Hopper – Our 3-Legged Foster

As I mentioned in my last post, things have been a bit mental lately.  All good stuff, but Gopher Football, travel, the Alzheimer’s fundraiser, and a little thing called growing a baby – we’ve had our hands full!

Because of this we agreed (or more like Luke set the necessary boundary) that after Jammie we would wait to foster again after things slowed-down.  Essentially that meant after Thanksgiving.

I survived a few months of quickly scrolling over any sad or super cute pups on the Secondhand Hounds page, but then this I saw this:

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Quick sidebar, this screenshot is typical of “our process” – when I find dogs I’m obsessed with and want to foster, I send these photos to Luke and hope that he says yes!  Note I’m not trying to throw my husband under a bus, he keeps things manageable in our household and without him I probably would have 3 dogs, a million things going on, and would be going insane!

This dog stood out to me for three main reasons:

1.) She looks a bit like our dog, Stella
2.) Her leg was shot and had to be amputated..WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE
3.) She was on her way to MN that weekend and had no home

These things apparently stood out to Luke too, and his text response was literally “God Dammit Fine” despite knowing he would be alone with the dog about a week since I was going to be gone.  He is the best.

We picked June up last Friday and oh my goodness is she a cutie!  She is a little over a year old, and some sort of beagle, boxer, who knows mix (around 40 pounds I would guess).

 

She is super happy-go-lucky and rocks three legs!  She gets around extremely well and has some serious speed when her and Stella play chase!  She is also a huge cuddle bug, preferring to lay belly up like the photo above.

This video is a good example of her just fun, goofy personality:

 

No disrespect to the reality TV star, but the name “Momma June” was just too trashy for this fantastic little dog who has overcome so much in her short life.  So after getting to know her, we have been calling her Hopper 🙂

Hopper is staying with a temp foster while Luke and I are out of town, and when we get back we will check to make sure her ear infection is cleared-up and think she will be ready for adoption!

I’m Back, and with News!

So first I have to apologize – it has been ages since I have been on here!  I am going to chalk it up to Summer/Fall: 1; Megan: 0

But don’t worry, I haven’t been a complete sloth and do have some fun recipes/projects/pup-dates to share over the next couple of weeks as I get caught-up!

Before I do that though, Luke and I want to take a vote – which cheesy baby announcement is your favorite?!

This is part of the reason I’ve been M.I.A – there is a new pup joining the Fox family, and this time it isn’t a foster!  Baby Fox is due May 6, 2018 and we are thrilled (and a wee bit nervous in all honesty :))!

Without further ado, here is our Sunday morning attempt at some wonderfully cheesy baby announcements!

1.) We’re Prego

Don’t even need a sign, the jar says it all…and this baby loves carbs which makes it more fitting 🙂

2.) Official Baby Toy Tester

We can’t do a baby announcement without incorporating our OG miss Stella!  Even with the bribery of treats, she was a true model diva for this photo session.  These were the best we could get, and our new foster, June (or Hopper) as we call her, had to make an appearance too! (more to come on June in another post!)

3.) Stowaway

We are preparing for a trip to Europe, and this time I’m traveling with a little stowaway!  Baby Fox has been quite the little traveler – Chicago, Taiwan, and soon to be the UK and Amsterdam!

4.) Bun in the Oven

Takin’ it back old-school with the “bun in the oven” analogy 🙂

Which is your favorite?!

Mini Date & Goat Cheese Cups with Bacon

Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese are one of my favorite appetizers/party tricks.  They are the perfect combo of sweet and savory plus who doesn’t love goat cheese?  I’ll admit many people aren’t too pumped about trying a date, but everyone loves them once they try them!  The only down-side to these tasty treats is that they can be a bit putsy (and messy) to make – you have to slice each date, stuff with goat cheese, wrap with bacon, and bake for several minutes.

In looking for new recipes for a party I found these little gems from Well Plated and thought they would be much easier but still provide the same flavor.  I was right, these are my new thing, and I LOVE mini fillo cups so they were even better!

