Hi, Meal Swap Friends –
Hopefully you are all staying reasonably cool in the midst of this crazy heat – I’m sitting in our living room feeling so thankful that the thermostat is reading 82 after days of our poor air conditioner working non-stop and barely keeping us at 85!

Before the heat wave, (and now but a distant memory…J), we met last Monday evening to swap our August meals. Hopefully you have been enjoying salads and sandwiches in particular on these sweltering days! Several of our fellow swappers were not able to be at the actual swap and dropped off their meals in advance, so I wanted to recap a few of the detailey things that we talked about that evening so that we all stay on the same page!

– The group decided that to keep the swap time at 8 pm works well as we head into fall. Consensus was to try Sunday evenings. While that evening we scheduled the September swap for Sunday, September 8th, it had completely slipped my mind that we are having Britta baptized that morning, and then hosting a bunch of people for lunch. We also have some out of town family coming for the weekend, so it’s probably not the best evening for me to be hosting the swap. SO, for the month of September we will continue with our third Monday evening swap, which means that instead of September 8th, it will be Monday, September 16th. I’m sorry for not having more foresight in scheduling that, and hope that everyone can make the 16th work. At this point, future swaps (beginning in October) are scheduled for the 2nd Sunday of each month at 8 pm.
– We discussed options for our open meal category (since we’ve bid farewell to soups and stews as a specific category) and agreed that we will divide this into two categories: Breakfast and Crockpot. One person will cook from each category (I.e. one will cook from Breakfast and one will cook from Crockpot). It was noted that all Breakfast meals should include a protein (I.e. a side of meat such as bacon or sausage should be included if the entrée itself does not have meat. We just want to make sure that this is a substantial meal appropriate for being served for dinner. Although this category could also make a great brunch for a weekend morning! J)
– We are welcoming two new swap members at the September swap! Karna will be cooking from the Pizza category and Emily will be cooking from the Crockpot category. A warm welcome to both Karna and Emily! Our swap is full at 12 swappers now, so please make 12 of your entrees, leave one at home to enjoy and bring 11 to the September swap.
– Jill brought a thank you note and photo from Roger and Jane Anderson. Roger is a co-worker of Jill’s whose wife was recently paralyzed in an accident. Several people from our swap made an extra meal for their family in July and they were so thankful! We do not have any identified person/family this month who could be blessed/encouraged by the gift of meals, so if you know of someone you’d like to recommend, please let us know!
– We talked briefly about any tips or tricks we have to share as we’re all getting more used to meal swapping. It was noted that writing the food information on the inside Ziploc bag leaves the second, outside Ziploc bag free of any writing, and therefore more easily to reuse. The importance of double bagging bread for freshness was brought up, as was the importance of using actual freezer bags to package all food in. (Please do be sure that all meal swap meals are packaged in good quality freezer bags – this is really important in ensuring that everyone’s food remains as fresh as possible. Thanks!)
– Lastly, just a reminder that the two ingredients our swap has agreed to avoid are peanuts/peanut butter and MSG. Marci is happy to be a resource if anyone has specific questions about particular MSG-free items.

I think that’s the recap! Thanks so much to each of you for the delicious, all prepped food! Especially on these toasty days, it’s been so great to have our meal swap meals on hand to minimize time in the kitchen. Thanks again, everyone, and see you on Monday, September 16th at 8 pm!


Fall is just around the corner…September Meals and October Categories

Freezer meals to look forward to receiving in September…
Market Sandwich
Heather- Monte Cristo Sandwich
Holly- Meatball Subs
Entree Salad
Sara- Waldorf Salad
Rachel- Treasure Hunt Salad
Kelly- Mexican Pizza
Karna-Chicken Artichoke Calzones/Pizza
Emily- Chicken Barbacoa
Susan- Chicken & Dumplings
Jill-Monteray Smoked Burger
Jess-Grilled Turkey Sliders
Your Choice
Kristen- Not Your Mama’s Tator-Tot Hot dish
Marci- Beef Stroganoff

Fall Categories & Recipe Assignments for the next swap
Italian/Mediterranean: Emily & Susan
North American/European: Sara & Rachel
Asian/Indian: Kelly & Karna
Southwestern/Latin American: Kristen & Marci
Breakfast entree: Heather
Crock-pot: Holly
Your Choice: Jill & Jess

August Swap Details

Hi, All –
Happy August! I’m feeling like these days are rushing by, with the end of summer and the beginning of the school year nipping at my heels! I’m doing my best to ignore them both for as long as possible and to just stay present in these remaining lovely days!

A few things regarding the August swap that I wanted to touch base about:
– We will meet at my house on Monday, August 19th from 8-9 pm. It will probably be dark by the time we get around to doing our actual swap, so bring your coolers into the house and we’ll swap inside.
– Stephanie is stepping out of the group beginning this month, so please bring 10 rather than 11 meals to the swap. We’ll be back up to our full 12 again for the September swap.
– Marci and I will both be out of town this week and won’t be returning until Sunday night. PLEASE please please submit your recipes to the blog so that Marci can work her organizational pdf magic on Monday before the swap. She won’t have time this month to do any extra tracking down of recipes that aren’t submitted on time, so please give your best effort in getting all recipes in!
– We’ve been chatting some about what to do about our swap meeting time going forward into the fall. What do you think? Should we stick with Monday pm, or go back to Sunday? We’ll talk more about this at the swap, but please come with your input!
– Lastly, we’ll be switching up the categories for the fall beginning with the October meal category assignments. We’ll be going mostly back to the categories we cooked from this spring (i.e. Italian/Mediterranean, North American/European, Asian/Indian, Southwestern/Latin American, Your Choice) We’ll be doing away with the soups and stew category, which means we’re looking for a replacement category. How would you like to see that category replaced? We truly would like your ideas on this, so give it some thought and we’ll talk more at the swap.

Happy meal prepping, everyone! Looking forward to seeing each of you next week!

If you haven’t eaten July’s Chicago Style Pan Pizza yet…

Jess made her pizza recipe tonight and had a few tips for those of us who haven’t had it yet…

How to thaw the pizza dough:
*Spray your 9×13 pan with cooking spray, then place frozen dough in pan. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and thaw overnight OR thaw on the counter for 2-4 hours.

I just baked mine tonight, and this recipe was slightly different than I’d made before, so here are some cooking tips for this recipe:

*After the dough is thawed, spread it in the bottom of the pan leaving a thick crust along the sides. You probably won’t be able to get it to the edge the first time, so let it rest 10-20 minutes, then stretch it again ( be sure to patch up any holes that you might tear in the bottom).
*Cover the pan once again and let the dough rise while you preheat your oven at 350.
*Pre-bake the crust for 5-10 minutes. (I didn’t do this, and ended up cooking my pizza about 40 minutes in all to make sure the bottom wasn’t too soft. I also ended up siphoning out a little grease from the outside of the crust after 25 minutes, probably because of a hole in the crust.)
*Add ingredients as described in recipe (sausage-cheese-some of the sauce-some of the parmesan), then bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Hope that helps!