Thursday, August 19, 2010

In which a plea is made. Several times.

So a dear friend of mine recently emailed me with a


It's like it says in Cold Sassy Tree. "Ain't a woman in the world who hasn't prayed to God for help in what to make for dinner."

Amen and amen.

So here's what my friend says:
I am in need of ideas and recipes of things I can make days ahead and freeze or put into the crock pot quickly earlier in the day. Or any ideas of very fast (literally 15 minutes start to finish, with children distractions) beyond the typical spaghetti or grilled cheese sandwiches would be great too. Healthy, kid-friendly ideas would be ideal, but frankly I have mostly given up trying to make things my kids will like because unless it is spaghetti, mac and cheese or pizza, there will be something to complain about. So, they just have to deal with whatever healthy stuff they get.
I heart my friend lots.

(I'd totally post an embarrassing picture of her, but all my embarrassing pictures of her are from college, and that was before the days of digital cameras, and that would mean I have to scan in embarrassing pictures, and that would just take too long, and I'm tired.)

How about I just post a picture of the NBC playing with his toes? Yes, good idea.

So my friend sent this PLEA FOR DINNER HELP email to all the Moms, Grandmas, Sisters, and Friends she knew.

And it occurred to me I know a lot of those.

So - wanna help out my friend? And me? And each other?

I'm including my own tried n true recipes, as well -

Enjoy, and please help!

Because toes are tasty, but they don't fill up the belly.

Let's get started.


NOTE: Best thing to do that keeps dinners easy - cook the meat as soon as you get home from the grocery store. I throw all the chicken in every glass dish I own, sprinkle it with garlic and salt and bake. While it's goin', I mush together all the ground beef in the biggest pot I own, add garlic and salt and fry. Just put in (quality) Ziploc bags and freeze!

(At least, that's what I do when I'm on top of things. Which isn't that often, I admit.)

Anyway, most of my quick recipes use this pre-cooked meat.

You can also just do double dinner duty every time you cook - make two of everything. I'm tellin' ya. Almost everything freezes.

Muffins and bread freeze really well too. Whenever you're baking, double or quadruple your recipe and freeze away. They heat up beautifully in the microwave.

You can also pre-cut your veggies and freeze them, too - peppers especially. (Word to the wise: if you freeze brocooli, don't thaw it before using.)

AND YET ANOTHER NOTE: These are quick versions. They are tasty, but mucho tastier-o if done the slow, "right" way. Like making an actual white sauce instead of using cream of whatever. But, you know, WHATEVER.


Chicken Broccoli Casserole:

Quick boil/steam/microwave onions and broccoli. While it's goin', mix a can of cream of chicken soup with cream cheese and milk. Line the pan with pre-cooked chicken and dump first the veggies, then the sauce on. Sprinkle with cheese and pop in the oven til the cheese melts.

Simple Meatball Subs

Heat up some good ole Costco meatballs with a bottle of spaghetti sauce. Either in the microwave or the crockpot. Meanwhile, toast some hoagie buns (or hot dog buns, if you don't have any hoagies on hand). Spoon some meatballs on the buns and sprinkle with mozzarella. Voila! Dinner.

Go-To Pizza

My pizza crust is ready in 20 minutes.

Mix: 1 Tablespoon honey, 1 tsp. salt, 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast, and 1 1/2 cups warm water. Let sponge for about 5 minutes. Then add about four cups of flour. Knead, and let rest for another 10 minutes. (Quick rise method: Put a jar of water in the microwave for two minutes. Leave the jar in there, and put the bowl of dough in there too. The steam makes it rise faster.)

Now put on marinara sauce, cheese, pepperoni, whatever. Or how about (cooked) shredded pork with BBQ sauce, cilantro and cheese. I personally love a little Ranch dressing as a base, then load on shredded (precooked) chicken, cilantro, and cheese -with avocado and fresh spinach on top once it's cooked. But that's me.

(I often quadruple my pizza recipe, and freeze it. Just take it out an hour before you need it. You can also open the bag a tad and use the "quick rise" water method! Or even just buy read-made crusts. It's been done.)

Chicken Pot Pie

K. Envision this. Ready-made crust. Precooked chicken. Bag of frozen vegetables. Cream of chicken soup. Bake. Done. Sleep.

Crockpot Chicken n Rice

Chicken. Crockpot. Couple tablespoons of butter. Italian dressing mix with a couple shots of vinegar. In the last ten minutes, add some (cooked) rice and cream cheese. Yum.

Hawaiian Haystacks

Mix 1 can of cooked chicken, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, and 1/2 cup of milk. Heat. Serve over rice. Decorate with chopped green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapple, green onions, peas, chow mein noodles, coconut, whatever.

Mexicali Pork

Precooked pork, cut up. Add black beans, corn, and salsa. Heat. Serve over rice.


Precooked ground beef. Add mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, milk, sour cream, and Worcestershire. Serve over rice.

(We like rice.)

Chicken Sauces

These sauces are all super quick to prepare, but you still have to bake it.
  • 3/4 cup of mayonnaise with 2 tsp. fresh garlic and a tablespoon of mustard. Pour over raw chicken and bake.
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt with 1/3 cup apricot jam and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.
  • Can of cream of chicken soup over the chicken. Then layer slices of swiss cheese and flavored croutons.
  • Can of cream of chicken soup with a little milk and a lot of lemon juice. Mmmmmm!
Mexican Lasagna

Layer: Canned marinara sauce, tortilla, precooked ground beef, sauce, tortilla, beef, sauce, tortilla, sauce, CHEESE. Bake for 20 minutes.


We make these like weekly. For dinner.

Blend 3/4 cup of whole wheat with 1 cup of milk for four minutes on high. Add 1/2 cup of butter (applesauce works great!), 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt and blend for two more minutes. We love them with peanut butter and syrup. And sometimes bananas if we're feeling crazy.

