Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Winner Is...

I apologize for my absence the past few days and for not posting the results of my giveaway. A stomach bug has attacked our house and we are just finally recovering (I seem to have somehow avoided it, but the kids and hubby have taken it pretty hard!).

I used random.org to generate a random number and here are the results.

I'm happy to announce that the winner of my basket of homemade goodies is... Heather from Out of the Box Into the Kitchen! Congrats Heather and thank for the bunches of recipes that you've sent in to help with our Cookbook Fundraiser!

If anybody else would like to help out by donating recipes for our cookbook (you will be acknowledged in the cookbook), please send them to foodiefairytale@gmail.com.

Thank you all again for your help! Every recipe gets us one step closer to finishing. Keep your eyes peeled for a cookbook giveaway once they are all complete and published!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

A few weekends ago, I went up to my dad's for lunch with the kids and he had these frozen black bean and corn burgers that were absolutely delicious. I loved them so much that I read the ingredients on the package and decided to try and do my own thing. I read quite a few different recipes online as well as reviews and everything I read said that people had issues with the burgers falling apart. After reading a few tips and tricks (most of them requiring frying the burger in oil (which kind of defeats the purpose of it being healthier than a hamburger), I decided to go my own way and try something different. I used jalapenos from our garden and they were super spicy. I happen to enjoy very spicy food, but if you don't, I recommend using half of a jalapeno instead of a whole one. We topped ours with a little bit of chili sauce and fresh avocado slices.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

3 Cups Black Beans, Cooked and Drained
1 Cup Corn Niblets
1 Jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
1 Cup Onion, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
2 tbsp parsley, minced (optional)


In a large bowl, mash black beans (it's ok to have a few whole ones but try to get them mostly mashed). Set aside.

In a skillet, saute onions and peppers over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until no longer crunchy. Add sauteed veggies and corn to the beans, and add breadcrumbs, cumin, salt, chili powder, and parsley to the mix as well.

Form into patties and place on cookie sheet(s) lined with waxed paper. I got nine good sized burgers from my mix but it will all depend on how big you make them.

Place cookie sheets in freezer for 30-60 minutes or until patties are frozen. Transfer to a gallon sized freezer bag.

Grill Option: Place burgers on a piece of foil on a hot grill and cook 5-10 minutes per side or until crunchy on the outside but still soft on the inside. The foil will prevent your burger from falling through the grill if it gets too soft. My husband learned this the hard way unfortunately!

Stovetop option: Heat 2Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle burger with cornmeal on both sides and place in pan. Cook for 5-8 minutes per side. I cooked mine this way and loved how the cornmeal gave it a crispy coating on the outside.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Pancakes

As a child, one of my favorite things to eat was strawberry banana yogurt. It was my favorite flavor combination for the longest time. This weekend, my husband really wanted pancakes and I had no problem making them, but I just had to try something different than my usual pancake. We had tons of fruit in the house and he suggested strawberries. I love strawberry pancakes, but I decided to try and kick them up a notch by adding banana as well. These were a hit (except for the first few pancakes which I accidentally messed up by trying to flip too early (happens to me every time I make pancakes and yet I still haven't learned my lesson). I hope you enjoy these as much as our family did!

Also, this my first ever Tuesday Tag-Along post and I'd like to welcome anyone who finds me today, I hope you enjoy your stay!

Tuesday Tag-Along

This post is also linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Blessed with Grace

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Pancakes


  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/8 Cup Honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1%, but you could use any type, buttermilk would be good here too)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut into small pieces


In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Set dry ingredients aside. In a medium bowl, combine mashed banana, egg, milk, oil, and honey, whisk until well blended. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix thoroughly (batter may be a little bit lumpy). Do not add strawberries.

