Archive for the ‘Main Dishes’ Category

30 pounds of potatoes. Turned into delicious, crispy hash-browns frozen for meals.  We, being my family and I, do not need the sodium, additives, preservatives, fats and fillers found in bags of frozen hash browns from stores.  When we want hash-browns we would like crispy potato strings with a little pepper, slather some homemade ketchup on top and good to go. Nothing fancy, but oh so tasty.

Price? Well for 30 lbs of potatoes, it cost me $5.00. This made 10 Ziploc baggies of 4 – 1 cup servings.  You do the math.

I never had much luck with grating a uncooked potato and stopping them from turning a rather ugly grey color before getting them cooked.  I finally found the secret.  Prior to grating, pre-boil the potato until near done but still “firm” enough to grate.  Put in refrigerator overnight to cool and grate the next day.

At this point you can freeze them in baggies “raw” or fry them and freeze them.  I’ve done both methods, but usually just fry first then freeze.  To re-heat either return to pan, put in oven, or microwave.  Quick, simple and budget saving.

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As said in a earlier post, beans are a meat substitute in this household.  Refried beans are simple to make, inexpensive, and taste great with so many dishes, or just on their own. They also freeze well and can be canned making them an added blessing.

Refried Beans

2 cups pinto beans

1/2 cup bacon drippings

1/2 tsp garlic powder

7 cups water

salt to taste

Place beans in large pot with 7 cups water.  Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer, simmer 2 hours. Add more water if water level gets low.

When beans are extremely soft, prepare large skillet by heating drippings on medium heat.  Using potato masher, mash beans then add to the drippings, stir in garlic powder and salt to taste.

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Baked beans are a weekly meat substitute in this household.  The children love them and even after the beans have been eaten, the broth makes a wonderful sop for biscuits.  I stumbled upon this recipe a year ago and loved it. I can’t say it is exactly Bush’s, but it’s pretty close if not better in flavor.  Times I want to alter the flavor a bit for variety, I will add a cup of barbeque sauce or some liquid smoke but never steer away from the basic recipe base.

I often make a large roaster pan or two full.  Then freeze (family size servings), or can.

Copycat Bush’s Baked Beans


* 1 package great northern bean
* 4 chicken bouillon cubes or beef bouillon cubes
* 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
* 1/4 cup molasses
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 1/4 cup onion
* 1/4 cup garlic powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
* 4 tablespoons chili powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
* 1/2 package hickory smoked thick cut bacon, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips

* 5 cups water, plus 5 cups for second bake

In a very large sauce pan cover the beans and bouillon cubes in 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and let sit for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain and pour beans into a 9’x11′ pan.

Combine the remaining ingredients, pour over beans, stir, and bake until all the water has evaporated, about 3 hours. Remove from oven, cover, and let sit overnight.

Next day, Add the next 5 cups of water to the beans, place in oven at 350F and bake until all the water has evaporated, about 3 hours.

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We all seen them in the store, and odds are we all have at some time purchased them also, especially if we have children.  French Toast sticks are so easy to make and freeze it is outlandish the prices they ask for a box of them.  To make them at home is super easy, all you need is to make french toast and cut it into sticks, flash freeze, then bag up.  When ready to use them, take a few out, put them in oven, toaster oven, microwave or even toaster and you have yourself a breakfast or snack.  I truly hope that rather then spend money on additives, preservatives and useless filler sugars and starches, you will stock your freezer with some healthy and homemade foods for you and yours.

Freezer French Toast Sticks.

8 slices bread (Texas, French, White, Wheat)

1/4 cup melted butter

4 eggs

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup milk

3/4 tsp vanilla

Heat skillet on stove top, prepare with PAM cooking spray or a small pat of butter.

In bowl mix together butter, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and milk.  Beat well to combine.

Dip bread slices into milk/egg mixture (do NOT do more then 2 at time or the rest will get soggy).

Lay slices two at time in skillet and fry golden on one side, then flip and do same on other. Set on cookie sheet side by side.

Do remaining slices in same fashion.

Let cool roughly five minutes before cutting.  Cut each piece into 3 pieces to create 3 sticks.

Place cookie sheet in freezer to flash freeze, then bag or put in Glad style container.  Pull out as many pieces as you need and simply reheat to serve.   Serve with honey, syrup or fruit syrup of choice.

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This week is time to replenish the freezer breakfast meals. Earlier this week I made a double batch of bread just for this occasion as French Toast Sticks and French Toast Bars were first on the order.   These are so simple to make and so easy to reheat in microwave.  They freeze nicely but also are delicious fresh from oven.  I’ve taken them to brunches, used them for desert dishes as well as for quick breakfasts around there.  They are not overly sweet, the sweetness is given from the bites of fruit more then from sugars and additives. You can choose to serve them as are, using powdered sugar, maple syrup or a fruit sauce poured over top.  These particular ones are blueberry and cream cheese, but you might also choose peaches, apricots, pears, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, insertion of coconut or nuts.  Again options truly are endless so long as you know the basic construction.

