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 🙂

Sous Chef Sunday: Apple Pie Taquitos

I can’t think of anything more American to devour on Thanksgiving than an ooey-gooey heap of caramelized apples piled into a crispy, buttery crust.

A good apple pie can be oh-so-good, but a bad one, well, it’s just flat out depressing.

Unfortunately a lot can go wrong when it comes to the classic dessert, and I’ve yet to find/perfect a solid pie crust recipe. But the sons and I have found a way to still get our festive fix.

All the makings of a great apple pie, in a fun taquito shape. Apple Pie Taquitos. It’s genius!

And, again, it’s fun. And the sons and I are all about some fun. Serve em up warm from the oven with a drizzle of caramel syrup and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert you’ll really be thankful for!

Apple Pie Taquitos

Apple Pie Taquitos

recipe adapted from Jo Cooks

1 20 oz can of apple pie filling
12 medium soft tortillas
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
caramel syrup, optional

Directions

1. Combine the cinnamon and sugar on a plate.
2. Empty the can of pie filling onto a cutting board and chop up the apples into bite-sized pieces.
3. Lay a tortilla flat and top with about 3 tablespoons of the apple pie filling. Tightly roll up the tortilla. Brush the outsides of the taquito with butter, then roll it in the sugar/cinnamon mixture to coat the outside. Place the taquito in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and apple pie filling.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the taquitos start to get golden on top. Drizzle with caramel syrup before serving.

Sous Chef Sunday: Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

The Sons’ are at it again, bringing the masses another recipe they’ve knocked out of the park.

Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub and the result is out of this world!

Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Subs

This recipe will leave your house smelling like a heavenly Italian restaurant and you’ll be lucky if you can keep your family from devouring it before it makes it to their plates. I think the Sons were worse than our pug that night, loitering around the kitchen and watching for any missed speck of this recipe while they waited for me to plate everything up for them.

Savory, buttery, crispy garlic bread stuffed with delicious spaghetti and meatballs… it’s a match made in heaven. How could I blame the little scroungers?!

I’m always watching the sons turn their spaghetti and garlic bread into an open faced sandwich (I’ll admit it freaked me out slightly the first few times), so I knew this would be right up their alley. And oh boy, were they sure on to something…

 son 3 helping

(The apron says it all)

Son # 2, just like his Daddy 🙂

He could easily (and quite happily) eat spaghetti and meatballs every night of the week. Which is why he nominated himself to oversee this particular meal.

 Spaghetti & Meatball Sub Sandwich

It may not be the prettiest presentation, but it delivers 100 % on flavor. All the sons and the hubs gave it two thumbs up. Just make sure you have some napkins handy, because it is messy. But man, you can’t go wrong with Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub! Enjoy!

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

Spaghetti & Meatballs Sub Sandwich

recipe adapted from The Cards We Drew

frozen, or homemade, meatballs (we used about 1/3-1/2 of the package)
Parmesan, and/or Mozzarella cheese, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles
1 loaf of Italian bread
garlic butter (either store bought or homemade)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Directions

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
2. Cook meatballs according to package directions.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the meatballs with the spaghetti sauce until evenly coated. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and then set the aside.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5. Cut your bread loaf in half length wise, and liberally coat both sides of the inside with garlic butter.
6. Place bread in a baking dish, or on a baking sheet, with the insides facing up and bake it until the butter is melted and inside is lightly crisped.
7. Once the bread has baked, top the bottom half with the cooked spaghetti, top the spaghetti with the meatball and sauce mixture, and then sprinkle some parmesan, and/or mozzarella cheese on top.
8. Put the loaf back in the oven until the cheese is nice and melty and the sauce is heated through. Slice loaf into individual sandwiches and serve with salad for dinner.

UPDATE: The Sons’ found this gem and declared it a must share. Son # 1 putting his spaghetti on a baked potato! Bleck!!

