Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pumpkinpalooza: Pumpkin French Toast Bake & Pumpkin French Toast Muffins!

I know...I know, I am a little behind on the pumpkin posts but I promise the one that I'm giving you today makes up for my absence! I always love combining my love for breakfast with my love of pumpkin. Pancakes are my first love, but French toast is my other breakfast passion. So I decided to combine the two and make a fall breakfast or any time of day really, a pumpkin French toast combo that takes the cake! Get in the kitchen now and bake up these pumpkin delights for your family! Mine will be enjoying some this Saturday morning before a pumpkin picking trip. The best way to start a beautiful fall day: French toast and pumpkin!!!!  
This week’s Pumpkinpalooza recipes are:  Pumpkin French toast muffins and also a bonus recipe of Pumpkin French toast bake!

Pumpkin French toast muffins
1 large loaf of French bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 12 cups of bread)
1 12.5 oz can of pumpkin puree
2 cups milk
6 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup cold butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
2. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, I add muffin cups for easier clean up but it works just as well with cooking spray. Add about 1 cup of bread cubes to each muffin cup. Carefully pour pumpkin and milk mixture evenly over each muffin tin. You may need to press down on the bread cubes after you pour a little mixture and then pour more. Pour slowly, its messy. Cover the muffins with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the topping, in a small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Mix together with your hands or cut in with a pastry blender, until you have a crumbly mixture. Add a handful to the top of each muffin carefully, this can get messy too.

4. Bake for 25 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Let muffins cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and serve with butter and maple syrup, if desired.
Yields 12-16 muffins
To Freeze:
Prepare your muffin tins with the bread and the pumpkin mixture. Be sure to put then into muffin liners if you freeze. Just so you are not taking up one of your muffin tins.  Let them set and you can freeze them for up to six months.
To eat:
Defrost the muffins overnight, place them in the muffin tins, add your topping mixture and bake 25 min. Enjoy

Pumpkin French toast bake
*Same ingredients as pumpkin French toast muffins
1. Cut the large loaf of French bread into 1 in pieces. Put them into a greased  9x12 in baking dish. Add the entire pumpkin, milk and egg mixture to the bread. Let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, just like the muffins.
2. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pull the pumpkin and bread mixture from the fridge and add the topping mixture.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min or until the crumb topping is golden brown.
Serve with butter and maple syrup if desired
Serves 6-8
To freeze:
Prepare the bread, add to baking dish. Prepare the pumpkin, milk and egg mixture. Add to the bread. Place into the freezer for up to six months.
To eat:
Defrost overnight, preheat oven to 350 degrees, add the topping mixture and bake for 30 min until golden brown

Cook with love,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Funday: Beef Goulash

Let's Go Birds! 

It's been a crazy sports weekend here at Casa de Lopez. Yesterday it was a college football extravaganza (GO NOLES!), last night it was the Mayweather fight and today it's football all day!  But you won't hear me complain, I love having our house filled with family and friends! 

Yesterday I did some much needed food shopping early in the morning and got a head start on some of my cooking for the week.  Of course, there was chili on the menu, because husband just has chili running through his veins.  But I also added beef goulash to the menu, which is AMAZING.  I had never tried it before but Angela was so sweet and cooked me some extra meals for my freezer for back to school time and one of the meals was her beef goulash. (Guess what the other meal was...yup, you guessed it: chili pie.)  She was generous and gave us a good amount of the goulash, so I had only heated up about half of it.  Then I had a bite.  And immediately started to heat up the rest! It's SO YUMMY! It's kinda like the Italian cousin of chili...more mellow in flavor and more comforting (to me, at least!).  And the best part...its a ONE POT MEAL.  Yes, you cook your pasta in the same pot!! Hello winner winner beef goulash dinner!!

Beef Goulash
{serves 8}
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds ground beef
2 large onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 29-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in the oil about 10 minutes, breaking meat up with a fork as it cooks. Add the onion; cook and stir for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients except the macaroni. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. (Add water if it looks a bit thick.) Stir in the macaroni; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Let the goulash stand for 20 minutes before serving.
original recipe by Bobby Deen

To freeze:
Make as directed and cool completely.  Spoon goulash into labeled containers and freeze.