Fruited French Toast Bars

9×9 cake pan

2 cups bread, cubed  (You can remove crust if you want, I don’t.)

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

4 tbsp maple syrup

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 bar cream cheese, softened and cubed

1 cup fruit of choice

1/2 cup additions (nuts, coconut)

Prepare your pan, you can choose to butter it (what I do) or use Pam style cooking spray.

Put your bread cubes in a bowl, add the cream cheese cubes and stir to combine.  In a second bowl add your eggs, beat well.  Then milk, maple syrup and spices.  Stir well and pour over the bread cubes.  Let bread sit in the liquid for 15 -30 minutes to absorb.

Pour the entire contents into your prepared pan.  Sprinkle/or lay pieces of your fruit of choice on top, same with your additions.  Bake  uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes or until it no longer wiggles in center.

Remove and let sit for 10 minutes to set before cutting and serving.

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My children love, love, love sausage in a pancake.  Mom does not love, love, love the store price for these little breakfast luxuries. So, what do we do? Make them at home of course.  They really are not that difficult and it helps that my children just take the stick out anyways before eating, so I don’t even bother with that little piece of silliness.  So what if the children (and you) get some syrup on your fingers?  Half the fun is getting to lick the sticky sweetness off. As you can see from my son’s plate, he really likes them good and sticky, and swimming in syrup.

I make these up in large batches, flash freezing and then packing between layers of parchment to store in freezer.  When I want to use them, I simply pull them out and put in oven at 375 degrees for 12 -14 minutes…or microwave them…depending on how rushed I am.

Breakfast Pigs In A Blanket

Pork Sausage Links – as many as you want to make.

Pancake Batter – (thick style for this, if wanting to make pancakes, thin with milk)

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tbsp maple syrup

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

3 tbsp butter, melted

2 cups oil – for frying

To make.

1.) Fry your sausages and pat dry between paper towels.

2.) Mix up your pancake batter.

3.) Heat your oil in skillet for frying

4.) Put four sausages in batter and coat well, drop in hot oil and fry on one side until golden, flip and fry other side to golden.  Drain on paper towel.

5.) Serve or place on cookie sheet in freezer to flash freeze for 20 minutes, then store in baggies or containers.





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Lasagna is just one of those, must have in freezer dishes.  It is so simple to make, simple to freeze and reheat and delicious to eat.  On the negative side, it can also be packed full of starch and fat. To reduce this, I have substituted eggplant for lasagna noodles in the middle layers.  Rather then using Ricotta cheese I make my own Labnah that I use in it’s place.  Homemade spaghetti sauce is a given and I also use a mix of half ground beef and half ground turkey filler.  It’s been a hit so far not only with family, but with work clients and school and community socials where going back for seconds isn’t uncommon.

Here is the basic recipe.  But feel free to adapt it to your own.

Eggplant Lasagna

2 9×10 cake pans

1 lb ground hamburger (cooked)

1 lb ground turkey (cooked)

1 cup onion, diced

1 package lasagna noodles, cooked and divided.

2 egg plants, sliced (with skin)

1 large jar spaghetti sauce

1 lg container low-fat  Ricotta cheese (or the following recipe for Lahbeh)

2 tsp basil, oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided.

Cook your lasagna noodles until still slightly firm.  Cook the hamburger and turkey with the onion until done.   In your cake pan, place a layer of noodles, sprinkle with meat, then add your cheese, spaghetti sauce, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of basil and oregano and 1/4 tsp garlic powder.  Layer on a row of egg plant slices and repeat your layering of ingredients. Place a second row of egg plant slices, layer once more.  Top with layer of lasagna noodles, spaghetti sauce and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese, cover with remaining herbs.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


1 quart plain yogurt (with active cultures – homemade works best)

1 tsp salt

1 unused cloth diaper or sterile hankerchief

Pour yogurt into dish and add salt, stir well.  Pour into the center of diaper/hanky.  Fold up edges neatly to make a pouch and secure it with a rubber band.  Hang pouch over a dish to drain.  (I use the rubber band to attach mine to a upper cabinet handle).  Let drain for 24 hours for whey to drain off.  Once drained, open the pouch and scrape out the cheese forming it into a ball.  (This is a rather soft cheese, much like a cream cheese. In fact I use it in place of cream cheese and it can be flavored much the same.)


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Mushrooms, delicious, nutritional and a excellent meat substitute source.  Cream of Mushroom soup is a meal I make in quantity and freeze in individual containers for later consumption.  To reheat only involves a quick reheating in a pot on stove or in microwave.  It is also very easy to make and cost saving, in addition you can control the sodium and preservatives unlike canned soups from stores.