If you are looking to impress people but not go to a ton of work I’d recommend these!

Mini Date & Goat Cheese Cups with Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 1/2 Cups dry red wine
  • 1 Tbl honey
  • 5 ounces (or one package) dried, pitted dates
  • 2 boxes Athens mini fillo cups (in the freezer section)
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • fresh thyme (optional)

Directions:

  • Cook the bacon however you prefer (I bake mine at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes) and chop when cooled
  • Meanwhile, heat the wine and honey in a saucepan over medium heat until combined
  • Add the dates and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until they begin to plump-up, stirring occasionally
  • Remove the dates with a slotted spoon and dice when cooled (they become a bit of a paste which is fine)
  • Keep the fillo cups in the plastic package and fill the bottom of each cup with goat cheese using a spoon (or your fingers)
  • Top with date mixture and sprinkle with bacon
  • Garnish with thyme (optional)
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 4 hours

Sidebar Jammie enjoyed watching me cook 🙂

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Enjoy!

Diaper Keg – Sunday Fun-day Couples Shower

One of my husband’s best friends, Garrett, and his wife Daniela are expecting a little boy in September!  I of course wanted a cutsie couples shower, and if Luke had his way we would have had had frozen pizzas and beer – so we settled in the middle on a Diaper Keg 🙂

It turned-out to be a perfect combo of fun, cute, and chill, and was a great way to get the fellas involved in the baby shower process and celebrate the parents-to-be!

Here are the details!

The Concept: The theme of the event was “Baby is Brewing” – guests were asked to bring diapers in exchange for a keg cup!

The Decor:  All of the decor, signage, etc. revolved around beer but with a “girlie” twist!

Diaper Cake: I’ve made diaper cakes before, but for this one I added the dad-to-be’s favorite beer – Milwaukee’s Best – so it tied-in the theme!  If you haven’t made diaper cakes before, they are actually super easy!  Here is a simple tutorial:

What you need:
 – Cardboard
– Tissue paper
– hot glue gun
– Paper towel roll
– various-sized rubber bands
– Diapers (any size) – roughly 30
– Ribbon to match your color scheme + any additional “cake toppers”

1. Use a piece of cardboard for the base – you can use cardboard from the diaper box or in this case I used a frozen pizza base!

2. Cover the cardboard base with tissue paper using a hot glue gun then glue the paper towel roll to the base

3. Roll several of the diapers up and wrap with a small rubber band – set the diapers around the paper towel roll then secure with a larger rubber band.  Repeat for another row until the base is the desired width (3 rows works best).  Do the same thing for the middle layer, only reduce the rows by one so it is tiered.  Repeat until you get to the top!  To add the beer cans, I replaced some of the diapers with the beer then filled-in with more diapers if needed

4. Measure the ribbon so it wraps the width of the base – using a hot glue gun secure the two ends of the ribbon around the diapers, being careful not to glue the diapers so they can be used!

5. Top with any additional kids toys, etc. – in this case we used a fun pacifier to help tie-in our theme (Luke picked it out)!

Beer mug flowers: I found these on Pinterest and thought they were so cute!  I bought 4 large mugs from Michael’s and filled them with gold tissue paper (you can use amber-colored rocks or anything that somewhat resembles the color of beer).  Then you top with cut white flowers – we used daisies but carnations would better resemble the foamy-top of beer!

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Baby-Q Onesies: Using white onesies from Target and paper from Michaels I created a “BBQ” sign to hang over the gift area.  I just taped the letters on the onsies so they could be used again, and used some leftover tissue paper pomanders to help add to the sign!

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Other: I filled-inn the rest with some homemade signs, paper straws/mason jars, and additional pomanders!

The Cake: Another focal point of the party was the cupcake-cake.  I had it made at Target for $24.99 (24 cupcakes) and I was super happy with how it turned out!  It read “from beer bottles to baby bottles” again going with the beer theme!

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The Games: We didn’t do any formal games, but did do “late night diaper thoughts” which always is entertaining with this group!

