September 3, 2014

Freezer Mealapalooza 2014

Being a full-time mom, wife and dedicated employee is a full-time joy and stress! I want to have dinner ready for my family, but don't have time to spend hours in the kitchen. There's sports practices, school commitments, work events, church events and many other activities that pull us away from the dinner table.

But, there is tremendous value in sitting around the table as a family, sharing a meal and talking about our day before we are off and running to the next event. How can I have my cake and eat it too? I need to spend less time preparing the meals and more time actually enjoying them with my family - hence freezer meals.

Freezer meals are basically meals you would normally make for your family, but made in large quantities and stored in the freezer so you can just pull them out and pop them in the oven.

How do I get the meals done? This time, my husband took my girls to visit family and I cooked for the day. Next time, I might pare down the list, but I am so thankful to have a plethora of yummy meals ready in my freezer.

I over-engineer the process. I make a spreadsheet of recipes with web addresses and note if they are no cook, some cook or full cook. I then make a spreadsheet of ingredients so I know what I need for each ingredient to achieve all of the recipes. I also make a checklist for the day of to motivate me to keep on plugging away. Want the spreadsheet? Just ask!

Many of you have asked about my freezer meal recipes for the latest batch, so here they are with changes I made, the quantities I made and what I put in my freezer.

Here is my checklist:

What's in the freezer?
  • Chicken crescent bundles - 4 pans and 4 per pan
  • Lasagna roll-ups - 4 pans with 6 per pan
  • Taco soup - 4 bags
  • Teriyaki chicken - 3 bags
  • Stir fry veggies - 4 bags
  • Chicken stuffing casserole - 2 pans
  • Stromboli - 2 loaves
  • Pepperoni rigatoni casserole - 2 pans
  • Cilantro lime pesto - 2 bags
  • Honey lime tilapia - 2 bags with 2 fillets in each
  • Million dollar spaghetti - 2 pans
  • Enchiladas - 4 pans with 4-5 in each
  • Spaghetti sauce - 7 containers
  • Mashed potato cups - 13 cups
This is what it looks like before it goes into the deep freeze.



Chicken Crescent Bundles (double)
This is a family favorite and a great meal to have in the freezer when family or friends need a meal. I follow the recipe on this one and always double it, which makes four pans with four in each pan.

Lasagna Roll-Ups (double)
I love lasagna, but never seem to be able to finish a whole pan. Problem solved...these individual lasagna noodles allow you make them all at once, but only cook as many as you need. You can make these with just spinach and cheese or whatever your favorite lasagna ingredients are.

Taco Soup (double)
I modified this one slightly for our family's tastes. I removed the onion and used black beans. I rinse the black beans. I also use less water so it is less of a soup.

Teriyaki Chicken
I cut the chicken breasts into chunks and divided them into three separate bags (2 breasts per bag) so they are ready for stir fry nights.

Stir Fry Veggies
When I make veggies, I just buy whatever I want to throw in, blanch them and divide them among the bags. This time I used a head of broccoli and cauliflower, red pepper, yellow pepper, orange pepper and yellow squash. Use whatever works for your family.

Chicken Stuffing Casserole (double)
This one is a family favorite! Just prep and freeze. Cook when you need it.

Stromboli (double)
I doubled this. You can put whatever you want in it. I decided to follow the recipe this time.

Pepperoni Ziti Casserole
I used rigatoni for this because I already had it in the cabinet. You can use whatever works for you.

Cilantro Lime Pesto (double)
For this recipe, I just made the pesto. I'll add the chicken later, but I wanted the pesto ready to go. I also removed the almonds since I can't eat them.

Honey Lime Tilapia
I haven't tried this one yet, but I'm looking forward to trying out this tasty meal.

Million Dollar Spaghetti (double)
I made a few modifications to this one. I added more spaghetti (a box or so per recipe) and I used ricotta instead of cottage cheese - it's just a family preference

For this one, I used ground turkey instead of chicken, removed the onion and used ricotta instead of cottage cheese.

Mashed Potato Cups
When I make these, I put them in large muffin tins covered in cooking spray, pop them in the freezer and then after they are frozen, I wrap them individually so I can pull out just what I need when I need it. I don't like making mashed potatoes, so when I make them, I make a lot and just freeze them.

Spaghetti Sauce
This is just my mom's spaghetti sauce recipe that takes a few hours to simmer. I tripled the recipe and threw it in the pot to cook, let it cool and then divided it into smaller containers so I have just the right amount for pasta night.

Pictures along the way...
Chicken Crescent Bundles
Lasagna Roll-Ups
Taco Soup

Stir Fry Veggies

Chicken Teriyaki

Honey Lime Tilapia

Chicken Stuffing Casserole
Million Dollar Spaghetti
Pepperoni Rigatoni Casserole
Cilantro Lime Pesto 


Freezer Mashed Potato Cups
Spaghetti Sauce

January 28, 2012

What's Cookin' This Week? February 13, 2012

Thanks for checking out this week's menu! I hope you find something to try this week with your family. This is week three of the crock pot adventure and this week's recipe is stuffed peppers.

Monday – Stuffed peppers (crock pot)

This is another recipe I found from the A Year of Slow Cooking blog and is a great meal in itself. We might need some fruit on the side, but this looks pretty filling! I’ve never had stuffed peppers before, so I figured I might as well try them in a crock pot. Here is the link to the recipe.


  • Peppers to fill the bottom of your crock pot (red, orange and yellow look pretty)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 can flavored tomatoes (fire roasted or Italian)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/3 cup water


In a bowl, mix meat, cooked rice, flavored tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and black pepper.

Cut tops of peppers off and clean peppers out. Save tops.

Stuff peppers with mixture and place in crock pot. Put tops back on.

Pour water in crock pot around bottom of peppers. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Tuesday – Lime-poached halibut ($7 a meal healthy cookbook), couscous and roasted veggies

For Valentine’s day, I’m going to make some yummy halibut for hubs.


  • ¾ lb. halibut fillet
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, stems removed, leaves chopped
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup chicken or veggie broth


Season halibut with salt and pepper. In large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, including halibut. Cover and cook until halibut is flaky, about 8 minutes.

Wednesday – Honey Mustard Chicken with Pretzel Crust (

We love this recipe! This is a great way to add some variety to the mundane chicken cycle.


  • cooking spray
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp. spicy mustard
  • 1 tbsp. coarse-grained mustard
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 4 cups salted pretzels
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a bowl, mix together the red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, the spicy mustard, coarse-grained mustard, 1 tablespoon of honey, and the vegetable oil.

Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of heavy plastic (resealable freezer bags work well) on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken with the smooth side of a meat mallet to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Coat the chicken well with the mustard mixture.

Place the pretzels into a resealable plastic zipper bag and roll the bag under a rolling pin to finely grind the pretzels. Place the coated chicken breasts, one at a time, into the bag, seal, and shake the bag to thoroughly coat each chicken breast with pretzel meal. Place the chicken breasts on the prepared baking sheet and spray each breast with cooking spray.

Bake the chicken in the preheated oven until the coating is golden brown and the meat is no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes. Flip the chicken after about 12 minutes of cooking to brown both sides.

Mix together the mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard, 3 tablespoons of honey, and salt in a bowl. Drizzle the honey-mustard sauce over the chicken to serve.

Thursday – Stir Fry

Stir fry is a great way to use up leftover vegetables from earlier in the week or from the previous week before they go bad.


  • Strip steak cut into small strips or chicken cut into cubes
  • Red pepper
  • Green pepper
  • Bean sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Snow peas
  • Stir fry sauce


Cook strip steak or chicken with olive oil. Mix in stir fry sauce and simmer briefly. Set meat aside. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces and cook in stir fry sauce for a few minutes. Add meat back in and simmer for a few more minutes. Serve over rice.

Enjoy and remember, own what your family eats one meal at a time!

What's Cookin' This Week? - February 6, 2012

Here's another week of easy recipes to help you own what your family eats. This week's crock pot shot is chicken teriyaki. I hope you find something you like!

Monday – Chicken Teriyaki (crock pot), brown rice, veggies

This is a recipe I found from a blog where a woman made something new with her crock pot every day for one year. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that kind of commitment. Click here to see her blog.


  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (you can use frozen ones) or wings/drumettes
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sherry or tequila
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • OR just use pre-made teriyaki sauce


Put the chicken in the crock pot. Cover it with teriyaki sauce.

If chicken is not frozen, cook 6-8 hours on low. If frozen, cook 8-10 hours.

Tuesday – Spaghetti, fruit, garlic bread

Here is my typical Tuesday night fast and simple dinner. I’m making whole-wheat spaghetti and pasta sauce with some light garlic bread and fruit. Easy and healthy, just the way I like it.

Wednesday – Believe it or not pork chops, buffalo potato chips, homemade applesauce

I found this recipe in a cookbook from my grade school. This meets the criteria of simple so we’ll try it out.


  • 6 to 8 pork chops
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup Coke


Brown pork chops and place in baking dish. Mix coke and ketchup together and pour over pork chops. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. That’s it!

Thursday – Margherita pizza

This is one of my favorites. Easy pizza with either homemade crust so the little fingers can get involved or Boboli crust for a faster option.


  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh basil
  • Tomatoes
  • Black olives (for my daughter)
  • Olive oil
  • Pizza crust or ingredients for homemade crust


After making crust, sprinkle with olive oil. Spread sliced basil leaves and sliced tomatoes (and olives if desired) around pizza. Put sliced or shredded mozzarella on top. Sprinkle with more olive oil.

Bake in oven until cheese melts or per crust instructions.

Enjoy this week's menu and own what your family eats one meal at a time!

What's Cookin' This Week? January 30, 2012

This is the first week of my crock pot adventure. I tried to do the crock pot dishes on Mondays in case I need to do some extra prep on Sunday night. I’m adding a bonus recipe this week too. I’m going to make Stromboli for dinner on Sunday and have leftovers for lunches this week.

Sunday – Stromboli


  • 2 loaves frozen bread dough (try wheat for a healthier option)
  • ¾ lb. ham
  • ½ lb. salami
  • ½ lb. pepperoni
  • ½ lb. American cheese
  • ½ lb. provolone cheese
  • ½ lb. Swiss cheese


Let bread rise as directed. Cut in half. Roll out to 10x12 inches. Layer alternately cheeses and meat. Roll as a jelly roll. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Slice into 2-inch wide strips.

Monday – Cola roast and baked potatoes

Cola Roast (Fix it and forget it cookbook)


  • 3 lb. beef roast
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 2 cans cola


Place roast in slow cooker. Sprinkle with soup mix. Pour pop over all.

Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours.

Crock Pot Baked Potatoes

Prick potatoes with fork and wrap in foil. Put in crock pot and cover. Do not add water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Tuesday – White Chicken Chili and corn bread

There is a great seasoning packet for white chicken chili that makes this super easy and quick.


  • 1 pkg. McCormick® White Chicken Chili Seasoning Mix
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/2-inch cubes (or use grilled chicken cubes for a faster option)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (15 to 16 oz.) white beans, undrained
  • Frozen corn (thawed)


Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink. If using the frozen prepared grilled chicken, just cook chicken in the microwaves as instructed.

Stir in seasoning mix, water, beans and corn. Bring to boil, cover. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with shredded cheese, cilantro, sour cream or other toppings as desired.

Wednesday – Enchiladas with chips and guac/salsa

Last week, we used corn tortillas for one of the recipes so I want to use up the remaining tortillas with this recipe. I got this enchilada recipe from a friend of mine many years ago. Thanks Samantha! We still enjoy these!


  • Corn tortillas
  • 1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
  • Corn oil
  • 1-2 pkgs. Mexican cheese
  • Small can enchilada sauce (mild or medium)


Fry meat and drain. Add enchilada sauce. Heat oil in a separate frying pan until almost popping. Dip tortillas in oil with tongs (both sides). Remove and put on “staging plate.” Put meat sauce and cheese in center of tortilla. .Roll both sides up and place in baking dish (seam side down is best). Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour extra meat sauce and cheese over top. Bake 20 minutes at 350-400 degrees until cheese is melted.

Thursday – Stuffed shells, salad and garlic bread

For this recipe, I’m going to use my leftover shells from a few weeks ago. In a 9x9 or 9x13 pan, place pasta sauce on the bottom of the dish and top with stuffed shells. Pour more pasta sauce over top of the shells. Keep in refrigerator overnight to thaw. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

Click here to find the original recipe.

February Menu Planned and Ready!

Woo hoo! I made it to month two and had time to plan out all of February! But this month, I wanted to take on something new. I’ve never really used my crock pot for anything more than keeping things warm at a party. This month, we’re actually going to use it to cook something. My goal is to use it at least once a week and see how it goes.

Why am I creating a whole month's worth of meals? I'm a busy mom, but I want to choose what my family eats. By planning out a month in advance, I won't get behind and take advantage of take out, I can take advantage of sales throughout the month and I can enjoy my time in the kitchen. I'm owning what my family eats one month at a time!

So here is the February menu.

January 30-February 5

Monday – Cola roast and baked potatoes (crock pot), veggies

Tuesday – White chicken chili, corn bread

Wednesday – Enchiladas, chips and guac/salsa

Thursday – Stuffed Shells, salad and garlic bread (using the shells I put in the freezer a few weeks ago)

February 6 – 10

Monday – Chicken Teriyaki (crock pot), veggies

Tuesday – Spaghetti, fruit, garlic bread

Wednesday – Believe it or not pork chops

Thursday – Margherita pizza

February 13 – 17

Monday – Stuffed peppers (crock pot)

Tuesday – Lime-poached halibut

Wednesday – Honey Mustard Chicken with Pretzel Crust

Thursday – Stir Fry

February 20 – 24

Monday – Chicken Tortilla Soup (crock pot)

Tuesday – Eggplant Parmesan

Wednesday – Stuffed tomatoes

Thursday – Marinated chicken and veggies

February 27 – March 2

Monday – Greek wraps with white bean hummus

Tuesday – Corn-stuffed pork chops

Wednesday – breakfast for dinner – omelets

Thursday –Mediterranean chicken (crock pot)

Check back each week for recipes and tips for making these quick, easy and healthy menus for your family.