May 29, 2016

Nacho Casserole

Hi friends! For my dear husband Adam's birthday we decided to throw him a Nacho Party! I made nacho cheese, taco meat, beans, and got lots of fun fixins. We hosted the party at our friend Mary Helen's house. Adam was very happy with the results.

Adam's Nacho plate

After the party we had a bunch of leftover taco meat. I decided to make a freezer meal out of it of course. This is a recipe I made up.

Nacho Casserole
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1 package Taco Seasoning
1 16 oz box of Penne pasta
1 Can of Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 10 oz can of Rotel, drained of most of the liquid
6 oz shredded Mexican Cheese blend
Sprinkle of Chili Powder
Cooking Spray

Directions
1. Cook ground beef until browned. Drain grease. Add Taco Seasoning and liquid  according to the package directions.  I like to use beer instead of the water the package suggests.  Simmer until most of the liquid has cooked out.

2. While the beef is cooking, boil water and cook pasta to al dente. Save out 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid that you pull out right before draining the pasta.  This stuff is magic!

3. In a large bowl combine beef, rotel, soup, reserved cooking liquid, and pasta. Mix well.

 
Waiting for pasta and cooking liquid

4. Place mixture in a sprayed baking dish. Top with shredded cheese and sprinkle with chili powder.

All done!

5. If making ahead, cover with plastic wrap, foil, and label.   Freeze.

6. To bake: Thaw for 24 hours in fridge if baking from frozen. Uncover, bake at 350 degrees until browned and bubbly.

Feel free to add more vegetables to this dish. I would suggest corn or black beans. Also, when it comes out of the oven, some chopped green onions or cilantro would be excellent on it as well.

I hope you try this recipe out. It makes quite a bit, so it's a good one to make one for your family and save one for someone that could use a nice homemade meal!

August 6, 2015

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken

Hello everyone! I've got a freezer meal coming soon for you but today I wanted to share a slow cooker meal that I made over the weekend. I love using the slow cooker during the summer when it's hot but you don't want to heat up your house.

I got the basis of the recipe here: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/slow-cooker-chicken-with-tomatoes-and-artichokes/12b3ec32-5534-44d3-a488-02f8afa0621b

I tweaked the recipe to make it more tasty!!

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken

Ingredients

1 1/2 to 2 pounds chicken tenders(they were on sale but any other skinless boneless chicken would work, just cut it up)
1 tablespoon Greek seasoning(I love this one: https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/greek-seasoning/c-24/p-411/pd-s
1/2 cup of green olives, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 jar of marinated artichokes, drained(or you could use a can of quartered artichokes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Crumbled feta cheese


Directions

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray or use a slow cooker liner(I <3 these). Add the first 6 ingredients to slow cooker. Stir everything up so it is all combined as shown below.



Cover; cook on low heat for around 5 hours. Serve meal in shallow bowls, sprinkled with feta and parsley.



Let me know if you try this meal out! I want to hear from you:)

March 29, 2015

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken / Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Soup with Cauliflower

Hello friends!  Today I'm not posting a freezer meal, but a meal that is very versatile and a great way to make one easy meal that will translate into many other meals.  I'll show you one such extra meal that I made that was awesome.  It's like getting two meals for one!

Today I'm going to show you my take on Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken.  I got the basis for this recipe from a cookbook called "The Everyday Low-Carb Slow Cooker Cookbook". http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Low-Carb-Slow-Cooker-Cookbook/dp/1569244286

A side note:  I love this cookbook.  Even if you don't eat low carb, it's a great resource to make some healthy, new slow cooker recipes.

Our local grocery store had whole chickens on sale last week.  I remember seeing in the cookbook a way to make whole chicken in the slow cooker.  There is another recipe in the book for chicken piccata that uses boneless chicken breasts.  I decided to combine the two recipes.

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

Ingredients

4-5 pound whole chicken, rinsed, with the giblets removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca(or use cornstarch)
2 lemons, pierced 6 times with a paring knife, and cut in quarters
Cooking spray

Directions

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray to make for easy cleanup.  Put as many of the lemon pieces and you can fit into the cavity of the chicken.  Coat chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put chicken into the slow cooker breast side down.

In a small bowl, combine wine, Tabasco, and tapioca.  Mix thoroughly until completely smooth. Pour mixture into slow cooker.  Place remaining lemon pieces into slow cooker as well.

Cover and cook on Low for around 7 hours.  How long will depend on the size of your chicken. Check doneness with an instant-read thermometer(it should register 170 degrees).  If you have a 4 pound chicken, you might want to start checking at 6 hours.

When done, remove chicken from the slow cooker and let rest prior to serving.

The chicken is delicious served by itself with a little of the slow cooker juices.  It's also great the next day on salads or in sandwiches.  I decided to take it a step further and it took it over the edge!

