Monday, January 18, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am helping out a friend who works out of the home full time. She struggles with getting nutritious, home cooked meals on the table at night. I am preparing some ready made freezer meals that can be baked, slow cooked or stove top prepared. I did some research on Once A Month Cooking blogs/websites and found some interesting ideas.

Don't Mess With Texas Soup Mix in a Jar

1 pkg brown gravy mix
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp garlic powder
10-12 tortilla chips, crushed
1 cup small uncooked pasta noodles

Add gravy to a pint sized jar. Combine chili powder, oregano, cumin, minced onion and garlic powder. Add to jar in a layer. Add crunched tortilla chips then top with pasta. Press down if needed. Tightly seal with lid.

Brown 1/2 lb ground beef in saucepan. I took this ground beef and put it in a Ziploc bag and froze it. It is ready to go when the meal is used.

Instructions for Preparing Soup. Add ground beef, jar contents and 7 cups of hot water. Heat to boiling. Add a 15 oz can of corn (preferably with bell peppers) and a 14 oz can diced tomatoes. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until pasta is done. Stir regularly to prevent sticking. Serve with more tortillas and Monterey Jack cheese.

* I made 2 jars - one for me and one for my friend. Will report back when I make the soup up.

Potato Soup Mix in a Jar

1 3/4 cups instant mashed potatoes

1 1/2 cups dry milk

2 tbsp instant chicken bouillon

2 tsp dried minced onion

1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt

1 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/8 tsp turmeric

Put mashed potatoes in bowl

Add instant milk.

Add remaining spices and mix to combine. Add to quart jar, sealing tightly.

Instructions for Potato Soup: Place 1/2 cup of soup mix in a bowl and add 1 cup of boiling water. Stir or whisk until smooth. Serve immediately.

* I made 3 jars of this soup. Again, will report back once I give this a try.

Caesar Chicken Casserole
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup light cream Caesar dressing
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 - 12 oz pkg of tube pasta (penne or macaroni) cooked and drained.
1 cup croutons
Combine all ingredients but croutons, mixing well.
Put casserole contents into a Ziploc bag. flatten out evenly (for easier freezing) and get out as much air as possible.
From Freezer Instructions:
Thaw casserole. Place in a 2 qt casserole dish. Top with crushed croutons. Bake at 350 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes or until topping is browned and casserole is bubbly.

Slow Cooker Saucy Meatballs
1-6oz pkg stove top stuffing mix for Turkey
1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
2 cups mushrooms
2 medium green peppers, sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cups spaghetti sauce
1 - 1lb pkg spaghetti
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese.
Combine stuffing mix, meat, egg and water. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place on cookie sheet and flash freeze

Once frozen, place meatballs in freezer bag and layer flat for easy freezer storage.

To Make Meatballs: Thaw and put in slow cooker, top with mushrooms, peppers and spaghetti sauce. Cover with lid. Cook on low 6 - 8 hours or high for 3 - 4 hours. Cook spaghetti as directed. Serve meatballs with sauce over spaghetti. Sprinkle with cheese.
Shepherd's Pie with Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup milk, hot
2 tbsp butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1-19oz tomatoes, diced
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp thyme
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tsp paprika
Cook potatoes in boiling salted water til tender.

Mash potatoes. Combine with milk, butter, salt, pepper and cheese. Reserve.

Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic and beef. Brown lightly, drain any grease.

Add tomatoes. Cook until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

Add seasonings, breadcrumbs and peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer mixture to a buttered casserole. Spread mashed potatoes over the top. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

* This is one of my family's favorite meals. I have been using this recipe for about 20 years. The only shepherd's pie recipe I have ever used. The recipe came from a Canadian Milk Calendar. Hope you enjoy this comfort food as much as my family has over the years. I made a double batch. On for my friend and one for our supper tonight - it was as good as ever!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Moo Goo Gai Pan

Happy 2010! It has been awhile - but I am back and looking forward to sharing some more recipes with you. My husband and I have made a commitment to lose some extra pounds that we have found lately ;0) So some of our recipes are calorie reduced. I will provide the calorie count on recipes as often as possible.

So...without further ado....


A dish that is quite commonly found at any Chinese Restaurant. I served this with steamed long grain white rice. This recipe is nice because change out vegetables to what you have on hand - or ones that you prefer.
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sherry (I use cooking sherry)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp soy sauce (we only use Kikkoman - it has a much better flavor)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp minced ginger
3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3), sliced 1/4" thick and cut julienne
2 tbsp oil (not olive - smokes too easily)
1 cup shredded Chinese cabbage (napa or bok choy)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup celery
1-8 oz can bamboo shoots, cut julienne
1-8 oz can water chestnuts, sliced
Stir broth into cornstarch in small bowl. Add next 2 ingredients. Stir and set aside.
Combine soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger in a bowl. Add chicken. Stir until coated. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Heat wok on medium-high heat until very hot. Add 1 tbsp oil. Add chicken and marinade. Stir-fry for 2 or 3 minutes until chicken is no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl - keep warm.

Heat second amount of cooking oil in wok. Add vegetables. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp.

Stir broth mixture. Stir into vegetable mixture for about 1 minute until boiling and thickened.
Add chicken. Stir until heated through.

Serve over rice or noodles. This recipe is to serve 4. I doubled it and it served 6 comfortably. There was a very small serving left over. So...4 small servings - or 3 large servings. The dish is rather bland looking - but yummy to eat. Sprinkle with soy sauce before serving.

So...if you give this recipe a try - let me know what you think.