Monthly Archives: February 2015

Applesauce Muffins

Applesauce MuffinsOh, how I love this recipe! I’ve made it so many times that I can’t believe I haven’t shared it with you. I’m sorry! While prepping PART II of my Epic List of Freezer Meals (coming soon!) I searched for the link only to discover it was nowhere to be found on the blog. Well, that changes today!

This is one of the simplest muffin recipes you’ll ever find, but you’d never know because they’re so delicious. The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice will warm you all the way to your soul. You can make the batter in the time it takes to preheat your oven. And get this: You can mix everything together in ONE bowl. That’s right – no separating the wet and dry ingredients. No dirtying multiple dishes. Just mix it all together!

One note regarding flour: You can make this with part white and part whole wheat (noted below). If you’re making it for yourself or your family then I highly recommend using some whole wheat for the extra fiber and nutrients. But if you’re making these for a special occasion such as a brunch, then stick with white flour. You’ll get the most perfect crumb you’ve ever seen in your life. Either way, just wait until you experience how amazing these muffins will make your house smell. You’ll want to bake them every day!

Applesauce Muffins

Applesauce Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour (use all white or 1 cup white + 1/2 cup whole wheat)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare muffin tin with cooking spray or muffin liners.

In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, egg, applesauce, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. To the bowl add flour(s), salt, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix until combined. Add flaxseed and walnuts, if using, and mix until combined. Pour into prepared  muffin tin. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

The Most Epic List of Healthy Freezer Meals Ever (Part I)

The most epic list of freezer meals ever

For the past few weeks I’ve been on a mission: To stock our freezer with as many delicious and healthy recipes as I possibly can. It’s become a bit of an obsession, really. I can’t be stopped. Since reaching 34 weeks, I’ve spent pretty much every spare minute cooking and freezing meals. I’ve chopped onions at 5 a.m. I’ve put recipes into the slow cooker at 10 p.m. I’ve been to Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods more times than I can count. I’ve made so many lists that Robert’s sure he’s going to come home from work one day to find recipes scribbled on our walls. I’ve spent so many hours cooking on weekends that by the end of the day I can no longer stand.

The most epic list of healthy freezer meals ever

And you know what? I’ve loved every single moment of it! Honestly, deep down, I know that it may be a long time before I get to spend six consecutive hours on a Sunday by myself, cooking in the kitchen, blasting the Taylor Swift Pandora station. It’s my happy place. I know it’ll always be there for me, but I also know that it’ll look a little different for a while once Baby is here. So for now, I’m trying to soak up every moment and along the way create meals that hungry, sleep-deprived Future Paige and Future Robert will be oh so grateful to have.

I’ve also kept careful notes (more lists!) of everything I’ve made along with instructions for prepping, freezing, and serving every recipe so I can share them with you! No matter your situation–baby on the way, crazy work schedule, busy home life–everyone can benefit from having a few (dozen?) freezer meals ready to go.

The most epic list of healthy freezer meals ever

My plan is to share my epic list in three parts:

  • PART I: Entrees {That’s today!}
  • PART II: Breakfasts & Baked Goods {Coming soon!}
  • PART III: An update on how everything worked out, things that froze exceptionally well, changes I’d make for the future, etc. Freezing meals isn’t rocket science, but I’ve never done anything like this before so I’m sure there will be plenty to learn.

But first, some things you should know:

  • Although I try to avoid plastic, stocking up on glass containers proved to be way too expensive for the volume of meals that I made. Once completely cooled, I froze most things in BPA-free 1 gallon sized freezer bags.
  • Freeze plastic bags flat (place on a plate or baking sheet while freezing) so they take up less space in your freezer.
  • Keep a list of everything that’s in your freezer and cross them off as you eat them
  • LABEL LABEL LABEL EVERYTHING!!! What’s inside, date, etc.
  • I’ll always prefer fresh food to frozen. So rather than cooking every single recipe all the way through (though some I did), in many instances I cooked it up to a certain point, froze it, and included instructions for how I’ll finish it once it’s thawed. All of these modifications are included in the instructions below. But if you want to cook a recipe all the way through and freeze it like that, by all means go for it!
  • When the instructions below say “thaw in refrigerator overnight” it’s smart to place the bag in a baking dish or bowl in case any tiny holes occurred in the freezing process.

Here’s the complete list of meals that I made for PART I. Scroll down to find cooking/freezing/thawing instructions for each recipe.

Complete List of Freezer Meals (PART I)

And we’re off!

