Help A Girl Out! Let’s Talk Freezer Meals!!!!

30 09 2011

Hello my fabulous, ever faithful readers!  I come to you, desperate for help!   I’m sorry to say that blogging and cooking (GASP!)  have taken a backseat to my #1 job right now…grad student.  But I need your help!

Last night I had an epiphany.  As I drove to the Penn Station (East Coast Subs..not the ACTUAL Penn Station) by our house to pick up dinner…again….I knew something had to be done.  Mr. Amanda and I are both swamped right now (him with work, me with school).  Any time for anything other than sleeping and work is VERY limited.  It’s so limited that recently, on the nights that we’ve both been home (which isn’t often), we’ve simply had takeout or fast food.  Pure disgust!  So, after making that drive for takeout AGAIN last night, I knew something had to change.  So, the plan?  Freezer meals.  The problem?  I know nothing about freezing meals :-) That’s where you, my awesome readers come in!  I know nothing about how to freeze meals–do they get cooked first, then re-heated?  Or just mixed together, frozen, and cooked when you pull it out of the freezer?  What freezes well, what doesn’t?  See my dilemma?  I need answers!  I have a large freezer, I have frozen things before (we freeze meat, breads, etc, OFTEN)….but entire meals are foreign to me!

So, I’m begging for answers.  Obviously, if you’ve read many of my blogs you know that I don’t like to follow recipes exactly (it’s a character flaw), but with a little guidance (and answers to the questions), maybe I can make some fabulous, healthy and delicious freezer meals……that I can eventually share with you :-)

 

HELLLLPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!





Cheesey, Meet Delicious! Spicy Sausage Zucchini Casserole

10 08 2011

Let me tell you a story—a story of a family of women—who are all extremely critical of themselves.  HA.  On a recent trip to visit my family while Mr. Amanda was out of town, and before I get into what will definitely be the start of a grueling 4 years of school, the entire family sat around dinner one evening.  As we all chowed down on some delicious chicken, homemade coleslaw, etc,  Grandma Amanda mentioned that she didn’t know if it would “be that good” because she had just “thrown it together”.  We all thought it was absurd, and if you knew my grandma you would too, because rarely are any of her meals anything but stellar.  Needless to say, it was a delicious dinner, but the mere sound of my grandma saying these words reminded me of something I so often say to Mr. Amanda…… “Now, I don’t know how this is going to turn out…it may not be any good at all”.

In our house, I spend a lot, and I mean A LOT, of time trying new recipes.  I don’t know if this is adult onset ADD or just boredom, but I scour my collection of hundreds of cookbooks nearly every day looking for new things to try (you would think that, by now, I would have made just about everything I would want to try out of my collection—but if you think that, you haven’t seen my collection :-) ).  Recently, Momma Amanda came to visit on what I like to call “Mission: Make this House Look Like It’s Worth More Than It Is” (we were preparing the house to be put on the market)…not too catchy, huh?  Anyway, when she came, with her car load of goodies, she brought some of Grandma & Grandpa Amanda’s zucchini and yellow squash.  YUMMMM

In order to not waste precious, delicious squash, I looked for recipes that I could use them in.  This is where my “I don’t know how this is going to turn out” statement comes in…..after hours of looking for something that looked halfway appetizing, I gave up and decided to try something simply called “Sausage Zucchini Casserole”.  I had zucchini (obviously), and I had sausage…so it was a go.  I really thought it was a shot in the dark as to if this was going to be edible or not–I mean, one of the first few ingredients was……Velveeta….Not a commonly used ingredient in our house (aside from when making Super Bowl snacks!).  I made it….with my additions/modifications……then presented it to Mr. Amanda with my famous “I don’t know how this is going to turn out…..”.  Normally, almost immediately, after giving it to him and “my line”, I get a response made to make me feel better.  But this time there was no response.  I was sure I had failed.  But instead, what I found when I brought my own plate to the table was that Mr. Amanda was nearly 3/4 way finished with his plate.  I figured this was merely because he was hungry after a difficult workout, but decided to take a courageous bite myself.  And I was speechless.  DE-LI-CIOUS.  How does that happen?  How can such a strange mix of ingredients make something that you want to literally fight over the leftovers the next day?!  Now, I will warn you now, it’s not a “pretty” dish.  It’s not the dinner you make for a dinner party.  But, if you are looking for something comforting and sure to please the entire family, THIS IS IT!!!!!

Spicy Sausage Zucchini Casserole

Ingredients

1/2 lb turkey sausage (I use turkey breakfast sausage)

1/4 medium onion, chopped

1 Tb minced garlic

1/2 c water

1/2 c brown minute rice

2 c cubed zucchini squash

1 diced fresh tomato

4 oz Mexican style Velveeta, cubed  (Mexican style is needed for extra flavor)

1 (4 oz) can mushrooms OR 1/2 container of fresh mushrooms that have been cooked down (so that they have released their water)

2 tsp paprika

salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

large pinch of oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

dash cayenne

 

Directions

Combine rice and water and cook according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Cook sausage and onion over Medium Heat until only a little pink remains in the sausage.  Add in garlic.  Continue to cook until sausage is browned.  Drain any grease.

Stir in zucchini and tomato–cook until tender

Stir in rice, mushrooms, and cheese

Season with oregano, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne to taste.

Mix together thoroughly.

Spread into an 8 x 8 glass baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam or cooking spray of choice.

Bake 1 hour or until lightly browned at 325 degrees.

 

EAT UP & ENJOY!!!

 

Nutritional Information & WW PointsPlus

Servings: 6 or 8

Per Serving: 1/6 or 1/8 of dish

Calories: 151 / 113

Fat: 6.75 g / 5.1 g

Fiber: 2.3 g / 1.7 g

Carbohydrates: 12.25 g / 9.2 g

Protein: 12.1 g / 9.1 g

WW PointsPlus: 4 PP / 3 PP





Perfect Solution for that Sweet Tooth on a Hot Summer Day! Creamy Banana-Orange-Mango Blender Drink!

30 07 2011

Can you tell we are on a drink kick in our house?!  It must be this scorcher of a summer we are having here in Indiana, but it seems like lately when we are hungry there are two things that come to mind: 1) it must be cold and 2) it must not make the house hot :-) Thus, we have been drawn to cold, blender drinks!

Recently, Momma Amanda  came to visit to help get our place spic-and-span in order to put it on the market (I know…what are we thinking?!).  When I mentioned our new favorite chocolate peanut butter smoothie drink, she mentioned a fruity drink that another Weight Watchers leader had tried and enjoyed.    The original recipe was a simple one–banana, vanilla yogurt, oj.  Mr. Amanda and I tried it, but it didn’t quite “WOW” us (and we didn’t quite care for the texture the yogurt gave the drink), so, once again……I Amandified it :-)   Now it’s a delicious, fruity, drink that Mr. Amanda and I crave…for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, before workouts, after workouts.  Anytime of day.  It is fabulous!!!

At this point we have not added any protein powder to it, although you easily could.  For us, we just find it is nice to have a lower calorie/PP recipe that can be used for a treat or snack in the middle of the day even if you haven’t just come from a workout :-)

Creamy Banana-Orange-Mango Blender Drink

Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas (not over-ripe), cut up and frozen

1 c skim milk

2 cups low calorie orange juice (we use Trop 50)

1 Tb honey

1 container (3.6 oz) mango sorbet —-Haagen Dazs single serving container  (I would assume that frozen mangoes would come close in flavor if you can’t find the sorbet)

 

Directions:

Note: I’ve been cutting up the bananas, freezing, and placing in ziploc bags (2 bananas per bag, per the recipe) ahead of time to speed up the prep work when you are ready for a nice refreshing drink!

Place all ingredients in a large blender.  Using the “Smoothie” setting, blend until smooth.

Makes approximately 5 cups.

DRINK UP & ENJOY!!!

Nutritional Information & Weight Watchers PointsPlus

Servings: 5 (1 cup) or 10 (1/2 cup)

Per Serving: 1 cup OR  1/2 cup

Calories: 118 / 59

Fat: 0 g / 0 g

Fiber: 1.2 g / 0.6 g

Carbohydrates: 28.8 g / 14.4 g

Protein: 2 g / 1 g

WeightWatchers PP: 3 PP / 2 PP

 





Need inspiration for your next workout?! CPB-squared: Chocolate +Peanut Butter+ Banana+ Protein After-workout Smoothie!!!

22 07 2011

Sometimes there are things that come into your life that change you forever.  Deep, right?  Not so fast.  My “life-changing” item is actually this chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie.

Dr. Oz has recently become a large part of our menu planning.  Between ideas we’ve seen on his show, to things from the book, “YOU: The Owner’s Manual”, many of our meals, drinks, and snacks have been Dr. Oz-inspired.  That brings me to this recipe.  I think I’ve mentioned before Mr. Amanda’s love of chocolate and peanut butter.  Actually, one of his favorite “snacks” right now is a spoonful of peanut butter with chocolate chips sprinkled on top….awful, I tell you!  Back to this recipe, though.

Dr. Oz had an episode earlier this year that focused on things that viewers had learned and taken from his shows.  One viewer discussed learning about agave and how it can be used as a sugar substitute.  She then introduced her new favorite way of using agave…in a chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie.  Seeing as though two of the ingredients in the title were chocolate and peanut butter, I knew it would go over well in our house. With an unopened bottle of agave already in the pantry, I was ready to give this recipe a go!  That evening, after Mr. Amanda and I came home from a run, I whipped up the first batch.  It was good……but I just KNEW it could be better.  And, although the viewer mentioned that she was drinking it as a snack, as a family who does quite a bit of running and working out, we thought that with some tweeks it could be a great after-workout drink!

So, this recipe below is our version of that viewer’s smoothie.  This smoothie could be used as a breakfast or after-workout drink.  Personally, with the changes and additions to the recipe, I think it would be a bit much for a snack.

CPB-squared

INGREDIENTS

2 ripe bananas (not over ripe)

1 Tb whipped peanut butter

1 scoop chocolate flavored protein powder

1 tsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tb Agave

1 Tb honey

1/2 c skim milk

2 Tb SUGAR FREE Chocolate syrup

2 cups ice

 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in blender in order listed above (I just find that this way, the protein powder mixes in best).

Using the “Smoothie” setting, blend until smooth.

 

EAT UP (or DRINK UP!) & ENJOY!!!!

 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Servings: 2 , 3 or 4 (depending on cup sizes)

Calories:  324 / 216 / 162

Fat:  4.1 g / 2.7 g / 2.0 g

Fiber: 1.2 g / 0.78 g / 0.58 g

Carb: 62 g / 41 g / 31 g

Protein: 19.2 g / 12.8 g / 9.6 g

WEIGHT WATCHERS PointsPlus: 9 / 6 / 5





THANK YOU!!!!!

22 07 2011

First, before I continue with this post, I want to say that I have a list of 7 recipes I’m going to be adding today and in the coming days.  So, even though I’ve been M.I.A. for months, I will be back with a few new posts soon!

Now, onto THIS post.  I’ve received tons of emails in regards to my applications to graduate school and wanted to thank everyone so much for your kind words of encouragement and support.  I’m so excited to announce that in just weeks I will be starting what will be a 4 year journey toward my Doctor of Audiology degree.  I would assume that with that, my blogging will be sparse, but it is my hope that I can check in from time to time!

So, thank you again for your kind words of support and I look forward to keeping everyone up to date from time to time on what I’m sure is going to be a grueling 4 years :-)





Holy Heavenly Sweetness!!! Creamy, Dreamy Fruit Dip/Topping

9 04 2011

PICTURE COMING SOON

I have a sweet tooth.  Fruit is great, but it only goes so far, and let’s face it, every time you eat fruit you know you’re being healthy.  Bummer.  So, recently I went on the search for a fruit “dip” that I could eat with my fruit for lunch or a snack. I came across a recipe simply called “Fruit Dip” that when quickly glancing at it, looked FAR from anything that would work into a healthy diet.  But, I had to try it.  Not only was it so delicious that I fell in love with it instantly, but with the amount that the recipe produces, a few tweaks by me,  and the amount that is necessary per serving, it fits in perfectly with a healthy diet!

There really is nothing else to add to this….it is DELISH.

My favorite way to eat this?  Sliced bananas, blackberries, blueberries, and chopped mangoes.  Instead of “dipping” the fruit, I actually put a little on my fork and then fork my fruit (similar to the salad dressing trick).  It works perfectly.

Give it a try, you will truly enjoy it!

 

Holy Heavenly Sweetness, Batman!  Creamy, Dreamy Fruit Dip!

Ingredients

1 pkg 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 c light sour cream

1 c FF Cool Whip

2 Tb Brown Sugar Splenda (or 1/4 c Brown Sugar)

2 Tb Sugar Splenda Baking Blend (or 1/4 c white sugar)

1 Tb SF maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

These are my favorite types of recipes….only use 1 dish!

So, here’s the easy, easy recipe.

Put all ingredients in a large bowl.  Using a hand mixer, mix ingredients until thoroughly mixed and whipped–generally takes ~3-5 minutes to get the creamy/whipped texture you are looking for!

Once mixed well, refrigerate until ready to use!

Recipe makes: 3 cups

Weight Watchers PP Value:

Servings: 24

Serving size: 2 Tb

WW PointsPlus value: 1 PP





Oatmeal for the Oatmeal Hater! A taste of comfort….Sweet Baked Oatmeal

9 04 2011

PICTURE COMING SOON

I hate oatmeal.  Or should I say hateD oatmeal.  I never understood it.  For some reason this flavorless, disgusting textured food was supposed to be one of the best things to eat for breakfast and lose weight.  Why is it that things that are supposed to help you lose and maintain weight are always so disgusting?  Why can’t it be something like apple pie?  I would eat apple pie every morning, willingly, if it was thought to have some special powers of helping losing and maintaining weight–shocker, right?!

So, life is busy in the Amanda and Mr. Amanda house.  Mr. Amanda is busy with work, and I’m busy with school and a little part time work.  Since we are so busy, we want to be sure we are eating healthy and DELICIOUS meals so we stick to this healthy lifestyle even when time is limited.  Since oatmeal is supposedly so great for you, I decided I needed to give it a try.  Somehow in the process of searching for ideas on “how to make oatmeal delicious for a non-oatmeal lover” (yes, that is what I typed into Google…laugh all you want!), I came across someone mention BAKED oatmeal.  I was intrigued.

A week later, after another horrible try at oatmeal in the morning, I remembered the baked oatmeal idea again.  So, I searched, and searched, and searched for recipes for baked oatmeal and found something that sounded delicious and nutritious.  Based on what I saw in other recipes, I came up with my own.  The result?  An amazingly delicious, nutritious, and filling breakfast that Mr. Amanda and I both love!

I have found that baked oatmeal is an uber versatile recipe.  Add fruit, nuts, spices, different liquid, etc, and it will still turn out great!

Give this lovely dish a try, and even if you are an oatmeal hater like me, I think you will really enjoy this!
A Taste of Comfort–Sweet Baked Oatmeal
Ingredients

1/4 c applesauce
1/2 c Egg Beaters
1 c Splenda
1 1/2 c skim milk
3 c Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 banana, diced
1/4 c SF maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
drizzle of honey
a good pour (maybe 1-2 Tb) Spray Butter
Cinnamon (to your taste…I add quite a bit, as a love cinnamon)

Directions

You can do this one  of two ways….#1 Mix together at night, bake in the morning ….or #2 mix in the morning and bake at night so it’s ready to eat the next morning (heated up).  The important part is that the mixture sets in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours after mixing and before baking.  So, do it whenever your schedule allows and it will be great either way!

And here’s what you do…once again, really difficult :-) Mix all of the ingredients together.  Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.

After the 6-8 hours are up, remove from the refrigerator.  Preheat the oven to 350.
Grease a glass baking dish (I use an 8×8 square) on the bottom and sides!
Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour.  Most recipes I’ve seen call for only 30-40 minutes in the oven, but I’ve found that with the additional fruit and lack of oil, it takes longer for the center to thoroughly cook and set. Since my oven isn’t the best, check your oven beginning at the 40-45 minute mark, but it will mostly likely still take around 1 hour to bake in an 8×8 baking dish.

In our house, I make this on Sunday, and we eat on it for breakfast throughout the week.  It stays fabulously in the refrigerator, and with a bit in the microwave and a drizzle of honey it is an AMAZING breakfast!
EAT UP & ENJOY!!!

WeightWatchers PP Value:

Servings: 9 or 12

Per serving: 1/9 or 1/12 of dish

9 servings: 4 PP
12 servings: 3 PP








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