Monday, February 20, 2012

Freezer Egg McMuffins and Calzones

My poor poor freezer co-op group gets to be the guinea pig right along with my family these days.  I always said I wouldn't spring an "un-tried" recipe on the entire group, but let's just say that didn't last very long!  I wanted to tackle smaller quantities of two different individual items for our group this month so I made Egg McMuffins and individually sized Pepperoni Calzones.

For the Egg McMuffins, I cooked the eggs in muffin tins.  They took about 20 minutes at 350.  I am going to seek out some jumbo muffin tins as I think they might be a better fit on the english muffins.  I toasted the split english muffins while my eggs were cooking just on a rack below the eggs.  I also used good ol' Kraft American singles as my cheese to keep with the "authentic-y" McDonald's flavor.  I wrapped in a square of wax paper and then placed 4 in a gallon sized ziploc.  To reheat, I would wrap them in a moist paper towel and cook for maybe 20-30 seconds then I would toast the english muffin and then cook the insides a little more in the micro and re-assemble, but I'm kinda weard about soggy bread that way.  :)

For the Calzones, I bought the frozen loaves of bread.  I used one loaf per family to make 4 calzones.  I mixed 2 packages of regular pepperoni, 2 packages of turkey pepperoni, 8 cups of mozzarella cheese, and about 2 cups of marinara sauce for the filling.  I put the loaves in my "bread proof" setting on my oven and we watched them rise and rise and rise. 

I took out one loaf at a time, rolled it out, cut into fourths, put an ice cream scooper worth of goo in the middle, and did my best to form some sort of calzone-ish shape.  It was a bit of a mess.  :)  I brushed with a little italian seasoning and canola oil and put them in the oven to par-bake them at 350.  To re-heat, I thawed them in the fridge and then microwaved them for 30 seconds and then stuck them in the toaster oven (see weird bread sogginess issues above).

In case you can't tell by now, I suck at all things "recipe."  I'm not a baker because I don't like to measure.  I'm the queen of the improvise which makes for a terrible food-blogger.  :(

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake

This recipe makes TWO 9x13 casserole dishes

2 packages (6 ounces each) reduced-sodium stuffing mix
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup milk
8 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 pound sliced deli ham, cut into 1-inch strips (my husband wants me to try using diced ham next time, so we might try that)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare stuffing mixes according to package directions. Meanwhile, in
a large bowl, combine soup and milk; set aside.
Divide chicken between two greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dishes.
Sprinkle with pepper. Layer with ham, Swiss cheese, 1 cup cheddar
cheese, soup mixture and stuffing. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar

Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the
remaining casserole at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15
minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove
from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at
350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until
heated through and cheese is melted. Yield: 2 casseroles (6 servings each)

Salsa Chicken

4 Chicken Breasts (1-1.5lbs) thawed
1 Jar Salsa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
*optional* block of cream cheese

To freeze: Place all ingredients (minus cream cheese) in a ziplock bag.  Freeze.

To cook:  Thaw overnight on counter. Place chicken breasts in crockpot and cover with beans, corn and salsa. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Shred chicken prior to serving and mix with salsa.  Add more salsa if desired.
** Optional: Stir in a block of cream cheese 30 min before serving.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Simple Salisbury Steak

1 can of mushroom soup
1 pound of ground beef
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

In a bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of the soup, beef, bread crumbs, egg, and onion. Shape firmly into 6 patties. (If you are using raw meat, you can freeze it now and brown the mushrooms and freeze them too, or you can freeze everything after cooking)
In a skillet over medium heat, cook patties, a few at a time, until browned on both sides, spoon off fat, set aside.
Stir in remaining soup and mushrooms, return the patties to the skillet, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until done, turning patties occasionally.

Allow to cool and place patties and sauce into freezer bag. Lay flat to freeze.

To COOK: Allow to thaw. Reheat and eat!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Oriental Chicken

Grated Ginger (approximately 1 small bulb)
1/2 c. Soy Sauce
1/2 c. Balsamic Vinegar
4 tsp. Garlic
2/3 c. Sugar
4 c. Cubed Chicken

Combine grated ginger, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and sugar in Ziploc bag. Once ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add chicken. Freeze.

When you are ready to cook, defrost the bag of ingredients. Separate the chicken and the sauce and place the chicken in a pan (leaving the sauce in the bag). After chicken is cooked, reduce the heat to low to keep warm. Place the sauce in a small sauce pan and reduce until it reaches the desired consistency. Combine the reduced sauce and chicken and serve over rice.

A few tips:

After I cook the chicken, I place it in a separate dish and reduce the sauce in the pan I used to cook the chicken.

Instead of grating the ginger, I used a food processor to chop it because I think that is much easier than using a grater.