To eat:
Thaw over night in refrigerator.  Heat in saucepan over low/med-low heat, stirring often. 

What team are you cheering for?
Go Team!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Funday: Chili Cheese Dip

Happy Football Season!
I'm back! Skipped last week, but with good mom was up from Florida and it was our first week back to school.  But now the chaos has settled down and football season is officially upon us, so here's my new Sunday Funday recipe for the week!

Chili Cheese Dip

If my husband had to list his top five favorite foods, it would look a little like this:
1. Wings
2. Chili
3. Wings
4. Wings
5. Chili

So needless to say, we always have lots of chili in the house!  This was my way to combine the idea for the hot taco dip and all of the chili we have in our house.  Same basic idea...cream cheese, chili and shredded cheese on top!

Sunday Funday Chili Cheese Dip
1 block of cream cheese, softened
1.5-2 cups chili 
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
(extras: bacon bits and chopped green onion)

1. Spread softened cream cheese on the bottom of a baking dish.
2. Pour chili on top and spread evenly.
3. Top with shredded cheese.
4. Bake in the oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes
5. Stir and enjoy immediately! (Garnish with extras, if using)

To make freezer friendly:
You can buy cream cheese when on sale and freeze in the package.  
You can also make a large batch of chili and freeze once cooled and use these ingredients to make the dip! 

Go Team!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Swap it up! Freezer Friendly Healthy Meals

We met last week for our healthy themed swap.  Who cares if we munched on brownies, peach cobbler, peanut butter balls, and cheese dip at our swap!  All things in moderation, right? We've got 6 healthy meals on hand and let me tell you, that's a great feeling!

This month we welcomed back the chef of the group, Michelle!  She's a married lady now and needs to stock her freezer for her hubby!  Here's what was on our swap menu:

- Antipasto stuffed chicken (to serve over a salad)
- Lighter chicken tortilla bake (this would work well as a topping for whole grain nachos)
- Blueberry smoothie and breakfast bars
- Tuscan chicken soup with kale and beans
- Lighter sausage and pepper stuffed calzones
- Quinoa, veggie, and cheese stuffed peppers

Antipasto Stuffed Chicken  (adapted from Giada)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup chopped jarred artichoke hearts
1/4 cup chopped roasted peppers
2-3 chopped pepperoncini
2 slices provolone cheese
4 slices thick salami, diced

Salad Dressing:
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400.  Lay chicken breast flat on your work surface. Use knife to cut chicken breast in half horizontally, but not slicing all the way through.  Lay sliced provolone cheese on side and mound 2-3 tablespoons antipasto filling on top.  Wrap filling with other side of chicken breast and use 3 pieces of cooking twine to secure filling and chicken. Marinate with 1/2 of the dressing before roasting in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

To freeze:
Place chicken breasts in a freezer safe plastic bag and pour in marinade/dressing.  Pinch bag to release air and lay flat in freezer.
To reheat:
Defrost chicken in the refrigerator overnight.  Roast on a baking sheet, at 400, 20-30 minutes until chicken breast is cooked through.  Slice and serve over a green salad with left over (unused) dressing.

1 can (10 3/4 oz) 98% fat free 45% less sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
1 container (8 oz) fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup fat-free (skim) milk
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
8 yellow corn tortillas (6 or 7 inch), torn into bite-size pieces
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1 large tomato, chopped (1 cup)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend (6 oz)

*You can cook your chicken breast in the slow cooker with taco seasoning.  Set on high for 3-4 hours and shred!
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix soup, chiles, sour cream, milk, chili powder and cumin until blended. Stir in chicken, tortillas and bell pepper. Stir in tomato and 1 cup of the cheese. Spoon and spread mixture in baking dish.Step2 Cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake uncovered 5 to 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes.

