Easy Freezer Friendly Baked Ziti

If your looking for  the perfect meal to feed a crowd of hungry people, here is one of the best Italian meals I’ve come across.  We made this for our family reunion this weekend and it was a huge hit.  The great thing about this meal is it’s super tasty, filling and fairly inexpensive. We fed 65 adults and kids and it was so good we’re adding it to the menu again next year!

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1 pound ground beef
1 box penne pasta
1 (15 oz.) jar Alfredo sauce
1 (24oz.) jar Marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

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Preheat oven to 375° F.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick spray; set aside.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.  Return cooked pasta to pan; do not return to heat. Brown and drain your ground beef and add your jar of marinara sauce and set aside.20140527-131908.jpg

Add Alfredo sauce, to pasta and mix well and pour into a prepared pan.

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Gently layer marinara sauce on top of pasta and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.  We served this up with a wonderful chop salad and fresh garlic bread and it was delish!

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Copycat Chick-fil-A Cookies

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I am an addict.

I love Chick-Fil-A chocolate chunk cookies. I can attribute at least 5 pounds on my hips totally to these circles of deliciousness.

That being said, I am a frugal gal who hates to throw down just over a dollar every time my craving wins out. So what did I do? I scoured the web along with the Chick-Fil-A ingredient list and tried to come up with an equally delicious cookie.

I think my experiment was a S.U.C.C.E.S.S! (The house full of teenagers that come to bible study at my house on Wednesday nights agreed. Three of them actually work at Chick-Fil-A!!)

When digging around online I came across two blogs that have also attempted a copy cat. Check them out here and here. I tried both and they were pretty good! The recipe I landed on is a little different than theirs. After WAY too many batches, I think it is as close as I am going to get without hacking into someone’s computer system! (No…of course that thought never entered my mind…..)

Stop by and let me know what you think!

Here is the Recipe: (Step by Step Pictures are below)

2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Quick Oats
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/3 C Dark brown sugar
1/3 C Sugar
1/2 C Crisco or Lard
8 TBS Butter at room temperature (NOT Margarine
3 TBS Honey or Corn Syrup
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 eggs (at room temperature
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet Chocolate Chunks
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

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Mix the flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda

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In a different bowl combine the dark brown sugar, sugar, crisco, butter, honey (or corn syrup) and vanilla

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Add room temperature eggs.  This helps the cookies to rise better than using cold eggs.   You also want to wait to add the eggs after your have beat your other wet ingredients so the eggs don’t get over beaten.  This keeps the cookies from getting too dense or tough.  (I know…seems tedious but amazing cookies are in the details!)

Incorporate the dry ingredients and the chocolate.  Don’t over mix, just until all the flour is mixed in.

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Use a BIG FAT Ice Cream scoop and dish out on your cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 8-11 minutes.  You want to pull them out when you just start to see browning on the edges.

Let cool…….If you can wait 🙂

 

Blueberry Bread

Yes!! It’s finally blueberry season! As a frugal gal, I typically try to choose fruits and vegetables that are in season to use in making our meals. If you’re not quite sure what’s in season, check out our grocery sale cycle to learn more!

In my house, I can sit a container of blueberries out on the counter and before it even seems possible, they’re gone! While these are great to eat by themselves, I decided to try a new recipe for our breakfast this morning. It was really good right out of the oven and extremely moist (the yogurt must have done that?). I’ve tried many recipes in the past and this will defiantly be one I will do again. The most important part, it went over great with the kiddos! Thanks to Baking Bites for this wonderful recipe!

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 Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups blueberries (12 oz)
2 tsp lemon zest
½ cup plain yogurt, regular or low fat

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt.

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Add the blueberries and lemon zest and toss to combine.

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In a seperate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yogurt then the dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated and being careful not to crush the blueberries.

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Scoop batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting gently onto a plate.

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If you want to make it super simple and bite sized for the kiddos, after refrigerated (it’s a bit difficult when hot) a few hours, use sharp, serrated knife and make long strokes to cut each slice.  And slice again down the middle. Enjoy!

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Copycat Starbucks Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Thought for the day…very little is needed to make life happy:)

Starbucks Lemon Loaf 5

1 box yellow cake mix
3.4 ounce instant or cook and serve Lemon pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces sour cream
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Icing
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray 2 loaf pans generously with cooking spray. Place all cake ingredients in no particular order into stand or electric mixer, beating until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Divide cake batter between two prepared loaf pans spreading evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through
Remove and let cool for 15 minutes before removing loaves from pans.

To prepare icing, place powdered sugar into a large bowl. Drizzle in lemon juice stirring until smooth and thick. Should be a good drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing over cakes and let set for 20 minutes for a firm icing. Otherwise slice while still wet if desired. Makes about 24 slices
Note: You can make this same recipe into cupcakes, small loaves and even a layered cake. Adjust baking time accordingly. removing loaves from pans and Enjoy!

Summer Black Bean Salad

Our pool is officially open and the city’s famous snow cone lady is in full swing, so can we just skip to summer now??? Ah, summer, it has the power to make us suffer and like it…especially in Texas:)

Here is the perfect dish for summer entertainment and it gets better the longer it sits. In fact, when you make this salad you want to have plenty of time to let it sit while the flavors meld together. It’s a super frugal recipe for summer because you can find most of the ingredients on sale. Definitely since fresh corn is in during the summer, and if you have a few more minutes go with fresh!

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What you need:
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3 ears fresh cooked corn, kernels cut off the cob
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced shallots, from one medium shallot
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lime zest (be sure to zest limes before juicing them)
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 Hass avocados, chopped

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Combine all ingredients except for avocados in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight. Right before serving, add avocados and mix gently, being careful not to mash avocados. Garnish with a more chopped cilantro if desired.  Serve at room temperature in a clear glass bowl and it’s absolutely stunning ENJOY!

 

Resurrection Rolls

I wanted to write a quick post for you who are looking for a great Easter recipe to do with the kiddos.  I found this recipe last year and plan on making these a part of our Easter tradition.  As we make them, we talk about the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!DSC02742

Ingredients needed:
Crescent rolls
Melted butter
Large Marshmallows
Cinnamon
Sugar

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Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Give each child one triangle of crescent rolls.  Explain that the crescent roll represents the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in.
Read Matthew 27: 57-61.DSC02730
Give each child a marshmallow.  This represents Jesus.  Have him/her dip the marshmallow in melted butter.  This represents the oils of embalming.  Then dip the buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon and sugar.  This represents the spices used to anoint the body.  Then wrap up the coated marshmallow tightly in the crescent roll (not like a typical crescent roll up, but bring the sides up and seal the marshmallow inside.)  This represents the wrapping of Jesus’ body after death.

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Place all in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove rolls from oven and let them cool slightly.

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Now the kiddos can then open their rolls (cloths) and discover that Jesus is no longer there! HE IS RISEN!!!! (The marshmallow melts and the crescent roll is puffed up, but empty.)  ~ Now read Matthew 28:1-10DSC02741
Enjoy your warm rolls as you rejoice at the good news of Easter!

Cheeseburger Casserole

This recipe was adapted from Paula Dean and  it was super easy.  (A great one to do with your kiddos)  My three gobbled this up, and Russell and I thought it was pretty darn good – and will certainly make this again.  I’m sure you can have fun with this and add your favorite toppings.  I added corn because it sounded good.  This is even better the next day!

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1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 (28-oz.) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces wide egg noodles
Cooking spray
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat, stirring to break up the lumps, until all of the pink is gone from the meat.  Add the onion and the green pepper, (I cut them into very small pieces so my kiddos don’t see them:) and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

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Add the tomatoes, with juice, and the Worcestershire sauce, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low. Simmer the mixture for about 15 minutes.

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Fill medium pot half full of water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring the water to a boil. Stir in the noodles and boil for about 8 minutes, until tender.  Return the noodles to the pot. Pour the tomato mixture over the noodles and stir until blended.  Put the noodle mixture into a baking dish that you have sprayed with cooking spray. Top with cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Enjoy! 

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