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Friday, March 28, 2014

Fresh Calzones

This month's rotation of meals has started off with several "make fresh" items using something that was frozen.  One of them was Calzones, and they were delicious!

On shopping day I had purchased the meats and cheese for this entrĂ©e.  The cheese had been part of a 5-pound bag and so was divided into 4 smaller bags and frozen.  One went into a gallon Ziploc bag along with the small bag of pepperoni and a bag of salami.  The Ziploc was then marked "Calzones."  The can of olives was stored in the pantry with "save" written on the top of the can and the veggies (red onion and mushrooms) were stored in the fridge until baking day.

In the morning of baking day, I pulled the Calzone bag out of the fridge to defrost.  That afternoon I prepared the Calzones, making two different flavors.

2 C water, warm
4 1/2 tsp. or 2 packages active dry yeast
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
4 T oil
5 C flour

Warm the water.  Add the yeast, salt and sugar and mix well.  Then add the flour and oil.  When a stiff dough has been formed, turn the dough out on a flour surface and knead briefly until smooth.  Let set for 5 minutes.

Prepare the pans by lightly spraying 2 pizza pans.  Also prepare the pizza sauce by mixing the following ingredients together.

1 15oz. can tomato sauce
4 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
couple of dashes of black pepper

Cut the dough in half.  Briefly knead and roll-out into a large circle.  Carefully lift the crust onto one of the pizza pans.  Repeat for the second crust.

Spread half of the sauce on each pizza crust.  Generously sprinkle with cheese on half.  Cover the same half with your favorite pizza toppings.  I used the following for one Calzone:
1/2 lb. sliced pepperoni
1/4 lb. sliced salami
generous 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 red onion, sliced
1-4oz. can sliced olives
4-5 fresh mushrooms, sliced

Calzone number two had only cheese and pepperoni.

Fold the saucy half over the pizza toppings.  With a dinner fork, press the edges together.

Separate one egg, reserving the egg white.  Beat it.  Brush the egg white on the top of each Calzone.  Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-22 minutes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Journal of a Cooking Day

As I prepared yet another month of menus which included 35 meals, I decided to journal my steps.  Here's what it took to prepare those meals for freezing.  As each meal is "eaten" I'll consult the recipe to finish it.  (My next step is to add the completed recipes to my blog.)
First Day

Shop for groceries (Costco, Target and Ralphs worked well for this OAMC menu)


·         Freeze Salmon, Fish, Pork Shoulder, and Hamburger patties.

·         Cut apart the 3-pack of hot dogs.  Write "save" on one.  Freeze all.

·         2 whole chickens, cleaned and rinsed and placed into two separate ziploc bags.  One for Sweet and Sour Chicken and one for 40-Clove Garlic Chicken.

·         Boil all of the  chicken.  Save the broth.   Cool and separate the meat as follows:

o   3 for Chicken Packets

o   7 for Chili Sans Verde

o   4 for chicken tacos

o   3 for BBQ Ranch Chicken Pizza

o   3 for Penne Gorgonzola Pasta

o   3 for chicken soup

o   5 shred and freeze as extra

·         Quiches - Make one Aztec and one Cheese.  Cover with foil and freeze on plates.

Aztec Quiche

2 Deep dish frozen pie shells

1 4oz. can diced green chilies - spread over the bottom of one pie crust.

2 cups of shredded cheese per pie


Mix together and pour over the cheese:

6 eggs

2 C heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cumin


Defrost and remove foil.  Lay it gently over the top of pies.  Bake on a cookie sheet at 3235 degrees F for about 1 hour.  Serves 8 per pie.


Divide Mozzarella Cheese into 4 bags.  Freeze two.  Freeze a third with the pepperoni for the Calzone.


Cooking Day

1. Make Red Sauce.

2. Shred all the chicken by container and finish the chicken meals.



Chicken Taco Filling

Boil, cool and shred 4 large chicken breasts.

Reserve broth and mix the following for the sauce;

3/4 C chicken broth

1/2 C water

1/3 C Taco Seasoning Mix  (McCormick is my favorite)

Put in an 7-cup Rubbermaid container, label and freeze.


Chicken Packets

Boil and shred 3 large chicken breasts.  Freeze.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Boil, cool and shred 7 large chicken breasts.

Toss with 2 tsp. garlic salt and 4 cups shredded cheese.

Add 1-2 cans of diced green chilies if desired.

Lay 6 corn tortillas on the bottom of a 9x13" pan.  Cover with half of the mixture.

Lay 6 more tortillas over mixture and cover with remaining chicken mix.

