Breakfast Bar for Dinner-a frugal idea

 

My 2-year-old loves to help with muffins. I have two grade school children in addition to my two at home during the day. The older kids love, love breakfast bar at school for lunch. When I asked what was breakfast bar, they simply listed many breakfast items, such as, eggs, pancakes, sausage, fruit. Sometimes, they have waffles or biscuits, and the fruit changes too. I took this phrase and implemented it into my weekly meal plan. We have breakfast bar at least every other week. So when they ask what’s for dinner and I say breakfast bar they get excited no matter what we are having.

I rotate the carbohydrates to include, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, cinnamon rolls. This keeps the bar exciting. Whatever I make I always double and freeze the second round for another breakfast. I thaw in the fridge or at room temperature and warm briefly in the microwave. Waffles are best reheated in the toaster.

We have turkey bacon, turkey sausage patties or links. If I find a good sale on sausage, I stock up because it’s a treat for them.

We always have scrambled or fried eggs. They actually enjoy fried eggs because they don’t eat the Spongebob eggs at school. They say it looks like a sponge and tastes like one too. So a fried egg is definitely better.

I also include some type of fruit I have on hand. In the winter, my children love clementines, but we call them cuties. I also like to cut up a banana, apple, clementine and/or strawberries or blueberries for a fruit salad. I serve this plain or a shot of whipped cream is fun. Any fresh fruit on top of the waffles or pancakes with the whipped cream is fun also.

Remember the IHOP funny face pancake? You can make this too using fruit and whipped topping creatively.

Other ideas I have not tried yet include: bacon and egg quesadillas, bacon and egg casserole, breakfast pizza on an English muffin, French toast, egg and sausage wraps, Quiche, omelets and eggs in a nest (toast). Visit incredibleegg.org for more ideas.

Our breakfast bar is not served from a school bar, but the children always get excited about it and this makes me happy because it’s frugal and nutritious. We have breakfast bar every other week. How about you? If your children like breakfast bar, why not add it to your dinner menu more frequently?

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Chicken or Turkey Enchiladas

I had full intentions of making a turkey on Thanksgiving day UNTIL my sweet, generous neighbor gave us her Heavenly Ham (store) turkey. She had received a ham and turkey and she wanted us to have the turkey since she wasn’t fond of turkey and she knew we had a big family on the street. Wow, what a blessing.

I did make all my sides and rolls as planned and we had company over. On Friday, I knew I had to bake my planned, thawed turkey and do something with the leftovers. I did freeze some of the white meat in quart size bags, but the majority of the shredded meat went toward 2 pans of enchiladas. The original recipe is made with chicken, but I knew this recipe would work well with turkey because of the over powering mexican flavors, specifically cumin and chili powder.

My guests on Saturday never knew they were eating turkey leftovers again. I was going to tell them after the meal, but it tasted so much like my usual chicken enchiladas I forget.

I always make this Crisco recipe, but I’ve made a few of my own changes and you can too. I use pepper jack cheese for a slight kick, but you can substitute Monterey jack if you like it mild. The chiles are not hot, just flavorful. You can omit green onions, but don’t leave out the fresh cilantro. It’s what make this dish authentic. Here is my recipe and changes, but I suggest you double the ingredients and make 2 pans, one to eat and one to freeze. Refrigerate uncooked casserole and freeze with foil. Thaw for 24 hours and bake as directed adding about 15 minutes. I garnish mine with extra cilantro prior to baking and black olive slices if I have them, yum. Some like it with additional sour cream. Serve it with a salad and chips and salsa and you are good to go.

Chicken or Turkey Enchiladas

// INGREDIENTS:

  • ENCHILADA SAUCE
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  •  teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth (use your chicken or turkey broth that it was cooked in if you have any)
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic minced garlic clove

 

ENCHILADAS

  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup Pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

 

// PREPARATION DIRECTIONS:

  1. HEAT oil in large saucepan. Stir in flour and chili powder. Cook 1 minute. Add cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and garlic . Bring to boil and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. COMBINE chicken, green onions, 1/2 cup Cheddar, 1/2 cup Jack, sour cream, chiles and cilantro. Stir in 1/2 cup Enchilada Sauce, stirring until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. HEAT oven to 350°F. Spread a small amount of Enchilada Sauce over the bottom of dish. Spread 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture in each tortilla and roll up. Place enchiladas, seam side down, side by side in prepared dish. Pour remaining sauce over. Top with remaining cheeses.
  4. BAKE 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce bubbles. Garnish with sour cream, sliced green onions and chopped cilantro.

Be Creative with your leftover holiday meat

 

I often borrow ideas from take-out pizza. For example, California Pizza Kitchen has a website full of creative pizza ideas to get you excited about creating your own pizza at home. The next time you eat out, take note of the ingredients and make one at home using leftovers.

