Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Make Ahead Black and Pinto Beans

I really love these beans. I've been making them for years. In fact, they're so easy to make, we never eat refried beans from a can. These are just too delicious that I can't go back to canned beans. These are the perfect topping to nachos, or the perfect side to any Mexican meal. We also love to eat bean burritos. Tonight we ate them with our leftover pork tacos :)

The Ingredients
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
2/3 cup chicken broth
one onion, chopped
one garlic clove, minced
one green chile (optional)
cilantro (optional)
2 Tablespoons olive oil

At Ten O'Clock
Rinse, drain and mash beans. Saute onion, garlic, and chile in oil until tender. Add mashed beans, chicken broth and cilantro. Cook for 5 minutes until soft and pulpy. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*I never mash my beans before hand. I have one of those hand-held little immersion blenders and I just use that to mash everything together after I've sauteed my onion and garlic.

Before Serving
Re heat and enjoy!

Family Approval
I can't tell you how much my family loves these beans. They really are so delicious! The recipe calls for either pinto or black beans, but I always love to mix mine with one of both. Either way, they are yummy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Make Ahead Shredded Sweet Pork Salad

When I found this recipe, I was really excited to make it. It sounded so delicious to me. I absolutely love salads, and the creamy tomatillo dressing looked like the perfect blend with the pork. I actually looked forward to eating this all day long. I have to say, I wasn't disappointed.

The Ingredients
3 pound pork roast
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup red enchilada sauce

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing:
3 tomatillos, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package dry buttermilk ranch dressing
6 green onions with ends, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 jalapeno, sliced thin--add to taste
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
3 teaspoons sugar

*Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix well.

At Ten O'Clock
Mix Worcestershire sauce, ginger, chile powder, onions, 1 cup brown sugar, oregano, salt and garlic powder together in a mixing bowl. Place pork in crock pot. Pour sauce over roast. Cook on low all day (about 8 hours at least)

Make tomatillo dressing. Refrigerate.

Chop vegetables for salad and refrigerate. (The recipe also calls for tortilla strips, rice and beans and guacamole on the salad. I'm sure you can put whatever you want on your salad though.)

Before Serving
One hour before serving, remove roast and shred it. Dump out all cooking juices and place shredded pork back into crock pot. Add 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup enchilada sauce to shredded roast.

Assemble salad on individual plates. Top with shredded sweet pork and the creamy tomatillo dressing.

Family Approval
This pork is absolutely delicious! So yummy!! I'm just glad I made a 6 pound roast because now we can eat tacos with our shredded sweet pork of dinner tomorrow. I loved the salad, but my husband said he would prefer the pork on tacos or burritos.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Make Ahead Chicken Tortilla Soup

I really love making dinner when all I have to do is throw everything in a crock pot and let it cook until we're ready to eat. This make ahead chicken tortilla soup is so easy to put together, and most of the ingredients are items always in your kitchen. Since I got this recipe from Kaylene, I've been keeping a jar of salsa on hand as part of my staples so I know I always have a quick meal when I need one.

The Ingredients
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans chicken broth
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 Tablespoons butter to saute one minced or chopped garlic clove (This is optional. If you don't want to saute your garlic and then add it to your soup, you can just add your garlic to the crock pot without sauteing it in butter.)
1 can medium salsa, about 16 oz. (like Pace or another brand)
4 chicken breasts

At Ten O'Clock
Put everything in the crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours.

Before Serving
Remove chicken breasts. Shred chicken and return to crock pot. Top individual servings with tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sour cream.

Family Approval
You cannot go wrong with this dish. Even hours after we ate it for dinner, my husband commented on how much he liked it. My picture shows the chips on the side, but it's actually better if your break them up and serve them in the soup.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cami's Cauliflower, Chicken and Chickpea Curry Stew

I'm that girl who can't decide on her outfit the night before.  Nor can I really commit to just one outfit a day.  I'm constantly changing my clothes.  It's true.  Just ask my college roommates. 

Just as I can't be committed to a clothes shedule, I have a really difficult time following my meal plan.  Or my grocery list.  I always buy things that aren't on my grocery list. Always. It's horrible. I don't think I could stick to my grocery list to save my life.

Sometimes you just don't feel like cooking/eating/cleaning up whatever you have planned.  And you never know when inspiration is going to strike.  Some of our best dinners have come from straying from the meal plan. 

