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Tag Archives: freezer cooking

Crusty, Fool-Proof Baguettes In 30 Minutes Flat

Quick & crusty baguettes in 30 minutes flat. Say that five times fast. How many of you thought you’d ever be able to say that at all, let alone believe it? This recipe is like the best (not anymore!) kept secret on the planet. It’s so easy, it’s been called fool proof. It’s perfect for beginner bakers and as an easy introduction to from-scratch bread making. Plus, it only uses five (yes, 5) everyday ingredients you probably already have in stock.

Baguettes for Beginners 2

Soft and flaky on the inside, crisp and crusty on the outside. They’re perfect for tearing into and chewing alongside your favorite pasta, your favorite cheese, your favorite soup, or for something as simple as slapping on a slab of your favorite butter. These baguettes are perfect. And they can be made last minute. Goodbye pre-planning and hours of rise time. I won’t miss tip-toeing around the house or trying to time nap time so heavy foot steps and little running feet wouldn’t make my dough fall, that’s for sure!

Baguettes for Beginners 3

This recipe makes two loaves, and we love to enjoy one fresh out of the oven with our favorite spices in a little olive oil for a quick and easy appetizer to tide us over while our main meal cooks.

Crusty, Fool Proof Baguettes In Under 30 Minutes Flat

Baguettes for Beginners

2 cups very warm water
1 packet yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3-4 cups of flour

Directions

 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Set the bowl on top of your preheating oven for ten minutes. Stir in the salt and add the flour a half-cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft, but not sticky. Knead the dough until elastic.

2. Cut the dough into four even pieces. Roll each of them into four long, thin ropes. Twist together two of the ropes to form one loaf. Twist the other two ropes together to form a second loaf. Transfer both onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

3. You can now bake the loaf right away (if you’re in a hurry), or allow it to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes on top of your warm oven.

4. Fill a large bowl with 3-4 cups of ice. Open your hot oven and place the baking sheet with the baguettes inside, then toss the ice cubes on the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the door. Do NOT open your oven for 15 minutes (the steam for the ice is what creates the crunchy outer crust). Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.

5. Serve warm with butter or with a dipping sauce of your favorite seasoned olive oil.

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Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Sweet, dark cherries stirred into a deceptively ‘skinny’ chocolate batter that’s then baked into healthy muffins that are sinfully delicious.

 Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

With these you can have your cake and eat it too, AND still feel good about it.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins 3

Pair these with a glass of milk for an indulgent start to any morning. Or enjoy them with a glass of milk (or wine, just sayin’!) for a sweet treat that’s a great ending to any day whether it’s for dessert, or a not-so naughty midnight snack.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins 2

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large egg whites, or one large egg
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp  baking powder
1 cup chopped dark sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
chocolate chips for sprinkling on top, optional

Directions

  1. Prepare a cupcake/muffin tin by spraying the cups generously with non-stick cooking spray, or you can use cupcake liners (but they won’t pull away clean from the baked muffins).
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the applesauce, sugar, honey, egg whites, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract, mixing them until the batter is evenly combined without any lumps left.
    3. Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Slowly stir in the wet ingredients, just until everything’s evenly incorporated, but also making sure not to leave any flour pockets lurking behind. Gently fold in the cherries using a spatula.
    4. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups, filling them as close to the top as possible. Bake the muffins at 425 degrees for 5 minutes then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin. If it comes out clean, they are done. If not, bake for about 2 more minutes.
    5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow It to rest, cooling for about 3 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
    * These muffins also freeze well, making a great grab and go breakfast or snack option. Just put them in the refrigerator the night before to thaw, and pop them in the microwave in the morning to reheat.

Pierogi Lasagna

Do you love the taste of Pierogis, Those Eastern European dumplings stuffed with cream mashed potato goodness, but dread the amount of work involved with making the dough, stuffing, and sealing them by hand? Then this here’s the thing for you. Pierogi LASAGNA. Now it’s true you could go to the frozen food aisle and just buy a bag (and I will, in a pinch) but they can’t ever compete flavor wise with the real thing. Or even with our more modernized version.

Periogi Lasagna

Pasta, potatoes, cheese, and bacon. Does it get any better than that? I’m pretty sure those are the hubs and sons four favorite food groups 😉

Still, they might not be the best groups to associate with, especially all at once, if you’re watching your carb intake … Or ya know, flavor.

Periogi Lasagna 2

Alternating layers of rich cottage cheese, and creamy mashed potatoes whipped together with bacon or ham and a generous serving of cheddar cheese are sandwiched between your favorite lasagna noodles before being topped with another sprinkle of cheddar cheese and crisp, crumbled bacon and oven-baked to perfection.