The Food: We wanted to keep the menu pretty simple and “BBQ-y” but of course still fun!  I actually was out of town for a girls weekend up north so most of the food had to be prepare-able in advance!  Here is what we went with:

Appetizers:
 – Popcorn (she’s about to pop!)
Buffalo Chicken Bites (the dad-to-be’s favorite) from one of my other blog posts
 – Corn, Avocado, and Black Bean Salsa from Produce on Parade
Fruit “on the grill” – I saw this idea on Pinterest as well and wanted to try it for our BBQ!  You cut a watermelon in half and scoop-out the watermelon so you are left with a bowl.  Fill it with blueberries and use skewers for the grill grates and I used corn on the cob holders for the feet of the grill.  Kabob the fruit and set on-top so it looks like a little grill!

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Mains:
 – Brats/Burgers
– Pasta Salad
(one package skinny spaghetti noodles, 1/2 to 3/4 bottle Italian dressing, 2 TBL plus more to taste Suddenly Salad seasoning, and veggies/toppings of choice like green pepper, green onion, tomato, and pepperoni)
– Beans (6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled, 2 28-oz cans baked beans, 1 Cup pineapple tidbits drained, 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1 1/2 Cup ketchup, 1/4 Cup molasses, 3 Tbl yellow mustard, 1/4 cup light brown sugar — saute the onions then combine all ingredients – heat and serve warm!)

Beverages:
 – Punch from another blog postWater, La Croix, and of course the keg!

It was so fun to celebrate Garrett and Daniela and get the crew together for a Sunday Fun-day!

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Pup-Date – Jammie!

***UPDATE***

Little Jimmy Jams (now Julien) got adopted to a fantastic family in Wayzata!  They are absolutely in love and appreciate all of his silly hound-ness!  We got our “family photo” before he left and like all of them I was a hot mess when we had to say goodbye.

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But of course we are so happy he is now with his forever-home and are so lucky we have fund such great adopters again!

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To our surprise (I’m not complaining) we have had our current Secondhand Hounds foster, Jammie, for about 3 weeks.  Since he is the cutest little munchkin we assumed that he would be adopted quickly, but with over 220 dogs on the site we think he probably is just getting lost in the sea of cuteness.

We also thought that since he was a goofball little puppy we wouldn’t get attached but we were wrong – he is just THE BEST!  He charms everyone he meets and has chilled-out a lot since we got him.  He now sleeps with us in bed (much to Luke’s dismay) and unlike Stella just chills curled-up in a ball of soft fur in the same spot all night.  When he doesn’t know what to do he chomps his jaw and reminds me a lot of those alligators on Donkey Kong you have to avoid!

Although he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, he has caught-on quickly to potty training and has learned to sit!

He and Stella have also become besties – I busted them snuggling the other day and actually teared-up it was so cute (I mean their legs are intertwined…ahhhh)!

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Other than being cute he is doing really well and is still a healthy pup.  He did over-play with Stella and sprained his toe (yes that is a thing for dogs) but with some pain meds and “trying” to keep him from playing for a few days that is all healed-up!  He also got neutered (sorry bud) a couple weeks ago so he is ready to be adopted!

We have a meeting tonight with a potential adopter so paws crossed!

3 Perfect Sides for Summer

Spring is in the air in Minne – this weekend we were graced with 60+ degree sunny weather and it was glorious.  The neighborhood was buzzing and the smell of grilling filled the air – I think it is finally safe to put the winter coats away (knock on wood)!

I was invited to a wine club BBQ on Saturday with a fantastic group of women I met at work (shout-out Beth and Jamie for hosting!) and was asked to bring a side to share.  My sides as of late have all been butternut squash based or comfort foody so I had to dig into the recipe book to pull-out some of my summer go-to’s!

Below are 3 summer-friendly, (relatively) healthy side dishes.  I ended-up making two sides for the party, and one to just have around to bring to work.

Enjoy!

