How Does Prepping 5 Meals in 20 Minutes Sound?

You might remember how a couple of weeks ago I made 7 Chicken Slow Cooker Meals in 30 Minutes. Well, the next day I made 5 Beef Slow Cooker Meals in just 20 minutes. It is too fun.

This is the easiest, fastest, most fun freezer cooking I’ve ever done. Plus, these freezer meals keep saving my neck on busy days. I just pull a bag out of the freezer and throw the contents into the crock pot. I add some veggies to the table in the evening, and we are set.

Here are a few pictures of my 5 beef meals in 20 minutes prep. They aren’t pretty, but at least it’s better than looking at pictures of mannequins in my office. (Ain’t that the truth.)

First I took my printed copy of Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Beef Edition and put the ingredients for the Hawaiian Beef and Rice directly into the crock pot. That would be for dinner that day – you know, since I was so busy spending another 17 minutes making 4 more meals. Obviously, I was exhausted after that and couldn’t possibly think about cooking our evening meal.

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Next, I labeled freezer bags and started filling them with ingredients for the other four packet recipes.

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This process is so fascinating to witness. Lookie at the meat with Onion Soup Mix and other ingredients splashed into a bag. Ooh. Aah.

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A grand total of 20 minutes later, dinner was in the crock pot and four other meals were ready for the freezer.

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Read about our Eat Right Away Packets here. We’ve got four packets (a total of 20 recipes!) all organized and ready for you to work with!

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Frozen Oatmeal Cups – for a Quick, Hearty Breakfast

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Making oatmeal has got to be the most difficult thing to do ever. It’s definitely the most tedious breakfast food there is – requiring time, energy, thought, and absolute sweat-dripping labor over a stove for five entire minutes (because oatmeal won’t cook properly unless someone is staring at it in expectation). Life is hard. We should probably settle for pop-tarts. It’s the only way.

Don’t worry, friends. I’ve found a way to avoid performing this grueling task (and eating pop-tarts) in the mornings – and I’m here to share. I think we can all agree that the more we can avoid the challenge of putting water in a pot to boil, the better. Gather ’round, everyone. This tip will shave at least 1.4 minutes off your morning meal prep, so listen closely. Every 1.4 minutes counts.

Here’s what you need to do: You need to cook up a double or triple batch of oatmeal (you can do it, we’re all in this together, persevere, I believe in you). Once the oatmeal is done, go ahead and feed some to your family. Here’s where it gets good: After your meal, freeze the leftovers in muffin cups, topped with whatever delicious toppings your family likes. Like this:

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The result is easy-to-store cups of frozen oatmeal which are ready to pull out and re-heat at any given time – preferably on those mornings. You know the ones I’m talking about.

But seriously, in all seriousness, because I am always serious – this really is a lovely way to help your children help themselves on a busy morning, and it really does save a tiny bit of time because the cooking of the oatmeal has already been done.

Now, if you get a little bit burned out on oatmeal and you’re still struggling with the urge to buy a pre-made breakfast in a box that promises to save you time – I suggest you consider the possibility of frying an egg. If I can do it, you can do it. There are also apples – a brand new innovative idea for breakfast that I’ve heard are great to grab-and-go. Who knew?

Frozen Oatmeal Cups - a quick, hearty breakfast

The Specifics of Making Approximately 24 Frozen Oatmeal Cups

  1. Boil 6 cups of water.
  2. Stir in 3 cups of whole oats.
  3. Turn the heat down to simmer the oats/water for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat once the water has been absorbed and the oats are soft.
  5. Stir in 1-3 Tablespoons of butter and 1-4 Tablespoons of sweetener like honey or sucanat as desired.
  6. Scoop prepared oatmeal into muffin tins (no need to grease the tins).
  7. Top oatmeal cups with any variety of fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.
  8. Place filled muffin pans in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until oatmeal is frozen solid.
  9. Pull frozen oatmeal out of the freezer and allow it to sit on the counter-top for about 10 minutes.
  10. Use a fork or spoon to gently pop the frozen oatmeal cups out of the tins.
  11. Place the frozen cups into a labeled freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to three months.
  12. Re-heat by placing frozen oatmeal cup(s) in a small saucepan on medium heat until thawed and warm.