Mix together 2 cans of cream of chicken soup and 1 C milk.  Pour most of it over the mixture.

Cover with 6 more tortillas and remaining sauce. 

Cover tightly and freeze.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes when defrosted.


Chicken Soup

In a 14-Cup Rubbermaid container combine the following:

8 C reserved chicken broth

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1/4 tsp. ground thyme

1 tsp. onion powder or 1 onion diced

4 stalks celery chopped

4 carrots sliced

Label the container and freeze.

            On the day you will eat:

1 bag of egg noodles

1 12oz. can evaporated milk

  1. Heat the soup over medium until the veggies are soft.
  2. Add the cooked chicken, egg noodles, and evaporated milk into the soup; cook until the noodles are cooked through, another 7 to 10 minutes.

Penne Chicken Gorgonzola

Shred and freeze 2 large chicken breasts.  Assemble the rest on the day of eating.

BBQ Ranch Chicken Pizza

Shred and freeze 3 large chicken breasts.  Assemble pizza fresh on the day of eating.


3. Pasta dishes.  Put away all pastas except the Manicotti.  Boil it now.

Set aside 3 cups of sauce for the Manicotti.

Divide the remaining sauce among several 3-cup freezer containers. (about 8).  Cool completely.  Label and freeze.

Prepare Manicotti filling.

Manicotti Filling

Mix the following in a medium sized bowl. 

15 oz. Ricotta cheese

16 oz. cottage cheese

2 eggs

1 C grated mozzarella cheese

1/3 C shredded parmesan cheese

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 T dried parsley


To fill the manicotti shells, spoon filling into a pastry bag.  Use this to squeeze filling into the shells.  Lay in a 9x13' pan.  Cover with reserved sauce and additional mozzarella cheese.  Cool completely, label and freeze.


Write "save" on the following dry ingredients:

Nacho Potato Soup

Patty MElts - dill bread

Cornmeal for Polenta

Corn bread Mixes

TUna Casserole ingredients

Mac n cheese

BBQ sauce and ranch dressing




4. Prepare Hash Brown Casserole and freeze.


Hash Brown Casserole


In a greased 9x13"pan, arrange the shredded hash brown potatoes.

Cover with 2 cups shredded cheese.

Dice 1 Cup of ham lunchmeat and sprinkle over the cheese.


In a separate bowl combine:

4 eggs

1 12-oz can evaporated milk

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. salt


5. Prepare the dishes containing ground turkey.

Set aside 3 packages of ground turkey for 2 meatloaves (one to keep, one to give away)


Brown each package of turkey individually, drain any fat and place into containers for freezing.

·         Joe's to Go in a 9-cup container.

·         Taco Mac n Cheese in a

·         Chili Burritos

·         Beef Taco Skillet in a 9" square, covered casserole

·         Taco Cornbread Casserole


Finish each recipe.


Joe's to Go

To the ground turkey add:

3/4 C chopped onion or 3/4 tsp. onion powder

1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 jar Homemade Chili Sauce

1/4 C brown sugar

1 T white vinegar

1 T prepared mustard

1C tomato sauce


Serve on hamburger buns with a sprinkling of cheese.


Taco Mac n Cheese

To the ground turkey add:

1/3 C salsa

1 1/2 tsp. chili powder


On eating day, you'll add 2 C elbow noodles and 8 oz. Velveeta cheese.


Chili Burritos


1/3 C taco seasoning

1- 16oz. can baked beans


On eating day, serve in flour tortillas with shredded cheese and salsa.


Beef Taco Skillet

To the ground turkey add:

1/3 C Taco Seasoning

1 10oz. can tomato soup

1/2 C water


On eating day, cut up 6 corn tortillas into 1' pieces.  Stir into warmed meat mixture.  sprinkle with 1/2 C shredded cheese.


Taco Cornbread Casserole (Taste of Home, new to me 2014)

To the ground turkey add:

1/3 C taco seasoning

2-15oz cans diced tomatoes

1 C water

1-4oz can green chilies


on eating day, cook 1 cup of rice and add to meat mixture.  Follow the rest of the recipe.

6.  Now make two meatloaves.  Do so in separate bowls.

In each bowl place 1 package of ground turkey and half of another.

1 package dry onion soup mix

2 eggs

1/3 C ketchup

1 1/2 C Italian Seasoned bread crumbs

3/4 C water


Mix very well.  Lightly grease a loaf pan.  Pour mixture into pan and spread smooth.  Cover with foil, label and freeze.