Heat a griddle pan or skillet on medium-medium/high heat, spray with PAM or grease pan with butter. Drop batter onto pan by 1/4 cup increments. sprinkle with strawberries. Once bubbles begin to form (about 4-5 minutes), flip pancake and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with fresh maple syrup and/or butter. I had mine with just syrup and they were delicious. Hubby had his with both butter and syrup, and both of my kids ate them plain with nothing on them and everyone enjoyed them!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 7/26/10

After a few super busy weeks, I finally had a chance to actually plan a menu and I'm really hoping we can stick to it! My husband has decided to join me on my weight loss journey, so you will be seeing a lot of new (and healthy) recipes this week!

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Pancakes
Crockpot Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Bagel Thins with Fat Free Cream Cheese
Egg Beater Omlettes (with assorted ingredients)
Cold Cereal
Fruit and Yogurt

BBQ Chicken Salad
One-Point Chili
Baked Potato w/ Chili
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Apple Cranberry Pork Loin
Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Pasta w/ Homemade Sauce
Whole Wheat Pizza
BBQ Chicken Breast
Tequila Lime Chicken

For more delicious menus, visit www.orgjunkie.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Calling All Bloggers (and my first EVER giveaway)

Dear fellow bloggers (and readers),

I have a story I'd like to share with you today - I know I'm not usually one to talk about much besides food and blogging, but today I need your help with one of my current missions in life and I just know that you'll be willing to help me out!

You see, almost four years ago I gave birth to my daughter. She was born 9 weeks early weighing only 3 pounds and fitting from my finger tip to just past my wrist. She had a grade IV hemorrhage in her brain, a hole in her heart, and also a congenital heart defect called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). She was fighting for her life in the NICU as I stood by completely helpless, going home each night and leaving her behind, an hour from home, not knowing what might happen while I was gone. After 26 days she was finally healthy enough to come home. She received state of the art care in a Level III NICU. Care that without extensive research, might not have been available to her. The March of Dimes helped save my daughter's life by providing the research needed to help her overcome her obstacles.

Two years later, I had another preemie, my son was born only 5 weeks early but was much more sick than his sister despite "baking" a bit longer. He was on a ventilator and was unable to breathe on his own without tiring and causing his heart rate to drop. He also had episodes where he would just "forget" to breathe and would turn blue and need assistance to begin breathing again. Again, we were saved by research funded by the March of Dimes - our son received several rounds of surfactant therapy to help his lungs handle breathing without assistance.

We've been walking in the March for Babies for three years now, and we've been able to raise well over $2,000 in those three years combined for the March of Dimes. This year, we have a goal as a team to raise $2,000 by the time of our walk in April 2011. I've come up with a master plan for fund-raising - We're going to create our very own cookbook to publish and sell - all profits will go to the March of Dimes.

This, my fellow bloggers is where you come in. I'm looking for people to submit recipes to include in our cookbook. We are needing a total of 200-300 recipes in the following categories:

Appetizers & Beverages
Soups & Salads
Vegetables & Side Dishes
Main Dishes
Breads & Rolls
Cookies & Candy
Miscellaneous (This & That)

Recipes should be submitted via email at foodiefairytale (at) gmail (dot) com.

For each recipe you submit you will be entered into a drawing for my very FIRST giveaway!

I'm sure you are all dying to know what the prize is, right??

The prize will be a basket full of some of my favorite cooking supplies, including some of my wonderful home-canned mango chutney, homemade vanilla extract, and more! Hurry and submit your recipes - giveaway ends on July 31st at 8:00pm EST. Please make sure to leave an email address in your comment so I know how to reach you if you win!

For each recipe you submit please leave me a comment to let me know the recipe has been emailed to me.

Don't want to submit a recipe, or want some extra chances to win? Here are some other ways that you can win! Please be sure to leave a comment to let me know you've done these as well.
  • Follow my blog publicly
  • Follow me on Facebook
  • Follow me on Twitter (leave a comment with your twitter name)
  • Blog about my giveaway (leave a link to your post)
I hope you all have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Conveniently Homemade - Smoothies

Today I'll be sharing my next post in my "Conveniently Homemade" series. While trying to lose weight, one of my favorite breakfast options is smoothies. They are easy to make and very portable. In fact, I like to drink mine in the car on the way to work.

