Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Easy Meals for Busy Seasons of Life

I am posting some easy recipe here in response to a fellow blogger's request for ideas as her pregnancy nears to full term.

Italian Beef Hoagies (Taste of Home)


* 1 beef sirloin tip roast (4 pounds), halved
* 2 envelopes Italian salad dressing mix
* 2 cups water
* 1 jar (16 ounces) mild pickled pepper rings, undrained
* 18 hoagie buns, split


* Place roast in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Combine the salad dressing mix and water; pour over roast. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is tender. Remove meat; shred with a fork and return to slow cooker. Add pepper rings; heat through. Spoon 1/2 cup meat mixture onto each bun. Yield: 18 servings.

Make ahead chicken Bake (Taste of Home)


* 5 cups cubed cooked chicken
* 2 cups chopped celery
* 5 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
* 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
* 3/4 cup mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon pimientos, optional
* 1 teaspoon finely chopped onion
* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
* 1 can (3 ounces) chow mein noodles
* 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted


* In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Transfer to a greased 3-qt. baking dish; sprinkle with cheese, chow mein noodles and almonds. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
* Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned and cheese is bubbly. Yield: 12 servings.

Beef stew

2 pounds beef stew meat
1/4 cup olive oil
flour for coating meat
salt and pepper
1/2 bottle red (optional)
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped into large chunks
3 cups beef broth
3 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
5 medium yukon gold potatoes
1 cup baby carrots

Season the meat with salt and pepper. Coat in flour. Brown the meat in hot oil in a large dutch oven. You will probably have to cook the meat in batches so you don’t over crowd the pan. Once the meat is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan and set aside.

When all the meat is cooked, pour the wine and water in the pan. Bring to a boil while scraping the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the meat back to the pan then add the garlic, bay leaves, garlic, beef broth and cloves. Turn heat down to medium and allow to bubble for 20-30 minutes. Turn the heat down to lowest simmer, cover, and cook for 1.5 hours.

Add the potatoes, carrots, and sugar (to cut the acidity from the wine). Cook an additional 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Taste broth for seasoning. Add salt/pepper if needed.

Serve this with an amazing loaf of wheat bread, buttered and warmed in the oven. A nice, easy meal that doesn’t require a lot of work just before dinner time.

**If you have leftovers you can use them to make a pot pie, using refrigerated pie crust that rolls out. It's very good actually. I know a lot of us like to cut out prepared items but there are times I like to rely on them when needed.**
Here is a soup I found several years ago on another blog and have made and enjoyed several times since. You can even adapt to making it in a crock pot for those busy days!!

Pasta E. Fagioli
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can Great Northern beans, drained
4 1/2 cups beef stock
3 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp pepper
5 tsp parsley
1 jar spaghetti sauce
4-8 oz. ditalini pasta

Put everything except the pasta in a stock pot or crock pot and simmer for several hours. About 30 minutes before serving, cook pasta according to package directions and stir in to soup!

New England Clam Chowder

5 lbs of red potatoes, chopped

About 6-8 stalks of celery, chopped

2-3 onions, chopped

3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, minced

2 lbs of bacon, cooked and crumbled

2--32 to 51 ounce containers of fresh or canned clams--chopped
Just barely cover the potatoes with water and cook until they're tender

Saute celery, onions, and parsley

Add celery, onions, parsley, bacon, clams and all the clam broth to the potatoes

Add salt, freshly ground pepper, and 4 tablespoons of butter

For clear broth chowder serve as is. Be sure and have fresh cream for those that enjoy a creamy chowder to add to their bowls.

Serve hot with oyster crackers.

Chicken Italiana

4-6 chicken breasts - boneless and skinless
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or homemade equivalent)
1 envelope of Good Season's Italian dressing mix
1 cup of dry white wine or chicken stock (wine cooks off so no worries about feeding alcohol to kids or new mommy but if you don't have it chicken stock is just fine)
1 stick of butter
8 oz of cream cheese

On stove melt butter and cream cheese together in a pot and mix together well. Add can of cream of mushroom soup, mix well. Add envelope of italian dressing mix, mix well. Add cup of wine or chicken stock, mix well. Place chicken in 9x13 pyrex casserole dish and pour cream cheese etc. mixture on top. Bake uncovered at 350 for about an hour or until chicken is done. Serve with white rice and ceasar salad and garlic bread.