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Welcome to my life 😉

Sous Chef Sunday: Grilled Mac N Cheese Sandwich

If you’ve never had a mac n cheese grilled cheese sandwich, then you’ve never really lived. It’s exactly what it sounds like: creamy macaroni and cheese stuffed into a sandwich with extra sharp cheddar and grilled until melty inside and golden browned to perfection on the outside. Some of you skeptic, health-conscious folk might be thinking that’s just way too much starch in one sandwich. WRONG! Those were my initial thoughts too, but alas, that is not the case. The starchy side and the sandwich aspect work harmoniously well together, creating a euphoric eating experience unlike any other. It’s a fusion of the ultimate comfort foods that results in a beautiful soul food hybrid. This, my friends, is heaven.

This recipe makes two sandwiches at once. Needing more than that? Just double the recipe as needed. I’ve always got to make 3 ‘batches’. Wanting to dial back the cheesiness a bit? You can opt out of adding the extra slices of cheddar? Even the cheese is flexible? Don’t like cheddar? American works well. Prefer a white cheddar macaroni and cheese? Use white cheddar slices, or even mozzarella or provolone. Cheese is very forgiving. 🙂

Grilled Mac N Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich

4 slices Sourdough (or other dense bread)
1½ cups leftover Macaroni & Cheese
8 slices American or Cheddar Cheese
2 tbsp Butter

 Directions

1. In a small nonstick skillet place heat ¾ cup of mac & cheese over medium heat.
2. Once warm (about 3-4 minutes), shape mac & cheese into a pile about the size of the bread and top with 2 slices of cheese.
3. Turn off heat.
4. Butter 2 slices of bread.
5. Place bread butter side down in another skillet over medium heat.
6. Top one of the bread slices with 2 slices cheese.
7. Use spatula to lift corner and check done-ness.
8. When lightly browned turn off heat. Use spatula to transfer mac & cheese rectangle onto cheese covered bread in the skillet.
9. Cover with the other bread slice, toasted side up. Gently press together with spatula and transfer to a plate.
10. Serve immediately.

Ranch Pasta Salad

Summer and pasta salad just go hand in hand at my house.  Quick, economical and delicious!  Now let me beat you to it, yes I know Summer’s long gone and it’s already November. While that may be the case, another thing that go hand in hand in our home, are quick and easy meals. A hearty pasta salad is also a favorite of ours for a light dinner or a really filling lunch. So even though I’m loving living in the land of Soup, Stew, and Comfort Food at the moment pasta salad, or a version of it, still visits frequently. This is one of our favorite creamy/mayonnaise based pasta salads. I don’t make it too too often, but when I do I always wonder why I don’t make it more often.  I normally make it with rotini pasta (I feel the ‘dressing’ sticks to it best), but you can use pretty much any shaped pasta you’d like.

 ranch veggie pasta salad 2

Pasta salad doesn’t have to be the tired stuff of bad salad bars anymore (it’s 2014 people). Think of it as a blank canvas for fresh and flavorful ingredients you can toss in. Just look at all the vibrant colors we’re throwing into this one. They add one heck of a fresh flavor punch.

Ranch Veggie Pasta Salad

I urge you to try a pasta salad with ranch dressing. It’s a lovely, lovely thing.

Ranch Pasta Salad

ranch veggie pasta salad 3

recipe adapted from Inspired Craft Ideas 

1 cup Greek yogurt (fat free is great!)
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 packet ranch dressing mix, plus extra, to taste, if desired
1 lb rotini pasta, cooked
2 large carrots
1½- 2 cups broccoli
1 cup ham
1 cup cheddar cheese
½ yellow bell pepper
½ red bell pepper

Directions

1. Combine the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing mix. Set aside.
2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water, drizzle with a bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick.
3. Chop the veggies, ham, and cheese into bite sized pieces. Combine with the pasta and ¾ of the dressing. Stir well, add additional dressing if it is too dry.
4. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out these other fan/family favorites as well.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad 3

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Ranch BLT Pasta Salad

Ranch BLT Pasta Salad

Chili Dog Casserole with Cheese Fries

So as I’ve mentioned before Son # 1 made the JV football team. What I probably haven’t mentioned since then, and totally need to (ok, I’m gonna brag a bit) is that he kept getting promoted from position to position, and to starting each position, until half way through the season earning his Varsity letter. Go him! He is a pretty awesome guy, and I’m not at all surprised, but damn if I’m still not proud as hell. The parents will often get together, especially for a big game, and host a tail-gate/team meal for the players. And when it comes to tailgating the boys prefer some of the more traditional fair.

