Freezer Meals – my version

My version of freezer cooking doesn’t include a lot of “main course” meals per se, it’s more like appetizers and snacks. Sometimes I even pull out these appetizers and we eat them for dinner … eek! Now that I have confessed that, let me continue.

Recently I made chicken tacquitos, buffalo chicken wraps, jalapeno poppers, and jalapeno pizza bites. Everything froze well and we happily continue to eat them. I followed the major guidelines – I used freezer bags and let the foods freeze individually before packaging them together. I also managed to make some homemade chicken broth too – I was super excited about that. Probably more than I should have been… πŸ™‚ I didn’t take many pictures but I managed to send out this quick shot when friends asked for it:

Looks appetizing, right? {I’m not offended if you don’t think so – I’m learning to take photos still}

If you have never had jalapeno poppers before, I highly suggest making them right. now. They are amazing and worth every calorie. They can be grilled, broiled, baked in the oven, and frozen! My friends’ husband, Andrew, introduced these to me years ago and I have loved them ever since.Β  This is how we make them:

My Ingredients:
jalapenos, cut in half with seeds removed
cream cheese
slices of thick cut bacon cut in half

My Steps:
1) Take one half of your jalapeno and slather cream cheese inside it.(I don’t like my overfilling with cream cheese but I do pack it in and then level it off.)
2) Once it’s filled with cream cheese, wrap a half slice of bacon around it.
3) Use toothpicks to secure the bacon in place.
4) When ready to cook, place the cream cheese side down onto the grill or pan and cook for 5-8 minutes (or until bacon is at your preferred crispness) and then flip.
5) Continue cooking for another 5-8 or until the bacon is to your preferred crispness.

A few tips we learned along the way: our cooking method, heat temps, thickness of bacon, and whether we make them fresh or frozen vary our cook time so we also watch them and flip when the bacon is crispy. The reason we put the cream cheese side down first is because the cream cheese often flows out during the second half of it’s cooking. And finally, when we pull them out of the freezer and pop um under the broiler, we cook them (cream cheese side down 1st) for 10 minutes, flip, and cook for 4-5 minutes.

If you haven’t tried these, please make them soon! If it sounds delicious to you, you will not be disappointed! I will also post the jalapeno pizza bites soon, but for now you can should try these pizza bites – they were my guide/inspiration for jalapeno pizza bites!

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Freebie Loving

I recently started learning how to use GIMP {it’s free to download!} and L.O.V.E. it! I cannot even remember the number of times I started/stopped projects. I was overwhelmed and not sure where to begin. I mean there are layers, masks, alpha selection commands, image size {which is not layer size! I seriously mistook

Until I found some free templates ! These were just the motivation I needed. I started learning the basics and eventually learned how to put a picture into a template. That was a huge accomplishment! I would highly recommend this tutorial if you would like to learn πŸ™‚

As I continued learning, I realized there are many fabulous designers who offer free files of papers, brushes, and elements. It was like Pinterest, I couldn’t get enough! As I continue to learn GIMP, it’s powers, my creative side, and enjoy the process, I am so grateful to people who upload snippets of their hardwork so people like me can download and use it.

I’m quite proud of my first original work – I’m loving it:

The generosity of these artists inspires me, I hope you will visit them!

http://persnicketyprints.com/

http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/ – tons of artists & great resource!

Spaghetti Bread

TW and I love – love – love bread. I’m particular about my bread and won’t eat just any (because let me be honest, if I am going to consumer those delicious carbs then I want them to taste a.m.a.z.i.n.g.). Thus, I prefer the artisan loafs and he prefers any bread.

Random confession: We try not to keep bread in our pantry because we will eat it within 24 hours. We rarely have pasta in our pantry too. Eek!

Now back to the original intent of this, tonight I decided to make ‘Braided Spaghetti Bread.’ The original recipe can be found here. This recipe would be good as is {or so I assume because you can’t go wrong with the combo} but I decided to change a fewΒ  things so that it fit my preferences.

I omitted the spaghetti noodles (an easy way to cut carbs). I used thawed meatballs (recipe from Pioneer Woman) that TW made a few weeks ago. I also made marinara sauce and used this recipe as a base. I later added garlic salt, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, and red pepper flakes (all rough estimates).

Confession 2: I rarely measure things – I just throw in a little to start with, taste test, and add more until I like it. This recipe will not give you exact measurements – so think of this as an opportunity to be daring and find what works for you.

My Ingredients:
1 loaf thawed Rhodes White Bread
2-3 cups meat sauce (rough estimate since I didn’t measure this)
4 oz chopped provolone cheese (Parmesan would be good too!)
1 tablespoon butter
garlic salt

My steps:
I) Roll the bread loaf onto a stone baking sheet until it is aΒ  large rectangle size.
2) Melt butter in a ramekin and added garlic salt to it.
3) Spread a little onto theΒ  bread.
4) Add half of the cheese in the middle of the bread.
5) Add the meat mixture on top of the cheese.
6) Top with rest of cheese.
7) After it’s filled, cut slits into the outer sides of the bread (see original recipe for great pictures!)
8) After slits are made, “braid” the bread together.
9) Once braided, brush on the remaining butter/garlic salt mixture and added cheese (if desired).
10) Cook for 30 minutes @ 350 degrees.

