Category Archives: Recipe

Freezer / Crock Meal Round-Up

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Freezer / Crock Meal Round-Up

I’ve been going through the CrockPot meals that are in my freezer, and I wanted to give you an update of what we’ve tried so far!

Tonight, I made Cowboy Beans from The Two Bite Club. We enjoyed it like chili, scooping a little with tortilla chips. It was pretty ok. It tasted (and smelled) very much like BBQ pork. I intended to make it with Sour Cream Rice, but that didn’t happen. I WILL make that though…

Everything in the Crock Pot. Be sure to use the Reynolds Crock Pot Liners… they are a major time saver.

8 hours later… Ever notice how a lot of crock pot meals look ugly?

I served mine with some sour cream and colby jack cheese. I wanted to add some sliced olives, but apparently one of the 5 olive snatchers in this house had other plans for them!

After we ate, I went online to see what other recipes there are for this, and many of them include beer or whiskey. Maybe that would give this a little bit of a kick that it needs.

Much, MUCH prettier!

Here is what my freezer inventory is now… Not Much!! I’ve been pretty committed to this whole freezer cooking thing, and I’ve made something in my crock pot at least 3 times each week. I have gone through quite a few of these meals, and some were MAJOR hits. Others had the opposite response.

We loved:

Beef Tortellini Bake – from Kid Friendly Meals at New Leaf Wellness

Chicken Pot Pie from Kid Friendly Meals at New Leaf Wellness. I meant to add the potatoes in the AM, but totally forgot. I diced them up and microwaved them in water until they were tender-ish. I poured the contents into a baking dish and topped with crescent dough. I baked it for the time on the crescent packaging, and it was perfect. YUM!

Turkey Chili from New Leaf Wellness

Chicken Tacos from Stacy Makes Cents

Beef Stew from Six Sisters Stuff (with the request that there be “NO Peas!!”)

We Liked:

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (with mods) from Six Sisters Stuff. I won’t add the broccoli until an hour or so before my meal is done. It was way too mushy for the fam to like it. The flavor was great, though!

Chicken Tater Tot Casserole from Kid Friendly Meals at New Leaf Wellness. I didn’t add the milk, mainly because I didn’t have enough! I’ll add that on cook day. Next time, I will not add the tater tots to the bag, and just keep them in the freezer in their own bag until cook day. They were a bit unwieldy to zip up!

Beef Strogonoff – Inspired by Baked in the South. Normally I add the meat at the same time as all the other ingredients. In this case, I will brown the beef and drain it before it goes in with the rest. It was quite oily from the beef. Maybe this is why they used meatballs instead?

Cowboy Beans from the Two Bite Club

We failed at:

Ranch Chicken and Potatoes from Stacy Makes Cents. I am pretty sure that it could have been saved if we hadn’t had an emergency that made me a couple hours late to get it out of the cooker.
All in all, I think that the whole freezer/crock pot thing is definitely saving me time and money. It is also saving me some sanity and last minute Chicken Nugget/Mac N Cheese. Of course, it’s also my menu planning that is doing that part!

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Long, long ago…

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Long, long ago…

In my past lives… (read marriage), I was a much more prolific blogger. I wrote quite often, I kept a cleanish house, and I was always experimenting with new recipes and cleaning techniques. I either went to school or worked full time for most of it, and was raising 2 boys with my then-spouse.

I felt like I had a pretty good handle on the whole housewife thing. So… I’m digging through those archives to bring old content to life again.

Today’s post is from 2/19/13. It’s funny that I had my first set of Wolfgang Puck pots during that post, and that was one of the very first things I replaced after the fire! My favorite piece of cookware is the chefs pot. It’s a little different now, but it is still a nice big pan to hold a bunch of nice vegetables when you are cooking them down. I use it for a lot of my meals. Added bonus, it cleans really easily and you don’t have to worry about the non-stick stuff scrapping off. 🙂

wolfgang

One of my families favorites is Chicken N Biscuits. I used to strictly use Melissa D’Arabian’s recipe because I feared change and it is really, really good. However, I did some tweaking and came up with some changes.