Megan

1.) Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

I feel like buffalo anything was kind of a “thing” for awhile, and this was my go-to side dish about 4 years ago.  Well cool or not I’m still a huge fan of buffalo chicken and love that this recipe from Half Baked Harvest is a bit different but still fairly healthy!  I pulled this guy out from the bottom of my Pinterest board and it was a hit!

It can be served as a side or the leftovers are perfect for lunch as well 🙂

*Note I skipped the cabbage, and I used a food processor to break-down the carrots.  I’ve found shredded carrots can be too tough and big in the salad.

2.) My Family’s Famous “Healthy Salad”

I’m not exactly sure where this recipe came from (I think my aunt’s friend Kathy?) but has been a staple summer side at the lake since I was a kid.  I’m sure it at one time had a different name, but the recipe card I have literally says “healthy salad.”  It is super flavorful, colorful, easy to make, pretty healthy (hence the name) and the beauty is that it stays good for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator!

I love to eat it over spinach as a salad for lunch at work 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz can peas
  • 1 15 oz can white (shoepeg) corn
  • 1 15 oz can french-style green beans
  • 2 oz pimentos (they come in 4 oz jars)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 chopped green pepper (yellow or red works as well)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

  • Drain corn, peas, green bean, and pimento then set aside in a medium bowl
  • Chop onion, pepper, and celery and combine with canned vegetables
  • In a small saucepan, stir together red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper over low to medium heat until sugar is dissolved
  • Take off of heat and pour over vegetables, cool and refrigerate
  • Salad stores in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks

3.) Whole Wheat Veggie Mac & Cheese

I am a HUGE mac & cheese lover and for this recipe mixed some tricks from my Aunt Honey and some veggies into this creamy recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried pasta (I used whole-wheat elbow noodles)
  • 2 1/2 cups skim milk (I used almond milk and it turned-out fine)
  • 1/4 lb american cheese, cut into chunks*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped

Directions:

  • In a saucepan add pasta and milk, bring to a simmer and cook until noodles are soft, around 20-25 minutes – be sure to stir frequently and make sure the milk never comes to a boil
  • While the pasta is cooking, saute the veggies with a drizzle of olive oil (and a sprinkle of garlic powder) over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until soft
  • Remove the pasta/milk from heat and add the cheese a little at a time, stirring until creamy.  Add the salt, dijon, and veggies and mix until combined.  You can add more milk as needed based on your creamy-ness preference

*the recipe called for 1 cup loosely shredded cheddar cheese, but as a trick from my Aunt, I used 1/4 lb yellow american cheese.  You get it at the deli counter, and just ask for it in a block vs. sliced (they look at you a little weird but it is worth it).  It melts so much better!

 

 

4th of July Brunch Win – Fruit and Cream Cheese Tarts

I grew-up in a lake town “up North” and the 4th of July is kind of a thing for my family.  In case you aren’t sure where “up North” actually is, it is how Minnesotans essentially describe anywhere north of about Alexandria and general lake country.  Or maybe best described by the photo below:

Capture

My dad once said that the 4th of July was his favorite holiday – food, drinking, and good company without the pressure of gifts or formal entertaining.  I have to say I agree with him (although Christmas will always have a special place in my heart).

We have a pretty decent crew getting together to celebrate freedom and I opted to take-on Sunday brunch.  I have no shame in over-doing the red/white/blue food theme and in general (as I’ve said over and over) love bite-sized food.  So when I found these cute fruit and cream cheese pastries from Just a Taste I had to give them a try!

Fruit and Cream Cheese Tarts

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbl sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 sheets (one package) frozen pastry sheets (like these)
  • 1 1/2 cups fruit of choice
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • With a mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla until creamy
  • Unfold the pastry sheet, and using a glass or cookie cutter (depending on what size pastries you want) cut-out circles **I used a glass that allowed 9 per sheet
  • Place the circles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, around 2 inches apart
  • Lightly cut a border into each pastry near the edge and poke the center gently with a fork **The scored border is key to help the tart rise or “puff” properly along the edges
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture on each pastry and top with the fruit of your choice  **Be sure the fruit is properly dried so it doesn’t bleed
  • Mix together the egg and a spoonful of water (to create an egg wash), and brush the exposed edges of each pastry
  • Bake 15-18 minutes, until golden brown and puffy

Enjoy, and happy 4th!

