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.

Advertisements

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!

Chebureki… mmmm…..

I hate ground meat. The texture is just…. blech! I can’t eat it!

The husband LOVES ground meat. And we have a bunch in the freezer that I got as a part of  a meat package from Fare For All.

So, I needed to figure out what to do with this stuff. Pinterest to the rescue! I found this awesome recipe called “Lena’s Chebureki Recipe” over at Natasha’s Kitchen. I’m still exploring her blog, but there are a lot of interesting recipes there. Ukrainian and Russian recipes. Recipes I’ve never heard of. Awesome recipes.

The Chebureki recipe sounded super easy and tasty.

Look how good this looks!

Yuummmm! (Don’t look at the bottom one! It ended up a little over-done!)

OK, so this is what you “need” to make Chebureki. (And I use the word “need” lightly because you can modify this recipe to add/subtract anything you want!)

Ingredients:

1. Uncooked Tortillas
2. Ground Meat (Natasha uses half pork, half beef – I prefer turkey myself.)
3. Three (3) TBSP milk
4. One (1) tsp salt
5. 1/4 tsp pepper
6. Green onions (chopped)
7. Fresh Parsley
8. Fresh Cilantro

So, basically, you take your ground meat and mix everything together and the hard part is done!
Lena’s recipe calls for 1 lb of each type of meat (total of 2lbs), but this time I just used 1 lb total. I wasn’t thinking, so I didn’t half any of the other ingredients. (Whoops?) and it still turned out fine. The first time I cooked this, I forgot to add the milk, salt and pepper. Still good! You really can’t mess up this step.

Mix everything together! You really don’t need much of the Parsley and Cilantro. A little bit goes a LONG way. If you buy one bunch of each from the grocery store you’ll still have a TON left over. Now I’m thinking of what I can use it for in other recipes this week!

Once your meat is all mixed together nicely (I used my hands, the spoon does next to nothing!) you’re ready for your tortillas.

It took some searching but I finally found the uncooked tortillas at Costco, in the refrigerated section by the cheese! I’ve heard they also have them at Walmart. They do NOT have them at Target (at least not where I live!) and also not at either of my local grocery stores.Warning: These rip easily – they’re not cooked!
If you can’t find the raw tortillas and still want to try this, you can use soft pre-cooked tortillas but you need to press VERY firmly to get them stuck together. And when you cook them, chances are you’re going to have the meat spill out into the oil and a hot mess to deal with. I’ve been there. They were still delish though!

Lay out your tortilla and GLOB that meat mixture onto half of it, leaving enough space to allow you to seal the ends shut.

Like this! I used the spoon to scoop and gently hold the tortilla down. The spatula worked quite well for spreading the mixture.

Now it’s time to close the shell.
I filled a cup with a little bit of water and dipped my (clean) finger in the water and ran it along the edges of the shell. This helps it stay closed. You can also use egg whites. I was too lazy to do that, though that’s what I use on Won-Tons when I make them.

Careful! Those tortillas will rip! *Evidence*

Fold the tortilla in half and press along the edges with your finger. Then take a fork and press the edge together. As I said above, you don’t want this sucker opening in the oil! Ouch!

Once your Chebureki is sealed you’re ready to cook! You’re going to want a pan filled with enough oil to coat one side of the Chebureki. Place your tortilla in and cook on medium heat about 3 minutes. Then flip and cook the other side for another 3 minutes. I’m not sure if it’s my stove or what, but as I was cooking these the stove seemed to continue to heat up and therefor cooked faster. Keep an eye on it and when its golden brown it should be done. If you’re unsure if the meat is done, you can always stab a meat thermometer through the edge (where it’s sealed) that’s what I did and even when I only cooked 2 minutes on each side the thermometer was still coming up at about 165*.

I used my large pan so that I could cook two at a time and get done quicker! The first time I cooked them I used the small pan that only fit one. It took FOREVER!Note: When you remove each from the hot oil, place on paper towel to absorb the excess oil. I stacked mine like this and it worked like a charm. 

As you can see in the photo above, one Chebureki was put in before the other. I stuck one in, set the timer for the 3 minutes, then prepared the other. When the 3 minutes were up, I flipped the first one and placed the second one in. Set the timer for another 3 minutes. This saved time, prepping the next ones as the last one cooks. The first time I made them I put them all together ahead of time. I’ll be doing it this way again in the future!

My favorite thing about these Chebureki is that they taste SO much like the meat filled Won-Tons of my youth. I LOVE making Won-Tons but they’re so small and it’s a lot of work. With the Chebureki you get the same great taste but with less work!
The Verdict?

Everyone loves these!
Allison and Miranda both ate them up.
I have a way to use up the ground meat now (woohoo!)
And The Husband enjoyed them as well! His only complaint? There’s no “stuff” in the meat, besides the herbs. He’s requested that I add something to separate the meat. We’ve agreed next time to try adding some bean sprouts (yuummmm) or maybe some shredded carrot.

The first time I made these I also added tomato to mine and that was delish.

Oh, and these are great dipped in Sweet and Sour Sauce if you’re like me…. or hot sauce if you’re like The Husband!

Allison chowing down!

Miranda is my little carnivore. She ended up pulling the meat right out of the shell and eating just that! *smh*

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine ingredients in bowl, stir (or use hands to mush together.)
2. Place along half of tortilla, allowing rough space to close it.
3. Rub water along edges of tortilla and close shut. Use fork to press sides together.
4. Pre-heat oil on stove – medium heat – then add tortillas, flipping after about 3 minutes. It should be golden brown.
5. Cook second side for about 3 minutes until golden brown.
6. Place on paper towel to blot off excess oil. Cook next Chebureki.
7. Enjoy! (Careful! They’re hot!)

Note: I’m not sure how well these freeze yet. I saved 2 1/2 tonight and froze them. I’ll try baking them in the oven to re-heat them soon and see how they turn out!

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!

Honey Mustard Chicken with Rosemary

Tonight was one of those nights where I didn’t put a lot of thought into chicken.
OK, let’s face it, most nights I don’t and we end up eating sandwiches or hot dogs or some other from a box meal.

I had planned on getting to the grocery store yesterday to pick up some veggies and what not to try out another recipe from Pinterest or one of my many cookbooks (that I’ve barely glanced at in the almost 6 years of my marriage….)

Yeah… that didn’t happen. I went to get my oil changed on Thursday. While I was there they mentioned that my two front tires were looking pretty worn and would need them replaced soon. They gave me a quote and basically said that I was welcome to shop around but I knew where to find them. They were going to rotate my tires but returned a bit later with the bad news that when one of the tires was last put on, whoever did it, (Tires Plus I’m pretty sure…. ) misthread the screw or some other car talk, which basically meant that if they tried to force it off they could strip the screw, or worse – break it completely. So they didn’t.

So, Friday I needed to pick up a baby shower gift because we were supposed to get hit with a snowstorm on Saturday so I couldn’t do it any other time. I packed the kids in the car, we drove to Target, we did our shopping, I loaded everything and everyone in the car and we started to drive. We made it to the neighboring parking lot and the car was sounding strange so I pulled into the neighboring credit union’s parking lot and alas, flat. Completely flat. No question about it.

I call my husband, who had just gotten home from his new  job and was getting ready to head to work at his old job (he’s doing the two job thing right now, poor guy.) He eventually called into work to let them know he’d make it when he could and made his way over to me. Tried to get the car jacked up and…. it tilts. So he assumes he has it in the wrong spot and takes it down and tried again. Now it falls completely. And all while he’s trying we’re watching pieces of the frame of my car crumble. It’s a 1995 so that’s not too surprising, but it was not a pretty site. Sorry credit union parking lot! We didn’t mean to leave you all of those presents!!!

In the end, he carefully drove it back to the Target lot where I obtained permission from the manager to have it left in the lot as long as all weekend until we could get it figured out. Finally today, using a higher quality jack from my dad, my hubby was able to jack the car up and get the spare tire on. We loaded the kids in his car, went and picked up the car and drove it home. I’m not driving it, especially in the bad snow that started today, until I get a “real” tire on it! But that’s a job hopefully for tomorrow.
So, long story short, I couldn’t drive because my car had a flat.

Sooooo when it came to dinner tonight I had to figure out what I could throw together that wouldn’t take many ingredients. I flipped through my Betty Crocker 4 Ingredient Meals cookbook (which is misleading, because some do require more than 4… and some less!) and they had grilled honey mustard chicken in there. We don’t have much honey left… but we do have honey mustard! So I simply stuck the chicken breasts on the grill pan on my stove top. I used a basting brush to brush on the honey mustard on both sides, then let it sit for a few minutes. I took that time to do a quick internet search to find out what herbs/spices went well with honey mustard – we bought a spice rack a while back and really only use about 3 kinds that are in there! I found a recipe that used both honey mustard and rosemary so that was it. I just sprinkled some rosemary over the honey mustard mixture, flipped and sprinkled again. I didn’t taste much of it, so I probably should have used more. But it didn’t deter from the taste at all!

This was the end result:

Honey Mustard Chicken

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken

Mmm…. on a burger bun with onion, ketchup and more honey mustard! We served this with mashed potatoes because The Big One insisted on mashed potatoes with dinner tonight.

So easy. And yummy. And amazingly I managed to pretty much cook it to perfection – it was not dry at all!

Step 1. Place chicken on grill (or grill pan on stove top.)

Step 2. Baste chicken with honey mustard, sprinkle with rosemary. Flip over and baste/sprinkle the other side.

Step 3. Cook chicken, flipping every few minutes. Cook until juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink in the middle. Tip: Cut into the fattest part of each chicken breast to ensure it’s cooked all the way through.

Step 4. Enjoy!

Oh! And to add, my picky daughter loved this! The baby, who is not so picky, loved it as well.

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!