3 strips bacon, diced (or… 3 finger widths from the side of a frozen hunk of bacon)
2 T veg oil
1 whole chicken, cut up (skin on)
1 T house seasoning
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 3 potatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 C Sherry
2 T Italian Seasoning
1 T flour
1 carton chicken stock
some water – usually about 2 cups

Add the bacon to a med-high pot, stir until the fat is rendered out. Set aside, leaving as much of the drippings as possible.

bacon

Sprinkle house seasoning on the chicken. Brown chicken 2 minutes on each side. Set aside.

chix

Add oil to pot, lower heat to Medium. Add in vegetables, saute for 5 – 7 minutes. Stir in Italian seasoning.

veg

Deglaze pan with sherry, scraping up as much of the browned bits from the bottom as possible. Sprinkle with flour and stir to combine. Yes – it’ll look glumpy.

flour

Add in the chicken stock slowly, stirring and mixing as you to to get some of the glumpy off.
Place the chicken on top of the veg in a single layer, nestling it in as best as you can.
Add in the chicken stock. Add water evenly around the outside of the pot, until the liquid comes up to almost the top of the chicken.

stew

Lower heat to Low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Then uncover and simmer 15 more minutes.
Serve with your favorite biscuits.

plated

This is really good as a soup the next day if you strip all the meat off the bone, add it into a leftover container with the remaining veg and broth. Mmm.

Another “Cook” Day

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I went to the meat market again, and spent about $124, and another $75 at the regular grocery. I made 8 meals for the freezer, and still had a ton of groceries left over. I probably used about $100 on these meals. Not too shabby!

Here is the list of what I made:

Beef & Lime Chili From New Leaf Wellness. I used 2 little limes.

Honey Garlic Chicken from Who Needs a Cape

Easy Chicken Pot Pie from Kid Friendly Meals at New Leaf Wellness. I add the potatoes on the cook day so that they don’t turn black.

Cheese Tortellini with beef from Kid Friendly Meals at New Leaf Wellness

Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole from Kid Friendly Meals at New Leaf Wellness. I didn’t add the milk, mainly because I didn’t have enough! I’ll add that on cook day. Next time, I will not add the tater tots to the bag, and just keep them in the freezer in their own bag until cook day. They were a bit unwieldy to zip up!

Turkey & Black Bean Chili from New Leaf Wellness

Chicken Curry from New Leaf Wellness Kid Friendly Meals at New Leaf Wellness.

Maple Dijon Chicken from Six Sisters Stuff

It was a little slower going than I expected, however I think it was worth it. My husband says he doesn’t want to eat from the crock pot every night, and has limited me to 2-3 nights a week. I can work with that. He even helped me a little with today’s “cooking”.

As with last time, all of these meals require no pre-cooking, and minimal prep time. 2 carrots grated, 4 onions diced, 13 cloves of garlic minced, a few chicken breasts cut up. Easy Peasy! If you make any, please let me know how they turn out!

 

Good things.

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I was telling my mother-in-law last night that I was looking for a new desk for my room. The one I have is tiny. As in I can’t type with my hands on the desk or write anything down while I’m on the computer tiny. Teeny Tiny.

Anywho, I asked her to be on the lookout for one that would suit my needs. On our way home, I checked craigslist for curb alerts and found a listing for a whole bunch of stuff from 3 hours prior exactly 4 blocks from our house. I didn’t actually think anything would be left after 3 hours, but we drove by, and it had a desk! Perfect for my needs – shelving up top, nice wide and deep desk, and a drawer! It does have a keyboard shelf that needs a little fixing, but I’m stoked! Ask and ye shall receive, I suppose!

In other news, I made the beef stew from my freezer last night. It. Was Awesome! The only thing I didn’t like was that the potatoes started turning black in the freezer. Next time, I will make up the bag with everything but the potatoes, and just put in the potatoes day of, that will solve that problem!

It was this beef stew from Six Sisters Stuff.

I’ve also tried these from my “cook” day:

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo from Six Sisters, and it was tasty, but needed some salt. It wasn’t pretty, but it was good. I did have the request to add more veg to it next time, like green beans.

I also ate the Beef Strogonoff based off this version of Meatball Strogonoff from Baked in the South. I made it on “cook” day, so it never went into the freezer, however I did put one in there for later. It tasted amazing, but it was so terribly ugly! I’m sure that the meatball version would be better than just the ground beef, but my hubby doesn’t like frozen meatballs; or rather, they don’t like him! I think the problem was that it was too much grease left from the ground beef, so I will try to spoon some off as it’s cooking. That should help a lot.

