Friday, August 30, 2013

Oven Baked Pork Chops

This was a very easy and tasty pork chop recipe! I had 3 large chops in my refrigerator and hadn't quite decided on how to fix them, so as usual I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I let Kent look through the recipes that popped up when we ran a search, and he selected this one. Not very many ingredients, things we had on hand, and dinner would be ready in no time. Sounded good to me! I had an older box of chicken flavored stuffing in the pantry that we used for this recipe, and it didn't have the best flavor, so take that into account when you're fixing yours. I suggest doctoring the chops with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder before dipping in the egg wash and then the coating, but if you know your stuffing mix is very well seasoned you can skip that step. I didn't crush up the stuffing mix either, and liked the texture of some of the larger pieces in the breading around th chops.

This is a very easy recipe to make, and the chops come out nice, tender, juicy, and with a great crust on them. We would definitely use this one again!

I wish I'd taken a photo when they first came out of the oven, but it was late and I thought I could take one later - and now we've eaten them all! :) Kenneth (my sometimes rather picky hubby when it comes to new recipes) said these were very good.

Oven Baked Pork Chops from
Servings: 4
3 tablespoons butter or 3 tablespoons margarine
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
salt, pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
1 cup pork stuffing mix (I used chicken)
4 pork chops
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place butter or margarine in a 9x13 baking pan.
  3. Put pan in oven for 3 minutes or until butter is melted.
  4. Stir together egg and milk.
  5. Put stuffing mix in a resealable bag and crush (or leave as is).
  6. Season pork chops on both side with a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Dip pork chops in egg mixture.
  7. Coat with stuffing mix.
  8. Put chops on top of melted butter in pan.
  9. Bake 20 minutes.
  10. Flip the pork chops over and bake for 10-15 minutes more.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Freezer Meals: BBQ Pork Ribs, Honey Glazed Chicken, Candied Garlic Chicken, Herb and Garlic Chuck Steak, Steak Sauce Chuck Steak, Teriyaki Pork, and Cranberry Dijon Pork

Last Sunday Kent and I finished up the last of the freezer meal prep for the coming month(s). We had 2 pork tenderloins, 2 packages of steaks, a large package of country style ribs and chicken leg quarters to use up. Kenneth was ready to have the refrigerator "back" after a couple days of it being pretty packed full of meat! But after all the recipes we worked on today, I can say it's in good shape in there again and there was even room for the leftover mac n cheese we had to put away after lunch. :) Yay for progress! I'm excited about my freezer which is now very well stocked with lots of great meals to choose from which will make dinner prep SO much easier in the coming weeks! I can't wait to start trying them out and see what we think - hopefully I picked some good ones that we will all enjoy. There are more dishes I would like to make and freeze, but I'm pretty much out of room in the deep freezer at the moment - so we'll just see how things go with the dishes I prepared and then maybe in another month after we've made a good dent, we can re-evaluate and try again with some new dishes and of course remaking the ones that went over well.

It was quite an "event" to do this over a 3-day period and I think now that I've done this once, I would be better prepared to try this again as a 1-day event next time starting with a shopping trip either the night before or the day of and then knocking everything out in one day. It was probably a good 4+ hour investment of time to get them all put away, but that really feels like nothing when I think about how much was done! There were a few key ingredients I would definitely want to make sure to have at least 2 of on hand, or a good stock of, before starting. I did run out of Dijon mustard and minced garlic and had to get more, and just about used up my Worcestershire and steak sauces, went through almost 2 bottles of soy sauce, finished off a really big bottle of honey, and used up over a bottle of ketchup in the prep process too. I went through probably 6 onions as well (having them pre-diced and ready to go was a very good convenience when it came time to assembling the bags!)

I looked through the recipes I'd previously selected, and found some new ones to use for those specific cuts of meat, and this is what we ended up storing away on Sunday:

Crock Pot Teriyaki Pork for the Freezer from Homemaking on the Homestead

2.5 - 3 lbs pork tenderloin (original recipe suggests dicing the tenderloin, I left mine whole)
1 onion, sliced (I used diced)
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup  brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp ground ginger


  1. Put all ingredients into a large Ziploc bag. Seal the bag and knead mixture to thoroughly combine and coat meat. Press flat, and freeze. 
  2. On cooking day, dump contents into crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours, or until meat is cooked and tender. 
  3. Serve over brown rice if desired. 

Cranberry-Dijon Pork Tenderloin from The Virtuous Wife

1 can whole cranberry sauce (I used jellied)
1 package onion soup mix
1 (2.5 - 3 lb) raw pork tenderloin (or pork roast)
2 TBS Dijon mustard


  1. To assemble: label the Ziploc bag. Combine all ingredients in the bag, knead mixture to thoroughly coat meat. Freeze.
  2. To cook: Thaw overnight in the fridge. The next morning, pour contents into your crock-pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
A-1 Steak Sauce Chuck Steak Recipe from Cully's Kitchen
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion sliced (I used diced)
2 lbs beef chuck steak, about one-inch thick
1/2 cup bottled steak sauce
2 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5-6 large mushrooms, thickly sliced

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag. Press out air and seal. Knead contents to thoroughly combine and ensure meat is coated. Press flat and freeze.
  2. When you're ready to eat - thaw overnight. Pour contents into a large non-stick skillet heated over medium-high heat. Bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, and cover with a lid. Simmer 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until very tender.
  3. If you want a thicker gravy, remove cover and simmer until sauce reduces to desired thickness, or remove steaks from pan (set aside on a plate, cover to keep warm) and create a slurry (2 TBS Flour to ¼ cup water); whisk briskly to blend slurry thoroughly into sauce. Bring mixture to a boil until desired consistency is reached (if this causes the mixture to become too thick, thin with a little water).
  4. Serving suggestion: serve over mashed potatoes
Herb and Garlic Marinade for Chuck Steak from Easy Steak Marinades

