Monday, May 11, 2020

Two Make Ahead Freezer Recipes

You might think from all the recipes you see posted on Just One Donna that cooking is my favorite thing to do.  I like to cook when I have the time to devote to my favorite recipes, but I have a lot going on in my life, and time to cook is often sacrificed. When I'm pressed for time, cooking frustrates me. Does this sound like you?

I am committed to preparing as much of what we eat myself.  I believe that you should know what goes into the food you put in your body. That means that we seldom eat prepared foods and restaurant meals are only occasional.  This means that when I am pressed for time, I turn to my freezer.  The two meals you will always find in my freezer, ready to heat and serve, are my Italian Stuffed Peppers and my Easy Freezer Chicken Parmesan.

Two Make Ahead Meals Your Family will Love

Our Two Favorite Freezer Dinners
Our Two Favorite Freezer Dinners

Get the Italian Stuffed Peppers Recipe:  Italian Stuffed Peppers
Get the Chicken Parmesan Recipe:  Freezer Chicken Parmesan



How to Prepare Freezer Dinners

We've all seen the recommendations that tell us to make ahead our dinners on the weekend.  Well, that's a good idea if you want to spend your weekends in the kitchen.  I do not.  Instead, I plan to cook each of these meals in a big batch quantity periodically.  For the stuffed peppers, that means I'll make a batch of approximately twenty stuffed peppers once every three or four months.  The chicken Parmesan gets cooked approximately once every six weeks, making enough for four meals.
Save Time with Freezer Dinners

Here are the steps to make this work for you:

1.  Decide how many meals you want to have on hand, first making sure you have enough room available in your freezer.

2.  Plan when it will fit in your schedule to make these meals in a batch.  I always plan to make my big batch on the same day I'll be serving one of these meals for dinner.  That way, I'll only be adding a little extra time to my normal preparation time for dinner.  I usually plan for double the usual preparation time, including the wrapping for freezing.

3.  It's smart to include another family member in your freezer meals preparation.  Hubby and I usually work together when we make the stuffed peppers.  This helps to make the chopping step go faster and filling the peppers with the stuffing mixture a breeze.  This is also a great time to teach kids basic cooking skills.

4.  Shop in advance for the ingredients and freezer supplies.  You do not want to make a grocery store run during batch cooking sessions.

5.  Congratulate yourself for your time-saving meal preparation every time you reach into your freezer for one of your meals.

I wrap each of the stuffed peppers individually in plastic wrap and then put them all together into a plastic freezer bag. That way I can take out as many as needed for dinner.  I freeze the chicken Parmesan in baking dishes that can go from the freezer to the oven.  I usually try to defrost both the stuffed peppers and chicken Parmesan before baking, but I have been known to cook them straight from the freezer.  They'll just take a little longer to cook.

Both of these recipes are family favorites.  I hope you'll try them.  You can either eat them for dinner or freeze them. How great is that?

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Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Best Turkey Meatloaf

Meatloaf is definitely on my list of comfort foods and turkey meatloaf is no exception.

For the longest time, I thought turkey meatloaf would be bland.  I was wrong. Give this turkey meatloaf recipe a try and I think you'll agree with me.

My Favorite Turkey Meatloaf Recipe


My Favorite Turkey Meatloaf
My Favorite Turkey Meatloaf
My criteria for a perfect meatloaf recipe are:
#1 The meatloaf must be easy to make.  This recipe is very easy to assemble.
#2 The meatloaf must be moist and tender.  This recipe delivers.
#3 The meatloaf must be good in a sandwich the next day. Yes, this recipe makes a yummy sandwich.

The Best Turkey Meatloaf
In my mind, the keys to this meatloaf recipe's yumminess are the chopped onion, red pepper, and seasoned stuffing mix. There are other flavor enhancers, too, but the onion, pepper, and stuffing mix take the meatloaf over the top for flavor. I like to use Pepperidge Farm seasoned stuffing mix in a bag.


Turkey Meatloaf

Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4


    Quick and Easy Turkey Meatloaf
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper


Directions

Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Saute the onion and red pepper together until soft.  Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute.  Set the mixture aside to cool.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the ground turkey in a medium bowl. Add the cooled onion and pepper mixture and all the other ingredients to the bowl.

Using your clean hands, squeeze the ingredients together through your fingers until combined.  Don't overdo it, or the meatloaf will be too dense.

Place the mixture in a loaf pan.  Cook for approximately one hour, until the top of the meatloaf is nicely browned.  I like to cook my meatloaf until the internal temperature is 175-180 degrees F.

Let the meatloaf rest for about ten minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

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Saturday, April 4, 2020

How to Make a Face Mask

This week I worked out a pattern for making a cloth face mask.

This mask is easy to make and comfortable to wear.

How to Make a Fabric Face Mask


Comfortable Cloth Face Mask

You can watch a video on my Facebook page or follow the steps below.

The Materials List

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Here’s what you need per face mask:


You want to choose a washable fabric with a close weave. I like using white, cotton sheet fabric, but choose a fabric with a print to make a fashion statement.


How to Make a Cloth Face Mask
Using a sewing machine makes the assembly quicker but you can make one completely by hand as long as you can sew a straight stitch.

An Easy Face Mask


Step 1
Cut your fabric into a 9 x 16-inch rectangle. Fold the two short sides together, the right side of the fabric touching.