Like tonight.  A random head of cauliflower became the inspiration for this deliousious Indian style meal. 

The Ingredients
1 head cauliflower, cut into forets
1 onion, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cumin
1 lb chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 can stewed tomatoes, drained and chopped
Unsweetened coconut flakes for garnish (optional)

At Ten O'Clock
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the cauliflower and onion in a roasting pan (I just used a baking sheet).  Sprinkle with the garlic and coat with the olive oil.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

In large saucepan, bring to boil the coconut milk, broth, curry powder, cayenne pepper and cumin.  Once at a boil, add the roast cauliflower and onion.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Puree the soup in a blender until it has reached the desired consistency.  Return it to the pan. 

Meanwhile, boil the chicken in water with the bay leaf.  Cut into bite sized pieces.  Add to the pureed soup.  Add the garbanzo beans and tomatoes.  Let cool and refigerate until ready to use.  You could also keep it warm in a crockpot, or simmer it one the stove if dinner time its within an hour or so. 

Before Serving
Reheat on the stove top.  Garnish with coconut.  We ate ours over quinoa, but would be great with rice or served with bread. 

Family Approval
I was actually surprised because everyone liked it.  I loved it.  It was exactly what I wanted. 

My husband thought it was delicious and that the spices were really good, but he said he wasn't so sure about the texture of the pureed cauliflower.  He never is - he loves cauliflower, but he's the type who doesn't love "cauliflower mashed potatoes."

I, on the other hand, was actually craving mashed up cauliflower, so this soup hit the spot.  I think that if you didn't want it pureed, the cauliflower would be really good just mashed up a bit.  Or, if you want it creamier, a cup of cream would do the trick. 

My three year old liked all of it but the garbanzo beans.  And my little guy LOVED it.  He couldn't get enough. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Make Ahead Chili Cheese Freezer Sandwiches

I love the concept of freezer sandwiches.  Stuff a roll with yumminess, wrap in foil, freeze and then pop it straight into the oven from the freezer when you want to eat one. 

There are all sorts of things you could stuff one of these rolls with, but this recipe is one of my family favorites. 

These sandwiches are great to pull out of the freezer on a day you don't have time to cook, or when you need something portable. 

The Ingredients
2 package dinner rolls or small french rolls (or one bag of Costco rolls)
1 lb Monterey Jack cheese
2 (7oz) cans of diced green chilie peppers
1 small can chopped olives
Tin foil strips to wrap each sandwich in

At Ten O'Clovk
Split each roll and scoop out the insides.  I find that it's easiest to do this with your fingers.  Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, shred the Monterery Jack cheese.  Add the cans of chilie peppers and olives.  Stir to combine.

Fill the center of each roll with a heaping scoop of the cheese mixture.  Wrap each assembled roll in tin foil. 

If not using immidiately, put in the freezer. 

Before Serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If frozen, bake 30 minutes.  If not frozen, bake 20 minutes.

Family Approval
Delish!  These are so simple, yet so good.  My kids and husband could probably eat this everyday.  I too them to an impromptu family gathering once and every single adult and child loved them.  You seriously have to try these!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Make Ahead Sothwestern Chili with Cornmeal Dumplings (Crockpot Style)

I will be the first to say, that I am not usually a dumpling kind of girl. 

Don't get me wrong, I love carbs.  But I usually like my bread crusty and substantial.  Like this beer bread.  Or the bread at Italian restaurants. 

And dumplings usually just don't get crusty. 

They stay kind of slimey. 

Which a lot of people like. 

But these dumplings are nice.  The cornmeal imparts a nice texture and flavor to the whole dish.  The chili is quite spicy, so if you like things mild, feel free to cut down the spices.

The Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans mexican style stewed tomatoes
1 16 oz package frozen corn
1 7oz can chopped green chili peppers
5-6 cups chicken broth
2 heaping tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayanne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1 beaten egg white
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp cooking oil
cheddar cheese
sour cream

At Ten O'Clock
In large pan over medium high heat, brown the meat with the onion.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drain and put in crockpot. 

Add beans, tomatoes, corn, chili peppers, broth, chilli pepper, cayanne pepper, cumin and garlic powder.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. 

In small mixing bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  Cover and set aside until ready to cook the dumplings.

In a small cup or bowl, mix together the egg white, milk and cooking oil.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook the dumplings.