I love this idea (for so many reasons, as explained earlier) – but also because this allows for a variety of sizes of appetites. Little ones may just need one cup to fill them, whereas my sons would likely each pull out 2-4 to rewarm.

So now, go therefore and make yourself some frozen oatmeal cups. Your breakfast – and really, your entire life – is obviously going to be changed for the better because of this tip. Enjoy your extra 1.4 minutes of morning time. You are very, very welcome.

What do you think of this idea? I like the brainlessness of it. I like that the cooking is done so all that needs to be done is rewarm and serve. I love that my kids can do this themselves. Not every freezer meal is about saving time – sometimes it’s just about the comfort of having prepped food on hand for ease!

P.S. We also really love making Homemade Instant Oatmeal to have on hand.

Kudos to Cupcakes and Kale Chips where I first saw this fun idea!

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The First Thing I Did When I Got Home From Camp – Plus What I’ll Be Up to This Week

I bet you can guess. What’s the first thing I did the moment I got out of the van after being at camp for two weeks?

Okay fine. I went potty. But after that? Well, yes I started a load of laundry. But then??? Well I filled a glass of water to make sure I was hydrated.

But none of those count. What’s the really first thing I did after being away from my kitchen for two weeks?

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Ahhhhh, yes. I made a big price-matching list and headed to the store. The fridge was all but empty, we’re craving more fresh produce, and I’ve missed cooking. I loved the break (especially from the dishes!) – but I am so excited about being back in my kitchen!

I must admit that our three teenage boys are still at camp for another week and a half which means that I might have over-purchased just a wee bit. All you see in the picture up there? That’s just for Matt, Malachi (age 10), and me. We’re that hungry for freggies. I couldn’t hold back.

Case in point: Matt washed one of the containers of blueberries as soon as I gave him permission (aka, as soon as I got a picture taken – it’s a food blogger thing). I snagged a few of the berries as I scrubbed refrigerator shelves and put away groceries. A few minutes later, Matt appeared with the blueberry container and a grin. The blueberries were almost completely gone. The guy ate an entire pint (minus the 17 little berries I ate) in about 5 minutes. We’re craving this stuff, I tell ya.

Cravings aside, I would not have gotten 6 pounds of strawberries and 6 pints of blueberries for just the three of us – but I was able to price match them for just $1.00 each. Who can pass up filling the cart when they’re only a buck?? If we can’t finish them before they go bad, we’ll just freeze them for muffins and smoothies. It’s too easy.

So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking that while I still just have one boy at home and therefore don’t need to prep large meals – I’m going to do some freezer cooking this week. My list is too long, which means I won’t likely get around to all of this since I have so much other work to catch up on after being away for two weeks. But here’s my crazy-lady list nonetheless:

1. Defrost the freezer.

We’re getting a quarter of grass-fed beef this week, so that along with putting prepped food in the freezer means I need to get rid of the terrible ice build up I’ve been ignoring for way too long.

2. Make a few batches of Strawberry and Blueberry Cream Muffins – freezing the batter to bake fresh later. (Read more about this wonderful freezer tip here.)

3. Work through my Eat Right Away Beef and Chicken Slow Cooker Editions to get easy meals in the freezer ready for upcoming school/soccer/busy days.

4. Make Whole Wheat Pizza Crusts for the freezer so the boys can quickly make their own pizzas on busy days.

5. Make and freeze Chicken Fried Steak Strips with the beef we’re picking up from the butcher.

6. Stop making this list before I become overwhelmed.

There are too many great freezer cooking ideas. I made myself stop adding to the list so I don’t overwhelm myself. I’ll take pictures of my progress throughout the week and share an update with you soon!

What are you going to be doing this week?

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35 Minutes ~ 6 Winner Winner Chicken Dinners

Hows that for a dumb title? Well, you too will feel like saying silly things and maybe even doing the chicken dance after you spend such a short amount of time creating so many delicious meals for your family. Plus, I just had a great cup of coffee so my typing fingers are under the influence of caffeine.

Last week – using ugly meat pictures – I showed you how I used my Eat Right Away: Beef Edition packet to make 6 Beef Meals in only 45 minutes. I promised you that I would do the same with the Chicken Edition. So here I am. But this time – I’m excited to report that it only took 35 minutes of work time to crank out 6 meals. We have big eaters at our house, so the only way I was able to turn 8 pounds of meat into only 6 meals for us is that I’ll be adding several fruit/veggie sides along with potatoes, tortillas, rice, or pasta to stretch that chicken. If your family is smaller than mine – you could do the same amount of work and end up with more than 6 meals!

