Lazy Dogs ~ The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Find all of our Make-Ahead Lunch Box recipes and ideas here.

You might laugh at this recipe for several reasons.  It is a little different from those I typically share.

First of all…hot dogs?

Yes, hot dogs.  Remember how I’ve told you that I really love me a good, all beef hot dog?  It’s true.  I love sweet peppers, apples, strawberries, and asparagus better.  But a good quality beef hot dog tastes really yummy to me.  What can I say?

Second reason to laugh at this recipe:  This is not exactly the most inexpensive recipe I’ll ever suggest that you make.  I didn’t find my hot dogs on sale, and I got the best quality dogs I could find at the store that don’t contain nitrites.  So…cha-ching.  I used real cheese, not American cheese slices, which is obviously, more expensive because it’s real.

I did save by making my own whole wheat tortillas.  But other than that?  I’m not telling you how much each of these Lazy Dogs cost me.  I’ll do it better next time by waiting for a sale on hot dogs.  (If you have my Oh, For Real cookbook, you’ll find the tortilla recipe there.  It’s also in my Totally Tortillas eBook.)

So if these Lazy Dogs are a little more on the pricey side, why am I sharing this recipe with you?  Because these Lazy Dogs taste good.  Because they are still less expensive than eating out.  Because they are a fun, kid friendly (and apparently Laura friendly) food.  And because you can make them ahead of time and put them in your lunch box.

I can’t take the credit for this great idea.  When I posted my Taco Quesadilla recipe, “Busy Mom in AL” shared this:

Another of our “wraps” are some that we call Lazy Dogs!  We boil some hot dogs to plump them up, roll them up with some cheese in a tortilla and heat them up in the oven until the cheese melts!  Very good, even cold!

I loved the idea and made them for our soccer games and travel that very weekend.  Once I had the tortillas made, the boys got in an assembly line to help put the Lazy Dogs together.  Just like that, our to-go meal was ready.

Lazy Dogs

Tortillas (I use homemade whole wheat tortillas)
Cheese Slices (I use Colby jack slices)
High Qualtity Beef or Turkey Hot Dogs (I found Oscar Meyer Angus Nitrite Free Dogs)

Boil the hot dogs just long enough for them to plump.  ( <— what a weird sentence.)  Lay one slice of cheese on each tortilla, top with a hot dog, and roll it up.  Bake in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Make these ahead of time!  Warm them in the oven, then serve.

Lazy Dogs ~ Perfect For Your Lunch Box

We found that we preferred these warm instead of cold.  Still, if you want to pack them to-go, simply bake, wrap, and pack.  Easy and fun!

Are you a hot dog lover?  What is your favorite kind?

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest0Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

Taco Quesadillas ~ The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

taco quesadillas 2

Have you ever made quesadillas, let them cool, then put them into the fridge or freezer for another day?  You should do this.  They are perfect for your Make-Ahead Lunch Box.

Now you’re thinking, why would I do that?  Quesadillas are already my easy go-to meal to make on the fly.  How would it help to make them ahead of time?

Come closer.  I have something to tell you.  If you make quesadillas ahead of time, then they will already be made when you want to serve or eat them.  <— It has taken years of research, trial, and error to arrive at wise and knowledgeable comments such as these.

Okay fine.  I just figured it out last week.  It should have been obvious to me long ago, but I thought melty cheese should always be warm.  Yes, somehow I forgot cold pizza was a food group for some people.  Who knew cold quesadillas were also good?  And if you don’t want to eat them cold, but instead want them warm again, simply warm them up at serving time.  <—- Again, the brilliance of advice read here must continue to amaze you.

Now, the best part about a quesadilla is that you can fill them with whatever you like.  Cheese, obviously.  But what about varieties of meat and/or veggies?  Taco Quesadillas are my current favorite, dipped in a small bowl of fresh salsa.  I will tell you from experience that these taste great warm or cold.  Warm would be my top choice, but we threw a bunch of cold ones into a bag to take to a soccer game recently and they were delicious.  This means you can make these ahead of time and throw them in your lunch box for work or school.  Perfect!