It is easy to plan pizza and purchase frozen dough in the freezer section or purchase a ready-made crust in the bakery /bread isle.  It’s even more fun and delicious if you plan a pizza night with enough time to make your own homemade crust. Most of us think we need lots of time to allow dough to rise, but I started out with a no rise crust recipe from Moneysavingmom. It is extremely easy to whip up and the best part is there is no extra time involved with kneading or rising. I’ve modified this recipe with my favorite white whole wheat flour.  

Since the holidays are here, be sure to save extra 1-cup portions of leftover ham or turkey to make quick, frugal pizzas at home. Refrigerate leftover meat and measure out portions of shredded, diced or chopped meat and place in a quart size bag. Label and date bags to ensure oldest leftovers are eaten first.  Roll excess air from bag and seal.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

2 cups warm water (115 degrees)
2 teaspoons salt

2 t teaspoons sugar

4 tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (we use King Arthur)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 T. yeast (purchase in bulk at Sams or Wal-Mart for best value)

Yield: 4-12 inch crusts

Directions:

Measure water using a liquid measuring cup at eye level.  Mix dry ingredients and mix using with a dough kneading hook or stir by hand about 3 minutes, making sure there are no dry patches of flour.  No rising is necessary!  Plan to use this dough in 2 days or freeze. 

Freezer Preparation: 

Lightly flour hands and dough and divide into four equal portions.  Slightly flatten and place in gallon size freezer bags and seal.  Allow dough to thaw for 24 hours prior to use. Allow dough to come to room temperature (about 40 minutes) before baking.

Got Leftover Sweet Potatoes?

I’ve been using real butter over shortening in biscuits for a few years now. I feel like it’s a healthier alternative than shortening and the butter gives it a great flavor. Butter is always on sale during the holidays so stock up. Pair the sales with a coupon for a better stock up price. Real butter works the best for baking. Here’s a link to Land O Lakes coupons for the holidays. $2 or less is a great price and that’s what it works out to be when the coupons are doubled. http://www.landolakes.com/Offers/

I’ve been trying to share ways to reuse those holiday leftovers so you’re not sick of them by day two. An earlier post mentioned freezing is the ideal way to reuse them at a later date. Once you’ve eaten leftovers once, go ahead and divide portions into quart size bags. Do you have some leftover sweet potatoes or casserole? Freeze a 1 cup portion for this recipe from my friend, Stephanie. I believe she found it in a Southern Living Christmas cookbook. I looked up the recipe online, but was unable to find the exact one and I decided this one would be a winner.

I double my biscuit recipe and bake and cool them on a cooling rack. Biscuits should cool about an hour or so and then they may be frozen in quart or gallon size bags. They can be reheated in the microwave for a soft texture or reheated in the oven for a crunchy texture, but beware because they can become dry. Try reheating them in foil if you really like to have the oven texture. We find warmed biscuits in the microwave to be just fine when they are topped with applesauce from the freezer or served with scrambled eggs and turkey sausage.  Either way, the next time you make a big mess making biscuits, make a double batch and freeze the rest for a quick, delicious breakfast. You’ll thank yourself later when you pull out fresh, homemade biscuits.

Here’s how you can reuse your sweet potatoes from the holidays. If you are using a casserole verses plain sweet potatoes, try reserving the bottom/interior casserole excluding the topping if possible. I believe this would yield better results.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

4 cups all purpose flour

2 T. baking powder

2 tsp. salt

1 cup butter (2 sticks); cut up

1 c. cooked mashed sweet potato

1 1/2 c. buttermilk

3 T. butter, melted

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Stir together sweet potato and buttermilk, add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 to 4 times. Pat or roll into 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut dough with a 2 inch round cutter and place biscuits on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter.

Yield 18 (2 inch ) biscuits.

Make Ahead Holiday Meal For My Family

I have a confession to make. I don’t recall making a complete holiday meal on my own with all the fixings. In my fourteen years of marriage, I have always made several items to a family meal and feasted at someone’s house. Drum roll please-this year I’m going to make the turkey and all the fixings at my house and have leftovers, which I’m very excited about because I plan on freezing leftovers, of course.

So, I’m in the midst of planning my meal and I have found a few links for you to get prepared also. As I’m pondering over what to make my list becomes very daunting because there is so much hands on cooking and I start thinking about doing it in one day it feels overwhelming. Then I ask myself, why would I do everything in one day. Of course I can make desserts on a different day, which I think we all think of that, but what about the turkey and the stuffing and maybe the mashed potatoes. I’m brewing a plan to make ahead several items, including my turkey and have a less stressful Thanksgiving Day when my family is at home.

My thought is if I’m going to take time to make a feast, why not make a lot and freeze it for another feast!

Here’s what I’m thinking so far.

Turkey  (Wednesday; reheat Thursday)

Homemade Gravy (Thursday)

Mashed potatoes (peel and cut on Wednesday; store in cold water in fridge)

Fresh asparagus (Thursday)

Pumpkin yeast rolls (Thursday)  It yields 4 dozen rolls so I’ll have plenty to freeze for turkey sandwiches for lunches

Cranberry salad (Monday) I’ve got to locate my recipe from my mother-in-law and post it.

Pumpkin pie  with cool whip (Tuesday)

Homemade Ice cream cake for my son’s eighth birthday (Wednesday, leftovers for kids on Thursday)

Now I’ve got a menu and I’m getting all my recipes together to shop for this feast and we’ll supplement next week’s grocery trip with meals from the freezer, of course.

Have you made a menu yet or planned your items around your allowed time?

Got Leftover Turkey?

So often we eat on the leftover turkey until we are sick of it or we just can’t think of turkey again after baking it ourselves. What should we do with an enormous amount of leftover turkey? Here’s an answer, freeze it in quart size bags to make meals later. I suggest freezing the white meat in 1 to 2 cup portions depending on how large your family is. Of course, dark meat freezes as well, but not everyone likes dark meat.  Just make sure your meat is well cooled, ideally at room temperature for 2 hours and then refrigerate. Portion and freeze your turkey the next day. This will allow you time to decide how long you are going to eat leftovers. However, don’t wait until day five to freeze. Decide within the first or second day after it’s been cooked and start freezing.

I’m making a list of ideas for you to use your turkey leftovers. Feel free to comment on other ideas so we can all benefit. Ideally, think of entrees you normally use chicken and substitute turkey. Turkey has a mild enough flavor to use in a variety of dishes.  The ideas might sound a little odd because we’re not used to hearing them used with turkey, but why not utilize our leftover poultry for quick meals? Your family will never know it’s from Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Here’s a list of ideas:

  • Greek turkey pizza (feta, roma tomatoes, spinach, shredded or diced turkey on pizza crust)
  • Shredded turkey tacos (use msg free seasoning and hard/soft shells)
  • Turkey Panani sandiwches (use pesto or roasted red peppers, provolone cheese and day old bread)
  • Santa Fe Chili (shredded turkey, diced tomatoes, pinto and kidney beans, taco seasoning)
  • Turkey tostadas (shredded turkey with taco season, cheese, lettuce, tomato, guacamole loaded on a tostada)
  • Turkey quesadillas (diced turkey and pepperjack cheese, green onions, black beans and corn)
  • Turkey salad (diced turkey, light mayo, grapes, walnuts, celery on a croissant)

What are you going to do with your leftover turkey?

Got Leftover Sweet Potatoes?

 

Make sweet potato pound cake with leftover sweet potatoes. If you have some leftover casserole or extra sweet potatoes lying around, try this recipe out. If you use leftover casserole with sugar in it, I would omit about 1/2 cup from the recipe and you may already have some pecans in the casserole which would be even better.

Or maybe you’re like me and you over buy when they are on sale and you’re not quite sure what to do with so many potatoes. Bake them like you normally would and peel the skin when they have cooled. Mash them in a quart size bag and freeze until you are ready to make this delicious sneaky baking recipe. The family may never know this dessert is made with a super food unless you tell them. SHHHHH!

I found the flavors to be better the next day. I’ve decided a lot of foods taste better the next day.  I’m sure you could substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon and nutmeg. I was out of nutmeg and I left it out because I was not sure how it would taste. When I tasted it without the nutmeg, I immediately thought of pumpkin bread so that’s why I would suggest the pumpkin pie spice if you didn’t have nutmeg.

I adapted this recipe from a Country Living magazine that was recycled to me and I clipped it thinking this would work for my Thanksgiving leftovers, but I made it before then.

The picture is one of the two loaves the recipe yielded, prepared for the freezer. I allow the cakes to thoroughly cool on a cooling rack (about 4 hours) and then I wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it into a gallon size bag with the air squeezed out. This method further protects it from freezer burn and I can reuse the gallon bag for future breads.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Nonstick spray with flour

3 cups flour, I used 1 1/2 cups King white whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or you could use 3 cups Eagle Mills flour (which is a combo of  white wheat and white flour)

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups leftover mashed sweet potatoes (I think this amount is forgiving going either under or over)

4 eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup chopped pecans, optional (I left out because my kids go to nut free school)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325. Grease two 9-inch loaf pans with baking spray. In a medium bowl, add next six ingredients and sift with a whisk or fork.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Blend in sweet potatoes, then eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in thirds, combine just enough to blend.

Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans. Sprinkle pecans over batter if desired. Bake until cakes test clean when a skewer or toothpick is inserted into center. 70 to 80 minutes. Mine took 80 minutes so set your timer. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on wire rack. Cool for about 4 hours before freezer preparation. It can be thawed for 24 hours at room temperature and served with cool whip or plain if desired. Don’t forget about portioning slices into snack size bags for lunch treats. They can be frozen and thawed the day the lunch is packed.

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