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 minced cloves garlic
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon crushed, dried thyme
2 teaspoon dried parsley
2 lbs chuck steaks

  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients together in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag. Add chuck shoulder steaks to the bag.
  2. Press out air and seal the bag; knead marinade into steaks to thoroughly coat each of them. Press flat and freeze.
  3. When ready to eat; thaw them overnight in the refrigerator then prepare as usual (suggestion: grill over medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes per side or until desired doneness is reached).
Candied Garlic Chicken from Making Miracles

1.5 cups honey
6 TBS soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 2.5 lbs chicken quarters

  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag. Add chicken to bag and squeeze out all excess air then seal. Knead marinade into meat and make sure everything is evenly combined. Press flat and freeze.
  2. Thaw overnight.
  3. Place contents in a 9x13 baking dish; cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees or until cooked through (or almost cooked through). Turn heat up to 425, remove foil, and bake another 10-15 minutes or until browned. You can use lo-broil as well, just watch them carefully.
 Honey Glazed Chicken from Making Miracles

1/4 cup + 1 tsp honey
2 Tbs + 1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbs soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
3 chicken leg quarters with skin on

  1. Combine glaze ingredients in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag and add chicken. Press out excess air, seal, and knead ingredients to combine and thoroughly coat meat. Press flat and freeze.
  2. Thaw overnight. 
  3. Place the chicken legs on a baking sheet, skin-side down, cover with aluminum foil, and slow roast at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. 
  4. Flip the pieces to have the skin side up, brush some more of the glaze over, cover with aluminum foil again, and continue cooking for  another 40-45 minutes. 
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees, remove the aluminum foil and roast until the skin is dark brown, 10 to 15  minutes.

Stovetop BBQ Country Style Pork Ribs from Making Miracles

1/4 cup steak sauce (such as A1®) 
1/4 cup ketchup 
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
1 tablespoon minced garlic 
1/4 cup water 
4 (6 ounce) country style pork ribs 
1 onion, cut into rings 

  1. Combine steak sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and water in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag. Add in pork ribs and onions. Press out excess air, seal, and knead ingredients until thoroughly combined and meat is well coated. Press flat and freeze.
  2. Thaw overnight. 
  3. Pour contents into a non-stick skillet and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer the ribs on low for 45 minutes, or until tender. If the sauce simmers off, add additional water or sauce if needed to keep moist.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Freezer Meals: Pork Roast, Beef Roast, Taco Meat, BBQ Chicken, Pork Chops, and Stew Beef with Mushrooms

Here is a recap of everything we accomplished for our freezer meal prep on Saturday - I ended up getting quite a lot done, though there is much more to do! Kenneth's parents came over early in the morning to get a head start on getting the ceiling fans installed in Kent and Lindsey's rooms - they knew they would be in and out of the attic for wiring the fans, so they wanted to get going before it got too hot up there.

After I fixed some scones and set those out for the boys to eat when they got hungry, I headed out to Wal-Mart for a couple small grocery items and a bunch of disposable foil pans in smaller sizes (some round, some rectangular, and a couple square ones). Next was the big shopping trip to Sam's Club. I spent over $300 and bought a TON of meat, some produce, gallon sized freezer Ziploc bags, a big box of saran wrap, and some larger disposable pans and lids. I got 3 big bags of frozen chicken, some chicken legs/thighs, beef roast, pork roast, country style pork ribs, pork chops, a lamb roast, 2 cuts of steak, and ground beef. My cart was very full! When I got home I had Kent put the few freezer items away in the deep freezer and bring up all the meat and other items to the kitchen. I got 2 lbs of ground beef into a large nonstick skillet and added some of the onion I'd diced the night before, along with 2 diced green peppers and let that cook. Meanwhile, I split the beef roast into 2 and got those into bags with seasoning and some onion wedges. Then I found a recipe for the pork chops and got that going. That ended up making enough for 3 packages (4 pork chops each). I had put about 5 large chicken breasts in the crock pot earlier in the day, so those were cooking away while I worked on the other recipes. My mother in law got back from her shopping and jumped in to help me out with some more prep. We got 2 bags of stew beef with mushrooms prepped, and seasoned and then bagged the taco meat when it was done cooking. I left those open for awhile to make sure the meat was pretty thoroughly cooled before sealing. Donna helped with the dishes that were piling up while I mixed up ingredients for meatballs. I made about 18 meatballs out of 2 lbs of ground beef and split those between 1 small tray and 1 larger tray. I fixed the sauce and divided that between the 2 containers and then put the lids on them. We said our goodbyes to Ken and Donna, as they headed off to see Kenneth's grandmother for lunch and help her down in her basement for awhile (she had some flooding not too long ago and has been going through everything as it's being loaded back in.)

After Ken and Donna left I got the large boneless pork roast I'd bought split into three and used a honey mustard recipe to marinate those in. After some lunch, I shredded the chicken and added a large bottle of BBQ sauce to it. I pulled about 1/3 of the meat out into a tupperware for dinner tonight, and split the rest between two Ziploc bags. Those were pressed flat and added to the growing stack of bags and containers in the freezer! I'm going to let what's down there firm up overnight before adding anything else. Most of the remaining dishes I want to make are casserole type dishes - ziti, lasagna, chili mac, mac n cheese, mac n cheese and meat, etc. I will have to keep an eye on the amount of space I have in there too so I don't completely overfill it!! I still have steaks, country style ribs, and chicken legs/thighs in my refrigerator that I didn't get around to today. I want to get all of those prepped and in bags or containers as well - I might need to focus on those items and only do casseroles if there is any room left afterwards. Once the packages that are down there have frozen solid, it will be easier to rearrange things and use the space more effectively. So I'll reevaluate that in the morning and see if I can make some more space.

All the meat, ready to go.
Utilizing a large measuring cup to hold the Ziploc bags while I load them up with ingredients.

Giant container of diced onion.