It was pretty good but I’m not sure if I would make it again. And honestly it’s because of the carbs. They just were not worth it for this meal. Maybe you’ll like it though!

Change Happens Quickly

Why hello again! May was an insainly busy month for us! Let’s recap…

On 5/5/12, I achieved my 2012 New Years Resolution. I ran my first 1/2 marathon! That’s right – 13.1 miles ! It was exhilarating! And all I could think after the race was, “I just ran 13.1 miles. I’m done. I don’t have to run anymore today!” Quick shout out because I have to thank TW for training with me and subtly pushing me when I needed it. Thanks TW! And thanks to my family and The Family for their support and encouragement. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you surround yourself with positive people.

In early May, TW was offered a job in San Francisco! We decided to take the plunge, sell/pack our belongings, and buy one-way tickets to San Francisco! Seriously, this is one of the best decisions we have made. It’s been an awesome adventure so far.

The hardest part of moving to SF was saying goodbye to our friends. I’m thankful they still keep me in the loop πŸ™‚ I’m planning of ways to get them out to SF soon. I’m thinking trips to wine country will do the trick πŸ˜‰

Additionally, we celebrated my mom’s 50th birthday party by throwing her a surprise party! In total she had 4 surprises that night – 1) the party … 2) me and TW being there {she thought we were packing to move to SF, hence the pictures I would send her, haha} … 3) one of her best friends from TN came … 4) her dad came in from LA. Needless to say there was tears and she loved the whole party. Special thanks to my one of best friends Shanna for capturing her party too! Shanna recently started her own photography business and she graciously took pictures for us throughout the night. People say we look like twins – what do you think?

Well that about recaps our recent changes! I am hoping to post more once we get settled here in SF. For now, we’ll enjoy our little adventure called life.

Ham, Red Pepper, & Cheddar Cheese Frittata

TW (aka: hubby) and I love eggs. I eat them most mornings and they are my go-to for a quick dinner.

In the past few months I have really enjoyed making frittatas. Their easy, quick, full of protein, and delicious (well some of them – the spinach frittata was a little over the top for me).

Yesterday I needed a quick dinner idea so I settled on a frittata. I decided to change it up from the usual frittata that I would make. Instead, I made a ham/red pepper/cheddar cheese frittata. This is how I made it:

2/3lb ham (I diced up thick cut, cooked ham)

1 medium size red pepper, sliced and diced

1/4lb shredded sharp cheddar cheese

9 eggs

2 egg whites

I preheated the oven to 450 while I was prepping the food

After prep work was done, I threw all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mixed (ensure the yokes are broken up and you are good).

Then I poured the mixture into a large skillet pan (12” maybe?) and put it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

I let it cool for a few minutes, transferred it to a serving platter, sliced it up, and scarfed it down :)Also I had enough slices left over for breakfast so – score!

A Sense of Accomplishment

Do you ever get those questions that you are not sure how to answer because your answer will tell the world a little bit more about you?

I do.

I hate them. With. a. passion.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy sharing my passions/interests/experiences with people but if people have never seen that side of me before it feels awkward to share that. I am also irked if I don’t have an explanation for why I enjoy the things I do. Here are a few questions that got me thinking awhile ago:

If you were a professor, what type of class would you teach?

What magazine subscriptions do you enjoy the most?

What sport would you coach?

Some people will tell me that I enjoy x, y, or z because it brings me pleasure. Well that’s great – I sure hope I don’t continually do something without receiving pleasure from it. But what I really want to know is the ‘why.’

Why do I find it fun to complete DIY projects?

Why do I enjoy making food from scratch when it is much easier to buy it prepackaged?

Tonight, I got a little closer to learning my ‘why.’ I found a delicious, out-of-this-world, go-make-it-now homemade chocolate syrup. In keeping my take on the title, I made it tonight.

After it was done I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. As I licked the whisk dry taste tested it, I was even more proud of how it tasted (it’s hard to screw up a recipe that easy though, haha) and that I finally made homemade chocolate syrup. (Hopefully this means I can stop buying Nesquik for TW…)

So there we have it folks – part of the reason I engage in DIY/make food from scratch is because I feel a sense of accomplishment afterwords. And -it generally taste good or looks cute πŸ™‚

Be sure to check out the recipe for this homemade chocolate syrup!

Chicken Mac ‘N’Cheese

There is an Irish Pub close to us that my hubby just LOVES. It is always in his top two choices of places to eat out at. One of my favorite dishes from there is the chicken macaroni and cheese. I found a simple mac’n’cheese recipe from allrecipes.com recently and decided to use it as a guide. (I would rather change a recipe then make one from scratch, haha.)

So! In the spirit of Sunday = Pasta Night dishes (I’ve dictated certain themes for each night of the week so that it makes dinner planning easier) I made Chicken Mac’N’Cheese tonight! What’s not to love about pasta, oodles and oodles of cheese, and a little cream?

Here you go! Enjoy!

P.S. Feel free to substitute any cheese for your personal favorites πŸ™‚

* Next time I make this I think I will reduce the milk/cheese mixture by half because this was too runny for my taste.

* The recipe card is from HP and is available for free.*