“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Easy Freezer Meals” by Cheri Sicard

Easy Freezer Meals by Cheri Sicard is chocked full of time saving cooking ideas and I am totally sold on the idea!  What could be better than coming home at the end of a long day and being able to pull a frozen entree out of the freezer and heat it up while you toss a salad!  This cookbook is full of delicious recipes such as:

Southwest Tortilla Soup — this is a fiesta of intense flavors

Barbecue-Style Pulled Pork — this stovetop version satisfies your craving for barbecue without all of the work

Crunchy Oven Baked Pork Chops — these have a delicious crunchy herb coating that seals in the moisture

“The Works” Lasagna — absolute ultimate comfort food

Mushroom Risotto — creamy rice and earthy mushrooms and sharp Parmesan cheese – yummy!!

This book would be a great holiday gift for any busy cook on your list!  Here are some of the highlights from the cover of the book:

The inside scoop on what foods freeze well and what food don’t…..

….Time and money-saving tips for buying in bulk, big-batch cooking ( which I have done for years) ….

…..Nearly 130 recipes, from mouthwatering breakfasts through delicious desserts— all easy from the freezer!

And speaking of the recipes, the author says that writing this book was like taking a journey down memory lane.  Most of the recipes in the book have been recipes she has cooked for many years — for family dinners, barbecues and holidays.  I LOVE cookbooks that are  full of tried and true recipes!

Cheri Sicard is a cooking author and has taught classes for Williams-Sonoma.  Easy Freezer Meals ( Penguin Gourp: 2011)  $ 16.95

I received a sample of of The Idiot’s Guide to Easy Freezer Meals for our review.  These are my honest opinions.  No compensation was received.

 

Mushroom Bacon Toasties

Mushroom Bacon Toasties are a delicious appetizer made with mushrooms, bacon, a herb cream cheese mixture on cocktail rye toast and topped with Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy these with a great bottle of wine at your next party!!!  The Velvet Palate has paired this appetizer with the 2004 Legon Reserva.  You can click here for their wine tasting notes and information on this wine.

These are definitely worth the effort!  They can be made ahead and flash frozen to use later – or bake now and enjoy!  

Click the link to view the YouTube How-to Tutorial for this recipe:   Mushroom Bacon Toasties 

 

Mushroom Bacon Toasties
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • 20 cocktail size rye bread slices
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon Herb de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Heinz 57 sauce
  • 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Brush both sides of the cocktail size rye bread with the 4 tablespoons of meted butter. Bake ate 350 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Blend the cream cheese, Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and chopped fresh parsley together and spread evenly on the cooled toasties.
  3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the mushrooms, bacon and onions and saute until mushrooms release liquid and the bacon is cooked. Add the steak sauce. Divide mixture among the toasties.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. At this point you can flash freeze to bake later or bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.
  6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

20 cocktail rye bread slices

4 tablespoons melted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped

3 slices bacon, diced

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoon Heinz 57 sauce

4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Brush both sides of the miniature rye bread with melted butter.  Bake 5 to 6 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Blend the softened cream cheese, Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and chopped fresh parsley together and spread evenly on the toasties.

Spread evenly on the cooled rye toasties.

Melt butter in skillet.  Add mushrooms, bacon ( I use kitchen scissors to easily dice the bacon ), and onions and saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and the bacon is cooked.  

Add the steak sauce.

Divide mixture among the toasties.

Sprinkle with the Shredded Parmesan cheese.

At this point you can flash freeze to bake later or bake now at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.

Remember, “Let’s make life special  by sharing great food with our family and friends. Enjoy!”

 

 

Baked Ravioli Casserole

Looking for some easy pasta recipes?

Get set for the ultimate comfort food with this baked ravioli casserole!  

Easy pasta recipes are great for family dinners and easy entertaining.  Layers of frozen ravioli make this lasagna-style recipe easy and delicious.  You can assemble this in less than 5 minutes and it takes about 30 minutes to bake.  This recipe meets all of the Make Life Special requirements — it is quick to make, it has only a few ingredients that are readily available, and it is yummy!  Casseroles are typically made with meat,vegetables, cheese and a sauce.  This casserole can be made without meat – as I have done here using the cheese ravioli; or you can substitute beef filled frozen ravioli if you prefer to add the meat.

