Baked Ravioli

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Oh my this turned out so good.  The family loved it.  Simmering the sauce can take some extra time but if that can be done ahead of time, this would be a quick dish to assemble on a busy weeknight.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 pounds store-bought frozen ravioli
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add oregano, basil and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (pasta will continue to cook in oven). Drain pasta; return to pot.
Toss sauce with pasta. Pour pasta into a large gratin dish or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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Banana Nut Bread

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I had a surplus of bananas and instead of letting them go to waste, I made Banana Nut Bread. It has got to be one of my all around favorites. I enjoy a slice of it in the morning along with my cup of tea. This recipe makes 1 loaf. If you want 2 loaves just double the recipe.

1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ripe large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack in middle position. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.

Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Let cool and then chop coarsely.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients (banana mixture) into the dry ingredients just until combined and the butter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over mix the batter. You do not want it smooth. Over mixing the batter will yield tough, rubbery bread.) Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. This bread can be frozen.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

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This is an excellent recipe. It can be frozen or prepared a day ahead of time and baked the next day. I did change the original recipe, mainly because I thought it was lacking in Italian seasonings. My changes will be in parenthesis next to the original ingredients.

9 lasagna noodles, cooked (I only cooked 8 because that was all I could reasonably fit into a 13×9 pan)
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained (I bought a bag of fresh baby spinach and sauteed it in a skillet with some olive oil)
15 oz. fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
32 oz. tomato sauce (I used 24 oz. of tomato sauce in this recipe but next time I am going to use Marinara sauce.)
3 oz. part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. (I think I will also add a little basil and oregano to this mixture.) Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over noodles in the baking dish and top each on with 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Bread Machine Challah Bread

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Easy, easy Challah Bread, perfect along with soup or in this case, Turkey and Dumplings! This is wonderful straight out of the oven with butter spread on it!

3/4 cup warm water about 110 degrees F
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons yeast
Egg Wash: (you don’t have to put this on if you don’t want to)
2-3 large egg yolks (freeze the whites and use it for something else)
2 tablespoons water
Topping: sesame or poppy seeds

Lightly grease or line with parchment paper one or two baking sheets. (I am using a Silpat baking mat). Add warm water, egg, vegetable oil, salt, flour, sugar, honey and yeast to bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select the Dough Cycle of your machine. Start the cycle.

When the dough cycle is complete, remove dough from machine to a lightly floured work surface. Punch dough down and let rest for 5 minutes. Knead dough a little bit to make it easier to handle. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece into a 20 inch long rope. Put the ropes on the prepared baking sheet. Braid the ropes. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under dough. Cover dough with a cotton cloth and let it rise for 45-50 minutes.

Brush loaf with egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until it is done. Cool on wire rack.

Bread may be frozen after it has cooled. Wrap loaf in foil then place in a ziplock freezer bag. Label and date. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1 hour at room temperature before serving.

Bread Machine Dinner Rolls

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These rolls are so easy to make because the bread machine does most of the work.  They taste wonderful too.  These can be made ahead of time and frozen if needed.

Here is the recipe for a 1 1/2 pound bread maker.  It makes about 1 1/2 dozen rolls.

½ c. milk
¼ c. water
3 rounded tbsp. butter
1 large egg
2 rounded tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 c. bread flour
2 ½ tsp. bread machine yeast

Egg Glaze
Lightly beat 1 egg with 1 tbsp. water

Select recipe size recommended by the manufacturer of your bread machine. Add all ingredients except Egg glaze into bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer. Process in dough/manual cycle. When cycle is complete, remove dough to lightly floured surface. If necessary, knead in enough flour to make dough easy to handle. Divide dough into 8 (12) greased 2 ½ inch muffin pan cups. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. Brush Egg Glaze on rolls. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until done. Remove from cups; cool on wire rack.

Sweet Potato Rum Casserole

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This is a recipe that I have had for a long long time.  I don’t remember where I originally got the recipe but I always fix it for Thanksgiving.  I made the recipe below except I didn’t bake it. The casserole mixture was frozen.   The day before Thanksgiving I will thaw this in the refrigerator and then bake it on Thanksgiving.  Marshmallows are added the last 5-10 minutes of baking.

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup dark rum
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (use the real stuff, not imitation)
Mini-marshmallows

Combine first 7 ingredients, mixing well.  Spoon into lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole.   Bake uncovered at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes.  Arrange marshmallows on top and continue baking until marshmallows are lightly brown.

Pumpkin Pie

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Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without the pumpkin pie.  It is a fav with the family.  A few posts back I was saying that I wanted to cook most of the Thanksgiving dinner ahead of time and freeze it.  My first dish was the freezable mashed potatoes.  Now I have made two pumpkin pies and I am freezing those.  All I did was follow the recipe on the back of the can of pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie freezes great and all you have to do is let it thaw before serving.  Can’t get any easier than that!

