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


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

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:

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

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


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


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:

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.   

April 16, 2013

Beef Taco Bake

Hello All!

Here's a recipe that's a good one for all you taco fans out there. It's a hearty meal that can be modified to your liking! The recipe makes an 8 x 8 and a 16 x 9. It's a great way to make a meal for your family and have one left over to give to someone else or one for your freezer.

Beef Taco Bake


1 pound ground beef(You can sub ground chicken, pork, or turkey also.)
1 pound Penne pasta
1 15oz can of corn(drained and rinsed)
1 15oz can of black beans(drained and rinsed)
1 10oz can of Rotel(not drained)
1 10.75oz can of condensed tomato soup
1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese(I used a mexican blend)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Use a big pot because you will use it later to mix everything up in. Salt the boiling water generously. Add pasta and cook till al dente(you want it to still have a bite to it, as it will continue to cook in the oven).

2. While the pasta is cooking, brown the ground beef. (My secret to browning meat is to bring the meat out of the fridge about 15 min before you are ready to cook it. That will help it come to room temperature. Also make sure your pan is hot before you add the meat. I usually preheat my pan to medium high. Once you add the meat to the pan, leave it alone for a few minutes. This will give the meat time to develop some color and flavor. Once its browned a bit, you can break it up and move it around.)

3. Once the beef is cooked, drain any extra fat.  Add the spices to the beef and let it all cook together for a minute or two.

Browned beef spiced up and ready to go!

4. Drain the cooked pasta and put it back into the pot.

5. Add the browned ground beef, corn, black beans, condensed tomato soup and Rotel into the pot with the pasta. Stir to combine. Make sure all the pasta is coated with the ingredients.

Black beans, corn, condensed tomato soup, and Rotel

6. Transfer your combined mixture to your casseroles. This amount of ingredients filled a 8 x 8 and a 16 x 9 for me. I also sprayed my casseroles with cooking spray for easy clean up.

7. Top with shredded cheese. Cover well and freeze until ready for use. To reheat, defrost in refrigerator for about 24 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min to an hour or until browned and bubbly. Enjoy!

Ready to be cooked or frozen.

March 6, 2013

Crockpot Cube Steak and Gravy

Hey everyone!   Just a quick recipe tonight.  No pictures needed(its that easy!).  So my grocery store had a good sale on cube steak this week and I thought I'd find a good freezer meal recipe for it.  I found this recipe here:

I adapted it to make it a little more healthy.   Here's what I used:


Family size pack cube steak
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup(I used regular but you could use low fat too)
2 tablespoons of dried chopped onion
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 cup water
pepper to taste


In a gallon freezer bag, combine all the ingredients.  (I put the full bag in another bag just to make sure it didn't explode in my freezer!!)  Freeze until ready for use.  Let thaw for 24 hours in the fridge before putting in the crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Serve over rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.

Just a note:  In the original recipe they call for an envelope of onion soup mix.  I omitted this because it has a very high amount of salt.  There is already a high amount of salt in the soup.  I decided to make my own onion mix with no salt.

One more note:  You can also just skip the freezing step and put the combined ingredients directly into the crockpot and cook.

Hope you enjoy this one or chose to make it for someone you know needs a meal!!

February 9, 2013

Slow Cooker Vegetable Barley Soup

Hi Everyone!  I know I usually make freezer meals, but I have a slow cooker soup for you today.  I've been fighting a cold this week and was in the mood for a vitamin rich soup.

I found the recipe here:

I almost followed the recipe but substituted a few things.  Here's what I used:

  • 8 sprig(s) fresh thyme
  • 2 turnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 stalk(s) celery, sliced
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup(s) barley (not quickcooking)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 small (about 6 cups) bunch Swiss chard, stems discarded, leaves chopped
  • Shaved Parmesan, for serving

  • Basically I just substituted carrots for parsnips and turnips for rutabagas.

    1. Tie the thyme together with a piece of thread or butcher's twine. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the turnips, celery, garlic, onion, carrot, thyme, barley, 8 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
    2. Cook, covered, until the barley is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, 6 to 7 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high (if cooking on high, use only 6 cups of water).
    3. When the soup has 10 minutes left to cook, remove the thyme. If the slow cooker is on the low setting, turn it to high. Add the chard and cook, covered, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve with Parmesan, if desired.

    Here's a picture of the veges in the slow cooker before I added the water.

    Super easy meal!  I think it would be a great meal to make on a weekend and eat all week long for lunches.  It would also be a good meal to make and bring to someone hot out of the slow cooker.  

    February 2, 2013

    Chicken Enchiladas

    Chicken Enchiladas 

    Hi everyone!   It's been a long time since I've posted, but I'm still at this!!  I've been really busy so far this year with work and beer events!  I wanted to post a quick and easy recipe for Chicken Enchiladas.  It's a great one to make ahead for those nights when you want a Fiesta!!


    10-15 Flour Tortillas
    2 8oz cans Enchilada Sauce
    1 8oz package of Mexican cheese
    1 pound of chicken breast 

    1.   Poach the chicken to cook.  For the poaching I added onion, bay leaves, peppercorn, celery, and a little salt.  You can see my detailed explanation of poaching and how to do it in my previous post here.  One a side note:  You can also just use a rotisserie chicken for this.  It's a little quicker, but I love doing the poaching myself to get extra stock that I can use for other recipes.  I just freeze the stock till I need it.  

    2.  After the chicken is cooked, let it cool till it is easy to shred.  I've heard lots of ways to shred chicken(forks, food processor, etc) but I've found the easiest and quickest is to use your hands.  After the chicken is shredded, put it in a bowl with 3/4 of a can of the Enchilada Sauce and 1/2 of the cheese as shown below.

    Shredded Chicken, Cheese, and Echilada Sauce

    3.  Mix the cheese, chicken, and sauce.  Take a tortilla and place a spoonful of the chicken mixture in the center of the tortilla.  Do not overfill.

    Chicken Mixture in tortilla ready to be rolled up.

    4.  Roll up the tortilla and place the seam side down in a baking pan.  Repeat till pan is filled with enchiladas.

    Enchiladas in the pan.
    5.  After the pan is filled with the Enchiladas, pour remaining sauce(1 and 1/4 can) on top and spread around with the back of a spoon until all the Enchiladas are covered evenly.  Top with remaining cheese.

    Ready to freeze!!
    6.  Cover well and freeze until ready for use. To reheat, defrost in refrigerator for about 24 hours.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min to an hour or until browned and bubbly.  

    I hope you enjoy this recipe.  I promise I'll be posting more soon.  Let me know if you try this recipe or any of the other recipes from my blog!