I love this recipe because you can make it ahead of time and either freeze or refrigerate the ravioli casserole until you are ready to bake it.

Don’t omit the spinach…trust me on this one.  It really adds great flavor to this dish and it’s a great way to get your family to eat vegetables.  Remember…Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

To view the complete video recipe, click here:  


 

To download printable recipe with how-to photos, click here:   Baked Ravioli Casserole  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray and spoon 1/3 of the sauce in the dish.  Arrange a layer of frozen ravioli on top of the sauce.

Squeeze the liquid out of the thawed spinach.  Scatter all of the spinach over the ravioli layer.

Top with half of each cheese.

Cover with another layer of ravioli and the remaining sauce and cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes.

Uncover and bake 5 to 10 minutes more or until bubbly.

Just add a salad and some garlic bread and you have a great family meal!

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Ravioli Casserole
 
Recipe type: Pasta
Ingredients
  • 28 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
  • 30 ounces frozen cheese filled ravioli, unthawed
  • 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 8 ounce bag shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Coat a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray and spoon ⅓ of the sauce in the dish.
  3. Arrange a layer of frozen ravioli on top of the sauce.
  4. Squeeze the liquid out of the thawed spinach. Scatter all of the spinach over the ravioli layer.
  5. Top with half of the cheese.
  6. Cover with another layer if ravioli and the remaining sauce and cheese.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes.
  8. Uncover and bake 5 to 10 minutes more or until bubbly.

Video: Baked Ravioli Casserole

Baked Ravioli Casserole will become one of your family’s favorite pasta recipes!

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How To Flash Freeze Food

Do you know how to flash freeze food ?  

I flash freeze food all of the time because I like to prepare food ahead of time and have it in the freezer, ready to go! It seems like we are always having someone drop in unexpectedly and it is great to have appetizers and even main dishes ready to pull out of the freezer and bake at a moments notice.  Every busy cook needs this success secret!  To flash freeze something, set it on a tray unwrapped and put the tray into the freezer for about 20 minutes until firm.  Here you see   Cheese and Garden Herb Stuffed Chicken Breasts ready to go into the freezer for flash freezing.

After about twenty or thirty minutes, remove the food from the baking sheet and place the frozen food into a freezer zip lock bag.  Now just put the ziplock bag back into the freezer until you are ready to use the frozen items.  You can easily re,move one or two pieces of the individually frozen food when you need it.  You can flash freeze fresh berries such as blueberries, blackberries or strawberries.  Then the individually frozen berries are ready to toss into a blender for a quick breakfast smoothie!  Why not make a double batch of pancakes or french toast and flash freeze some for breakfast on another day?  This is a great tip to remember for busy breakfasts on school days! 

Flash freezing keeps things like stuffed chicken breasts or twice baked potatoes or individual meatloaves separated during freezing so removing individual pieces from the zip lock bag is super easy.

Here is my video on flash freezing my Mushroom Bacon Toasties!

Video: How To Flash Freeze Food


Do you know how to flash freeze food? I use this success secret all of the time and you can learn all my tips in this quick video!

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”

Cheese Herb Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipes

Looking for easy chicken breast recipes? 

Cheese and Garden Herb Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipes

Here is one of my chicken breast recipes that looks like you spent a lot of time making it —-but you didn’t.  This stuffed chicken breast recipe is great for easy entertaining or family dinner.  Feel free to substitute other kinds of cheese in the filling.  I like to use Boursin cheese in place of the Garden Vegetable cheese for a different taste.

 

Cheese & Garden Herb Stuffed Chicken Breasts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 small tub flavored cream cheese ( garlic and herb, chive and onion, or garden vegetable)
  • 1 cup Italian Style dried bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
Instructions
  1. Place one chicken breast each inside a gallon Ziplock bag, Flatten with a kitchen mallet.
  2. Place 1 or 2 tablespoons flavored cream cheese in center of each breast, roll up and secure with a toothpick. ( These can be flash frozen at this point and thawed and baked later. Check out my Success Secret under a separate post for flash freezing)
  3. Dip breasts first in melted butter and then in a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Place in a greased 9 by 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until done.