To make:

1 small package of mushrooms (button, shitake, portabella) sliced or diced.

5 cups milk  or 3 cups milk to 2 cups half and half.  (I just use milk)  (reserve 1/2 cup milk)

1/2 cup diced onion

2 tbsp corn starch or flour

Salt and pepper to taste.

Place all ingredients in pot on stove and on medium heat (just below boiling) let simmer until onions and mushrooms are cooked and lose their firmness.  At this point you can leave as is, or if you like smaller mushroom pieces (which my kids prefer), place in blender.  Return to stove top and bring back up to near boiling.  Add the corn starch/flour to the reserved 1/2 cup of milk and add to the soup stirring well to thicken. That’s all there is to it.

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This weekend I made a huge pot of French Onion Soup.  It is one of my favorite soups and freezes very well.  The rich broth mingling with the caramelized onions, poured over rich brown bread and topped with dripping melted cheeses. It just makes all right with the world.

French Onion Soup.

6 onions, peeled and sliced.

Olive oil

1/4 tsp sugar

Heat your olive oil in bottom of stew pot, add the onions and cook on medium-high heat for approximately 30 minutes to caramelize.  At the 10 minute cooking point, add the sugar to aid in the caramelizing process. Your onions are done when they have reached a rich deep brown coloration.  Be sure to stir occasionally to keep from burning.


2 cloves garlic minced

Saute for one minute.


8 cups beef stock (from your own stock, or store bought.)

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp dried thyme.

Salt and black pepper to taste.

Turn heat down to simmer and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes to mingle flavors.  The longer it cooks the richer the taste.


1/4 cup water

1 tsp cornstarch

Mix cornstarch into lukewarm water and add to the soup to thicken slightly.

To Serve:

Place piece of toasted french bread or rye bread in bottom of soup bowl. Ladle soup over bread and top with cheddar, Swiss or Gouda cheese.  Place soup bowl under broiler or in toaster oven to melt cheese.  You can also microwave it to melt cheese.  Serve warm.

Makes 8-10 servings.




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I love McDonald’s sausage, egg and cheese Muffin sandwiches.  But the price and the fat/sodium content I can live without.  Making these at home is really quite easy, all the way to making your own sausage and English muffins.  Another great thing about these breakfast sandwiches, they store wonderfully in freezer and take just a quick reheat in microwave to have a quick morning meal.  You can also mix them up, put bacon rather then sausage, use biscuits rather then muffins.  Explore, and most of all..enjoy!

You need.

English Muffin (recipe to follow, or you can buy pre-made at store)

Sliced American or Swiss cheese. (One piece per sandwich)

Sausage Patty. (One per sandwich, make yourself or buy pre-made)

Eggs. (One per sandwich).

1. Fry up your sausage, and set to side to drain any grease onto paper towel.

2. Place your eggs in a bowl, beat well until incorporated. (you are making omelet style eggs.) Heat a flat skillet on stove, or turn on your electric skillet.  Grease lightly with a pam style spray, or a paper towel dampened with oil.  Add eggs to skillet and gently roll around the wet mix until it covers the surface at a even level.   Be sure to use spatula to work around edges and center to keep eggs from burning.  Once top no longer has a “jell” like consistency, remove from heat and cut into six rectangular shaped sections (if using flat skillet), or ten rectangular sections (if using a rectangle griddle).  Fold each section in half atop itself.

3. Cut your muffins in half and place under broiler until “crisp”.  You do not want them browned or burned so monitor closely.  This process takes no more then five minutes.

4. Assemble your sandwiches…Sausage, egg, cheese atop muffin bottom, add the top.

5.) That’s it…you’re done!

Make your own English Muffins (altered Alton Brown recipe)

You need:

1/2 cup non-fat dry milk

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp shortening/lard (I use lard.)

1 cup hot water

1 envelope dry yeast

1/8 tsp sugar

1/3 cup warm water

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 stick butter, melted

Pam spray

Electric griddle

3-inch metal rings (Note…tuna cans with top/bottom lids cut off work perfect.)

In a bowl combine the powdered milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, shortening, and hot water, stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool. In a separate bowl combine the yeast and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in 1/3 cup of warm water and rest until yeast has dissolved. Add this to the dry milk mixture. Add the sifted flour and beat thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Preheat the griddle to 300 degrees F.

Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt to mixture and beat thoroughly. Place metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with vegetable spray. Using ice cream scoop, place 2 scoops into each ring and cover with a pot lid or cookie sheet and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and flip rings using tongs. Cover with the lid and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Remove, gently brush with butter on top and bottom, using finger tips, sprinkle with corn meal just to get a dusting.  Return to griddle for 1 minute to “set” the cornmeal. Place on a cooling rack, remove rings and cool. Split with fork or sharp knife and serve.





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