Showing posts with label freezer friendly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label freezer friendly. Show all posts

Thursday, October 20, 2011

survival kit

First, let me say I am sorry for that it has been so long since I posted anything. I had to take a break because the carnivore and I welcomed another foodie to our family! As you might imagine learning to juggle all the new responsibilities has meant some things had to go on the back burner - like this blog. The good news is we have still been eating well thanks to my survival kit. See, I learned a few things from when we had our first baby. Most importantly - mommy needs her rest. Secondly, mommy needs her food and she needs it fast! So to prepare, I stocked my freezer, fridge, and pantry.

I started with breakfast. I learned from last time people will bring you food - casseroles, dinners, even desserts, but no one makes you breakfast. And after a long night, the last thing I wanted to do was think about making a meal...but I needed food (see above). So I made both a loaf of banana nut bread and a loaf zucchini bread and froze them. When baby came all I had to do was pull them out to defrost.

Lunch time I knew would be rushed. Between nursing the new baby and feeding my little guy, I wanted to make sure I would have something on hand I could throw together quickly. My cheat sheet pizza is a perfect example of that. Take something store bought, add a few items from the fridge (calamata olives) or CSA (heirloom tomatoes) and lunch is served in minutes.

Of course, I couldn't forget dinner. Dishes like my slow cooker ravioli and my killer three cheese lasagna are freezer friendly in their own ways. They also are carnivore pleasers...they are Italian after all. And with a few items from the pantry (beans, rice, seaonings) and some frozen meats (ground beef and sausage) or the vegetarian versions, tacos and red beans and rice also come together in no time.

So, don't worry, the carnivore and I have stayed well fed during these first few weeks with the new baby. It just took a little planning before she arrived. You can do it too if you are expecting your own bundle of joy soon, by checking out my other freezer friendly foods and marvelous main dish ideas for more ideas, like stew. Now, I'm off to get some of the rest that I mentioned earlier while the baby sleeps!

Monday, September 19, 2011

i heart paula

And so does the carnivore. And our little omnivore too. And you know why? Well, in truth there are lots of reasons. The carnivore's crush goes back to a trip to her buffet at a casino in Tunica, Mississippi. There he learned about the wonder that is her hoe cakes. Even I have to admit that they were the best I ever had. Every month or so he still gets these day dreamy eyes and asks if we can go back. To be fair, I am not immune. The mac and cheese I had there was marvelous. And so was the peach cobbler. Lord knows how may calories it had in it!

But, little omnivore likes Paula for a whole different reason. It is because she came up with a wonderful recipe for zucchini bread. When we were loaded down with this green veggie this summer in our CSA share I knew I would have to find a new way to get my guys to eat it other than my usual side dishes. And who else could I to look to when in need of a delicious disguise for this vegetable but Paula Deen?

But, even I have to admit I was shocked at how incredible this bread was. Sweet, buttery, and nutty. I almost didn't want to share. You can find a link to it here. Please note this makes two loaves. This works great for expectant moms like me - one for now and one in the freezer for after baby comes.

Best of all, my boys and I are getting veggies at breakfast! I heart Paula.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

super bowl

Sometimes there is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of stew for dinner. Now, if your carnivore is anything like mine, he may wonder what you are having for dinner after the soup appetizer, but I promise you can beef it up (pun intended) enough to fill up anyone. This bowl of soup is simply super.

To make these two stews gather these ingredients:
Two quarts of broth, at least one veggie
1 package of stew beef
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
2 bags of frozen mixed veggies
2 carrots peeled and diced
2 small yukon gold potatoes, diced
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 can of white beans
2 tblsp of olive oil
salt and pepper
italian seasonings
1 lb of elbow pasta

Start by with either two crockpots, or two large pots, or one of each. Put the heat or flame on low. Add in 1 tblsp of oil to each. Add the beef into one with some salt and pepper. Next add half of the onions in each. In the vegetarian one add in the celery (you can also add this to the carnivore pot if your guy will go for it). Next add in the broth and  frozen veggies to both. My hubs like the plain mix with green beans and peas, I like the more exotic one with okra and lima beans. Pick what works for your family. (It is all more veggies than my carnivore would normally eat.) Then pour half of the can of tomato sauce in each. In the veggie pot, add the white beans for protein. Then add in the fresh carrot and potato to each. Salt, pepper and season both. I like italian seasonings like oregano and garlic, but you can add just about anything that appeals to you. Stir each (with separate spoons) and cover. Let cook for several hours - til the veggies are fork tender. In a separate pot boil salted water and cook elbow mac according to package. When you are ready to eat, put a bit of pasta in a bowl and then top with the stew. Eat while steaming hot.

The great thing about these stews is not only can you set one or both up in a crock pot at the start of the day and forget about it, but you can also freeze your leftovers (there will be plenty). Simply defrost and reheat over a low flame or in the microwave whenever you need a quick meal. One tip though, don't add in the pasta til you are ready to eat. Storing it in with the rest of the goodies will lead to all your broth disappearing and your pasta growing to gargantuan size.

Humble and hearty, this stew will have you coming back for more. Hope you enjoy!

P.S. I am entering this in the Charity Souper Bowl in honor of Miss Kitty

Friday, November 19, 2010

baby it's cold outside

As soon as the first chill hits the air, I start craving chili. I remember when I lived in DC during law school and the first snow would fall. While my friends who were from up North and used to such weather went about their business, I huddled at home and had chili. There is nothing more warming that a hot bowl of chili on a cold night. Since the carnivore was raised (mostly) in Pennsylvania he has a different definition of cold than me, but he will take chili any time. And, it is a simple thing to make - even if you have both meat eaters and vegetarians in your home. I know lots of people rave about one pot meals, but this only takes two, which I think isn't so bad in the scheme of things. Also, it is super easy considering you can eat on it for days.

To make one carnivore pot and one veggie one you will need the following:
2 cans of organic red kidney beans
2 cans of organic white beans
2 cans of diced tomatoes (with or without chilies)
1-2lbs of ground meat (lean is best)
1 package of ground soy crumbles
a swirl or two of olive oil
2 chili seasoning packs
something for the bed (tortilla chips, rice or elbow mac)
toppings of your choice (cheese, sour cream, chives, oyster crackers, etc.)

Start with two large pots. Brown the ground meat (beef or turkey, whichever you prefer) in one. In the other swirl a bit of olive oil and heat up the soy crumbles. Then add in one can of tomatoes, juices and all, to each. If need be you can puree them like I have to for my carnivore. Also, I like my stuff more spicy so I use the ones with chilies for my pot, but not for his. Then add one can of red beans and one can of white beans to each. Combine well with a seasoning pack in each pot. Cover and cook over a low simmer for at least thirty minutes. If you prefer to add in your own mix of spices, dark beer, tabasco etc. you can do that too. Once ready, prepare large bowls with a bed of something. I like crunchy tortilla chips, the carnivore prefers rice (which is easy enough to just pop in the rice maker while the chili simmers). Growing up we always had elbow macaroni. Try them all out and see what your family likes best. Then top them as desired. The carnivore and I both love colby jack shredded and melted on top. I love a dollop of sour cream too, but be as creative as you want. Add blue cheese and you have a very patriotic meal with the red and white beans. The sky is the limit on the possibilities here. Store in the covered pots in the fridge and reheat daily over a low flame. Or, store your leftovers in the freezer and break them out later on.

So, when it gets cold outside heat you and your carnivore up some chili to warm you up from the inside out. And, let me know your favorite variation on this classic below. Always love hearing new ideas!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Inspiration can come from anywhere, as the saying goes. This dish is brought to you by cat testicles. What? Let me explain. Many years ago we had a family friend who was raising his two boys alone. We got together for the occasional meal every now and again. My favorite thing he made was a cheesy chicken and green olive pasta dish. It may have stuck in my head all these years because of the terrific taste, or it may be because he had his sons convinced that green olives were cat testicles. He told them this is where all the neutered cats' left over bits, as it were, went. Please note, it didn't stop them from eating green olives in this wonderful dish. (I think he finally had to admit the truth when he heard one of them explaining the origin of green olives to a friend.)

I am not sure why, but I got to thinking about that dish the other day. And since I don't eat chicken, and the carnivore doesn't eat olives, I decided to split it up. In the end we both loved our meal. Just like I remembered.