To freeze:
Follow directions above but do not cook.  Pour mixture into aluminum baking pans and cover with foil.  Label, date, and freeze.  
To reheat:
Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.  Bake at 350 ~40 minutes.  Serve over whole grain tortilla chips with your favorite nacho fixins.

Breakfast Smoothie
1 cup fresh fruit
1/4 cup yogurt plain 
1/2 cup almond milk or low fat
Dash of chia seeds

If using fresh fruit add that along with 3-4 ice cubes along with remaining ingredients to blender. If using frozen fruit, no need to add ice.  Blend well until smooth and serve cold.  

To freeze: 
Yogurt:  add 1 tbsp of yogurt to ice cube trays and sprinkle chia seeds on top.  Fruit: place fruit in freezer bags, label and date.
To drink: 
Thaw portions of fruit and portions of yogurt overnight in fridge. Blend with almond milk fresh.  

Blueberry Bars (from Living Lou)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp canola oil
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8″ pan with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In another bowl combine wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and lightly mix.  Fold in the berries.  Press into the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the bars comes out clean.  Allow to cool and cut into bars.

To freeze: 
Follow recipe above.  Wrap bars in aluminum foil and freeze separately.
To eat:
Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.  Enjoy!

Tuscan Kale Soup (adapted from Peanut Blossom)

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 medium yellow onion (medium dice)
4  carrots (peeled, washed, and medium dice)
4 stalks celery (washed and medium diced)
2 zucchini (washed and medium diced)
1 bunch kale, (washed, stems removed, and chopped)
3 cloves fresh garlic (chopped finely)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
28 0z can crushed tomatoes
1 can canellinni beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt-to taste
Fresh ground black pepper -to taste
1/2 cup Acini de pepe pasta

In a large pot add 2 tbsp olive oil and saute onions, celery, and carrots over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes.  Add zucchini and garlic.  Saute until tender about 4-6 minutes.
Add chicken stock, tomatoes, basil, oregano, beans, and chicken. Simmer soup for 20 minutes, vegetables should be tender. Add the pasta and kale, cook right in the soup for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

To freeze:
Cool soup completely and pour soup into plastic containers or freezer safe plastic bags. Label, date, and freeze.
To reheat:
Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.  Bring soup to a boil on the stove top or in the microwave.

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Calzones
2 spicy turkey sausage links
1 onion, sliced
1 red and green pepper, sliced
Jiffy pizza baking mix
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook and crumble turkey sausage in a non-stick skillet, set aside.  In the same pan, saute peppers and onions until soft, add to sausage mixture.  Prepare pizza dough according to package directions.  Roll out dough in 2 sections for 2 calzones.  Wrap 1 cup of cheese and half sausage mixture in dough, crimp sides, and make slits in the calzone.  Repeat with next section of dough.  Brush calzones with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder.  bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes.

To freeze:
Wrap each calzone in aluminum foil and place in freezer safe plastic bag.
To reheat:
Place in a 350 degree oven and heat until filling is warmed through and cheese is bubbling. 

Quinoa, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Peppers
1 yellow pepper cut in half and cleaned
1/2 tbsp olive oil
4 spears resh asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp scallions, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup spinach, frozen
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels, frozen
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
1 oz Feta cheese (you could also use reduced fat Feta)

Cook spinach and corn according to package directions and set aside.  Saute asparagus in olive oil for 2 minutes.  Add garlic, onions, and scallions and saute until soft.  Add cilantro and saute until wilted.  Add spinach, corn, cumin, and quinoa.  Heat through.  Season to taste.  Stuff into pepper halves and top with crumbled feta cheese.  Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.  Serve hot.

To freeze:
Follow recipe above but do not bake in oven.  Place pepper halves in an aluminum baking pan.  Cover with foil, label, date, and freeze. 
To reheat:
Defrost overnight.  Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

If you're looking for more healthy freezer meals - check out our Figure and Freezer Friendly post here.  It's all about modifications and recipe substitutions, so you can enjoy your family's favorites on the lighter side!  Happy cooking!