My recipes

DIY Cali Blend Freezer Packs

9:41 am

by Jennifer Freeman

cali blend freezer packs

DIY Cali Blend Freezer Packs

Make your own freezer packs of California Blend Vegetables.  It is super easy (or I wouldn’t be sharing it or doing it  myself!)  March is a perfect time of year to be getting deals on broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  If you are lucky enough to have Bountiful Baskets Co-op to order fantastic produce from, watch for the Cali-blend fresh packs for a great savings.

You do not have to use a Vacuum Pack Sealer (see deals), but it will make your packs last longer.

Cali-Blend Freezer Packs

 Ingredients

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
Gather Tools:
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • 3 bowls for your prepared veggies
  • Pot of boiling water
  • Bowl of cold water and ice
  • Colander and slotted spoon or scoop
  • Cookie sheet or large plate
  • Food Saver System or Freezer style Ziploc bags and a straw

Instructions

  1. Fill your pot with water, about 1/2 full.  Prep your veggies while bringing pot of water to a boil.
  2. Peel your carrots and slice about a 1/4 inch or so.  Crinkle cut if you prefer.   Set carrots in a bowl.
  3. Cut your cauliflower and broccoli into pieces. I use up the stems too. Just peel the hard skin/layer off and slice the soft white middles like you would the carrots.
  4. Once your water is boiling add a combination of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.  What ever the amount you want in  your individual freezer packs.
  5. Blanch your veggies by boiling for 4 minutes. This will preserve them for freezing. Broccoli will turn a bright pretty green and carrots will become vibrant and sink.
  6. DO NOT OVER COOK YOUR VEGETABLES! They will become too soft and mushy. Keep boiling process to just 4 minutes.
  7. Scoop out your veggies and plunge them in the bowl of ice water for 4 minutes.   This  stops the cooking process and keeps the veggies fresh & crisp.
  8. Remove from the water and pat your veggies with a towel.  Remove as much water as you can before putting your veggies up for the freezer so they don’t ice up while freezing.
  9. Lay dried veggies a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  10. After frozen, it’s time to pack them for the freezer.  Use the Food Saver System or fill your Ziploc freezer bags and zip it up with the straw sticking out and suck out as much of the air as you can then finish zipping it shut. The less air in the bags means less of a chance for freezer burn and water crystals to build up on your veggies.
  11. Label the bags with Cali-blend and the date.  Use them throughout the year!

 

 

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Easy 10 Minute Alfredo Sauce Recipe

Using only 4 main ingredients, this is a family favorite meal.  It’s quick, delicious and frugal!!  For years I have made this super easy Alfredo Pasta recipe.  The SECRET is the cream cheese!

This is what I call a “Convertible Meal”  which means once I make it I will convert into several other meals and no one will know we are eating leftovers.  I tend to double my Convertible Meal recipes — see my suggestions of additional Convertible Meals below.

I start my pasta water at the same time I begin the 10 Minute Alfredo Pasta Sauce and they are ready to serve at the same time.

10 Minute Alfredo Pasta Sauce

1/2 C butter
1 package cream cheese (8 ounce)
2 tsp garlic powder  (or 2 fresh garlic cloves minced)
1 3/4 C milk
6 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese (you can omit, but I wouldn’t)
1/8 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Using medium heat, melt butter in medium sauce pan then add cream cheese to melted butter.  Stir with whisk until smooth (about 3 minutes).   Add garlic powder and pepper.   Add milk a little at a time stirring with a whisk to keep sauce smooth.   Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Continue to stir Alfredo Sauce until desired thickness is achieved in just a few minutes.   If it is too thick for your liking, add just a touch of extra milk.

 

TIP:  Be sure not to boil recipe or the milk and butter will separate!

 

Convertible Meal Ideas:

Make a double batch of this recipe and convert into several meals.  I use what I have around the house and adjust my recipes accordingly.  I use whatever cheeses I have in the freeze (I buy cheese when on sale with coupons and freeze it for cooking).

White Chicken Lasagna

left over Alfredo Sauce (at least 3 cups)

Chopped cooked chicken (about 2 cups)
2 cups Ricotta cheese
2 chopped cloves garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
2 tsps fresh chopped basil (or 1 tsp dried basil)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded cheese (choose from mozzarella, monteray jack, white cheddar, etc)

Want to add some vegetables?  Add fresh or frozen spinach to the chicken mixture below.

Mix cooked chicken, ricotta cheese, garlic, basil, oregano and Parmesan cheese.  Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.   Place 1 cup Alfredo sauce in bottom of lasagna pan, add one layer noodles, spread noodles with chicken mixture and 1 cup Alfredo sauce.  Continue layering and end with the final cup of Alfredo sauce and 1 cup of cheese.  Bake until hot inside.  350 for about 35 minutes.

