Friday, July 30, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe Friday: Tomato Chicken

My husband doesn't like tomato sauce, but this meal is OK for him.  I like to serve it over pasta (whole wheat of course!) My recipe calls for pre-cooking and then reheating on meal day, but I can't help thinking it'll work to freeze raw, too.

1 (14 oz) jar chunky pasta sauce
1 (16 oz) jar mild salsa
1 (10 oz) can whole tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried parsley
cayenne pepper to taste
pepper to taste
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

In a large pot of medium-low heat, mix all the ingredients (except chicken and pasta).
Place chicken in a seperate pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 minutes, until chicken juices run clear.
Transfer chicken to sauce mixture.  Cover, and cook on low about 20 minutes if freezing, 40 minutes if not. If freezing, allow to cool and transfer to freezer bag.

On cooking day: Serve with pasta.  Reheat chicken and sauce and serve over cooked pasta.

This recipe was amended from Tara's Chicken.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Money/Time Saver: Ice Cream Pie

I was thrilled to hear that my brother-in-law enjoyed reading my blog, and even more thrilled to hear how excited he was about a recipe he wanted to share with my readers.  I'm never heard of ice cream pie, but it seems like a super easy idea, and something I'll try for the next church dinner.

Ice Cream Pie


Ice Cream, softened
Store Bought Pie Crust (PLEASE read labels to make sure it is trans fat free, as many of these are NOT)
Box of pudding mix
Cool whip
a little milk

Mix the ice cream with the pudding mix and just enough mix to thin it and make it spreadable and spread into the pie crust half way.  After freezing 1-2 hours, top with cool whip and freeze until ready to eat.

Ryan says "one normal box of pudding mix is enough to do about 4 pies, so use half the box of pudding if only doing 2 pies." Or 1/4 for one pie.

You can totally mix this up...use vanilla ice cream and vanilla pudding, chocolate ice cream and cherry pudding... lots of choices!

 Enjoy the treat!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Be a Mommy Saver: Coupon Clip!

I have never spent more than $6.99 for a pack of diapers, and that was just once.  Usually I spend no more than $5.99.  And I'm not talking about store brand diapers either--they are usually the premium or ultra-premium brands.  I haven't purchased as many diapers as normal since we cloth diaper part time (another great money saver!), but I refuse to pay full price when I do.

Thursday I managed to get 4 jumbo and mega packs of brand name premium diapers for $8.98 (Total!). I also had a great thing going at our local grocer earlier this year.  I noticed that the Huggies Pure & Natural coupons were EVERYWHERE, so I'd buy a pack of those at $8.99 minus a $3 coupon ($5.99) and the cash register would spit out both a $3 and a $2 off Pampers Coupon!  This happened for months!  I gave away the $2 coupons and just used the $3 ones.  I had so many packs of diapers saved I didn't have to buy any diapers from February to June!

The savings is simple...taking 5 minutes to go through your coupon pack, or going to one of the many coupon sites online (just google "coupons") you can find savings on things you were planning to buy--which is another important point: don't just buy things because you have a coupon.  Make sure you were already going to buy it, or you will end up spending more.  (An exception to this is if you can get an item for free/pennies...and then donate it if you aren't going to use it).

Another coupon tip is to find stores that double.  You'll find many grocery stores that double coupons (so a 50 cent off coupon becomes $1 off), but they all have different limits. The grocery stores in my town cap out at $1, but if I drive 25 miles to the next town some of those stores will double dollar coupons for even greater savings.  For example, this week Eggland's Best Eggs were on sale for $1.99.  I had a $1 off 2 coupon.  If I had gone to that grocery store, I would've gotten 2 packs of eggs for $1.98...less than half price! Its important to factor in the cost of gas for trips like these though, since that's money too!

I keep my coupons in a big clear folder in my they are always ready when I stop in at the store.  What I'd like to get is a baseball card organizer though--so easy to view each coupon fast and easy to organize.