Supplies you’ll need (besides food ingredients):

  • LOTS of 1 gallon BPA-free freezer bags
  • Labels
  • Sharpies

Main ingredient: Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala 

I made the sauce and froze it with the raw chicken

To cook:

  • In a bowl, combine raw chicken, coriander, cumin, salt, and yogurt. (Skip browning the chicken). Transfer to freezer bag.
  • Make the sauce: Saute onion, garlic, 1 chopped, seeded jalapeno (instead of adding it whole), and salt until onions are soft & translucent (8-10 mins). Add garam masala and fresh ginger, cook about 1 minute, add tomatoes, increase heat and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.
  • When sauce is cool, pour into freezer bag with raw chicken. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Empty contents of bag into slow cooker. Follow remainder of the recipe.

Main ingredient: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Slow Cooker Sesame Honey Chicken 

made the sauce and froze it with the raw chicken

To freeze:

  • Season chicken with black pepper, add to freezer bag (raw)
  • In a bowl, combine soy sauce through sriracha. Whisk together. Pour into bag with raw chicken. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Empty contents of bag into slow cooker. Follow remainder of the recipe.
  • Serve with brown rice, green vegetable (such as steamed spinach, broccoli, or bok choy), top with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken 

I made the sauce and froze it with the raw chicken

To freeze:

  • Place chicken breasts, raw, in freezer bag.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, and Worcestershire sauce (I omit the sugar). Pour into bag with raw chicken. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Empty contents of bag into slow cooker. Follow remainder of the recipe.

To serve {options}:

  • BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches: Pile chicken onto whole wheat buns with toppings.
  • BBQ pulled chicken quinoa bowls: Layer cooked quinoa on the bottom of a bowl, top with BBQ pulled chicken, black beans, corn, green onion or cilantro, and avocado. (Inspired by recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking)
  • BBQ pulled chicken pizza: Top prepared pizza dough with extra BBQ sauce, BBQ pulled chicken, sliced red onion, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake. Top with chopped cilantro.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

To cook:

  • Follow recipe all the way through. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag (I divided it into 2)

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Reheat soup in a pan on the stove or individual portions in the microwave.
  • Add any toppings you like (cilantro, tortilla chips, fresh lime, hot sauce, etc.)

Main ingredient: Rotisserie Chicken

Freezer Chicken Quinoa Burritos 

Makes about 20 burritos

  • Changes I made: Add chopped red onion & use whole wheat tortillas
  • To make, freeze, and reheat: Follow recipe!

Homemade chicken broth using rotisserie chicken carcass from the freezer burritos

This is totally extra credit, but SO easy especially if you use the slow cooker! Just dump the chicken carcass from the rotisserie chicken (and any remaining skin, etc.) into your slow cooker. Add any veggies from your veggie drawer: I usually add 3 to 4 carrots (unpeeled, quartered), 3 to 4 celery stalks (roughly chopped, it’s okay to keep any leaves on), fresh herbs such as parsley or green onions (if you have it—I’ve made it with and without), 1 yellow onion (unpeeled, quartered), 4 to 6 garlic cloves (unpeeled, smashed), 1 Tbsp or more black peppercorns, some Kosher salt, and then pour enough water to cover everything by about 1 to 2 inches. Cover and cook on LOW 12-24 hours. Pour contents of slow cooker through a strainer into a container (discard solids) and store broth in the refrigerator until chilled (overnight or even a whole day is fine). Skim the fat off of the top and either use the broth within a few days or pour into freezer bags or mason jars to freeze.

Main ingredient: Ground Beef

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

To cook:

  • Follow recipe (I substituted ground beef for the sausage), but skip pasta. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • When ready to eat, cook pasta
  • Reheat soup on the stove. Taste and adjust any seasonings. Add cooked pasta. Add additional broth if needed.

Easy Meaty Mushroom Marinara Sauce

Original recipe: In a large pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté 1 yellow onion, chopped until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add 10 oz sliced mushrooms (I used cremini), and sauté until softened. Add 1 to 1.5 lbs lean ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Pour a 2 lb jar marinara sauce (any kind you like—I used an organic kind from Costco) into the pot. Add 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried parsley, ½ tsp dried thyme, and ½ tsp red chili pepper. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Allow sauce to cool completely. Transfer to freezer bag (I divided it between 2)

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Reheat in a pot on the stove. Add extra sauce, if needed. You could also mix in some spinach or other greens until wilted.
  • Serve on whole-wheat pasta or zucchini noodles

Slow Cooker Beef Chili

To cook:

  • Follow recipe. Changes I made: Saute 1 jalapeno with the onion instead of using chipotle in adobo. Add 2 cups frozen corn when it’s done cooking (it’ll quickly thaw). Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Reheat in a pot on stove. Add any toppings you like.

