A freezer side dish: 24 Twice Baked Potatoes

My chicken braid was lonely in my oven so I decided to throw 24 small russet potatoes alongside and cheer it up. I baked them for 1 hour and my plan initiated two different sides which I’ll post separately. Today, I’m sharing how I make my twice baked potatoes using very few ingredients. It’s basically making mashed potatoes with cheese and placing them back inside the skin. It just looks impressive, like you spent a lot of time on it for guests. hint, hint.

I begin by slicing about 1/2″ off the top off each potato. Since these are small potatoes, they didn’t need to cool long to handle. I allowed mine to cool about 5-10 minutes and then I prepared two piles of potatoes, hollowed and the tops for cheesy potato skins. I use a melon baller for this because it’s got a somewhat sharper edge than a kitchen spoon. However, a small kitchen spoon will work. Hollow each potato leaving about 1/4″ inside.

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Place the potato flesh inside a large mixing bowl and proceed to add hot milk (microwave for a minute), sour cream, butter, cheese, salt and pepper.  Mash with a mixer on low-speed for a minute and proceed to mix on high for about 2 minutes.

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Place potato mixture back into skins using a cookie scoop.  I put all of mine into an aluminum tray for flash freezing (freezing for about 2 hours).

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Once they’re frozen, I place them in labeled quart size bags (gallon works too) and add this side dish to my freezer inventory.

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Don’t forget to save those skins. Allow them to fully cool and put them in quart size bags and freeze. These will make great potato cheese skins on another night. Just don’t throw them away.

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Printable Twice Baked Potatoes recipe and Cheesy potato Skins

I call these toddler spuds. They’re just the right size a side dish.  However, you could dress these potatoes up with cubed ham, convenience chicken, or frozen broccoli. I suggest bigger spuds for more ingredients. Send these to a neighbor or friend in an aluminum pan labeled with the thawing and cooking instructions along with a bag salad. They’ll think you’re the best cook ever and it’s just a spud.

What are your best spud filling ideas? We’d love to be a community of spud lovers.

Chicken Braid from homemade brioche dough

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I’ve discovered the easiest crescent dough ever. It’s made in a plastic shoe box and you don’t even have to knead it. The dough is called brioche and it has all the endless possibilities as regular crescent dough AND it’s freezer friendly. Imagine having this dough available in your fridge at all time, just like Pillsbury crescents. It has a 5 day shelf life unless frozen. I tested the freezer method using 2-1 pound packages. I thawed them the night before I was planning this recipe, chicken braid. It works just like the store-bought seamless crescent roll package.

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I grabbed my bag of convenience chicken and brioche dough from the thawing box in the fridge. I dusted my baking stone and the dough with flour and proceeded to roll it into a flat rectangle. It’s a bit stickier than store-bought, so don’t be afraid to add the flour. Roll with a rolling pin-it’s like play-dough. Have fun.

My filling consisted of  1 1/2 cups of cooked diced chicken, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1 cup of cheddar cheese and a small handful of fresh chopped spinach. Broccoli works too, I’ve made it this way. I also added finely diced bell pepper, but the possibilities are endless. Think hot pocket fillings. Or go fancy and use a Pampered Chef recipe (I’ve used the one with the lemon rind and minced garlic before). Notice one side has the spinach and one side doesn’t. My kids oppose spinach so I made theirs with chicken and cheese and added the veggies to the other half in the bowl. The filling goes right down the middle and I cut strips on both sides with a pizza wheel.

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Next, I alternate the strips, just like I do for stromboli. They crisscross one strip at a time. No worries, if you come up odd on one end.

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Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, depending how much filling you have inside. You want it to be a golden brown and the filling to be nice and hot. Frozen veggies take longer to warm up.

Printable Brioche recipe. You’re on your own for the filling or use my idea above.

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Extra slices can be cooled and plastic wrapped, frozen for future lunches or quick individual dinners. What you don’t have any extra slices? We didn’t because I didn’t make two braids, but next time, I am definitely doing this. I did double bubble and reheat our twice baked potatoes from the freezer while the braid baked-recipe coming soon.

