Friday, May 29, 2009

Some Cool Tips I found....

Now that I'm on a mission to keep several do-ahead-meals in the freeer, I've been looking for tips to make even this process easier. And, don't forget better use my freezer space.

Look what I found and they work! I'm so excited and feel so "June Cleaver-ish!"

Tip #1.: When I make make-ahead things like these, I like to line the pan with foil, leaving enough excess foil sticking out that I can wrap it over and around the entire casserole/bake/whatever. I stick it in the freezer overnight and then take the entire cassrole, wrapped in foil, right out of the dish and then stick it in a Ziploc and write what it is on the outside.

I made a couple using this technique and Wala.....(is that a word but it sounds magician-ish)

Tip #2: You can pre-assemble casseroles like this in a 5 qt ice cream bucket. Start by lining the bucket with Saran wrap, and then put together a casserole in it. Next, fold the Saran down over the casserole… and then do it again by placing another lining of Saran Wrap in there so you can make another casserole in the bucket that sits right on top of the last one… and then if there is still room, do a third one!

In the end, you’ll have three casseroles all ready to go, stacked one on top of the other, individually wrapped and in an air-tight ice cream bucket. Why do this? Well… the inside of the ice cream bucket is the same size as the inside of a standard round crock pot! Just take one out of the bucket, unwrap it stick it in the crockpot on low in the morning, and have supper ready that night!

Here's a recipe I found using this technique.....I'm going to try it this weekend so will let you know.

Ice Cream Bucket Lasagna

I cook a large package of hamburger (apx 5 lbs), drain. Place it back in the pan I cooked it in, *(don't dirty another pan) and add tomato sauce and spices as you like it.

Then in another large bowl, mix two large containers of cottage cheese, four eggs, and salt and pepper. A third bowl has a large quantity of shredded mozzarella.

Finally, I open two packages of lasagna noodles, either no-bake or regular, doesn't matter. I prefer the regular, they are thicker..the no bake kinda disappear in my lasagna because they are so thin.

Place all the ingredient bowls and pans in a row on the counter. Then I take 6 (one gallon) ice cream buckets or similar container.

Layer as follows: small amount of Sauce Noodles Sauce (it is important that all of the uncooked noodles are covered in sauce) cottage cheese noodles sauce cottage cheese noodles sauce mozzarella cheese to cover top (we love this quite thick) That is it!

You end up with six lasagnas, and only 3 dirty pans. Freeze. Once solid, slip from the ice cream bucket, and place in gallon ziplock bags. Now they go back in the freezer, taking up much less space.

I use the ice cream bucket because it makes it the exact correct size and shape for my 5 quart crockpot. You may find another container that works better for you. When its lasagna eating day, just pop it in the crockpot on LOW, and let her go all day...come home, dinner is ready!

**Does that sound easy or what? I think I'll experiment a bit with the ingredients. Maybe use ground turkey or a combo and jarred spaghetti sauce. What do you think?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Asian Chicken Pasta Salad


olive oil
whole wheat angel hair pasta
2 cloves garlic
2-3 cups cubed chicken breast (2 large breasts)
2 tbls. sesame seeds (toasted tastes best)
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use Kinkoman's low sodium soy sauce.)
2 tbls. sesame oil
2 cucumbers
2 carrots
3 green onions
a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts
chopped peanuts

Boil water and cook pasta according to instructions on box.Peel and slice the cucumbers. Remove ends from the bean sprouts. Peel the carrots, then use the peeler to shred the carrots into pieces. Chop peanuts. Spray pan with olive oil and saute two cloves of minced garlic in the oil. (I use my garlic that I've minced ahead of time & stored in the refrigerator)

Add the cubed chicken and 2 tbls. sesame seeds. Stir fry until chicken is browned and cooked through.Add 2 tbls. sesame oil & 1/2 cup soy sauce to chicken and simmer.Add the veggies and mix well. Let simmer so veggies can soak up the sauce and until they reach your desired tenderness. Add the drained pasta noodles and mix well. Let simmer for a few additional minutes. Top each serving with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts.

Left overs are great served the following day as a cold salad.

I'll take pictures of the prep steps when we make it this week. You know.....taking pictures of my meals is a new behavior. :o) Be honest....10 years ago, would you have ever thought you'd be photographing your meals and posting them along with your recipes on something called the Internet.

Cleaning out the pantry.....

Today is the day! I'm cleaning out the pantry and refigerator with my Mom's help and using what's in there for my "Monday Meal Planning." And, pantry is full so shouldn't be too hard.

So, I'll get back to you this evening with what we come up with. This is going to be a challenge since we're trying to keep things on the healthy side. I mean, come on.....a girl has to get her body back sometime in this lifetime. :o) I can't blame my weight issues on having a baby the rest of my life. Someone may nominate me for a Dr. Phil Show.....Ouch!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Incredible Homemade Salad Dressing

This dressing is so "Yummy!" We use it on every type of salad you can think up, marinade for fish, chicken or pork and just drizzled over veggies, grilled asparagus.....the list is open to your heart's desire. Try it, you'll love it. I promise!
Dijon Italian Dressing
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice - fresh if possible
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 large cloves of garlic - crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard

How to make this dressing for all occasions. Place all of the ingredients into a bottle that you can pop a lid onto and shake well - I used a large empty water bottle but now have the a new handy Pampered Chef dressing container. Shake up all of the ingredients and pour into a into a pretty glass bowl to serve. Before drizzling over salads or meats give the dressing a little stir with a spoon and cover when you store in the refrigerator.
Here's another.....
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 packets of Splenda, Sweet n Low or sugar (sweeten to your taste)
Place all of the ingredients into a bottle that you can pop a lid onto and shake well. Again, I used to use a large empty water bottle but now use my new Pampered Chef dressing container. Shake up all of the ingredients and pour into a pretty glass bowl to serve. Stir or shake dressing before serving, drizzling over meats or salads. Store in the refrigerator. This one is also so good!