $65 credit to your Zaycon Foods account. Yep, that’s almost the entire cost of a 40 pound box of chicken. And, if you win and they don’t currently service your area, they will send you a check for $30 for you to go buy some chicken at the store. Isn’t that nice?

Do you want to win $65 worth of free chicken? I know you do. Here’s how:

  • Pop on over to Zaycon Foods and check them out. Come back and tell me one new thing you discovered about them. (I’d love you to sign up while you’re over there.)

For extra entries:

Winner will be drawn on September 18th at noon!

UPDATE: Congratulations Penny W! You won. Please check your email.

Disclosure: Zaycon Foods supplied me with 40 pounds of chicken to try and the credit for the giveaway. All opinions are my own. Links to Zaycon Foods are affiliate links.

Cook for Thanksgiving TODAY! (Giveaway)

Once a Month Mom Holiday 2010 eCookbookWe all know that I love Freezer Cooking and Batch Cooking and…well, I just like cooking in general don’t I. However, I really love cooking when I’m not in a rush to cook. I like cooking when I can cook when I want to and how much I want to. I like cooking when I have actual time to cook. Then, when it’s time for dinner, I just pull something from the fridge or freezer, and it’s ready in a snap. This, my friends, makes me so happy.

Tricia at Once a Month Mom understands this happiness. That is why I love her. She understands that a full freezer means a stress free mealtime. She understands that a bit of work on one day can result in weeks of meals that flow to the table with ease. She understands it so well that she gives us (that’s right you too) monthly meal ideas for FREE! That’s right! Every month, there is a new menu on OnceAMonthMom.com all ready for you to enjoy. You should really check it out.

Now that I have told you how AWESOME Tricia is, I’m going to take it up a notch. Oooo I sound like an infomercial. Tricia has created a Holiday eCookbook for us this year. I am SO EXCITED! In fact, I was so excited when I heard about it that I bought one before I got her email telling me she wanted me to review it for her and give one away. Yep! I’m giving away a copy people! Get those fingers ready.

This eCookbook is a step-by-step resource for cooking Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinner ahead and freezing it. Like all Once A Month Mom menus it contains grocery lists, instructions, recipe cards and labels. Since it is a holiday menu, there are resources for those serving a family of 8 and those serving a family of 16. Here are the recipes that are contained in the ecookbook:

  • Veggie Pizza
  • Pumpkin Cheeseball
  • Scalloped Corn
  • Freezer Mashed Potatoes
  • Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes**
  • Slow Cooker Stuffing**
  • Make Ahead Butterhorn Rolls
  • Turkey Baste**
  • Cranberry Mustard Ham Glaze**
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Caramel Apple Pie Trifle

**Indicates newly created recipes.

Here are some additional features:

  • A choice of preparing an 8 serving or 16 serving dinner.
  • Step-By-Step instructions for cooking your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners ahead and freezing the items.
  • Grocery lists for the 8 serving or 16 serving dinner.
  • Customized labels for each of your prepared items.
  • Recipe cards containing photographs and some step-by-step photos as well.
  • Recipe cards for each of the recipes.

Did you see that recipe list? FABULOUS! Did you see that there are grocery lists for 8 OR 16 servings? AWESOME! Did you see that there are labels? LOVE IT! For some reason I really do love the labels. It’s my Type A personality I guess. Did you see that there are photos! AMAZING!

You can order and download your own copy of The Once A Month Mom Holiday eCookbook for only $9.99. You’re going to want to get it today so that you can cook this weekend. Wouldn’t you love to have the majority of your Thanksgiving dinner already made two weeks before the day? Can I get a Whoop! Whoop!

Tricia has generously given me one copy of her eCookbook to give away to one of my readers. Enter by leaving a comment and telling me which recipe from the eCookbook you would most like to try.

For additional entries (leave a separate comment for each):

This giveaway is open until Sunday, November 14th, when I will draw a winner at random. Feel free to purchase your copy in the meantime. If you win, you will be refunded the cost of purchase.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of the eCookbook to review and one to share with my readers. All opinions of how fabulous The Once A Month Mom is are my own.


Congratulations to Earleen for winning the Holiday eCookbook!

Earleen wants to try the Turkey Baste. I do too!

Thanks for everyone who participated.

Crockpot Applesauce

The Princess and I went apple picking last weekend. We not only had a great time picking the apples, we also got a great deal on huge bags of apples from their store. While I was there, I texted with my mom to see if she wanted some apples to make applesauce. She did and told me EXACTLY which types to get as instructed by her cousin Hazel. (Hazel has lived on a farm for like her entire life, and I totally trust her for all things homemade.) So, when I got home, I went looking for an EASY applesauce recipe. I mean I needed it to be EASY since I don’t have any special apple cutting, mashing, straining equipment.

I quickly found a recipe for Crock Pot Applesauce from FishMama. She never disappoints. It literally was apples, water, and optional sugar. That worked for me.

The recipe calls for 16 apples. I used 8 GOLDEN DELICIOUS 8 STAYMAN WINESAP apples. I used my Pampered Chef corer to core and cut each apple. Then I pealed each piece. Could I have done this another way? I’m sure I could have, but this worked for me. I was watching football while I was peeling, so it went quick.

I then put all the apples in the crockpot with 1/4 cup of water and let them cook on high for 4 hours. At hour 3, they started to bubble a bit, so I took a fork and mixed them. They were already falling apart. By hour 4, they were total mush. I didn’t even have to mash. I literally just mixed the entire pot with a fork.

Then, I had to decide if I wanted to add sugar. So, I took a taste. OH. MY. WORD. It was SO GOOD. Like, I spooned out a bowl and ate it right then. It didn’t need anything – no sugar – no cinnamon. It was pure God made goodness.

Now, what’s really funny is…nobody but me eats applesauce in our house. And, I don’t eat it that much. So why in the world would I spend time peeling all those apples and making homemade applesauce? Because I bake with it. A LOT! When a recipe calls for oil, I use half oil and half applesauce. Typically, I need 1/2 cup of applesauce for a recipe. So, I buy applesauce in those cute little cups. That can get pricey, and this homemade applesauce is WAY better than any store-bought applesauce. All the applesauce I made this week (2 batches) went into cute little 1/2 cup containers and put in the freezer.

Well, except for the couple bowls I had to eat. I’m telling you – it’s delicious. I might have to go get one right now.

Bulk Buying Meat

We were almost out of meat at the House of Hills. Being out of meat would be a TRAGEDY! I am pretty much never out of meat. I always have some in the freezer. ALWAYS! That is because I bulk buy my meat.

There are several places to bulk buy meat. I purchase a good bit of my meat at BJs – our local warehouse store. Some people arrange with farmers and buy half a cow. Once I have an outside stand up freezer, I am SO doing that. I also watch for meat on sale at the local grocery and stock up when it’s a really great deal. The goal for me is to always have my freezer full of protiens so that I’m not having to run out to buy a particular meat WHEN IT IS NOT ON SALE in order to feed my family. I HATE paying full price for meat.

Today I bought:
Package of chicken breasts – at BJs- it’s already pre-portioned into 2 breast packages
Package of chicken thighs – at BJs – it’s already pre-portioned into 3-4 thigh packages
Ground Beef – at BJs – 4lbs
Bratwurst – at BJs- 12 in a package
Lil’ Smokies (beef) – at BJs – 2 pack
Mild Italian Sausage – at Publix – on sale – 5 in package
Hot Italian Sausage – at Publix – Manager’s Special – 5 in a package – bought 2

I got home with all this meat and had to do something with it. You can’t just stick those big packages of meat in the freezer. They have to be broken up in to usable portions. It takes a little bit of time on this end, but when it comes to meal prep, it makes it SO MUCH EASIER.