A Cotton Rectangle of Fabric


Step 2
Stitch along the three open sides of the fabric, leaving approximately two inches open at the end. Reinforce the stitches at the end so they won't pull open.

Stitch the Fabric


Step 3
Snip the corners, being careful not to cut too close to the stitches. Turn the fabric right side out. Iron the rectangle flat, turning in the edges of the open section.

Finish the Fabric Rectangle


Step 4
Make three accordion pleats, pinning each pleat as you go.  Refer to my video if needed.
Iron the pleats flat.

Make Pleats in the Fabric


Step 5
Attach your ties to the sides of the pleated rectangle being sure to stitch through the pleats. Tie off the ends of the ties with a simple knot so they don't fray as used or washed.

Make Ties to Link to Your Ears


Fit the mask to your face, knotting the ties behind your ears.  Be sure to cover your nose and pull the mask down over your chin.

A Fabric Face Mask

You are now ready to go.
Remember, staying at home is your best option.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Shrimp and Grits

They say that crazy times call for drastic measures but sometimes all you need is a little comfort food.  Today I'm sharing a comfort food recipe for just that reason. It's shrimp and grits and it will make you happy.

What's wonderful about this recipe is that unlike many comfort foods it is also quick and easy to prepare. You can make this dinner in about thirty minutes.

Comforting Shrimp and Grits

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Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits is a flexible recipe.  You can make any number of adjustments to suit your tastes.  Consider my recipe a starting point and make it your own.

Bob's Red Mill Yellow Corn Grits make delicious grits. It was the only brand I was able to find on a very brief shopping trip but I recommend this brand for this recipe.  The corn flavor in these grits is perfect. The back of the package has a number of alternatives for cooking he grits you can try, but I did it my way.

I used two kinds of cheese.  Cream cheese was one choice for its creaminess and bit of tang.  The other cheese was Cabot's Extra Sharp Cheddar, which I grated with a box grater. This combination was delicious but feel free to substitute any cheeses you prefer.

Shrimp and Grits
Jumbo shrimp are my choice for shrimp and grits. I had a two-pound package in my freezer.  They were the 16-21 shrimp per pound size and were perfect for this dish. I used Emeril's Essence to flavor the shrimp but Southwest seasoning or Creole seasoning would be delicious, too.

Any leftover grits are delicious for breakfast, topped with a fried or poached egg.  Yummy! You might want to double the grits recipe so you'll be sure to have leftovers.

Cooking Shrimp

Comforting Shrimp and Grits

Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4

Grits
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Grits
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Shrimp
  • 1-1/2 lbs-2 lbs shrimp (I like the 16-21 size)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp Emeril's Essence, or Southwest seasoning, or Creole seasoning
  • 3 scallions, chopped, both white and green parts (or chopped chives)
Directions
Toss the shrimp with the seasoning mix and set aside.

Heat the water and salt in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  Bring the water to a boil.  Add the grits, stirring to avoid clumps.  Reduce the heat to cook the grits gently for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the cheeses and stir until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Heat the olive oil in a 10-12 inch frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the shrimp to the pan, spreading the shrimp out evenly.

Cook until the shrimp turn pink and start to curl, about two minutes.  Turn the shrimp and cook the other side, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about two minutes more.

Combine the shrimp and onion mixture.  Scoop the grits into serving bowls and ops with the shrimp mixture.  Garnish with the chopped scallions or chives.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Five Ingredient Crispy Boneless Chicken Thighs Your Family Will Love



Does your family like chicken for dinner?  Chicken is a dinner favorite at my house.  In the past few years, I have been cooking more and more of our family dinners using boneless chicken thighs.

I think chicken thighs are more flavorful than chicken breasts so I started substituting chicken thighs in many recipes where I previously used chicken breasts.   My family and I liked our favorite chicken dishes with the chicken thighs. Now I find myself thinking about how many ways I can use chicken thighs.

Crispy Boneless Chicken Thighs


Crispy boneless chicken thighs
Crispy Boneless Chicken Thighs

This crispy boneless chicken thighs recipe is a favorite of mine.   It is a dish that is quick and easy to prepare and is packed with a lot of flavors.  Marinating the chicken thighs in an oil-based Italian salad dressing tenderizes and flavors the meat.  Coating the thighs in herb and Parmesan cheese flavored bread crumbs adds the crispy crunch and much more flavor.

With only five ingredients, this recipe for oven-baked chicken thighs only takes a couple of minutes to prepare. That makes this recipe perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.


The Best Boneless Chicken Thighs
I like to serve these crispy boneless chicken thighs with green beans and oven-roasted cauliflower, making this a healthy and well-balanced dinner.
Crispy Boneless Chicken Thighs

Crispy Boneless Chicken Thighs
Printer Friendly Recipe
Crispy Boneless chicken thighs for dinner
Crispy Chicken Thighs with Green Beans and Cauliflower
Serves 4


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup oil-based Italian salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs seasoning


Directions
Rinse the chicken thighs and pat them dry.  Place the thighs in a glass or ceramic dish and cover them with Italian dressing.

Make sure the thighs are well coated with the dressing.  Cover the dish and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with oil.

In a small bowl mix together the seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Italian herbs.  Pour the mixture onto a plate, coating each of the thighs completely in the mixture.

Place each prepared chicken thigh on the baking sheet.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the chicken thighs are browned and cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F.

Serve with your favorite sides.


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Enjoy!