The problem you can sometimes run into with smoothies is that if you are using fresh fruit, it tends to go bad quickly and sometimes way before you have a chance to use it all. I came up with a great way to still get my healthy, delicious smoothies and I'd love to share it with you.

This can be adapted for use with any fruit. I have a few specific ones that I make so I'll list them for you here. I make mine in bulk, so I've listed them this way. You can of course cut the recipes down to make just a few servings if you wish.

Fruit Smoothies
  • 6lbs Fresh or Frozen Fruit
  • 1 32oz Container of Fat Free Yogurt (your choice of flavor - I use plain or vanilla mostly)
  • 1 Pint of Frozen Fruit Juice Concentrate (I use orange, but you could use any flavor)
  • 8 - 1 Quart Ziploc Freezer Bags
Flavor Ideas:
  • Strawberry-Banana
  • Mixed Berry (Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry)
  • Tropical (Mango, Pineapple, Orange)
  • Orange-Banana
  • Strawberry-Peach
  • Mixed Fruit (Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Strawberry, Banana, Pineapple)

Divide Fruit evenly among the 8 freezer bags. Add 1/2 Cup of Yogurt and 1/4 Cup frozen juice concentrate to each freezer bag. Remove air from bag, seal tightly, and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw bag in the fridge until just soft enough to come out of the bag and into the blender. Add 1 Cup of Water and blend until smooth. Each bag makes enough for 2-3 Large smoothies.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blog Awards!

First, I'd like to apologize for my lack of posting lately. I've been VERY busy at work and also have decided to start training for my very first 5K run! I've been spending very little time in the kitchen lately. We've been doing a lot of eating from the freezer the past few weeks. However our freezer meals have finally been depleted so we'll be cooking again starting this week!

I've been nominated for two blog awards and I'm very excited. Here they are:

I was honored by Holly at Living in a (Mostly) Happy SAHM World with the Sweet Blog Award. Please check out her blog for some yummy menu plans and recipes. I personally can't wait to try canning some of her roasted red peppers! Thank you SO much Holly for the lovely award!

Here are the Sweet Blog Award rules:
- Give this award to 10 sweet bloggers.
- Make a post about the award including the picture and mention the person who gave it to you.
- Put the award on your blog.
- Let your nominated 10 know you’ve awarded them by leaving a comment.

I've also been nominated for the Sunshine Blog Award by April at Angel Food Kitchens. Her Oreos and Cream cake had me drooling on my keyboard! “The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world.” The rules once this award is received are as follows:

1. Post the logo on blog.
2. Pass the award on to 12 fellow bloggers.
3. Link the nominees
4. Let nominees know they have won this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person you received this award from.

I had a hard time coming up with so many people to nominate (22 total...eek!). So, I'd like to nominate the people below for both of these awards. I apologize that I didn't meet the minimum number of nominees. I'll try to add some more soon!

These are bloggers who inspire me to do what I do, share fun ideas, and even every day tips and tricks!

Susie B. Homemaker
- She is currently doing a giveaway for the "I Hate to Cook" cookbook, check it out! Hurry, it ends on 7/18!

Michelle at All Home Cooking - She is on the same mission as me and I find her to be very inspiring. I highly suggest trying her S'mores Brownies, they are delicious!

Heather at Out of the Box Into the Kitchen - Heather and I were roommates in college and we have a lot in common. She always has something new and interesting to post. Check out her new recipe for Creamy Sausage Rigatoni!

Angie at Angie's Healthy Living - I can't wait to try her meatless meatballs!

Jenn at Jenn's Food Journey - I'm dying to try her strawberry cheesecake ice cream.

Mama Bird at Mama Bird's Nest - You all know I've been doing some canning around here, and these pickles look delicious!