Soft Pretzel Bites & Beer Cheese Dip

Last night my amazing neighbors got together for a progressive dinner!  What is a progressive dinner you might ask?  Here is the definition according to Wikipedia:

A progressive dinner (US) or safari supper (UK) is a dinner party with successive courses prepared and eaten at the residences of different hosts. Usually this involves the consumption of one course at each location. Involving travel, it is a variant on a potluck dinner and is sometimes known as a round-robin.

Basically it is a fun spin on the classic Midwestern potluck and a great way to spread the hosting love across different people!  Also from now on I am going to refer to it as a safari supper, because that sounds more wild 🙂

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The neighborhood crew!

I was designated by my husband to make appetizers (which I was pumped about)!  I had been traveling all week for work so I needed something not too crazy, but the rest of the crew was stepping-up their food game so I also didn’t want to just buy chips and salsa.

I have been craving pretzels and beer cheese dip so I decided to give it a whirl!  I combined two recipes on trusty-old Pinterest (because ain’t nobody got time to home-make the pretzels).  The pretzel recipe was from the Pillsbury site and the beer cheese dip from Fox and Briar.  They turned-out great, and were even good for breakfast Sunday as a hangover snack 🙂

Pretzel Bites

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From Pillsbury
Ingredients:

  • 1 can refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1/3 Cup baking soda
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tsp sea salt

 

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 450 degrees
  • Spread dough on a lightly floured surface until flat
  • Using a pizza cutter, slice about 1/2 inch by 3 inch strips (roughly 9 width-wise and 4 length-wise)
  • Roll each strip until it is skinny and slightly lengthened
  • “Tie” each strip into a knot and set aside
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the baking soda
  • Drop the knots into the water (5-6 at a time) for about 30 seconds or until they start to puff-up
  • Remove the knots from water with a slotted spoon and place on a greased cookie sheet
  • Sprinkle with the salt, and bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown

Beer Cheese Dip

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From Fox and Briar
Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup grated white cheddar
  • 3/4 grated mozzarella, divided
  • 1/4 Cup beer of choice (I used Wisconsin’s finest Spotted Cow so I could finish it while cooking :))
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • a few dashes of hot sauce

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine the cream cheese, white cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, beer, garlic powder, and hot sauce (using a mixer is the easiest)
  • Transfer to an oven-safe baking dish and top with the remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella
  • Bake 15 minutes or until top is melted and started to brown

Enjoy!

Meet Jammie!

After Reuger, Luke and I took a bit of a break and decided our next foster pup through Secondhand Hounds would be a cute, fun, healthy puppy.  We are huge supporters of their fighter fund program (the program that takes-in dogs that need extra medical attention), but given our schedule this summer we were looking for more of a short-term and light-hearted pup.

We wanted to wait until after the 4th of July (our favorite holiday of the year) but when I saw the picture of this little shorty I fell in love!

Jammie was found in Oklahoma (along with his siblings Cammie and Hammie) as a stray.  He is an 8-month-old Basset Hound mix and is just the CUTEST, but most goofy puppy.  He is clumsy, has huge paws, and loves to play!  He also loves to chat – if he wants to play, needs attention, or is having fun he will let you know which is pretty funny.

I recently got my husband to agree to let him sleep in the bed with us and he is SUCH a good snuggler – stays in the same place all night, preferably right next to you 🙂

He also doesn’t let his short stature get him down (or keep him from a treat, he eventually got it)!

He and our resident pup Stella play continuously and have been getting along great – He is just what we were looking for in a foster, and his future forever fam is extremely lucky!

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Five Summer-Friendly Freezer Meals

Ahh, summer is finally in the air here in Minne!  Which means the grill is going and our typical weeknight meal consists of grilled chicken and whatever frozen vegetable I can find in the freezer.