To make these two pasta dishes you will need:
1.5 boxes of thin spaghetti
3 chicken breasts
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 yellow onion
1 bunch of celery
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of celery soup
1 can of rotel
1 cup of slice green olives
a few dashes of garlic powder
olive oil for drizzling
seasoned bread crumbs for dusting
salt and pepper

Start by boiling a large pot of slated water. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Get out two skillets and drizzle them with a bit of oil. In one cook the chicken breast thoroughly after coating them in salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Once they are done set them aside to cool a bit. Then cut up the onion and the celery. Add half of each to the two skillets. (I have to go through an extra step here of putting the carnivore's veggies in the food processor so that he can enjoy the flavor and not pick them out because of the texture.) Let the veggies soften on medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Shred the chicken breasts and add them back into its original skillet. In the other skillet add in the rotel and olives. Simmer for a few minutes. Add your pasta into the boiling water and cook until almost al dente (it will finish cooking in the oven). Add the can of cream of chicken to the carnivore skillet, and the cream of celery to the veggie one. Top each with one cup of shredded casserole cheese. Stir the mixtures thoroughly. Drain your pasta. Add half to each skillet (if you have room - if you don't do this in separate mixing bowls). Coat the pasta well. Pour each mixture into a large glass baking dish. Dust each with some seasoned bread crumbs. Cook for 20-30 minutes - until they are golden and bubbling.

You can eat on these dishes for days. The flavors get better with time. It is also a great freezer meal. Make this ahead of your maternity leave and you are good to go once baby arrives. Just pop the dish into the oven and reheat. And every time you take a bite, think about the inspiration for the dish. Between that and the terrific taste you are sure to smile. I know I did.

Monday, October 4, 2010


As I have told you, I recently discovered my slow cooker. This whole set it and forget it world is a very new and exciting thing for me. With just a bit of planning on days when I know I am going to have a crazy afternoon, I can come home to a ready made meal for me and the carnivore. Just the other day I made this real quick ravioli because I was taking our little guy to his check up late in the afternoon. I knew between the doctor visit and traffic I would be wiped out by the time we got home. So, I set up this simple meal and had it ready to go when we got back. I'm calling it Snooki because its easy and Italian...ha!

For this recipe you will need the following:
1 bag of frozen cheese ravioli 
1 16oz can of organic tomato sauce
1 16oz can of organic diced tomatoes
2 tblsp of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
Italian seasoning (basil, parsley, oregano) 
Kosher salt & freshly cracked pepper
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil (optional)

First, let me say I recommend going to your local Italian shop and getting the good stuff when it comes to the ravioli. It just tastes better. Plus, you get to support your local foodie establishments. Also, if you get a cheese and spinach variety you are sneaking one more veggie into your carnivore. 

So, to make this dish, start by turning your slow cooker on low. Add in the oil and garlic. Next add in the tomato sauce and the diced tomatoes. Season the mixture with Italian spices. I like to pick fresh herbs from my garden, but dried will do. Just remember you need less. We like a lot of basil in my house so I add a lot to my sauce but you can do whatever. Stir in the parmesan along with a bit of salt and pepper. Put in the ravioli and coat them thoroughly with the sauce. Let this cook for at least four hours. Then add in the mozzarella, because more cheese is always a plus in my book. Stir it in and continue to cook for another ten minutes or until it melts. Serve with a bit of freshly chopped basil if you have it on hand.

The results are fabulous saucy gooey good! And it takes hardly any time at all. Who doesn't need that on a hectic day? So whether you live on the Jersey Shore or not, this easy Italian dish is sure to hit the spot.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

its tricky...tricky, tricky, tricky

Could you get your carnivore to eat carrots, beets, spinach and tomatoes in one meal? What if it is all there right in front of there eyes? "Never!" you say. Well, never say never. I recently did just that with my uber-veggie averse husband.  

The secret to this trick - multicolored tortellini and red sauce. See whether you have ever thought about it or not when you buy colored pasta (the good stuff) it is enhanced by real vegetables. The green is hued by spinach, the orange by carrots, and the red by beets. And that marinara is full of vitamin C and lycopene rich tomatoes. Even your most adamant meat eaters won't turn their nose up at these veggies once they are added to pasta. Then stuff that pasta with cheese and you are well on your way to tricking them into eating this rainbow. The final touch - sweet sausage. Slices of this basil infused Italian meat will please your carnivore for sure.

Now, if you have a vegetarian at home you can make them happy too. Simply saute some broccoli florets and walnuts in a separate pan with a bit of olive oil seasoned with salt. Top the tortellini with these along with some sauce. This will add in a good amount of fiber and protein to fill up your veggie loving friends too. Simple, quick and a bit tricky!

What tricks do you have up your sleeve to get more veggies on the plate? Do you grate squash in your mac & cheese? Add zucchini to your brownies? Let me know - I am always looking for new ideas!

(As my friend Jen reminded my this is certainly freezer friendly - with a bit of planning. Buy a big bag of frozen pasta for starters. In my house we also always have marinara or the ingredients to make it in hand. You can just keep a jar in the pantry. The nuts can also be kept on hand - for snacking, pesto, or this recipe. And finally the broccoli and sausage are also readily freezable. Plan ahead and you can pull this dinner together in minutes!)