Holly at Living in a (Mostly) Happy SAHM World - Check out her Pineapple Zucchini Bread.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

S'mores Cookie Bars

We had quite a bit of leftover graham crackers, marshmallows, and candy bars from our camping trip. So, here is yet another delicious recipe featuring my favorite flavor combination!

S'mores Cookie Bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 milk chocolate candy bars
  • 1-2 cups mini marshmallows

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Combine the flour, cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping.

Press remaining mixture into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Place candy bars on top of crust.

Crumble remaining graham cracker mixture over top.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My First Adventure in Canning

I've been wanting to try canning for a while now but I just finally got the courage to give it a try. I spent $18 on a boiling water canner w/ a canning rack and I think it will definitely pay off in the long run.

Last month when I did my freezer cooking day, one of the ingredients I needed was Mango Chutney. I paid $8 for two 8oz jars of mango chutney at the store. I couldn't believe how expensive it was but I needed it so I just paid and walked away. After buying my canning supplies yesterday, I decided the first thing I would make was mango chutney. I bought the ingredients and got to work, and my first canning adventure was a total success. I can't wait to use my homemade mango chutney to whip up some mango-cranberry chicken!

Mango Chutney

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 6 cups mangoes (4 to 5), peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

Combine sugar and vinegar in a 6 quart pot; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until syrupy and slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally during cooking.

Pour into clean, hot jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace; close jars. Process in a water bath 15 minutes. Remove from water bath and cool on a towel for 12 hours, being sure to keep the jars upright. After cooling, check to make sure the jars were properly sealed (if you press the middle of the lid and it doesn't make a popping sound the jar is sealed properly).

This recipe makes six 1/2 pint jars

*Note you could also freeze this instead of canning if you prefer, or it will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week

Back from Vacation and a new Blog Series!

I'm back from our little camping vacation and we had a great time. We ate every meal at the campground except for one lunch which we ate out at a restaurant while we were out doing some outlet shopping. We brought a lot of food from our last freezer cooking day and it really worked out well for us. We placed everything in the cooler still frozen and by the time we were ready to eat it had thawed out and was ready for the grill! Oh, and did I mention that our children enjoyed their very first s'mores by the camp fire?

I remember going camping as a child and other than s'mores and maybe a few hot dogs, we never cooked at the campground. We ate out at a restaurant for almost every meal. I'm guessing it was just more convenient to go out than to go through all of the "hassle" of trying to cook over a fire. That got me thinking about my goal of eliminating processed foods from my family's diet. The thing that everyone loves about processed foods is that they are more convenient, right? So, I decided to take this opportunity to teach you all some easy ways to make home cooking from scratch more convenient. Not only is it healthier because you know what is going into your body, but it will also save you some money in the long run!

I've decided to start a weekly blog series on homemade substitutes for pre-packaged foods. It will be called "Conveniently Homemade".

Today, we're going to discuss Cake Mix.

Everyone loves the ease of making a cake from a boxed mix. Here is a way to create your own prepackaged cake mix using ingredients from your cupboard. Not only is it delicious, it costs less than $1 per bag (mine cost about 68 cents) to make it yourself vs. anywhere from $1 to $3 for a store bought mix!

Yellow Cake Mix

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening

Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut shortening into the mixture until it becomes crumbly. Store mixture at room temperature in a labeled plastic bag or other airtight container.

When you are ready to prepare your cake, you will need the following ingredients:
  • 3/4 Cup of Milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
To prepare a cake using your homemade cake mix, follow these directions:

Pour one package of cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Add milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Add eggs and beat until well mixed. Pour batter into greased pan (note this will make two 8 inch round cakes or one 9x13 rectangle cake). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

For other cake variations, see below:

White Cake
  • Follow the same directions as for Yellow Cake replacing the 2 eggs with 3 unbeaten egg whites. Use an electric mixer for beating.
Spice Cake
  • Add to the package of Yellow Cake Mix: 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and a pinch of ground allspice. Follow Yellow Cake directions.

