Category Archives: meals

Debi’s Favorite Easter Recipe: Make-Ahead Chicken Packets


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


It was truly a sad day in our house when three of the four of us could no longer eat this particular meal. This recipe had become my go-to meal for Easter brunch — they’re actually quite elegant looking and they taste heavenly.

But sadly, now I’m the only person in our immediate family who can eat this anymore. I think I might make up a batch of them just for myself, however. It’s also a great way to use up leftover roasted chicken. ūüôā

Serve this with steamed asparagus and a fresh tossed salad. Yum! Continue reading

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Debi’s Baked Ziti


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


This is one of those recipes my family can never get enough. I remember my youngest daughter when she was about three, holding out her plate with a huge smile and asking in a sweet little voice, “More yummy noodles, Mommy?” Always a pleasure when the kiddos enjoy an easy meal the grown-up folks love, too. Continue reading

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It’s National Frozen Foods Month! Come celebrate with me!

To celebrate National Frozen Foods Month, I’m going to be posting at least one freezer-related article, link, resource, or tip everyday throughout March on my Facebook Fan Page. Just “like” the page while you’re there so you’ll get the latest daily updates.

Click here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Simple-Mom/203857025823

Be sure to tell your freezer-cooking, convenience-loving, and money-saving friends!

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Filed under appetizers, breakfast, budget meals, casseroles, dinner, entertaining, freezer, kitchen ideas, leftovers, lunch, meal planning, meals, mothers

Debi’s Hacienda Breakfast Sandwich

In a hurry for breakfast but have a few minutes to scramble an egg? With no more effort, you can make this simple breakfast sandwich (or substitute the English Muffin for a corn tortilla for a gluten-free burrito option).

This recipe is for a single serving, but simply multiply each ingredient by the number of people you’re feeding. It doesn’t take much longer to scramble one egg for yourself or four for the family.

And making a breakfast sandwich at home is so much cheaper than buying one on the way to work at the local drive-thru.  Tastes better, too.

Enjoy!¬† ūüėÄ Continue reading

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Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month (42% off!)

Not sure how long this special deal/sale will last, but I thought I’d let you all know that the original Frozen Assets book is currently discounted by 42% on Amazon! That’s actually more of a discount than what I get when I order these books myself directly from my publisher. Seriously!

Frozen Assets – 42% off at Amazon.com

So if you’ve been meaning to order your own copy of Frozen Assets, this is definitely the time to do it.

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Super Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (12-ounce) frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries

Instructions:

Heat apple juice in a medium saucepan until boiling (don’t add water, just use the frozen juice straight from the can).¬† Sort out any bad cranberries, then add the entire bag to the boiling apple juice.¬† Stir.¬† Reduce heat to Medium.¬† Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries “pop” and their innards burst out into the juice.¬† Turn off heat.¬† Press any unpopped cranberries against side of saucepan to squeeze out their insides.¬† Stir thoroughly.¬† Place in refrigerator for several hours.¬† The sauce will thicken as it cools.¬† It’s best to make this the day before to make sure it has plenty of time to cool and thicken.

Easy peasy.  And so yummy!  (And healthy, too!)

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Beating the Breakfast Rush Hour

Wow.¬† It’s September again.¬† School’s starting up and life’s getting back into it’s normal — but incredibly busy — routine.
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For many families, morning is a hectic and hurried time. Frequently parents feel fortunate just to get everyone out the door fully dressed each day. Serve a hot cooked breakfast every morning? Not a chance.
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Breakfast (if it’s served at all) often consists of grabbing a toaster pastry and a quick glass of juice as the family runs out the door racing headlong to work and school.
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I’ve discovered that taking an hour or two on an occasional weekend to prepare breakfast items for the freezer, takes much of the insanity out of the weekday morning rush.
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Waffles, Pancakes, French Toast
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To prepare waffles, pancakes and French toast for freezing, cook until lightly browned. Don’t overcook. Then freeze individually in a single layer on a cookie sheet or flat pan.
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When frozen solid, stack together in a freezer bag. By freezing these items separately, they won’t stick together. You can remove only the amount needed for today’s meal whether it’s one waffle or a dozen.
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To reheat, just pop them (still frozen) into the toaster on the pastry setting (low) just like you would do with the boxed frozen waffles from the store. Heating in a toaster keeps them firm, rather than limp and soggy which often happens when these breakfast items are reheated in the microwave.
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Muffins and Quickbreads
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Make muffins and quickbreads ahead of time to serve for easy breakfasts. Just bake your favorite recipes as usual, cool completely, wrap in foil, label, and freeze.
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You can also wrap individual muffins in plastic wrap and then place the wrapped muffins into large zip-top freezer bags. Muffins can be easily reheated in the microwave. Serve with fresh fruit and juice for a delicious and easy breakfast.
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Recipe: Debi’s Breakfast Burritos
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To get you started on the road toward simple breakfasts, here’s a recipe for easy Breakfast Burritos … definitely one my family’s all-time favorite make-ahead meals. Recipe reprinted with permission from my book, Frozen Assets:¬† Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month.
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound bulk sausage, cooked (or crumbled links)
  • 1/2 cup chunky salsa (your choice of heat)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 24 small¬†flour tortillas (you can also use whole wheat)
 
