Pierogi Lasagna

Do you love the taste of Pierogis, Those Eastern European dumplings stuffed with cream mashed potato goodness, but dread the amount of work involved with making the dough, stuffing, and sealing them by hand? Then this here’s the thing for you. Pierogi LASAGNA. Now it’s true you could go to the frozen food aisle and just buy a bag (and I will, in a pinch) but they can’t ever compete flavor wise with the real thing. Or even with our more modernized version.

Periogi Lasagna

Pasta, potatoes, cheese, and bacon. Does it get any better than that? I’m pretty sure those are the hubs and sons four favorite food groups ūüėČ

Still, they might not be the best groups to associate with, especially all at once, if you’re watching your carb intake … Or ya know, flavor.

Periogi Lasagna 2

Alternating layers of rich cottage cheese, and creamy mashed potatoes whipped together with bacon or ham and a generous serving of cheddar cheese are sandwiched between your favorite lasagna noodles before being topped with another sprinkle of cheddar cheese and crisp, crumbled bacon and oven-baked to perfection.

You need this in your life. At least once, or twice. And with the colder days and colder nights approaching, there’s no better time of year to give it a try.

Pierogi Lasagna

Periogi Lasagna 3
12 cooked lasagna noodles
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
3 thinly sliced green onions with a sprinkling of salt (or 1 tsp onion salt)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, with 1/2 cup separated
2 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup bacon (fried crisp and crumbled) OR diced ham.
1 onion, chopped and cooked until clear
8 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Directions

  1. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg and green onion, stirring until evenly combined.
    2. In another bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, the mashed potatoes, the 1/2 cup of bacon/ham crumbled and the sautéed onion.
    3. Line the bottom of a greased 9 x 13″ baking dish with 4 of the lasagna noodles.
    4. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture out evenly over the noodles.
    5. Add 4 additional noodles and cover evenly with half of the potato mixture.
    6. Repeat.
    7. Top with remaining 4 noodles, remaining cheese and crumbled bacon.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
9. Serve warm with sour cream, if desired.

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups

Breakfast and Brunch menus usually have a lot to offer, and the range of options for those meals is pretty varied. But when your a busy parent with hungry children to feed in the am hours, the early morning menu is usually pretty basic. And after a while, even when you have the time.to whips up some eggs, and butter a few slices of toast, even that can get a bit boring for everybody over time.

So here’s one of my favorite ways to shake things up when we’re in a rut.

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups 3

This is basically just your classic scrambled eggs with a side of toast. But all mashed together; and with cheese and some ham for extra flavor and protein. Ya know, basic. But ( again ) with cheese, because cheese makes everything better. I see it as an easy and convenient way to serve breakfast on the weekends (or on busy morning with a quick reheat) and the kids see it as impressive, and oh-so fancy. They love it, and I always love the giggles I get over them considering us high-falutin folk with our own cuisine.

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups 2

Don’t stop here though. Ham and cheese may seem like an obvious choice to fortify your eggs with, but the options are endless. Play around with different cheeses or add any toppings that you would normally add to an omelette or frittata  ‚Äď peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, green onion, tomatoes ‚Äď there is no right or wrong way!

One thing’s for sure, these are sure to cure any case of breakfast boredom.

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups

Ham, Egg, & Cheese Toast Cups

12 slices of bread
7 eggs
¬ĺ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup ham, cubed
¬Ĺ tsp garlic powder
¬Ĺ onion chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Cut crusts off of the bread and roll bread flat.
2. Butter each side of the bread and place one piece  in each muffin tin to form a toast ‘cup’, gently pressing the bread against the sides of the tin and the centers down. Patch any holes you see with another small piece of buttered bread.
3. Combine eggs, garlic powder, onion, salt, and pepper and beat with a whisk until frothy.
4. Pour some into each muffin tin, filling the bread cup approximately 3/4 of the way full. Add a few cubes of ham to each toast cup and top with shredded cheese.

5. Bake the at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

These are freezer friendly, so if you’re trying to get a jump start on weekday breakfasts make a batch, let them cool completely, remove them from the tins and freeze in a zip locking storage bag until ready to use. A quick re-heat in the microwave on a busy morning, and you’re good to go. Literally.

Sausage Breakfast Burritos

So if you’ve followed along with us for any amount of time, you know that this mama doesn’t do breakfast. Yes I make sure there are breakfast items available, but All self serve, a la carte style. Hot breakfast? Dad does giant brunches every Saturday and Sunday. Otherwise? It’s pretty much cold cereal ’round these parts.

 Sausage Breakfast Burritos

But I do occasionally take pity on my crew who put up with all my whims, and all my willfulness in the kitchen. What can I say? I run a tight ship, usually it goes my way or the highway, but every now and then I hear a request or two, or I just generally try to prevent a mutiny. And that’s where these handy, dandy breakfast burritos come in.

All cooked up and pre-packaged, all ready to heat and eat.

Sausage Breakfast Burritos

Sausage Breakfast Burritos 2

1 lb ground pork sausage
1-1/2 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1/4 cup diced white onion
1/4 cup diced green and/or red pepper
4 eggs, lightly beaten
12 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Picante sauce and sour cream, optional

Directions

1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain and set aside. Add the potatoes, onion and pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Pour the eggs in and stir, cooking until they’re set. Return the sausage to the skillet and stir everything together to evenly incorporate.
2. Spoon the filling off center onto each of the tortillas. Sprinkle cheese evenly out over the filling. Fold sides and ends over filling and roll up. Serve with Picante sauce and/or sour cream, if desired.
3. To freeze and reheat the burritos: Wrap each burrito in waxed paper and then again in foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. To use, remove the foil and the waxed paper. Place one burrito on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 2 to 2-1/4 minutes, turning the burrito over once during re-heating. Let stand for 20 seconds before eating. These also re-heat just as well in a toaster oven if a microwave isn’t an option.

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

The tenderest, juiciest seasoned pot roast ever is cooked in the crockpot before being piled high on crusty baguettes with melted provolone cheese. Served with their own yummy au jus, these Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches are dippable perfection you just can’t get enough of.  

crockpot-french-dip-sandwiches-4 Read more

Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

Folks always talk about how patience is a virtue, well I think impatience is every bit the virtue patience is and then some, because impatience gets supper, or in this case breakfast, on the table a whole heck of a lot faster.

The holidays are upon us once again, and as usual, I’m struggling to keep up. While I love that the sons’ are so active, it’s been hard to keep up, and we’re just at the beginning. The hubs lost his job a month ago and, THANKFULLY, was back to work one week later, but for a staffing company. That means that, while after 480 hours, this job will probably become permanent, there’s no guarantee of 40 hours a week right now, or even a guarantee of what hours he’ll be working a week, or if it will even be locally. We had gotten comfy with the whole 9-5 thing. Now he’s stuck with calling a number each night and showing up on site at whatever time is told. Recently, that’s meant he’s had to get up at 4 am to drive for two hours to meet on the job. I just have to say that I’m so proud of him. Even if it’s meant he pulled a 12+ hour day, to turn around tomorrow and drive an hour to work on fumes of sleep to do it all again. When it comes to our family, he gets it done!

I know I’ve said it before, but I really don’t do breakfast. I am SO not a morning person. The sons know, don’t wake Mom up unless there’s a problem. The hubs learned that lesson the hard way. BUT, that doesn’t meant I always want them to be stuck in the land of cold cereal or a mushy bowl of unappetizing instant oatmeal. I don’t want to do that to the sons all the time, and I definitely don’t want to do that to him.

And that’s why we have these little breakfast stars.¬†Just think of them as the healthy version of McDonalds McMuffins, except they taste 10000x better.

Perfectly portioned breakfast sandwiches, ready for a quick re-heat.

Aaaannnnd … let’s DO this!

Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

 Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

6 large eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
6 English muffins, split
12 slices deli-sliced ham
6 slices cheddar cheese

Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a cupcake pan, or coat it with nonstick spray.
2. Add one egg to 6 different ‘cups’, beating slightly. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Place the pan into the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked through, about 12-14 minutes.
3. Place 2 slices ham and 1 slice cheese on the muffin bottom, top with one baked egg, and then cover with another muffin top to create a sandwich. Repeat with remaining English muffins to make 6 sandwiches. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
4. To reheat, remove plastic wrap from the frozen sandwich and wrap in a paper towel. Place into microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through completely.
5. Serve immediately.

For those of you who either don’t have, or prefer not to use, a microwave, no worries. These re-heat just fine in a toaster oven ūüôā

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

For those of you who don’t know the hubs, which is probably most of you, let me tell you about his love of all things neat and orderly. To put it bluntly, he can’t function in any other sort of environment. He knows where everything goes, and if one thing is out of place it’s going to systematically drive him crazy. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me since he’ll be the first one to start cleaning or come behind me as I’m cooking and wash the dishes as I go. Even when I get annoyed, I can’t help but appreciate this side of him because he totally balances me out. For example, just last week the hubs went on a two day long streak where he decided that we¬†would pull everything out of every nook and cranny in the house and clean it and organize it. At first I was frustrated since this had clearly not been on my honey-do list for the weekend, but by the end of it I was thankful. Everything was thoroughly cleansed, we’d swapped out spring/summer wardrobes for fall/winter. The freezers had been defrosted and updated inventories made of what was where and when it expired. Instead of dreading taking on these tasks myself and getting them done piece meal, we both felt like we’d accomplished something, we both had help, and we rewarded ourselves the next day by mindlessly relaxing & binge watching a new TV show on Netflix with all the sons. And that had been on my list.

So that was the good. The bad? I had several things in the freezer that needed using in the very near future. Several of those things were multiple pounds of pizza dough. So guess what? We had pizza for dinner two nights in a row last week. The sons thought I’d gone and lost my mind. They were thrilled. This was what was on the menu with two pounds of said dough. Several of our favorite flavors and ingredients, coming together to star in one perfect pizza.

While I can flourish in clutter, the hubs can’t. The happy medium? We keep each other in sync and have many things to show for it. Not the least of which are some damn delicious dinners!

This recipe is a doozie. If you love pizza, bacon, chicken, and ranch dressing then you are going to love this.

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

 Chicken Bacon Garlic Ranch Pizza

recipe adapted from I Heart Naptime

Dough for 1 large pizza
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced and diced
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded or diced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

 Garlic- Ranch Sauce

2 Tbsp sour cream
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon chopped, dried chives
1/8 teaspoon dill
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
dash of onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine all the ingredients to make the garlic-ranch sauce.
2. Spread the sauce evenly over the pizza crust, leaving a 1/2 inch of ‘crust’ all the way around.
3. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over top the sauce, then evenly spread the chicken, bacon, onion and tomatoes.
4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
5. Bake at 450 degrees for 9-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

The Best Meatballs

Meatball recipes are often challenged by chefs who claim, “Mine are the best!” Even though my meatballs ARE the best ( in my opinion of course), I won’t claim they’re the best in the world. ¬†However, they are the best recipe I’ve ever found and they’re the best for me. Who would have guessed the secret ingredient would be stuffing mix? It gives it all the right flavors and leaves them incredibly moist. Try them for yourself! My Italian father in law makes meatballs, his family recipe, and I’ve watched him since I first got married. They’re good, but there are so many steps and so many ingredients. It’s a lengthy, day long process. Ain’t nobody got time for that, at least not in this house. These are so easy, I can have them mixed, shaped, and baked in well under 30 minutes. Everybody’s got at least 30 minutes at some point in the day, right? After they’re baked throw them in some sauce for delicious spaghetti and meatballs. We love using them to make Crockpot Hawaiian meatballs. They’re totally freezer-friendly, and the sons love taking a few out at lunch time for making meatball subs.

The Best Meatballs

 4 Sons 'R' Us: The Best Meatballs

recipe adapted from Kraft Recipes

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 pkg. (6 oz.) chicken flavored stuffing mix
1 1/4 cups of water
2 eggs

Directions

1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line two baking pans with foil (this makes for no-fuss cleanup later). Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients (I find by hand is best) until fully incorporated.
4. Shape the meat mixture into about 32, 1 1/2 inch, balls (about 1/4 cup meat per ball) and placing them in the prepared pans as you go.
5. Bake the meatballs for 16-18 minutes, or until completely cooked. No pink meat for us.
6. Remove from the oven and, if using immediately, add the meatballs into your recipe. Otherwise allow them to cool completely and follow freezing instructions.

To Freeze

Loosely pack meatballs in zip-locking freezer bags. When freezing, make sure to lay the bags flat so the meatballs freeze individually without sticking/clumping together. They can be stored frozen for up to 3 months. To use, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight before hand.

Chicken And Stuffing Stuffed Shells

With a new school year fast approaching in less than 3 weeks we’ve been gearing up for all the practices, homework, and after school activities that will be beating down our door. In anticipation of all that, and my candle burning at both ends until we reestablish a schedule, I’ve been stocking our deep freezer with some ready to heat and eat meals. I know there will be several nights, especially those first few weeks of September where I just won’t have the energy or the frame of mind left to cook in the evenings. However, the sons (and hubby too!) still need and deserve a hot and filling meal set on the table at dinner time. My freezer, my oven, and freezer-cooking in general will be my best friend and life-line that first month. Here’s to hoping I’m not being too ambitious in expecting us to be a well-oiled machine after only the first three weeks of school!

All that aside, if you’re just getting into freezer cooking or are an old pro at it, this meal is quick to prepare and tastes divine. Who wouldn’t want rich, comfort food after a busy day that had all the ‘work’ already done?! Pop these beauties in the oven, heat, and eat. These go great with a side salad, and a green veggie!

Chicken And Stuffing Stuffed Shells

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken & Stuffing Stuffed Shells

recipe adapted from Kraft Recipes

  • 2 boxes of chicken flavored stuffing, cooked
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, sauteed (optional)
  • 1 box of jumbo shells; cooked, drained, and cooled
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375¬įF. Cook stuffing following package directions.
  2. Add chicken breast, stirring to combine, and set aside.
  3. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray. Stuff shells with the stuffing mixture and place in prepared dish, open and facing down.
  4. Heat the soup, milk and water in a sauce pan, stirring until evenly combined. Pour over top of the stuffed shells.
  5. Bake 35 minutes.
  6. Take out of oven and sprinkle with Swiss cheese.
  7. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
  8. Let sit 5 min before serving. Enjoy!

For Freezer Cooking:

Stop after step 3, except instead of putting the stuffed shells into a prepared baking sheet, place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Place sheet in freezer. When the shells are frozen, transfer them to a ziplocking bag. Store in your freezer. When ready to eat, thaw the shells and proceed from Step 3, this time placing them in the prepared dish.

Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

While I love all the flavors in a ‘loaded’ baked potato, I was craving something different. Any combination of broccoli and cheddar is always a hit here, especially when it’s accompanied by something extra crispy. In this case, the twice baked potato skin provided that perfect, accompanying crunch.

Did I mention that this is actually a relatively healthy side dish? I might have forgotten to share that with the boys. Accidentally, on purpose. Without that ‘it’s something good for you’ vegetable taint hanging over their heads, they dug in with relish and devoured every last bite.

As an added bonus, these lovely little potatoes can be frozen and pulled out as needed for meals or even for a light lunch. I just love freezer cooking. This potato recipe is definitely the whole kit and caboodle.

Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

4 Sons 'R' Us: Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste

  • 4 medium russet potatoes, washed and dried
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Pierce the cleaned potatoes several times with a fork.  Bake for 1 hour in oven at 425 degrees. Optionally, you could instead place them in the microwave and use your baked potato setting until the potatoes are cooked through, turning half way. However, in my opinion, cooking them in the oven the entire time give them more a crispier skin when finished.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add broccoli to a little salted water and cook, covered for about 3 minutes. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Let the potatoes cool enough to comfortably handle them.¬†Cut¬†the potatoes in half lengthwise.¬†Scoop¬†the flesh out into a large bowl, leaving a ¬ľ” shell.¬†Place¬†the potato shells on a baking sheet.
  4. Mash the flesh with a potato masher or puree with a hand blender. Add the milk, yogurt, and salt, mash until smooth. Fold in half of the shredded cheddar (and chives if desired).
  5. Spoon the potato mixture back into the shells. Top with the cooked broccoli and remaining cheese on top.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted. (You can also microwave it for a few minutes if you prefer not to use the oven)

To Freeze: Follow directions above but do not bake a second time. Instead, wrap in saran wrap and place in a gallon freezer bag. To serve: Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or microwave for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.