Orange Cake
  • Pour 1 package of Yellow Cake Mix into a bowl; add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel (1 teaspoon dried). Squeeze the juice from 1 large orange and add to it enough water to measure 1 cup. Add this orange juice to the mix, beat for 2 minutes as directed previously; add 2 eggs; beat and bake as directed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (a day late!)

I got busy yesterday and forgot to post our menu for the week, so here it is! We'll be heading out Friday afternoon and camping until Tuesday of next week, so I'll be MIA for the weekend. If anybody has some yummy camping meal ideas let me know, I'm always up for a new challenge!

Monday ~ Spanish Rice Casserole
Tuesday ~ Chili Mac
Wednesday ~ Mango Cranberry Chicken
Thursday ~ Tequila Lime Chicken

Foods we are bringing camping with us:

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins
Cinnamon Raisin Granola
Beer Basted Pork Chops
Jack Burgers
Hot Dogs
Ingredients for Smores
Smores Snack Mix

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Baked Bloomin' Onion

This is a recipe that I adapted from the Hungry Girl 200 under 200 cookbook. I've always been a huge fan of the various "bloomin' onion" appetizers that you can get at restaurants. This week I was able to recreate it in my own kitchen - and the best part... 1/2 of the onion is only about 190 calories vs. 800+ for 1/2 of the ones you get when you go out to eat! Baking plays a big part in this...but the secret "bread crumb" mixture helps out too!

Baked Bloomin' Onion


1 Jumbo Vidalia Onion
1 Cup Fiber One Cereal, crushed into "bread crumbs"
1/2 Cup Egg Beaters
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the pointy top of the onion off. Leaving the root at the bottom intact, carefully peel off the outside layer. Starting from the top, carefully cut the onion down the middle from top, stopping about 1/2" from the root. Repeat from the opposite side to create four equal sections. Repeat again to cut each of the 4 sections in half.

Place onion, cut side up in a large bowl and cover completely with ice water. Allow to sit for 5-10 minute or until petals begin to open up. You may need to gently pry them open after they have soaked for a few minutes.

Drain water and dry both the onion and the bowl. Put the onion in the bowl, petals facing up. Pour the egg beaters over the onion evenly to coat, making sure to get in between the petals. Slowly sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture until evenly coated.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and place onion on the cookie sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until outside is crispy and inside is soft.

Iced Blueberry Green Tea

This adventure of mine started as a journey to eliminate prepackaged and processed foods, but I never really put much thought into what we were drinking. As part of my weight loss journey, I gave up most caffeine. I've traded coffee and diet soda for green tea. I'm not a big fan of hot beverages, so I've been drinking iced green tea. However, I've been buying it bottled at the store. This week I decided to take the time to experiment and make my own. Not only was it much more delicious than the tea I've been buying in the store, I know what is in it AND instead of $1.89 for a 16oz bottle, it cost me a total of $3.50 to make an entire gallon of this tea!

I hope that you all enjoy this as much as I did!

Iced Blueberry Green Tea

Tea Ingredients:
  • Enough tea bags to make 1 gallon of tea (depends on the brand of tea - mine took 16 bags)
  • 4 Cups boiling water
  • 10 Cups Cold Water
  • Juice from 1 Lemon

Syrup Ingredients:
  • 1 Pint Blueberries
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups Water


Boil 4 Cups of water. Remove from heat and add tea bags - let steep for 10-15 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea.

While tea is brewing, make syrup. Add all syrup ingredients to a medium sized pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Cook until blueberries burst open and sugar has melted. Be sure not to turn the heat up too high so the sugar doesn't burn to the bottom of the pan. Strain the syrup over a large bowl to remove blueberry skins.

Stir in the juice of 1 lemon.