I took 1 pound of ground beef, 2 mild sausages (out of casing) and 1 hot sausage (out of casing) and put them in the frying pan to cook real quick. Once that mixture was done and drained, I froze half with the label, “meat for spaghetti sauce” and put the other half in the crock pot. I added a jar of spaghetti sauce I’d picked up BOGO, a can of petite diced tomatoes from the pantry, some seasonings, and some mushrooms. That’s cooking nicely for dinner tonight. We haven’t had spaghetti in forever!

I took 2 pounds of ground beef and mixed up some blue cheese burgers, made the patties, and put them in a Tupperware container. My Sweetie will grill those tomorrow night for dinner. We’ve found that the patties stay together better if they’ve had time to rest as patties.

I broke down the chicken and put the majority of the pre-portioned packages in the freezer to be used another time. I did save four chicken breasts to grill tomorrow night with the burgers. I went ahead and mixed up my favorite marinade, added the chicken and put it in the fridge next to the burgers. Sometimes when I bulk buy chicken, I’ll use one of my favorite freezer cooking tips and cook some in the crock pot to be used in casseroles.

I put the last pound of ground beef in a freezer bag. I put the rest of the italian sausage in freezer bags (3 per bag). I broke down the bratwurst package and put 4 brats per freezer bag. Then, I put all that in the freezer.

My freezer now has PLENTY of meat in it. Whoop! When I sit down to menu plan for the next few weeks, it will be easy. I’ll just check the freezer to see what I have and decide what to cook from there. No shopping each week for full-priced meats.

Do you bulk buy your meat? Where do you get the best deals?

What I Read This Week: 05 08 10 Great Recipe Sites

On Tuesday, I gave a few Freezer Cooking tips. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite websites for finding yummy things to eat.

Cooking During Stolen Moments Kate has a great way of cooking dinner for her family. She prepares her main meal at some point during the day and stashes it in the fridge until it’s time to cook. Some of them are great freezer meals too.

Once A Month Mom This links to Tricia’s Summer Menu. It’s an AWESOME ONE!! I’m so excited to try some of these this summer.

Good & Cheap Eats This site has recipes that live up to the name. They’re good and they’re cheap. Not all are freezable, but many are.

Money Saving Mom Crystal does a freezer cooking day about once a month, and there are some great recipes on her site.

$5 Dinners Erin has an awesome cookbook and an amazing website. Lots of great recipes.

Those are some of my favorites! Check them out and then come back and tell me what you’re going to try. Maybe I’ll try it too.

Linked to Saturday Stumbles.

Top Ten Tuesday: Freezer Cooking 101

This post is specifically for my friend, Becca, and for all those other moms out there who are trying to get started with the Freezer Cooking thing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE freezer cooking/batch cooking/once a month cooking as I told everyone over on The Finer Things in Life in my guest post a few months ago. Did I mention I love it.

So, here are ten things I think you need to know about Freezer Cooking. Please note that I am in NO way an expert. I’m just a mom who likes to cook for both her family and others.

1. You don’t need an extra freezer to do freezer cooking. You really don’t. You just need to be economical with your space. FishMama did a great video on how to use your regular freezer in her guest post on Money Saving Mom. You must also love love love Ziploc freezer bags. You can even use freezer bags to hold chilis and stews using my “Purple Cup” method. Did I mention I love Ziploc freezer bags?

2. You can start simple. Just double tonight’s dinner recipe and freeze one batch for a later date. Seriously. It’s that easy. The idea is to use the time you do have to cook wisely so that later, when you don’t have time to cook, you have something already made.

3. An easy next step is to start purchasing larger quantities of meat when they are on sale. This is usually the most expensive part of your meal. Make your run to one of the big box stores count. Or, if chicken is on sale at Kroger or Publix, grab way more than you need. Then, when you get home, divide that meat into meal sized portions and freeze it in (you guessed it) Ziploc freezer bags. Can you tell I’m kind of a brand snob here. You can freeze it raw to cook in a dish or grill later. You can add a marinade (here are some great chicken ones) and then freeze. You can cook the meat (see 4 and 5) and then freeze it in meal sized portions.

