Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mom's Fruit Salad

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I am about to share something that will change your life.  And the best part is, it is incredibly easy.  My mom's fruit salad.




For those of you who have been following me for a little while know that my mom passed away in early May last year.  It's been a very reflective past couple weeks.  All within ten days time there was the first anniversary of my mom's death and then Mother's Day shortly after.  Granted it was my second Mother's Day without my mom, it didn't make the time any less painful, no that's not the right word, I'm not sure there is a word for it.  There were a lot of firsts this year--Caden's 2nd birthday celebrated without her, my birthday, her birthday, finding out we were expecting our 2nd child, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then all those little things in life where she would have been my first phone call.  I miss her dearly, but I am so glad I have little things like her fruit salad to remember the good times.  Sorry, I didn't intend for this to be a bummer of a post, but at the same time, I felt like I needed to take a moment to remember her, especially with Addyson's birth coming so soon.  My sister went on the hospital tour with me just yesterday and the sweet nurse kept saying things like, your husband and/or mom will likely be there in the room with you.  It's things like that when I think life just isn't fair--how much I wish she could be here for this.  I know she'll be there watching the whole thing--I am certain I will feel her presence there with me.

Anyhow, sorry for the sappy part!  On to the good part!  My mom always made this fruit salad for every holiday.  I am not certain why she didn't make it at least once a month.  Maybe the high calorie content.  But then again, my mom was one who would skip dinner to eat dessert!  I am very much her daughter!  In fact, in all my years, I never once thought to serve this over ice cream until my sister-in-law recommended it.  Let me tell you, I think that might be the only perfect way to enjoy this dessert!  Yes, I said dessert.  This is not a healthy fruit salad, but it sure is delicious.

There is one magical ingredient that makes this recipe.  I had people guessing all sorts of things.  Pudding, no.  Sugar, no.  Well, kind of sugar!  It's peach pie filling!  You can get canned or make your own pie filling.  Whatever you want to do.  Like I said, definitely not healthy!  Basically you can put anything in this recipe and it is delicious.  Here is the traditional recipe we always used, but feel free to use whatever you want!  I am tempted to put in some blueberries and raspberries next time!  I don't think you can go wrong with any fruit!  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has over the years!

Mom's Fruit Salad Recipe
 
1 can peach pie filling
1 cup of mandarin oranges (or a can)
1 pound of fresh strawberries quartered (or 1 bag frozen)
1 cup of pineapple chunks (or 1 large can)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Filling My Freezer

Amidst the contractions this morning, I labored away in the kitchen with the help of my sweet husband.  I've been having contractions on and off for a little while now.  Yes, this is normal.  I didn't experience this with my first, but this little girl has been nothing but trouble!  We made 5 different meals to store away.  None of these recipes are my own, and you will be taken to the link for the recipe and directions below each picture.  I browsed Pinterest to find some recipes I thought would freeze well.  By the way, I'd love for you to follow me on Pinterest or Facebook!  Here are the winners for my freezer.  You will also find the grocery list at the end of the post.  For more, you can also get my Freezer Cooking E-Book here!

 
This first one, Honey Sesame Crockpot Chicken came from Kitchen Meets Girl.  On her blog, she makes it fresh.  I simply put all of the ingredients in my gallon freezer bag.  When I am ready to cook, I will defrost slightly, and then dump the contents into my crockpot and cook on low 6-8 hours.  I'll serve it with some brown rice and a salad.
 
 
This one looked too good to resist.  This recipe is from The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife, and I believe she adapted it from a magazine she cites on her blog.  I have to admit, I am always looking for something different to do with ground beef.  We tend to eat a lot of chicken around my house.  I split the recipe into two 8x8 pans.  That will easily feed me, my husband, and my 3 year old.  I was quite happy to have 1 recipe put two meals in my freezer!
 
I love White Chicken Chili, and I've never made my own.  I am hoping this one is a hit at my house. This is adapted from Gimme Some Oven.  She makes it fresh.  I decided to take all the ingredients except the milk and masa harina and put it in the gallon bag.  I will add those ingredients the day of cooking, during the last 10 minutes just to thicken up the mixture like she says.  I plan on cooking mine in the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours after defrosting slightly.  I will serve with chips, avocado, and cheese.
 