Main Ingredient: Ground Turkey Breast

Barefoot Contessa Turkey Meatloaf  

Recipe is for one huge meatloaf. I made 5 smaller ones—see instructions below

To cook:

  • Follow recipe through mixing ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Instead of forming one giant meatloaf, divide into five smaller meatloaves (you’ll need 2 baking sheets). Spread as much ketchup as you like on each meatloaf.
  • Bake about 60 minutes until internal temperature is 160 degrees.
  • Allow meatloaves to cool completely.
  • Individually wrap each meatloaf in parchment or wax paper, leaving a little space so the ketchup doesn’t get smushed. Then wrap in foil. Store in freezer bags.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Reheat in microwave or oven
  • I like to serve meatloaves with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes and something green such as sautéed broccolini.

Turkey Meatball Parmesan 

I browned the meatballs and froze them in the sauce

To cook:

  • Follow recipe through browning the meatballs. Remove meatballs to baking sheet or baking dish to cool.
  • Pour pasta sauce into freezer bag. Add meatballs. Freeze.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight
  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Finish following recipe: Empty contents of bag into a baking dish. Top meatballs with mozzarella. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes until bubbly. Uncover and broil until a light brown crust forms on the cheese, about 3 minutes.

Other

Beef Vegetable Soup

To cook:

  • I used lean beef stew meat instead of bison.
  • Follow recipe all the way through. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on the stove. Add extra broth if needed.

Chicken Sausage Vegetable Soup

To cook:

  • Follow recipe all the way through. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag.

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on stove. Add extra broth if needed.

Barefoot Contessa Winter Minestrone 

doubled the recipe and separated into 4 freezer bags

To cook:

  • Follow recipe through adding beans.
  • Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag(s).

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on stove. Add extra broth if needed.
  • Cook penne. Add to soup.
  • Stir in pesto, if desired (I sometimes skip)
  • Serve with baguette or other crusty bread

Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup with Chickpeas 

To cook:

  • Follow recipe all the way through. Let cool. Transfer to freezer bag (I divided it between 2).

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on stove. Add extra broth if needed.

Red Lentil Soup 

doubled the recipe and separated into 2 freezer bags

To cook:

  • Follow the recipe, except double the carrots per recipe (if you’re making one recipe use 2 carrots, if you’re doubling it use 4). Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (not water). All soup to completely. Transfer to freezer bag(s).

To eat:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot on stove or reheat individual portions in microwave. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Top with fresh lemon juice (so key!) and fresh chopped parsley.
  • Serve with naan pizzas: Heat whole wheat naan (frozen) in the oven according to package instructions. Top with hummus, raw baby spinach or arugula, and anything else you like!

Other items I froze:

  • 3 packages of naan from Trader Joe’s (great with the slow cooker chicken tikka and as naan pizzas)
  • Basil pesto from Costco (emptied the contents of two containers into four sandwich-sized baggies; great on toasted baguette or other crusty bread served with soup, excellent in pasta salad similar to this)
  • Giant bag of frozen stir-fry veggies from Costco
  • 2 lb bag of frozen shrimp
  • Frozen wild caught salmon
  • Frozen pizza (pesto, tomato, mozzarella) from Costco
  • Frozen organic chicken dumplings
  • Frozen fruit for smoothies
  • Frozen pie dough for quiche (recipes such as this or this)

Baby Fowler’s Jungle Themed Baby Shower

DSC07075

Last weekend, three friends and my sister hosted a baby shower here in Chicago for our little guy. I can hardly find the words to tell you what a special day it was. They thought of absolutely everything. I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time because I was so touched and grateful.

Everywhere I looked it seemed like I noticed something new–the jungle theme and decor were too cute for words and fit perfectly with baby’s nursery (I really can’t get enough lions, monkeys, elephants, and giraffes), the food and drinks were amazing, there were notes for guests to write to our baby, and there were so many thoughtful and generous gifts that I can’t wait to put to use. And there were donuts. Lots and lots of donuts. Is this real life?

But most of all, I loved looking around and seeing so many incredible women all in one place. Some already knew each other and others were meeting for the first time. I loved introducing my mom and sister to so many Chicago friends, too!

This baby of ours is already so loved and I felt that so powerfully all day long.DSC06884Sweet Kiera does it again!!! How adorable are these cookies? You may remember Sweet Kiera’s gorgeous (and delicious) treats from my bridesmaid ask and bachelorette party, too! DSC06860One of the hostesses, Lisa, who also took most of these photos (thank you!!) MADE these animal poufs. I couldn’t stop staring at them!!! DSC06878Mimosa bar!DSC06906DSC06903Parfaits, quiche, salad, muffins, and more made for such a delicious lunch! DSC06869 DSC06870DSC06917 DSC06916 DSC06927 More books for Baby F’s little library! DSC07033DSC07022My mom surprised me with my baby book! I can’t wait to read through it more thoroughly soon. In a separate post, I’ll be sharing something else my mom did for the first two years of my life that I now plan to do for our son, too. Stay tuned!DSC06992You guys, this is my BABY BLANKET! That my Grammy knit! And it’s an ELEPHANT!!!! I can’t wait to wrap our baby in it. Every time, it’ll be like a hug sent from his Great Grammy in heaven. Aaaand cue the tears….DSC06986I absolutely loved having my mom & sister there! DSC06934The incredible (and super talented) hostesses DSC06940Scotch Club WAGSIMG_1882Kappa Delta friends! DSC07069Northwestern!! DSC07073They truly thought of everything—including indulging my biggest pregnancy craving: DONUTS!!! Before becoming pregnant I didn’t really have any strong feelings about donuts. Now, I think about them constantly and can’t get enough. Baby was very, very happy once I ate one…DSC06879After balancing it on my belly of course.IMG_2581FullSizeRenderThank you so much to everyone who made it such a special and memorable day. My heart is still so full.

{Oh and one last thing. That dress? It’s STITCH FIX! Crazy, right? It came in a shipment a few months ago and I knew right away that I’d wear it to the shower (thank goodness it still fit…I was a little worried). I’m a terrible shopper and wasn’t too excited about finding a dress for the occasion, but it literally showed up at my door and I was done! They have maternity stuff and I’ve enjoyed wearing a few Stitch Fix items throughout my pregnancy.}

Turkey Meatball Parmesan

Turkey Meatball ParmesanThis weekend, I finally started making my way through my epic list of freezer meals to cook before baby arrives. {I’ll be sharing my list, links, and instructions on the blog soon.} And I just have to say…it was the most fun ever! Sunday morning, we woke up to a massive snowstorm here in Chicago. I was already planning to spend the entire day inside cooking, but the storm just made it so much easier and fun to do. I had absolutely nowhere to be but in our kitchen, chopping onions, mincing garlic, making a mess, and using every single burner on our stove. I cooked about eight meals in one day. As silly as it sounds, I haven’t felt a sense of accomplishment quite like that in a long time. I can’t wait to do it again soon–there’s still a lot to make in the next few weeks.

At the top of my list for the next round: These heavenly meatballs. I cannot get enough. And the wonderful thing is, they’re ridiculously easy to make. Just make your favorite meatball recipe {I use a healthy turkey meatball recipe, below, but you can make any kind of meatball you like–turkey, chicken, beef, etc.}. Brown the meatballs on the stove, add them to a baking dish {I love our Le Creuset Casserole} with your favorite jarred tomato sauce, bury it all under an obscene amount of shredded mozzarella, and bake until bubbly and gooey and omg so delicious.

They’re so great on their own that I don’t even bother serving them with pasta, though you totally can! Every time I make this I just roast some broccoli until it’s brown and crispy and pile it beside the meatballs. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

Turkey Meatball Parmesan

Turkey Meatball Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, grated (I use a microplane)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp died parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Olive oil
  • 25.5 oz jar pasta sauce (my favorite is Muir Glen Organic Italian Herb Organic pasta sauce) Note: If you like things extra saucy you may want to have a second jar on hand in case you want to add some additional sauce
  • 3/4 lb part-skim mozzarella, shredded (I buy a block or ball of mozzarella and shred it myself)

Preparation:

In a bowl combine meatball ingredients (ground turkey through beaten egg). Mix with your hands until combined. Form into meatballs smaller than ping pong balls. I get about 40 to 45 meatballs.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium-sized pot on the stove. Add meatballs in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Brown meatballs on both sides. They don’t have to be cooked through– they’ll finish cooking in the oven. Add additional olive oil between batches, if needed.

Pour half of the jar of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. As you finish browning each batch of meatballs, transfer them to the baking dish. Once all the meatballs are browned and in the baking dish, pour the remaining pasta sauce on top. (Here’s where you may want to add some extra sauce from a second jar.) Sprinkle grated mozzarella over everything. Cover and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Remove dish from oven. Move top rack just below the broiler and heat broiler to HI. Remove the cover from the baking dish and broil meatballs until a light brown crust forms on the cheese, about 3 minutes.