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.

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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!

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!

Success!

Guess what!!!!
Today I made meatloaf and it was edible!!!

I’m swamped right now with my publishing company tasks (currently editing a book, not my typical job!) and I’ve got a garage sale coming up on Thursday so we’re trying to get everything ready for that as well.

I was just so proud of my edible (and pretty good if I do say so myself!) meatloaf that I had to stop in and brag. 😉  I’ll post about it later, I’ve got some pix and I’ll share the recipe!

Blackberry Puree

I’ve been a bad blogger!
I wish I could say this was a busy week, but I honestly can’t remember what happened this past week!!!!

Today was an exciting day. Allison and I started swim lessons! They’re parent/child lessons which is perfect for her because she is terrified of the water!!! I really don’t get it, because shes been exposed to my in-law’s pool since birth! I suppose a couple months a year is not enough for a kid like her.

The swim lessons are 3o minutes long. The first 10 minutes were rough and consisted of her clinging to me for dear life and chanting “I want to get out! I want to get out!” but I didn’t let her out and soon enough she was cautiously doing what she was supposed to. I think her favorite part was when the instructor threw a GIANT ball and each kid had to “swim” to get it (parent held child while child did doggy paddle and kicked feet) – Allison had her own modified version of this. She cling to me for dear life with one arm while the other doggy paddled and her feet kicked. But you know what? I’m happy about it! It’s an improvement to what she’s been doing in the past! I’m so proud of her! She got two stickers for her sticker chart. (FYI – this sticker chart was a failed attempt to encourage potty training!!! In the end it’s become a “I ate all my food, I get a sticker now!” kind of chart! Oh well….)

Aside from swim lessons, my big mission of the day is cooking up the fruit and veggies I bought at Aldi the other day to make baby food! Up first was Blackberries. Wow…. Yuck! I guess I can’t recall if I’ve ever had blackberries before but they are not good! Very bitter, even after adding syrup as the recipe I found instructs! I plan on mixing 1 part blackberries with 2 parts of apples or pears!

The recipe I used was from www.eco-inspired-organics.com

After washing the berries I loaded them into my Magic Bullet. I used the flat blade because I can't find the cross blade. It worked great though!

Now the berries are mushed!

The next step is to remove the seeds. The directions called for a strainer... this was the only thing I had that seemed like it would do the trick! Just smear the blackberry goop over the strainer with a rubber spatula.....

(close up of the blackberry goop on the strainer!)

This is what the bottom of the strainer looked like - No seeds! I took a clean spatula and scraped the goop into a bowl.

Here's my seedless blackberry mush!

Because blackberries are not that great tasting, the recipe said to add syrup to add some sweetness. I tried natural maple syrup (in this pic) but it didn't really improve the flavor, so I added some regular store-bought syrup. Still didn't really help.... I plan on mixing this with some other fruit when the time comes to feed this to Miranda!

Ta-da! Into the freezer tray!
All that work for 7oz? Not sure it was worth it! We'll see how Miranda likes it when the time comes but I'm pretty sure I will not be making this again!

And now I have Butternut Squash cooking in the oven so that I can prep that for babyfood. Miranda loves squash! Unfortunately the shell was extremely hard and even my impressive Cutco knife had trouble getting through and I ended up stabbing myself in the palm of my hand (ouch!) so hopefully I’ll have no more knife mishaps!!!