Before Serving
To make the dumplings, mix add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  If soup was cooked on the low heat setting, turn to high.  Drop the dumpling mixture from a rounded teaspoon to make 8 mounds on top of the soup.  Cover and cook for 30 more minutes.  Do not lift the cover while dumplings are cooking.  Stir in cilantro to taste before adding the dumplings.

Garnish with more cilantro (if desired), cheese and sour cream.

Family Approval
I liked these dumplings.  I actually liked them a lot better than other dumplings I had.  My husband LOVED the dumplings.  I didn't add cilantro, but the soup would have been better with it.  The chili was good and spicy. 

I was worried that the soup was going to be too thin and watery, but once the dumplings were added, it was a good consistency. 

My husband did say that the soup was "pretty corny."  As in had a strong corn flavor between the corn kernels in the soup and the cornmeal dumplings.  But he liked it. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Make Ahead Baked Ziti

Ok, so, I don't know about you, but I can never find ziti pasta in the store. I've made this dish with macaroni, shells, penne, but never ziti. It always turns out great, so I don't think it makes much difference which pasta you use. This time I found some really cool mini pasta rings. They are kind of like the pasta in Spaghettios. I love this dish because it only takes about 10 minutes to put together and then all you have to do is put it in the oven when you're ready to bake dinner. How great is that?!

The Ingredients

40 oz. spaghetti sauce
about 3 cups dry noodles
2 cups cottage cheese (I only had 1 1/2 cups. I added an egg and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning.)
1 pound cheese: mozzarella, cheddar, monterey jack--whatever you have. I used all three :)

At Ten O'Clock

Pour a little spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. First, put in all your dry noodles, then cottage cheese, then half the grated cheese. Pour sauce over the top and then top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Before Serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, covered, for one hour. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Family Approval
My husband loved it, and so did my kids. I loved it because it was so easy to prepare. It doesn't get much better than that: a delicious meal with only minutes of preparation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Make Ahead Frittata (aka the best frittata in existance)

This egg dish is beautiful, delicious and full of vegetables.  My mom started making it years ago, and it is one of our family's favorite recipes. 

The Ingredients
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced (I like to use red, because it looks pretty, but green works too)
1 package mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1 large zucchini, shredded (use your cheese grater)
2 Tbsp butter or oil
2 cups cubed bread
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, cubed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs
1/4 quarter cup cream or milk
salt and pepper

At Ten O'Clock
Heat the butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Saute the pepper, mushrooms, onion and zucchini until all vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. 

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

In a large bowl, place the bread cubes, cream cheese cubes and shredded cheese.  Add the cooked veggies.  Pour in the egg mixture and stir until combined.  Pour into a pie plate.  The plate will be almost overflowing.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Before Serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake, uncovered for one hour.  Let sit ten minutes before serving.

Family Approval
This is seriously so, so, so good.  It is one of those rare dishes that appeal equally to men and women.  And kids.  Everyone in my family loves it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Make Ahead Carrot Tart

Since I am showing love to the tarts, I really need to break down and get a tart pan.  One of these days. 

But I would so rather spend that ten dollars on a new shirt.  or earrings.  or shoes that are on clearance for 75% percent off at Dillards. 

And I find my pie pan is being very accommodating to the tart dough.  It really doesn't seem to mind.  It actually worked great for this beautiful tart.  And my three year old was extremely excited to be getting "pie" for dinner. 

The Ingredients
the tart dough:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
10 Tbsp cold butter flavored Crisco
4 Tbsp ice water
the filling:
2 Tbsp butter
5 green onions, sliced
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
3-4 cups carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/3 cup half and half
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups Jarlsberg cheese

At Ten O'Clock
In a blender, mix together the flour, salt and Crisco until the mixture resembles corn meal.  Slowly add the ice water and mix until just combined.  (I think that the tradional method, by hand with knives or pastry blender, or the food processor method works better) Roll out into a 14 inch circle.  Transfer to a tart pan (or pie plate).  Refrigerate or freeze until firm (freezer time is about 15 minutes).  Cover with foil and put a layer of pie weights, or beans, on top.  Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for twenty minutes. 

To make the filling, heat the butter in a large pan.  Add the green onions and saute until tender.  Remove from heat and add the salt, pepper and cumin.  Set aside.

Bring a saucepan of water to boil.  Add the carrots and sugar.  Parboil until the carrots are halfway cooked and bright orange, about 2 minutes.  Drain.