I’m looking forward to eating the other meals in my freezer, and to my next “cook” day! I found this from Pinterest at New Leaf Wellness. It’s a list of 31 different meal prep sessions with multiple recipes on each, along with shopping lists.

I can’t tell you how great it has been to just dump something in the crock pot and not deal with dinner! On the meal days, I have made 2 pots of pasts, and a tray of crescents. That’s it! Each meal has a little something fresh, but it’s amazing that they have been so good, and SOOOO easy! I’m grateful that Pinterest has so many awesome contributors that have taught me this new way to “cook”!

 

Freezer “Cook” Day

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I wasn’t really planning to do my “cook” day until after Thanksgiving, but we went to the meat market today, so instead of just putting away the meat I decided to do up the bags for the freezer. I call this a “cook” day because there isn’t actually any cooking involved. I chopped 2 onions, 4 carrots, 4 potatoes, and a pepper. Yup, that’s all the “work” involved. We have a total of 7 in our family – 2 adults, a teen, and 4 under 10. Every other weekend, we add another teen and 9 year old that eats like a teen!

The Plan: 6 meals for $35

The logic: My meat market has amazing deals on awesome meats. $1.99 per pound for boneless skinless chicken breasts (one breast, not split, will feed our family of 7) and $1.99 per pound of ground beef if you buy 10 pounds or more. I only used 2 pounds for my “cook” day, so

Mexican Chicken Taco Stuffing and Ranch Chicken and Potatoes from http://www.StacyMakesCents.com (I added 2 pouches of potatoes because, well, 7 people)

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo and Beef Stew from http://www.SixSistersStuff.com

Beef Strogonoff modified from Meatball Beef Strogonoff from http://www.BakedInTheSouth.com

I was also going to make a batch of Man Pleasing Chicken, but the store didn’t have any real Maple Syrup or red wine vinegar.

The results:

$23.24 Meat Market: 2 pounds of ground beef, 1 pound stew beef, 6.5 pounds chicken (that’s 3 breasts… told you they were big!)

$17.84 Save A Lot: everything else

Total: $41.08 for 6 meals. If the stew beef wasn’t quite so much, I would have done better, but not too shabby! I made one each of the above for the freezer, and have a beef strogonoff in the crockpot now. 6 meals, $6.85 each – I’m pretty proud of myself! It’ll get better once I get back into couponing, but for now, I’m happy.

 

Twinkie Cupcakes.

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This recipe for Twinkie cupcakes was modified from This Recipe.

The changes I made were twofold. I didn’t want to use the frosting, only modify the filling to work for both. Also, I remember a hint of lemon flavor in the originals, so I added where I thought proper. I think I’ve nailed it. Except, that 10 minutes after filling the cupcakes they are less pretty. Refrigeration would fix this, as would a proper frosting. Oh we’ll.

Cupcakes
1 box butter yellow cake mix, and the ingredients to make it
1 small box French vanilla fat free pudding
1 tsp lemon flavoring

Filling
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow fluff
1/2 c room temp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt dissolved into 2 Tbsp hot water (cooled)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix up the cake batter as called for on the box. Mix in pudding mix and lemon flavoring. Scoop into cupcake liners. Mine made 22 cupcakes.
Bake 15 – 18 mins until done. Let cool. With a slanted knife, cut a cone out of the middle.

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In mixing bowl, beat together fluff, butter, & vanilla until fluffy. Slowly add in sugar, alternating with water. I used about 1 Tbsp of the water.
Scoop filling into zip top bag (stand it up in a cup with the edges draped over. You’ll thank me later.), and put in the fridge for at least an hour. Snip the tip and pipe a swirl into each middle.
Enjoy!

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One Little Thing… Crockpot pork chops and gravy

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I really love those days during the week that I am able to browse Pinterest for some really great recipes. I get so excited, and dive in head first. This is what happened the other day when I planned pork chops for supper with one such recipe.

However, I didn’t have any cream of chicken, and cream of mushroom is the go to… And I wanted something different. The result was so good, and easy.

The pork chops I used were bone in, but if I had to do it again, I would probably use boneless because the bones fell out anyway, and I had to hunt them all down… And some still ended up on plates! I have also changed up how it’s put together because the gravy was a little gloppy in parts, so mixing with water before its cooked fixes the issue.