Happy Couponing!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe Friday: Tex Mex Chicken Soup

So I do know its summer, but we LOVE this soup recipe.  Served with some homemade rolls (which can also be frozen) its a quick and easy meal.  The ladies in my freezer meal exchange rave about this also!  One warning though--make sure you are getting diced chillies and NOT diced jalapenos...unless you want to kick up the spice A LOT! (oops)

2 14-oz cans chicken broth
1 15-oz can Great Northern Beans (Rinsed and drained)
1 4-oz can green chillies, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup frozen corn

Spray a large soup pot lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Saute garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Add beans, chillies, oregano, cumin and broth.  Stir and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chicken and corn. If freezing, reduce heat and allow to cool before transferring to freezer container.  If eating immediately, allow to simmer an additional 15 minutes.

On eating day: Thaw and reheat on stove on low.

This recipe was adapted from Moms Budget.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Zesty Chicken Marinade: Freezer Meal Friday on Saturday

So, today is Saturday (or it was for those of you reading this later), and not Friday, as the freezer meal Friday recipes normally occur.  Yesterday however my family visited Hershey Park, and 'oops' I forgot to set an autopost! Hershey Park was a lot of fun!

Today's recipe is a simple chicken marinade.  We eat A LOT of boneless/skinless chicken.  I often buy it on sale for under $2 a pound, so freezing it in a marinade and adding some sides on cooking day make it a quick fix. You can grill it, bake it, broil it, or cook it in a pan.

4  garlic cloves, minced (I just used a tbsp-ish of minced garlic)
1  small onion, finely chopped
1/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
1/4  cup  olive oil
1 1/2  teaspoons  paprika
1  teaspoon  ground cumin
1  teaspoon  dried parsley
1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper
About 1.5 pounds of  boneless skinless chicken

Mix all the ingredients together in a freezer bag and thaw when ready to cook.  The mixture will marinate the meat as it thaws.

This recipe was amended from My Recipes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No pizza sauce? Try tomato soup! Seriously!

Just a quick post the past 24 hours I've made zucchini brownies, whole wheat bread, egg salad, buttercream frosting, and pizza crust, all while taking care of 3 preschoolers (2 just part of the day) and an infant.  So, when I realized I didn't have pizza or pasta sauce for the pizza crust, I really didn't want to run to the store.  So I tried tomato soup.

I took a can of condensed soup, added basil, oregano and garlic to it, and that's it!  The sauce tasted delicious on the pizza!  It was a little sweet, but still good topped with cheese and green peppers.  Its an "in a pinch" winner!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to Make the Best Chocolate Cake Ever!

When I found this recipe I was floored.  And then when it actually tasted good...I was shocked!  My super-picky husband even said it was good.  Its a yummy chocolate can recipe with hidden blueberries AND all whole wheat flour.  And no butter! They'll never know.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) this snack didn't last long enough for a pic.  The teens from our church's youth group (the testers) gobbled them up.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
6 T unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 egg

Keep in mind this is a small recipe...only fits a 8x8, so if you plan to make a layer cake, be sure to double it!

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Combine water, blueberries and egg in a blender until smooth, then add to flour mixture. Whisk until well combine and pour into pan.  Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick placed in center comes out clean.


I found this recipe here. I just put a simple frosting on my cake, but they have directions for a more decadent one also.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Freezer Meal Recipe Friday: Stovetop Chicken Casserole

I've been so tired this week! That picture is how I've felt! I've been getting "almost" enough sleep, and nothing very stressing has been happening, but I've been just dragging.  Thankful for the meals I have tucked away that just need thawed and heated or cooked.  This week's meal was introduced to me by a dear friend Annette after the birth of my first daughter. Yes, that one up there looking exhausted.  Annette brought us that hot meal, and we've been making it ever since. I especially like it when I don't know what else to cook!  I have the kind of husband who needs vegetables concealed whenever possible, so I added spinach to the recipe.  It really works and pack a powerful punch of vitamin K and vitamin A!

