Let’s face it, we all have those moments where we don’t really feel like cooking and are tempted to call for take-out. We’re too exhausted from working all day, feeling a little under the weather or just don’t feel like cooking. My solution for feeling like this is to plan a meal my family enjoys that I can make in the slow cooker. I can be at work all day or stuck in bed with the flu and know that I can still feed my family at dinner time. Working Mom’s can worry less when they try to make meals ahead of time. With the ingredients I had on hand in the pantry and refrigerator, I made this great meal in a matter of minutes.
BBQ Chicken Pizza
2 cups BBQ Chicken
1 1/2 cups Mozzerella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup green bell pepper, sliced
1 Roma tomato, sliced
1/3 cup red onion, sliced
- Pre-cook the chicken breasts (I usually cook a whole bag and freeze what I’m not going to use)
- Place the shredded chicken in slow cooker.
- Add your favorite BBQ sauce (I added a Honey BBQ sauce to this recipe.)
- Add 1 cup water.
- Remove frozen pizza dough from freezer and place in a warm place to defrost and rise again.
- Cook on low setting for 4-6 hours (If your slow cooker has a timer setting, set the timer to start 4-6 hours before you get off work. You could also make the BBQ chicken the night before and refrigerate.)
- When you get home, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. (Oven temperatures vary.)
- Roll out pizza dough and spread 1 1/2-2 cups of BBQ chicken on top of dough. Add cheese, topped with bell pepper, tomato and onion.
- Place on a pizza stone or baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until pizza crust is lightly brown.
- Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
Noel’s Quick Notes: You can use whatever toppings are your favorite for pizzas. These ingredients were what I had on hand. And remember, a working mom can put dinner on the table in a matter of minutes that’s delicious and one the whole family will love!
Coming Up Next….A Guest Post from Sarah Morris: A Recipe for Sharing Time in the Kitchen with Your Children
This past weekend, I made 4 batches of pizza and bread dough for the week and used one batch for my Chicken and Vegetable Calzones. I originally created Chicken and Vegetable Pasties on the weekly menu but I was so impressed by how easy this dough recipe came together, and how easy it was to make I decided on making Calzones.
Chicken and Vegetable Calzones
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cups seasoned shredded cooked chicken
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 batch of Pizza dough
- In a skillet, saute carrots, potatoes and onion until tender. Set aside.
- In saucepan, melt 2 Tablespoons butter. Add flour; cook and stir until mixture begins to bubble.
- Gradually stir in milk; bring to a boil.
- Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stir in cheese until melted. Add cooked chicken and vegetable mixture. Set aside.
- Divide Pizza dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then use a rolling pin to make a 9″ circle, sprinkling a little flour if the pizza dough sticks to the pin or the board.
- Transfer the pizza dough circle to a lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Spread chicken and vegetable mixture only one-half of the circle, leaving a one-inch margin without mixture around the edge.
- Carefully fold the empty half of the circle up and over the chicken mixture, gently stretching the dough if necessary. Try not to get chicken mixture in the one-inch margin around the edge.
- Pinch together the edges of the calzone firmly.
- Brush calzones with an egg wash. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until done and slightly browned, approximately 13-16 minutes. The calzone will be extremely hot, so let it cool 15 minutes or so before eating.
*The Calzones can always be made ahead of time and frozen in zip-loc freezer bags and pulled out when ready to use. Serve with a green salad.
*Extra Chicken and Vegetable mixture can also be frozen in zip-loc freezer bags to use the next time you make Calzones.
Make-Ahead Cooking Session:Freezer Shredded Chicken
My Philosophy of Freezing
There are very few times I don’t freeze. Some foods won’t keep as long as others, but most will freeze quite nicely for a reasonable period of time if packaged properly. To save space in your freezer, buy containers that will stack easily; freeze food in them and put one on top of another. Who says spaghetti sauce has to be frozen in a stand up container? It will freeze just as well and actually thaw faster if it is lying flat on a try inside a sealed zip-loc bag.
Make-Ahead Cooking Session
This morning’s cooking session started with a main ingredient that will be used for 3 different meals this week-Chicken. That may sound like a lot of chicken for the week, but when it’s on sale, I stock up and freeze. Three meals on the menu for the week are Chicken Pasties, BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and Crockpot Chicken Enchiladas.