In a bowl, mix together the whole eggs, egg yolk, cream and nutmeg.

Sprinkle half of the cheese at the bottom of the partially blind baked tart shell.  Arrange one layer of carrots on top.  Sprinkle with 1/4 of the green onion mixture.  Repeat carrot and green onion layers.  Pour the cream mixture over the carrots.  The pan will be filled almost to the brim.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Before Serving
Preheat the oven to 375.  Bake, uncovered, on the upper rack for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is set.  Let rest ten minutes before serving.

Family Approval
My one year old big puffy heart loved this tart!  He ate four servings of it.  That's right.  Four.  The rest of us liked it as well.  My husband and I thought it needed more spices.  Next time I will add a little more cumin, maybe some garlic and some more salt and pepper.  Overall, it was yummy and it looked gorgeous. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Make Ahead Creme Brulee French Toast Bake

In case anybody hasn't noticed, I love make ahead breakfast-type casseroles.  So do my kids and husband.  I usually try to stay away from the sugar loaded kind, but I couldn't resist this decadent recipe for a special breakfast treat. 
The Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp dark corn syrup
1 large load country style bread (I didn't use the whole loaf, and I wish that I would have)
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

At Ten O'Clock
In small saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and corn syrup, stirring until smooth.  Pour into a 9x13 pan.  Remove the crust from the bread, and cut into one inch wide slices.  Arrange tightly in the pan so that the edges of the slices are touching.  You should end up two or three layers of bread. 

In a bowl, mix towther the eggs, half and half, vanilla and salt.  Pour over bread.  Refrigerate overnight (or all day if you want this as a breakfast-for-dinner)

Before Serving
Remove from the fridge, and let sit for about 30 minutes, or until room temperature.  Prehead oven to 350 degrees.  Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes.  Cut, and flip over to serve. 

Family Approval
How could this not be yummy?  Of course everyone like it.  I almost felt guilty calling it breakfast, but I figured we rounded out the meal with a ton of fruit.  The only problem was that I only made one layer of bread.  It definately needs the whole loaf of bread.  I think I might just have to try recipe again.  Just for educational purposes, right?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Make Ahead Mama's Chicken

This recipe comes from one of my wonderful sister-in-laws, Kari.  A few years ago she made it for us, and I was hooked.  If you double the sauce, you end up with lots of yummy "gravy" for rice. 

The Ingredients
5-6 chicken breasts
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 bay leaves (optional)
1/4 dried onion flakes (optional)
1/4 cup butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
12 slices swiss cheese
2 cups coarsley crushed garlic croutons

At Ten O'Clock
In large pot, boil the chicken with the garlic powder, pepper flakes, bay leaves and onions.  Once cooked, remove from water and shred/cut into bit sized pieces. 

In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the cream of chicken soup and water.  Cook until smooth.

Place the chicken in a 9x13 pan.  Cover with the cheese slices.  Pour the sauce over chicken and cheese.  Top with the crushed croutons.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Before Serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake casserole, uncovered for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Family Approval
So yummy!  This meal is one of our favorites.  My whole family loves it.  I served ours over quinoa instead of rice this time.  Don't leave off the garlic croutons - they really make this dish.  Thanks, Kari!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Make Ahead Easy Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Sorry about the picture.  It was a crazy dinnertime.  Hence the beauty of the make ahead meal.  At least we had something to eat. 

Anyways, this recipe is the inspiration for the creamy chicken enchiladas I made way back when.  The recipe was given to us by a friend about seven years ago, and it quickly became a family favorite.  Depending on my mood, I will change the quantities of spices.   

The Ingredients
1 lb chicken breasts
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8-10 flour tortillas (I used uncooked ones and just barely cooked them before assembling the enchiladas) 
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, divided
1 cup sour cream
1 can diced green chili peppers
4 Tbsp diced olives, divided

At Ten O'Clock

Place chicken in medium saucepan.  Add enough water to the pan so that the chicken is halfway covered.  Add garlic powder and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Once finished cooking, use a food processor to finely chop the chicken.  Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. 

In large sauce pan, heat the soup, 3 cups of the cheese, sour cream, and reserved liquid.  Once smooth and creamy, remove 1 1/2 cups of the sauce and set aside.  To make the filling, add the chicken, diced green chilis and 3 tbsp of the olives to the remaining sauce in the pan.