Remove tea bags from the water and pour tea into a 1-gallon pitcher. Add blueberry syrup to the pitcher and stir until well combined. Add the 10 cups of cold water and stir. Place pitcher in the fridge for a few hours to completely cool the tea. Serve with a fresh lemon wedge.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beer Basted Pork Chops

I've just recently begun to eat pork. I've never really been a fan of it, but I was really needing more variety in my diet so I decided to go ahead and try some new recipes that use pork. My husband was very skeptical about using beer as a marinade, but after grilling up these chops he changed his mind! We served ours with a side of southwest pasta salad.

Beer Basted Pork Chops


2-3 lbs Boneless Pork Chops (we used thick cut chops)
1/2 Bottle Beer (We used Sam Adams Honey Wheat)
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1/8 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
1/8 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 Cup Dijon Mustard
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper


Place pork chops in a large gallon freezer bag or other container for marinating. Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a large bowl and pour over pork chops. Let the chops marinate for 30 minutes or overnight. Grill until cooked through (time will depend on the thickness of your chops, our thick cut chops took about 20-25 minutes).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 6/21/2010

Our menu plan this week is mostly meals from the freezer again. I can't wait to share some wonderful new recipes with you this week!

I hope that you all have a wonderful week! Check out www.orgjunkie.com for more delicous menus!

Tequila Lime Chicken

Everyone knows that if something has tequila in it that it is totally my style. Who doesn't love a good margarita every now and then, right? This chicken definitely reminded me of drinking a margarita, and brown rice was a perfect pairing for it. I'm still trying to lose weight, so the chicken and brown rice combo is one you'll probably see a lot of on here in the coming weeks. I used up all my veggies, so no veggies tonight, just juicy chicken and tasty brown rice.

This is another marinate and freeze ahead recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

  • 6lbs Chicken Breast
  • 3/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Margarita Mix
  • 3 Tbsp Tequila
  • 3 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 3 tsp Minced Garlic

Divide chicken breast evenly among 4 freezer bags. In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour marinade evenly into each bag of chicken. Remove air from bags and freeze. On cooking day, thaw chicken and grill until cooked through. Or, you can bake the chicken at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Or...skip freezing and let the chicken marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours and cook on the grill or in the oven. Delish!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spanish Rice Casserole

I've always been a big fan of the boxed Spanish Rice, but since my whole goal here is to get away from processed/boxed foods, I decided it was time to attempt my own. I wouldn't say this is anything like the boxed type, but we definitely will be making it again! I forgot to take a picture the night we ate the rice alone, so you'll have to settle for a picture of the leftovers served as a side dish to our tex mex chicken fingers!

Spanish Rice Casserole

1lb Ground Meat (we used turkey)
4 Cups Red Sauce of your choice (we used homemade)
2 Cups Brown Rice, cooked and cooled
1 Cup Onion, Chopped
1 Cup Green Pepper, Chopped
1 Cup Zucchini and/or Summer Squash (I used half and half)
2 Cups Cheddar, Shredded

Mix Meat, Sauce, Rice, and veggies in a large mixing bowl until evenly coated with sauce. Place in a 9x9 or 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over top and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Tex Mex Chicken Fingers

My kids, like most, love chicken fingers. In fact, they would probably eat them for every meal of the day if I would allow it! During my freezer cooking weekend, I made 6lbs of these chicken fingers, and everyone has been enjoying them. We've been enjoying them so much that I've decided that these will be a new staple in our household. The great part is that you can make a ton of them in advance and pop them in the freezer and then pop them right in the oven without thawing them out - and you can also make only as many as you need or want at a time. I like to serve these with leftover Spanish Rice casserole (don't worry, that recipe is coming too!). Yum!

Tex Mex Chicken Fingers - From the Book "Fix Freeze Feast"


  • 6lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 4 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 Cups Plain Breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 3 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper

Rinse and trim chicken. Cut each half-breast into three strips. Set aside.

Place eggs in a shallow dish. In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cumin, garlic, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.

Dip each chicken strip into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumb mixture, being sure each strip is fully coated. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. Cover each baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place in freezer until frozen solid. Once frozen, remove from baking sheet and store in a freezer bag.