For us, once the sauce is reduced, there is not much left because I like the sauce thick. So I doubled the sauce recipe, but not the chicken. If you want less sauce, here is the original ratio of ingredients:

Grated Ginger (approximately 1 small bulb)
1/4 c. Soy Sauce
1/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp. Garlic
1/3 c. Sugar
4 c. Cubed Chicken

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli
1 lb ground beef (I used turkey)
1 cup chopped onion (half a large onion)
1 cup shredded carrots
3 stalks celery, diced
2 – 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz can of tomato juice
1 - 12 oz can of V8 juice
1 - 15 oz can Red Kidney Beans
1 – 15 oz can Great Northern Beans (Navy Beans)
1 – tsp vinegar
1 – 1 tsp oregano
1 - 1 tsp basil
½ tsp – pepper
½ - lb. ditalini Pasta (salad pasta)

Brown ground beef (or turkey)
Add onion, carrots, and celery, simmer 10 minutes
Add remainder of ingredients (besides pasta) and cook one hour
Cook pasta – drain – and add to soup

You can make this ahead of time and it freezes well. Makes 10 servings for a soup course, or 5 servings as a meal.

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork (Crock Pot)
(I used Boston Butt)

4 lbs pork roast ( shoulder or butt)
2 large onions
1 cup ginger ale
1 (18 ounce) bottles favorite barbecue sauce ( I like Sweet Baby Ray's)
barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)

Slice one onion and place in crock pot.
Put in the roast and cover with the other onion, sliced. Pour over the ginger ale. Cover and cook on LOW for about 12 hours.
Remove the meat, strain and save the onions, discard all liquid. With two forks, shred the meat, discarding any remaining fat, bones or skin. Most of the fat will have melted away.
Return the shredded meat and the onions to the crock pot, stir in the barbecue sauce. Continue to cook for another 4 to 6 hours on LOW.
Serve with hamburger buns or rolls and additional barbecue sauce. Any leftovers freeze very well.

TIP: freeze ready-made sandwiches - a scoop of meat on a bun, well-wrapped. These make a great quick meal or snack. To reheat, remove wrapping, wrap in a paper towel, and zap 1-2 minute in the microwave.

Note: Shoulder or butt are recommended because the meat shreds very well. Other cuts do not shred as readily. It is a fattier cut, but the fat melts away in the cooking and is poured away when you discard the liquid.

If you have a big, 5 - 6 qt. crock pot, you could cook a 6 lb pork shoulder in it for 8 hours and should be shreddable at that point. Shredded, added the sauce, and cooked for another hour or so to meld everything. So use your best judgment on timing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Italian Meatloaf

1lb. lean ground beef
1/2cup spaghetti sauce, divided
1/2cup dry bread crumbs
1/4cup plus 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1/4cup finely chopped onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2tsp. Italian seasoning

PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Mix meat, 1/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of the cheese, onion, egg and seasoning.

SHAPE into loaf in 12x8-inch baking dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce and remaining 2 Tbsp. cheese.

BAKE 40 to 45 minutes or until cooked through (160°F).

**I always add just a bit more sauce so it makes it less dry. I also use Italian flavored bread crumbs to give it more flavor. :)

Taco Soup

2 pounds ground beef
2 cups diced onions
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can kidney beans
1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles
2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Frito Pie Casserole

  1. Make chili using the Wick Fowler boxes of seasoning except one box of seasoning for 3 lbs. of meat (instead of 2) and I add diced tomatoes.
  2. Mix chili with fresh onion (chopped really fine).
  3. Layer fritos, chili, american cheese, fritos, chili, and top with cheddar blend.
  4. Bake at 350 til hot and bubbly.
I like to eat mine with additional fritos and cottage cheese.  I use leftovers as burrito filling.

Baked Ziti

  • 2 boxes uncooked ziti pasta (or use penne pasta)
  • 4 lbs ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes (to taste) (optional)
  • 1 large onion , chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper , seeded and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 4 23.5oz jars of Marinara (I used Newman's Organic)
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (reserve half for bake day)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese , divided (or to taste)


  1. 1
    In a large pot cook the pasta in boiling salted water until JUST al dente (leave the pasta still firm, do not overcook) drain but do NOT rinse.
  2. 2
    Transfer to a large bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together; set adise.
  3. 3
    In a pot or Dutch oven cook the ground or sausage meat with chili flakes, if using and onion until beef is lightly browned; drain fat.
  4. 4
    Add in the garlic and bell pepper; cook stirring about 10 minutes.
  5. 5
    Season with seasoned salt or white salt and ground black pepper.
  6. 6
    Stir in the pasta sauce and reduce heat to low; simmer stirring for about 25-30 minutes.
  7. 7
    Mix in 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and the cooked ziti pasta.
  8. 8
    Divide the mixture between disposable foil pans.
  9. 9
    Sprinkle about 3/4 cup or to taste of Parmesan cheese over each top of pan (do not bake).
  10. 10
    Cool completely then cover with heavy foil, freeze until ready to use or bake one right away!
  11. 11
    Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  12. 12
    TO BAKE; set oven to 350 degrees F.
  13. 13
    Bake uncovered for about 45-50 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  14. 14
    Remove from oven and sprinkle about 2 cups mozzarella cheese on top, then return to oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Read more:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Homemade Hot Pockets

I am not sure that you would call these "Hot Pockets," but that is what I am going to call them.

