Tag: kitchen

Tried and true simple weeknight meals

March 31
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30 minute or less! Tried and true easy weeknight meals. I have tried and loved all of these super simple recipes. 30 minutes or less and slow cooker options. AmberDowns.net

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been going through a huge cooking slump.  I am sick of the meals we make but am not interested in learning fancy new meals.  A few months ago I had an inspired week and tried out some simple new recipes and loved them.  Have I gone back and made them again?  No, because I am not smart sometimes.  Anyways, I wanted to share them here as tested and approved simple meals and maybe remind myself about them so that I can try them again next week.  Wish me luck, won’t you?

 

Anyways, without further ado, here are 5 simple meals that are perfect for weeknights.  They do not require special ingredients and, with the exception of the crock pot meals, can be make in 30 minutes or less.  Myself (and sometimes my husband) enjoyed each of these meals and I am looking forward to making them all again.

 

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Crockpot Enchilada Quinoa

This simple meal has become one of go to ideas for dinners and lunches.  Because this is a casserole  type dish it freezes super easy.  I grab a container of it out of the freezer, grab some sour cream, and am ready for lunch at work.  Bonus:  Check pinterest for a enchilada sauce recipe, its super easy!  Don’t have time for the crockpot? Do it in a rice cooker(this is my method) or cook the quinoa on the stove and then bake for 30 minutes in the oven.

 

 

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15 Minute Lo-Mein

This is seriously the easiest, healthiest recipe ever. I grabbed whatever veggies I had in the house and threw them in.  Super fresh and you can make it a different meal every time by switching up the vegetables.

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Honey Lemon Chicken and Pasta

I love how impressive this meal looks.  Fresh lemon and herbs?  It looks like it took all day but really I was done in less than 30 minutes.  I enjoyed it with angel hair pasta and my husband preferred rice.  If you reheat the leftovers in the microwave at work be prepared for questions from staff who are following their nose.

 

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Four Ingredient Baked Pork Chops

I made this recipe with thin pork loin and it was delish.  I love sliced pork loin for a super quick meal, but I am always looking for a new way to prepare it.  This was moist and hearty.  Pair it with peas and applesauce for a trip down memory lane.

 

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Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Crock pot meal?  Count me in.  This was another simple fresh meal that I will be making again and again.  THe fruit  give it a fresh and fancy taste and the crock pot makes it a winner.

 

 

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Upright freezer organization

January 20
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Organize your freezer with dollar tree baskets. DIY budget friendly deep upright freezer organization. Keep your freezer clutter free on the cheap. Perfect for couponers, buying in bulk, families, and anyone else.

I have to admit it, my upright freezer is one of my most prized possessions.  This is of the modern marvels that really makes my days easy.  I do a lot of couponing, so when I find a great deal I love to stock up.  This saves me money and time.  I love having a stockpile of items on hand to make whatever dishes I desire.  Because of my freezer, I can do this.

 

 

I keep items in my freezer organized in plastic bins from Dollar Tree.  Before you go out to buy your bins be sure to measure the size of your freezer to ensure that the bins you purchase will fit your shelves.  Also, check the width if you want two side by side.  I purchased these bins over the last year at my local Dollar Tree.  Check yours to see what they have but make sure they will fit.  Target, Walmart, and other discount stores will also have bins of varying sizes.  If you like, you can make labels for your bins.  I just keep them in the same spot so I don’t need them.

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I divide items in my freezer into five categories.

Meat
Veggies (these take up 2 bins)
Fruit and veggies for smoothies
Dairy (shredded cheese and butter freeze wonderfully)
Meals (frozen meatballs, ravioli, turkey burgers, ect.)

I keep the bottom shelf in my freezer bin free.  This is where I keep our frozen lunches.  When I cook a dish I freeze several servings in individual containers.  My husband and I then use these for lunches at work. I like to keep anywhere from 2-12 servings of meals on that shelf and on the door.  We also keep other random homemade frozen items on the shelf such as our meat and bean taco mix and our salsa. I also keep bulk meat purchases on this shelf.  As you can see, I recently ran into a sale on ground turkey.  I have rain checks to pick up more when I get more space.

I chose a chilly winter day to organize my freezer because I live in Florida and the food will start to melt any other day.  Anyways, go through your freezer and toss out anything you deep down you will never use or is just too old to be any good.  I recommend thoroughly going through your freezer every 6 months to toss anything that is too old or you no longer need. Also, this is a good time to check if it needs to be defrosted.  My freezer is a frost free model, but they all still should be unpacked and looked at.

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My last piece of advice for your freezer is to invest in a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.  I keep mine hanging right in front.  This way, you can open your freezer and feel safe knowing it is working properly.  If you ever see that mercury (or whatever they use these days) rise, then you know you might have a problem on your hands.  I keep my deep freezer at below 0 degrees fahrenheit as is recommended by the FDA.  As you can see my thermometer has a nice bold line to remind me of the temperature to keep. It really helps!

 

You may also want to consider investing in a freezer alarm to alert you if the temperature drops.

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Simple Smoothies

October 20
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Simple Green Smoothies

 

I get a lot of questions about the smoothies my husband and I make so I figured I’d make a post about our system.  Because it’s so easy we have no problem whipping them up before work in the mornings.  We blend in a Ninja blender with the personal smoothie cups.  This is mostly because someone broke the large pitcher and blade by blending a spoon while sick.  We won’t name names of course.  Anyways, we hadn’t used the personal cups much before so when we switched to them it was new.  Personally, (heh) I like them better as they seem to get a smoother blend.  Basically though, use whatever blender you have, I am not going to go tell you to spend $300 on one.

All of our smoothies are green smoothies.  This means we start with a hearty base of mixed greens.  Our favorites are spinach and kale.  We also use collard greens from time to time.  The kale is a little tart so we do a half and half ratio with spinach.  We purchase these in large bags pre washed and then stick them in the freezer.  You are also welcome to use fresh. The recipe we are going over today is for one 12 oz smoothie.  We use 1 cup of spinach and 1 cup of kale as this green base.

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We then add 1/2 to 1 cup water.  After adding the water you will notice that the greens kinda smoosh (yes, this is the official word) to the bottom.  This is good.  Now you have room for everything else. Make sure you put in enough water to smoosh them and almost cover the greens.  This isn’t a science to you may have to play with it.  You can always add more later.  Now this is always where I get asked about why we use water.  The simple answer is I’m lazy.  Water is free, its right next to the blender, and its 0 calories.  Why not use water?  I mean really.

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Next is your banana.  We use a whole banana in each smoothie.  You are welcome to use 1/2 or less, but this is what we like.  The banana gives the smoothie that good thick texture and its a great source of sweetness next to that kale.

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Now comes the fun part.  This is where you add your extra fruit for flavor. Today I used avocado and mango.  Strawberries, blueberries, peanut butter, and apple are other ingredients we enjoy regularly.

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We use chia seeds in all our smoothies as an extra umph.  Curious?  Here is a nice article explaining the benefits.  Around 1 Tablespoon is good. Whatever you do, don’t add these first if you’re using a small blender cup.  They will get stuck on the bottom and never get into the smoothie.

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Now we put on the lid and buzz!  Make sure you run your blender for long enough to get a nice fine blend. This is a smoothie, not a chunky.  Also, if your greens are bunching up at the top of the blender, go ahead and shake them down (with the lid on.)

 

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After you are done blending pour into your favorite up and enjoy!  If your smoothie is too thick add a little water and blend again and you’re good to go.

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So what do you think?  Do you make smoothies at home?  If so what do you do differently?  Any great ideas I need to try?

 

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