Taco meat, cooking.
Here are the recipes I used for this batch:

Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin (I tripled and made 3 servings)

2 lb pork tenderloin (I used boneless pork roast)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard 
1/4 cup honey
Optional: 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and a crushed clove of garlic

  1. Combine ingredients in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag. Knead marinade into meat.
  2. Seal and freeze.
  3. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Asian Grilled Pork Chops (freezer meal) from Front Burner 
(makes 3 entrees, 4 servings each)

12 pork chops
1 1/3 cups low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons minced ginger
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 one-gallon freezer bags, labeled


  1. Divide chops evenly among bags.  In a large bowl or measuring container, combine soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, oil, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper. Blend the marinade very thoroughly and evenly distribute between the three bags. Seal and massage marinade into meat, lay them flat to freeze. 
  2. TO COOK: Thaw completely.  Remove chops from marinade and grill as desired, basting with remaining marinade (or use cooking method of choice!)

Perfect and Super Easy Pot Roast from Making Miracles (I doubled and made 2 servings)

1 (2-3 pound) beef chuck roast
1 large onion, diced into large wedges
1 (1 ounce) package dry Italian salad dressing mix (can substitute 6-8 ounces bottled Italian dressing if desired) 
1 (1 ounce) package dry Ranch-style dressing mix
1 (1.2 ounce) package brown gravy mix (can substitute pork or mushroom gravy mix if desired)
1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth

  1. Combine all three seasoning mixes along with beef broth in Ziploc bag, blend. Add in roast and onion wedges; coat contents with sauce mix. Press air from bag and seal. Freeze
When ready to cook:
  1. Put contents in a crock pot (you can add potatoes and carrots under the roast if desired).
  2. Cook over high heat for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-12 hours (or until fork tender).
  3. You can use the juices as an au jus, or thicken on the stove with flour or cornstarch to make a yummy gravy.

Easy Taco Meat from Making Miracles (I doubled and made 2 servings)

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 can mushrooms, drained (optional)
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1/3 cup water

For serving:
Desired toppings: cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, queso, etc.

  1. Brown ground beef in a large non-stick skillet with the onion and green pepper. Cook 10-15 minutes, or until beef is cooked through and vegetables reach desired tenderness. Turn off heat and drain grease.
  2. Add in taco seasoning, water, and mushrooms (if using). Stir well to evenly distribute seasonings.
  3. Allow meat to cool completely. Place in a labeled Ziploc bag, press flat, seal, and freeze.
  4. When ready to use - thaw meat in refrigerator overnight; reheat on the stove top (add a little water if needed) or in the microwave and use to fill tortillas, if desired.
  5. Tortilla preparation suggestion: spread a little cheddar cheese on one and microwave for 20-30 seconds until tortilla is warm and cheese begins to melt. Add desired amount of meat and additional toppings. Roll and enjoy!

Shredded BBQ Chicken (for sandwiches) from Making Miracles 
Makes 3 servings

5 chicken breasts
1/4 cup water (approximately)
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 28-oz bottle barbecue sauce (we prefer Sweet Baby Rays)

For serving:
Sandwich toppings (cheese, pickles, additional BBQ, etc.)

  1. Place chicken, bouillon, and water in crock pot on high for 2 - 4 hours or until fork tender.
  2. Drain off most of the excess liquid, but leave a little. Shred chicken with spoon (I use a wooden spoon).
  3. Add in BBQ sauce and stir until everything is evenly combined. Allow to cool completely. Distribute meat mixture between 3 gallon sized Ziploc bags, press flat, seal, freeze.
  4. When ready to use - thaw overnight; heat stove top using a little water, chicken stock, or additional sauce, if needed, or in the microwave.
  5. Serve on buns with preferred fixings.

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushrooms from DIY Danielle 
Makes 2 servings

3 lbs stew meat, cubed
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
2 (4 oz each) cans mushrooms, with liquid
1/2 cup apple juice
1 (1 oz) packet dry onion soup mix

  1. Divide ingredients between two resealable gallon-sized freezer bags. Press out air, zip closed.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 10 hours. 
  3. Serve over rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes if desired.
Link Parties

Monday, August 26, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Tuna Salad Club Wrap

This month for my Secret Recipe Club assignment I found myself visiting Lindsay's Blog Life and Kitchen "untrained in life and cooking, but that makes both more fun!" Too cute!! Take a look at her recipe index and you'll see why my "ideas" list was really full!!

Reading about Lindsay brought a big smile to my face - I love that her hopes for her blog are that one day her young daughter will be able to look back through and see glimpses and snapshots of their life as she grew up, and have access to all those yummy recipes she grew up with! I treasure the memories my mom made a point to preserve for me in the form of photo albums and a well loved cookbook, and this is the equivalent in electronic form. I feel that way too - although I also love having it for myself to look back on, as much as I hope one day my children might be able to look back and find something meaningful. (I also happen to have a fondness for the name Lindsay at the moment - seeing as how our little one who is due in less than a month will be named Lindsey!)

So, as I started browsing through Lindsay's recipe index, here are some of the recipes that I started bookmarking: Honey Roasted Peanut Brittle (I am a huge peanut brittle fan!!), Bacon Cheddar Dog Cookies (hello, we have FIVE dogs, they would LOVE if one of the recipes I created were just for them to taste test!!), 4 Cheese Pizzaghetti (YUMM - pasta and cheese, yes please!), Chicken Cream Cheese Enchiladas (Mexican always goes over well at our house), some super yummy Pasta Salad, or this amazing Tuna Club Salad Wrap (tuna, eggs, bacon... need I say more?!)! There are so many good dishes to choose from! I would like to just start at the top of the index and work my way on through.