Taco Quesadillas

Your favorite tortillas (we like my homemade whole wheat tortillas)
Shredded cheese (my fav is Colby jack or white cheddar)
Leftover cooked taco meat
Salsa

Place a tortilla in a skillet and top with shredded cheese and cooked meat.  Top with an additional tortilla.  (I do feel a little bit silly telling you how to make a quesadilla, as if you don’t know how to make a quesadilla.  But hey, if you didn’t know before, now you do.)  Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side until cheese has melted.

Watch to be sure tortillas don’t burn.  <—- Breaking out one more time with more never-heard-before, ground breaking advice.  You’re welcome.

Taco Quesadillas

I would love to hear how you like to fill your quesadillas and if you have ever tried eating them cold.  What are your favorite meats and veggies used to fill tortillas? 

Have any earth-shattering advice for us?  Here’s one more nugget of wisdom from me, completely unrelated to quesadillas:  When it is cold outside, you should wear a coat.  Now, your turn.

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Find all of our Make-Ahead Lunch Box recipes and ideas here.

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest0Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets ~ The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

When I asked you what you needed in a packed lunch, this is what you told me:

  • Quick and easy
  • Can be eaten cold
  • Hearty and filling

These Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets are all that plus they are delicious.  You can make them big or small, accommodating big or small appetites.  They taste great hot or cold.  You can make them ahead of time and pull them out as needed.  They freeze well. What more do you need?  Just the recipe I guess…

Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets

2 pounds beef stew meat
1 batch homemade barbecue sauce (more if you like)
2 cups shredded cheese
1 batch whole wheat pizza dough

Place stew meat and barbecue sauce in a skillet.  Cook on low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked and tender.  In the meantime, mix the whole wheat pizza dough and set it aside to rise.  Once both meat and dough are ready, remove meat from the heat.  Stir in cheese until it is melted.

Divide dough into about 16 pieces.  Roll each piece of dough into a thin circle.  Spoon meat mixture into the center of the circle, then gather up the edges of the dough and pinch to seal.  Place pinched side down on a baking sheet.  Once all dough is filled with meat, allow the pockets to rise about 15 minutes more.  Bake in a 375° oven for 15-25 minutes or until pockets are golden brown.  Makes about 16 pockets.

Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets

This would be a great way to use up leftover roast beef.  In addition, you can fill hot pockets with any variety of meats and cheeses.  They are a great, versatile meal idea!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-retro-seamless-pattern-set-image20825059

If you’re hitting the restart button with us this fall, I challenge you to find one recipe (maybe this Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pocket recipe?) that you can make ahead of time and freeze.  Having food prepared like this in the freezer is a life saver on busy days when you need a healthy meal quickly.  You’ll find all of our Make-Ahead Meal recipes here.

Once you’ve completed the challenge, come back to this post and leave a comment letting us know what you made.  Can’t wait to hear!

 

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest201Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

Dark Chocolate Almond Granola – Quick! Make this before it gets too hot outside!

First, many of you are thinking, “What do you mean before it gets too hot outside? It’s already too hot outside!”  And second, do you want to see my awesome new jar??

Dark Chocolate Almond Granola - A Great Make-Ahead Meal

I actually got the jar as a Christmas gift and am just now getting around to showing you.  Therefore, it’s really not new as I’ve had it for five months.  It’s also an antique, which also means it’s not new, but whatever.  My dad’s wife found it at an auction and was sweet enough to think of me, snatch it up, wrap it, and put it under the tree.  I opened it and gasped with complete delight, while everyone else in the room was like, “oh look it’s an old, used jar…she really gets excited about weird things.”

I washed it up, and have used it to store many treats.  The latest?  Dark Chocolate Almond Granola.  Which leads me back to my original statement:  You really should make this before it gets too hot outside.

See, at my house, it’s finallllllly warming up and staying warm (I hope).  This is making me so happy!!!  It’s also making me think about foods that require an oven and how I will not want to be using the oven much in the near future.  These thoughts are what led me to ask my 14 year old to make a double batch of Dark Chocolate Almond Granola earlier this week.  How nice to get this made ahead of time!  We baked it on a day it wasn’t too hot, and we can eat it on a day that is too hot.

And it looks so pretty in my new, old jar.  Don’t you think?

One thing to consider:  The pieces of chocolate in the granola will get pretty soft if (when) my kitchen gets too hot.  I may need to store it in the fridge.  On the other hand, melted chocolate all over granola is not a bad thing.

So, Dark Chocolate Almond Granola.  Make some before it gets too hot.  Enjoy it on a morning you don’t have time to cook breakfast, it’s too hot to cook breakfast, or you just have a hankering for chocolatey almond goodness.

Find the recipe here.  This recipe is also included in our free Healthy Breakfast Made Simple eBook.  Head on over and download it for several more easy, healthy breakfast ideas.

Have you made this recipe before? Is it hot at your house yet? Do you love my new, old jar?

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest191Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

Meatless Freezer Cooking: Bean and Cheese Burritos and Meatless Spaghetti Pie

One big mess, four awesome meals.  It was a great morning!

Since we’re finished with our official school year, I got a couple boys involved in today’s freezer cooking.  Elias (12) learned to make Meatless Spaghetti Pie (recipe in {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook).  He chose to use shell-shaped pasta, because when you’re the cook, you earn the privilege of picking from penne, spiral, shell, elbow….

Am I the only one who thinks picking the pasta shape is a fun activity?  Maybe I just don’t get out enough.  Well, anyway, Elias picked shell noodles and did a great job putting together the Meatless Spaghetti Pies.

In the meantime, I made a triple batch of Whole Wheat Tortillas for Bean and Cheese Burritos.  I then put together 23 burritos.  Because we eat so much at our house, these burritos will only last us two meals.  But, I now have 11 burritos in the freezer to pull out sometime in the next few weeks for an easy meal!

meatless freezer 1

I can roll tortillas faster than my skillet can cook tortillas,
so I just start laying them out all over the counter while they wait for their turn to be cooked.

Hey, would you like to hear an obvious discovery I made this morning?  When you’re making meatless meals, you don’t have to worry about thawing out meat before you cook.  Sometimes my brilliance shocks you, doesn’t it?  Not only is this meatless thing a money saver, it’s also a time saver.  But I still love my beef.

After the mess was cleaned up, we ended up with 23 burritos and 2 spaghetti pies.  If I add plenty of sides to those pies, I can make it work to serve one tonight and freeze one for another day.

meatless freezer 2

Are you joining our latest Freezer Cooking Challenge?  You’ll find the plans and grocery list here.  You’ll love how easy it is to get ahead!

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest1Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

The Plan ~ Getting Ready for Freezer Cooking, Week Four – Meatless Meals

I love meat.  My body doesn’t function well when I go too long (you know, like an entire day and a half) without eating animal protein.  Beyond that, sometimes, fish or chicken just isn’t enough.  There are days my body needs beef and ain’t nothin’ else gonna cut it.  I think this has something to do with my tendency to become anemic and the iron red meat provides.  I truly do not feel well when I’m not eating enough beef, and on the contrary, I feel very, very well and much more energetic when I am eating plenty of cow.

Therefore, when some of you suggested that we do a freezer challenge that consisted entirely of meatless meals, I was like, “What? Why would we do that? Don’t you know that meatless meals don’t have any meat in them?”

Then, I (had a hamburger) and realized that these lovely ladies who made the meatless suggestion were actually brilliant.  Meatless meals are a huge money saver, and good gravy – it’s not like I need meat at every meal.  I just need it at least once every day.  Meatless meals rock.  Let’s make some for the freezer, shall we?

350x350_Challenge

We’ve taken a couple weeks off from freezer cooking challenges, and I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to hit it again.  We’ve slowly been working our way through the {beef, chicken, and breakfast} meals I put into the freezer during the March/April challenges.  The meatless freezer meal ideas I came up with are going to go together quickly and make for some super easy lunches on busy days during the next few weeks.

Here’s what is so great about the freezer cooking I plan to do:  I’ll be making a double batch of each recipe.  That way, I can serve one portion of it to my family the very day I make it.  Then, I’ll freeze the other portion to pull out another day.  Work once, eat twice – it’s my favorite way to get ahead!

Join me!!!  I want you to see how easy it is to get ahead in your real food kitchen.  You’ll save money, effort, energy, time, and brain power.

Here’s what I’m planning to make, one at a time, during the next few days:

Join Our Meatless Meal Freezer Challenge!

