freezer · Meal planning · organization · refrigerator contents

What’s In My Fridge?

fridge 3

After returning home from vacation, I went to the grocery store for a few things like fresh veggies and fruits, milk and eggs.  Other than that, my freezer and pantry had what I needed to get through a week of meals.  Bulk shopping when things go on sale keeps me from having to buy a long list of items every single week.  I love that!

I thought I would give you a peek inside my refrigerator and small freezer so you can see the standard things that are in there and how I organize it all.   Continue reading “What’s In My Fridge?”

Chicken · Fast meal · freezer · main dish

Getting the Most Out of a Deli-Purchased Chicken

chicken-pot-pie-3

When was the last time you went to the grocery store or Sam’s Club and picked up one of these rotisserie chickens from their deli? Recently a friend brought one to me at a busy time and it was such a blessing!

Image result for deli rotisserie chicken

They are usually about $5 and are a great easy, delicious meal straight from the container. You might slice the meat and serve:

Potato Salad
Green Beans
Salad

It’s a wonderful busy night dinner.

However, if there are only two or three, you’ll have leftovers, but probably not enough to serve slices of meat again.  What do you do with the remains without wasting it?  I have a couple of ideas to help you get the most out of that $5 bird! Last week when I had that chicken, here is all the ways that it provided for us –

Chicken Salad – If you have enough white meat left, you could mix up the ingredients for lunch tomorrow!  This made for a delicious lunch!
Add:

  • White meat Cubes
  • Grapes
  • Pecans
  • Celery
  • Dressing – I mix together
    • Mayo
    • A little sour cream
    • Cinnamon

Served on bread or crackers, it totally transforms a rotisserie chicken into a whole new meal.

Chicken Pot Pie – You can use white meat, dark meat or a combination of both. It only takes 1 1/2 Cups of chicken – or you could use 1 cup and add more veggies!

chicken pot pie 2

I make a low-fat version of Chicken Pot pie that is equal to any high fat version!

Don’t be afraid to alter the vegetables to what your family likes.  Changing that will not change its deliciousness!

Crust:
1 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
4-5 Tbl cold water

Mix dry ingredients.  Use a pastry cutter or fork and cut in shortening until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Add water, 1 tbl at a time, until all dough is moistened.  Form dough into ball.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten the ball of dough with hands.  Roll dough into a 13 x 8 1/2 inch rectangle.  Cover pastry and set aside.

Filling:

1 cup slices fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 12 oz. can evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (or more) chicken broth
1 tsp instant chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp dried sage, marjoram, or thyme (thyme is my favorite!)
1/8 tsp pepper
1 10-oz package frozen peas & carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken

Spray a cold medium saucepan with nonstick coating.  Add mushroom and onion.  cook and stir over medium heat about 4 minutes or till the onion is tender but not brown.

Meanwhile reserve 1 tbl of the milk. Set aside.  In a small mixing bowl gradually stir the remaining milk into the flour till smooth.  Stir into vegetable mixture in the saucepan.  Stir in the water, bouillon granules, sage, marjoram or thyme: and pepper.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Stir int he frozen peas and carrots and chicken.

Transfer mixture to a 12 x 7 1/2 x 2 inch baking dish.  Place pastry over chicken mixture.  Fold under edges.  Crimp edges of pastry with a fork.  Brush pastry with reserved milk.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or till the chicken mixture is heated through and the pastry is golden brown.  Makes 5 servings.

Chicken pot pie 3

This pie is so good, friends!  You could even assemble it and pop it into the freezer for another day!

Now, at this point I had stripped most all of the meat off the carcass.  Was it ready for the garbage?  No!  DON’T THROW THAT CARCASS IN THE TRASH CAN YET!!  There’s one more GREAT WAY to use that chicken!

Chicken Stock – No need to purchase cans or boxes of this in the store if you have a chicken carcass in your fridge!

Here’s the recipe and method I use to make chicken stock. Let me add one more thought – I have learned that it’s even easier to make it in the crock pot so I don’t have to babysit it.  I do the very same thing, only pop it into the crock pot and cook it all day long.  The house smells amazing and I have about 8-10 cups of chicken stock when it’s finished! Look how rich that broth is!

chicken broth

I pour it into small baggies, then put them in a large Ziplock bag and freeze them.

You could also just cube the meat off and freeze it in small freezer bags ready for soup, enchiladas or quesadillas, 

The possibilities are endless, and also so convenient because the chicken is already cooked.  You know, you might even consider buying TWO rotisserie chickens just so you can make so many great meals so easily!