Freezer Shredded Chicken
I slipped two large bar pans of seasoned chicken breasts in the oven this morning while I continued prepping and cooking vegetables for my pasties. I seasoned it simply with salt, pepper and steak seasoning with garlic powder and then baked at 375° for about 45 minutes to an hour. The chicken was done by the time I finished with the vegetables and my homemade mushroom soup (recipe featured in this month’s newsletter.) It cooled while I cleaned up the kitchen, and then I shredded it, bagged it and stowed it in 2 cup portionsin the freezer. I reserved enough for my homemade chicken pasties. ( This recipe also to post later.)
Next Up: Weekly Meal Plan (Breakfast~Lunch~Dinner April 3-9, 2011)
This meal will be on our family menu quite often. The whole family enjoyed it. I absolutely love the fact that you can throw a meal together in the crockpot, come home from work and dinner is ready.
Recipe: Crockpot Enchiladas
Summary: A delicious Enchilada dish made in the crockpot.
- 1 packet Enchilada sauce mix
- 8-12 flour tortillas
- 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- 2 cups Mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups Cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups Tomatillo salsa
- Sour Cream (optional)
- Jalapenos, chopped (optional)
- Olives, chopped (optional)
- Make Enchilada sauce mix according to package instructions.
- Lightly coat crockpot with non-stick baking spray.
- Spread 1/4 cup sauce on the bottom of crockpot.
- Place flour tortilla on top of sauce.
- Spread a handful of chicken and cheese, alternating cheese over the top of tortilla.
- Repeat layers of sauce, chicken and cheese until all but 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese is used.
- On top layer add salsa then top with remainder of cheddar cheese.
- Place crockpot on low setting and cook for 4 hours.
Noel’s Quick Notes:
To freeze:Place 2 cups in freezable container. To thaw: Remove from freezer and place in refrigerator until ready to heat. Heat in microwave for 3-5 minutes per serving. Makes for great leftovers.
Can use shredded beef or pork in place of chicken. Corn tortillas can be substituted for flour. Any of your favorite salsas would work with this recipe. The Tomatillo salsa I used, was in the cold case section of the grocery store.
Cooking Time: 4 hours
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time Duration: 4 hours 15 minutes
Meal Type: Lunch or Dinner
My Rating: 5 stars
If you were to cook in quantity and freeze your meals as you go, you will be stocking your freezer with dinners that are either completely prepared or need only finishing touches. I try and choose entrees that my family will like and that can be prepared in quantity. Tonight’s dinner is made from the whole chicken I’ve had cooking in the slow cooker while I was at work.
Chicken and Noodles
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken stock, plus 2 cups to cook noodles
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup water
2 cups shredded chicken
2 cups noodles, cooked
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the chicken from slow cooker and place on cutting board or plate to cool a little. While the chicken is cooling down, in a medium stock pot, use 2 cups stock plus 1 cup water. Bring the broth to a boil and add noodles. Cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender.
While the noodles cook, in another pan, melt butter and add onion and mushrooms. Cook until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir until incorporated. Add sour cream, Italian seasoning along with chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
Remove the chicken from the bones, leaving it in large chuncks. When the noodles are just tender, drain and add noodles along with the chicken to sauce. Stir together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Cook’s Note: Cream of Mushroom soup can be substituted in this dish. A vegetable such as frozen peas or carrots could also be added to this dish.
Freeze any leftovers for another night in the month or as leftovers for lunch. I never have to worry about having half a package, half a cup, or a few pieces of anything leftover. If it is perishable, I just simply figure out a different way to use it within the next day or so, or I freeze it in a zip-loc freezer bag. Sometimes the extra portion left over from dinner makes an excellent lunch later on in the week.
The comfort of casseroles with their multiple layers, perfectly flaky pastry, bubbly cheeses, and crispy coatings make for impressive family meal times and are very easy to pull off. This weekend, I’m creating some more easy make ahead freezer meals you can have any night of the week.
Chicken Pot Pie
Recipe Pastry for Single-Crust Pie or a 15-ounce package rolled refrigerated unbaked piecrust (2 crust)
2 cups cooked seasoned chicken breast, chopped
1 15-ounce can mixed vegetables, drained
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine cooked chicken breast, mixed vegetables in a bowl; set aside. In medium saucepan, melt butter. Sauté onion until clear. Whisk in flour and cook until bubbly. Whisk in broth, milk and cream cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Stir in seasonings.
Pour over chicken-vegetable mixture and stir to combine.
Cool completely if preparing for freezer. Line pie plate with bottom crust. Pour in filling.
Position top crust, crimp edges,* and bake at 375° for one hour or until crust is brown and filling bubbles.
If you want to make this ahead and freeze. Simply wrap with foil at the asterisk*, label, and freeze. To serve: Vent top and brush with a little milk or egg wash. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes and then reduce heat and bake at 375° until crust is browned and filling bubbles, about one hour more.
Frozen peas, corn, carrots and potatoes can be used in place of the canned vegetables.
This is also yummy with beef or turkey. If you cook it the same night as you make it, you can cut the top crust into strips for a criss cross design as shown in the picture above. (I also omitted the milk and cream cheese for that one.)
If you’re still scrambling for Game Day quick appetizers, this one is sure to get you a touchdown! Thanks to Raley’s for scoring the ingredients and recipe to this delicious recipe with a kick!
Super Bowl Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup any flavor FRANK’S(R) REDHOT(R) Sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Assorted fresh vegetables and/or crackers for
Mix ingredients in deep baking dish until smooth.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes until hot and bubbling.
Bake Time: 20 minutes Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes: About 4 cups dip
It’s a New Year! Is your family making any New Year Resolutions? Resolutions often include eating healthy, saving money and getting fit, but how about spending more quality time with your family? For many families, New Year’s Resolutions are made only to be easily broken. Make your family mealtimes a top priority this New Year’s. Make a resolution to eat dinner as a family a few times a week. And don’t stress about putting a gourmet meal on the table – simple choose quick, easy and affordable recipes like these delicious and comforting recipes:
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 apples, cored and sliced
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sparkling cider
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute onion and apples together until tender, approximately 4 minutes. Remove onion and apples with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same skillet, brown both sides of chicken breasts.
Place chicken breasts in a 9×13 inch baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover chicken with the onions and apples.
In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard, cloves, cinnamon and sparkling cider. Pour over chicken. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with Candied Carrots (recipe below) and Herbed Nutty Risotto. Top off with a Golden Butterscotch Rum Cake.
2 1/4 cups (16 ounces) mini peeled carrots
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine cut into pieces
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Place carrots in a pot of salted water. Cover and bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20-25 minutes. Do not over cook carrots.
Drain carrots and return to pot. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in butter or margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Serve warm.
I’ve been busy filling my freezer with meals for my family in preparation of my 3-day business trip to Salt Lake City later in the week. I’ve made and frozen a couple of casseroles in baking dishes so my husband just has to pull out, thaw and bake for 30-45 minutes. Before freezing, I labeled each casserole with name and baking instructions.
Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole Pie
Toasted Bread Crumb Topping:
4 slices wheat sandwich bread, quartered
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients: (Recipe Doubled for top crust)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water
Directions For Pie Crust:
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Roll dough out to fit baking dish. Place crust in baking dish. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the baking dish.
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 cupschicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 can cream of celery soup
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 breasts), trimmed
1 6.9 oz.box Chicken flavored rice
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
ground black pepper
Add chicken breasts, partially cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover completely, and cook until the thickest part of the chicken breast is no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Stir the rice and rice seasonings packet into the pot, cover and continue to cook over low heat, stirring often, until the rice is just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, chop it into bite-sized pieces.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the shredded chicken, peas and corn, and cheddar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish , top with pie crust and sprinkle with the crumb topping.
To Bake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 400°F. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the casserole is bubbling and hot throughout, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the pie crust topping is golden brown and bread crumbs are crisp, 10 minutes longer.
*To make ahead: Wrap prepared dish tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. (If frozen, the casserole must be thawed completely in the refrigerator before baking). Don’t forget to remove plastic wrap before baking.
**Bake half and freeze half: This recipe made enough to place in 9×13 inch baking dish, 8x8x2 square baking pan and I had 3-4 cups leftover which I put in a ziploc freezer bag to use at a later time.
To lean more about freezing casseroles, click HERE.
Add a bit of Mediterranean flair to your chicken and potatoes. You would never know that this delicious meal came from a slow cooker. It tastes like you spent the better part of the day roasting it.
Greek Chicken and Potatoes
3 cups red potatoes, washed and patted dry
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon OlivExtra Plus (Canola Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
2 garlic cloves pressed
1 Tablespoon Greek Rub (Oregano, Lemon, Garlic and Mint)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Quarter potatoes and place them with the chopped onion in the bottom of slow cooker. Layer chicken breasts over the top.
In a small bowl whisk broth, oil, seasoning, garlic and lemon juice. Pour over chicken, onion and potatoes. Place lid on slow cooker. Cook 6-8 hours on low setting. Serve with a green salad.
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