Friday, July 16, 2010

going green

When the carnivore and I got married several years ago there were lots of toasts. In my sister-in-law's she mentioned the whole family's surprise when he brought home a vegetarian. Way back then it was hard to imagine how my manly meat eater was going to make it with me at meal times. And if I had told anyone that knows my carnivore that I could not only get him to eat a vegetarian dinner without complaint, but I could also get him to eat four green things without him noticing they wouldn't believe it. But it is true. Here is how I did it:

First, I went safe by going Italian. I always have greater success sneaking in veggies when it is in his favorite foods. I then picked a few green veggies that I know he eats. This cuts out complaints or up turned noses. Finally, I hid a few other green bits in the seasoning and stuffing. Keeping it small means it just might go unnoticed.

To make this dinner yourself start with your favorite ravioli. There are so many good versions out there. And whether you get fresh made pasta from your local Italian specialty shop or a bag of frozen ones from your big box store, get something that gets a veggie in your meateater. I personally love ravioli because it is one of the few ways I can get the carnivore to eat spinach. If it is chopped up finely, smothered in Italian cheeses and seasonings, and then wrapped in pasta even he can handle it.

As we are still figuring out how to cook and care for baby omnivore this night I used a frozen variety. I brought a large pot of salted water to boil. I then added in the ravioli and about a cup of frozen organic peas. Not only is this a time saver, but it also got me a second green veggie in the meal. At the same time I sauteed my garlic green beans. Find the recipe for green veggie number three here. Once the ravioli and peas floated to the top (about 5 minutes) I removed the pot from the heat and drained it. After returning it all back to the same pot (because I am all about less dishes these days) I added in a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of garlic powder, and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan. I then started to assemble the plates with a generous helping of green beans. I then piled on the ravioli and peas. My final touch, and the last bit of green on the plate - a few pieces of fresh basil from my herb garden torn on scattered on top.

This is not only a great meal for getting in more green goodies, it is also a wonderful meal for new parents. You can keep a large bag of ravioli and one of peas in the freezer and pull them out any time. They even make giant bags of frozen organic green beans that are pre-portioned and ready for reheating. Plus, it is quick to make and easy to clean up after. When you consider all this along side all the vitamins and minerals it packs in, its not so hard going green.

Monday, July 12, 2010

spaghetti ohs

My carnivore is part Italian. However, he could eat Italian full time. I don't feel the same. I mean, a girl needs a cheese enchilada every now and again. Don't get me wrong, I love a good garlic noodle dish as much as the next gal, but I can only have it so many times a week before I get tired of it. In fact, when the carnivore and I went to Italy a few years back his only request of me was that I didn't say, "but we just had Italian food last night."

I do have to admit that Italian food is easily adjustable for our mixed diet family. I can whip up a batch of vegetarian friendly four cheese lasagna or pesto pasta or even spinach gnocchi and the carnivore is satisfied too. As such, Italian food often makes an appearance at our dinner table. 

But the go to staple Italian dish I serve has to be spaghetti. Whenever my mother-in-law is in town the carnivore has her make massive amounts of her "gravy" so that he can freeze it and have it later. This works great for me. What's easier than pulling out ready made meat sauce (and when I say meat I mean it - there is ground beef, sausage, meatballs - you name it, it is in there)? But, even if it weren't on hand this is still easy to prepare.

Start with a large pot of salted water for your spaghetti and bring it to a boil. In the meantime, begin to make a marinara (or buy a jar of your favorite sauce). Combine either a can of crushed or diced organic tomatoes with a small can of tomato paste. Add in a bit of water and any fresh herbs you have on hand - like parsley, basil, and oregano. Then some garlic powder, kosher salt and ground pepper to taste. I also like a bit of red pepper to kick it up. Simmer this in a sauce pan. Then in two separate skillets brown ground beef and ground soy crumbles in a bit of olive oil. Once the water is ready, boil your pasta. Then drain it and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add half of the marinara to both skillets. Grab two bowls and top a good portion of pasta with either sauce and grated parmesan. Serve with a bit of crispy garlic bread and enjoy!

(And just a tip for you moms-to-be and new moms out there - this is a great freezer meal. Simply store the sauce in freezer safe containers and reheat whenever. It is simple enough for your significant other to do this while boiling some pasta and baking some garlic bread, especially when the other option is changing a dirty diaper!)
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