Possibly the only bummer to being back teaching is report cards, and we are in the thick of that fantastic season right now. Working at school.... looking after my three crazy and wonderful children.... making sure Reuben has the food he needs.... and then reports. You won't fully understand the craziness of writing report cards unless you've been there yourself, but I can be sure that any teachers reading this are nodding their heads... report card season is ROUGH!
I've been pulling out the old slow cooker a bit recently, but even that requires a bit of forethought. You have to be organised enough in the mornings to get the meal ready to go. My mornings are somewhat manic; getting three kids dressed and fed and prepared for school is certainly rarely a smooth progress and it's enough getting us out the door most days!
Enter dump bags!
I know, that sounds gross, but they're a thing- I promise! Seriously google it right now if you don't believe me. They're not at all gross in reality.
The idea is that you put together all of the ingredients for your slow cooker meal in a ziplock bag, and chuck it in the freezer. All you need to do is remember to take the bag out of the freezer and defrost it the night before you want to use it, and dump it into the slowcooker before you walk out of the door.
I made up four dinners in about 45 minutes last week, and haven't had to cook dinner at all this week. Now a quick disclaimer; I'm not the kind of person who pre-browns my meat before putting it in the slowcooker - ain't nobody got time for that. If that's something you like to do, I can't see why you couldn't do that before you froze it.
Anyway, I got a lot of interest when I posted the following picture on social media, and a lot of people asked for the recipes. So here I am, deep in the throes of report procrastination, bringing my dusty old blog out of hibernation, giving you not three but four dump bag recipes that will make your week awesome. Trust me.
Yes, I know there are only three bags there, but I promised four recipes and four you shall get. Lucky for you, I ended up throwing one more together after I took this photo. So here goes. Now remember, these recipes don't need a method, because all you do is literally dump the ingredients in the bag, and then dump the whole lot in the slowcooker when you want to use it.
1: Apricot Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts, whole
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely (we love garlic, you can use less if you like)
- about 1 inch of ginger, chopped finely
- 1 tbsp of veggie stock paste (if you're a thermomixer, if not, use whichever stock you like)
- 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
- a can of apricot nectar (or do what I did and puree a tin of apricots)
- frozen peas
- Whatever extra herbs you like. Lots of people like to use french onion soup, but the one I looked at at the shops, Reuben couldn't have, so I used YIAH Baharat spice blend and Herb & Garlic spice mix.
- A dozen or so dried apriocts, chopped roughly.
I put it on low for the day, and when I got home from work, I pulled the chicken breasts apart with a fork and stirred it all through. Serve with rice.
2: Bolognaise Sauce
- 500g minced beef
- vegetables (use whatever you like. I always chop mine in the thermomix on about speed 6 for 4-5 seconds. This time I used an onion, a few garlic cloves, carrots, capsicum, zucchini, spinach, and olives)
- 1 jar of pasata
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp veggie stock paste
- about 1/2 cup of red wine
- whatever herbs you like
Make sure you break the mince up when you put it into the slowcooker so you don't end up with a hunk of stuck together clumpy mince. Serve with pasta!
3: Quinoa Enchiladas
I have a link for this one! Check it out. I used all of the same ingredients, but I didn't brown the mince first. I won't put cheese on until we eat it... because Reuben.
And your bonus recipe....
4: Butter Chicken
Now usually I don't go past the absolutely incredible Skinnymixers recipe, because it is AMAZING. But, it's reasonably time consuming, and I mentioned it's report card season, right? So I based this one on a version we invented when we went camping recently, except we cooked it over the fire in a dutch oven. It's a total cheat's version, and has nothing on the real deal, but perfect for what it is. Here's what you need:
- 2 chicken breasts, chopped into cubes
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1-2 inches of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 jar of pasata
- 1-2tbsp garam masala (I also used some YIAH tandoori spice blend for some extra kick)
- 2-3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
- 1 can of coconut cream (you can use regular cream if you're not catering for dairy free)
- 100g coconut oil (you can use butter if you're not catering for dairy free)
So there you go guys.... give it a go! And if my recipes aren't your cup of tea, get googling. There really are zillions of ideas for these things out there on the interwebs.
Alright.... back to the grindstone for me!