Now I'm hungry.


Susie J. said...

Crockpot. Pork tenderloin. 1 can of chicken broth, 1 can of water. Favorite seasonings (I use garlic, onion, paprika and salt/pepper). This will turn out fall-apart-tender. It's especially good with either seasoned mashed potatoes or rice.

Lara said...

I am totally the wrong person to ask, since I'm usually the one pleading for help in these situations.

But I like your ideas! Thanks! :)

i am janae said...

My mom always keeps frozen breaded chicken on hand (you know, the kind you buy that way). She cooks them in the oven (like the directions say - super complicated, huh?) and then throws them on top of pasta, and tops that with Ragu. A nice twist on normal spaghetti.

ps. I have been known to do this with dino shaped chicken nuggets when I'm out of regular chicken. :)

Kimberly said...

I can't wait to get home from our trip and try some of these out!

Crockpot Chicken and rice:

Equal parts cream of mushroom and cream of celery poured over top chicken (breasts or thighs work best), cook on low for 6-8 hours, serve over rice and sprinkle with parmesan. Yum!

Homemade Chicken Strips:

Chicken breast, cut into strips, dipped in egg white, then in seasoned bread crumbs (I like to add some garlic powder), then baked at 350 for 20 minutes. Very yummy with plum sauce.

Julia said...

so when you cook your chicken in bulk like that do you cut it first? or cut it after? or do you just freeze it whole and then cut it later? what a great post! thanks.

Lisa Fox said...

I cook a ton of chicken at once too.. I will do a freezer bag of breasts..a freezer bag of shredded and then a bag of chunks. I love the idea of cooking meat up..haven't done that one yet. I will post some recipes in a little bit.

HeatherKitts said...

Cheeseburger Casserole:
1 lb ground beef
1 lb pasta (rotini is a super star with this)

Cook meat with 1/4c dehydrated chopped onion that you've rehydrated. Got that? Mix with cooked pasta.

Make a quick roux with 4 Tbs flour and 2 Tbs butter. Add about 3 cups milk and 1-2 cups pre-shredded cheddar. Stir and heat until thickened, then add 1 can (can, not jar) regular old tomato sauce. Stir sauce in with meat/pasta mixture. Takes like 15 mins. Seriously. YUM.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo:
Cook 8 oz pasta, add 1 cup frozen broccoli or the whole dang bag, if you're me, for the last 4-6 mins of cooking time.

Drain, then add 1 can cream of mushroom, some ground pepper, 1 or 2 cubed pre-cooked chicken breasts that you had aside in the freezer (thawed by now, of course), 1/2 c milk, 1/2 c parmesan cheese. Mix it up and voila!

HeatherKitts said...

When I say pre-cooked cubed chicken, I meant the stuff that you cooked as soon as you got home from the store THEN froze, like a good little girl :)

Becky said...

I'm not in a position to add a recipe, but these are all good ideas! Love that quotation from "Cold Sassy Tree". So true.

Elizabeth said...

Crock pot BBQ chicken:

Throw a bunch of chicken in the crockpot. Douse liberally with your favorite BBQ sauce. Turn crockpot one (very important.) Serve with nuked frozen corn and some kind of grain (even toast is good) and maybe a fruit.

Are you going to compile all this into a document we can download or something?? Also, remind me to get out my chicken and broccoli casserole recipe. The sauce is to die for (if you like curry.)

Elizabeth said...

I thought of another good quick one:

Taco Stack-ups:

Layer Fritos corn chips, chili, cheese, lettuce, tomato (and anything else you like, like salsa) and ranch dressing. Eat. All you have to do is prep the veggies and heat up the chili.

Michelle said...

A Fellow Blogger and MOM...
(this is not my site...i just follow it religiously...I'm addicted to the dump and cook method!)

I'm also looking for good make and freeze meals...since there will be a new little one come December in our house...I'm going to have to print out the recipes from this comment thread!

Katy said...

My mouth's watering. I think I'll make haystacks for dinner tonight!

Wonder Woman said...

I love buying 5 lbs of beef, cooking, and freezing in 1 lb bags with water. I just run that under hot water and I'm ready for tacos, sloppy joes, or spaghetti.

Lisha said...

I have a cooking blog with basically most of our home cooked meals, some easy, some quick but mostly family oriented. Plus there's lots of baking treats too!

You can find me at:



Kourtnie :) said...

Yummy recipes!! I just made your pizza dough and it was great!! Thanks! Oh, and the recipe you posted for chocolate chip cookies are AMAZING!!! Seriously!! AMAZING!!! Oh my yumminess!! I will forever dream about them :).

Here's a family favorite dish and it's quite easy too.

Ravioli Casserole:

1 bag of frozen raviolis
Frozen italian style meatballs
Cottage cheese
Italian blend of cheese
Can of Ragu or other spaghetti type sauce.

Cook the Ravioli's, brown the meatballs, once meatballs are cooked, cut them up in small pieces, mix it all up with the spaghetti sauce and add to a 13x9 dish. Put a layer of cottage cheese on top and then top with the italian blend of cheese. Heat for about 30 min at 350. Yummy goodness :)

Nikki said...

So hungry reading this post and all the fabulous comments! Your description about freezer prep sounds just like me. Now I'm getting freaked out though because in two weeks I'll enter my 3rd trimester. And I know I'll just be more tired then. I need to fill my freezer fast!

Megan, Peter, and Benjamin said...

I am in love....that is L-O-V-E, love.... a book called, "Fix Freeze Feast." It was at the library where I fell in love at first sight! It is geared towards the Once a Month Cooking (cook one day for the whole month). We haven't found a recipe that we didn't like.

Here is the website address: