Saturday, September 07, 2013

Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Families


Since going back to work full-time, I have discovered that “make-ahead meals” that can be put in the freezer are lifesavers. With all of the activities we have going on during the week there is very little time to cook the homestyle meals my family loves. So now I wait until the weekend to let loose my inner chef. 

I've already started putting some of those recipes under the new Make-Ahead Meals category, and I have a lot more to share! Here are a few of my favorites:





For some great tips on freezing, check out these 25 Time-Saving Freezing Tips!




Monday, February 18, 2013

Crockpot-ology 101



The crockpot hit the market back in the early 1970’s and was an overnight success. It quickly became the best friend of every cook on the planet. Hey, who wouldn’t want something that would slowly and deliciously turn out meals that had previously taken a lot more time and effort to prepare? With a crockpot, we no longer had to worry about: 
  • Food scalding and sticking to the pan
  • Having to prepare dinner after working or chasing the kids around all day
  • Using multiple pots and pans to cook what could be done in one ‘pot’
  • Heating up the oven during the dog days of summer

Crockpots use a combination of low heat and steam to cook foods to moist and tasty deliciousness. There are usually only two settings: HI and LOW, but that’s really all that is necessary. Plus, they are very easy to use. Simply put the ingredients in the crock, put the lid on, turn the dial to “LOW” or “HI,” and come back when dinner is ready.

There is virtually no way to burn food in a crockpot. And, as long as you don’t fill it to the brim, it won’t spill over during cooking time. However, there are some things you do need to remember when cooking with a crockpot: 
  • Putting raw meats such as turkey breast, chicken breast and stew meats in the crockpot is fine, but ground meats need to be browned in the skillet before using in a crockpot - unless you are fixing a meat loaf.
  • Vegetables cooked in a crockpot will lose their nutritional value due to being slowly cooked and for longer periods of time.
  • Meat cooked in a crockpot will retain its moisture, but if over-cooked, it will lose its taste. Follow recipe directions regarding time.
  • Follow cleaning instructions precisely to insure your crockpot has the longest life possible.
  • Purchase liners for your crockpot, making clean-up even easier.
  • Crockpots are great for serving hot drinks as well as foods.
  • Don’t use steel wool to clean your crockpot.
  • If you find your crock is losing its no-stick finish as it ages, using cooking spray will eliminate the problem.

Using a crockpot is a wonderful way to save time and energy, while eating healthier. Here are some great crockpot recipes featured here Busy Moms Recipes.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Five Easy Appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday




Super Bowl Sunday is almost here! Whether you are throwing a big bash or just having a few friends over, check out these super easy appetizers. They will definitely be a crowd pleaser! Plus they require only a few ingredients and very little preparation.

And for more appetizer ideas, check out our appetizer recipes right here at Busy Moms Recipes.

Cheddar Mushroom Caps

Rinse and dry 1 pound large mushrooms and remove stems. Sprinkle cavities with salt. Place a cheddar cheese cube in each mushroom cavity; then sprinkle with paprika or garlic. Put mushrooms on baking sheet and broil 2-3 minutes, or until cheese bubbles.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Dump two pounds of frozen meatballs into the crockpot. Mix together one bottle of chili sauce and one small jar of grape jelly and pour on top. Heat on HIGH for 1 hour and then turn down to LOW. This will be the hit of the party!

Mini-Pizzas

Split English muffins in half and spoon pizza sauce on top. Add shredded cheese and your favorite toppings such as pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives, and stick under the broiler until the cheese melts.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Mix together a 16 oz. can of black beans (drained), an 8 oz. can of kernel corn (drained), 1/2 cup salsa, 1/4 cup lime juice, and 1 tsp. dried parsley.  Can serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold as a side dish or a hearty dip with tortilla chips.

Easy Garlic Bread

Cut a loaf of French bread in half. Brush olive over each half and liberally smear with minced garlic. Sprinkle oregano and Parmesan cheese on top and wrap in aluminum foil. Heat at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until crispy. Slice and serve.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pralines


Ooey, gooey goodness!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup white granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup pecan halves

DIRECTIONS:

In a heavy saucepan, combine white and brown sugars, and evaporated milk. Cook, stirring constantly with a WOODEN SPOON, over medium heat until soft ball stage is reached.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and pecans.  Immediately drop by tablespoonfuls onto buttered cookie sheet. Makes 16 pralines.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sugared Pecans


This is a recipe that I make every Christmas, although its good any time of the year!

INGREDIENTS:

16 ounces pecan halves
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

DIRECTIONS:

Stir the pecans and butter in a 3 1/2-quart crock pot until combined. Add powdered sugar, stirring to coat. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes. Turn to low and cook uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the nuts are covered with a crisp glaze. Transfer to a bowl, combine spices and sift over nuts, tossing to distribute evenly. Cool before serving.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Toasted Pecans Recipe

Yesterday, a dear friend (thank you, Cathy!) gave me two pounds of raw pecans from Georgia. Yummy! I decided to roast/toast one of the bags so that I can munch on them as a low-carb snack, put some in my salads (I eat a lot of salads), or sprinkle a few in my oatmeal.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of different strategies for toasting pecans, and all of them are good. Here’s my preferred method:

  • 1 pound raw pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (the real stuff, not margarine)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Dump the pecans into a mixing bowl and drizzle the melted butter over them. Sprinkle salt over pecans and gently stir until pecans are well coated. Spread the pecans in a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir pecans and bake for another 10 minutes. (Note: Keep an eye on the pecans during the last five minutes to make sure they don’t get too toasty.)

These toasty morsels will not last long in this household, so I predict I’ll be making another batch before the end of the week.

Here are some other recipes using pecans:



Monday, April 16, 2012

Apricot Nut Bread (Microwave)

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 cup unsifted flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt

Combine water, apricots and raisins in a 2 cup glass measuring bowl. Microwave for about 2 minutes on High or until boiling. Combine brown sugar, oil and egg; mix well and add to fruit mixture. Add nuts and remaining ingredients, mixing everything well. 

Pour into 9x5" glass loaf dish that has been liberally coated with cooking spray. Microwave for 6-8 minutes on 50 percent power. Microwave for 3 to 3-1/2 minutes on High or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.