4. When I buy a large portion of chicken either at the big box store or the local grocery store on sale, I immediately put at least half of it in my crock pot. I place about four or five boneless/skinless breasts in the crock pot and then drizzle about 1/3 a bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian dressing over them. I then put another four or five breasts and another 1/3 bottle of dressing. I use Kraft Zesty Italian because I can often use a good coupon in conjunction with a BOGO at Publix and get it for cheap, and I’ve found I like the taste. You can use whatever marinade you like. I let the chicken cook for 6 to 8 hours (depending on how much chicken I actually used) and then let it cool a bit. Once it’s not steaming anymore, I shred it or cube it – depending on my mood. I then measure out two cup increments and freeze it in freezer bags. When a casserole or dish calls for two cups of pre-cooked chicken, I just grab a bag out of the freezer and let it thaw.

5. I also purchase ground beef in bulk and cook the majority of it immediately. Some people go ahead and add onions while they’re cooking up a big batch, but I have a sweetie who’s not that fond of onions, so I don’t. I just brown the beef in this huge pot. Then, I drain it and let it cool. Finally, I measure 2 1/3 cups of cooked ground beef into freezer bags. That is the equivalent of 1 pound of ground beef. When I want to make tacos or spaghetti or taco soup or anything else that needs already cooked ground beef, it’s ready to go. This has saved me on MANY an occasion as I can literally have tacos on the table in ten minutes.

6. You can save A LOT of money by cooking dried beans and then putting them in the freezer rather than using canned. It’s much healthier too. I did this for the first time when I made these Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas. You can find a great tutorial on cooking beans here. I now actually keep bags of the quesadilla filling in my freezer so we can have these any time. They are TASTY!

7. Freezer cooking without meal planning is like… well, like peanut butter without jelly. The two go together. Seriously. The worst is having a freezer full of good stuff, but not remembering to pull it out to defrost the day before. So, take some time on Sunday night to jot down what you’re going to eat that week. Then, remember to look at the plan each day to see what you need to pull out of the freezer for the next day. You can even blog your menu plan and link up to Menu Plan Monday each week. You can seem some of my past menu plans by clicking on the “Menu Plan Monday” category on the right. Truly, if you’re going to freezer cook, you need to menu plan.

8. You can use freezer cooking for things other than main meals. Really!!! What about muffins or pancakes or quiche? They all freeze VERY well and having them in the freezer makes breakfast a breeze.

9. Use the MANY resources out there in bloggy land to help you on your freezer cooking adventures. Life as Mom and Money Saving Mom have monthly freezer cooking round-ups that you can link to and see what everyone else is cooking. Once A Month Mom has an entire section of her blog devoted to freezer cooking and gives you recipes, grocery lists, and even a podcast to help you get ready to do some monthly freezer cooking. I’m sure there are many others out there. These are just a few that I happen to read daily.

10. Above all, HAVE FUN!! Cooking doesn’t have to be a pain. It can actually be fun. If you’re going to do a major cooking day, ask a friend to do it with you. Arrange for somebody else to be watching the toddler that can actually end up under your feet. Take a day, or a few hours, and just enjoy yourself in the kitchen. Make it some “you” time. My family knows that if I’ve got several recipes out and my apron on, I want to be left alone in the kitchen. They reap the rewards later so they don’t mind. If I’m going to do a MAJOR cooking day, say more than a couple hours, it goes on the family calendar so daddy knows I’m “off” during that time.

What’s your favorite Freezer Cooking recipe? I’d love for you to share. Just leave your link in the comments.
Also, did I forget any tips? Leave those in the comments too!

Linked to Top Ten Tuesday.

Works For Me Wednesday: Using Cups to Fill Freezer Bags

I love freezer cooking AKA once a month cooking AKA batch cooking. It feels SO good to have a freezer full of food for either my family to eat or to be able to pull from for people that need meals. However, a freezer can become full VERY quickly if you don’t use your space well. There is nothing worse than cooking a ton of food and then not having anywhere to put it.

