Recipe: Italian Garden Enchiladas

Before we leave on vacation we’re trying to clear out the fridge and freezer, not to mention I have all the goodies from the garden to use up. So, for dinner tonight I had the girls go with me and harvest some of the veggies from the garden. We filled up a small bowl with beans, peas and some cherry tomatoes.

Looking through the fridge, we’ve got a ton of tortillas and I had an open bag of pasta sauce. I also found a few cans of beans in the back of the closet, so I had my little one pick one out to eat – she chose garbanzo beans.

In the end, I made Italian Garden Enchiladas.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Garden veggies, such as beans, peas, carrots, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, etc.
  • Fresh basil
  • Pasta Sauce (16 oz or so.)
  • Tortillas
  • Chicken
  • Garbanzo Beans (1 can.)
  • Cheese (about 8-16 oz – depending on how much cheese you like!) – I used Italian Blend and Sharp Cheddar.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook chicken on stove until done. (I used a bit of olive oil.) Optional: Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  2. Chop up the garden veggies and sautee on the stove in a little bit of olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Rinse garbanzo beans and heat in same pan on stove. (I added enough water to the pan to cover the beans, then boiled the water out.)
  4. Place a layer of sauce in a baking dish.
  5. Lay out tortilla. Place a layer of sauce, then add the veggies, chicken, beans and a few slices of the tomato and basil. Add cheese and more sauce.
  6. Roll up and place, seam side down, in the baking dish. Repeat 5 times.
  7. Spoon the remaining sauce on top, add basil, sprinkle on cheese.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.
  9. Remove foil and bake for a few additional minutes until cheese is browned to your liking.
  10. Cool and enjoy.

BONUS: You can EASILY freeze this meal! Use a disposable foil baking pan, and prep the meal as stated above. Then, thaw and continue with baking ingredients.

Garden veggies. Basil, onions, carrots, peas, beans and tomatoes.

Grilled some chicken on the stove. Sprinkled with Italian Seasoning.

In the same pan, tossed the veggies – chopped up – in some olive oil and sauteed.

A can of garbanzo beans. Threw in the same pan with enough water to cover them, then boiled until the water was gone.

Whole wheat tortilla with a layer of my pasta sauce, a couple spoonfuls of the cooked veggies, plus the garbanzo beans, sliced up chicken and sliced tomato. Before rolling up, top with cheese.

Add a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, add the rolled up tortillas and top with more sauce and basil.

Add cheese, cover with foil and bake at about 375 for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional few minutes until cheese is browned to your liking.

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Black Bean Tortilla Bake

Black Bean Tortilla Bake

Black Bean Tortilla Bake

I’m not big on Mexican food but a while back I was looking for recipes that were somewhat healthy and contained protein that was not meat. The perfect answer? Beans! Apparently beans are super good to eat. Check this out.

I found this recipe on Food.com and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was!

Bonus? It’s super easy to make! Essentially you’re making your own salsa, then adding beans to it. To assemble you’re basically making a lasagna, except you’re layering tortillas, cheese, bean salsa, more cheese, repeat.

DOUBLE BONUS: You can make a couple of these at a time and freeze one for later. The photos in this post were taken while I was making a bunch for my meal swap group.

Here’s what you need to make this the way I make it:

INGREDIENTS

  •  1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped tomato (or 1 8 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 16 oz can black beans (rinsed & drained)
  • 1 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • salt & pepper
  • soft corn tortillas (number will vary based on size of baking pan, I used maybe 8 per pan, you can use more or less)
  • 8 oz Mexican blend cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350* F
2. Spray large skillet with cooking spray
3. Add onion, garlic, tomato, green onion, cumin & chili powder
4. Cook on medium heat until onion is tender.
5. Add tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes more.
6. Stir in beans, cilantro, salt & pepper (to taste)

As you can see, I’m a little OCD about the tortillas covering every visible square inch of the pan. I ripped/cut the tortillas but that’s optional.

7. Spray a 9 inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
8. Layer bottom with tortillas, cheese, bean salsa, more cheese
9. Repeat.
10. End with cheese on top of salsa mixture.
11. Bake for 20 minutes, covered, then 10 minutes uncovered or until cheese is bubbly.

 

The above directions are for a smaller tray than my photos. To make a larger pan like I did in the photos, simply double the recipe. Honestly, I just eyeball it.

Enjoy!

Freezer Meal: Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Freezer Meal

For my meal swap meal this month I opted to make Chicken Broccoli Alfredo.

Easy and delicious!

