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!

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!

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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Snowman Salad

This is one of my favorite salads a friend introduced to me to in college.  I’ve changed the name to Snowman Salad because the name “Frog Eye Salad” wasn’t appealing to my kids.  If your not a coconut fan, you can definitely leave it out:)  I have found after many trials, It has a much better texture if you make sure that the pasta, fruit and egg mixture are very cold before you mix the ingredients together.  This recipe makes a lot so I’ll normally put a few batches in freezer.

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1 cup white  sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups pineapple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (16 ounce) package acini di pepe pasta
2 (20 ounce) cans pineapple chunks, drained (save juice!)
2 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained (save juice!)
1 (16 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
Whipping cream, whipped with sugar

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In large  saucepan over low heat, combine sugar, egg yolks, flour, pineapple juice  and lemon juice (and reserved juice from pineapple and mandarin orange cans).  Stir and cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.  While sauce  is cooking, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add  pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse  with cold water.

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In large bowl, combine cooked juice mixture with pasta and toss to coat thoroughly.  Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight (if you can).

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Toss delicious pasta with pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, marshmallows and whipped cream.  This is great for picnics or family gatherings.  Enjoy!

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chop

Ok my friends, Let me start by saying that I have never made a meal that is truly like going to a fine dining restaurant. I’m serious… These were probably the best pork chops I have ever made, low calorie and simple too.  It goes great with Broccoli Rice Casserole or Loaded Mashed Potatoes or just a good ol’ side of veggies.  So, if you’re ever having one of those days where life is knocking you down, and your just pretending to be a functioning adult and/or parent… try making dinner a little easier by having a few pork chops in your freezer it’s a fabulous go to meal for your entire family:)

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4 boneless thinly sliced pork chops, pounded to 3/4″ thick
garlic salt
pepper
onion flakes or onion powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon sugar

Pound pork chops to 3/4″ thick.  Season chops with garlic salt, pepper, and onion flakes or onion powder.  Heat pan to medium heat for one minute, then add olive oil and heat another minute.  Add pork chops and cook over medium high heat until browned on both sides (about 5 minutes.)  Place pork chops on plate, lower heat a bit, then add vinegar and sugar and cook until sauce thickens (about two minutes, sauce won’t get very thick but will become a little more syrup like.)  Place pork chops back in pan and cook an additional 4 minutes, rotating and turning over a few times to glaze the pork chops with the sauce.  Serve hot, with sauce poured over pork chops.

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Enjoy!

Stuffed Manicotti

We are HUGE pasta fans in our house.  We typically eat at least one pasta dish a week and this is one of our favorites!  Making this dish is a bit time consuming so I normally make double and freeze a batch for another meal.  Don’t worry if someone doesn’t like ricotta or cottage cheese…blended in, it only adds flavor.  My daughter Kinley doesn’t even notice.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients:
1 (8 ounce) package manicotti pasta
1 pound lean ground beef or 1 Pkg. Johnsonville Ground Italian Sausage
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese or ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

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Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cool boil pasta to half the recommended time on the package- then place ice cold water over manicotti. 20140114-121923.jpg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet brown beef on medium heat. Drain and cool.  Combine beef or sausage, cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg and oregano. Mix well.

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Stuff shells with mixture. The key to stuffing the manicotti is by using a pastry bag or zip-lock bag (with corner cut).  Or just hold the noodle in one hand and plug the end with your fingers and stuff it with the other.

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Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour enough spaghetti sauce in dish to cover the bottom. Place stuffed noodles in the dish.

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Cover with spaghetti sauce and top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake covered in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Enjoy!

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