You need this in your life. At least once, or twice. And with the colder days and colder nights approaching, there’s no better time of year to give it a try.

Pierogi Lasagna

Periogi Lasagna 3
12 cooked lasagna noodles
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
3 thinly sliced green onions with a sprinkling of salt (or 1 tsp onion salt)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, with 1/2 cup separated
2 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup bacon (fried crisp and crumbled) OR diced ham.
1 onion, chopped and cooked until clear
8 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Directions

  1. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg and green onion, stirring until evenly combined.
    2. In another bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, the mashed potatoes, the 1/2 cup of bacon/ham crumbled and the sautéed onion.
    3. Line the bottom of a greased 9 x 13″ baking dish with 4 of the lasagna noodles.
    4. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture out evenly over the noodles.
    5. Add 4 additional noodles and cover evenly with half of the potato mixture.
    6. Repeat.
    7. Top with remaining 4 noodles, remaining cheese and crumbled bacon.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
9. Serve warm with sour cream, if desired.

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups

Breakfast and Brunch menus usually have a lot to offer, and the range of options for those meals is pretty varied. But when your a busy parent with hungry children to feed in the am hours, the early morning menu is usually pretty basic. And after a while, even when you have the time.to whips up some eggs, and butter a few slices of toast, even that can get a bit boring for everybody over time.

So here’s one of my favorite ways to shake things up when we’re in a rut.

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups 3

This is basically just your classic scrambled eggs with a side of toast. But all mashed together; and with cheese and some ham for extra flavor and protein. Ya know, basic. But ( again ) with cheese, because cheese makes everything better. I see it as an easy and convenient way to serve breakfast on the weekends (or on busy morning with a quick reheat) and the kids see it as impressive, and oh-so fancy. They love it, and I always love the giggles I get over them considering us high-falutin folk with our own cuisine.

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups 2

Don’t stop here though. Ham and cheese may seem like an obvious choice to fortify your eggs with, but the options are endless. Play around with different cheeses or add any toppings that you would normally add to an omelette or frittata  – peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, green onion, tomatoes – there is no right or wrong way!

One thing’s for sure, these are sure to cure any case of breakfast boredom.

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups

12 slices of bread
7 eggs
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup ham, cubed
½ tsp garlic powder
½ onion chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Cut crusts off of the bread and roll bread flat.
2. Butter each side of the bread and place one piece  in each muffin tin to form a toast ‘cup’, gently pressing the bread against the sides of the tin and the centers down. Patch any holes you see with another small piece of buttered bread.
3. Combine eggs, garlic powder, onion, salt, and pepper and beat with a whisk until frothy.
4. Pour some into each muffin tin, filling the bread cup approximately 3/4 of the way full. Add a few cubes of ham to each toast cup and top with shredded cheese.

5. Bake the at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

These are freezer friendly, so if you’re trying to get a jump start on weekday breakfasts make a batch, let them cool completely, remove them from the tins and freeze in a zip locking storage bag until ready to use. A quick re-heat in the microwave on a busy morning, and you’re good to go. Literally.

Sausage Breakfast Burritos

So if you’ve followed along with us for any amount of time, you know that this mama doesn’t do breakfast. Yes I make sure there are breakfast items available, but All self serve, a la carte style. Hot breakfast? Dad does giant brunches every Saturday and Sunday. Otherwise? It’s pretty much cold cereal ’round these parts.

 Sausage Breakfast Burritos

But I do occasionally take pity on my crew who put up with all my whims, and all my willfulness in the kitchen. What can I say? I run a tight ship, usually it goes my way or the highway, but every now and then I hear a request or two, or I just generally try to prevent a mutiny. And that’s where these handy, dandy breakfast burritos come in.

All cooked up and pre-packaged, all ready to heat and eat.

Sausage Breakfast Burritos

Sausage Breakfast Burritos 2

1 lb ground pork sausage
1-1/2 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1/4 cup diced white onion
1/4 cup diced green and/or red pepper
4 eggs, lightly beaten
12 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Picante sauce and sour cream, optional

Directions

1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain and set aside. Add the potatoes, onion and pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Pour the eggs in and stir, cooking until they’re set. Return the sausage to the skillet and stir everything together to evenly incorporate.
2. Spoon the filling off center onto each of the tortillas. Sprinkle cheese evenly out over the filling. Fold sides and ends over filling and roll up. Serve with Picante sauce and/or sour cream, if desired.
3. To freeze and reheat the burritos: Wrap each burrito in waxed paper and then again in foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. To use, remove the foil and the waxed paper. Place one burrito on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 2 to 2-1/4 minutes, turning the burrito over once during re-heating. Let stand for 20 seconds before eating. These also re-heat just as well in a toaster oven if a microwave isn’t an option.

Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

Folks always talk about how patience is a virtue, well I think impatience is every bit the virtue patience is and then some, because impatience gets supper, or in this case breakfast, on the table a whole heck of a lot faster.

The holidays are upon us once again, and as usual, I’m struggling to keep up. While I love that the sons’ are so active, it’s been hard to keep up, and we’re just at the beginning. The hubs lost his job a month ago and, THANKFULLY, was back to work one week later, but for a staffing company. That means that, while after 480 hours, this job will probably become permanent, there’s no guarantee of 40 hours a week right now, or even a guarantee of what hours he’ll be working a week, or if it will even be locally. We had gotten comfy with the whole 9-5 thing. Now he’s stuck with calling a number each night and showing up on site at whatever time is told. Recently, that’s meant he’s had to get up at 4 am to drive for two hours to meet on the job. I just have to say that I’m so proud of him. Even if it’s meant he pulled a 12+ hour day, to turn around tomorrow and drive an hour to work on fumes of sleep to do it all again. When it comes to our family, he gets it done!

I know I’ve said it before, but I really don’t do breakfast. I am SO not a morning person. The sons know, don’t wake Mom up unless there’s a problem. The hubs learned that lesson the hard way. BUT, that doesn’t meant I always want them to be stuck in the land of cold cereal or a mushy bowl of unappetizing instant oatmeal. I don’t want to do that to the sons all the time, and I definitely don’t want to do that to him.

And that’s why we have these little breakfast stars. Just think of them as the healthy version of McDonalds McMuffins, except they taste 10000x better.

Perfectly portioned breakfast sandwiches, ready for a quick re-heat.

Aaaannnnd … let’s DO this!

Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

 Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

6 large eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
6 English muffins, split
12 slices deli-sliced ham
6 slices cheddar cheese

Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a cupcake pan, or coat it with nonstick spray.
2. Add one egg to 6 different ‘cups’, beating slightly. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Place the pan into the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked through, about 12-14 minutes.
3. Place 2 slices ham and 1 slice cheese on the muffin bottom, top with one baked egg, and then cover with another muffin top to create a sandwich. Repeat with remaining English muffins to make 6 sandwiches. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
4. To reheat, remove plastic wrap from the frozen sandwich and wrap in a paper towel. Place into microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through completely.
5. Serve immediately.

For those of you who either don’t have, or prefer not to use, a microwave, no worries. These re-heat just fine in a toaster oven 🙂

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

For those of you who don’t know the hubs, which is probably most of you, let me tell you about his love of all things neat and orderly. To put it bluntly, he can’t function in any other sort of environment. He knows where everything goes, and if one thing is out of place it’s going to systematically drive him crazy. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me since he’ll be the first one to start cleaning or come behind me as I’m cooking and wash the dishes as I go. Even when I get annoyed, I can’t help but appreciate this side of him because he totally balances me out. For example, just last week the hubs went on a two day long streak where he decided that we would pull everything out of every nook and cranny in the house and clean it and organize it. At first I was frustrated since this had clearly not been on my honey-do list for the weekend, but by the end of it I was thankful. Everything was thoroughly cleansed, we’d swapped out spring/summer wardrobes for fall/winter. The freezers had been defrosted and updated inventories made of what was where and when it expired. Instead of dreading taking on these tasks myself and getting them done piece meal, we both felt like we’d accomplished something, we both had help, and we rewarded ourselves the next day by mindlessly relaxing & binge watching a new TV show on Netflix with all the sons. And that had been on my list.

So that was the good. The bad? I had several things in the freezer that needed using in the very near future. Several of those things were multiple pounds of pizza dough. So guess what? We had pizza for dinner two nights in a row last week. The sons thought I’d gone and lost my mind. They were thrilled. This was what was on the menu with two pounds of said dough. Several of our favorite flavors and ingredients, coming together to star in one perfect pizza.

While I can flourish in clutter, the hubs can’t. The happy medium? We keep each other in sync and have many things to show for it. Not the least of which are some damn delicious dinners!

This recipe is a doozie. If you love pizza, bacon, chicken, and ranch dressing then you are going to love this.

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

 Chicken Bacon Garlic Ranch Pizza

recipe adapted from I Heart Naptime

Dough for 1 large pizza
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced and diced
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded or diced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

 Garlic- Ranch Sauce

2 Tbsp sour cream
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon chopped, dried chives
1/8 teaspoon dill
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
dash of onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine all the ingredients to make the garlic-ranch sauce.
2. Spread the sauce evenly over the pizza crust, leaving a 1/2 inch of ‘crust’ all the way around.
3. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over top the sauce, then evenly spread the chicken, bacon, onion and tomatoes.
4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
5. Bake at 450 degrees for 9-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

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