The Closest We Get To Take Out: “Flex” Meals

I like to call the nights when I skip the menu plan and whip up something easy and quick “Flex Meals.” Really, it’s my way of almost not cooking- it’s as close as we can get to the convenience of take out.

Because y’all know…we don’t eat out anymore as a family! If it weren’t for our date nights or girl’s night out, I’d never eat out. SG doesn’t.

So, here’s how I’m able to throw together a flex meal, without doing much work.

1.  I keep a stocked freezer that includes cooked and cubed chicken portioned in one cup portions and pre-cooked and seasoned ground chuck, portioned in about 1/4 pound bags. I also keep Hormel cubed ham in the freezer.

Bags of pre-cooked and seasoned chicken & ground chuck

Bags of pre-cooked and seasoned chicken & ground chuck

2.  I always keep Mission flour fajita sized tortillas and Mission tortilla chips in the pantry.

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3. I keep frozen Daiya cheddar style shreds and Daiya mozzarella shreds in my freezer.

4. I keep frozen broccoli florets in the freezer- the steam in the bag kind.

5.  I keep Dole fruit in the little individual plastic containers stocked in the pantry.

These are the basics for my flex meals. With these, I can create:

  • Chicken & cheese nachos
  • Beef & cheese nachos
  • Ham & cheese nachos
  • Chicken & cheese quesadillas
  • Beef & cheese quesadillas
  • Ham & cheese quesadillas
  • Cheese quesadillas
  • Ham & cheese pizza tortillas

I can quickly and easily steam some broccoli in the bag and serve alongside any of the above. If I’m out of fresh fruit, then some drained Dole fruit will work.

These also make great lunches!

I put the ham and cheese in the tortilla frozen.  The skillet defrosts and heats it all.

I put the ham and cheese in the tortilla frozen. The skillet defrosts and heats it all.

I used leftover Mojo Pork Tenderloin & Daiya cheddar shreds in this quesadilla.

I used leftover Mojo Pork Tenderloin & Daiya cheddar shreds in this quesadilla.

Here’s how I pre-cook and stock my freezer with our favorite chicken recipe.  On the days I cook this chicken, the next day I always make a batch of this chicken and rice soup for the freezer.  I freeze it in portions big enough for me and SG to eat for lunch. Homemade frozen soup is another easy flex meal.

Here’s how I pre-cook and stock my freezer with ground chuck.

I know the days I’m knee deep in cooking, cubing, portioning, and freezing chicken or beef, I will appreciate it in the days to come.  And when I’m not feeling so hot or am just plain tired, I am so grateful for the meat I’ve cooked and frozen.

Do you have any easy “Flex Meals” to share?

Meat & “Cheesy Ranch” Rollup

Have y’all visited Once A Month Meals yet? Here’s their website:

onceamonthmeals.com

They have amazing recipes and they are all freezer friendly. Y’all know how much I love my freezer. It’s my best friend!

I saw a recipe on their site yesterday and I just had to try it right away. With modifications, of course!

Click here for the original recipe.

Here is how I made a dairy and egg free version of the Ham & Cheese Rollup.  Let’s call it Meat and “Cheesy Ranch” Rollup, though, because I think it will be just as yummy with shredded or cubed cooked chicken. I also omitted the broccoli, the healthiest part of the recipe. Feel free to add some broccoli or any other veggie you think will pare well with the ingredients.

This recipe calls for ranch dressing. And y’all! I made dairy and egg free ranch for the first time ever!!! And it was good! (This pic is not that great, but still, you get to see it. Doesn’t it look like ranch?)

Dairy & Egg Free Ranch!

Dairy & Egg Free Ranch!

So here is how we enjoyed a meat and “cheesy ranch” rollup kind of calzone looking thingamajig.