Eat Right Away Chicken Edition 22

I’m really, really excited about this. One of my biggest goals here is to emphasize that it really doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming to feed your family healthy, real food meals. Here is the run-down of my 35 minute date with 8 pounds of chicken.

On Friday, I picked up my Bountiful Basket meat order (the first one to come to our town!). I got 24 pounds of nitrite-free bacon and 24 pounds of nicely raised boneless/skinless chicken. I put 8 pounds of chicken in the fridge to thaw.

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On Saturday, I got to work making four out of five of the recipes included in the Chicken Edition packet. (I didn’t make the Teriyaki Chicken and Veggie Kabobs because while I had plenty of chicken, the other ingredients needed were not on sale. No need to pay full price – I’ll make a triple batch of those another time!)

These are the recipes I worked on:

  • Easy Apricot Chicken
  • Sloppy Salsa Chicken
  • Mexi-Chicken Pasta
  • Chicken Tostadas

First I put 2 pounds of chicken into a pot with the Apricot Chicken ingredients, put a lid on the pot, and started it cooking on low. It was an exhausting five minutes. Thank you for your compassion.

erwchicken2

Next, I used kitchen shears (the best way to cut chicken, if you ask me) to cut 4 pounds of chicken into pieces for the Mexi-Chicken Pasta and Chicken Tostadas. Want to know what’s great? You use the same ingredients to cook the chicken for both of those recipes so this is super efficient!

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There it is. Seasoned and ready to cook. Prep took about 15 minutes. Onto the stove it went.

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I put the remaining 2 pounds of chicken into a third pot along with the Sloppy Salsa Chicken ingredients. Two minutes later, it was cooking on the stove. Are you grasping how easy this is? I burn complicated recipes in my fireplace. I like simple foods.

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While all three pots of chicken cooked, I ate lunch with my family. (Tuna casserole, green beans, and raspberries – thanks for asking.) I stirred the chicken from time to time while our older boys shared about their week at camp. (They’d just gotten home a couple hours before lunch.)

After lunch, the Mexi-Chicken Pasta and Chicken Tostada meat was finished – so I set it aside to cool.

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The Apricot Chicken was finished to I used a fork and knife to kind of shred it. I say kind of because it’s not completely shredded. I got to a point where I was like, eh good enough.

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Same thing on the Sloppy Salsa Chicken. I shredded it until it was at the “good enough” stage. It’ll pull apart more when we rewarm and serve.

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(I told you these chicken pictures were ugly. Good thing this stuff tastes so good.)

At this point, I let all three pots sit out to cool. Later, I filled five freezer bags: 2 with Sloppy Salsa Chicken, 2 with Apricot Chicken, and 1 with chicken for Mexi-Chicken Pasta. The remaining chicken was left in the pan to quickly rewarm after church Sunday for Tostadas. Lunch within five minutes of getting home from church? Yes please!

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Those five bags of food joined the 6 beef meals from last week.

I’m going with your suggestions on which packets to work on next – focusing on meatless and slow cooker recipes. It is too much fun and oh so helpful to learn these new recipes.

Learn more about the Eat Right Away Packets here. Or just grab them here:

Eat Right Away: Beef Edition
$2.00

Add to Cart

Eat Right Away: Chicken Edition
$2.00

Add to Cart

I love how easy it is now to pull out these prepared foods to serve to my family. Tuesday we put baked potatoes in the crock pot, set out a bag of frozen Apricot Chicken, then went to the swimming pool. We got home, warmed up the meat, cooked some green beans, cut up a cantaloupe, and had our meal. Crazy easy. Plus, all my men raved about how good the Apricot Chicken was. Bonus!

Have you tried any of the recipes in these packets yet? How’s it been going for you? Hope they are a blessing to you as they have been for us!

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I Just Spent 45 Minutes in the Kitchen and Made 6 Meals! Boom!

I decided to give you an idea of how our Eat Right Away Packets work, so I thawed 6 pounds of hamburger and took some really bad pictures of raw meat. My life is glamorous.