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Soup with Cauliflower

Ingredients

Juice left over from the slow cooker lemon chicken
Cooked lemons
Breast meat shredded from 1 chicken breast from slow cooker lemon chicken
1 12 oz bag of frozen cauliflower(I used one with a garlic sauce)
Parsley

Directions

After removing the chicken from slow cooker, use tongs to squeeze lemon pieces to release all juices into the chicken juice that is already in the slow cooker.  Discard lemon rinds.

Cook frozen cauliflower in the microwave according to the directions.  Once cooked, cut any large cauliflower pieces into bite sized pieces.  Add cauliflower and shredded chicken to slow cooker with juices. Stir to combine.

To serve, ladle into bowls and stir in chopped parsley.  TIP:  An easy way to add parsley is to use scissors.  Just clip right over the bowl.

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Soup with Cauliflower

Please note, if you are not a big cauliflower fan there are other great options.  I would also suggest cooked rice, noodles, broccoli, kale, or spinach.  If you are using the rice or noodles, only add what you are going to eat right then, as leaving them in the liquid will cause them to bloat.

I hope you enjoy this meal.  Let me know if you tried it and how it went.  Also let me know if you thought of a great variation!

March 17, 2015

Stuffed Pepper Bake

Hi Everyone!  It's been a long time since I've posted a meal.  I've still been making freezer meals but I've been too lazy to put up any recipes.  Well that changes today!

Today I'm showing you a stuffed pepper bake.  This is a recipe that I made about a month back.  It's very easy and a great way to use up any extra peppers that you may have.  It's also much easier then stuffing peppers like in a normal stuffed pepper dish.

I got the recipe from this site: http://www.sweetandsavoryfood.com/2013/08/stuffed-red-pepper-bake.html

As far as modifications, instead of using red peppers only, I used a red and an orange pepper.  The recipe would work well with whatever kind of sweet peppers you have, even green.  I also added some fresh garlic and extra Italian seasonings to the meat/rice mixture and eliminated the garlic salt from the topping. You could also substitute ground turkey for the ground beef and white rice for brown rice.

The recipe makes enough for two 8 x 8's.  I encourage you to make one for your family and give one to a friend or neighbor.

Stuffed Pepper Bake
*adapted from Been There, Baked That
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 lb. ground beef
2 sweet peppers, chopped finely
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 t. Italian seasoning
drizzle of olive oil

Directions:
Cook rice according to package directions and set aside. Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook hamburger , peppers and garlic until meat is done and no longer pink; drain grease. Stir in rice, spaghetti sauce and one teaspoon of the Italian seasoning, let cook until heated through.





Pour this mixture into two 8x8 casserole dishes.  Top with the two cheeses.  In a small bowl combine bread crumbs and Italian seasoning with a drizzle of olive oil, toss to coat.  Sprinkle on bread crumbs.



Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and topping is crispy.  If freezing the other dish, allow mixture to cool completely.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap, then foil.  Label, date and freeze. Will stay fresh in the freezer for 3 months

November 17, 2013

Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

Hi Everyone!
   If you are a person that can't get enough Thanksgiving then I have a great meal for you today.  This is an original recipe that I came up with a few years ago and have tweaked.  It's a great meal to make now because you can take advantage of great Thanksgiving sales at the grocery store.  It's also a great meal to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

Ingredients

Turkey Filling

2 pounds ground turkey(you could also use chopped leftover turkey)
3 stalks of celery, diced
Half a large onion, diced
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups of chicken broth(our you could use turkey broth)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sweet Potato Topping

2 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of half and half or milk
a  pinch of ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese

Directions
1.   Brown the turkey in a large skillet.  I used 85% lean turkey.  If you are using leaner turkey or leftover turkey, you should increase the amount of olive oil to 2 tablespoons.

2.  While the turkey is cooking, dice the sweet potatoes and put into medium pot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  When they start boiling, add some salt and reduce heat to 80% and allow to cook till tender.

3.  When turkey is about 90% browned, add the celery, onion, thyme, salt and pepper.  Let turkey finish cooking and allow veges to start to soften.

Softening veges

4.  When the turkey is 100% browned, add the flour.  Stir the flour around and cook for about 1 minute or so.  Add the broth and bring mixture back to a bubble.  The sauce will be very "saucy".  This is exactly the way you want it.  Once the mixture thickens, reduce heat and cook another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes.

The "saucy" turkey mixture.

5.  Drain the cooked sweet potatoes and return to hot pot.  Add butter, half and half, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Mash till mostly smooth.  I enjoy some lumps.  If you don't like lumps, keep mashing.

My lumpy sweet potatoes.

6.  Place turkey mixture in the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan.  Dollop sweet potatoes on top.  The sweet potatoes don't spread easily.  I find it best to dollop the sweet potatoes in large spoonfuls all over the turkey mixture then spread them out with the back of a spoon.  Top with cheese.

7.  If freezing, cover, label and freeze till ready to use.  To reheat, thaw for 24 hours in fridge.  Bake 35-45 min at 350 degrees till warmed through and top is browned and bubbly.

8.  If serving right away, bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees until top is browned and bubbly.

I hope you guys enjoy this meal as much as I do.  It's a great way to make Thanksgiving anytime of year. Also remember to make it after Thanksgiving to use up all those leftovers.  If you have leftover mashed potatoes(or sweet potatoes) from Thanksgiving, you could even skip a bunch of the steps!

I'd also like to encourage you to make this meal for someone that needs it this time of year.  I'm going to donate mine to the freezer meal ministry at church.

July 20, 2013

Tater Brat Bake

Hello Everyone!
    I think you are going to like this meal today.  I was searching the internet for a different freezer meal to make.  I've been making lots with chicken lately and wanted to change it up.  I found this meal and it looked yummy:  http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/tater-brat-bake

I mostly followed the recipe, but added a few special touches!  This is a great one to double.  Make one for now and one for later.

Tater Brat Bake

Ingredients
1 package uncooked bratwurst links
1 bottle of beer (I used a malty pale ale)
12 oz water
1 can(16oz) sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1 can(10 3/4 ounces) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
1/2 cup milk
1 package(32oz) frozen tater tots
1 cup(4oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon brown mustard
dash of nutmeg
black pepper

Directions

1.  In a large saucepan, combine bratwurst, beer, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160° Drain and cut into 1/4-in. slices. In the same pan, brown brats in butter over medium-high heat until crispy; drain on paper towels.



Brats spending time in the beer Jacuzzi! 

2.  Spoon sauerkraut into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.(I used 8 x 8's for this because it works better for me.) Top with brats.


3.  Combine soup, milk, mustard, nutmeg, and black pepper in a medium bowl.  Whisk up so the mixture is very smooth.  Drizzle soup mixture over the brats and sauerkraut.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Top with Tater Tots.
Ready for the oven or freezer!

4.  If freezing ahead, cover well, label and freeze now.  Check out the picture below of how I label.  Date, what it is, and directions help to make life easier when its time to bake it.


Example of labeling


5.  If making for now, bake at 450° for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned.

6.  To serve from freezer, let thaw for 24 hours in fridge. Uncover. Bake at 450° for 25-35 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned.   

Hope you enjoy this!  Let me know if you try it and how it turned out. I'm always looking for feedback.  

June 9, 2013

Chicken Florentine Bake

Hey everyone!  I've got another great freezer meal idea for you today.  This is a recipe I came up with myself.  It's a great casserole because I don't use any canned soup!  I make my own easy cream sauce so I can control the salt and quality of ingredients. The amount I show below makes two big meals.  You can make one for now and one to freeze for later.  It's also a great meal to share with someone.

Chicken Florentine Bake

Ingredients

1 - 1 1/2 pounds chicken(I used breast but feel free to use dark meat or even rotisserie)
10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach- thawed, drained and squeezed dry
13.25 box of rigatoni pasta(feel free to use penne or rotini also)
8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
4 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
1 cup chicken stock(you can use the stock you make from poaching the chicken!)
2-3 fresh sage leaves - shredded(optional)
a few dashes of nutmeg
salt and pepper
  
1.  Start by poaching your chicken.  Check out my tips on poaching chicken and making your own chicken stock here:  http://makingmealsforhim.blogspot.com/2012/09/chicken-tortilla-soup.html


Poaching the chicken

2.  While your chicken is poaching, start your water boiling for your pasta.  Once the water starts to boil, salt  the water and add the pasta.  Cook pasta till al dente.  Make sure not to take the pasta all the way till finished, as it will cook further while its being baked.

3.  Once your pasta and chicken are going, you can start the cream sauce.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt completely.  Once the butter is melted, add the flour.  Whisk the flour into the butter until is is completely incorporated.  Allow the flour/butter mixture to cook for about 30 seconds.  Now add the half and half and chicken stock and continue to whisk.  Turn heat up to medium high to high.  The mixture will start to thicken once it comes up to a bubble.  Continue to whisk sauce until it thickens, then reduce heat to medium to medium low.  Next add Parmesan cheese, pepper, sage, and nutmeg and whisk in.  Once those three ingredients are incorporated, add in the spinach.  Once spinach is incorporated, turn off heat and let stand until ready to mix into casserole.

Spinach Cream Sauce

4.  When your chicken is done poaching, let it cool a bit and cut it into chunks.  Drain your pasta.  Now it's time to combine everything( I used a big bowl to combine everything but you could also use the pan you poached your chicken in.).  Add your chicken, pasta, and cream sauce and combine.  Put the mixture into your baking dishes and top with the mozzarella cheese.


Completed Dish!
5.  Cover with plastic wrap, foil, and label(so you can figure out what it is later;)  Freeze until ready for use.  

6.  To reheat, defrost in refrigerator for about 24 hours.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min to an hour or until browned and bubbly.