That’s why I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ziploc (and yes I’m a brand snob on this one) freezer bags. You fill them up, push out the air, smush (love my technical terms) them flat and then lay them flat in your freezer. They stack GREAT. And, once they’re frozen you can even stack them like books on a bookshelf for even more room in the freezer.

The hardest thing about using a freezer bag is getting things like chili into the freezer bag without making a HUGE mess. They don’t exactly hold the shape you need. A few years ago, I started using this big purple cup to help me. I line the cup with the baggie and pull the edges out over the sides. Then, I use a soup ladle to transfer my chili, or soup, or whatever into the baggie. It doesn’t fill the baggie all the way up, but it fills it enough that when I pull the baggie out, what’s already in there will hold it upright.  Then I finish it off, lay it flat, smush out the air, and put it in the freezer.

My big purple cup – it works for me!

Just an FYI: I think I got my big purple cup at Walmart years ago. They sell them every year in various colors. This is the only big purple cup that survived the great purge on 09 when we got rid of everything we don’t use regularly. All the other big purple cups were in the garage sale. But, I had to save just one for my baggies!!

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Once A Month Cook Off: The Plan

As you may have “heard” on Twitter and in reference here on the blog, I’m jumping into the Once A Month Mom Cook Off. I’m doing this for two reasons:

1. My freezer needs some meals – both for the family and for me to give away. I give away several meals a month to folks who need them.

2. There are prizes involved in this here competition. And, I’m competitive. VERY! As in, my husband and I don’t play card games because I hate to lose. That competitive. Did I mention there are prizes. The first place prize is a food processor. I SERIOUSLY NEED a food processor!!! The rest of the prizes ROCK too.

Even if I don’t win one of the prizes, the full freezer is its own win.

If you haven’t checked out OnceAMonthMom.com, you should. She is AMAZING! Every month, she creates a menu – complete with shopping lists and to-do lists – that you and a friend can do together. If you follow her plan exactly, two families are pretty much set for meals for a month. That would be if you follow it exactly.

I’m not following it exactly. For several reasons:

1. I have picky eaters in my house.

2. I like to cook alone – well, most of the time. This week for sure. It’s been a crazy week.

3. I’m on the Losing It! plan, and want to be VERY careful about what kinds of meals I put in the freezer. That means no casseroles.

That all being said. Here is my cooking plan with recipe links (OAMM=Recipes from this month’s OnceAMonthMom.com’s menu plan). You thought I’d never get to it didn’t you.

Thursday Night

Cook Chicken – DONE!

Friday Morning

Shred Chicken – DONE!

Friday Night

Cook Ground Beef

Crystal’s Lazy Granola (OAMM)



Pizza Crust (OAMM)

Pork Loin Marinade (OAMM from $5Dinners Cookbook)

Pork Chop Marinade – from The Big Cook Cookbook

Sloppy Joes – from The Big Cook Cookbook


Pizza Topping (OAMM)

Chicken Quesadillas (This is a jump off of a OAMM choice – I’m tweaking what she chose)

Banana Pancakes (OAMM)

Freezer Cooking 01.10

After completing my Eat From the Pantry challenge, I had some room in my freezer. I didn’t do super on the pantry challenge, but I was able to save some money from the grocery budget and use up some of my stores. So, what do I always do with empty space? I FILL IT UP!

When I saw that Money Saving Mom and Life As Mom were doing a freezer cooking day, I thought I’d jump in and do a little something for the freezer. Since I’ve been needing a baking fix all week, I knew it would be an opportunity to finally do some baking. Plus, I had some fruit that needed to be used or it was going to be past it’s prime.

So, this weekend I whipped up a batch of:

Banana Chocolate Chip Nut Muffins

Pear Muffins

and I made a quick

Breakfast Quiche

Was it a huge freezer cooking day, NOPE. Was it what I could do this weekend? YEP. And, I got to scratch my baking itch!

Do you do a freezer cooking day? How often? What types of things do you make?

If you want to see what others did on their Freezer Cooking Day, head on over to Money Saving Mom.