Spread 1/2 cup of the reserved sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  To assemble the enchiladas, place the filling in a line down the center of a tortilla.  Roll the tortilla around the filling and place, seam side down, in the 9x13 pan.  It's ok to pack them in.  Once all enchiladas are in the pan, spread the 1 cup of sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and 1 Tbsp of olives.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Before Serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes. 

Familly Approval
My husband loves these enchiladas.  This was actually one of the only things I could make well when we were first married.  Although using pre-cooked tortillas (like Mission brand) saves time, I think the uncooked variety are so much yummier.  I cooked them so that they are still soft and pliable, and then put the filling in.  They don't get soggy and they get almost crispy around the edges.  The pre-cooked ones do work just fine, though.  This is a really great, easy recipe. 


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Make Ahead Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

Many years ago, I made beef stroganoff and really, it was not good. I haven't really tried making it since. My friend, Kristi, gave me the idea for this recipe. She said how easy it was, and that her family really loved it.

The Ingredients

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can mushrooms, drained
1 cup beef broth
2 Tablespoons white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons lipton onion soup mix
1/4 cup sour cream

At Ten O'Clock

In crock pot, whisk together beef broth, cream of mushroom soup, white wine, mushrooms, lipton onion soup, and worcestershire sauce. Add beef. Cook on low all day (about 7 hours or so).

Before Serving

Boil your egg noodles. Add sour cream to crock pot. I heated my sour cream a little, so it wasn't cold when I added it to my hot crock pot.

Family Approval
Wow! This was really delicious! Not at all like my previous attempt at beef stroganoff. My whole family just gobbled it up and licked their plates clean.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Make Ahead Baked Oatmeal

I have been meaning to try baked oatmeal forever.  It can be super healthy for you and it's great because you can make it ahead of time and eat if for several days.  My boys love granola and cereal bars, but I've been trying to feed them less processed foods, so I haven't been buying the store bought variety.  This recipe is a great substitute for soft baked bars. 

The Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
2 Tbsp Flax
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup agave syrup or honey
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup coconut flakes

At Ten O'Clock
In large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  In small mixing bowl, mix together agave syrup, milk, eggs, vanilla and melted butter.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Add the coconut. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake for 40 minutes.

Before Serving
Cut into bars, if desired. 

Family Approval
Two thumbs up.  These were defininately breakfast/snack bars and not dessert bars, but my family LOVED them.  I cut them into bars, wrapped each one in tin foil, and brought them on vacation.  We ate them for breakfast and snacks for a couple days.  They didn't last nearly as long as I thought they would.  My husband told me that he would be happy to eat them all the time. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Make Ahead Creamy Italian Crock Pot Chicken

Ok, so the picture does not do it justice. This is one of my family's favorite meals. My kids actually beg me for this make ahead chicken dish. It's so easy to make too.

The Ingredients

4-6 chicken breasts
1 packet of Italian Dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup green onions
1 package cream cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Italian dressing

At Ten O'Clock

Mix Italian dressing packet with 1/2 cup water. Add 1/2 cup Italian dressing to make a full cup. Put chicken breasts in crock pot. Pour Italian dressing mix over chicken. Cook on low about 7 hours.

Before Serving

About 30 minutes before serving: In a medium saucepan, heat and mix cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, green onions, and garlic powder. Remove chicken from crock pot. Add cream cheese mixture to Italian dressing in crock pot. Whisk until blended. Return chicken to crock pot. Cook an additional 20 minutes or so before serving. Serve over rice and top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Family Approval
Seriously, this is absolutely delicious. Every person in my family loves it!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Make Ahead Hearty Stuffed Potatoes

Tonight we had tri-tip for dinner... again :). These make ahead hearty stuffed potatoes are a wonderful side dish. If you are a fan of twice baked potatoes, you'll love this dish. I first had these potatoes about 5 years ago when my neighbor, Diane, made them for us. My husband thought they were just about the best thing he had ever eaten.

The Ingredients

2 medium baking potatoes
1/2 cup cottage cheese
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt (scant)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped

At Ten O'Clock

Wash potatoes. Rub skins with butter (optional). Roll in foil, puncture each with a knife. Bake potatoes at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Cut the potatoes in half. Scoop out the insides, leaving a thin layer of potato in each skin.

In a bowl, mash potato pulp with cottage cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, dill salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and egg. Spoon into potato shells. Top with additional shredded cheddar cheese. Place in a baking dish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Before Serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.