Eat Right Away Beef Edition 50
Knowing that your life is probably glamorous also – meaning you might have interruptions in the form of nursing babies, important phone calls, teenagers needing a ride, siblings who need to learn that nice words go a long way, or any other variety of real life stuff – we all know that 45 minutes can turn into an hour and an hour can turn into are you kidding me. So don’t set a timer on this. My 45 minutes of work began at 12:00 noon and didn’t end until 1:30 pm because someone stopped by to pick something up a few minutes after I started, my husband and 10 year old had some questions, and somewhere in there I realized I needed lunch because what was I thinking starting this project on an empty stomach?

In other words, I did 45 minutes of kitchen work, but those minutes were broken up a bit by life and lunch.

The beauty of the Eat Right Away Packets is that they help you be efficient with your time, they help you make the most of your effort in the kitchen, and they help you turn out some pretty awesome meals with very little effort. But there’s no right or wrong way to go about putting these meals together. Case in point:

Here are the five beef recipes in the Eat Right Away: Beef Edition Packet ~

  • Cheesy Salsa Burgers
  • One Dish Cheesy Beef and Potatoes
  • Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves
  • Easy Hamburger Soup 
  • Baked Ziti 

But seeing as we’re not into soup this summer, and knowing I was low on time – I decided to skip the Easy Hamburger Soup and the One Dish Cheesy Beef and Potatoes. I went with the crazy easy Cheesy Salsa Burgers, the almost as crazy easy Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves, and the no-brainer Baked Ziti.

I doubled the Baked Ziti. Why not, right? So when all was said and done, I had spent 45 minutes of work time to make 6 meals. Sweet!

NOTE: If your family is smaller than mine or eats less – these Eat Right Away Packets are going to turn out way more than 5 meals for you. How’s that for a bonus return on your time investment?!

So here’s an ugly picture run-down of my Eat Right Away: Beef Edition meal prep…

I threw 2 pounds of meat into a pot to begin cooking (for the double batch of Baked Ziti).

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While it began cooking, I mushed up another two pounds of meat in a bowl, then stirred in the ingredients for Cheesy Salsa Burgers. Here and there, I stirred the meat cooking on the stove.

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Side Note: My dad and his wife got me this amazing meat squisher
(spoken like a true professional) for Christmas. I super love it.

Before shaping the patties, I put a pot of water on to boil. (Had I not taken the time to snap a picture, you all would surely be left in the dark as to what this step looks like. You are very, very welcome.)

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I shaped 18 Cheesy Salsa Burger patties – in a variety of sizes. See how great this is? You can make different sizes to accommodate different sized appetites. That, and you can just be a total non-perfectionist who really doesn’t care if all her patties are uniform in size. This may not work for you Type A’s. Shape your patties according to your personality type. We can all still be friends.

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Somewhere in there, my water hit boiling point. I poured in the pasta and continued shaping patties.

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The meat was finished cooking on the stove, so I added sauce ingredients.

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If you look at my Baked Ziti recipe in the beef packet, you’ll see that I didn’t follow my own instructions correctly. I blame it on the fact that I hadn’t eaten lunch.

And it was at this point that I stopped my work and ate some tuna salad and cole slaw.

Revived by food, I stirred in other Ziti sauce ingredients, then began to build the casseroles.

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Having this done, I went to work on the Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves. Two pounds of meat in a bowl, other ingredients dumped in (because life is too short to get out measuring spoons).

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Meatloaves were shaped and wrapped in bacon. Husband walked in and said some really nice things about my bacon. ;)

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I put the pans of Meatloaves and Salsa Patties into the freezer. Then, I loaded the dishwasher and hit “start.” While the meat froze and the dishes washed themselves, I took Malachi to meet some friends at the swimming pool because life is hard.

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So much glorious vitamin D later, I came home and put the frozen meat items into freezer bags. I labeled them and put them back in the freezer for a quick meal another day. YAY!!

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That night, I threw some of the Cheesy Salsa Burgers on the grill for our dinner (meal #1). In the freezer I have another meal of burgers (meal #2), two meals worth of bacon meat-loaves (meals #3 and #4) and two zitis (meals #5 and #6).

