Friday, March 25, 2011

White Chicken Lasagna

I tried a new meal this week. This came from "Don't Panic - More Dinner's in the Freezer".

½ cup butter, melted
½ cup flour
1 t. salt
¼ t. black pepper
1 t. dried basil
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
8 oz. lasagna noodles
2 cups cottage cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
½ lb mozzarella, thinly sliced
8 oz fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Directions: Melt butter in a large saucepan; blend in flour, salt, pepper, and basil. Stir in chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and add chicken. Cook and drain noodles according to package directions. Mix cottage cheese with beaten egg and spinach; set aside.
Place 1/3 of the chicken mixture into a lined (or disposable) 9X13 baking dish. Top with half the noodles, half the cottage cheese mixture, and half the mozzarella. Repeat. Top with the last third of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Freeze.
To serve: (If not already in one, place in 9x13 dish.) Thaw completely. Bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees until bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes: I used bottled chicken, which made it a little less exciting for me. I also wanted a bit more flavor so I upped the salt (from ¾ t) and doubled the basil in this version. I think because the bottled chicken wasn’t cooked with seasonings, it caused that flavor to overwhelm the sauce. Maybe it needed to simmer in the sauce a bit. I also halved the spinach to reduce the amount of gagging from my family. :P Perhaps you can get away with more. Not a “to die for” meal, but good. And it adds some fun variety to the standard pastas I do.

Friday, March 18, 2011


So is meatloaf weird? I had always thought it was just a joke meal - nobody really eats it, they just make fun of it. But it was in a recipe book my mother-in-law had and when I mentioned to my hubby that I thought I'd try it, he said, "Oh! I love meatloaf!" Hmmm. So I tried it yesterday for St. Patrick's day. My mother-in-law suggested a shamrock shape (you can kind of see it, right?). And then my neighbor suggested green mashed potatoes. So we were quite festive! :) And it was actually pretty good and mixed up very quickly. I'll definitely do this one again.


1 ½ lbs ground beef

1 cup quick oats

2 eggs

½ cup milk

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon mustard

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon sage

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¾ cup catsup

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except catsup. Spread mixture in an ungreased loaf pan, or shape as desired in casserole dish. Spread catsup on loaf. Bake uncovered 1-1 ¼ hours. Makes 6 servings.

Freezer option: Prepare as directed except do not bake. Cover with aluminum foil or place in freezer bag. To serve, bake frozen meatloaf uncovered in 350 degree oven 2-2 ¼ hours.

For my family (2 adults, 2 eating children) I divided this in half and froze the other half for another day in a loaf pan with saran wrap, then pulled it out after it was solid and wrapped the saran wrap around it and popped it in a ziplock with the instructions.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sandwich Pockets

I'm going to call these "Sandwich Pockets" but I got them off of a blog where the lady called them "Homemade Healthy Poptarts"... and although they are really yummy, they just weren't quite enough like a Poptart to do it for me. So Sandwich Pockets it is!

These are way easy. Just a few ingredients:

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I did half white/half wheat - found it was just too heavy for us)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup melted butter
1 cup vanilla yogurt (original recipe called for plain, but I like things sweet)
About 5 ounces of 100% fruit jelly or jam – any flavor you like! (I found freezer jam is too runny for this though)

Begin by mixing the flour, salt, butter and yogurt. Knead the dough just a little bit to make it nice and workable. Roll out the dough on a large, well floured surface. Use a knife to cut the dough into the desired poptart size you would like.

Spoon the jelly onto just the middle of one square (keeping it away from the edges), place another one on top, and press the edges with a fork to seal them so the jam doesn't leak out.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool and eat, or cool and freeze. If frozen, you can pull them out of the freezer and pop them (just like poptarts) right in the toaster - I just had to put the setting a little higher and they turned out beautifully!

Here is the link to the blog where I got it from and she's got great, detailed pics on how to make it, should you desire.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mother-In-Law Cheesecake

Don't you think it's about time I did a freezer dessert? :) Last week was a bit stressful as I ended up working for/with my husband at an expo... consequently I completely and totally spaced the fact that Friday came and went without my freezer food post! So to make it up to you loyal follower(s?), I give you a favorite family dessert! This one comes from my mother-in-law's mother-in-law (aka my hubby's grandma) with her permission. It's much lighter than a regular cheesecake, but still very filling. Guaranteed to please your mother-in-law!

Mother-In-Law Cheesecake


2 packages graham crackers

2 cubes melted butter

½ cup sugar


2 8 oz. packages cream cheese

2 cups sugar

6 T. lemon juice (or ¼ c + 2 T.)

Put in mixer and mix well. Then fold in 2 9 oz. cartons of cool whip. Pour on top of graham cracker crust in a 9x13 pan. Top with fruit topping. Put in freezer.