Meat & “Cheesy” Ranch Rollup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 recipe of homemade pizza dough (I throw it in the bread maker and use the “dough” setting.)
  • 2 cups of protein (I used cubed ham the first time. Next time I will use cubed chicken. Here’s how I cook and freeze my chicken.)
  • 2 cups of dairy free cheese (We use Daiya cheese. I made one with their “cheddar” shreds and one with the “mozzarella” shreds. The mozzarella one was better and I will only use mozzarella from now on. However, the cheddar was good, too. You decide!)
  • 1/2 cup of homemade dairy and egg free ranch (Use this recipe from OAMM. I used Just Mayo, a vegan mayo, to make it egg free. Click here to read how to find Just Mayo for just a dollar! I also used SO Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer for the milk. You can use any unflavored non-dairy milk.)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Split the homemade pizza dough into two equal parts. Flour your surface. Roll out two rectangles. I rolled until the dough seemed thin enough. I honestly don’t have a specific here.
  2. Spread out one cup of the meat and one cup of the cheese leaving a little space around the edges. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of ranch.  Repeat for second rectangular dough.
  3. Roll the pizza dough up like a jelly roll. OAMM has a nice photo showing how to do this. I didn’t take one. Sorry. 🙂
  4. Pinch the edges and squish them up tight. Flip your gigantic log seam side down. (Trust me on this. The first one I baked the seam was facing the side and a bunch of toppings spilled out!)
  5. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Mine ended up perfect at 28 minutes.
  6. Slice pieces off as needed and enjoy! I didn’t slice it all at once, which was perfect because we reheated it today for lunch in the oven. It was easier to reheat as a partial giant log instead of leftover slices.

This recipe yielded two generous “logs.”

Here’s what my final product looked like:

Ham, Mozzarella & Ranch Rollup

Ham, Mozzarella & Ranch Rollup

This one was NOT baked seam side down.  Oops!

This one was NOT baked seam side down. Oops!

A little slice of cheesy ranch deliciousness!

A little slice of cheesy ranch deliciousness!

Not pretty, but yummy! And HOMEMADE! Can we just all cheer please? NEVER in my life did I think I would make so many things from scratch. I was domestically challenged. Not so much anymore. 🙂

Anyway, this has inspired me to maybe try this on a smaller scale like hot pockets size. I’d love to have these frozen and ready to go for quick lunches. Maybe I’ll try it soon and I’ll let you know how it works.

In the meantime, break out the bread maker and try this recipe. You won’t regret it!

 

 

The Freezer is my Best Friend Part 4: Refried Beans & Freezer Burritos

I’ve been lazy in the blogging department lately. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head but haven’t sat down and tapped them all out.

My little blog has even quietly passed the one year mark. Happy blogging birthday to me!

Anyway, yesterday and today I’ve been motivated to get back into freezer cooking. Yesterday I made a batch of my delicious homemade soup for dinner and froze the rest for future meals. Hooray! (Click here for the recipe.)

Today, I made these delicious and oh so EASY refried beans from Ally’s Sweet and Savory Eats. Click here for her recipe. The only adaptation I make is to omit the red pepper flakes. SG and I don’t do spicy anything!

Seriously, if you like refried beans, you NEED to make these. Even if you “don’t cook”, these are super easy and a great place to start.

In the end, the refried beans recipe yielded 12 cups of refried beans! Wow. Such little effort for so much yummy goodness. I pretty much pureed my beans because the Huzz has ulcerative colitis and needs the beans pureed. You can have chunkier beans. Whatevs!

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I froze the refried beans in one cup portions…8 bags of them!!! I also used 4 cups of these beans to make homemade bean, “cheese”, and rice burritos. I used a few pins from Pinterest to inspire me. In the end, I made my own recipe. Here’s how I made my safe burritos.

Bean, Vegan Cheese, and Rice Burritos:
(Inspired and adapted from these blogs: Pennies and Pancakes & Money Saving Mom)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of Homemade Refried Beans
  • 2 cups of dry rice cooked and seasoned (I truly don’t know how much this yields. I use my rice cooker and the measuring cup it came with. I make two cups of dried rice which yields much more.)
  • 2-3 cups of Daiya cheddar shreds
  • Mission Tortillas

Directions:

  1. Make the rice. I do a VERY generous sprinkling of Adobo seasoning and a less generous sprinkle of dried cilantro.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the homemade refried beans & seasoned rice together.
  3. Put 1-2 tablespoons of bean and rice mixture in the tortilla. Top with a generous sprinkle of Daiya cheddar shreds. Roll the tortilla and place it seam side down on a cookie sheet.
  4. Heat the burritos until browned in the skillet or flash freeze in the freezer for a few hours. When the burritos are mostly frozen, wrap in plastic wrap or foil and then put them in a freezer ziploc bag or just double bag the burritos. Label, date, and freeze. When it’s time to eat, unwrap burritos, and heat these in the oven, on a skillet, or in a microwave.
  5. Serve with salsa for dipping.

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I ran out of plastic wrap.  Oops.

I ran out of plastic wrap. Oops.

This recipe yielded 27 burritos! I do use the smaller fajita style tortillas because I just love that size. If you use the larger burrito size tortillas, you’ll need to add more filling to your tortilla and end up with less burritos.