I ended up settling on the Tuna Salad Club Wrap - it was just calling to me!! I'm so glad I decided on this one - the tuna salad recipe by itself is really FANTASTIC. There are so many ways you could use this mix; I think the next way I might use the remaining filling mixture is in a wrap, cold, with diced avocado, lettuce, and tomato. Yumm! I had to make sure my son helped me eat the rest of it, since I'm (very) pregnant and have to limit my tuna consumption at the moment. It was hard though - I could have eaten the whole container with a spoon by myself! :D

This club wrap is completely delicious! I loved the creamy tuna salad blended with the melted cheese, combined with the texture of the tomatoes and the crispy chewy bacon. It was a fabulous lunch that I really enjoyed.

Tuna Salad Club Wrap slightly adapted from Life and Kitchen

Tuna Salad
3 5-oz cans tuna in water, drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp mustard
1 large celery stalk, diced
3 hard boiled eggs, small diced
3 TBS sweet relish
2 TBS dill pickle, diced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Wrap Sandwich
appx. 1/3 cup tuna salad
1 whole wheat tortilla
1-2 slices of bacon, cooked to your desired crispiness
1 large slice tomato, seeded and diced (remove as much liquid as possible)
2 TBS shredded cheese (or Monterrey jack)


  1. Mix all of the ingredients for the tuna salad together in a tupperware container.  Allow the flavors to meld in the refrigerator for an hour or two (or overnight) if time allows.
  2. To make the wrap: spread tuna salad along the center of the wrap, leaving about an inch on each end. Layer tomato, bacon, and cheese along the top of the tuna.  Roll the ends and sides over and place either in a panini press, preheated to medium-high heat.  
  3. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until wrap is golden and cheese is melted. Slice in half (if desired) and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Our Pregnancy: Week 36 - 28 Days to Go!

8/19/13 35w1d - still wishing away the days over here! :) I'm thrilled to be in our 35th week, and continue to tick off the days through the next roll-over to 36! Just 13 more days to hit full term and be that much closer to meeting this little one! I still wonder every day if we'll actually make it to 37 weeks - but whether we do or not, I am just thankful for each day that Lindsey has to grow and get stronger in utero and prepare for life outside the womb. This past weekend was "blah" and I'm ready for a fresh start and a new week.

Most recent early labor stuff includes gassiness, the need to pee more often the last couple days, contractions that radiate down the backs of my legs or between my thighs, and yesterday in particular I was noticing the "loose pelvis" sensation where it feels like things are almost sliding around and not all that stable! Kind of a disturbing sensation. Yesterday I noticed what I think was a small amount of my mucous plug, and today a small amount more. Not a whole lot, but a little which might indicate some slight cervical change. It's still early and still a complete guessing game - but I am keeping track of all of these little changes and things going on and am excited to get closer and closer, day by day, to meeting this little one.

We had to go pick up the missing pieces of the crib yesterday afternoon, so we should be able to assemble it now and then finish up the nursery which is exciting! I can't wait to see it all put together. I have all the bedding in the laundry basket and just need to run it through the wash but was sort of waiting 'til we were closer to having the crib ready so I'd have a place to put it! The crib has a drawer underneath it too, which I am happy about - great place for all the extra blankets, crib sheets, etc.

Yesterday I was pretty cranky off and on. I napped at least twice and felt better after each nap, but the continued contractions and just feeling icky (lots of nausea yesterday) really wear on me after awhile and I just need some quiet time or sleep to feel back to "me" again. My poor hubby. I definitely snapped at him yesterday! :( We went to dinner with Kenneth's grandmother at Texas Roadhouse last night and that was very yummy and nice to have a hot meal that I didn't have to oversee or cook! :) It's been a little more difficult getting around to homemade dinners since Kent started back to school - between homework and trying to work on yardwork in the evenings he hasn't had much time so we've been doing a lot more "quick and easy" type meals. I need to get back into planning things better so we can do crockpot dinners or plan for 30 minute dinners to make sure we are getting to eat "real" food every night again.

8/20/13 35w2d - I am struggling today - my energy levels are REALLY low and I just want a nap so bad. I was able to go pick my car back up from the shop today, so that was nice to have it back again.  I keep thinking I feel a leaking sensation, but so far have just been imagining it.  I feel like my brain is a little frazzled, and I just can't concentrate like I should be able to! It's frustrating to me, and all I can think about is getting some sleep! I keep thinking about how I'm going to keep this up for another 2-3 weeks (or theoretically more!) I look back at my last singleton pregnancy and all of this seems pretty "par for the course". I mentioned in a few of my posts in my 35th - 37th weeks about taking a day off from work, or a half day, to rest because I was so tired. I think I am getting to that point again. I think I might try to do a half day on Friday and plan for that going forward, except on OB appointment days when I already leave early on Friday. My job isn't very demanding, and I am thankful I can take it fairly easy throughout the day, but there are just those days where my brain wants to shut down, and it makes it hard to be here. I'll get through - I just need to remember this is NORMAL - not only for every pregnant woman, but for me; I've done this before, and I can do it again. :) It helps to look back and remember I have written the same thing, at the same point, before - and I still have some time left to go. Her arrival is not imminent, and this is the part that feels the most like the long-haul. I just have to go with it and let my body do what it's doing, and do my best to take care of myself and not be too obsessive in the mean time. It's REALLY hard to think about anything other than every twinge, cramp, or sensation and wonder what it means, but it makes me cranky to keep focusing so much on my signs and symptoms and I know I need to be better about focusing my attention elsewhere!!

8/21/13 35w3d - I hit my mid-day slump again and am tired, but ok today. I've noticed a lot more menstrual like cramping sensations today, as opposed to the tightening across my upper abdomen that I usually get when I'm having Braxton Hicks. I had a fairly large piece of my mucous plug come out today as well (at least compared to the last few days). Otherwise all seems fairly quiet on the "impending labor signs and symptoms" front! My mid back is a little sore, and it feels good to get up and stretch and move a little throughout the day. Bouncing and rocking on the medicine ball (my "chair" at work) helps too. Sometimes I just roll the ball backwards and lean my upper half forwards to stretch out my back too - probably looks funny, but feels good.

