Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recipe Round-Up: Our Favorite Meals

The Quick, The Easy, The Delicious!

After having many visitors over the last couple of months and having a newborn in the house, I am so grateful that we've had so many frozen meals ready to cook with little to no preparation at all. They've been great to feed our visitors, but many of them have been frozen in single-serve portions so they're perfect to pull out just what Justin and I need to feed the two of us without having leftovers for days! 

I've gotten so many positive comments about our meals out of the freezer and the crock pot - how delicious AND how easy they are - that I thought I'd share a few of our tried-and-true favorites. Many of these came from Pinterest (seriously the greatest website of all time!), others came from friends or from me browsing the internet. Many of the recipes also have a Mexican theme...I guess we just love it so much, we can't get enough!  Just click on the name of the recipe and it will take you to its source! Enjoy!

Crock Pot Hits

Chef Mommy

Salsa Chicken

This is probably Justin's favorite meal  of all time. I love it too, so it gets made pretty often at our house. It's SUPER easy to make and all the ingredients are things I have on hand all the time. It makes quite a bit so it's good to feed 4-5 people, but we don't mind eating this for 2 days in a row. It is also great rolled up in tortillas on day 2!

I add black beans in toward the end of the cooking time with the sour cream and cheese (so they don't get mushy) and skipped the cilantro.

Chocolate Therapy

Chicken Tacos

"Three ingredients and almost zero work" Exactly. These are way too good to be this easy. They are great to feed a crowd or to make and freeze for future meals.

The last time I made these, I had crunchy shells for the first time in years - and forgot how awesome they are! (But this chicken would be good wrapped in pretty much anything  :) They were also a hit with the kids we had over for dinner!

Freezer Favorites 

Annie's Eats

Cheesy Chicken "Benchiladas'

These aren't traditional enchiladas at all, but we think they're way better. Ranch dressing + Chicken + lots of cheese. What's not to love?! I'm not a huge fan of traditional enchilada sauce so this is a delicious alternative. 

As is, they're very mild (kids would probably love them) but I think the next time I make them, I'll add some green chilies for a little more 'kick'.

Taste of Home 

Pepperoni Lasagna Roll-Ups

I got the idea for this recipe from a friend - and it gets a '10' for taste AND ease. Instead of making only 3 noodles like the recipe calls for I use whole box, quintupling the recipe. It's SO easy to freeze them and just pull out just what we need instead of having leftovers for a week! 

I just use shredded mozzarella cheese instead of swiss because it's what I usually have on hand. I also wait to add the spaghetti sauce until right before I bake the rolls.

Picky Palate

Chicken Wild Rice Casserole

This recipe is great because it makes a LOT of food. I freeze it in 4 separate containers because it's enough for 4 meals for us. It also worked out great to serve when we had visitors because there was so much of it! Also -the website it's listed on is called 'Picky Palate', so this is a great one for kids or picky eaters!

When I thawed this one out and baked it I thought it was a little dry, so I added an extra can of chicken broth before baking.

All Recipes

Stuffed Green Peppers

I usually double this recipe to freeze. If you have leftovers (we usually don't because I only pull out what we'll eat) they're great reheated, cut up and served on tortillas for a new twist on day 2!

I use ground turkey instead of beef and I use different types of tomatoes - sometimes fresh, sometimes diced in the can - they all cook down equally well.

Freezer Staples

 I like to have these things ready to go in the freezer to help throw together a meal in a hurry! 

Cooked Shredded Chicken 

I fill my crock pot up with chicken breasts (usually frozen) and let it cook on low all day. In the evening, I shred it up, bag it, and throw it in the freezer. It's much easier to pull out and add to a dish rather than taking the time to cook the chicken before each meal.

Chopped Fajita Veggies

When I find peppers and onions on sale at the farmers market or the grocery store, I stock up, wash and chop them, and freeze them in bags to pull out for an easy meal. All I have to do is throw a couple of pieces of chicken on the grill and lightly cook the veggies, and fajitas are ready to go! I even use these veggies if I'm making a pasta or something - they're really easy to just throw into anything!

Hamburger Patties

If we're grilling for just the two of us, we obviously don't need an entire pound of hamburger, so I buy a few pounds at a time when it's on sale, season and patty it and freeze. This way, all we have to do is pull out 2 patties to thaw instead of messing with a whole pound of meat every time.

Cookie Dough

We often get a craving for some cookies after dinner so instead of baking a whole batch at once, we just pull a few pre-made dough balls out of the freezer and bake them as we need (ok, WANT) them.

**An important tip to remember: when freezing single-serve items (the 'benchilladas', lasagna rolls, hamburger patties, cookie dough, etc. lay them out on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for a few hours to harden them up. THEN put them in a freezer bag. This way, they're individually frozen and therefore easier to pull just a few out at a time (instead of them all freezing together in one big clump. Like most things, I learned this the hard way!)

Simple Organized Living

Delicious Baked Sandwiches

These sandwiches can't really be frozen or thrown in a crock pot, but they are so delicious I would be cheating you if I didn't share. (another Pinterest find!) They take a little more preparation but they are great because they are easy and can be made ahead of time. I usually make them when people come to visit because they're always a hit, but sometimes I just make a smaller batch for just Justin and I. (He wouldn't mind if I made them every day he loves them so much!) 
I skip the poppyseeds (because I never have any...) and cut down on the butter a bit.

There are many other meals that I have pinned on Pinterest that I haven't yet tried yet but I'm sure are equally as delicious - follow my 'Recipe' board for more ideas. If you haven't browsed Pinterest yet for new recipes, I HIGHLY recommend it - it's changed our life! :)  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Avery at 2 Months!

(Click pictures to see them larger)
Avery is already 2 months old! His weekly photo shoots have been so much fun and we love comparing these photos to the ones taken his first four weeks!

This month...
We went to Michigan City and introduced Avery to Lake Michigan,

Avery took in his first baseball game (dad's vintage baseball game in Frankfort!)

Avery sleeps 4-6 hour stretches every night (woo hoo!)

Avery has gotten to meet all of his grandparents (except Grandpa Richard!) 

Justin & I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary and we all spent the beautiful day enjoying Whyte Horse winery,
Avery has so much more personality and character - he smiles, coos, giggles, and wiggles so much more - and is getting so strong!

Avery went on his first bike ride with mom and dad! He slept through the whole thing!

Avery does take a pacifier every once in a while  (it comes in super handy in the car or at the store)

Avery LOVES:
bath time
being able to lay flat on his back to punch and kick at the air
going to sleep when he's all balled up on daddy's chest 
his play mats
when mom and dad get in his face and do goofy things to make him smile
being in motion 
being swaddled and held tight

Avery is not so fond of:
Getting out of the bath
taking naps (he gets over-tired sometimes and fights sleep!)
being in the car seat for too long
the swing (I thought all babies loved swings?!)
having mom suck out his boogers
allowing mom and dad to have dinner together... at the same time
middle-of-the-night diaper changes
tummy time (it usually only lasts 10 minutes or so...)