When it comes to tailgating foods, chili is a classic dish that is perfect for football weather.  You can make it ahead so you don’t miss any of the action, and I can make a big batch. Big enough to feed a team of athletic teen boys.      And speaking of chili, who doesn’t like a good chili dog? This casserole is great to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon or while watching weeknight sports on TV, or (in our case) to serve to a hungry crowd of rowdy teen football players.

 Chili Cheese Hot Dog French Fry Casserole

We’ve established that our family, and the son’s team, all love chili corn dogs, but this dish has truly taken that flavor to the next level. All the flavor of the two classic stadium treats, but in one tasty casserole. We can’t be alone either because Americans love hot dogs. We really do. We know this because, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (which is, yes, a thing), we bought $1.6 billion worth of them last year, just in grocery stores. But for me the hotdog — along with the slightly more grownup-sounding sausage — is always going to be most at home inside a stadium or at some nearby tailgate. Even better, there isn’t really any standard for how you should eat one, this recipe is a nice change up from the same old, same old.

Chili Dog Casserole with Cheese Fries

Chili Cheese Hot Dog French Fry Casserole 2

recipe adapted from The Weary Chef

5 hot dogs (your favorite brand) , sliced into ¼” rounds
15 oz can chili
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup shredded, or very thinly sliced, carrots
12 oz frozen shoestring, or crinkle cut, French fries
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Spray a 9 x 13” baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium sized skillet, saute the sliced hot dogs until nice and fragrant and browned.
3. In a medium bowl, add the hot dogs, chili, tomatoes, and carrots. Stir until evenly combined. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking dish.
4. Evenly arrange French fries in a single layer on top of the hot dog mixture. Bake in the oven at 450 for 30 minutes.
5. Evenly, or as evenly as possible, sprinkle the cheese on top of the fries, and bake an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

So one day I reeeeeaaaaallllllly wanted Mexican food. Of the oh-so good tasting, but so-oh not good for your waist-line variety. Like an endless basket of tortilla chips with some of that authentic creamy, white queso for dipping, and maybe even some sour cream and quac on the side. (We want guac. We want guac. Thank you, Elmo for that little ditty that’s now stuck in my head) But that wasn’t on the menu. Going out to eat wasn’t in the cards, and clearly my pantry and fridge were letting me down. (Again, I griped about having no known Mexican restaurants that deliver in my vicinity. Because, well because… how is this not a thing already?!)

Then I remembered this fancy, schmancy recipe (except it’s totally not, but if tasty-ness was currency, it’d be golden). Fiesta tuna salad sandwiches may not have been sinfully delicious chips dipped in warm, gooey queso, but as my Mama always said, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” And it was Mexican food. Good Mexican-style food. Good for you too, to top it all off. My how my day had changed. While I got down to chopping the veggies I’d need, my mood gradually changed from “deprived of tortilla chips” and being lulled to “problem craving coming to it’s conclusion”. Mean Mami Mexican food crisis averted. At least for today. Seriously, you don’t want to get in my way when I’m craving Mexican food. It could escalate quickly and then we’d be in a full-on nuclear melt-down and that just isn’t gonna work for me. Now that I had a new idea, and some direction to go in other than to Old El Paso, I snagged some supporting ingredients from the pantry and salsa-ed my way through the rest of the recipe.  Olé!

Now I’m going to enjoy another delicious sandwich with this spread for lunch tomorrow too, but this time as a tuna melt! Gotta keep those taste buds on their toes. Trying to go light? This makes a great dip with either tortilla chips or crackers. (Hello, my next tailgating party!)

Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

 Fiesta Tuna Salad Sliders

recipe adapted from Taste of Home

6 cans, 5 oz each, water-packed white tuna or albacore, drained and flaked
1 large red onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup reduced fat mayo
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
12 ciabatta sized slider buns, or more depending on how ‘stuffed’ your buns are
12 slices of pepper jack cheese
lettuce leaves

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Set the tuna salad in the refrigerator to ‘chill’.

2. Once the tuna salad is cold, spread it over the bun bottoms. Top each with a slice of cheese and some lettuce.

3. Put the tops back on, and serve!

Spicy Rice & Bean Burritos

We all really like Chipotle. In fact, if we’re going to grab a bite somewhere, that’s probably where we will end up. Son # 1 even more than the rest of us. We find him wandering around the house daily, greeting us with ‘Yaaasss, Chipotle is my liiiiiiiiiiiiiffffffffffffe.’ The jury’s still out on if it’s because he’s morphing into a perpetually misunderstood 16 year old in a week, or if it’s just because he’s him. Either way, we can always agree on the fact that a Chipotle burrito is friggin’ delicious. Sometimes there are little hiccups in our plans to go ‘grab a bite’ though. The number one being the major bump in the road of having 4 hungry boys and only one income. So last week when son # 2 went a whole day without complaining about any chores, even helping out with extras, and then asked could we grab a burrito while we were out running errands did I let the piddly little issue of my budget get in my way? Of course not! Budget smudget. Okay, not really. It didn’t get in the way because we just took a different route. We came home, stuck our heads together and created our own version, full of copy-cat-ish Chipotle burrito love.

These are fantastic. Don’t let their humble appearance fool you, these could easily give Chipotle a run for their money! They are pretty spicy, but coming from someone who doesn’t like spicy food and loves these, I would say not too spicy. Feel free to dial down the heat though by using less of the spices.  Or, if you’re feeling brave really into spicy food and want to crank up the heat, splash some hot sauce onto the rice mixture, or you could sprinkle a few diced jalapeno peppers on top of the filling before rolling up the tortilla. Not feeling a burrito today? This rice/bean filling is just as good served as a hearty rice dish served alongside spicy, or fiesta-style, grilled chicken.

Spicy Rice & Bean Burritos

 Spicy Rice & Bean Burritos

recipe adapted from A Bitchin Kitchen

1 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1 pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo, minced
2 tsp sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
1 tsp ground cumin
one large pinch of cayenne pepper
1/3 cup water
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup salsa
6 burrito-sized tortillas
8 oz shredded cheese, mexican blend, cheddar, or monterey jack
shredded lettuce
4 green onions, thinly sliced
fat-free Greek yogurt, or sour cream

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, chili powder, pepper, adobo sauce, cumin, and cayenne. Allow them to cook just until fragrant, only about 30-60 seconds. Add in the drained/rinsed beans and the water. Bring the filling to a simmer, and then lower the heat to medium-low and allow it to cook for 8 minutes, mashing the bean mixture slightly. Remove from heat, and stir in rice and salsa until everything is evenly combined.
2. Divide the mixture evenly among the center of each tortilla. Top the filling with cheese, lettuce, green onions, and greek yogurt as desired. Roll them up by folding over both side about 1 1/2 inches and then rolling up lengthwise to close/make the burrito, and serve!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pinwheels

Chicken Cordon Bleu is one of our favorite “looks and sounds fancy, but it’s really totally easy” standby recipes. A classic cordon bleu features chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese. One night I decided to change it up by rolling everything up in a sheet of crescent roll dough. Turning it into crescent roll pinwheels? Knocked it right out of the park. These are even easier than our traditional version, and taste superb. They’re perfect party food and make a really pretty presentation. A drizzle of honey mustard gives these chicken pinwheels that perfect bit of extra mmph.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pinwheels

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Pinwheels 2

recipe adapted from Mom On Timeout

1 can crescent rolls
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices deli ham
2 chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tbsp honey, optional
2 tbsp Dijon mustard, optional

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Pinwheels

Directions

1. Remove crescent rolls from can and lay out in a long rectangle. Pinch the seams together making sure they’re all ‘closed’.
2. Sprinkle the dough with the Italian seasoning.
3. First layer the cheese onto the dough, then the ham, and finally topping it with the chicken. Set the prepared dough in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to allow it to get chilled again.
4. Remove from the fridge, and pick an end to start at. Roll the dough and it’s contents up like a cinnamon roll and, using a sharp knife, cut into 8-10 rolls.
5. Place on a prepared baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. If using, mix together the honey and mustard until evenly combined and serve with or drizzle over the rolls before serving.

{One Pot Wonder} Dirty Rice

For years, we bought the box mix and simply added ground beef to it. We were in heaven. It was divine. It tasted great and it was quick. Everything we ever needed or wanted in our dirty rice dinners. Or so I thought. Sometimes I have readers send me links to recipes they think will tickle my fancy or that they want an opinion on before venturing into uncharted territory. THAT’ is how this recipe fell into my lap, err inbox, late last year, and I can’t say thank you enough!

I wanted to share this with you all sooner. I really did. You see, I first made this late last year, and we loved it. But I don’t typically take pictures until the next time I make something. I mean, I’ve gotta make sure it’s son approve and all. So then there was the second time we made this, and all I had was a crappy picture that really didn’t do it justice, and this meal deserved better than that. So I used that as the perfect excuse to make it again. And it seemed that every time I got around to making it again, and again, we were all in so much of a hurry to dig into this dish that the only photo I could get was using the hub’s cell phone! Clearly you can see where our priorities lie. 😉 So this time around, about 9 months later, give or take a month or so, I didn’t tell anyone what was for dinner and wouldn’t let anyone near the kitchen until I’d managed to get at least one decent shot with my camera. Once I snapped it, that was it, the troops were all over it. It was a lot like what I’d imagine feeding a pack of ravenous wolves might be like. [End tangent]

So. Dirty Rice. If you’re from the South, especially the deep south and any ‘bayou’ regions, you’ve probably grown up on the stuff. For those of you not from the deep south, a fun fact about ‘dirty’ rice.  The traditional Cajun dish get it’s name from the white rice it calls for that turns a ‘dirty’ color when cooked with small pieces of chicken livers. Yeah. I didn’t like liver when I was little, and it’s still a no-go now. I know, I know, your palette can change as you age, but I’m not chancing it. No liver for this Mama. I get my rice pleeeenty dirty using good ol’ ground beef. Don’t like beef? Chicken sausage or pork sausage both work great in this meal. If you’ve got one pot, and one 25-minute window of time, you’ve got this amazing dinner that will leave you with only ONE dish to clean. Priceless, right?!

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice

recipe adapted from Southern Plate

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 tbsp dried
1-3 tbsp creole seasoning, depending on how spicy you’d like it
5 cups cooked rice
 
Directions
 
1. In a large skillet, heat up the oil, over medium heat.
2. Add the ground beef, celery, pepper, garlic, and onion and cook, breaking up the beef while stirring, until the ground beef is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the parsley and creole seasoning, starting on the low end with 1 tbsp and tasting before leaving it or increasing the amount as desired, stirring to combine.
4. Then stir in the cooked rice, and saute for 5 minutes, or until heated through, over medium heat.
 
 
Like the idea of a one pot meal and a less-mess dinner? Check out these other one pot wonders:
4 Sons 'R' Us: Mexican Chicken & Rice
Mexican Chicken & Rice (Arroz con Pollo)
4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Pizza Pasta
Pizza Pasta
4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Chicken Lo Mein
Chicken Lo Mein