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Pork chops, cream of celery, ranch mix, Italian seasoning. Crock pot. 3 hours. Yummy. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

4 pork chops
1 can cream of celery
1 packet of ranch mix
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup water

Spray crock pot with non-stick spray, or place crock pot liner. Place pork chops on bottom of pot. In mixing bowl, mix ranch packet, Italian seasoning, cream of celery and 1/2 cup water. Pour over pork chops. Cook on high 3-4 hours.

Once pork chops are done, remove from pot, leaving as much gravy as possible. Some of the meat staying with the gravy is a good thing! Remove any bones at this point. Stir in 1/2 – 1 cup of water, whisk together to thin out gravy.

Everyone raved about this recipe, and I served it with mashed potatoes and corn. The gravy was awesome, especially with little bits of pork chop mixed in.

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These awesomely moist and tender pork chops tried to fall apart on me, but managed to mostly stay together long enough for me to get a pic! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

One Little Thing… Springtime cupcakes

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Tomorrow is pot luck day for my Nursing Class. I signed up to bring cupcakes because I always bring cupcakes. I love that I am finally comfortable enough with my “skillz” to fiddle with recipes and box mixes and actually have them turn out good.
I have a ton of strawberries in my freezer. I thought it’d be great to put them into cupcakes. I thought about angel food strawberry short-cup-cakes, or maybe chocolate strawberry, but I settled on strawberry lemon cupcakes. Mostly because I really didn’t want to make them from scratch and although I did have vanilla and yellow cake mixes, I also had lemon. Lemons go well with strawberries – like with strawberry lemonade. Yum.
Here is my recipe for delicious and easy 4 ingredient cupcakes.

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These are my strawberry lemon cupcakes just after the frosting went on. They were so pretty! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes
1 box lemon cake mix
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups mushed thawed from frozen strawberries
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring (1 cap)

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These beauties were cuter up close.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Mush up the strawberries well, I used a potato masher in a big 4 cup measuring cup and it worked great. (1 1/2 cups was the total of water and oil required by the mix. If your mix is different, use that amount). Pour the cake mix in a big bowl, pour in the strawberries, add eggs and lemon flavoring. Mix well.
Scoop into cupcake lined tins. Bake 15 minutes, or the low amount listed on your box.
Let cool.

I would love to share the frosting recipe, but it melted into a gooey mess. (It started with store frosting… therein lies the problem!) Perhaps if you frosted it with vanilla frosting and either filled with mushed berries, or drizzled with mushed berry goo it would do well?

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After 2 hours of hanging out in the carry container (not outside… in the classroom!), they looked like this. I was heartbroken, and NO ONE wanted to touch them. I think 3 or 4 people tried one. Besides me, of course.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

At least it tasted good!

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They were so good, even if I did have to eat them with a fork! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

One Little Thing… Sweet Crescents

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Yesterday I was in a breakfast mood that didn’t include a Slim Fast Shake or cereal. Again. I was really craving cinnamon buns but had none in the house. So I peeked in the fridge to see what I DID have, and came up with a brilliant idea.

(I haven’t checked Pinterest yet to see if it exists already, be right back! Nope!! Moving on.) I did this two ways in my experimenting. I took 1 package of crescent rolls and half were separated into the regular triangles, the other half was halved again to form 2 squares. The square ones had to go back in the oven a couple times, so I really prefer the regular crescent ones.

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These Sweet Crescents take 3 little things and turn them in to a whole whack of delicious!

Sweet Crescents

1 package crescent rolls

cinnamon (maybe 1 tsp total)

8 Tbsp leftover maple cream cheese frosting (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 375 (or as directed on crescent roll package).

Separate crescents and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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Unroll, sprinkle, squeeze, roll.
Easy peasy!

Squeeze about 1 Tbsp of frosting along big end of crescent.

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Rolled up and ready for a suntan.

Roll as normal.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Let cool (VERY IMPORTANT – those things are HOT!!!).

Enjoy.

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This, my friends, is 4 bits of goodness.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Also, I saved one for later and it was a little deflated but really very good. Like something from a pastry shop. SO good.