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You guys – this is not hard!! If you don’t love cooking, I believe you will really love this way of prepping ahead to make your kitchen life easier. These recipes are super simple, and once the work of preparing these foods is done (and cleaned up after, woot!) – all you have to do at meal time is pull something out of the freezer and cook it. You don’t even have to think at that point. (I’m not ashamed to say that the not thinking is my favorite part of this.)

I’ve got many pounds of chicken coming in a Bountiful Basket order Friday, so this weekend I’ll be pulling out my Chicken Edition and taking more bad pictures to show you how that one works.

Get all the details on these Eat Right Away Packets here. Ready to add them to your kitchen collection? Download them right away and get started!

Eat Right Away: Beef Edition
$2.00

Add to Cart

Eat Right Away: Chicken Edition
$2.00

Add to Cart

 

 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

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The Day I Got Carried Away With the Beans

It’s not what you think.  {and all the readers breathed a collective sigh of relief}

It’s just that last night I put beans in a bowl to soak, and then I woke up to beans that were threatening to overtake my kitchen.  {Wow, Laura.  Fascinating.}

beans 1

See, when you add water to beans – they grow.  They grow and they grow and they grow.  So if you aren’t thinking about what you’re doing, and you scoop 13 cups of beans into a bowl, then cover the beans with water before you go to bed – beware of the growing bean monster which will greet you when you walk into your kitchen to make breakfast.

I strained the beans and added fresh water, but of course, none other than my largest stock pot would hold the monster.

beans 2

Why, you ask?  Why so many beans?

I told you already.  I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing.  I needed a large amount of beans for a big batch of chili, so I just kept scooping.  I also forgot that beans in a bowl will soak up the water until they become bloated and ready to burst.  Whoa, good morning, beans.  That.  That is what I said when I walked into my kitchen this morning to find the bloated beans trying to crawl over the top of the bowl onto my counter top and floor.

I didn’t really tell the beans good morning.  I don’t talk to my chili beans.  Coffee beans, though – for sure.  Don’t even doubt that one.

After cooking the chili beans (which of course bubbled up and overflowed onto my stove-top because I forgot that they were cooking and because there were so many of them), I realized that I had way, way too many cooked beans for the big batch of chili I was planning to make.  All I’m doing is trying to do is to be prepared to feed our high school youth group on Sunday night, see?  But we’re going out of town Thursday afternoon and won’t get home until late Saturday night.  And I don’t know if you knew this or not, but we have to change our clocks this Saturday night, so we lose an hour of sleep.  No one asked my permission to do that this weekend.  This is not okay with me.

So in my effort to get ahead, I got very, very ahead.  I have beans for chili on Sunday night to feed an army.  Plus I now have three other big containers of beans in my freezer to be used another time.  Yay me.  I am so efficient.

chili beans 3

It seems that I just spent 404 words telling you about my beans – as if I have nothing better to talk about.  Blah, blah, blah, beans.  Wow everyone.  Look at my beans.

So now I shall leave you with this important reminder and advice:

Do not become distracted when you are scooping beans.  Stop scooping beans if you know what’s good for you.  But if you forget and over-scoop, simply go ahead and freeze your cooked beans for future use.

526 words to tell you that you can freeze beans.  Sometimes I amaze myself.

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How To Make Your Own Frozen Pizza

Remember how busy last Saturday was for me?  It was a crazy morning filled with broccoli blanching and valentine pancake making, then basketball gaming the rest of the day.  This is why cooking dinner when I got home at 6:45 didn’t sound fun.  Plus, you should (not) have seen how messy my kitchen was after the morning insanity when I was running late to serve concessions at the games, so I had to decide between washing dishes and getting dressed in actual clothes that weren’t pajama pants.  I chose the latter.  Everyone was grateful.  But this choice meant that I came home to an exploded kitchen.

If ever there was an excuse to want frozen pizza, this one was it.  We all have those times, right?  We talked about this just last week.  Some of you mentioned wishing you knew how to make your own frozen pizza, then others chimed in about how to do it, and since this has been on my list to tell you about anyway – I decided there was no better time.

So frozen pizza everyone: You can make them yourself.  With real ingredients and whole foods, keeping your very own people and their preferences in mind.  With little effort.

And all the mothers everywhere shed a tear.

How to Make Your Own Frozen Pizza

1.  Mix up your favorite pizza dough.  I suggest this very easy Whole Wheat Pizza Crust recipe.  I also suggest doubling or tripling or octupling (I was going for 8x there, how’d I do?) the recipe.  It just makes sense to create only one mess in order to make several meals worth of pizza for your freezer.