When was the last time you enjoyed a rotisserie chicken?  What else do you do with yours?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Crock Pot · Dinner · freezer

Making Frozen Leftovers Tonight’s Supper – The Easy Way!

Leftover collage

What, oh what would I do without my freezer?  I’ve said it before, but my freezer is my best friend…well, you know what I mean.

It’s there for me!

It has supper waiting!

It has gifts inside, both for me and many other friends!

Isn’t that a great friend?!

I’ve always put leftovers in my freezer, but I’ve not always stored them in the best way, or in a way that was easy to reheat them.  But I have two new tricks using frozen leftovers that have worked for me and I want to pass them along to you!

  1. Slow-Cook leftovers from a frozen state.
    Last Sunday I went to the freezer before heading to church and I pulled out a container with a yummy casserole, Countryside Chicken Bake, full of great things, aside from the chicken, like Cream of Mushroom Soup, sour cream, rice, and carrots (or peas, if you prefer).  I had marked the container saying, Countryside Chicken Bake, Two Servings.  Knowing that would be perfect for our Sunday dinner, I took it in its frozen state and put it directly into my slow cooker, adding about 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth to keep it moist .  I put the crock pot on High for one hour, low for 3 hours.  I think going slow and making sure there is plenty of liquid is the best way to reheat so you’ll have a good outcome.
    When we came home from church, it was hot, juicy, tender and ready to eat!  That is a freezer win!!

    Countryside Chicken bake
    Does this look like leftovers to you?  I don’t think so!!

    countryside chicken bake 2.jpg

  2. Put small amounts of chili, soups or stew into muffins tins for individual servings.
    I love this so much!  You know how the last half of the chili doesn’t look too appealing after eating it two days in a row?  This makes it a cinch to store and reheat for dinner another day when you’ll be glad to see it again!

    I had leftover Taco Soup last week with just a little left over.  I used the large muffin tins, but regular sized one will work, too.  Fill them up, cover with syran wrap and freeze for a couple hours or overnight until frozen solid.
    Then run warm water on the bottom of the tin and then pop them onto a tray.
    Store the frozen soup “pucks” in freezer bags, labeled with the soup name.
    soup collage.jpg
    When you need lunch or supper, pop the frozen soup into a microwave container and warm it up!  You could do one serving or six, depending on your needs (and the amount of leftovers, of course!). At one time this winter I had three different soups in the freezer.  It made for a really easy lunch, which seems to be the hardest meal for me!
    Image result for taco soup
    Leftovers don’t have to have a bad name!  They can be reused at a later time and used in a way that will make a busy day much less stressful if you store and reheat properly.

    If you try these tips I bet your freezer will become your best friend, too!

One more thing that I love about my freezer is freezing breads that are ready to bake, like these rolls or these muffins!  They’re super good and so handy to have on hand!

Happy freezing!

Denise Signature 150 px

Dinner · freezer · Low Carb · main dish · Main entree

A Healthier Pizza Recipe

pizza 5

If you included weight loss in any of your New Year Goals, you will be really happy to try this recipe!  This Deconstructed Pizza Casserole is low carb but highly delicious! If you’re hungry for pizza, but don’t want all the calories and carbohydrates, this will come in a close second to the real thing!  I added a green salad and it was a perfect Saturday night supper that almost felt like, “Pizza Night!”

Here’s the easy recipe and my tweaks:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (do not use petite dice)
  • 5 links (19.5 oz.) uncooked turkey Italian sausage
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • 8-12 oz. fresh mushrooms, washed and cut into thick slices (I used brown Cremini mushrooms.) To wash, wet a paper towel and wipe the mushrooms.  Don’t rinse under water!
  • 1/2 Red onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella)
  • Pepperoni slices (I used Turkey Pepperoni, but you can use regular, if you prefer.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 8 inch x 11 inch glass casserole dish with non-stick spray or olive oil.
  2. Pour the diced tomatoes into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with cold water. Let tomatoes drain a minute or two, then spread them out on paper towels to dry (or blot dry with another paper towel on top.)
  3. Remove the sausage out of the casing, and cook over medium-high heat until it’s nicely browned, breaking it apart as it cooks.
  4. While sausage cooks, clean mushrooms and slice into thick slices.
  5. When the sausage is done make a layer of sausage in the bottom of the casserole dish and top with the drained tomatoes and red onions, spreading  out over the top of the sausage. Season with dried oregano, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper.
  6. Rinse out the pan if needed, then heat 2 tsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the mushrooms and cook, stirring a few times, until all the liquid is released and the mushrooms are starting to brown. Layer the mushrooms over the sausage-tomato mixture.