Family Approval

This potato dish is a fantastic variation to the traditional twice baked potato. My husband totally loves it! It's very tasty, and unique--absolutely yummy!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Make Ahead Mexican Dip

This was a perfect dish for a Superbowl party. I made it in the morning and then just baked it right before the party.

The Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
1 can refried beans
1 package taco seasoning
1 jar mild red salsa
1 cup sour cream
2 small jars sliced olives
shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese

At Ten O'Clock

Brown ground beef. Mix in refried beans and taco seasoning. Put in a 9 x 13 baking dish for the first layer. Next, layer sour cream, then salsa, and sliced olives. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Before Serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Family Approval
Absolutely delicious! I had several people at the party say how much they liked it. I highly recommend this. It's a perfect appetizer.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Make Ahead Taco Soup

I love this recipe! It's super easy, and it's great when you need to feed a large group of people, but don't have the time to make a big meal. This make ahead taco soup comes together in a matter of minutes. The perfect meal!

The Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans stewed tomatoes (undrained)
2 cans kidney beans (undrained)
1 package taco seasoning mix
1-3 cups water (I usually add about 1 cup, but if I'm feeding a lot of people, then I add more. It just depends on which consistency you like best too.)

tortilla chips
cheddar cheese
green onions
sour cream

At Ten O'Clock

Brown ground beef with onion. In a crock pot, combine tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, kidney beans and taco seasoning. Add ground beef and onion. Add water until desired consistency. Cook on low until ready to serve.


In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onion. Add everything else. Bring to boiling, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Before Serving

Top with cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Family Approval
This is delicious! It's perfect to take to parties in a crock pot. My whole family loves it except my extremely picky oldest son. He has to eat other leftovers on the nights we eat taco soup :)


Friday, February 5, 2010

Make Ahead Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

I love the tangy flavor of homemade sloppy joe sandwiches. This is a perfect make ahead meal because the longer this dish sits, the better it tastes. It's great to make the night before and eat the following evening.

The Ingredients

2 Tablespoons vinegar
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons brown sugar (heaping)
1 cup ketchup
3 Tablespoons Worscestershire sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 cup water

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion
1 Tablespoon flour
salt and pepper

Swiss cheese
Lays potato chips
Hamburger buns

At Ten O'Clock

In a large saucepan, mix together vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, mustard and water. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for about an hour.

Meanwhile, chop onion. Brown ground beef with onion. Season with salt and pepper. Add flour.

Add meat to sauce and cook on low for about 30 minutes.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*I like my sloppy joe sandwiches to be really saucy so I only put 1 pound ground beef, or if I do 2 pounds, then I make more of the sauce.

*I've also done this before where I put everything together earlier in the day and then put it in my crock pot on low until I was ready to serve it for dinner.

Before Serving

Reheat. Top buns with meat mixture, Swiss cheese, and Lays potato chips.

Family Approval
This is my favorite sloppy joe recipe. I got it from my friend Kaylene-she's full of good recipes! I love the flavor of the sauce, and the Swiss cheese and potato chips really top it off nicely. My family loves this dish!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Make Ahead Chicken Quinoa Stew

My kids have been sick with colds this week, and really needed a chicken soup. I love this make ahead chicken stew because it has quinoa instead of rice or noodles. If you've never had quinoa before, you really need to try it. It's a whole grain and very nutritious. I buy it at Costco. It's in the isle with the baking supplies.

The Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
4-6 cups water
chicken bouillon (I used about 6 teaspoons)
2 cans chicken broth
salt and pepper
bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley or some fresh spring
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup quinoa

At Ten O'Clock

Cook chicken in water with chicken bouillon, thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Save broth. Cut chicken into pieces, or shred.

Meanwhile, saute garlic, carrots, celery and onion in olive oil until vegetables start to soften. Add chicken broth and quinoa. Simmer, covered, until quinoa is soft. Add chicken and more reserved broth until soup is desired consistency. (You may need to add more broth as you cook the quinoa.)

Before Serving

Reheat and enjoy.

Family Approval

Soup is definitely not my husband's favorite dinner, but he loved this soup. He even ate it for leftovers. I really love the texture and flavor of the quinoa.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Make Ahead Ginger Chicken

I love this chicken dish because you can put it together the night before and just throw it in the oven when it's time to bake dinner. The chicken is perfect for slicing and serving in a tasty salad, but it is also great on it's own.