When ready to cook, take chicken fingers directly from freezer and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until chicken pulls apart easily and is no longer pink in the center of the thickest portion.

Mango Cranberry Chicken

This was our first week of eating out of the freezer, and it was a giant success. One of my favorite meals so far was the Mango-Cranberry Chicken. We served ours over brown rice and enjoyed every bite of it, even the kids liked it! I've modified the recipe for cooking right away, but we made a quadruple batch so we'd be able to freeze enough to have it a few times.

Mango-Cranberry Chicken

  • 1-1 1/2 lbs Boneless Chicken Breast, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Mango, Chopped
  • 1/8 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/4 Cup Boiling Water
  • 1/2 Cup Mango Chutney
  • 1/8 Cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1/8 Cup Onion, minced
  • 2 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2 tsp Curry Powder


Place chicken in a gallon sized freezer bag, set aside. Place mango and cranberries in a medium bowl and pour boiling water into bowl over the fruits. Stir. Add chutney, vinegar, onion, garlic, oil, and curry powder, stir. Pour marinade into freezer bag over chicken. Let marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or as long as overnight.

Pour chicken with marinade into a large skillet and cook over medium heat until meat is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes). Serve over warm rice or noodles.

*Note if making this for the freezer, make sure all air is out of the freezer bag and place meal in freezer directly after pouring the marinade in the bag. When you take the bag out to thaw the night before cooking, the meat will marinate as it thaws.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite recipes from freezer cooking day was the chocolate chip cinnamon rolls. They weren't too difficult to make, and they were absolutely delicious. The recipe we used made 5 (yes 5) dozen cinnamon rolls in the end! It said it would make 4 dozen but we must have rolled them out a little bigger than the recipe suggested. Either way they were absolutely deliciouys!

I've halved the recipe for future uses (and so it fits in a mixing bowl).

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls - Taste of Home


  • 2 packages active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp)
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1.5 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/8 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 package (12 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk, butter, eggs, honey, salt and 1.5 cups flour; beat on low for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a large greased bowl; turning once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; divide into two pieces. Roll each into a 14-in. x 8-in. rectangle; spread with butter. Combine the brown sugar, chips and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges and press into dough.

Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut each into 12 slices. Place cut side down in four greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dishes. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.

For glaze, in a large bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over rolls.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day - June 12, 2010

For weeks I've been waiting patiently for my freezer cooking day. I've done freezer cooking before, but it's always been by myself while trying to watch two children. Yesterday, I got together with Heather from Out of The Box Into the Kitchen and we cooking for 8 hours straight. Not only did we get a ton of cooking accomplished, we had childless time together to catch up and get some "adult" time. For our lunch break, we even splurged and had a margarita.

These are the ingredients we started with (except for meat which was in the fridge or coolers)

Here are some of our "work in progress" pictures:

Pumpkin French Toast Sticks:

Breakfast Burrito Filling:

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls:

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins (aka Leaning Tower of Muffins):

Blueberry Scones (they had a small accident but we were able to save most of them)

Veggie Lasagna:

Here is what we had when we were done cooking for the day:

When the day was done, here is what we accomplished:

Denise's Black Beans - 2 meals
Tequila Lime Chicken - 4 meals
Mango-Cranberry Chicken - 4 meals
Breakfast Burritos - 30 burritos
Pineapple Chicken Fajitas - 2 meals
Spanish Rice - 6 meals
Jack Burgers - 4 meals
Veggie Lasagna - 2 meals
Baked Spaghetti - 2 meals
Sausage Calzone - 2 meals
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins - 4 dozen
Banana Blueberry Pancakes - 30 total
Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls - 4 dozen
Pumpkin French Toast - 6 dozen
Blueberry Scones (I forgot how many we ended up with, probably 2 dozen, maybe more)

Also, I did some more cooking at home to go along with this so I'd have enough food for the entire month.