It's really good, yeah it's got real butter and all that but it's really good and easy.

EASY Apricot chicken

4-6 chicken breasts-boneless and skinless
1 envelope of lipton onion soup mix
1-16 oz jar apricot jam

Place chicken in a crockpot. Mix lipton onion soup mix and apricot jam in a bowl together and pour over chicken. Cook on low 5-6 hours or until chicken is done. Serve with a salad and rice.

Dijon Chicken BreastsJuice from 2 lemons
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp of dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Family pack of chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise

~~Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix first 5 ingredients
Pour over chicken and bake for 10-15 minutes or until no pink remains inside.

Yummy Pork Dish
in a large skillet brown 4 boneless pork loin chops on both sides - season them with salt, pepper, garlic and cinnamon.

remove from skillet - add to skillet 1 cup apple juice, 1 cup of chicken stock and the contents of a long grain an wild rice seasoning packet - bring to a boil - then add the rice mix - stir. Place the chops back on top toss in some craisins and cover and simmer about 20 minutes - top with some shredded cheddar - close lid and let it melt ( I usually transfer to a disposable aluminum pan at this step - put the cheese on and melt it)

This is so good and easy and a great change from chicken!
Serve it with a salad, rolls, fruit and brownies!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This recipe makes enough potatoes to fill a 6 quart crockpot, or a large baking pan.

5 lbs of potatoes (we prefer red) washed, peeled/or no--as you prefer, and cut into consistently-sized chunks. Cook until nice and tender-ly done.

Drain water off potatoes, and return to pot, or place in a large bowl.


1 stick of butter

3/4 cup of sour cream

4-6 ounces of cream cheese

and salt and pepper to taste.

Mash all together until smooth. Add in 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup of milk, and continue to blend, until smooth.

Place in your buttered crockpot or baking pan or crock and heat as follows:

Cold in crockpot--cook 3 hours or so

Warm in crockpot--1 and 1/2 to 2 hours

Cold in oven--about 1 and 1/2 hours

Warm in oven--45 minutes to an hour.

Keep warmed until serving time.

They should be hot and bubbly when they're ready.

Overnight layered salad
1 head of lettuce, chopped
1 cucumber chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 c. of celery chopped
1 onion chopped (white, yellow, red, or a combination)

1 10 oz. package of frozen green peas, uncooked. Thawed under cold water.

1c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sugar

3 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/2 to 2 lbs of bacon fried and crumbled

In a large baking pan or bowl, layer lettuce, cucumber, pepper, celery, onion and thawed peas on top of each other.

Spread mayonnaise over all layers.
Sprinkle sugar over top of mayonnaise.
Toss grated cheese evenly over mayonnaise.
Sprinkle crumbled bacon over all.

Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight, or throughout the day.

We like to leave the veggies fairly chunky, and layer them deeply. You can vary ingredients and amounts to your family's liking. Quickly made and delicious. Great with crusty bread and quiche. Great because it's made ahead during your down time and readily available at dinner time. =0)

Ideas for prepped mains to freeze:

You can buy some fresh ground beef and mix it up with meatloaf seasonings it advance, then freeze it in a ziploc freezer bag, dated. When the day comes to use it you can thaw it out and pop it into a pan and oven without too much fuss.

You can buy chicken in bulk and do the same. Find a few diff. ways of seasoning/marinating them that your family would like and then do so in family meal size portions in gallon freezer ziplocs. The tedious part is done and all that is left is easy. I am thinking sticky chicken, italian dressing marinade for grilling, asian marinade, taco seasoning etc,... add some frozen or canned veggie and a bread or salad. Pretty good!

OR buy a chicken and split it into quarters. Season it in whatever way you will like (salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, dijon mustard, white wine, fresh herbs?) and plop it into a disposable aluminum roaster. A layer of onions, carrots and celery on the bottom will help the chicken elevated and cook. This would probably take about 30-40 minutes (uncovered). That's simply a quick idea, but it's different than the typical lasagna.

You can make meatballs and sauce ahead to freeze like above. Then just cook the pasta and side.

**If anyone asks to help out, let them!! We rob others of being a blessing when we don't accept help. If they ask what you'd like you can use some of these ideas.**

Here is a link for some additional ideas for frozen casseroles and other easy meal ideas.

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