Archive for May, 2012


Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate chips, chocolate and white, fill these yummy loaves. This is an extra yummy recipe to end Money Saving Mom’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer series. I doubled this recipe, altered it a little, and made two loaves, one with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and one with white chocolate chips. I didn’t use nuts because there are nut haters among us here at the Frugal and Healthful house. I feel an addition of walnuts or pecans would have been delicious.

Chocolate Banana Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 large ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips stirred into each pan

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Stir the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, applesauce and vanilla. Carefully fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour into a greased loaf pan. Lightly mix in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 65 minutes until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and wrap in plastic wrap and foil or in a zip top bag. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Adapted from Joy of Baking

You could just smell the dark chocolate of the cocoa as I sliced into these loaves. I decided to slice half of each loaf and wrap the remaining bread for the freezer.

What’s in  your freezer?

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Our menu seems to change with the seasons, just like the weather. I suppose that’s true for most families. As it warms up outside we eat more salads and cold side dishes, we grill more, and we picnic and camp.

This Weeks Supper Menu

Sunday – Picnic with extended family – Cheeseburgers, hotdogs, smoked sausage, peirogies, potato salad, baked beans, pickle boats (dill pickles stuffed with egg salad and topped with green olive slices), fruit tray with yogurt dip, brownies, and chips. Wow! Can anyone say, “Help roll me to the car after it’s over.”? 🙂

Monday – Picnic leftovers

Tuesday – Grilled chicken topped spring mix salad, raw baby carrots

Wednesday – Oatmeal Pancakes, sliced fruits

Thursday – Panko crusted Provolone stuffed chicken breasts, whole grain pasta and sauce, spring mix salad

Friday – Campfire cookout – Cheeseburgers, homemade potato salad, beans

Saturday – Pizza mountain pies (bread, pizza sauce, pizza cheese, and optional pepperoni) made in a mountain pie maker over hot campfire coals, salads, s’mores

In case you didn’t notice, I can tell you that the calorie count for the campfire cookout food is through the roof. Fortunately we seem to burn a lot of calories when we camp. We rarely sit around, unless it’s around the campfire after it’s dark. We hike, swim, and enjoy the great outdoors. Pick up any hiking book and the author often warns about dieting or cutting calories while camping or hiking. It’s just not the time, especially if you are planning a long hike. I’m sure there is a much more healthful menu plan, such as chicken and fish. Let’s just say we are expecting company and the company is expecting the higher calorie fare. 😉 We’ll have to eat the healthful food at the other meals.

What’s on your menu?

These are delicious!

You can find the original recipe for these on Money Saving Mom and the 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer series. If you read down through the comments of the original recipe you can see where others changed things a bit. I ended up tweaking the recipe to make it just a little bit more healthful. Remember these are freezer friendly, which helps with portion control. 😉 Thank you Crystal for sharing this. It is definitely a keeper.

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 (15 oz.) can solid pack pumpkin

1/2 cups oil

1 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 package chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 16-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Makes 24-30 muffins. I filled mine enough to make 24 muffins and baked for 18 minutes.

You could make this recipe even more healthful by experimenting with a mixture of whole grain flour instead of all white flour. An addition of ground flax could also be considered as well as substituting raisins for the chocolate chips, or using less chocolate chips. If you should try any alterations let us know how it worked out for you.

Pizza Two Ways

It’s pool cover removal day, and such an exciting event because it signifies the beginning of the summer season for me and mine. We enlist the help of a few willing volunteers, if any have the time. This year my son and his beautiful wife will be helping with the task. We appreciate the help and what a better way to say thank you than a pizza party, as son was nice enough to come over directly after a very long workday.

The Pizza Dough is from Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer Series.

Freezer-Friendly Homemade Pizza Dough

  • 2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
  • 2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 Tablespoons oil (vegetable, Canola, or olive oil)
  • 5 cups flour (can use all whole-wheat, half white/half whole-wheat, or all white)

Pour the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir to dissolve.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix.

Dump onto a floured surface and knead dough for two to five minutes until smooth and no longer sticky.

To freeze: Cut lump of dough in half and place each half in an airtight freezer bag. Freeze for up to 4-6 weeks.

To bake: Place frozen dough in a greased bowl and thaw at room temperature for at least 3-4 hours. Roll out and shape onto a greased pizza pan.

Add pizza toppings of your choice. Bake at 500 degrees for around 10 minutes (until the crust looks crispy and lightly browned).