These next two recipes are both from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms.  These were already freezer meals ready to go.  For the Stuffed Shells, the only change I made was putting the spinach into the cheese filling mixture.  I feel like I'll have better luck getting everyone in my house, including me to eat the spinach.  Truth be told, my husband is the vegetable eater in our home.  I have to make a large effort to get myself to eat veggies!  This one made a 9x13, and two 8x8's for me.  So I ended up getting 3 meals from this recipe!  Also, I just used seasoned shredded chicken breasts instead of a rotisserie chicken.


 As I previously said, this is also from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms.  Now her picture looks a whole lot better than mine!  I used white corn tortillas--and corn tortillas have a tendency to break apart easily.  I followed her directions exactly.  I flash froze them and then put them in a large gallon baggie to be taken out and eaten a few at a time.


Since I know many of you replicate my entire freezer cooking day, I have included the grocery list for you as I normally do.  The only extra step is going to retrieve the recipe from the blogs I've linked to.  Happy cooking!

Grocery List
 
Meats
15-16 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 whole, the rest shredded)
1 rotisserie chickens
2 lbs ground beef, cooked and drained
 
Seasonings
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 Tablespoons water
4 cups chicken broth
cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch of white pepper
2 Tbsp. masa harina (optional thickener)
3/4 teaspoon chicken bouillion powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cups biscuit mix
 
 
Condiments
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
sesame seeds
4 oz. mayo
 
Produce
1 large white onion, diced
1 yellow onion
10 cloves garlic, minced
3 jalapeno, chopped (you can remove the seeds for less heat)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp sliced green onions
2 tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
 
Canned/Packaged
2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chiles
2 cans white beans (I used Great Northern)
12 oz. jumbo shells
1/4 cup green salsa
small flour or corn tortillas
 
Dairy
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups Italian cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
2 large eggs
2 pints heavy cream
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 lbs. ricotta cheese, part-skim
4 oz sour cream
 
Frozen
10 oz. bag spinach

 
 
 
 


Friday, May 10, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole

I'd love for you to follow me on FACEBOOK!  You can also get my Freezer Cooking e-book here!

Well, there's only 5 more weeks before Addyson's expected arrival.  I certainly feel like it.  I am incredibly tired and all I want to do is sleep!  However, night-time sleep is evading me!  It's rather infuriating!  I toss and turn all night long trying to get comfortable.  I think it may be time for some medicinal intervention!

I am trying to get the freezer stocked for our family for when little miss gets here.  I plan on doing a full-scale freezer cooking day sometime next week, but it's fairly easy for me to make dinner plus a little extra to throw in the freezer at least once a week.  I'm also trying to make sure that I am using as little processed food as possible.  It can be challenging, processed food is very convenient.  I'm just convinced that so many issues such as cancer and ADD/ADHD are partly a result of our reliance on processed food.  I'm not an expert by any means, that's just my opinion.

This week I made a Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole.  The only pre-packaged ingredients were the cheese, sour cream and wild rice.  I know you can get wild rice that isn't boxed, but after looking at the ingredient list and being satisfied that I could pronounce everything on the list, I took the easy route.  Everything else was fresh and organic.  The complete recipe is listed at the bottom of the page.

First, I sautéed about 4 stalks of celery and 1 small onion in some butter, salt and pepper.  While those were going, I pulled chicken from a rotisserie chicken from my local deli.  Once the onions were translucent, I pulled those off the heat and mixed it with my chicken.

 
While that was going, I cooked 2 boxes of wild rice.  Once that was done, I added 2 packages of my homemade cream of chicken soup and about 1 cup of cheese.  You can get my cream of chicken soup recipe here!
 
 


After that, I mixed the chicken mixture to my rice mixture and added 1 cup of sour cream and stirred thoroughly.  This mixture filled a full 9 x 13 pan and then a smaller 9 x 9 pan to go in my freezer.  I'll admit, the mixture looks kind of gross, but once you take a bite, you'll forget about the presentation!


And here is the finished product out of the oven!  Before I put it in the oven, I crushed some buttery crackers and sprinkled them on top.  I must say, it was absolutely delicious and even my 3 year old cleaned his plate!  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Enjoy!



Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
 
1 rotisserie chicken
butter
4 stalks of celery
1 small onion
2 boxes of wild rice
2 packages of homemade cream of chicken soup
1 cup of sour cream
crushed buttery crackers
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