On Friday, April 29, I was invited to attend a Freezer Meal get together at Sarello’s (formerly a restaurant, now catering) in Moorhead, MN. I would like to thank CommonGround ND and the ND Soybean Council for sponsoring this event. What a fun time we had.
There was about 15-16 of us women who gathered for the event – a mixture of bloggers, farmers, ranchers and women from all areas of life really. The one thing we had in common is we all wanted to network and create some freezer meals to share with our family members. This would be an excellent thing to do for a group of girlfriends if you can organize the recipes and ingredients in advance.
I was warmly greeted upon my arrival at Sarello’s with a fresh glass of Prosecco from Katie Pinke of The Pinke Post . Katie was the force behind the evening and organized the event with Sarello’s who hosted and provided the recipes, dishes and instruction for the evening. I met Katie via social media and we have stayed in touch via each other’s blogs. I visited Sarello’s the restaurant back in the day when I lived in Fargo but that was many years ago. Since I’ve moved, I followed Sarah and Tony on their blog, The Lost Italian. Yay for social media. It’s genuinely nice to meet and visit with my online friends in real life. Tony and Sarah have a particularly interesting story of meeting and working on cruise ships and traveling the world before settling down in Fargo to raise their son.
Above Tony is demonstrating the mac and cheese. Sarah is making cranberry lemon scones.
There was no time wasted putting us to work with our own burners for the mac and cheese and bowls and measuring cups for the scones
This was the first event that CommonGroundND put on where freezer meals were made. We started out with Chef Tony in front of up demonstrating how to make an easy macaroni and cheese. A family staple comfort food dish. Here are a few pointers he gave us:
- In regards to choosing noodles – he likes the DaVinci, Barilla or Dakota Growers brands
- Salt your water to cook pasta
- Cook to al dente, the pasta will keep cooking and you finish this dish in the oven, you want it to have a bite to it yet after boiling
- Milk – use 2% or whole
- Use unsalted butter
- Use whatever cheeses or cheese blends you like
- You can always add bacon to the recipe
After Tony was done with the easy mac and cheese, Sarah came up to demonstrate her Cranberry Lemon Scones. She is the baker of the duo, Tony doesn’t really care for the precise measurements required with baking. I have actually never made scones so was interested to follow along. Her tips:
- Cut and freeze butter for future use when making these
- Buy butter on sale and freeze it, it lasts a long time
- Make your own vanilla with vodka and vanilla beans – it has superior flavor
- Use your old butter wrapper to grease your pan (great trick!)
We then split into two groups and made each dish with assistance from the chefs. The mac and cheese went into a 9×13 pan and can be baked in the future. The scones were flash frozen to be baked at a future date.
I told Tony his pans looked well worn. He said they were well worn and loved. He wouldn’t trade anything for them. Also, not much beats the smell of melting butter. Mmmm!
Next, we took a break to enjoy some dinner that was prepared for us. April was actually Soyfoods Month, so the first dishes I saw were a lovely Edamame Salad with an Asian Soy Dressing and a Tuscan Bean Salad. Both were presented beautifully on a large serving platter. We also got to try a bacon wrapped meatloaf, the mac and cheese we just assembled and the meatballs we were about to make. Everything was delicious. My favorite was the Edamame Salad.
We were back to make two more dishes after our dinner break. Baked Ziti and Gio’s Meatballs. The baked ziti went into a 9×13 pan with generous amounts of fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese and Tony’s homemade red sauce with spicy pork sausage. Gio’s Meatballs (named after Nasello’s son) was a dish we just put together, formed meatballs and froze for future use. And luckily, at this time the scones were coming fresh out of the oven for us to taste.
My cooking partner was Alicia, aka PrairieStyleFile and we had a great time. This event was totally something I HAVE done with my girlfriends before and it’s a great way to socialize and get some work done too. Thank you for a lovely evening to everyone involved. I’ll be posting recipes in the future as I make them. Tony and Sarah gifted us a signed cookbook so I look forward to cooking from that collection as well.