Monday, August 29, 2011

Freezer Meal Review: Baked Pesto Chicken

Another freezer meal for us tonight. This was better than I was expecting. It went really well with the brown rice that was suggested. Very easy--just defrost and stick it in the oven to bake!

Here's what our delicious dinner looked like:

For this, and for other freezer recipes I made this month, click here

PointsPlus: 3 points for 3 strips of chicken
Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by: OnceAMonthMom

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pinterest Recipe Review: Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Holy sinfulness. This was creamy and cheesy and carby. It generally made you want to have the meal go on forever and at the same time want to curl up under a blanket on the couch to eat this. I am definitely in a carb coma right now--and loving every minute of it. I'm sure you can see from the post that this is NOT going to be a low-point meal. Save it for the day after your weigh-in day.

Here's the link to the original recipe:

Given my new obsession with freezer meals--as long as you cook it first, this meal would freeze really well.

What's Needed:
1 lb. gnocchi
2 T. butter
2 tsp. garlic, finely chopped
1 T. flour
3/4 C. milk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 C. Asiago cheese, shredded
1/4 C. Fontina cheese, shredded
1/3 C. shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. prepare gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and place gnocchi in a single layer 1.5 qt. shallow baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook garlic 30 seconds. Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles. Then whisk in milk and dijon mustard. Cook until slightly thickened 3-5 minutes.

3. Combine Asiago and Fontina cheese. Add by the handful to the pan. Add by the handful. Once all cheese is melted, season with salt & pepper.

4, Pour over gnocchi. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until gnocchi puff and cheese is golden & bubbly--about 25 minutes.

5. Let gnocchi rest for about 5 minutes.

PointsPlus: 10 for 1/4 of the pan
Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Freezer Meal Review: Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

We had the first (of many) freezer meals this month. It was a hit with everyone. Just spicey enough to have a kick, without overwhelming my little guy and myself.

Since I needed Italian Sausage for another recipe this month, I used that instead of plain smoked sausage. It added a lot more flavor to this dish.

Here's the before picture (Just out of the freezer)

I didn't really have time to thaw it out in the freezer. So this meal went from the freezer into a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes. I checked on it after 30 minutes in intervals to make sure it didn't get dried out.

Here's the after picture:
As you can see, there's just enough for one person left. I may turn this into lunch tomorrow.

To find this, and the other recipes I cooked this month, click here

PointsPlus: 9 (for 1/4 of the pan)
Husband's Grade: A

Inspired by: Once A Month Mom

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My August/September Menu--with many thanks to Once a Month Mom!


Here are all of the links to the recipes I used for my August/September Menu. Many thanks to Tricia, and all the girls at Once A Month Mom!

You will notice that there are links to several different menus and several different months. I knew that not all of the recipes for the August Traditional menu would work for my family, so I went through and picked what looked good.

I will do individual reviews of the recipes as we eat them. Below you will find the names of the recipes and links to the recipes on the Once A Month Mom website. I'm also listing the Points Plus values of everything.

August/September Menu
Blueberry Breakfast Cake (guess who forgot to get raspberries): PointsPlus: 4 for 1/8 of the cake.

Upside-Down Baked Oatmeal PointsPlus: 5 (for 1/6 of the pan)

Strawberry-Orange Smoothie PointsPlus: 4 (for 1 pint-size bag)

Stuffed Pizza Sticks PointsPlus: 5 (per stick)

Chilled Spaghetti Salad PointsPlus: 7 (one packet of dressing and pasta salad)

Sugar Snap Pea Salad
(I doubled up my portion size on this one) PointsPlus: 6 (for one bag full)

Homemade Chicken Nuggets Points Plus: 4 (per tender)

Tilapia with Spinach, Onion, Tomato, and Herbs (substituted onions for mushrooms) PointsPlus: 7 (per fillet)

Crockpot Pesto Lasagna PointsPlus: 16 (for 1/8 of the lasagna)

Summer Steak Kabobs PointsPlus: 7 (2 skewers and 1/2 C. brown rice)

Steak Fajitas
PointsPlus: 6 (per fajita)

Ranch Burgers
PointsPlus: 4 (1 burger, no bun)

Sausage and Pepper Penne
PointsPlus: 8 (for 1/4 of the pan)

Garlic-Lime Pork Chops
PointsPlus: 7 (per chop)

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya PointsPlus: 9 (1/4 of the bag) Click here for my review

Baked Pesto Chicken PointsPlus: 3 (for 3 pieces)
Click here for my review


I, apparently, was very anxious to start my cooking extravaganza. Not a smart idea. After doing some last minute shopping, I decided to start cooking at 6 p.m. Yes, you read that right P.M.! What the heck was I thinking? At one point I thought I might start and finish up later, but the thought of cleaning everything up only to have to start fresh again in the morning nearly killed me. So, I powered through until I had everything but one recipe finished.

I am exhausted and every part of my lower body hurts from standing for 10 hours, but I have such a feeling of accomplishment, especially when I look at my freezer! A month's worth of meals that I won't have to even think about. Just pop it in the oven or microwave and serve. That's my kind of meal!

This will be a long-ish post, because I'm so excited about everything. I will have links to the recipes I used as well as (some) pictures, that I remembered to take through the process. If you are thinking about starting your own monthly cooking adventure, please take a look at Once A Month Mom. She makes it SOOOOOO much easier!

The first thing I decided to do was to organize all of my ingredients and try to bring in more counter space to my small kitchen.

I brought in every TV tray I had and used all available counter space to organize the ingredients I would be using in every recipe I was planning on cooking.

I laid out my OAMM recipe cards, Cooking Day Instructions, and freezer labels on a TV tray so that they were ready when I needed them.

I made sure that my recipe cards matched the order that I had put the recipes in the Cooking Day Instructions. If I could only be this organized on a regular basis, my life would run much more smoothly.

Then, I got to cooking! I will post all the recipes, etc., later.

This is what my now fully stocked freezer looks like:

Top shelf is all of the breakfasts, lunches, and some of the dinners that were stored in ziploc bags:

Next is the rest of the dinners in ziploc bags and 8x8 aluminum pans--next to the delicious Freschetta pizzas ;)

Our freezer door took the yummy breakfast smoothies:

And, since I buy my meat at Sam's Club, this is all the 'extra' meat that we have for meals when I have time to cook during the week:

Now...who wants to join me in my craziness?

Inspired by: Once A Month Mom

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pinterest Review: Bruschetta Chicken


This was fantastic. I'm re-thinking the side I serve with it for next time. This time, I made garlic bread, because it was fast and easy. My husband suggested next time adding some spinach to the chicken and serving it with rice. This sounds like a great plan to me, so that is what we'll be doing. On a plus side, the leftovers are AWESOME as a salad. All you need is just a little bit of the sun-dried tomato dressing, and you're in business.

What's Needed:
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C. Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing
2 tomatoes, finely chopped (I didn't have any fresh tomatoes, so I used a can of petite diced tomatoes, drained)
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. dried basil

1. Heat grill pan to medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray.

2. Marinate the chicken (for at LEAST 10 minutes prior. The longer you can marinate, the better).

3. Remove chicken from bag; discard bag and dressing.

4. Grill on grill pan for about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 dressing, tomatoes, basil, and cheese.

5. Turn the chicken over. Top with tomato mixture. Cover grill pan and cook 8-10 minutes or until chicken is done.

PointsPlus: 6
Husband's Grade: A-

Inspired by: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pinterest Review: Ranch House Pork Chops with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

(Excuse the picture. I forgot to take it until after I
had put it away).

This is one of the first times since I've been married that I've made pork chops. The main reason being that my husband claims to not like them. But since J was born, I'm trying to make as many different finds as possible, so that he can try them. Considering the fact that my husband doesn't like pork chops, his grade of an A+ came as a complete surprise. He said they were tasty and tender.

This recipe is excellent. Easy to throw together and delicious when it's done. It even reheats well! I unfortunately didn't have time to make the mashed potatoes from scratch. I'm posting both the original and the quick version of the potatoes.

What's Needed: Pork Chops
1 can cream of chicken soup
6 pork chops
1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix

1. Place pork chops, ranch seasoning, and soup in the crockpot.
2. Cook on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.

PointsPlus: 5

What's Needed: Mashed Potatoes--Quick Version
Instant mashed potatoes (I made 6 servings--enough for 1/2 C. Mashed potatos per pork chop)
1 C. Parmesan cheese
4.5 tsp. Of Roasted Garlic and Herb Mashed Potato Seasoning mix (I fOund this at Ultra Foods)

1. Prepare instant mashed potatoes according to package directions.
2. When you add in the mashed potato flakes, add the Parmesan cheese and seasoning mix.
3. Stir until well mixed.

Points Plus: 3

What's Needed: Parmesan Mashed Potatoes--Original
4 lbs peeled, cubed potatoes
5 Tablespoons real butter
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves roasted garlic (directions are below)
1- 1 1/2 Cups warm skim milk (any milk will do, I used skim)
1 Tablespoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place bulb of garlic with skins on, wrap lightly in tin foil and bake for 1 hour.
3. Remove from foil and let cool for 15 minutes.
4. Remove garlic from skins, place in a bowl and mash with a fork until completely mashed.
5. Set aside. One garlic bulb will have around 12 cloves.
6. Place potatoes into a large pot of cold water. Place onto stove top over high heat and bring to a boil.
7. Once water is boiling, cook for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
8. Drain and transfer to the work bowl of a stand or electric mixer.
9. Mix on low until potatoes are mashed then add butter, Parmesan, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Season to taste if needed. For thinner mashed potatoes add more milk, slowly until your desired consistency.

Points Plus: 8

Husband's Grade: A+
Inspired by: Real Mom Kitchen

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Plan

I spent all morning long looking at my new favorite blog/website: OAMM

I think I've got my plan in place. I looked at the August menus, and, after deciding that not all the meals would work for my family, pieced together a menu that I think we will all enjoy.

Here's my menu plan for the month of August/September. (Since I'm doing my cooking day on August 14th, I'm approximating that these meals will last us through September 14th-ish).

Breakfast recipes:

Upside-Down Baked Oatmeal
Strawberry Orange Smoothies
Raspberry Breakfast Cake

Lunch Recipes:
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Stuffed Pizza Sticks
Chilled Spaghetti Salad
Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Dinner Recipes:
Spicy Stuffed BBQ Chicken
Baked Pesto Chicken
Steak Fajitas
Sausage and Pepper Penne
Pesto Lasagna
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Summer Steak Kabobs
Ranch Burgers
Garlic-Lime Pork Chops

I have my grocery list assembled. Now I will be keeping an eye out for good sale prices on the items I need. I'll also be re-reading OAMM's FAQ on Freezer Cooking to try to wrap my head around the project I'm about to undertake.

If you don't hear from me after August 14th, it's because I died in the kitchen during my big cooking day. ;)

Lemon and Brown Butter Fish Fillets

This was a great, light, summer meal. It would have been even better had I remembered to make the bread I was planning on. Even mashed potatoes would have been a good side.

What's Needed:
4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint red grape tomatoes
1/2 C. parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 6-oz. tilapia fillets
All-purpose flour
4 T. cold, unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat a large skillet over high heat with 2 T. of olive oil.

2. Add the grape tomatoes in an even layer and sear for 2 minutes. Add half of the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes, or until tomatoes start to burst. Remove them from the pan and cover with aluminum foil.

3. Wipe out the skillet. Return stove to medium-high heat.

4. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.

5. Add 2 T. olive oil to skillet. Once oil is hot, shake extra flour from the fish and add to the skillet.

6. Cook fish for 4-5 minutes on each side. Once cooked, transfer the fish to a serving platter and cover with aluminum foil.

7. Wipe skillet clean. Return stove to medium-high heat.

8. Melt butter. Once butter is brown and smells slightly nutty, add lemon juice and remaining parsley.

9. Pour brown butter over fish and top with tomatoes.

PointsPlus: 10 (1 fillet with sauce and tomatoes)
Husband's Grade: A

Inspired by: Rachel Ray: 365 and No Repeats