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.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Baked Veggie Chips

Hello there readers! I've been battling what I thought was horrible allergies for the past week, but after finally going to the doctor today found out that I'm actually battling a sinus infection and double ear infection. Needless to say - I've been living on a diet of chicken broth and ice cream the past few days and my family has been eating from the freezer. However, I wanted to share a fun new recipe with you even though I can't enjoy it myself right now!

I saw this recipe in a taste of home magazine and I thought the chips looked delicious. I have all the ingredients in my fridge just waiting to be made into lovely chips. I can't wait to try these!

Baked Veggie Chips

  • 1/2 pound fresh beets (about 2 medium)
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 medium parsnip
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Dash pepper

Peel vegetables and cut into 1/8-inch slices. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil. Combine the remaining ingredients; sprinkle over vegetables and toss to coat.

Arrange in a single layer in two ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Yield: 3-1/2 cups.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Freezer Cooking Plan - June 2010

I've decided to go ahead and try this monthly menu thing. I've been doing a weekly menu for quite some time, but since I've taken up freezer cooking I've decided that a monthly menu just makes more sense.

Next week I'll be doing my first joint cooking day with Heather from Out of the Box Into the Kitchen. We are planning on preparing a total of 16 recipes for a total of 32 meals.

We've decided on a mixture of breakfast and dinner recipes for our first round of freezer cooking. We've also decided on many recipes that can be prepared on the grill or in the crock pot to limit the use of the oven during hot summer days.

Pumpkin French Toast Sticks
Blueberry Banana Pancakes
Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls
Breakfast Burritos
Cornmeal Blueberry Scones
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Monterey Jack Burgers (with homemade burger buns)
Tequila Lime Chicken
Spanish Rice
Vegetable Lasagna
Mango-Cranberry Chicken
Sausage/Onion/Pepper Calzones
Denise's Black Beans w/ Kielbasa
Sloppy Joe's (with homemade rolls)
Three Cheese Baked Spaghetti
Chicken Tortilla Bake

Banana Blueberry Pancakes

I've been looking for some new pancake recipes lately, and I stumbled upon this one in an old Taste of Home magazine. This made just enough pancakes for my family of 4, so I think I'll try doubling the recipe next time so we have some leftovers. They were delicious and I'll definitely be making another batch to keep in my freezer. Sorry, no picture, they were all gone by the time I remembered!

Banana Blueberry Pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/4 cups fat-free milk
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine the egg, milk, bananas and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with blueberries. Turn when bubbles form on top; cook until second side is golden brown.


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