I really need to go get my toenails painted! Maybe I'll stop on my way home and enjoy a little R and R. I know a foot / leg massage would feel heavenly... Dinner is in the crock pot, so that will be nice and easy.

8/22/13 35w4d - I am now 2 weeks further along than I was with the twins when they were born! I am so thankful for each passing day - although I readily admit with all the things my body has been doing the past 3 weeks I am incredibly anxious too, wondering if labor is going to start soon or if we'll make it to full term in just 10 more days? We are SO close to hitting 36 weeks, which is definitely another "milestone" I'm counting down to. Just 3 days away! Last night I was a little concerned that maybe that was going to be "the" night. After loosing some of my mucous plug in the AM, by that afternoon I was getting some uncomfortable cramps that would come and go. I usually don't get many of those when I'm sitting - usually just when standing and walking. When I'm sitting if I get anything, it's usually the upper abdomen tightening sensation. So the cramps were coming and going, my breasts were feeling particularly tingly and sore, and then I got the really loose hips sensation. I told Kenneth it felt like my legs were about to fall off. It was a very strange feeling. I felt "off" most of the evening. I paced around for awhile, and finally convinced myself I needed to put my feet up and drink some water and just chill out. I slept through most of the night, a couple wake ups but I was able to go straight back to sleep.

Today has been relatively uneventful so far - some cervical pressure, but no more mucous plug (yet), and no real contractions or cramps to complain about. A few, but nothing much. Just trying to get through another 40 ounces of water in the next 3 hours before heading home (I try to drink 60 ounces while at work to make sure I'm getting enough water in each day), and then home again home again! So glad it's Friday tomorrow!

8/23/13 35w5d - Yay! It's Friday!! I am super excited for the weekend. No real plans - just some stuff around the house and I asked Kenneth if we could get a date night in; I think it would be good for us to get out of the house and get some one on one time in. No real cramps or contractions to note last night. I didn't feel all that great, but it was an ok evening. The most contractions happened between my way home and the first hour or so home - the walking and driving seems to cause stress, which seems to be a trigger. As soon as I was able to stop and get my feet up things started settling down and I felt better. We have the refrigerator stocked with items ready to be cooked up and frozen starting tonight and hopefully finishing up tomorrow. I'm going to have Kent help me make up a bunch of ready to heat and eat, or thaw and cook, dinners. Everything from shredded BBQ chicken, to pot roast, lasagna, ziti, etc. The nesting urges seem to currently be manifesting in the form of "food prep". I haven't had much urge to cook lately, but the idea of stocking the freezer up a little to make dinners easier in the coming weeks just feels like a really good plan and I'm excited to get everything organized! I'm going to have Kent chop up a bunch of onions and peppers tonight, and probably do some of the stove top items, then work on crock pot things, and things in marinade, tomorrow. I want to get to the nail salon and get my pedicure on Saturday or Sunday too - that and get the crib finished. If I can get those 3 things done (food, feet, and crib!) then I'll be a happy camper and feel like I accomplished my weekend goals. Ken and Donna are planning to come tomorrow AM to help install the ceiling fans, and Kenneth may try to rope his dad into helping with a couple other small projects - though I know the fans are going to be time consuming enough so we'll see how that goes! I need to get some breakfast goodies prepped in the AM and make sure we have lunch fixings... with how full my refrigerator is, that's not really a concern though. I'll probably go with my plan for last week and make sure to throw chicken in the crock pot for shredded BBQ sandwiches, and have some sliced fresh veggies and fresh fruit available. Sounds like a plan to me!

The only "warm up" type things I've noticed so far today are sore breasts and a few contractions that are traveling down my legs again - though only a few. I'm hoping this weekend will be relatively uneventful so we can get lots of things done! Fingers crossed!

8/24/13 35w6d - Operation Stock The Freezer (with freezer meals) is well under way. Kent and I got 5 meals packaged up on Friday night, and today I got a bunch more in! Ken and Donna came over around 8am and I baked up some scones for breakfast while the guys got started on installing the 2 fans. When breakfast was done, I left the scones out on the counter so the guys could eat when they were hungry and I headed out to get what I needed for my big freezer stocking escapades. I picked up some disposable pans at WalMart along with a couple small grocery things I needed, and then went to Sam's Club and spent over $300 and mostly on meat. I got 3 big packages of frozen chicken (since I'd used up everything we had already, and had more plans for other chicken meals to prepare), and then I noticed that there were still some of the "reduced for quick sale" items in the meat section! I forgot they do that on Saturday morning, so I had great timing. I was able to get a giant package of pork chops, country style pork ribs, large boneless pork roast, 2 cuts of steak, and chicken legs / thighs all on sale. I also got a 10-lb package of ground beef, and a large beef roast. They had good sized pans that would be the perfect size for casserole dishes there, so I got those with lids, a big thing of plastic wrap, and more freezer bags too. I am as prepared as can be! I got home just before 11am and was in the kitchen probably until about 1:30. In that time I got 3 pork roasts in marinade into bags (crock pot), 2 bags of prepared taco meat, 2 bags of prepared shredded BBQ chicken, 2 bags of beef stew meat and mushrooms (crock pot), 2 beef pot roasts (crock pot), 1 large and 1 small tray of sweet n sour meatballs, and 3 bags of pork chops in marinade. I still have several more things I want to fix, but am going to wait until tomorrow to give everything in the freezer time to firm up before adding anything else to it - especially since I have a bunch of casserole dishes I want to do next which will go in trays, and will need a solid base to be set on so they freeze right. I used up a few staple / seasoning items which had to go back onto the shopping list for next time I'm out!