Potato Water Bread

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What to do??  What to do??  I just hate throwing out all that potato water.  You know, the water left from boiling potatoes? That water has a wonderful potato flavor and I always hate to just throw it all out.  So I did a quick search on the good ole Internet to find recipes using potato water.  I found one that I wanted to try.  It is Potato Bread.  I thought a fresh loaf of bread would be good to eat with dinner and I had all the ingredients so I didn’t have to go shopping for it.  It turned out wonderful!  It filled the house with the great smell of freshly baked bread.  It was even better just out of the oven/machine with butter spread on it!

So keep that potato water!  You never know what really good things you can make from it!

Freezable Mashed Potatoes

I hope to have most of the Thanksgiving meal fixed ahead of time.  I want to spend my time visiting with company instead of cooking in the kitchen.  I am going to cook the turkey on Thanksgiving day.  There is just something to be said about the wonderful smell of turkey that goes through the house.  If you want to follow along, I will be cooking other dishes for Thanksgiving and freezing them.  After Thanksgiving I will be preparing for Christmas and cooking freezable goodies.

The first thing I am cooking and freezing ahead of time is mashed potatoes.  I have never tried this recipe but it seems like it would work.  I froze all the mashed potatoes together because I am having quite a few people for Thanksgiving but you can freeze this in smaller containers that is more meal sized for your family.

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5 pounds of potatoes
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pinch of paprika

Peel potatoes. Boil in water until soft. Drain. In a large bowl combine potatoes, egg, garlic powder, salt, cream cheese and milk. Mash by hand or with an electric mixer. Freeze potatoes at this point. I put mine in a ziplock freezer bag. May put potatoes into smaller freezer bags.

Cooking directions: Thaw potatoes. Place in a 3 qt. buttered casserole dish. Drizzle butter over top of potatoes and sprinkle paprika on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until top is golden.

7 Meals in 2 hours including the shopping!!

I thought I would give this slow cooker recipes for the freezer a try.  You know the kind.  Dump some food in a freezer bag and freeze it.  Thaw it out and cook it in the slow cooker.  Sounded easy enough for me, so I thought I would give it a whirl.  First thing I did was surf the Internet for recipes and there sure are a lot of recipes.  I had to decided which recipes I would fix.  I decided to make 7 dinners.  It took me about 2 hours to put them together and that includes the shopping.

First meal was putting spare ribs and barbeque sauce in a freezer bag.  Squish it together and freeze it.  When you are ready to cook it, take it out of the freezer the night before and thaw it in the refrigerator.  The next morning put it in the slow cooker and cook it on Low for 8 hours.  Cheesy Hashbrown Potato Casserole would be good with the ribs.  It is a freezable dish.

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Second meal I cooked was Poppyseed Chicken.  I went ahead and started cooking that for dinner now and decided not to freeze it mainly because it has sour cream in it.  The recipe didn’t say this but lightly salt and pepper the chicken before placing in slow cooker.  I know the chicken isn’t salt and peppered in the picture but do as I say, not as I do.  Still this dish needs something else.  I think I might try a slice of bacon on top of the chicken next time and see if that adds to the flavor.  I don’t know maybe it’s just me but I thought this dish was a bit bland if cooked according to the recipe.

The third and fourth meals were Chicken Delicious.  I made two bags of that and put it in the freezer.

The last chicken meal I made was Dijon Chicken.

Then I made 2 more meals using ground beef, Casserole Spaghetti and Mexican Casserole.

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OK, so step 1:  I labeled all the freezer bags.

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Step 2:  I put all the meat in the bags.

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Step 3:  Poured barbeque sauce in with the spare ribs and froze the bag.  By the way, the Head Country Barbeque Sauce in the picture is the best sauce hands down, just sayin’.
Step 4:  Cut up all the green peppers and added it to the dishes.
Step 5:  Cut up all the onions and added it to the dishes.
Step 6:  Cut up the celery and added it to the dish.
Step 7:  Added any canned goods to the meals.
Step 8:  Added any seasoning to the meals.
Step 9:  Seal the bags, squish the bags and freeze!

And I was done, easy, easy, easy!  Now I hope my family likes them.  This will be great to have on hand for the busy holiday season that is coming up.

Here is a great article on 31 Things You Can Freeze.  I think I am going to get busy and start freezing!!  First thing may be making up a batch of waffles!  Yum!

Oh I forgot to add:  do not buy the frozen chicken breasts for slow cooker recipes.  Only buy fresh chicken breasts to use in the slow cooker recipes.  The frozen chicken usually has a layer of ice around it and it will produce too much liquid in your dish.  Your dishes will turn out too watery.