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This was one of the square pastries that didn’t make the cut. Sadly, it had to get eaten as punishment. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

Maple Cream cheese Frosting

This is what I use on buttermilk cupcakes and top with bacon. I’m sure any other frosting would work too. Bet chocolate would be awesome! Oooh, or Nutella! Anyway…

1/2 C butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened (I use 1/3 less fat and it is fine)

1-2 tsp maple flavor (near the vanillas)

4 C powdered sugar

milk as needed

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add maple and sugar (in increments, otherwise you’ll wear it). Add 1 Tbsp of milk if needed for consistency.

I load mine into a gallon size zipper bag (held up by a big tumbler cup because it’s easy to spoon in that way), snip the tip and frost my cupcakes. I put the whole gallon bag into a smaller zip top bag to save any leftovers. This keeps quite a while in the fridge.

MPM, FTB, EGGs

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It’s Monday, kids, time for this week’s menu plan! Normally I do this post while we’re watching Sunday night tv, but I was distracted by yarn. It’s a good thing, since it gave me the opportunity to try out Muffin Tin Omelets and Sunny Side Up Eggs. They’re still in the oven right now, but I’m sure that by the time this gets finished, I’ll have done pics!

Feed The Bay 2013

One of the drop off points for Feed The Bay.

First of all, I wanted to give an update on last weeks Feed The Bay. Together we were able to collect and distribute 160,050 pounds of food to local nearly 20 food banks and soup kitchens. This is enough to stock their shelves for 4-6 months! This is a whole lot of good after a week of a whole lot of bad. Even though the FTB event was before the Boston Marathon tragedy, hearing the total and seeing first hand what people can do to help one another was heart lifting. Lots of folks donate food to food banks through churches, schools, work, and event food drives at Thanksgiving time. FTB stocks them for nearly the rest of the year.

Secondly, the eggs are done and being eaten as I type. The omelet ones came out nice and fluffy, and apparently tasted good. (I don’t eat eggs, I get nauseated, usually, at the smell of cooking eggs!) Here is my recipe, and my notes on how to change it!

3 eggs + 2 Tbsp shredded cheese + 1 slice diced deli turkey = 4 mini omelets.  bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

3 eggs + 2 Tbsp shredded cheese + 1 slice diced deli turkey = 4 mini omelets.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

Omelet eggs (makes 4)

3 eggs

1 slice deli turkey diced/cut/sliced

2 T shredded cheese

Whisk up the eggs with a fork. add in turkey and cheese. Spoon out into 4 muffin tins.

Bake 350 for 20 minutes.

NOTES: my oldest said there was too much cheese in the omelets (I didn’t know that was possible!), but the little one loved them!

By using a big spoon, it was so much easier to get the egg mixture into the muffin cups. Pouring would have been very messy! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

By using a big spoon, it was so much easier to get the egg mixture into the muffin cups. Pouring would have been very messy!
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

The omelets were the perfect size. If I had done 4 eggs instead of 3, they would've poofed up above the tin and been very messy! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

The omelets were the perfect size. If I had done 4 eggs instead of 3, they would’ve poofed up above the tin and been very messy!
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

Sunny Side Up Eggs

Spray muffin tin with Pam.

Crack 1 egg into 1 muffin cup.

Bake 350 for 20 minutes.

NOTES: They were a little hard, with the yolk pretty but cooked through. My oldest liked them, but said that he prefers the yolks a little runny. Next time I would bake for less time, maybe 15 minutes, and see if they still jiggled a bit.

Muffin tin omelets and sunny side up.  bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Muffin tin omelets and sunny side up.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

And Finally, my menu plan for this week!

Monday: Cheesy Baked Chicken – Kraft Fresh Take (I’ve had this on the plan for 3 weeks and haven’t been able to make it yet!! Today is the day!)

Tuesday: Crock Pot Beef Stew

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (Jake’s night to cook)

Friday: Rosemary Chicken & Potatoes

Saturday: Sloppy Joe Boats. I got the idea from a pin of this post, and I am going to use that as my idea to do my own thing.

Sunday: Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes.

Planning my meals each week helps so much in the shopping, dining out, and “what’s for dinner Mama?” that I don’t know if I’ll ever not have one again!! You can play along too by creating your own Menu Plan and sharing it at OrgJunkie.com. See what others are up to this week: Menu Plan Monday 4/22. In the next couple days I will share my meal planning strategy. It’s easy, and a great way to weed out the meals that everyone doesn’t like.

Happy Earth Day.