I definitely feel like this is full blown nesting mode. I keep looking around and seeing things to organize, pick up, put away, straighten... Kenneth finished assembling the crib this morning, so I went in there and put all the bedding in the wash, opened the mattress and put it in the crib, pulled out the boxes of "get rid of" clothes to be taken downstairs, opened the lamp and set that up on the table and put a few other miscellaneous little things away. Donna brought over a new framed piece she'd cross-stitched for the nursery, and I found a spot I think I like for it and hung that up. I still have 2 other paintings to hang up in there - and I know my 2 sisters-in-law have made things for the nursery too but I don't know what they are. There are 3 cloth butterflies to hang, and the mobile as well. Hopefully Kenneth will help me get some of those up this evening or tomorrow maybe. Overall it's looking good in there though and I'm feeling happy with our progress!

I pulled out the 3 things for the car to get those out of the nursery, and will get those installed maybe tomorrow, though if that gets put off another week it's probably fine. If we end up needing it before then it won't take long to put in the car (the seat protector, base, and I have one of those mirrors to see rear facing infants).

I've had a few good contractions today, more of that "loose pelvis" feeling, and am wiped out - though I expended a fair amount of energy earlier, so that isn't surprising!! I had more of my mucous plug come out yesterday afternoon, but nothing more so far today. Hanging in there, trying to make the most of the time we have left, and enjoying my remaining time left with baby girl in utero! She was pretty quiet most of the day, but has been making up for it this afternoon!

8/25/13 36w0d - It's Sunday and we are officially 36 weeks!! I had some "bloody show" yesterday afternoon and some painful pressure / cramping off and on throughout the afternoon and evening. I know it could still be another week, 2 weeks, or more - but I think we're all on "baby watch" mode now. Kenneth said we should get the car seat installed today - so I know he realizes it's probably only a matter of days at this point. The only other pregnancy I had bloody show in, I delivered 2 days later. So, we'll just see how things go in the next few days!! I'm up before the boys this morning, getting breakfast going and trying to finish up some of the "freezer meals" I've been working on. After today we should be set for the next month plus, and have our refrigerator back. :)

According to Baby Center:
How your baby's growing:

Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. She now weighs almost 6 pounds and is more than 18 1/2 inches long (about the size of a head of romaine lettuce). She's shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered her body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, will form the contents of her first bowel movement.

At the end of this week, your baby will be considered full-term. (Full-term is 37 to 42 weeks; babies born before 37 weeks are pre-term and those born after 42 are post-term.) Most likely she's in a head-down position. But if she isn't, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an "external cephalic version," which is a fancy way of saying she'll try to coax your baby into a head-down position by manipulating her from the outside of your belly.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Freezer Meals - Take One

When I got home last night, I had great plans to get a HUGE list of recipes prepped, and ready to go. However, I quickly discovered that the big stockpile of meat I thought I had in my freezer was non-existent. There was a fair amount of chicken (mostly because I bought 3 big packages at Kroger in the past few days because they were on sale), 4 lbs of stew beef, 1 lb of country style pork ribs, 1 package of pork chops, 2 pork tenderloins, and 4 steaks. Don't get me wrong, that's still quite a bit of meat, but I thought I had a bunch of ground beef too, and more pork. And I thought I had at least 1 beef roast downstairs. I adjusted the quantities I thought I'd be preparing, and we went ahead and got "phase one" completed. I have my grocery list filled out to get the meat and couple missing ingredients I still need for the remaining recipes. I went ahead and diced up a bunch of onion (while I was banned to the couch with my feet up right after I got home, since I was contracting again), so that is set to go, and tomorrow morning I'll throw the last unopened package of chicken into the crock pot for shredded BBQ chicken meat - there wasn't really time to do any crock pot cooking tonight, plus that's probably what we're having for lunch tomorrow so it works well. :) I still have enough chicken for 1 more freezer recipe, and 2 pork tenderloins to prepare and put in the freezer but the rest will have to wait until I can go grocery shopping.

The method of using a large 4-cup measuring cup to place the Ziploc bag in while you fill it with ingredients (after making sure to label the bag with the title of the dish and cooking instructions first) works BEAUTIFULLY. No mess, no fuss!

I ended up with 5 meals worth of food prepped and in my freezer tonight without too much effort - it was a little bit of a learning experience and I had a grumpy helper, combined with my evening pregnancy third trimester grumpiness, so I'm sure it took a little longer than it should have! That said, it took us less than an hour to get all of these prepped and ready for the freezer. It felt good to put something in the freezer that will require no real thought process to prepare - most just need 1 or 2 side dishes and dinner is ready to go!

These are all new recipes for us, except for the steak marinade (YUMM!!) so as we get the chance to try these out I'll have to re-post them and share our thoughts on how they turned out!

Chicken with Honey Sauce from Planning for Little Baby Legg (I doubled to make 2 servings)

3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  1. Put all ingredients in freezer bags
  2. Toss and knead bag so chicken gets covered evenly in sauce
  3. Flatten bag and freeze
  4. To serve: Cook in crock-pot on low for 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. Serve over rice.

Slow Cooker BBQ Spareribs from Six Sister's Stuff (I made 1 serving)
1 lbs of country-style pork ribs
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 TBS seasoned salt
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar

  1. Place sauce ingredients in resealable gallon-sized freezer bag, combine. Add in pork chops, rotate to coat chops, squeeze out air and seal bag. 
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH in crock pot for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours.

Slow Cooker Creamy Ranch Pork Chops and Potatoes from DIY Danielle (I made 1 serving)

2 large pork chops
3 large potatoes, chopped into large pieces (3-4 pieces per potato)
1 (10.75 oz each) can cream of chicken soup
1 (1 oz each) package dry Ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup milk
Dried parsley to sprinkle on top for serving (optional)

  1. In a large freezer bag add the soup, milk, and ranch dressing mix and combine. Add in pork chops and potatoes - coat with sauce, squeeze out air, and seal. Freeze.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours in your slow cooker.
  3. Use the extra sauce in the slow cooker as a gravy for the potatoes and the pork chops. Sprinkle with dried parsley before serving, if desired.