The Grocery List

  • 32 ounces whole grain spaghetti noodles
  • 5 cups whole grain pasta – any shape
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (16 ounces) parmesan cheese
  • 8 cups (64 ounces) spaghetti sauce
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 6 cups cooked black or pinto beans (or a combination of both)
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) salsa
  • 16-20 whole wheat tortillas (we like homemade tortillas)
  • 10 cups whole wheat flour
  • 9 teaspoons yeast
  • 3-4 cups pizza sauce (depending on how saucy you want your calzones)
  • veggies, olives, and other fillings for calzones
  • sea salt and pepper

I’ve created a downloadable and printable grocery list for you here:  Freezer Cooking Grocery List Four

 Who’s going to join me?

To help you out if you’re interested in some of the above recipes, the Let’s Do This! eCourse and {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook are discounted to just $5 for the whole package.  The recipes included in that package are some that we use all the time at our house to get ahead!

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest221Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

Sweet Pecan French Toast Casserole, Basic Cream Muffins, and Poptarts ~ Freezer Cooking Challenge

I was planning to share part of this yesterday, but my website server was down most of Wednesday (ack!).  Therefore, I’m sharing the rest of my freezer cooking challenge results all in one post.  Actually, since I couldn’t work on my website Wednesday, that ended up being great kitchen time in which I experimented with new recipes and knocked out the rest of the baking I needed to do for this challenge.  Sometimes, not being able to work on the computer is a good thing.  :)

Tuesday, I made two dishes of Sweet Pecan French Toast Casserole (recipe in {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook).  We ate one that morning, and I froze the other one.  My freezer is beginning to be super full.  Love this!

french toast 2

french toast 1

Yesterday, I rolled out a double batch of dough and made tons of Poptarts.  It’s been a while since I’ve made these, so everyone was very excited to have these for breakfast.  It’s a good thing I froze half before serving them, otherwise I think the boys would have just eaten them all!

poptarts freezer

Once the Poptarts were in the oven, I mixed up a double batch of Basic Cream Muffins (recipe in Let’s Do This! eCourse, Lesson 4).  I had plans to divide the dough in half, and add in different fruits.  But then I got lazy and just dumped blueberries into the bowl.  Eh, we like blueberry muffins.

cream muffins freezer

I froze the batter, unbaked, and will simply pull them out some night before bed to bake the next morning.  If you haven’t tried freezing muffin batter, you must!  I love how easy this is!  Here are all the details.

And that completes this week’s freezer cooking challenge!  How did you do?

We’ll be taking a break next week and pick back up on our freezer cooking challenges later.  I’ve got a party planned for us next week (can’t wait to share!), plus my freezer is really full.  ;)

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest0Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

Poppyseed Bread With Orange Glaze ~ This Week’s Freezer Cooking Challege

This quick bread recipe is our family’s favorite, hands down.  It is super moist, very flavorful, and well, it kind of tastes like cake.  It definitely tastes like a treat, even if you cut down the sugar in the recipe.

Speaking of cutting down the sugar – I’ve been really focusing on chopping sugar quantities in most of my recipes.  I’ve found that the recipes still tastes great, and my family is definitely benefiting from not eating so much of the sweet stuff.  All that to say, a few week’s ago I edited the {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook (where you’ll find the recipe for this bread) to cut the sugar down significantly.  If you purchased this book before April, your version likely calls for 1 1/2 cups of sucanat.  Yikes.  Do that if you must, but I think you’ll find that cutting it in half (or more) still turns out a great product.

poppyseed bread for freezer

For the Freezer Cooking Challenge today, find some time to make a double recipe of Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze (recipe in {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook).  Doubling the recipe will turn out four loaves.  Once they have completely cooled, you can set aside a loaf (or two, if you are my family) for tomorrow’s breakfast, then wrap and freeze the others for another day.  I typically just place them in freezer bags, push all the air out, and seal.  Be sure to label your bags.

When you’re ready to serve your frozen loaves, simply get it out of the freezer the night before you plan to serve it and let it thaw on the countertop.  In the morning, you can slice and eat!

This bread is wonderful with scrambled or fried eggs and a fruit such as apples, bananas, applesauce, or berries.

