Saturday, October 24, 2009

Freezer Friendly Meals (and a brief hiatus)

Over the past few weeks I have been referring again and again to different meals I am making to freeze so we have something other than take-out to eat after the baby comes. I figured some of you may want a comprehensive list of everything that is in my freezer so here you are, along with links to the recipes! After looking at the list and the picture above, I am pretty proud of myself and hope that these meals last until I have some energy back to cook!

This post will most likely be my last until after the baby is born - I am all cooked out and we are really just focusing on bringing Baby Cooking This and That home! But soon after that is the holiday season so you can be assured I will be back with plenty of yummy things (I already have a whole pile of pumpkin recipes and Christmas cookies I want to make this year!).

So enjoy the next few weeks, keep checking back, and I'll be back soon!

Freezer-Friendly Meals

Baked Goods

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Slow Cooker Barbecue-Beef Sandwiches

Chuck and I were divided on whether or not we liked this recipe. I really enjoyed it - anything that requires very little prep and ends up as tender, shredded meat in a homemade barbecue sauce is a winner in my book. Unfortunately, I think Chuck had his favorite, pulled pork, in the back of his mind and didn't like this as much.

Still, I recommend this as a quick weeknight meal (well, quick in the prep part, long on the cooking!) if your family likes sandwiches. I made the whole recipe and don't think that it would serve 10 people, maybe 8. Also, if you don't have dark brown sugar and don't want to buy it, light brown sugar works just fine.

I didn't change anything else, so here is the link!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Turkey Lasagna

If you are looking for a "gourmet" lasagna, this is the one for you! Ina Garten's recipe is one of my absolute favorites; and although a little expensive with the different types of cheeses, it's totally worth it! The creamy goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, and hearty meat sauce combine to make one delicious pasta dish.

I also enjoy how you don't actually have to boil the lasagna noodles - Ina instructs you just to place them in a bowl of very hot tap water for 20 minutes. Which works great for me - usually when I boil them I end up breaking them somehow.

The only change I make to this recipe is to use a 1 1/3 pound package of ground turkey instead of turkey sausage, so I will link you to it directly below. Of course I manage to make this into two full dinners, it is easily divided into two 8x8 baking dishes. If you do that, just break the lasagna noodles in half before placing them in the hot water, it will make it easier to layer them in the final product.

Trust me, it's delicious, I just can't photograph it well!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pork Ragout

This dish is an old fave I got from my friend Rita. It is basically a one-pot meal (plus pasta) that is easy and comforting to make on a weeknight. The only thing that takes a little bit of time is browning all of the pork, but once that's done, you're all set!

The key here is to make everything roughly the same size - the cubed pork, the chopped onion, and the bell pepper pieces. Then it makes a very uniform sauce and you can get each flavor in every bite.

Normally I halve this recipe to serve Chuck and myself plus some leftovers, but I made the whole recipe this past time and of course froze some. Stay tuned for a later post on what's in my overstuffed freezer!

Pork Ragout
from Rita
Makes 4-6 servings

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
6 boneless, skinless pork chops, trimmed and cubed
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
splash of balsamic vinegar
chopped basil
1 package egg noodles, prepared as package directs.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute pork in hot oil until browned, remove from pan. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper to drippings in pan and saute 10 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, splash of balsamic, basil and stir to combine. Add pork back to mixture and simmer all until pork is tender and cooked through.

Serve immediately over prepared egg noodles.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Apple Cake with Toffee Crust

This cake was delicious, time-consuming to make, but delicious! A gooey cake studded with apples and a toffee crust, topped with caramelized apples, butterscotch sauce, and vanilla ice cream. Like I said right before we ate it, "This is the epitome of a fall dessert!"

I must warn you though that I had trouble deciding on a pan since I don't have a springform tube pan. I finally settled on my angel food cake pan with removeable bottom, and it worked out ok. However, this is a heavy cake, so it did break a little bit as I was removing it from the pan so make sure to grease and flour your pan thoroughly. Not a problem though, I just put it back together on the plate!