Simple Steak Marinade from MLALAK on AllRecipes (I made 1 serving)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced, or more to taste
3-4 medium steaks

  1. Combine the vegetable oil, soy sauce, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic in a resealable plastic bag.
  2. Place the meat in the bag, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Lay flat and freeze.
  3. To serve, thaw 24 hours prior to cooking - prepare as desired.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Freezer Meals - Getting Prepared!

I have decided that tonight and tomorrow are going to be "Operation Stock The Freezer"! I have brought up a bunch of meat from our freezer, picked up some staples yesterday on the way home, and have been pouring over websites and recipes - although I am planning to use a bunch of recipes from our favorites too. I'm thinking about doing double batches of anything I make, and aiming to do about 8-10 different recipes. That's sort of my plan. In doing my research, this is what I've gathered so far that I thought might be helpful to someone else later! I've included the link and title of the blog post with some of the recipes I located at that link highlighted below each, where applicable. These are some of the recipes I'm interested in trying out, either now or in the future. The only thing I still need to pick up is the disposable trays for casseroles / lasagnas at the store. I could probably use some more freezer bags too - but I know I still have quite a few (since I usually buy my Ziploc bags at Sam's Club!) I should be in good shape to get the freezer well stocked by the end of the weekend!

Frozen Meals - (links to for a full list with recipes and labels to print for freezer packages:

Includes: Italian Chicken, Potatoes and Green Beans, Pesto Chicken and Green Beans (or Asparagus), Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Slow Cooker Creamy Ranch Pork Chops and Potatoes, Slow Cooker Sweet Teriyaki Chicken, Slow Cooker Beef and Mushrooms)

Slow Cooker Creamy Ranch Pork Chops and Potatoes

1 1/2 lbs pork chops, boneless (about 4-6 chops, thick sliced)
6-8 medium potatoes, chopped into large pieces
2 (10.75 oz each) cans cream of chicken soup
2 (1 oz each) packages dry Ranch dressing mix
1 cup milk
Dried parsley to sprinkle on top (optional)

  1. In a bowl, mix together the soups, milk, and ranch dressing mixes and pour into a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Combine all other ingredients together and zip closed.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours.
  3. Use the extra sauce in the slow cooker as a gravy for the potatoes and the pork chops. Sprinkle with dried parsley if you want.

Slow Cooker Sweet Teriyaki Chicken

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts

  1. Mix together soy sauce, sugar, garlic salt and chopped onion in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Place chicken breasts inside the bag and zip closed.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 7-8 hours.
  3. Serve over rice.

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushrooms

3 lbs stew meat, cubed
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
2 (4 oz each) cans mushrooms, with liquid
1/2 cup apple juice
1 (1 oz) packet dry onion soup mix

  1. Combine all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Zip closed.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 10 hours. 
  3. Serve over rice.

DIY Frozen Meal Packs for Your Slow Cooker -

Includes: Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin, Vegetarian Chili, Turkey Chili with Apples, Thai Chicken Thighs, Creamy Chicken Stew, Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin

1-2 pork tenderloins
1/4 cup grainy mustard
1/4 cup liquid honey
Optional: 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and a crushed clove of garlic

  1. Combine ingredients in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag.
  2. Seal and freeze.
  3. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Thai Chicken Thighs

8 skinless chicken thighs
1 cup salsa
1/4-1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. grated ginger

  1. Combine ingredients in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag. Seal and freeze. 
  2. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over steamed rice, with chopped peanuts on top.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

1 3-5 lb. pork shoulder (with bone or without)
1 halved and thinly sliced onion
1 Tbsp. dry barbecue spice rub or other seasoning blend
1 cup apple juice or chicken stock
1 cup barbecue sauce

  1. Combine ingredients in a large freezer safe Ziploc bag. Seal and freeze.
  2. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve pulled pork on split buns with creamy coleslaw, if you like.

Frozen Meal Prep - Recipe: BBQ Chicken

BBQ Chicken

2 Green Peppers Cut into Slices
1) Red Pepper Cut into Slices
1 Zucchini Chopped
3 Onions Chopped
6 Red Potatoes Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves Chopped
6 Chicken Breasts
1 15 oz can of Tomato Pasta Sauce
2 TBSP of Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt

  1. Combine all ingredients; mix well. Label two one gallon sized freezer bags and split ingredients between the bags. Lay flat, freeze.
  2. When you're ready to enjoy, simply place in a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. You can serve this with rice, bread, or alone.

Freezer Meal: Shells ‘n Cheese - Recipe: Spinach ‘n Cheese Stuffed Shells

Meal Planning Monday...Freezer Meals -

Includes: Chicken Pot Pie, Meatloaf, Chili Mac, Caesar Parmesan Chicken

Homemade Chili Mac

1 lb ground beef
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 can chili with beans
1 box mac and cheese

  1. Boil macaroni noodles according to the box. While noodles are cooking, brown hamburger meat and drain. Mix tomato sauce and chili with meat. 
  2. Prepare mac and cheese exactly as directed on the box and mix with the meat mixture. 
  3. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese. Cook for 30 min or until cheese is melted and bubbly on 350.
  4. To freeze, I prepared in a foil bowl like those you get in Mexican to go from a Mexican restaurant. I covered with the lid and covered with foil. Will thaw in refrigerator night before cooking.
Caesar Parmesan Chicken

2 chicken breast (can be frozen)
1 cup Caesar Parmesan dressing from Kraft.
8 oz Bowtie Pasta
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Clove Crushed Garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Bunches of Broccoli

  1. Place 2 frozen chicken breast in a large Ziploc bag and add the dressing. Seal and returned to freezer. Thaw the night before cooking, in the refrigerator.
  2. Bake chicken on 350 for 45 mins or until done. Meanwhile, boil pasta until tender, drain. Steam broccoli until tender, mix into pasta. In a saucepan mix olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Pour over pasta/broccoli, and sprinkle with cheese. Serve chicken over pasta.