Here’s what you need per freezer meal:

SHOPPING LIST

– 8 oz broccoli
– 15-16 oz Alfredo Sauce x 2
– 1-2 lbs chicken (I tried for about 1 lb 5 oz)
– 1 med-large onion
– Noodles

Since I was shopping to make 8 meals I ended up buying a 5 lb bag of broccoli from Costco (~$6), a 20 lb bag of chicken from Costco (~$22), 16 jars of alfredo sauce from Aldi ($1.69 each = $27.04), 8 boxes of bow tie noodles (77 cents each = $6.16), 10 lb bag of onions from Costco (~$6)

So, in all I spent roughly $69 (not including sales tax) and got just shy of 8 meals (I didn’t have quite enough chicken for that last bag, which was fine, because that’s the bag for my own freezer and I can add more later.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

To prep for freezer:
Throw broccoli, chicken, chopped up onion in bag. You can add the Alfredo sauce if you want, but it’s just more to thaw later. I leave mine in the jars and labeled the jar “Ck Alf” so I know it’s for the Chicken Alfredo meal and don’t use it for something else.

Don’t forget to label your freezer bag with what’s inside and cooking directions!

To cook:
Throw broccoli, onion, chicken and both jars Alfredo sauce in crock pot. Cook for 4-6 hours on LOW.
Towards the end of the crock pot cook time cook the noodles according to directions on box. Drain water and add noodles to crock pot. Eat and enjoy!

TIP: If you have leftovers you could easily turn this into a chicken alfredo pizza! Find my EASY pizza dough recipe here!

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Freezer Meal

Check it out! When my eyes began to bleed from chopping up the onions (possibly an over-exaggeration) The Husband came to help me finish up! (And no, he was NOT happy about me taking his photo, which is why he is not looking at the camera! HA!)

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Freezer Meal

Seven Freezer Meals ready to go! (The eight I didn’t have enough chicken for the bag, so it’s not included.) I also forgot to put the noodles on the table for the photo op. Oops?

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Freezer Meal

Close up of freezer bag. Bottom layer = chopped onion. Middle layer = frozen broccoli. Top layer = Chicken breasts.

Pizza Bread

I’m a terrible blogger. I know, I know…..

Pizza Bread

This is a recipe I recently made for my meal swap group. The above photo features meatballs, but for my meal swap group we did pepperoni.

SUPER easy and tasty!
You basically take my grandmother-in-laws pizza dough recipe, double it, slice the dough into 6 pieces, roll the dough out, pour on some sauce, put the pepperoni, add the cheese and roll it up (carefully!!!)
For the bread:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Package active dry years
  • 3/4 cup very warm water
  • 2 TBSP Olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour

DIRECTIONS:

1. Add the package of yeast to the water. let sit for 5 minutes as the yeast does its thing. The water should be hot, but not TOO hot – you don’t want to kill the yeast!

2. Add the sugar, salt and oil to the water.

3. Mix in flour. You can either use a mixer (I use my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer) or you can knead by hand, for about 5 minutes.

OPTIONAL: The dough is ESPECIALLY good if you add in some pizza herbs and seasoning! I like to add garlic powder, onion powder, Italian Seasoning, Basil, Oregano, etc. SO yum!
For the sauce I use the recipe here.

Cut the dough

Cut the dough

Putting together the pizza bread!

Putting together the pizza bread!

ASSEMBLING THE BREAD:

1. Divide the dough. Shape it into a nice round (or square) lump and cut in half, then cut each half into thirds. These are just guidelines, you can really make as many or as few as you want. What I like about making them small is that each person can have their own roll, plus when the bread is smaller it cooks quicker!

I have an actual dough cutter (I believe it’s Food Network brand? From Kohl’s?) and I LOVE it! It cuts through the dough SO well and scraps any dough left on the counter right off! You can also use a knife if you don’t have a dough cutter/scraper.

2. Spread out one of the little rolls of dough you cut in the previous step. Spread as THIN as you can without tearing any holes. If you do get a hole you can kind of fold the dough back over and try again. You want it thin though because it’s going to rise a LOT when you bake it!

3. Spread the sauce across the dough. Careful you don’t get too close to the edges or you’ll have a HUGE mess when you go to roll it up!!! If you’re like me and LOVE sauce, you’re going to have to hold yourself back. You can NOT put a lot of sauce in these! You can certainly DIP the bread in some sauce once it’s baked though!

4. Add your toppings. In this case, pepperoni. You can add whatever you want though. Meatballs, onion, peppers, olives, etc.

5. Add the cheese! You can probably even put more than I put on in the photo!

6. Now the messy part! ROLLING the bread! Start at one end and instead of actually ROLLING the bread over, it’s best to sort of FOLD it. I find what’s easiest is to fold it, pinch the edges, fold, pinch, etc. Then at the end you need to seal the edges. Pinch them shut and kind of smooth them over with your finger.