Scramble eggs in large skillet until done; stir in cooked sausage and salsa. Warm tortillas in microwave 20 – 30 seconds or until warm and flexible. Place 1/3 cup egg mixture into tortilla; roll burrito-style.
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Freeze burritos in single layer on lightly greased cookie sheet. When fully frozen, wrap burritos individually; place wrapped burritos in large zip-top freezer bags; freeze.
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To serve, unwrap burritos from foil or plastic wrap that you used for freezing. Wrap in a paper towel. Cook in microwave until heated through (about 2 minutes). Or thaw burritos (remove plastic wrap if used in freezing), wrap burritos in foil, and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.
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Optional Ingredients:
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • 6 potatoes, shredded and fried until cooked through (or use hashbrowns)
  • Jalapeno slices
  • Small can chopped green chiles
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced with tops

¬†This recipe makes about 24 breakfast burritos but it will depend on how generous you want to be with each burrito’s filling¬†— I tend to add lots of the “extras” listed at the end of the article so that’s probably how I usually¬†get the full two dozen … so your mileage may vary.

I’ve even taken these frozen burritos with us when we’ve gone camping. I just place the bag of frozen burritos into the ice chest, and by the time we’re ready for breakfast the first morning, the burritos are fully thawed. Then I simply reheat them in a large skillet over the campstove or fire grate.

~Debi

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Autumn Veggie Chili

It’s that time of year when I start thinking about yummy autumn-inspired soups (I’ll be posting a recipe soon!), but this vegetarian chili recipe is a great way to use up the current crop of harvest-time veggies and still have sort of a summertime feel to the meal.¬† Enjoy!

Autumn Veggie Chili

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cans (15 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1) In large saucepan (5 quart) heat olive oil until hot.  Add carrots, parsnips and onion.  Cook until veggies are tender and beginning to brown (about 6 to 8 minutes).  Stir occassionally.

2) On large plate, mash 1 cup of the drained beans with the back of a fork or a potato masher.¬† The mashed beans help to thicken the sauce so it seems more “meatlike.”

3)  Stir chili powder into veggies.  Add tomatoes and their juice, all beans (whole and mashed), and 2 cups of water.  Heat to boiling, breaking up tomatoes with stirring spoon as its heating.  Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occassionally.  Stir in cilantro leaves just before serving.

Makes four servings.

Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for more people or for freezing ahead.  Feel free to experiment with other fresh and in-season veggies:  Zucchini, green pepper, potatoes, yams.  Yum!

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Never a dull moment food-wise around our house …

Just when I thought things couldn’t get anymore complicated (food allergies, special diets, Celiac, etc.), my son and I both developed an inability to digest meats (beef for me, anything flesh-related for him).

So now in order to make a meal to feed all four of us, it needs to meet the following criteria:

  • Gluten-free (essentially only rice noodles and rice bread)
  • Sugar-free (no honey or fructose, either)
  • Aspartame-free (no Nutrasweet)
  • Vegetarian (or at least beef-free, but then my son needs something else to eat)
  • Peanut-free
  • Mushroom-free (including mushroom soup)
  • Carrot-free
  • Apple-free
  • Light on the eggs (can be an ingredient, but not the main thing such as in omelettes or scrambled eggs)
  • Mint-free (not usually much of an issue except with teas and desserts)
  • Green tea – free

I think that’s all.¬† LOL!¬† ūüėé

I’ve decided to try to figure out a list of menus I can prepare that we can all eat so I’m not preparing separate meals for our various special diets.¬† Any suggestions of cheap eats that meet the above requirements?

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All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix

One of the easiest ways to save money on your family’s grocery bill is by purchasing foods in bulk when they go on sale. When ground meat goes on sale, rather than just stocking up to store in the freezer “as is,” many cooks find it helpful to prepare meat mixes for using later in their favorite family recipes.

By preparing this recipe for All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix, you’ll be ready to fix any number of tasty ground meat recipes without needing to brown the meat, onions and spices each time you cook. Not only will this technique save you money, it saves time too.

The following recipe is from the book Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month by Deborah Taylor-Hough (SourceBooks).

All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix
(Makes about 12 cups)

This is a basic ground meat mix that can be used in many casseroles and recipes.

5 pounds ground meat (beef or turkey)
2 cups celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Brown meat in a large pot. Drain. Stir in celery, garlic, onion, green pepper, salt and pepper; cover and simmer about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender but not soft. You can use this mixture immediately during your cooking session or freeze in two-cup portions for later use.

Suggested Uses (be creative):

Tacos:
Add one package taco seasoning to two cups All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix (follow package directions for amount of water). Freeze. To serve: thaw and heat taco mixture; prepare tacos as you would normally.

Taco Potatoes:
Follow instructions for taco mixture (above), but serve the mixture over baked potatoes instead of tortillas or taco shells. Top with grated cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, sliced green onions, sliced black olives and salsa.

Easy Taco Salads:
Follow instructions for taco mixture; place a layer of corn chips or tortilla chips on plate; spoon taco mixture over chips; add layer of shredded lettuce; add diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, sliced black olives, sour cream and salsa.

Sloppy Joes:
In a large skillet, place two cups Ground Meat Mix, one (10 3/4 ounce) can tomato soup, two tablespoons brown sugar, and one teaspoon prepared mustard. Stir. Cover and simmer ten minutes. Serve ladled onto hamburger buns.

The All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix can also be used for: stuffed peppers, chili, spaghetti, and baked ziti (further recipes can be found in the Frozen Assets book).


Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To subscribe, visit Debi online at: thesimplemom.wordpress.com

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