Enjoy a night off if you’ve baked an extra one of these delicious braids. Thaw 24 hours in the fridge and reheat in foil for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy with a bagged salad or deliver this unique meal to someone. Do you have some filling ideas for a chicken braid? We’d love to hear them.

Mexican Black Bean and Corn Casserole

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Don’t you need a night off from cooking? Sure, we all do and this casserole is so easy to whip up from pantry staples, like corn, black beans, tomatoes. Mix in some mexican cheese and voila, you have a meatless mexican meal to serve a king.  We make this NO COOK recipe in freezer cooking class and the ladies go home and stash one in their freezer. It’s beneficial to make two casseroles; I call it “double bubble”. Eat one for dinner and freeze the other. This is an easy casserole to freeze because there is no browning meat or boiling pasta, which makes it QUICKER to throw together. So why not make three if you plan ahead and buy the ingredients? Some of you meat eaters out there might want to throw in some cooked taco meat or chicken, but it really tastes hearty without. Black beans is always a protein winner and it takes about 5 minutes to assemble!

If you plan ahead, you can thaw your convenience frozen black beans anduse your homemade taco seasoning to make a this casserole one night this week and freeze an extra for a meal later this month. Pair it with a salad and/or cheese quesadillas for the kiddos and take a night off (or 2 nights if you’ve frozen an extra).

Mexican Black Bean Casserole

Tip: Buy rarely used spices from bulk section in Earth fare. You can buy only a tablespoon or two and pay a fraction of the cost. Buy frequently used spices wholesale. It will save you a ton of money in the long run.

Ingredients

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed or 16oz. frozen corn
  • 1 small onion, chopped or 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 Tablespoon homemade or store-bought taco seasoning
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained {or 2-14.5 oz cans}
  • 1-4 oz. can chopped green chilies
  • 8-10 small corn tortillas
  • 2 cups four cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F .
  2. Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Place 2-3 tortillas in the bottom of 9x13 or crock pot.
  4. Spoon 1//2 cup of the bean mixture on top.
  5. Repeat 2-3 times more, ending with beans mixture.
  6. Top with 1/2 cup of cheese.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or crock on low for 2 hours until hot and bubbly.
  8. Freezing Directions: Cover with labeled foil and freeze.Thaw for 24 hours and bake covered at 400 for 40 minutes.
  9. Serving Suggestions: Garnish with sour cream or guacamole. Serve with green salad and/or vegetable, Mexican rice, tortilla chips and salsa.
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Have you made an easy 5-minute prep dinner?

 

Crock pot Italian Beef

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Do you like sandwiches? If the answer is yes, try this hot sandwich. It’s made with roast cooked in your crock pot all day. You can buy a bottom round or chuck roast. The bottom round is leaner with less fat. I bought a bottom round specifically for the sandwich and not the usual pot roast with vegetables. However, I recommend enjoying a pot roast first if you’re family likes it and then making these tasty sandwiches with the leftovers. You can freeze your pot roast leftovers and then thaw the shredded meat later to make these.

Italian beef sandwiches

You begin with the seasonings. I use minced onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and Italian seasoning. Click on the printable recipe at the end of the post for the exact measurements. I drizzle the top with olive oil.

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Cook on high for 8 hours. I went ahead and shredded the meat with two forks once it had cooked about 6 hours so it didn’t dry out.

It will look like this once it’s shredded, unless you keep it in tact to eat as pot roast first. Then shred it later and cool it completely before you bag it for the freezer.  It looks like we can have this meal two additional times or I can vary it up by adding BBQ sauce, top it with slaw or serve it in a wrap.

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Crock pot Italian Beef
 

Ingredients
  • 3 pound boneless bottom round or chuck roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Olive oil

Instructions
  1. Drizzle olive oil on top of roast. Pour water in the bottom of crock pot. Sprinkle all the seasonings on top of the roast.
  2. Cover and cook on high 6-8 hours. Shred meat with two forks during the last two hours and submerge in the au jus. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and fill buns of your choice.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese and broil on high. Sandwiches can be served with au jus on the side if desired.
  4. Cool and bag leftover meat for the freezer. Use for sandwiches again or bbq or wraps.

This recipe is linked to Tasty Tuesday What’s on Your plate? and It’s a Keeper

How would you serve your Italian Beef?