1 box Danish dessert

1 pint fruit (cherries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.)

Notes: Don't forget to pull it out of the freezer soon enough for it to be softened enough to eat - like maybe when you sit down to dinner? If you find it's getting too melt-y before you're ready to eat, stick it in the fridge. If there are any leftovers (which never happens at our house!), just keep them in the fridge.

Also, for my little fam I usually just do half of this recipe and put it in a pie dish.

If you want a slightly healthier version, you can cut the butter down by 1/3 on the crust and it won't be too crumbly. You can also cut out the sugar in the crust (I know this because I have forgotten it the last couple of times I've made it) and it's not very noticeable. OR you could maybe even substitute really finely chopped oatmeal (like in your blender) for part of the graham crackers - haven't tried this yet though. And of course you could also do the low fat cream cheese - it just makes the consistency a tad bit runnier, but if you've never had it with the regular cream cheese you wouldn't even know it was any different. That's what I usually use and it's still absolutely delicious!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Chicken

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 ½ teaspoons garlic salt

1 Tablespoon oil

1 20 oz. can pineapple tidbits

¼ cup honey

3 Tablespoons lime juice

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Cut chicken into chunks and brown in oil with the garlic salt. Drain pineapple. Add ¼ cup pineapple juice to skillet. Cover and simmer 6-8 minutes. Remove chicken. Add honey, lime juice, soy sauce, cornstarch and remainder of pineapple juice. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thick and clear, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Allow to cool. Place chicken, pineapple, and sauce in gallon freezer bag. Label and freeze.

To serve: Thaw. Heat until sauce is hot and bubbly and chicken is heated through. Serve over hot rice and garnish with lime wedges.

Note: As requested, this is a recipe that you could take directly from the oven to the stove. Just be aware that it will take longer to heat it through. I had to do that this last time but since it takes a while to get the rice going and cooked, I had plenty of time to do it that way.

I got this recipe from a book called Dinner is Ready by Deanna Buxton.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pigs in a Blanket

Pigs in a Blanket

This recipe makes 16, so you will need 2 packages of hot dogs.

Mix in mixer and let stand 5 minutes:

2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons yeast

½ cup sugar


1 egg

2 teaspoons salt

¼ cup oil

5 cups flour

Knead 7 minutes. Let rise one hour. Divide in half. Roll out into two 18 inch circles. Use pizza cutter or knife to cut each into 8 pie wedges. Roll up hot dog in each wedge. At this point, if you are freezing them, stick them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for a couple of hours. When frozen solid, put them in a freezer bag and label.

If you are eating them now, let them rise one hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

This recipe is so easy! And the "blanket" is absolutely delicious -- I never want to go back to a store bought hot dog bun! So I timed it the last time I did these and it takes about 3 1/2 hours from start to finish, or 2 hours to get it to the freezer stage. Most of that time is just letting the dough raise though - it really only took about 10 minutes to mix up and less than 10 minutes to roll out. So it's pretty feasible to crank out quite a few of them, just plan your time accordingly.

Also, when you pull them out of the freezer to use them, I usually put them on a cookie sheet and just warm up the oven a bit (not hot, just warmer than my house temp - ideal bread raising temp is 75 degrees, I believe) and stick them in there for about an hour and a half to two hours before I'm ready to bake them to speed up the raising. But maybe you could also pull them out of the freezer and stick them in the fridge the night before for a really slow raise??

(Got this from a blog somewhere...)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Baby Food

Did you know it is much cheaper to just make your own baby food? When we got our Blentec blender it came with a recipe book and one of the sections was on Pureed Foods... a.k.a baby food. Who'da thunk? I've just always paid the 50 cents or so for the little baby food containers at the grocery store. So I tried it. And you know what? It was ridiculously easy! And gobs cheaper... I could even afford to buy organic foods (pre-made version costs about $1 per container at the store) and it would still be cheaper!
For example: I cooked and pureed 1/4 of a butternut squash that I bought for less than $2 (on sale for about 50 cents/lb.) and got about 3 containers worth of baby food out of that, making it roughly 17 cents per container. This, of course is dependent upon the size of the squash and the price you buy it at, but I was pretty proud about that!
So let me tell you the secret. Most pureed foods need only two ingredients: a fruit or vegetable, and water. Yep, it's that easy. If it's a vegetable it needs to be steamed first though. And then you toss it in your blender with a little bit of water and puree it. I start with a little less water than I think I'll need and add to the desired consistency.
And then whatever the baby isn't going to eat in the next few days, you can stick in the freezer (did you wonder how this was a freezer meal?). It's helpful to freeze it in smaller portions for ease in thawing when needed. (I have also reused either the plastic containers or glass jars from purchased baby food.)
Some ideas for pureeing are: butternut squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, carrots, peas, pears, peaches, bananas, cooked chicken, and cooked beef. Also, you can use a water/baby formula mixture instead of just the water if desired.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Basil Pesto