Typically my husband and I eat healthier in the summer, but ever since I got back from a long work trip I’ve been eating horribly.  Basically whatever I can find in the cupboard/eating out/just plain old unhealthy-ness.

Essentially I’ve been a super slacker in the cooking department lately, so when two of my friends had babies I figured it was the perfect opportunity to dust-off my imaginary apron and get back in the kitchen!

Quick side bar – you are probably wondering why babies lead to food.  Essentially I don’t know what people need with newborns so I just cook since that is more in my comfort zone.  I received some good feedback from my friend, Steph, when I delivered these meals to her – she said they got a bunch of food the first week the baby was born but then ran-out.  So if possible try to provide food maybe a couple weeks into the pregnancy (and of course freezer meals give them more flexibility).

Alright back to food – My go-to for freezer meals are usually a healthy take on comfort food.  So given the warm weather my goal was to find food that would seem fresh but was still freezer friendly.

Below are five Summer Friendly Freezer Meals (plus a couple of sides/desserts) that I gave a shot!  I spent $200 on groceries – but that made 3+ batches of each dish plus sides, so 15 complete meals (with at least two meals per batch) plus 4 batches of bars.  boom.  Here they are:

1.) Almond-Apricot chicken with Cherry Tomato Crisp

These are two recipes I was super into a few years back but haven’t made in awhile.  The chicken is a nice change of scenery (and who doesn’t love goat cheese?!) and the cherry tomato crisp is a colorful yet easy side dish.

I didn’t take the best pictures, but I promise both are tasty!

Almond-Apricot Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into small pieces (about 1/2 of a package)
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of the almonds, goat cheese, and apricots.  Season with a dash of salt and pepper.
  • Lightly beat the egg and place in a small bowl
  • On a plate, combine the breadcrumbs and remaining almonds
  • Create an assembly line of sorts with the chicken breast, apricot mixture, egg, and finally the plate with the bread crumb/almond mixture
  • Cut a slit into one side of each chicken breast, deep enough to fill but making sure to not cut through the chicken breast
  • Stuff each breast with 1/4 of the goat cheese mixture
  • Dip each breast into the egg, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  • Transfer each breast to the skillet and cook until golden, 3-4 minutes on each side
  • Bake for about 15 minutes until heated-through

**If you want to freeze, place chicken in a plastic bag and place in freezer.  To prepare, thaw and cook according to directions.

Cherry Tomato Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices white sandwich bread
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbl fresh parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 5 cups cherry tomatoes

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a food processor, combine the bread, Parmesan cheese, parsley, olive oil, and garlic (season with salt and pepper)
  • Pulse until bread is chopped
  • In an 8×8 inch baking dish, arrange the cherry tomatoes in a single layer
  • Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture
  • Bake until the crust starts to brown and tomatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes

**If you want to freeze, cover pan with cling wrap then tinfoil and place in freezer.  To prepare thaw and cook according to directions.

2.) Garlic-Marinated Chicken with Red Potatoes and Asparagus

This was my grill meal – nothing in this recipe is hard or crazy, but pre-marinating and cooking the potatoes just makes it easier!

Garlic-Marinated Chicken with Potatoes and Asparagus

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (about 6)
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (or 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic)
  • 2 Tbl white-wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbl fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Chicken Directions:

  • Whisk together all marinade ingredients and combine with chicken
  • Let the chicken marinade for at least 10 minutes
  • Grill until browned or bake 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until cooked-through

**To freeze, place the chicken in a plastic bag and place in freezer.  To prepare, thaw and cook according to directions.

Veggie Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp homemade Vinaigrette
    • 1/4 Cup white-wine vinegar
    • 1 Tbl dijon mustard
    • dash of salt/pepper
    • pinch of sugar
    • 3/4 Cup olive oil

Veggie Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Place the potatoes on a pan with a drizzle of olive-oil and a dash of salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping half-way through
  • In a large bowl combine the asparagus with 1 1/2 tsp olive oil.  Cook in a skillet over medium heat, 4-5 minutes until cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Once cooked, toss with 1 Tbl of the homemade vinaigrette.