If you decide to make this, leave yourself a lot of time. There are a lot of components, along with a long cooling time before you can remove the cake from the pan. I made the recipe exactly as directed; but I do suggest halving the butterscotch sauce (it is referred to as both butterscotch and toffee sauce in the same recipe) and doubling the amount of caramelized apples, especially if you are serving this to a crowd and will be eating most of it in one sitting.

After the glaze and cooling but before the sauce and ice cream:

Here's the link from Food & Wine:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce

If you know me at all you know I am a sucker for any sort of baked pasta. So of course while searching for some more freezer meals, this one popped out at me immediately. All great flavors that Chuck really likes and it looked pretty easy.

The measurements were a little fussy so I changed them in order to make enough food to make two complete dinners. Both Chuck and I agreed that this needed a little more tomato taste, so when I make this again I may try adding an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. I am not going to write it into the actual recipe until I try it though - let me know if you attempt it that way! If you like the way pesto tastes, you can definitely increase that amount as well. There was a nice subtle flavor but definitely room for more!

Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce
amounts adapted from Food & Wine
Makes about 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package (usually about 1.25 pounds) ground beef
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup store-bought or homemade pesto
1 pound medium pasta shells
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat either a 15 x 10 baking dish or two 8 x 8 baking dishes with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Drain off any excess fat.

Add the tomatoes and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in pesto.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente as directed on package, about 7-8 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce.

If using a 15 x 10 dish: Put half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with one cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining pasta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

If using two 8 x 8 dishes: Put 1/4 of the pasta mixture in each of the prepared dishes. Top each with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan. Repeat layers in each dish.

Bake until bubbling and slightly browned on top, about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Spinach Salad with Smoked Chicken, Apple, Walnuts, and Bacon

Except I left out the walnuts. And grilled the chicken instead of using a smoked one. And used turkey bacon instead. But it was still great! Chuck likes what he calls "meat salads" for dinner, and I made quite a few of them over the summer. I knew the frequency of these salads would decrease once the weather got cooler so when I saw these fall flavors, I knew it would be perfect for an October dinner!

I will write you the recipe below as I made it for us, but also check out the link with the original ingredients and amounts. I had no clue where I would find smoked chicken, and the grilled was just as good. I used the turkey bacon to feel a little healthier, and when I make this again I will try and find a nice sharp cheddar cheese to add to the salad.

When making this for just the two of us, I assemble the salads individually, but if you were serving this to a crowd, toss everything together and leave for a few minutes so the flavors meld together.

Spinach Salad with Smoked Chicken, Apple, Walnuts, and Bacon
adapted from Food & Wine
Makes 2 servings

6 tablespoons walnuts, chopped (optional)
4 slices turkey bacon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound smoked (or grilled) and sliced boneless chicken breast
1/2 of a 6-ounce bag baby spinach, washed and dried
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

If using walnuts, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the walnuts until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Let cool.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels and then chop or crumble.

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil.

Combine the spinach, walnuts, bacon, onion, apple, and chicken in individual serving bowls. Toss with desired amount of dressing and serve immediately.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Princess Brownies

I have no idea why these are called Princess Brownies; all I know is that my mom has been making them as long as I remember. They are super easy to make since they use a brownie mix, but they taste delicious every time.

If you like chocolate and you like cheesecake, you will love these! They are great for the upcoming holidays as well!

Princess Brownies
from Jo's Kitchen
Makes 24 brownies

1 package brownie mix, your choice
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 13 x 9 glass baking dish with cooking spray for baking.

Prepare brownie mix in large bowl as directed on box. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar; mix well with hand mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Spread 1/2 of the brownie batter over the bottom of prepared baking dish. Cover with cream cheese mixture. Spoon on remaining brownie batter. Cut through with butter knife to marbelize.

Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into 24 bars.