I’m so happy that I now have a few more healthier options for our lunches and dinners. In two days, I’ve stocked our freezer with homemade soup, refried beans, and homemade grab and go burritos that are safe for our little family.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do.

Dairy & Egg Free Beef Enchiladas

Safe and Yummy Enchiladas!

Safe and Yummy Enchiladas!

I’ll tell you up front.  This is not a super easy toss together recipe.  But it is worth the effort and DELICIOUS!  It’s one of the Huzz’s favorite meals! And little three year old SG, who doesn’t happily eat everything I make, GOBBLED this up and then asked for more. That’s the power of Daiya cheese!

I’ve modified it slightly from Onceamonthmeals.com.  Click here to see the original recipe.

I used the OAMM (Once A Month Meals) recipe as a guide. Here’s how I make dairy and egg free enchiladas:

Allergy Friendly Beef Enchiladas

Ingredients:

Directions:

These come straight from the OAMM website.  The tricky part was finding all of the substitutions.  Here’s how OAMM says to make the enchiladas:

“Preheat oven to 350F. If you haven’t done so already, brown ground beef and drain grease. In a large bowl, combine beef, taco seasoning, cream of chicken soup, sour cream and 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese. Fill the center of a tortilla shell with filling, and roll up. Place seam side down in a greased 8X8 foil baking pan. Repeat with remaining shells and filling. Each 8X8 pan should contain 5 enchiladas. Pour enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas, and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over top. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake covered at 350F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream and lettuce if desired.”

We leave out the extra “sour cream” and lettuce and just pig out on these enchiladas! Make sure you use the alternative soup in place of the cream of chicken soup, faux sour cream in place of real sour cream, and the Daiya cheddar shreds instead of cheddar cheese.

Check out the original post to read how to freeze these delicious little babies! Personally, I’ve never frozen any because we eat them all in two days. There are never any extras to freeze!!!

Random Thoughts:
When you make the enchilada sauce and the alternative cream of chicken soup, you have enough to make another batch another day. So, yes, you have to do quite a bit of work for these enchiladas, but the good news is next time you make them you won’t have to! Just freeze the remaining portions and do a quick defrost in the microwave. I made these today and it was so much faster making them this time using my extra enchilada sauce and cream of soup.

My frozen "cream of chicken" alternative and homemade enchilada sauce.

My frozen “cream of chicken” alternative and homemade enchilada sauce.

I have only made beef enchiladas but I bet these would also be equally delicious with some pre-cooked chicken- cubed or shredded!

Last random thought- Today, I had a little bit of leftover Daiya Havarti style jalapeno garlic “cheese”. I added it to the creamy mixture and it gave it an even creamier, almost cream cheese like taste (with a little kick!). Mmmmm!

“Cheesy” Taco Stuffed Crescent Rolls: Dairy & Egg Free

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I love Pinterest. I was inspired by this chimichanga pin, which only had some ingredients listed. When I clicked on the link, it only showed a photo. (I wasn’t sure which flour tortillas were safe for us, so I decided to improvise and use crescent rolls instead. The pin didn’t include any measurements, either.) But it sounded so delicious so I experimented and figured out what works for us. That plus the dairy substitutes equals one of my new favorite easy lunch or dinner recipes! (If you are not dairy free then use regular cream cheese and cheddar cheese!)

I have made this three times in about two weeks. I have used chopped frozen chicken (click here to read how I cook and freeze chicken) and frozen pre-cooked ground chuck (click here to read how I prepare the ground chuck.) The recipe is equally delicious with chicken or beef!

“Cheesy” Taco Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 roll of Pillsbury crescent rolls (easiest option), crescent rounds, or the crescent seamless dough
  • 1 container of Daiya plain cream cheese style spread
  • 1/2 cup of Daiya cheddar style shreds
  • 1 cup of pre-cooked chicken or pre-cooked ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon of homemade taco seasoning (click here to see the recipe I use from 100 Days of Real Food)

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a medium sized bowl, scoop about 1/3 of the Daiya cream cheese style spread, three small handfuls of the Daiya cheddar style shreds or about 1/2 cup, 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning, and your frozen meat. Mix well. You may have to put this in the microwave for 10-15 seconds if you cannot easily mix this.

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3. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Spread out crescent dough. Put two spoonfuls of taco meat mixture in each crescent roll. If you have remaining taco mixture after you’ve done all eight cresent rolls, go back and add more to each crescent roll. Close the crescent rolls.

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4. Bake for approximately 13 minutes. Enjoy the “cheesy” yumminess!