**I cooked the veggies then froze with the vinaigrette on the side, serve with the chicken

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3.) Crockpot Jambalaya

Ever since I had Jambalaya at a restaurant in Asheville, NC (at Mayfel’s, check it out!) I have been craving it.  It is comfort food but with plenty of spice, flavor, and protein.

I found this crockpot recipe on Pinterest from Spicy Southern Kitchen (can’t have a freezer meal blog without a crockpot meal!) and after some taste-testing I think it is a keeper!

4.) Spring Risotto with Peas, Mushroom, and Zuchinni

My lovely friend, Leigh, once told me that Risotto is the adult’s Mac & Cheese which is a fantastic description.  I usually don’t make risotto because honestly I think it takes way too long but multi-tasking while making it definitely helped and it was worth the time!

Spring Risotto with Peas, Mushroom, and Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbl butter
  • 1-2 large zucchini cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 Cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Directions:

  • Heat broth and 2 1/2 cups water in a saucepan over low heat to keep warm
  • In a large skillet or pot, melt 2 Tbl of the butter over medium heat
  • Add the zucchini and mushrooms (season with salt/pepper), and cook until veggies are softened 8-10 minutes
  • Remove the veggies with a slotted spoon and set aside
  • In the same pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion.  Cook until soft about 5 minutes seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Raise the heat back to medium and add the rice, cooking until translucent around the edges stirring continuously
  • Add the wine and cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes
  • Cook the rice by adding 1 cup of hot broth at a time (stir until the broth is absorbed before adding more).  This process will take 25 to 30 minutes
  • Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and peas until combined
  • Remove from heat, and stir-in the remaining 1 Tbl of butter and the Parmesan cheese

**To freeze, place in a plastic bag and place in the freezer.  Simply thaw and re-heat to prepare!

5.) Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

This is a recipe my mom used to make and one of the first recipes I made in college (which means anyone can do it)!  This one isn’t crazy healthy but good comfort food and the curry adds some good flavor!

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages frozen broccoli (I substituted a broccoli/cauliflower/carrot medley)
  • 6-8 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 Cup mayonnaise (I substituted Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 Cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 Cup croutons or bread crumbs

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cook the chicken breast – place a small amount of water in a skillet and heat with the chicken breast around 45 minutes until tender (flip halfway through).  Once cooked chop into 1″ pieces
  • Cook the vegetables according to package directions, and spread in the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch baking dish
  • Place the chicken breast on top until the pan is covered
  • Mix together the soup, mayonnaise, (or Greek yogurt), lemon juice, curry powder, cheese, and croutons
  • Spread over the chicken until pan is covered
  • Bake about 1 hour (covered)

**To freeze, cover with cling wrap and tinfoil then place in the freezer.  To prepare, thaw and remove cling wrap, then re-cover with foil and bake according to directions.

OK finally onto the desserts!  In true Minnesota fashion I made two pans of bars.  When I lived in DC for a few years I realized that the term “bar” is not universal and the more I thought about it kind of doesn’t make sense.  Here is the description according to Wikipedia:

“Dessert bars, or simply bars or squares, are a type of American “bar cookie” that has the texture of a firm cake or softer than usual cookie. They are prepared in a pan and then baked in the oven. They are cut into squares or rectangles.  They are staples of bake sales and are often made for birthdays”

I chose a couple of bars that have been on my Pinterest board for awhile and they were great!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars from Bake or Break – they have a nice mild peanut butter flavor and are super soft/chocolate-y too!

Funfetti Gooey Bars from Crazy for Crust – these are basically a combination of funfetti cake with vanilla frosting and sugar cookies.  Super sweet but SO GOOD!

*Note the batter at first was super crumbly, but just stick with the mixing and it gets a bit thicker.  You still need to kind of “clump” (or press) it together.

Enjoy!

Megan