Cooking 4 college kids

My niece Alexis Hinchey, a student at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas, is experiencing a particularly busy senior year. So her mother, my sister Margaret, made a special trip south last week, just to fill the freezer with healthy meals for Alexis and her roommates.
At the completion of her stay, Margaret posted the following note on the refrigerator at the girls’ apartment:
Left in the freezer
(Check off as you use them)
 large pan of meat loaf (cooked) (should serve 3-4)
 2 muffin meat loaves (cooked)
 2 muffin meat loaves (cooked)
 2 herbed chicken breasts (uncooked)
1 herbed chicken breast (uncooked)
1 small spicy chili
1 small spicy chili
1 large spicy chili (serves 3)
1 large container of cooked taco seasoned beef
1 large container of cooked shredded beef (spicy)
1 small chicken noodle soup
1 small chicken noodle soup
1 large chicken noodle soup (serves 3)
2 mini cornbreads
1 mini cornbread
6 brownies
1 large beef stroganoff (serves 3)
2 uncooked chicken pies
2 uncooked chicken pies
1 uncooked chicken pie
Left in refrigerator
1 serving of beef stroganoff on noodles
large container of queso with beef and Rotel tomatoes
container with topping for chicken pot pies (will only keep for 2 days)
6 chocolate chip cookies
lots of lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, Honeycrisp and Sweetango apples
baggie of chopped onions
baggie of chopped tomatoes
“We cooked about five hours the first day together, and then did one dish each of the next three days,” explained Margaret about the cooking extravaganza. “This was all in an effort to help the girls eat healthy with their crazy busy schedules. All the girls cook, and all are very slim and fun, but they are involved in so many things that their schedules are a challenge.”
Some of the recipes, like the muffin meat loaves and chicken pies, came from DotMom’s “Mixing & Musing Cookbook.” (I will try to print those in my next blog.)  A couple are family favorites that Margaret simply made from memory. Margaret and Lexis also hosted a post-TLU football game party, for which they made shredded beef in the slow cooker; and Margaret left yet another meal, chicken and dumplings, in the slow cooker, for the girls to consume upon their return from taking her to the airport.
The chicken and dumplings recipe came from the popular cooking website, The Crockpot Girls (www.crockpotgirls.com), which features recipes, tips and strategies for making meals ahead. Margaret put her own spin on the basic recipe. I tried to make a smaller batch of this in my smaller slow cooker this week, and found that the dumplings became too crowded and didn’t cook through, so I would recommend only making this in a large slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

Mix 4 cups cooked and cubed chicken with 4 cups chicken broth and 1 can Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup. Stir in ½ cup diced onion, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, ¼ teaspoon each sage and basil. (Peas and carrots could also be added, if desired).
Using 2 cans Grands refrigerated biscuits, cut the biscuits into four pieces and place on top of chicken mixture in the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

Margaret and Alexis also gave rave reviews to the shredded beef they served up to a crowd of hungry college kids, accompanied by chips with queso, vanilla bean ice cream and brownies.

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef

Place one medium (3 to 4 pound) chuck roast inside slow cooker. Over top pour 1 large jar of picante sauce, mild, medium or hot, depending on personal taste.
Cook for 8 hours on low. Shred the beef into the sauce and serve on soft buns or flour tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese and sour cream.

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