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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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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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!

 

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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Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich

This French Dip is seriously so delicious!  It’s the perfect sandwich for the busy mom who needs to get a great easy meal on the table.  All the hubby could say was WOW! I’m totally making this again for the family.

20140317-124858.jpgIngredients:

approx. 3 1/2 lbs. beef chuck roast
beef broth (1 1/2 cans)
1 (10.5-oz.) can condensed French onion soup
6-oz red wine
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 French rolls or this fabulous Quick Rise Bread sliced
provolone cheese, optional

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Trim excess fat off of beef roast and season meat all over with salt and pepper.  Pour beef broth, condensed French onion soup, red wine and garlic powder into slow cooker and place beef roast into liquid. 8 hours.

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You don’t  have to worry about the meat drying out in the same way you might if you were roasting the meat in the oven. Mine took 7 1/2 hours and was falling apart tender.  Take beef out and rest it, covered with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Slice beef and return to slow cooker on low or very low for 30 minutes.

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Lightly toast the bread and evenly distribute cheese between rolls.  I also sliced and cooked a bell pepper and onion. Divide beef onto rolls and spoon the beef juice into small bowls and eat everything while it is hot. Serve each sandwich with its own dip.  Serves 4-6.  Enjoy!

 

 

Pirate Birthday Party

It’s March madness in our house, all three of our kiddos have birthdays this month.  We kicked off the month with a pirate birthday party theme for my son Colson and it was a huge hit with the kiddos. Overall, it was fairly easy, frugal and lots of fun!

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Here’s the menu:

Golden Nuggets (I purchased chicken nuggets from chick-fil A)
Scurvy Rolls (Turkey Wrap w/Cranberry Cream Cheese) I bought these at Costco but you can easily make them!
Octopus dip (beer dip) Everyone raved about this! So creamy and delicious, and really does go best with pretzels.
Cannon balls (black olives)
Fish & Chips (Goldfish crackers & plain potato chips)
Watermelon pirate ship with fresh fruit
Watermelon Shark with fresh fruit
Seaweed Salad (pasta salad) This is a great recipe!
Ahoy Ma-Tea (Sweet Tea)
Pirate Punch (Hawaiian Punch)

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The fresh fruit & Watermelon Boat and Shark was a huge hit! My hubby did a fantastic job planning and did a lot of research to put this masterpiece together.  Here are a few sites he used!  How to make a watermelon shark carving and How to make a watermelon ship carving

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 A little Shark humor before the party with these two!

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We served up Ahoy Ma-Tea (Sweet Tea) and Pirate Punch (Hawaiian Punch).  My niece helped with labeling everything with her beautiful pirate handwriting.

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Russell made a Hook Toss out of an old pallet and a walk the plank out of some wood.

20140324-105031.jpg  Lastly, I found this super cute pirate ship piñata I showcased at the cupcake table before we took it outside and got everyone involved in the birthday activity.

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Happy Birthday to our precious, sweet hearted, adventurous little pirate.  There hasn’t been a single day in the last three years that you haven’t brought joy to our life.  And so much love.  I feel blessed to live my life with you and thank God he gave me the privilege of being your mommy!

 

Devil eggs

Just let me say this, these deviled eggs are AWESOME! Easy, tasty, – and almost everyone in my family  loves them.  These are a great way to get put your Easter ‘love’ in the food or any addition to a yummy meal.   Needless to say, these are frugal to make.

20140304-122720.jpgIngredients:

12 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled and halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 teaspoons sweet relish
Salt
Pepper
Paprika, for dusting

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Place eggs in a large wide saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil for 12 minutes. Remove eggs and and cool in refrigerator. Remove shells from eggs and slice in half lengthwise. 20140304-121553.jpg

Separate egg yolks and place into a bowl. Place whites on a separate plate. 

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Add mayo, mustard, relish and salt and pepper, to taste, to yolks and mash together with a fork until creamy and smooth.

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Using a small spoon put the yolk mixture back into each egg, enough to fill yolk holes completely.

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Dust tops with paprika. Refrigerate. Serve cold. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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