Category Archives: OAMC

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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Make-Ahead Pumpkin Puree

Whenever canned pumpkin is called for in a recipe, just substitute this homemade puree that you’ve frozen ahead.¬† It’s almost like having fresh pumpkin anytime of year!¬† And who says you can’t have pumpkin pie in February?¬† ūüôā

Make-Ahead Pumpkin Puree

  • 2¬† 3-pound pie pumpkins

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut pumpkin in to 5-inch square pieces.  Remove seeds and stringy pulp.  Arrange pieces of pumkin in a single layer (skin side up) on a foil-lined baking pan or cookie sheet.

2)  Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender.  Allow to cool.

3) Scrape pumpkin “meat” from rind and place in a large bowl or the food processor.¬† Using a hand mixer or the food processor, beat to a smooth pulp.

4) Transfer to freezer bags.  Label and freeze.  Thaw in refrigerator to use.

Makes 5 cups pumpkin puree.

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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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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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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Here’s my family’s favorite old-fashioned baked macaroni-and-cheese recipe. It’s so much better than those boxes with dry “cheese” powder from the store, believe me!

 
Baked Macaroni and Cheese (makes 6 servings)
 

  • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

  • dash pepper

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion

  • 8-ounces American or Cheddar cheese, cubed

 
Cook macaroni in boiling water until just tender; drain. In saucepan, melt butter; blend in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk; cook and stir till thick and bubbly. Add onion and cheese cubes; stir until melted. Mix cheese sauce with macaroni. Turn into 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until heated through. (This is really good with a thinly sliced, lightly salted tomato added to the top of the macaroni before baking.)
 
¬†If I’m making this ahead of time for freezing, I always freeze before baking. I either pour the noodle/cheese mixture into a freezer bag or place it into the casserole dish and freeze like that. Thaw completely. Bake as usual.

 
 
 

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“Use-It-Up” Quiche Recipe

Basic “Use-It-Up” Quiche Recipe
(Serves 6)

You can use almost any leftover vegetable or meat in this recipe. If you have eggs, milk, rice and cheese, you can practically clean out your fridge right into your quiche pan. I always add the cheese last when making this quiche. The cheese makes a beautiful mellow-brown crust on the top. I usually add a bit of chopped onion to my quiches for flavor, and broccoli makes an especially nice vegetable quiche.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rice, cooked (white or brown)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb any leftover vegetable, chopped (single vegetable or a mix)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, or light cream
  • 1 cup cheese, grated (your choice: Swiss, Cheddar, Jack, etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Dash nutmeg, or ground mace

Crust Directions:

  1. Mix together cooked rice, egg and soy sauce.
  2. Spread evenly to cover well- buttered quiche pan or pie plate.
  3. Bake rice crust at 350 F for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.

Filling Directions:

  1. Place chopped vegetable in bottom of crust.
  2. Mix together: eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour over broccoli.
  3. Top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until set.
  4. Remove from oven, and let sit ten minutes before slicing, if serving fresh; or wrap pie pan, label and freeze.
  5. Quiche can be served cold after thawing for a yummy hot weather treat; or heat the thawed quiche at 350 F for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

~Debi

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Meatball Mania: A Simple, Inexpensive Mealtime Solution

Cooking up a large batch of meatballs in advance to store in the freezer goes a long way toward establishing a supply of quick and easy meals. And if you take advantage of sales on ground beef and stock up, this can be a tremendous boon to your family budget too!

In addition to stirring meatballs into spaghetti sauce, you can also use them in soups, serve them on skewers (kids love this!), or heat in brown gravy or a warmed can of cream of mushroom soup served with mashed potatoes.

The following recipes prepare a large batch of freezer meatballs and also include examples of ways to use frozen meatballs. The sauces require some preparation, but the meals go together quickly with your stockpile of precooked meatballs in the freezer.  This recipe is adapted with permission from my book, Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month.

MILLIONS OF MEATBALLS (this makes a lot — at least four dozen, depending on size)

  • 12-ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoons salt, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
  • 4 pounds ground beef

In a large mixing bowl, combine first eight ingredients. Add ground beef and mix well. Shape into meatballs (use a small cookie scoop if available) and place on broiler pan so grease can drain while cooking. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Divide into meal-sized portions. To prevent from freezing into a solid meatball-mass, freeze individually on cookie sheets and then place in freezer bags. Label and freeze.

To serve meatballs, thaw completely, and reheat with your choice of sauces (six sample sauce recipes follow):

SWEET-N-SOUR MEATBALLS (5 servings)

  • 1 (14-oz) can pineapple tidbits or chunks, undrained
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1 family meal-sized portion of freezer meatballs
  • 1 (5-oz) can water chestnuts, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, cut in strips

Drain pineapple tidbits, reserving syrup. In medium saucepan, combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Blend in reserved syrup, water, cider vinegar and soy sauce. Cook and stir over low heat until thick and bubbly. Carefully stir in meatballs, water chestnuts, green pepper strips and pineapple. Heat to a boiling. Serve over hot cooked rice.

CHILI-DAY MEATBALLS (5 servings)

This recipe sounds a little strange (chili sauce and grape jelly?!), but it tastes like burgundy sauce (only it’s made without the wine)

  • 1 (12-oz) jar chili sauce (found near catsup and tartar sauce in the store)
  • 11-oz. jar grape jelly
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cube beef bouillon dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • 1 family meal-sized portion of freezer meatballs

Whisk together chili sauce, grape jelly, lemon juice and bouillon, breaking up all clumps. Simmer on low heat until sauce starts to thicken. Add freezer meatballs; cook in sauce until meatballs are fully thawed and heated through. Serve over hot cooked noodles or rice.

MEATBALL SANDWICHES (6 servings)

  • 1 family meal-sized portion of freezer meatballs (approximately 4-5 meatballs per person)
  • 6 hot dog buns (or hoagie rolls)
  • 6 thin slices mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups prepared spaghetti sauce

Thaw meatballs and spaghetti sauce (if using frozen). Place both in medium saucepan. Heat until hot. Place meatballs into warmed buns. Ladle small amount of spaghetti sauce onto each sandwich; place mozzarella slice onto each sandwich.

 

TOMATO-SAUCED MEATBALLS (5 servings)

  • 1 (10 3/4-oz) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 family meal-sized portion of freezer meatballs

Mix together soup, water and Worcestershire sauce. Place meatballs in a medium sized saucepan; pour soup mixture over meatballs. Simmer until meatballs are heated through. Serve over hot cooked rice.

 

MEATBALL STROGANOFF (5 servings)

  • 1 (10 3/4-oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced and cooked in butter until soft
  • 1 family meal-sized portion of freezer meatballs

In medium saucepan, mix together mushroom soup and sour cream. Gently stir in mushrooms and meatballs. Simmer until meatballs are heated through. Serve over hot cooked rice or over egg noodles tossed with melted butter and chopped parsley.

 

CATALINA MEATBALLS (5 servings)

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 bottle Catalina salad dressing
  • 1 family meal-sized portion of freezer meatballs

Saute’ onion slices in olive oil until softened. Place frozen meatballs in medium skillet. Pour dressing over meatballs. Cover skillet and cook over low heat until dressing caramelizes on meatballs and onion, and the meatballs are fully thawed and heated through. Serve over rice.

 
~Debi

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer and mother of three) is the author of several popular books including Frugal Living for Dummies, and Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month. To subscribe to her free email newsletter, Simple Times, send an email to: subscribe-simple-times@hub.thedollarstretcher.com Visit Debi online and read more articles dealing with simple living, frugality, parenting and much more: http://thesimplemom.wordpress.com/

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