If you don’t want to mess with freezing the dough, take the kneaded dough and roll out and shape onto a greased pizza pan. Add pizza toppings and bake as directed above.

BBQ Chicken and Caramelized Onion Pizza

I prebake my dough for about five minutes. I find it all cooks better and you don’t have to worry so much about sogginess. If you do this you may have to reduce your baking time or bake at a lower temp. I found that about 15 minutes at 425 worked out fine.

Caramelize a large onion in about 2 Tbsp olive oil. The trick here is to cook it low and slow.

I had the chicken tucked away in the freezer. I had sautéed pieces of boneless skinless breasts, the ones that were too small to pound and make Panko crusted, stuffed chicken. To these I had added a little McCormick BBQ seasoning.

When your onions are done, cook your chicken pieces and season.

I like to put a light layer of cheese down first. We chose a cheddar jack mixture. I topped that with about half a bottle of our favorite BBQ sauce. You could certainly make your own. Then layer the chicken, onions and more cheese.

Meatball Provolone Pizza

We had leftover meatballs and provolone cheese from our meatball sandwich supper the other night. I added some canned, diced tomatoes to the sauce to stretch it. Spread the sauce and broken up meatballs over the pizza. Cover with Parmesan and Provolone cheese. Bake same as above.

Yum!

If you are a daily reader you know I’ve been following along with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer series. This week we’ve been filling our freezer with desserts and snacks. We’ve had our fill of sweets for the week here at the Frugal and Healthful house. So far we’ve sampled oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and energy bites. We’re into the holiday weekend now and a picnic tomorrow will mean the traditional brownie dessert too, so no sweets today. We’ll continue next week with Sweet Saturday.

In the meantime, I missed one of the supper freezer cooking sessions due to a lack of yeast. You can read about that fiasco here. Today I have all of the ingredients I need to make pizza dough for supper and for the freezer too. Later we’ll be creating a BBQ Chicken and Caramelized Onion Pizza. Yum! Be sure to check back later for the recipe and photos.

No Bake Energy Bites

Here’s a no bake treat to keep you going this holiday weekend plus have some to stash away in your freezer for another time. Are you following along with Money Saving Mom and the 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer series? You will find several freezable snack and/or dessert ideas there, and most of them contain chocolate.

This is a double recipe. I made half for now and the rest to freeze.

2 cups oatmeal
1 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
2/3 cup honey
2 cups coconut flakes
1 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla
Mix everything above in a large bowl until thoroughly incorporated.
Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy!
Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. I threw some in a zip top bag to freeze too.
This doubled recipe made 38 energy bites. I may have went a bit large. 😉 Thank you Smashed Peas & Carrots for such a yummy recipe.
You know what I love about these? Your family will be eating ground flaxseed and won’t even know it. Ground flaxseed contains fiber, 4 grams in two tablespoons. To show you a comparison, 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal contains the same amount of fiber. Flaxseed contains high levels of antioxidants called lignans which can help prevent unchecked cell growth. Were you aware that your body cannot make omega-3? You need to get it from a food source or take a supplement. When you hear omega-3 you usually also hear fish oil right along with it. Flaxseed is an excellent source of the plant version of omega-3, a.k.a alpha-linolenic acid. OK, enough with the scientific jargon. It’s good for you. Eat more ground flaxseed!

Strawberry Shortcake

Berry picking time is just around the corner. What a fun, inexpensive excuse for a family outing! Here’s a recipe to keep in mind when you bring home the berries. Other yummy berry recipes can be found at Life as Mom and her Ultimate Recipe Swap!

This quick and easy recipe makes a cake-like shortcake and not the biscuit. It’s great served in a bowl with milk and\or whipped cream. There is enough sugar in the cake so you could skip it on the berries, but that is up to you.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan or dish.

Cream 1/2 cup butter with 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in 3 eggs and 1 cup milk. Mix in 3 cups flour and 2 tsp baking powder. Pour into a prepared 9 x 13 cake pan or baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes.

The milk soaks into the cake making everything extra yummy, if you like it that way.

Looking for snack or dessert ideas?  This week we are concentrating on snack and dessert recipes as we follow along with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer series.

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening or butter (softened)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup  sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups oats (rolled or quick oats)
  • 1 12-oz. package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together first six ingredients. Add flour, baking soda, salt and oats. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll into 1-1 1/2-inch balls. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until done. Makes approximately 40 cookies.

