Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 pkg. meatballs, frozen
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup grape jelly
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup hickory smoked barbecue sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of flour

(optional suggestion)
* white rice or mashed potatoes

~ Combine salsa, grape jelly, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, vinegar and flour.  Whisk well.
~ Place meatballs in slow cooker
~ Pour mixture over top
~ Cook on low for 2-3 hours - keep on warm

* Cook white rice or mashed potatoes according to their instructions.
~ Serve meatballs over rice or mashed potatoes

6 servings

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hungarian Goulash

2 lbs. beef stew meat (1 in. cubes)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tbsp. paprika
1-14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg. egg noodles

~ Place stew meat, onion and garlic in slow cooker.
~ In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, pepper and paprika; add to slow cooker, stir and coat meat.
~ Stir in diced tomatoes.
~ Cook on high 4-5 hours. Or, on low 6-8 hours

~ When meat is cooked and tender;  Stir in sour cream. Allow to heat until warm or while cooking egg noodles.

~ Meanwhile, cook egg noodles according to package instructions.

Serve goulash sauce over top of drained egg noodles.

8 servings

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Creamy Italian Chicken

Creamy Italian Chicken
Served over brown rice
Easy Ingredients
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 6)
1 - 1oz. envelope of Italian dressing salad mix
1/2 cup butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. cream cheese

~ Turn slow cooker on high.  Melt butter in bottom of slow cooker.
~ Stir in Italian dressing mix.
~ Place chicken breasts in slow cooker; coat with seasoned butter.
~ Cook on high for 2 hours

First step: butter, Italian seasoning
and chicken
~ When chicken is fully cooked, remove from slow cooker and set aside.
~ Add cream of chicken soup and cream cheese to slow cooker; mix with seasoned butter sauce. Whisk well. Let cook for approx. 10 minutes to heat up and/or until hot and creamy.

You can either serve chicken breasts with sauce poured over top - or cut up chicken breasts and mix them with the sauce before serving over rice, egg noodles, biscuits or mashed potatoes.

6 servings

Monday, May 7, 2012

Shredded BBQ Pork Sandwiches

1 - 3lb. boneless pork roast
1 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup vinegar
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

* favorite BBQ sauce
* Hamburger buns, flat bread or sandwich rolls

Prepped for cooking
~ Cut roast in half; place in slow cooker
~ Add onion, vinegar, salt, cloves, garlic powder and bay leaves
~ Cook on low for 10-12 hours or until meat is tender.

~ Once cooked, discard bay leaves (don't want to eat those!).  Remove meat and shred.

Serve on buns topped with BBQ sauce and/or any other desired condiments.

12 servings

The only dishes you need to dirty- a knife, measuring cup and spoons.  No bowls even required!  Whoo-hoo, what could be easier?!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sharing Meal Prep Wisdom

My kids will vouch that at the height of our feeding frenzy, this is exactly how our freezer looked! And, it was and IS a life and time saver!  I'm a great cook, but honestly don't enjoy spending time in the kitchen.  I figure if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it as efficient and nutritious as possible.  I hate pre-packaged frozen meals and processed food.  Ewww... Yuck!  Blah!

How to get the most out of Costco shopping and save time!?  A little planning goes a long way. When preparing my grocery shopping list I always have my recipe database open in the kitchen.  I know this sounds a bit OCD, but taking the time to add your favorite recipes to a good recipe software saves so much time in the long run.  I already have a good idea of what meats, pastas and bulk items I'm buying at Costco, so I can quickly pull up 'chicken' recipes, or 'pork,' 'pasta,' ect. and choose two to three recipes for each item.  This way I can do a quick inventory of the pantry to make sure I have all the necessary ingredients or add what is missing to the list.  I don't over buy or under buy - who doesn't want to be more efficient?

Once I return from my Costco adventure, I divide all the meats up into individual meal portions and place them in the appropriate freezing container.  Most of the time, that is a large freezer ziplock bag. In an assembly line fashion, I take out all the ingredients I need for each meal and add to the bags or pans.  If it is something that shouldn't be mixed with raw meat, I place that particular ingredient (ie sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped vegetables) in separate zip lock bags before bundling them all together in a final bag and label.  Some recipes require a bit of cooking prior to freezing.  When this happens, I will fry up a couple pounds of hamburger, or cook chicken before dividing (i.e. enchiladas, casseroles, lasagna).  Freezing also works great for marinades, stews, chili, soup and sauces.  Make them ahead of time and simply freeze them.

Want to save more time?  Hate chopping and dicing?  I buy frozen chopped onion and some other vegetables in a bag.  Who needs a pound of chopped onions?  Normally, not too many people unless you are making three recipes.  Three cups, three different bags -- done, and done!  Best part, no tears or smelly hands.

This method really helps with saving money, because that large tub of sour cream won't go to waste -- you just got three meals out of it!  In a typical trip to Costco buying a package of each meat (you know how big they are), I can get 14 meals pre-made! Feeding a family 4-6 portion sizes.

Pre-making and freezing also makes for easy meal planning for the week and provides variety.  I make everything from stews, soups, enchiladas, casseroles, pork roasts, meatloaf and grilling marinades and spaghetti sauce ahead of time and freeze.  I know exactly what I have for baking, grilling, slow-cooking or stove top cooking. When I can't be home to prepare dinner, the family can easily thaw something.  I also label bags and include cooking instructions using a black sharpie marker on sticky back labels.  No excuses!

Large meals usually take 48 hours to thaw in the fridge.  So, plan accordingly.  After bagging meals, I usually throw 2 in the fridge to begin with and then each time I make one, I pull another from the freezer so it will be ready to make in two days.  Again, efficiency makes a huge difference and decreases frustration and stress. Clean up is also much easier with pre-made, frozen meals!  Decrease in dishes...BONUS!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hot-and-Sweet Drumsticks

Use one bowl and the crock pot!  Easy!

Minimal Ingredients
1 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1 to tsp. bottled hot pepper sauce
12 chicken drumsticks (about 3 lbs.)
* 2 tbsp. of cornstarch with equal amt. of cold water; use to thicken sauce if desired.

Hot cooked rice (optional) - make according to directions, separately

~ Stir together apricot preserves, ketchup, soy sauce, minced garlic and hot sauce together in a bowl.  Arrange drumsticks in slow-cooker.  Pour sauce mixture over chicken.

~ Cover; Cook on low-heat setting for 6-7 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 - 3.5 hours.

~ When fully cooked, remove chicken from slow-cooker.  Mix cornstarch and water and add to sauce mixture to thicken.

Serve sauce with chicken over hot cooked rice.

* Not very 'spicy' add or subtract hot pepper to desired taste.