2.  Roll out the dough to your desired sizes, thickness, and shapes.  Make personal sized crusts, make rectangle crusts to fit your pans, make circle crusts to fit your pans.  Make whatever works best for your freezer, your oven, and your family.

frozen pizza 1

Life is too short to roll dough perfectly.

3.  Bake each crust in a 375° oven for 5 minutes (assuming you are using this crust recipe), then remove them from the oven.  They will be only lightly baked at this point – just done enough to be perfect for preparing your pizza for the freezer.

4.  Top each pizza crust with toppings of your choice – any sauce, meats, cheeses, and veggies you like.  Make a variety to suit your family’s preferences.

frozen pizza 2

I topped this one with sauce, spinach, colby jack cheese, hamburger meat, and red peppers.  
We are still loving our silicone mats from Healthy Cooking Products!

5.   Wrap each unbaked pizza well with plastic wrap.  (I like Natural Value Brand.)  If it fits, you might also consider putting your wrapped pizzas into a 2-gallon size freezer bag for additional protection.  (Be sure to reuse your freezer bags to get more bang for your buck!)

6.  When you are ready to bake your frozen pizza, thaw it if you wish.  Otherwise, just take it directly from the freezer, unwrap it, and put it on your baking pan.  Bake in a 375° oven for 10-18 minutes or until the cheese is melty and perfect.

Aren’t you excited about how easy this is, about how much time this will save you, and how fun this will be to serve to your family?!  It will be effortless to pull out some mixed greens and fruit to go with your pizza – so your meal prep on a homemade frozen pizza night will be nil!

I highly recommend making several pizzas for your freezer in one setting.  If you’re going to mix up crust and make a little mess rolling it out, if you’re going to grate cheese, if you’re going to chop veggies, if you’re going to cook meat – you really might as well just hit it hard and get several pizzas stacked up in your freezer if you have the space.

In addition, consider prepping pizza ahead of time for a busy day and just keeping it in your fridge to bake at dinner time.

Now – go pin this time saving, money saving, health saving idea so that you won’t forget about it.  :)

Make Your Own Frozen Pizza

Ever tried making homemade frozen pizza?  How excited are you to try this idea?!

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Easy Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls – a Quick and Filling Breakfast To-Go!

Oh man (lady – whatever).  You are going to love this idea!  Unless you don’t like eggs.  But for those of you who love eggs, and for everyone who wants an easy, real food meal that will pack a punch with nutrition and keep you full until the next meal…

Please allow me to introduce you to these delightful little Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls:

ham and egg cups1

See that?  The ham is the bowl.  Isn’t that clever?  I didn’t think of this myself, but was enlightened by my friend who was excited to tell me about her fun breakfast of the day.  She knew I’d need to know about this idea.  She knows me (and my hungry crew) well, don’t you think?

Everyone get out your muffin tins and get ready to have some fun.

How to make Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls

You will need:

Muffin Tins
Thin Slices of Ham
Eggs
Shredded Cheese
Sea Salt
Garnish like Fresh Spinach, Green Chilies, Mushrooms, Peppers, Onion, Broccoli, or Salsa

Push a piece of thinly sliced ham down into each muffin cup.

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Crack an egg into each “ham bowl.”  Poke each egg yolk with a fork and carefully scrambled it around inside the bowl.  Sprinkle with salt, top with cheese, and garnish however you like.  Bake in a 350° oven  for 10-20 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through.

You can make these ahead of time, then rewarm them for a quick, ready-made breakfast or lunch!  (That’s my favorite part, of course.)

You can also scrambled up your eggs in a dish, and then scoop some out into each ham bowl if you prefer.  My kids like the texture of these better if I do it that way.

Easy Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls

Is this idea genius, or what?  You must try this! :)

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How I Prepared 2 Healthy Meals in 20 Minutes

eathealthy

I dropped Malachi off at piano lessons at 10:00 this morning, arriving home at 10:05.  I needed to leave again to pick him up at 10:25.  That leaves 20 minutes.  (That was your math lesson for the day. If only all story problems made that much sense.  Who invented those anyway?)