7.  Lastly, prepare the Lentil-Ham Soup in a 5-cup container.


4 C reserved chicken broth

1/2 C chopped celery

1/2 tsp. onion powder (or 1/2 C diced onion)

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 C dried lentils

1/2 tsp. each of basil, oregano and rosemary

1/4 tsp. pepper


As items cool, add them to the freezer.

Follow the recipes for each meal on eating day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Preparing for a Once-a-Month Cooking Day

Yesterday was my day to prepare the grocery list for a month of meals.  I took a look at my next menu and added a few meals to make a total of 35.  With four adult children living at home while in college, the meals are going faster than they once did.  It is my hope that this will get us to early May. 
Today, my hubby and I went shopping.  We were able to get most of the ingredients at Costco and Target, but I will need to shop at another grocery store to get a few more specialty items.  That can wait until morning!
Here's my kitchen this afternoon.  I never like putting it all away, but it's also good to split the shopping from the cooking.
 My freezer is quite empty as I go into this cooking day.
The refrigerator, on the other hand, becomes quite full as it is the holding space for all those groceries until morning!
 A few items are ingredients for meals that are best made fresh, such as Pigs in a Blanket which will be made with fresh bread dough, so I identified one package that must be saved!

I did prepare a few items today that just make sense before freezing.  Here's what I did:
  • Froze the pre-seasoned Salmon
  • Cleaned two chickens and froze them separately
  • Cooked all the boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Made two quiches, one Aztec, one plain
  • Cut the 3-pack of hot dogs into individual packages, labeled one and froze all
  • Froze the hamburger patties
Tonight I am baking the last meal from the last round of cooking, a Lasagna.  Tomorrow the cooking begins!

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Dinner

If the ingredients have anything to do with it, dinner is going to be scrumptious.  That is, if there is any left after the nibbling I've allowed myself to do.  I found two recipes for Reuben bakes using corned beef and decided to try them both.  Check them out:

Reuben Crescent Bake

Reuben Loaf

Both are on  One uses Pillsbury Crescent rolls and one makes a bread from scratch.  Can't wait to cut into them tonight!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I made both fresh.  As for incorporating it into a once-a-month cooking day, I'd buy the ingredients but store them separately.  Freeze the meat, save the other ingredients as appropriate and marked "save."

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Day I Fell in Love with Garlic

It's been nearly 30 years since that afternoon that I went to visit my boyfriend, and he fed me his brother's Fettuccine Alfredo, his style.  I couldn't stop eating it!  The flavor was addicting.  And then I learned that it was full of garlic.  It was a most unusual variation of Alfredo including ground hamburger.

Today I pulled out a container of chicken from the freezer to make Garlic Parmesan Noodles. It was wonderful to have prepared the chicken ahead and frozen it.  I simply cooked the noodles and added few more fresh ingredients to create a delicious dinner for my family.

Garlic Parmesan Noodles
Cook a 16oz. package of noodles in salted water.

Cook and shred 3-4 cups of chicken (do this ahead and freeze)

1 quart of heavy whipping cream with
4 tsp. minced garlic (or more) and
1/2 tsp. (to taste) garlic salt.

Toss noodles with chicken and sauce.  Serve immediately.

For a simple primavera, add a bag of peas or broccoli, pre-cooked, to the mix.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Six Cheese White Pizza

It was a quiet, rainy day and I was not expecting any one home for dinner and so had decided to bank on leftovers.  Easy, right?  Well, then a son asked for dinner, but it had to be vegetarian for his guest.  I decided to make them a pizza using items from my pantry and freezer.

Pizza Dough
2 C warm water
4 1/2 tsp. or 2 packages yeast
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 T vegetable oil
5 C flour

Swiss cheese
mozzarella cheese
4-cheese Italian Blend

Any other toppings you wish.

To the warm water add the yeast, salt and sugar.  Mix well.  Add the oil and flour mixing until the dough is smooth.  Let rest for 5 minutes. 

With well greased hands, spread dough into a jelly roll pan.  Cover with a layer of Alfredo sauce (I like Ragu and use about 1/2 jar). 

Dice about 8 ounces of Swiss cheese and sprinkle over the sauce.
Then about 1 C of shredded mozzarella cheese followed by a cup or so of 4-Cheese Italian Blend shredded cheeses.  Bake at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes.  Watch that the cheese does not burn.

I had actually hoped to make a Chicken Cordon Bleu pizza but we were out of ham.  I did through diced chicken nuggets on half of the pizza.  It was a hit!

As for once-a-month cooking this is a recipe I always make from scratch because of the yeast.  I "stole" the Alfredo sauce from a pasta recipe, and I always have shredded mozzarella in the freezer because I buy the 5 lb. bag pre-shredded and divide it into 4-5 Ziploc bags.