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 small tub flavored cream cheese ( garlic and herb, chive and onion, or garden vegetable)

1 cup dried Italian style bread crumbs

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons melted butter

Place each chicken breast inside a gallon Ziplock bag.  Flatten chicken breasts with the flat side of a kitchen mallet. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons cream cheese in center of each breast, roll up and secure with toothpicks.  (These can be flash frozen at this point and thawed and baked later.  Check out my Success Secret for Flash freezing under a separate post)

Dip breasts first in melted butter and then in a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Place in a greased 9 by 13 pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until done.  Note:  You could flash freeze the stuffed chicken breasts before baking to use at a later time.  Check out my Success Secret:  Flash Freezing for the easy step by step how-to info.

Remove from oven and serve.

Remember – Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

 

Vickie’s Mississippi Caviar

Mississippi Caviar is one of my tried and true appetizer recipes.  This recipe makes a lot and it keeps well in the refrigerator.  It’s good anytime of the year.  I like to serve this with tortilla chips.


Vickie's Mississippi Caviar
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • 2 15 oz cans Black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped and drained
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup bottled Sweet Italian Dressing ( I use Lonzerottis brand)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the dressing.
  2. Pour dressing over the top and toss to coat well.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.

Combine all ingredients except the dressing:

Pour dressing over top and toss to coat well.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

To download the printable recipe with how-to photos, click here:  Vickie’s Mississippi Caviar

Mounds Candy Bar Pie

I love chocolate…but chocolate and gooey coconut together in a pie is just about as good as it gets!  This is my go – to recipe for dessert .  When you warm each piece in the microwave a few seconds and top with homemade whipped cream – it is absolutely delicious!  This is something like a Mounds candy bar — but warm and full of gooey goodness!

 

Gooey Coconut Chocolate Brownie Pie
 
Serve this with Homemade whipped cream. You can find that recipe under a separate post.
Recipe type: Dessert, Pie
Ingredients
  • 2⅔ cup coconut
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 stick margarine ( I use unsalted butter )
  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Mix the coconut and sweetened condensed milk together; set aside.
  2. Microwave the butter and chocolate together for 3 minutes in a microwave bowl. Remove from microwave and add the sugar and flour to the hot mixture. Stir well.
  3. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time and stir until the chocolate mixture is smooth.
  4. Add vanilla and stir.
  5. Continue stirring to blend well. Pour into a greased pie pan.
  6. Put spoonfuls of the coconut mixture around the top of the pie.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Store pie in the refrigerator.
  9. When ready to serve, microwave each piece 15 seconds and top with homemade whipped cream.

 

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Mix together the coconut and the sweetened condensed milk;  set aside.  This will make the gooey coconut part of the pie  🙂

In a separate microwave safe dish, microwave the butter and unsweetened chocolate squares together for 3 minutes.  Remove from the microwave and add the sugar and flour to the hot mixture.  Stir well.  Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, and stir until the chocolate mixture is smooth.

Add vanilla and stir.

Stir well to blend.  Pour mixture into a greased pie pan.

Put coconut mix around top.

Bake the pie at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

 

Whipped Cream:

Whip 16 oz of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form and then add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Continue whipping until you have stiff peaks.  For the step-by-step how to on making Homemade Whipped Cream, look at my post for Homemade Whipped Cream   It will be filed under my “Everything Else” section.

Store the pie in the refrigerator and heat each piece about 15 to 20 seconds in the microwave and top with the Homemade Whipped Cream.

“Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!”

To download the printable recipe with how-to photos, click hereGooey Coconut Chocolate Brownie Pie

 

Baked Goat Cheese Appetizer with Marinara

We had this  Baked Goat Cheese appetizer at one of our favorite restaurants and I had to recreate it for us at home! 

This Baked Goat Cheese Appetizer with Marinara is  just like the restaurant recipe – and it is really quick and easy to make.  I like to serve this with my French Bread Crostini.  The crostini can be made a day ahead and then wrapped in aluminum foil and reheated in the oven when you are ready to serve this.  The Goat Cheese Marinara can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated until you pop it under the broiler.

 

Baked Goat Cheese Marinara
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cups prepared marinara sauce
  • 6 oz log of goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 12 slices French bread
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Brush each side of the French bread slices with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Toast each side under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
  2. Pour marinara sauce in the bottom of a small baking dish. Slice the goat cheese log in half and place in the center of the marinara sauce.
  3. Bake under the broiler for 4 to 6 minutes or until the goat cheese is soft and slightly golden.
  4. Sprinkle mixture with fresh basil before serving.

 

Brush each side of the bread slices with olive oil and place on a sheet pan.  Toast each side under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

Pour marinara sauce in the bottom of a small baking dish.  Slice the goat cheese log in half and place in the center of the marinara sauce.

 

Bake under the broiler for 4 to 6 minutes or until the goat cheese is soft and slightly golden.

 

 

Sprinkle mixture with fresh sliced basil before serving.

 

Serves 4 people as an appetizer.

 

“Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!”

To download the printable recipe with how-to photos, click here:  Baked Goat Cheese Marinara

Cool Summer Salad

This recipe was given to me over 30 years ago by my girl’s Grandma Great.  It’s full of pineapple, mandarin oranges, marshmallows and creamy vanilla pudding.  It goes together in a snap and you can serve this as a side salad or a light summertime dessert. This can also be made ahead and frozen until needed.  Our family has enjoyed this recipe many times over the years and I think your family will like it too!

 

Cool Summer Salad
 
Recipe type: Salad
Ingredients
  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple
  • 3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding
  • 8 oz Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 15 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
Instructions
  1. Mix crushed pineapple and dry pudding mix together.
  2. Fold in the Cool Whip.
  3. Stir in mandarin oranges and marshmallows.
  4. Chill well before serving.
Notes
This can be made ahead and frozen until needed.

 

Mix pineapple with dry pudding mix.

Fold in Cool Whip.

 

Add oranges and  marshmallows.

Stir to combine and chill until serving time.  To serve as a dessert, place Cool Summer Salad in Martini glasses or individual serving bowls.

 

To download the printable recipe with how-to photos, click here:  Cool Summer Salad

 

To view the complete video recipe, click here:     http://youtu.be/W-JJdI-5M08

Italian Beef Recipe

 

Looking for a great Italian Beef recipe?

 

Video: Italian Beef Recipe

You can have this Italian Beef recipe in the crock pot in less than 5 minutes! This is THE BEST Italian Beef you have ever tasted!

 

 

Italian Beef
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Main Dish - Beef
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 pound beef chuck roast
  • 1 can beer
  • 3 packets Good Season's Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Mix
  • Hoagie Rolls
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Peperocini peppers ( for serving)
Instructions
  1. Place beef chuck roast in crock pot. Sprinkle with 3 packets of dry Good Season's Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Mix.
  2. Pour one can of beer over the roast.
  3. Cook on low 8 hours.
  4. About one hour before serving. shred the beef in the crock pot using 2 forks. Discard any fat pieces. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and stir. Continue to cook in the sauce.
  5. To serve, put Italian Beef on hoagie roll. Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese. Heat each sandwich 30 seconds in the microwave to melt cheese.

Directions:

Place beef pot roast in crock pot.  Sprinkle with 3 packets of dry Good Seasons Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Mix.

 

Pour one 12 oz bottle of beer over the roast.

Cover and cook on low all day.

About one hour before serving, shred the beef in the crock pot using 2 forks.  Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning  and stir.  Cover and continue to cook on low the last hour.

To serve, put Italian Beef on hoagie roll.  Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese.  Heat each sandwich 30 seconds on High in microwave to melt cheese.

 

To download the printable recipe with the how-to photos, click here:Italian Beef

“You can have this Italian Beef recipe  in the crock pot in less than 5 minutes and at the end of the day you’ll have delicious Italian Beef ready for dinner.  What could be easier!”

 

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