I never have been that great at being a chef, honestly if you wanted a grilled cheese I would have told you the best bet was to make it yourself and my kids would have said the same. You see, I was famous for burning grilled cheese; all.the.time. Yet now, as I work to create a family life for the first time in a few years, one that truly feels home and family-ish to me, I have wanted to make better meals. We all have to fight our horrible metabolism in our family gene pool so making better meals was a must for our health. While I still include menu items that maybe are not all healthy, I feel this is a step up and I am more about balance than cutting one thing out of our diet completely.
For our first week testing out some frozen crock pot meals, I created hot italian sausages, pineapple glazed ham, teriyaki pork chops, and chicken cacciatore. These meals were all prepared ahead of time over the prior weekend and let me tell you what, preparing meals ahead of time really makes for a yummy smelling kitchen and freezer all week long! I can give you feedback on each of these recipes, because the family has already chomped down on them;
- Hot Italian Sausages – was a no go, we will not make this again. We much prefer the crispy texture of sausage and these were too tender for our liking.
- Pineapple Glazed Ham – this was okay, but not that great. While the ham was delicious this recipe shouldn’t have so much crushed pineapple in it next time around.
- Teriyaki Pork Chops – This was a total win! Our family loved the flavor and texture of these pork chops, served over rice with green beans.
- Chicken Cacciatore – this was a total two thumbs up from my fiance and tween! The taste was perfect and while the recipe didn’t say to do so, we shredded the chicken in the sauce after it had cooked for the full term, creating a better mixed up option and the family loved it served over white rice.
The above recipes were derived from Slow Cooker Freezer Meals offered on Six Sisters’ Stuff website.
This week we will try some different frozen crock pot meals, I am having so much fun finding recipes online and changing them up to fit our family. This week we will try the following frozen crock pot meals that are sitting in the freezer waiting to be taken out to enjoy;
- Chicken & Dumplings
- Beef Barley Stew (I replaced barely with white rice)
- Curry Chicken
- Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Potatoes
- Pulled Pork
There was a sixth recipe, all were taken from TheBusyBudgetingMama.com website, this sixth recipe was for lasagna/pasta sauce but I decided to create my own meat sauce to freeze for a spaghetti dinner later in the week instead.
Brandy Ellen’s Meat Sauce Recipe – Freeze and Use Later
- 1lb ground beef
- 28oz can of Diced Tomatoes
- 24oz jar of Spaghetti Sauce
- 2 Gloves of Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- Optional; 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 Resealable Freezer Bag
Let’s Get Started:
- Brown the ground hamburg with white rice and garlic mixed in.
- Drain browned hamburg, add spaghetti sauce. Cook on low for 8 minutes while stirring ingredients together.
- Add 28oz can of diced tomatoes and italian seasoning together in freezer bag.
- Label freezer bag “Meat Sauce” also note the date on bag to ensure you use it within a week of freezing.
- Let hamburg, rice, garlic and spaghetti sauce cool down.
- Add cooled down hamburger mixture into freezer bag and seal tight.
- Place in Freezer for future use.
Enjoy: Set the freezer bag of meat sauce out one day ahead of time to ensure it has time to thaw out. Cook in sauce pan over low/medium heat until reaches desired temperature. Use on top of spaghetti or any favorite pasta choice.
I have been on a mission to stop cooking boxed meals for dinner. Being that I wasn’t that great of a cook and didn’t spend time learning, I always reached for that boxed meal. The time came when I realized I could get more for my dollar if I started cooking from scratch. The first cookbook that really helped get my creative cooking juices flowing was $5 Dinner Mom, I highly recommend this book. I now work to create my own dinner meal ideas so that my large family can have more food without us breaking the bank to feed them. Today I share with you my Breaded Garlic Chicken Chunks Dinner recipe, the other day I shared my Chicken Parm for Larger Families Recipe.
Breaded Garlic Chicken Chunks
A delicious treat of garlic and chicken for the cold winter season.
- 2 tbs minced garlic
- 1 1/3 cups olive oil
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Heat garlic & olive oil until warm on stove top.
- Cut chicken breasts into 1" chunks
- Place chicken chunks in a bowl. Place breading in a bowl. Place the garlic & oil mix in another bowl. 3 Bowls total.
- Dip chicken chunks into garlic and oil bowl.
- Dip same chicken chunk into bread crumbs, ensuring the chicken chunk is completely covered in bread crumbs.
- Place in a casserole dish in a single layer at first, adding second layer of chicken if necessary.
- Repeat prior steps of dipping chicken chunks until the casserole dish is full of raw breaded chicken chunks.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until chicken reaches the recommended temperature for fully cooked chicken.
Happily Blended http://happilyblended.com/
The other night my daughter returned from her two night visit with her Dad when I was tossing around dinner ideas to the family. My daughter decided that, while she loves my odd chicken parmesan I make, she really wanted my breaded garlic chicken breast instead. From there we went talking about how she wants to learn the recipes for meals I create because she enjoys the things I make.
It’s funny that she, at age 11, is so interested in cooking and quite honestly she bakes a heck of a lot better than I do. If there is a cake, cupcake or brownie to be made I always turn to her. Now she wants to turn to me to learn the cooking skills for later years in her life that I never learned until my late 20′s into my 30′s. I am so happy that my daughter wants to learn to cook things and to boot, she is putting all of the things we create in the kitchen on index cards in a recipe book to keep for later years of her life.
My daughter had fun creating breaded garlic chicken breast with me the other night and added it to her recipe book. I thought since my daughter wants all of these recipes kept for years to come so she can make the same meals for her family one day, that I would share with you all too.
This year, 2014, I will be sharing a lot of the recipes I create here in the Happily Blended home as a way to make a pound of chicken or a pound of hamburg stretch far enough to feed a family of seven when all of the children are here on the weekends. I will show you things that all of my children, even the picky eaters, will eat on occasion or all of the time.
I’m so happy that my daughter and I have a close relationship to the point she actually enjoys spending time in the kitchen learning how to cook with me. My heart melted just a little bit that evening and we made memories … the memory that my tween daughter, no matter what, is always happy to learn and look up to her Mama for tips on how to be a happy, healthy, well-rounded person!
Traditional chicken parm is certainly a loved favorite of mine and my children but when making the normal chicken patty chicken parm for a larger family, it can get costly. I found out that I could create your average recipes using chicken breast but cut into 1″ chunks to ensure my sometimes 7 person family can enjoy a home cooked meal for less of the cost for traditional chicken parm. Please share this recipe if you think anyone else would love it as much as my family does.
Happily Blended Chicken Parm
Sure to make the whole family smile, Happily Blended Chicken Parm is a delicious treat for larger families with less cost than traditional chicken parm.
- 1lb boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 cups spaghetti or marinara sauce
- 2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
- 5 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Minced Garlic
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Cut chicken breast into 1" sized chunks. Heat skillet with olive oil and minced garlic, add chicken breast chunks once skillet has warmed up. Cook with cover on skillet via medium heat until chicken chunks are fully cooked, stirring occasionally.
- Place fully cooked chicken chunks in bottom of casserole dish.
- Pour spaghetti or marinara sauce evenly over fully cooked chicken chunks, ensuring to cover all pieces of chicken.
- Spread shredded cheese over top of the sauce in casserole dish.
- Place casserole dish in 450 degree F preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until sauce is warmed and cheese is melted.
Happily Blended http://happilyblended.com/
Did you try to make this recipe? Please leave a comment below to let me know what you thought of it! I am new to home cooking so I am open for suggestions on ways to improve my home cooked creations too!