7. Finally you’re ready to bake and eat your creations!

Preheat the oven to 425* and bake for 10-15 minutes. The bake time is going to depend on the size you end up making your bread and your oven. My oven is ancient and terrible so I ALWAYS check the food at the halfway point. Since these times are based on MY oven, keep a close eye on your food!

8. Enjoy! Allow the bread to cool down a bit. When we make it for the kids we always cut it open first to let the inside cool off so they don’t burn their little mouths. I like to heat up some sauce as well to dip mine in because, as I said above, I’m a sauce lover!

FREEZING: I froze these for the meal swap group. I put 3 each in the gallon sized ziplocks. Each person got 6 bread rolls. Thaw completely prior to baking.

Roll the dough! This is a bad example... I had a bit too much sauce, did not pinch the edges as I rolled AND forgot the cheese!!! #FAIL

Roll the dough! This is a bad example… I had a bit too much sauce, did not pinch the edges as I rolled AND forgot the cheese!!! #FAIL

Seal and smooth those edges!

Seal and smooth those edges!

Lasagna Rolls

I’ve been scouring Pinterest for recipes that sound appetizing. I’ve found many, many chicken recipes but The Husband complained that he was getting sick of chicken.

Soooo I decided to try a ground beef recipe. The Husband loves lasagna so when I found this recipe for Lasagna rolls I thought it would be fun to try.

Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna Rolls

It was fairly easy to make.

Brown the meat (I opted for ground turkey because I’m not a big beef fan.) I didn’t use any oil in the pan, just threw the meat in, turned the heat to medium (about 6-7 on my ancient stove!)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan I cooked the lasagna noodles. If you like your noodles softer, I recommend cooking them longer than recommended. Mine were a little too hard in the end.

After you drain the noodles, lay them out on your pan (I lined my pan in foil for easy clean up.)

Back to the meat, once it’s thoroughly cooked through and browned, add some of your pasta sauce. Then take a scoop of the meat/sauce and line the noodle with it. Don’t put too much or you won’t be able to roll it. I put some plain sauce on top of the meat because I like a lot of sauce – then add the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncovered at 400° for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the rolls are heated through.

 

The verdict? The kids liked them, but they pulled them apart. They sure look pretty, but they’re not practical for kids. They were fun to make, but honestly, it probably would have been easier to just make a regular lasagna dish.

I did not care for them, but I’ve never been a fan of loose ground meat. The texture just… blech!

The Husband liked them, his only minor complaint was about the noodles not being cooked enough (as I mentioned above.)

 

Would I make these again?

I think if we had leftover ground meat and noodles lying around and The Husband wanted lasagna, I would probably make some for him, while making myself some veggie or chicken ones.

These would also be fairly easy to freeze I imagine!

Homemade Pasta Sauce – in BULK!

True story, I love pasta. I love pizza. I love bread dunked in sauce. I blame my Italian roots (I’m a quarter Italian, but it’s a strong quarter!)

So, when my mother in law taught me how to make her pizza sauce I was so happy. She uses it for pizza sauce, I use it for both pizza and pasta sauce. And it’s delicious.

This is the recipe that she photocopied for me, we don’t follow it to a T though.

Basically, the way I was taught was to throw can of tomato sauce, tomato paste, herbs, salt, sugar, pepper and olive oil into a pot and heat on low, stirring now and then. Taste as you go to get it just right. We also use onion powder instead of onions (sometimes I’ll do both or just chopped onions if I have them on hand.) Same goes for the garlic, we just use garlic powder and the thing about garlic powder is that a little bit goes a LONG way! So watch yourself as you add the garlic. Also, the last thing I do, is throw in some Italian Seasoning. Yum. Delish.

Oh! You can also add chopped tomatoes if you’re into that kind of thing. I am, but my family is sadly not, so I don’t usually add them.

The thing though, was that I was having to make this sauce so often. And until it was made my cupboard was filled with the canned sauce and paste, leaving room for little else. Plus I had to make a mess on the stove every time I wanted to make sauce.

The answer? Costco! Both cost effective and time saving for the future! I can’t remember the cost offhand, but I believe The Husband said that the sauce was around $2.99, the paste must have been somewhere around there as well, possibly a little more.

EDIT: I went back and calculated the amounts to make it slightly easier. I left the old amount (such as 27 tsp of Basil) and added the new amount next to it in parentheses (about 9 TBSP or 1/2 cup) 

So, if you want to make a HUGE batch you’ll need the following.