 Later, when I started making freezer meals I decided to try to see if it would work in freezer form.  It does.  Perfectly! Here you go:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken cut into chunks
4-6 slices swiss cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
 1 cup frozen spinach (thawed if not making a freezer meal)
1 box of stovetop stuffing
2-4 tbsp of butter, melted

Line the bottom of your ovensafe baking dish or 9/13 pan with the chicken chunks. Layer the swiss cheese next, then pour on the spinach.  Mix the soup and milk together, and then pour that over the spinach.  Top evenly with the stuffing, and finally drizzle the melted butter over the top of the stuffing.  Cover tightly and freeze.

To cook:  Thaw completely and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees.  You may cook from frozen but it will take about 2 hours and not taste as yummy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to Make Your Own Cake Frosting!

My picture today is deceptive. It was my youngest daughter's first birthday this weekend and this was her cake.  My husband prefers store bought frosting when he star tips cakes for its constancy.  I dislike it for its trans fats and the fact that I always run out at 10pm.  The last time this happened I decided to try something daring:  I made it myself!  I always thought this was a super complex task only to be attempted by the most qualified professional bakers.  Uh, no.  Its super easy.  Its simply a combination of butter, confectionery sugar, a little vanilla, and a little milk (plus color if necessary).  Here's the recipe I started with, but now I just wing it and you will be able to also. 

1 lb confectioners sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

Thats it...just mix it all together until it forms frosting!  If its too thick, add just a little drizzle of milk and mix.
For chocolate frosting add some cocoa powder as well.

For a second point today a blog I frequent Heavenly Homemakers celebrates GratiTuesday each week and asks its readers to talk about what they are thankful for.  As I reflected on this today, I first of all was very thankful for the string of green lights I got on the way to pick up my daughter from playground camp, and of course my family, but on a relevant topic to this site--I'm thankful for all these tips I've learned.  Many of these were the result of friends or family members sharing their knowledge with me, and encouraging me to try things.  I think presently of my dear friend Alissa who encouraged me to try making my own Alfredo sauce, or my friend Laura who told me about the cookie time saver.  Of course there are other friends who've shared tips that I'm not going to mention here right now, but know I'm thankful for you too.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Freezer Meal Friday Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Chicken

 Frozen Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Happy Freezer Meal Friday!  I know a bunch of you were looking forward to seeing some more recipes!  I know I love having my freezer work for me.  This morning I threw some rye bread I had baked in the freezer and then threw some cookies in the oven straight from my freezer.

Today's recipe is Bacon Wrapped Chicken.
Its so easy you'll be making batches of these to freeze all the time!

1.5 pounds Boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tsp dried basil
1 stick cream cheese (plain or veggie or herb)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 pack of bacon

Let the cream cheese soften, add the basil and the garlic.  Alternately, you can just use herb or veggie cream cheese and eliminate this step, although I still plop some garlic on when I do this.
Take the boneless skinless chicken breast and trim of visible fat.  Then, slice it in half making chicken fingers.  Take a scoop (about 1 tbsp) of the cream cheese mixture and spread it over one of the chicken figures and then put the other on a sandwich.  Wrap the chicken "sandwich" in bacon (one or two slices).  To freeze, place on lined cookie sheet and freeze overnight.  Remove from freezer and place in freezer bags.

To Prepare:  Remove chicken from freezer and let thaw in fridge overnight.  To cook: bake at 375 for 40 minutes and then broil to crisp up chicken OR (better choice) fry in covered pan until cooked through.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Farmer's Market

 photo copyright RAL

This summer I'm trying an experiment.  I'm only buying local produce this summer to use for my family, with the exception of bananas and mushrooms (as they aren't grown locally and are a big part of our diet.)  As I'm doing this, I'm surprised at the low cost of the items I'm getting.  Just this morning I got a bunch of locally grown carrots for $1 and a huge carton of string beans for $2.  Last week I got a head of salad greens for $1 that lasted longer than the lettuce I bought from grocery store ever did.  So my savings is twofold- less expensive and less spoilage!

Try it yourself! Local Harvest has the option to search for farmer's markets near any location.  You might also check your local paper.

Using a farmer's market for produce also helps eliminate the mindless buying of junk each time you wander into a grocery store.