    Pizza cass 2
    I divided the mixture between two dishes, since it was just the two of us!  One went into the freezer for another day.
  7. Sprinkle the grated Mozzarella over the top of the casserole and lay the pepperoni pieces on top of the cheese, spacing them evenly so the whole top is covered with pepperoni.
    pizza cass 4
  8. Bake about 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve hot.

pizza 6

 

With yummy dishes like this, you could cut carbs and not feel like you’re missing your favorite pizza!

Hope you’ll give this a try!!  It’s super-good!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Fast meal · freezer · Main dish.

Hamburger Casserole – Better Than the Boxed Version!

hamburger cass 2a

I plan for my weekly meals but there are times when life happens and it’s getting to be near supper time and I realize that I don’t have any clue what we’re going to eat in an hour!  Every find yourself there?

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago.  I’d been helping with some projects at my daughter’s house, and didn’t think I’d be gone as long as I was.  When I got home, my wheels were turning as to what I could whip together for supper in a hurry.  I knew what basic ingredients I had on hand, so I set to finding a recipe that would include something with those staples.

I opened one of my old cookbooks and came across this great Hamburger Casserole that I hadn’t made in years.  I only made one tweak, due to not having something the recipe called for, but it was a great substitute.  My husband raved and raved about how good this was!  Bless him!  It really reminded me of the Hamburger Helper Casserole you buy in the store, only this was waaaay better!

Also, Kroger had offered for their Free Friday Download a bag of Barilla’s noodles that are pre-cooked.  All you do is steam them in the microwave for about 3 minutes!  Having those on hand really sped up this supper meal!  I will definitely be keeping those on hand for a fast dinner!

68709-1351453076.jpeg

Here’s the recipe:

Hamburger-Sour Cream Casserole

1 lb hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 12 oz. can corn, drained – (I used frozen)
3 cups cooked noodles
1 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 3 oz. can chow mein noodles – (I used buttered Panko crumbs instead and think I’ll always use those!)

In a skillet combine meat, onions, and pepper and brown slowly; drain fat.  Add all ingredients except chow mein noodles.  Place in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and top with chow mein noodles.  Bake, uncovered for 25-3- minutes at 350 degrees.  Freezes well, but do not put chow mein noodles on top until ready to bake.

hamburger cass 2

I added cottage cheese with home canned peaches on top as a side, and it was a satisfying meal – even without planning ahead!

It’s wise if you can, to always keep staple items on hand for days like this.  That might include:

  • Ground beef
  • Cooked chicken breast
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Cream soups
  • Canned Salmon and Tuna
  • Bread crumbs – I love Panko for crunch
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned fruits

hamburger cass 3

This recipe is a keeper.  Men usually go for dishes like this.  Why don’t you try it out on your fella soon?

What do you try to keep on hand for quick meals?

Denise Signature 150 px

baking · Cookies · dessert · freezer · Uncategorized

For the Love of the Best Cookie

How could you even have a bad day on an afternoon when you bite into a Snickerdoodle? The name alone makes me smile!  In case you’re somehow not sure what a Snickerdoodle is, it’s not a type of dog, rather it is a cookie drenched in a cinnamon/sugar bath and baked to a soft, sweet perfection!

I introduce you to The Snickerdoodle…

0728171936

It amazes me to find that some of my favorite recipes of all times have escaped being posted here on my blog!  I went to search for this family-favorite cookie recipe here in my recipe index and was amazed that it was absent!  In order to fix that, I baked up a batch of cookies, snapped away at pictures, and ate a couple cookies in the process, then froze the rest for upcoming company!  They’re safer in the freezer!

I love this recipe because it’s very quick to whip up, but the cookie isn’t like some mediocre recipe.  This is a Ten!  No kidding.  It makes 3.5 dozen normal size cookies and good luck at eating only one.  You might want to double the batch – which work just fine!  They do freeze well, if you don’t trust yourself with a whole pile of cinnamon/sugar heaven sitting under your nose!

Here’s the simple and wonderful recipe:

Snickerdoodles
Ingredients
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbl. sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon

Directions
Cream together shortening, sugar, and eggs.  Sift together and stir in flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt.  Shape dough into balls the size of walnuts.  Roll each in mixture of the sugar and cinnamon.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 7-9 minutes at 375 degrees or until LIGHTLY browned.

I bake mine for exactly 7 minutes and then let them sit in the pan a few minutes to cool before putting them on the cooking rack.  They may seem a little underdone, but I think they’re best when they’re soft in the middle.

Do someone a sweet favor and bake up a batch to share!

0728171935b

Just curious, what’s your favorite cookie?  

With love from my country kitchen,

8e63c63ac0bc189bf1c68b03c74dbb5f (1)