  • A huge sauce pan/stock pot for the stove (I used an 8 quart sauce pan, I had a couple of inches from the top and did this in 3 batches.)
  • Contadina Tomato Sauce – 105 oz (Costco) x 3
  • Contadina Tomato Paste – 111 oz (Costco) x 1
  • Basil – 27 tsp (about 9 TBSP or 1/2 cup)
  • Oregano – 27 tsp (about 9 TBSP or 1/2 cup)
  • Italian Seasoning (to taste)
  • Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • Onion Powder (to taste)
  • Salt – 18 tsp (about 6 tbsp)
  • Sugar – 10.5 tsp (about 3 and 1/2 TBSP)
  • Pepper – 2 – 1/4 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 36 TBSP (2 and 1/4 cups)

Now, because my pot wasn’t big enough for EVERYTHING I divided my recipe by thirds. Basically one giant can of tomato sauce to 1/3 giant can of tomato paste.

SO – here’s the ingredients per batch if you make it in three batches like I did.

  • huge sauce pan/stock pot for the stove (I used an 8 quart sauce pan, I had a couple of inches from the top and did this in 3 batches.)
  • Contadina Tomato Sauce – 105 oz (Costco) x 1
  • Contadina Tomato Paste – 4.625 cups (round it)
  • Basil – 9 tsp (about 3 TBSP)
  • Oregano – 9 tsp (about 3 TBSP)
  • Italian Seasoning (to taste)
  • Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • Onion Powder (to taste)
  • Salt – 6 tsp (about 2 TBSP)
  • Sugar – 3.5 tsp
  • Pepper – 6/8 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 12 TBSP (or 3/4 cup)

This is what the cans of Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce from Costco look like. Remember, you’ll need THREE cans of sauce for each can of paste for this recipe.

1. To start you simply dump the can of tomato sauce in the pot and then measure out and put in the tomato paste.

I scooped the paste out with a wooden spoon into a measuring cup.

2. Next up add the olive oil and stir it in.

3. Add the Basil, Oregano, salt, sugar and pepper and stir.

Dumped in lots of good stuff to stir in! I usually stir after adding each ingredient, but this makes SUCH a better photo!

4. Add the garlic, not too much, a little bit goes a long way. Have a taste and you can always add more!

5. Add the onion powder, just a little is all you need. Now’s a good time to taste again.

6.Add the Italian seasoning. Taste again.

7. Let simmer for a little while, until all of the herbs are nice and blended.

You can always add other veggies like onion, green pepper and so on.

Also, if you need to sneak in extra nutrients because your kids (or you!) don’t enjoy eating vegetables, this is a great place to add in some puree’d veggies. I added some Butternut Squash into one of my batches. You can put in a surprising amount without affecting the taste! I have a friend who I believe uses pureed carrots. I didn’t have any carrots on hand.

The only thing left to do is to allow your sauce to cool and then get it ready for freezing! You can get freezer safe canning jars, but I didn’t have those (Whoops! Bought regular canning jars without doing my research!) so I used freezer bags.

First batch!
We had pasta that night so this isn’t 100% of the sauce.
2 bags – 3 cups each
3 bags – 2.5 cups each
1 bag – 2 cups

I’ve found that 3 cups is about the max you should put into a quart sized freezer bag and really, unless your family is huge or you’re making something in bulk, you’re not going to need that much sauce at one time anyway!

This was the second and third batch I did. This was on a another night, a few days later. I don’t recommend doing that since the big can of paste, which was covered in the fridge, ended up with a blackish build-up near the rim. I wiped it out with a paper towel so that it didn’t end up in the last two batches of sauce.
Here we have:
5 bags – 3 cups
6 bags – 2 cups
1 bag – 1 1/3 cups
1 bag – 2 2/3 cups
= a LOT of sauce!!!

If you go the freezer bag route it can get pretty messy. I finally discovered that holding the bag open as shown in the following photo and using a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop and pour works best. A ladle would have worked well also, but I don’t know how much my ladle holds and I wanted to measure, so measuring cup it was!

This was how I held the bag open and made the least amount of mess.
Bottom of bag rests on counter/stove/wherever and sort of “pinch” the center of the bag as shown. Once the first scoop is in it weighs down the bottom and helps to make less mess pouring into the bag.

And there you have it! Home made pasta sauce for many, many meals to come!

By the way, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you have a deep freezer! This would probably fill or come close to filling most standard freezers. We are fortunate enough to have inherited my parents old chest freezer, which sits in our laundry room in the basement, filled with frozen sauce, breast milk and bags of fresh veggies – among other items.

Enjoy! And let me know if you decide to do this! I love helping and would be honored if this helped someone 🙂
Oh, and while I was busy with the sauce (the first day) this is what was happening to our bag of recycling!

Miranda made a HUGE mess with the recycling!