I can’t wait for you to try this bread! 

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest0Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

Easy Breakfast Casseroles ~ This Week’s Freezer Cooking Challege Begins

Today for the Freezer Cooking Challenge, we’ll be making Easy Breakfast Casserole (x2).  This is, for sure, one of the easiest make-ahead-meals to put together.

I save dirty dishes by cracking eggs directly into my casserole dishes.  Then I add remaining ingredients, whisk it up, and it’s done.  Super simple!  If you have kids old enough to crack eggs, delegate that job to them while making these casseroles.

I made two of these casseroles last week with the help of my 12 year old.  Once my casseroles were put together (it took 15 minutes, tops) – I put the lids on, and put one in the fridge to bake the following morning.  The other, I labeled and put into the freezer, unbaked.

egg casseroles for freezer

To bake my frozen Breakfast Casserole, I’ll simply put it into the fridge overnight, then bake as directed the next morning.  I may need to add a little extra baking time if it hasn’t thawed entirely.

You will love how easy it is to make this casserole ahead of time!  This kind of freezer cooking is my favorite.  It’s practically effortless, and makes putting healthy food on the table for breakfast a piece of cake. (casserole. whatever.)

Go thou into the kitchen and begin cracking eggs.  Breakfast has never been easier.

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest0Tweet about this on Twitter0Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

The Plan ~ Getting Ready For Freezer Cooking, Week Three – Breakfast Foods

350x350_Challenge

I’ve shared with you before that while I am a morning person, I’m not a fan of standing at the griddle flipping pancakes for an hour.  After all, there are all kinds of other important things that need to be done to get the day going.  Making breakfast the night before or pulling breakfast out of the freezer rocks my world and makes me a much more lovely person in the morning.  (Lovely at heart, that is.  I’m not saying a word about my frizzed, right-off-the-pillow hair.)

Let’s keep our mornings simple, while feeding our families healthy food too!  That’s why we’ll be focusing our Freezer Cooking Challenge around breakfast foods this week.

Here’s what I hope you’ll love about this week:  Each day we’ll be making something new from the list below.  We’ll put part of it into the freezer for another day.  But we’ll be saving one meal’s worth to serve for breakfast the following day.  That means each day this week we’ll all wake up to a breakfast that is already prepared!  Once you get into this habit, I think you’ll love it as much as I do!  Then we can all be lovely at heart in the morning.  And for those of you who naturally roll out of bed with pretty hair, you can be lovely in appearance too.  Some of us just have to live with the frizz.

french_toast_casserole_3

Here’s what I have planned to make this week:

I always serve fruit with breakfast, and I often serve eggs.  Keep that in mind as you plan your menus!

Want to join in?  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 42 eggs (3 1/2 dozen)
  • 5 cups heavy cream (1 quart plus 1/2 pint)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • Add-ins for the Easy Breakfast Casserole (x2) – I’ll be adding ham I already have in the freezer
  • 7 cups whole wheat flour
  • 10 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 cups butter (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 cups plain yogurt (16 ounces)
  • 2 cups sour cream (16 ounces)
  • 10 ounces 100% fruit jelly or jam for Poptarts
  • 3 3/4 cups sucanat
  • 6 cups milk (1 1/2 quarts)
  • Add-ins for muffins
  • 2 loaves whole wheat bread (homemade if you like)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Be sure you have:

  • Sea salt
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Honey
  • Poppyseeds

Looks like a lot, but these groceries will provide you with 10+ meals!

I’ve created a downloadable and printable grocery list for you here:  Freezer Cooking Grocery List Three

Important Note:  If you purchased {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook before March, 2014 – I’ve since edited both the Sweet Pecan French Toast Casserole and Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze recipes to cut the sugar (sucanat) in half.  Those recipes taste just as yummy without all that sugar!

Your first assignment in this week’s challenge is simply to purchase all groceries, and/or make sure you have all ingredients on hand.  On Monday, we’ll begin prepping these great breakfast foods to serve and freeze.  It’s gonna be a great week!

Let’s Do This! eCourse and {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook are discounted to just $5 for the whole package.  The recipes included in that package are some that we use all the time at our house to get ahead!

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest0Tweet about this on Twitter1Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page