Knowing my day was super full:  school and website work throughout the day; piano lessons for Malachi at 10; soccer for Matt, Asa, Justus, and Malachi at 2; grocery shopping for Elias and me at 2; someone coming by to pick up a co-op order at 3:30; friend coming over to study with Asa at 4; Bible study at 6:30 – and did I mention there’s a “ready to be assembled” shower in my living room  and plaster dust all over my house right now??  Well, I knew I needed to stay on top of meals if we were going to actually eat today.

I decided to see how much meal prep I could get done in my 20 minutes of time before picking Malachi up from lessons.  See, I can’t just say, “Here’s how to put a nutritious meal together when you’re low on time.”  No.  I have to go into all the details about my schedule and give my opinions on math problems and tell you about the new toilet that promises to flush efficiently that’s still in the box but will soon be in my new bathroom but not until we get all the tile issues figured out.  (That is a story problem in and of itself.)

So busy day, blah, blah, blah.  Here’s how to put a nutritious meal together when you’re low on time:

2 Healthy Meals in 20 Minutes

Today I decided to make Easy Noodle Stir Fry for lunch and Taco Salad for dinner.

At 10:06 I started browning meat for the Taco Salad.  While it was cooking I washed and cut carrots and broccoli, throwing it all into a pot with spinach for Stir Fry.  (The asparagus I had planned to use up was slimy so I had to throw it out.  I was very disappointed and apparently need to re-read this post somebody wrote recently about not wasting food.)

I gave the meat a stir from time to time.  I answered a question about an English assignment, drank a few swigs of water, and threw some blueberries into my mouth for a snack.  I put water in a pot to boil noodles at noon.  I got out the noodles.  I dumped mixed greens into a big bowl, poured in cheese I had shredded Monday, and tossed it all around with the freshly cooked taco meat.  I mixed up French Dressing for the Taco Salad.

At 10:26 I ran out the door to pick up Malachi.

With all the major prep work done for our day’s meals, at lunch time all I had to do was turn on the stove to cook the prepared veggies and boil noodles.  At dinner time all I had to do was get the prepared salad out of the fridge, dice some tomatoes (which I picked up at the store this afternoon on my grocery run), and get out the tortilla chip crumbs I’ve been saving for such a meal as this.  I also cut up a pineapple to complete our evening meal.  That took two minutes.

Now you tell me.  Is it really so terribly time consuming to prepare healthy food?  I think not.

What are some of your quick-to-prepare meals that pack a punch with nutrition?  Have any great “prep-ahead” methods to share with us?

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How to Make Frozen Hashbrown Patties

Homemade Hashbrown Patties

I always get my best ideas from you, my adorable readers. A few weeks ago, Camilla left a comment on my Homemade Hashbrowns post asking, “How would I do this if I wanted to make frozen patties?”  I left a reply, telling her what I would suggest, then I promptly hollered at my boys to start scrubbing potatoes. What a fantastic idea – to make hashbrowns ahead of time in the shape of patties so that all we have to do is pull them out and fry them up!

25 consumed Hashbrown Patties and 72 frozen Hashbrown Patties later, here I am to share all the fun details with you! This idea is a great one – plus it’s easier than you would think. Don’t you love it when delicious, healthy, and easy all make it into the same sentence?

How to Make Frozen Hashbrown Patties

1. Scrub and bake as many potatoes as you like. We fill a big roasting pot with scrubbed potatoes, cover, and bake for about an hour and a half.
2. Allow the potatoes to cool. You can even refrigerate overnight if you like.
3. Shred the cooled baked potatoes as if grating cheese.
4. Use a large cookie scoop or spoon to scoop out nice portions of shredded potatoes. Put the scoops directly into hot oil to fry OR –
5. Place the scoops of shredded potatoes onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
6. Freeze the mounds of shredded potatoes on the cookie sheets. Transfer them to a freezer bag once frozen solid.
7. Store frozen hashbrown patties in the freezer in freezer bags until ready to cook and serve.
8. To cook frozen hashbrown patties, heat palm shortening or coconut oil in a skillet or on a griddle. Do not thaw hashbrown patties. Put patties into the hot oil and fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and as crispy as you like. Salt and serve!

How to Make Frozen Hashbrown Patties

Do you love this idea?! Let’s hear it for another great freezer cooking idea to help us get ahead!

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