Classic Basil Pesto

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 cups gently packed fresh sweet basil leaves

½ cup olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons raw pine nuts, toasted

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

In a food processor, pulse the first four ingredients in spurts, just until there are no whole leaves.With the machine running, pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream. Stop and scrape down sides, then pulse again (not too much because you want the texture from the leaves still). Add pine nuts and pulse again (just enough to chop them a bit), then add cheese. You can add more olive oil for desired consistency, but if freezing I usually just enough olive oil to hold it together in a chunky paste. At this point, I portion it into plastic bags to freeze. You could also portion it by freezing it in ice cube trays and then after frozen, pop them into a freezer bag.

I froze a bunch in one container to keep them a bit more uniform.
This post is to get you thinking ahead about your spring garden plans! January is always so depressing so it was fun for me to be able to pull out and enjoy a bit of summer for dinner.
So what do you do with pesto, you ask? Don't be intimidated. It sounds fancy restaurant-y, but it's a really easy way to spice up any Italian dish you make. I use it for my throw together pasta dishes (see below), but you can also use it with chicken dishes, spread it on a homemade pizza instead of marinara sauce, use it instead of mayo on a sandwich, or put it on some toasted bread with chopped up tomatoes and parmesan... mmm!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Herb Chicken

This recipe has a light, slightly tangy sauce. We liked this one a lot.
(From Holly Clegg's Freezer Friendly Meals book)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T. flour
2 T. butter
2 green onions, chopped
2 t. dried parsley
3/4 c. chicken broth (or white wine, or white grape juice)
1/2 t. dried rosemary
1/2 t. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with the flour.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and brown the chicken on both sides (about 5-7 minutes each side). If you are eating this for dinner right away, make sure the chicken is done. Remove the chicken to a baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the green onions, parsley, broth, rosemary, and thyme. Pour into the skillet and stir with bits remaining in pan. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Pour over the chicken.

If eating now, serve right away. If not, cool to room temperature, wrap, label, and freeze. To eat after freezing, thaw and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is done.

*Note: The next time I do this, I think I will double the sauce so that I have a bit (doesn't really need much - it's a strong sauce) extra to put on mashed potatoes to go with the chicken.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pizza, Pizza!

What's better on a Friday night than a frozen pizza you can pop in the oven to feed the kids while you escape with your hubby for the evening? My sister-in-law asked me for this recipe earlier this week, reminding me that this would be a good one to post.

Jay's Signature Pizza Crust


· 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

· 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

· 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

· 1 teaspoon salt

· 2 tablespoons olive oil

· 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour


1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.

3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.

5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

*Note: to keep the crust from baking to my pan I generously sprinkle some cornmeal on the pizza stone.

I love homemade pizzas! This is not only because they taste better and are incredibly cheap (around $1.75-ish for one medium sized pizza, depending on your toppings) but also, once you find a good dough recipe, you can play around with whatever toppings you want. Pepperoni is a standard favorite around here. We've also done plain old cheese, supreme, BBQ chicken (BBQ sauce, red onion, and cooked, chopped chicken dipped in more BBQ sauce), our own version of Papa Murphy's garlic chicken, and (only liked by mommy) spinach, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes. Oh, and our favorite tomato base is Shirley J's Pizza and Pasta Seasoning Mix - (1 T. of the seasoning to 1 small can of tomato sauce - we use just less than 2 cans to one batch of dough).
What I usually do is mix up a batch of the pizza dough, split it into thirds, make 2 pizzas for dinner that night, and then par-bake the last 1/3 of the dough and freeze that separately for a quick dinner for me and the kids on a night when Ric isn't going to be home for dinner. This is my ugly shaped crust:
So to par-bake them, you get the crust all shaped and then bake it at 500 degrees for 3 minutes, remove it from the pan/pizza stone and let it cool completely. At this point, you can just wrap it up and freeze it, or you could also throw all your toppings on and freeze it all ready to go. Either way, when you're ready to eat it, you heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes (once the crust is golden brown and all of the cheese is melted). OR, you could just freeze the dough in blobs before you let it raise. So many options....!

Friday, January 7, 2011


I am excited to share with you some freezer meals my family has enjoyed! Freezer meals just make all kinds of sense to me. "Make it once, eat it twice" - it's a great time saver. So I will be posting a new freezer meal (or sometimes dessert!) every Friday.
I started to do this on my family blog, but due to threats of mutiny on account of our "family blog" becoming a "cooking blog" I have decided that this is the safer option. ;) So for my first Freezer Food Fridays post, please feel free peruse some of my previous postings: