Tag Archive | "Freezer Cooking"

Homemade Granola Bars

Tags: Cereal, , Healthy Snack Ideas, Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch Cereal, How To Make Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars

Posted on 18 June 2013 by noelskitchen


I love Granola Bars! They are one of my favorite snacks in between meals. It’s really important to have a  healthy snack choice for your family-especially when that mid afternoon slump hits. I skip serving those potato chips and candy bars, and have granola bars on hand.  If we’re out of granola bars, another one of my family’s favorite mid afternoon snacks is greek yogurt. We love the creaminess. Add a little bit of granola and fruit and WOW – yumminess!

Recently, I was asked to do a review on a fairly new cereal – Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch. This cereal has a perfect combination of wholesome goodness that I like to serve my family. Made with 33g of Whole Grain per serving (that is over 2/3 your day’s whole grain servings!) and two unique granola bunches with real Greek yogurt in every bite!

Homemade Granola Bars

What perfect timing to do  this review! I noticed, we we were running low on granola bars and yogurt but I had this box of cereal that had both yogurt and 2 unique granolas in it. Now, I’ve found a new way for my family to enjoy both of our favorite snacks – Homemade Granola Bars.

Homemade Granola Bars are so much better than store bought. I can control the ingredients that are much better for my family. Plus, they are easy to make, freeze well and are adaptable to the ingredients I have on hand in my pantry.

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars

Makes 24 bars


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cups Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal, plus 1/4 cup for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add honey, vanilla and egg. Mix well.
  3. Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  4. Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

To microwave: Press ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Microwave on medium power for 7-9 minutes. Rotate dish every three minutes. Bars will firm as they stand. Cool and cut into bars. Save the crumbs for yogurt or ice cream topping. :)

Freezer Instructions:

If you like to make snacks ahead, I thought it might be useful to have these instructions.

Prepare the recipe completely. Let the bars cool. You can freeze these 2 ways. 1. Flash freeze, then place in large freezer bag, and freeze. 2. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap, place in large freezer bag, and freeze.

To thaw, take desired amount of bars out in the morning and they will thaw within an hour or so on the counter.

These are perfect for snacks or lunches. Even for camping trips!


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Learning Freezer Cooking…Is It Right For You?

Tags: , , How To Freezer Cook, , ,

Learning Freezer Cooking…Is It Right For You?

Posted on 15 February 2013 by noelskitchen

I’ve been a full-time working mom since my oldest (turning 21 in August) was born. I worked up until two weeks before he was born then went back to work when he was just 6 weeks old. Not because I wanted to, because financially I had to. And I still had to manage putting a healthy meal on the table for my family.

I’ve learned after having four kids to divide, manage and multi-task in everything I do in the kitchen when it comes to meal planning for my family. That’s when I feel in love with my crock pot and freezer cooking.  I soon discovered how to make some wonderful family meals that I didn’t have to spend a whole lot of time cooking. It’s absolutely wonderful  and stress free for a mom to come home from work  and your family dinner is made and ready.


Freezer Cooking For Busy Moms

Freezer Cooking and the Crock Pot

You can start off your freezer cooking with the focus being on one main ingredient like beef or chicken. Most people like to use chicken because it tends to  be cheaper and it’s always on sale. Browse your local grocery store ads for the best deals for your family. Need some ideas on freezer cooking meals for the crock pot? How about:

Grab yourself some zip-loc freezer bags and allow yourself at least 2 to 3 hours in your schedule. Once you get the hang of meal prepping and putting the ingredients together, it may only take you an hour or two. You can do your grocery shopping the day before for all your ingredients so you don’t feel so overwhelmed or the morning of if you have the extra time and feel comfortable. 

Depending on the size of your family, you can divide up each recipe into two zip-loc freezer bags allowing your family 10 meals for the freezer.

Need help with meal planning? Check out A Busy Mom’s Guide to Family Meal Planning. It’s 68-pages of creative ways to provide good quality meals for your family while maintaining your food budget.


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Tags: , , Frugal Tips, , ,

Subscribe to Noel’s Busy Mom’s Kitchen Newsletter

Posted on 13 February 2013 by noelskitchen


Bring Family Mealtimes Back To The Table 

Are you interested in bringing your family mealtimes back to the dinner table and creating some wonderful childhood memories for your children? Well then, you’ve come to the right place.

Family Meals

This is a fun, free newsletter for anyone interested in learning about, or continuing with, family meals that are comforting, quick, easy and delicious for the whole family. I’ve been inspired since I was a little girl helping my grandmother in the kitchen to preserve the tradition of those family mealtimes. Gathering around the table with the family and sharing a great meal brings back some wonderful childhood memories for me.


I’m passing on those same family mealtime traditions to my children and I hope to inform, inspire and teach you just how much fun it can be to create easy weekly meal plans to help you get in the kitchen and start cooking some wonderful meals with your kids!

Just what’s in The Busy Mom’s Kitchen Newsletter!

You too can stay inspired with my free newsletter! — offering a wealth of traditional weekly meal plans, easy family recipes, frugal tips and ideas to get you and your family cooking.

Recipe Ideas:

Of course you’ll need some recipes to get you started with feeding your family comforting and nutritious meals! The focus of my recipe suggestions are based on everyday meal planning strategies to create quick, easy and delicious meals for your family that are frugal and allow you to stock your freezer with extra meals. All the recipes I share, are tested in my kitchen by myself and my children. If the recipe passes through my picky eaters, as a “hit”, then we’ll share it  here with you!

I also include fun little tidbits such as recipes and ideas for holidays, birthdays and parties. I have taken many of those “go-to” unhealthy fast foods and meals and learned to make them with tasty, healthy, beautiful ingredients to create same style meals and snacks that your kids and family will ask you to make over and over again.

Help for Busy Parents:

You’ll find helpful tips and suggestions for making it all work, from planning meals, to grocery shopping, to cooking, and more!

I occasionally also send out special deals, kitchen gadget ideas, recipes, or content to my readers. As a special thank you for subscribing, in your first weeks of subscription, you’ll receive a FREE e-Course on Cooking with Kids where I share with you how to combine those cooking skills and share them with your kids. Kids of all ages can learn how to help in the kitchen.

My newsletters are sent out bi-monthly in text or html format. Please be assured that your email address will not be given or sold to any outside entity or intruders. By signing up to the Busy Mom’s Kitchen newsletter, you will receive the Busy Mom’s Kitchen newsletter only. I will never spam you or send any other unsolicited content. If you wish to unsubscribe to the newsletter at any time, the link is always provided at the bottom of each newsletter content page.

Warmest regards,


Subscribe To My Busy Mom’s Newsletter


Sign up today and receive my Cooking With Kids Tips Hints and Recipes E-Course FREE

You know the pleasure you get from preparing and serving something that your family loves?  Children can experience the same satisfaction when they help prepare food for themselves, their friends, or the whole family.  It builds their confidence and self esteem and you can get dinner done while spending quality time with them.  Just make it fun.  Kids will eat what THEY make!

Cooking With Kids Tips, Hints and Recipes E-Course shares fundamentals on how to cook with kids, even the busiest parents can carve out a couple of hours each week and develop a ritual of cooking together as a family. Although it can sound like a chaotic project to many parents, the rewards are many – especially when they become old enough to cook you dinner….


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Once you sign-up, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Check your junk mail if you don’t receive it within 10 minutes! If you do not receive the test message, please let me know!

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If there is anything in particular that you would like to learn about, please feel free to let me know by sending me an email, or by participating on the Family Meals Matter Cooking Club page on Facebook.

Thank you for choosing Noel’s Kitchen Tips Busy Mom’s Kitchen newsletter as an informative resource. I look forward to receiving your comments and feedback.

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A Monthly Grocery Budget and Weekly Menu February 10-16, 2013

Tags: , ,

A Monthly Grocery Budget and Weekly Menu February 10-16, 2013

Posted on 10 February 2013 by noelskitchen

Our family is living more frugal these days and we’re starting off with a monthly grocery budget and sticking to it.

A Monthly Grocery Budget

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to do a little bit of grocery shopping. I ended up going to three different stores to get the best deals I was looking for and now looking at my freezer, fridge and pantry, I believe we’re set for the rest of the month. This month, I’m experimenting with our grocery budget. I’m putting myself to the challenge to see how well I can feed my family on a frugal budget. My monthly grocery budget…$400. My spending total so far:$$221.28.  That leaves $178.72.

After putting groceries away, I was motivated to get a head start on some of the meals I had planned for the freezer. My last stop yesterday was to BelAir and I was able to use my rewards coupon to purchase items in the meat department. I picked up 3 whole chickens, 10 pounds of hamburger meat and 2 top sirloin roasts. All of these items were on sale. Even better!

So far, with 5 pounds of hamburger, I was able to make for the freezer:

  • 3 Tater Tot Casseroles
  • 2 Green Chili Taco Bakes

I’ll finish the rest of my meal prepping for the week and the freezer today.

Meal Plan

I meal plan at the beginning of each week. For me, it’s Sunday mornings when the house is quite and everyone’s still sleeping. I try and manage a decent frugal grocery budget and not go to the grocery store on a weekly basis unless we need dairy products like milk. Weekly meal planning saves our family money, reduces food waste, and keeps us from the urge to say, “Let’s eat out!”

Here’s our plan for the week.

My weekly meal plan and shopping list is completed and posted on our fridge:



Breakfast options:

(served with fruit)

French toast casserole
Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
Scrambled, Fried, or Hard-Boiled Eggs
Breakfast Burritos
English Muffins
Homemade Bread
Breakfast Cookies
Breakfast Potatoes
Mini Apple Pies or Turnovers

 Lunch options:

Sandwiches or Wraps (Tuna salad, egg saladchicken salad, turkey salad, leftover meats, grilled cheese, blt, pb&j)
Leftovers from dinner
Baked Potato
Homemade Pizza Pockets

Suppers Your Family Will Love

Need ideas for your weekly meal plan? It’s time for another weekly menu.  I enjoy menu planning because of  the simplicity it provides for my life. It enables me to decrease my grocery shopping excursions to twice a month and it allows me to  have more free time to focus on my family and home. For ideas in the weekly meal plan, we’ll be focusing on a variety of family meals. You’ll find the recipes on the weekly meal plan also available on my Recipe Index page with a grocery list included.

Dinner (recipes will post throughout the week, given time to cook and photograph :) )

Note: an asterisk* means it’s from the freezer

Sunday:  Sunday Supper~ Crock Pot Roast with vegetables, bread

Monday: Enchiladas and Mexican Rice

Tuesday:  Beef  Fried Rice (using leftovers from Sunday night’s dinner)

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce and Garlic Bread

Thursday: Chili Dogs with toppings  Happy Valentine’s Day!~Sirloin Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli

Friday: Family Favorites Night, Cupcake Pizzas, Garden Salad

Saturday: Tater Tot Casserole, Garden Salad

For more great family recipes, be sure to visit my new recipe box page.

What’s cooking at your house this week? How does your family live frugal?


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Baked Ricotta and Spinach Rigatoni

Tags: , , Mozarella, Ricotta, Spinach,

Baked Ricotta and Spinach Rigatoni

Posted on 16 January 2013 by noelskitchen

Stock up your freezer by making several casseroles at once to save time. You’ll be glad you did.

Baked Spinach and Ricotta Rigatoni

This is a new stock the freezer recipe for my family this month. I had some frozen spinach in the freezer that I needed to rotate out and when planning our menu for the week, I came across this recipe on the Food Network website. Since I had all the ingredients on hand, I decided to give it a try. Not only is this dish a comfort meal, but it’s one of those one-dish make ahead meals I like for the freezer.

Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 (12-ounce) box or bag rigatoni
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used whatever I had on hand)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook rigatoni for 5 minutes in a pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

To make the bechamel sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sweat the onion and garlic for a few minutes until softened and but not colored. Add the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms. Gradually whisk in the wine and then the milk.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste. Let cool slightly.
  3. Transfer cooled bechamel to a large mixing bowl and add the spinach, ricotta, and eggs. Mix in rigatoni and transfer to a greased 9 by13-inch baking dish. Top with grated mozzarella.
  4. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned on top, the center is no longer runny, and the sides are bubbly.

Baked Spinach and Ricotta Rigatoni Plated

Add a side side and some bread with this and you have yourself a great family meal. The next time I try this recipe, I’m may add some mild Italian sausage, sliced mushrooms or diced chicken.


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