Quick and Easy Freezer Meals -

Includes: Noodles and Company Imitation Penne Rosa, Cheesy Ravioli Bake, Chicken Fajitas, Teriyaki Chicken, Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas, Chicken with Honey Sauce, Sesame Chicken, Chicken Fried Rice, Potato Soup, Chicken Pot Pie, White Bean Chicken Chili, Apple Chicken Stew, Chunky Chili with Veggies, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Grandma's Spaghetti Sauce

Chicken Fajitas

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 medium onion (sliced)
1 medium green pepper (sliced)
2 cups salsa
1 can of green chilies
1 package of fajita seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil

  1. Place all items in freezer bag.
  2. Toss and freeze flat.
  3. After freezing: Place all ingredients in crockpot and cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Remove chicken from mix, shred, and then add back in. Serve with warm tortillas, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, sour cream, and cheese.

Teriyaki Chicken

1 large bag of baby carrots
1 red onion
40-oz pineapple
4 cloves minced garlic
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup teriyaki sauce

  1. Place all ingredients in freezer bags
  2. Toss and freeze flat
  3. To serve: Add 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to mixture. Cook on high in crockpot for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Tex Mex Beef Enchiladas

2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
14.5 oz chicken broth
1.5 tbsp chili powder
1 small chipotle chile in adobo (minced) plus 1 tbsp of sauce from can
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves minced garlic
3/4 lb ground beef
8-6 inch corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat 1.5 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking occasionally for 1 minute. Add broth, chili powder, chipotle and adobo sauce, and 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until lightly thickened (about 10 minutes).
  2. Put sauce into an airtight container and freeze.
  3. Make filling: In a 10 inch nonstick skillet, heat remaining 0.5 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and beef; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring until cooked through (about 8 minutes).
  4. Assemble enchiladas: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stack tortillas, wrap in tin foil, and warm in oven for about 10 minutes. Fill each tortilla with a heaping 1/4 cup beef mixture and 2 tbsp cheese. Tightly roll up. Arrange enchiladas seam side down in baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and tin foil and freeze.
  5. To serve: Thaw sauce in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove foil and plastic wrap from baking dish. Pour sauce over top and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.

Chicken with Honey Sauce

1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  1. Put all ingredients in freezer bags
  2. Toss and knead bag so chicken gets covered evenly in sauce
  3. Flatten bag and freeze
  4. To serve: Cook in crockpot on low for 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. Serve over rice.

Sesame Chicken

1 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp sesame seeds

  1. Put all ingredients in freezer bags
  2. Toss and knead bag so chicken gets covered evenly in sauce
  3. Flatten bag and freeze
  4. To serve: Cook in crockpot on low for 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. Serve over rice.

White Bean Chicken Chili

32 oz chicken broth
11 oz can white corn
30 oz Great Northern Beans (white beans)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 chopped onion
4 oz can green chilis
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1 packet chili seasoning mix
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs)

  1. Cook in crockpot on high for 4 hours or on low 8 hours
  2. Shred chicken
  3. Put in freezer bags and freeze flat
  4. To serve: Thaw and reheat

Chunky Chili with Veggies

2.5 lbs beef cubed
1 medium onion (chopped)
4 stalks celery (chopped)
3 bell peppers (diced)
4 cloves minced garlic
12 oz tomato paste
28 oz diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce
8 oz mushrooms
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Pepper and salt to taste

  1. Add all ingredients to freezer bags
  2. Freeze flat
  3. To serve: Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours

Freezer Meals - (guidelines and instructions – no recipes).

Slow Cooker Freezer Meals: Make 8 Meals in 1 Hour! -

Includes: Slow Cooker BBQ Spareribs, Black Bean Taco Soup, Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, Chicken Cacciatore, French Dip Sandwiches, Hearty Beef Stew, Maple Dijon Glazed Chicken, Cilantro Lime Chicken w/ Corn and Black Beans

Slow Cooker BBQ Spareribs
1-2 lbs of country-style pork ribs
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 Tablespoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
  1. Place pork in resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl and pour over pork. Mix together in bag and zip closed.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH in crock pot for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours. 
  3. Serve with Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole (which can also be made in advance and frozen) and a bag of frozen corn.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
1 ½ pounds chicken breasts
1 (16 oz) bag frozen broccoli florets
2 (16 oz) jars Alfredo sauce (can use light)
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained
  1. Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag and mix together.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW in crock pot for 4-6 hours. 
  3. Serve with cooked fettuccine noodles, green salad, and Easy Parmesan Knots.

Maple Dijon Glazed Chicken
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW in crock pot for 8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours). Sprinkle with fresh or dried rosemary for serving.
  3. Serve with Oven Roasted Vegetables

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beef and Pasta Skillet Primavera

This was a delicious, quick and easy weeknight dinner! It was hearty and filling, and had a great combination of vegetables, meat, and pasta. The original recipe only called for 1 cup of pasta, but we found that wasn't nearly enough for us so I doubled it. This is very versatile - adjust seasonings to your personal preferences, and use whichever vegetables you prefer. The original recipe calls for zucchini and squash, but we used onion and mushroom instead which was really tasty! We served this with a crisp Caesar salad and some crusty garlic Texas toast for a terrific meal.

Learn all about the essential nutrients found in beef here!

Beef and Pasta Skillet Primavera on AllRecipes

1 pound ground beef (96% lean)
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper 
1 (14 ounce) can reduced-sodium beef broth
2 cups uncooked whole wheat or whole grain pasta
6 large fresh mushrooms, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add ground beef, mushrooms, and onion; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking meat into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Stir in broth and pasta; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook 7 to 11 minutes or until pasta is almost tender. Add canned tomatoes; continue to cook 4 to 6 minutes or until pasta is tender and sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally (if sauce is still thin, remove cover and turn up heat and allow juices to simmer off until it reaches desired thickness). Taste and add additional seasonings, if desired. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, serve and enjoy!