The Ingredients

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar
1 heaping teaspoon fresh grated ginger

At Ten O'Clock

Place chicken in marinade. You can either do this in a plastic bag, or in a 9 x 13 baking dish. The chicken can marinate overnight, or you can do it in the morning.

Before Serving

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If chicken has been marinating in a plastic bag, pour into a baking dish, and arrange chicken. Cook in marinade for 30 minutes. Flip chicken and cook an additional 30 minutes.

Family Approval
This chicken is full of flavor and delicious. My family really likes to eat chicken, and this is a very simple way to spice up a baked chicken breast.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Make Ahead Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash, Carmelized onions and Bacon

So, I have been trying to figure out how to do a pasta with butternut squash as a make ahead meal for a little while now.  I've been experimenting, and, after a couple of failed attempts, came up with this recipe.  

Although the other ones were good, they weren't quite right. 

This one is so right. 

If any of my fellow Costco shoppers have wondered what to do with that already cubed, ready to cook butternut squash, this is the recipe for you.  

The Ingredients
2 lbs butternut squash, cubed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1  1/2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 lb bacon
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup heavy cream
1  1/4 cup milk
1 cup Jarlsburg cheese  (any hard cheese would work well, too)
12 oz small to medium pasta, cooked and drained

At Ten O'Clock
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Arrange the squash on a cookie sheet.  Cover with olive oil and sage.  Add salt to taste  Mix well.  Roast until soft.  (20 minutes for really small cubes, about 40-50 minutes one inch square cubes)

Meanwhile, cook the bacon until really crisp.  Crumble.  Reserve 1 1/2 Tbsp of bacon grease.

In a large pan over medium low heat, saute the onion and garlic until caramelized, about 20-30 minutes.

Once the squash is tender, add it to the pan with the onions.  Add the bacon, cream, milk and cheese.  While stirring together, coarsely mash the squash.  The sauce should be thick and creamy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the cooked pasta.

Put in a 9x13, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Before Serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake, covered for 25 minutes, or until heated through. 

Family Approval
We really enjoyed this make ahead meal.  Previously, I had left the squash in chunks.  This method is so much better for a make ahead meal.  The sauce stayed creamy and delicious even after it was baked.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Make Ahead Sweet and Sour Brisket

(sorry the picture looks a little gross - it really does taste good!)
This meal is great because it can be made up to three days in advance, refrigerated and then reheated in the sauce over low heat.  The long list of ingredients is deceptive, because everything just gets dumped together in a pot.  This dish is family friendly, even though it does call for beer;  The alcohol evaporates during the cooking process.  If you have any left over beer, try making this beer bread

The Ingredients
1 beef brisket 4-6 lbs
2 onions, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
5 celery stalks, cut in slices 1/2 inch thick
1 (12 oz) bottle of chili sauce (I used Heinz)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp garlic powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 cups beer
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

At Ten O'Clock
In large pot, sear the brisket, fat side down over medium heat, for 5-10 minutes.  Flip, and brown the other side.  In crockpot, combine remaining ingredients.  Stir well.  Add the brisket and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 6-8 hours.  Discard the bay leaves.  Store the liquid and the meat sepearately in the fridge. 

Before Serving
If eating the day it's made, just cut into slices and enjoy.  If it has been refrigerated, combine the meat and the liquid, and cook until hot. 

Family Approval
This was a yummy meat dish.  We ate it over rice, but it would also be good on a sandwich.  I really enjoyed the sauce, and my two kids gobbled it up.

Make Ahead Beer Bread

So, after I went to all the trouble to actually obtain a beer for the brisket, I figured I might as well do something with the leftover beer.  The frugalista in me just couldn't stomach the thought of dumping it down the drain.  So I decided to make beer bread.  Boy was I pleasantly surprised.  This bread mixes together like a quick bread, and once it is baked, it has a chewy crust with a soft center. 

The Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups beer
1/4 cup salted butter, melted

At Ten O'Clock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, salt and brown sugar.  Pour in the beer and mix well.  Batter will be stiff.  Pour into prepared pan.  Spread melted butter over the top.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Before Serving
Slice and enjoy!

Family Approval
Surprisingly good!  I really, really liked this bread.  It's hearty and yummy and so, so, so easy.  A nice for sandwiches or to accompany dinner.