1 lb ground beef
1 can Mexicorn
Jumbo butter biscuits - ideally you want somewhere between 24 and 30 biscuits

Cook ground beef and season to taste (I used dried onions and beef fajita seasoning); drain the grease; drain the Mexicorn; place cooked ground beef in a bowl with the Mexicorn; combine; set aside.

Flatten the biscuits into round, flat circles; place approximately 1/4 cup of the ground beef/Mexicorn mixture in center of the flattened biscuit; top with cheese; cover with another flattened biscuit; press the edges to seal shut; use a fork to score the biscuits all the way around.

If you are going to freeze these, freeze them in a single layer. When you are ready to cook, take the desired number out of the freezer and ensure that the biscuits are completely defrosted; bake as directed on the biscuits.

The biscuits I used bake at 375 for 11 to 15 minutes.

Turkey & Sausage Gumbo

(from the New Orleans School of Cooking)
(serves 10-15)
1 c oil
1 chicken cut up (I used one 11 lb turkey and made three recipes)
1 1/2lb andouille sausage
1 c flour
4 c onions
2 c celery
2 c green pepper
1 T garlic, chopped
8 c water or stock (I used homemade stock from the turkey frame)
cayenne pepper, salt & pepper to taste
1 c green onions
1 c chopped parsley
cooked rice

1. Saute sausage in oil (just enough to brown).  Remove from pot.
2. Season and brown chicken, remove from pot.
3. Add oil to bring to ~1 cup.  Mix in flour, stirring frequently, and let simmer on medium heat.  Roux is finished when it turns to a peanut butter color.
4. Add onions, celery, green pepper and garlic.  Stir and cook until glaze forms on vegetables (vegetables tender).
5. Return meat to pot.
6. Stir in stock gradually.
7. Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour or more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Approximately 15 minutes before serve, add parsley and green onions. (I omitted this step b/c the green onions and parsley do not freeze well.  I always thrown some green onion and parsley in as I heat it up on the stove).
9. Serve over rice.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Honey Glazed Chicken

I used boneless/skinless chicken breasts and made each batch in it's own ziplock bag with 4 or 5 breasts per bag.
1/4 cup Butter, Melted
1/8 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Honey

Take the ingredients for the recipe, place in a one-gallon freezer bag, then add your chicken and freeze. Then thaw before you cook. You can use 4-8 pieces of chicken, pieces, or breasts and we always chose to use boneless and skinless. When cooking using boneless and skinless, only cook for 25-35 minutes or until no longer pink. When using full chicken pieces your cooking time will be around one hour. We always take the sauce and reduce it in a pan after the chicken is done, making some of the most DELICIOUS sauces!!! Enjoy!!!
  • For freezing: Place all ingredients into a 1 Gallon freezer bag. Lay flat in freezer.
  • To thaw and cook: Take the bag out of the freezer the night before, make sure the bag is sealed completely.
  • For the oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F Empty the contents of the bag into a large baking dish and bake until the juices run clear (20-30 minutes for chicken breasts).
  • For the crockpot: cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 or until done.

  • Read more:

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Brown Bag Burritos

    Our family loves this recipe because it is very versitile.  You can eat them room temperature (thus the Brown Bag title), heated up, or even cold (they actually are really good cold!).  You can eat them for lunch or spruced up with sour cream, avocado and salsa for dinner with some rice.  Just thaw them out over night (or in the microwave) and heat them up... either in the oven or the microwave. I am posting the actual recipe, and then putting what I did (I kind of doubled the recipe to make more) in red.

  • 2 lb. ground beef (I used 4.5lbs of 93%lean turkey)
  • 2 cans refried beans (5 cans of fat free refried beans)
  • 1 1/3 c. enchilada sauce (3 cans)
  • 1/2 c. water (1 cup water)
  • 1/3 c. minced onion (2/3 c dried minced onion)
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder (2 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder (2 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp. salt (2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano (2 tsp)
  • 3 c. shredded cheese (5 cups cheddar cheese)
  • 20 flour tortillas (60 tortillas)

  • Brown ground beef; drain. Add remaining ingredients (except tortillas). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 

    Heat 3-4 tortillas at a time (will make them easier to roll). Spoon 1/4 c. beef mixture down the side of each tortilla.

    Roll up. Wrap each burrito in a paper towel, then wrap in foil. (I only wrapped in foil as I find the paper towels unnecessary)

    When ready to eat, remove foil and microwave for about a minute. The paper towel keeps the burritos moist. If you don’t use a microwave, skip the paper towel and just wrap in foil. Then heat burritos in the oven with foil. For a sit down meal they are nice topped with lettuce, cheese, salsa, and sour cream. If you’re eating on the run, though, just grab and go!