Here's what I made on my own this morning:

Tropical Smoothie - 8 meals
Berry Smoothie - 8 meals
4 B's Pork Chops - 4 meals
Sweet Chicken Tostada Filling - 5 meals
Chili - 8 Quarts
Cranberry-Apple Pork Loin - 3 meals
Tex Mex Chicken Fingers - 3 meals

I was also able to get 4 quarts of chicken stock from the chickens I made to make the tostada filling. I also have enough frozen veggie scraps to make 2 crock pots of vegetable stock.

Maybe this will give you an idea of just how much food we have prepared in our freezer now.

These are pics of my upstairs freezer:

And this is the freezer in our spare fridge in the basement:

Altogether, between what we made at Heather's yesterday and what I made here today, I have 70 meals worth of food in my freezer. This includes both breakfasts and dinners. I feel very accomplished, and very excited to not have to cook for a while. This was a lot of work but I think it will really pay off when I get home from work at night and I don't have to spend all that time preparing dinner.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Breakfast Casserole

This weekend I was searching for something delicious to take to a friend's house for breakfast. After battling a double ear infection and sinus infection all week, I wanted something not too time consuming that would taste absolutely delicious. I also didn't want to go to the store so I needed something using ingredients I had on hand. After searching through the Taste of Home website, I stumbled upon a recipe for Amish Breakfast Casserole. It was exactly what I needed, except I didn't have all the ingredients. Instead, I decided to wing it and change a bunch of ingredients...and it was a winner!

Breakfast Casserole (adapted from Taste of Home)

  • 1 pound apple flavored chicken sausage (or your choice of breakfast meat), chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) 4% cottage cheese
  • 1-1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, cook sausage and onion until sausage is browned; drain. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in sausage mixture. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 6/7/2010

Since I've been slacking lately and not meal-planning, I made sure that I jumped back on the wagon today and got to planning even though I'm still not feeling 100% yet. This week is an attempt to clean out the freezer before this week's freezer cooking day on Saturday!

Oatmeal Squares
Breakfast Casserole (recipe to come)
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (from the freezer)

Monday - Chicken Broccoli Pasta Toss (recipe to come)
Tuesday - Pasta with homemade meat sauce (sauce recipe to come)
Wednesday - Chili Mac
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza (recipe to come)
Saturday - Burgers/Hot Dogs (Freezer Cooking Day)
Sunday - Whole Chicken, Potatoes, and veggies

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Check out www.orgjunkie.com for more yummy menu ideas!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oatmeal Squares

As a child, my stepdad used to make the most delicious chocolate oatmeal squares for dessert. I've been asking for the recipe for years but have yet to get it from him. Today I decided to experiment and make my own version and it was a hit! In fact, I think I might have to make these for him and see what he thinks. I like to serve them warm out of the oven, but they are also good chilled with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Oatmeal Squares

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats, divided
  • 1 recipe - Chocolate Pudding


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 baking pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy. Add flour, baking soda, and 1 3/4 cup of the oats, forming a thick dough.

Press 2/3 of the dough mixture into the bottom of the 9x9 baking pan. Add cooled pudding to top of dough. Add 1/4 cup of oats to the remaining dough. Scatter by teaspoonful over top of pudding, leaving some of the pudding exposed. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm, or chill in refrigerator and serve cool with whipped cream on top.

Chocolate Pudding

One thing that I've found that I keep buying in boxes instead of making from scratch is pudding. I'm a big fan of it, and I've always just found it easy to pour the box into a pot, add milk, and cook. Today, I took a giant leap and made a batch from scratch and it was delicious - and since it's summer, I attempted it in the microwave and it came out awesome!

Chocolate Pudding

  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa
  • 3Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Cups Milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Add dry ingredients to a 2Qt microwave safe container. Whisk in milk slowly, trying to avoid lumps. Microwave for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir. Return to microwave in one minute intervals, stirring after each minute, until pudding reaches desired thickness. I did mine for the initial three minutes and then 3 one-minute intervals for a total of 6 minutes.


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