To Freeze:

Roll dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze for 1-2 hours.

Put frozen cookie dough balls into a plastic freezer bag and seal tightly.

When ready to bake, pull out the desired amount of balls and place on a greased cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes to thaw. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until done.

Not only do I like the whole grain goodness of this recipe but how about the opportunity for portion control? Once you have your dough mixed up and frozen you can thaw and bake as many or as few cookies as you like. What a wonderful way to keep yourself from consuming more than you should. I know it is probably not frugal to start your oven and bake only six cookies at a time, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices for what is truly important for you at the time, and in line with your goals during a particular season of your life.

What are you making to fill your freezer?

The vegetable lasagna turned out fine using the no-boil noodles. I had never used them for a freezer recipe so I wanted to make sure. The noodles were tender and baked perfectly. My daughter really enjoyed this dish and my meatless dish snubbing husband even agreed that it was good. It may have helped that the veggies were shredded and not in huge slices.

This flavor combination could turn out to be almost as frugal and nutritious as you can get. It’s a bonus knowing that the two star veggies are easy to grow in the garden, and I plan to grow them both this year. If you find Ricotta (or cottage cheese), sauce, and noodles on sale or with a coupon deal this could be a frugal meal even snazzy enough for company. You could also use a different pasta, switch up the veggies, and make it a casserole like Money Saving Mom did in her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer series.

How can I make this recipe more economical next time is a great question to keep asking yourself. With that mindset I’m sure you’ll continue to see your food bill be reduced.

Don’t forget to plant extra tomatoes this year for home canning. Canning tomatoes is more simple than it seems, and I’ll take you through the process at the end of our growing season.

Remember that it takes a little while to change or start a new habit, so don’t get discouraged if you are only just beginning your journey towards frugality, eating more healthfully or both.

If you’ve never tried freezer cooking because something’s been holding you back, express your concerns here.

Over here at the Frugal and Healthful house we’re still trying to fill the freezer with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer Series.  On Friday I  intended to get a double batch of pizza dough into the freezer with one batch kept out to make a BBQ chicken and caramelized onion pizza on the grill. The grill ran out of gas so my plans switched to making the pizza in the oven.

Then I noticed I ran out of yeast. I was sure I had some left. I intended to stop at the store to pick some up but we didn’t want to be late for the movie we were on our way to see and the store looked really crowded. (The movie was Battleship and if you enjoy a good sci-fi action flick, I highly recommend it.) After the movie we were hungry and decided to just go home and pull something out of the freezer that was already made. After all, Saturday was another day and I would be able to buy the yeast and catch up.

On Saturday we stopped at Target to pick up a few coupon deals and I grabbed the yeast lest I forget it at the grocery store. When we were doing our grocery shopping I noticed what a great deal I got on the yeast at Target. We arrived at home and put everything away. Husband went outside to mow and I started getting things around to make the pizza dough. No yeast! The yeast was nowhere to be found. I looked high and low twice and husband checked the car. I guess it wasn’t meant to be, but cheese-stuffed chicken breasts made it all better.

With a little assembly line prep you can have dozens of these beauties in the freezer waiting to be baked on a day when you crave extra special chicken breasts, but just don’t have the time.

You will need:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Butter for dipping

Breadcrumbs, whichever kind you like

Seasoning you desire for breadcrumbs

Blocks, strips or chunks of cheese to stuff your chicken breasts (You can always cut to fit, stack, etc.)

Pour some bread crumbs into a shallow but wide dish (I used Panko) and stir in some seasonings (I used Parmesan cheese and garlic powder) to taste.

I like to pound my chicken breasts. It helps them to cook more evenly and makes the easy to wrap around the cheese. Melt some butter in a pan on the stove and dip both sides of your pounded chicken breasts into the butter. Then place in the bread crumbs.

Place a long, thick strip of your cheese of choice in the center the chicken breast. I chose Provolone this time. There are almost endless possibilities. At this point you may secure your little package with toothpicks. I find this is not necessary if your chicken breast is large enough and pounded thin enough.

Place your prepared chicken breasts in zip top bags, label and into the freezer they go.

To bake:

Thaw in frig overnight or microwave for a few minutes, place in a baking dish and bake at 375 for around 30 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts. While they are baking you have time to make a side dish and a salad.

Another of our favorite combinations is southwest seasonings with Monterey Jack cheese.

What are some of your freezer cooking experiences, good or bad?

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