 

 

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cereal bar recipes

 

It’s not my intention to teach you how to cook – because I am sure you know how!  My intent is to help you think of recipes and ideas to help you stop wasting food.  The less food wasted or more items re-purposed, the less money is spent replacing and rebuying.  I find it fun to make a new recipe and use up all my leftovers or the seemingly unusable bottom of the box contents.

Does your cereal cabinet look like mine? 8 boxes of cereal and no box has enough cereal for a full bowl.   My kids tire of he cereal and then move to the next box, leaving an almost empty box!  Then what?  Ah, you need my Bottom Of The Cereal Box recipes.

I like the challenge to come up with a way to use up the final left overs with a new way that no one realizes it’s the same thing.  This keeps us living a frugal lifestyle and using our money for more important things like rides on the $2 a shot carrousel ride that the twins love!!    Be warned now the Bottom Of The Box Cereal Bar recipe does have a lot of sugar, and I am sure with a bit of adapting you can lower the sugar content.  I make these 2 or 3 times a year so on occasion sugar overload in okay (because we are leaving the house and  heading to the carrousel anyway right!)

I am SURE many of you have some great original “Bottom Of The Cereal Box” recipes — do share yours in the comments below or HERE!!

 

cereal coupons

Garbage Bars – no oven recipe.

I don’t know where the name came from, it could be better.

Bars:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 6 cups of any leftover cereal or snacks (I used a combination of Rice Krispies, corn Chex and Chow Mein Noodles. Pretzels, Ritz Crackers and Cheerios would also be good options)

Topping:

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.  For easy stirring this sticky concoction, spray spoon/spatula with cooking spray.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Repeat again until the mixture bubbles  and begins to boil.

Remove from microwave and add and stir until smooth 1-1/2 cups peanut butter.   Add the cereal/snack combination.

Pour in the prepared 9×13 pan.  Hint:  re-spray the spoon or spatula

In a small, microwavable bowl combine the chocolate chips and 1/3 cup peanut butter.  Microwave  for 2 minutes.  Stir and if needed, microwave for another 30 seconds to finish melting the chocolate chips.  Stir until smooth and spread over the bars.

Cool and cut into bars.

 

 

Garbage Cookies  Bottom Of The Box Cookies

  • package of or box of sugar cookies (Betty Crocker,  Krusteaz etc)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups cereal

Heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl combine sugar cookie mix, butter, egg mix into a soft dough.  Add 3 cups any variety of cereal.  Drop by the spoonful and cook for 8-10 minutes.

 

AND suggest a NEW NAME for these recipes!!

PLEASE!!

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Easy Homemade Applesauce – crockpot recipe

When the twins were young we really went through the applesauce. I quickly figured out how to save some money on applesauce and learned through experimenting my families favorite way for me to make homemade applesauce. Now, I use the applesauce on our oatmeal, topped on yogurt with chopped nuts and I even add it to our fruit smoothies for extra flavor! And of course, just plain with a bit more cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Using the crockpot seems to be the easiest way for me to make it because I can walk away and it cooks up perfectly every time. Right now Honey Crisp apples are on sale and I ordered a case from Bountiful Baskets.

If you just don’t want to make homemade applesauce, grab an applesauce coupon from the Free Coupon Database to get a better deal at the store.

applesauce recipe

 

Also, check out my Red Hot Cinnamon Applesauce Recipe too!

 

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popsicle lindsey

 Homemade Popsicle Recipes

In summertime homemade popsicle’s are SO yummy!  Pictured is #11 Lemondade Strawberry Blueberry Pops.  The twins like these yogurt pops and they are super easy, but I have been trying my hand at other frugal homemade Popsicle’s.   These frugal popsicle’s cost pennies each and are healthier than store bought.   It’s a good project to let the kids help with to break up a summer day with some fun.

Get The Molds — Find many styles and prices of Popsicle Molds

See the Tips below for making the perfect Popsicle.

1.  Strawberry Lemonade Popsicle – Puree strawberries.  Add an equal amount of lemonade

2. Strawberries and Cream Popsicle– Puree strawberries with equal amounts of vanilla yogurt.

3. Orange Creamsicle – Mix orange juice and yogurt in a 40 to 60 ratio

4. Orange Creamsicle #2 –  Blend vanilla ice cream and orange juice in equal amounts

5. Orange Mango Creamsicle – Mix orange juice and yogurt in a 40 to 60 ratio, add finely chopped mango

6. Watermelon and Grape Popsicle– Blend ripe watermelon with white grape juice until smooth

7.  Strawberry Banana Popsicle– Blend strawberry yogurt, equal amounts of pureed banana, and a teaspoon of lemon juice.

8. Orange Ginger-ale Popsicle – Mix flat ginger-ale and orange juice. Cherry, watermelon, and honey dew all work really well with ginger-ale, too

9. Root Beer Float – Fill Popsicle mold 1/2 full of vanilla ice cream.  Pour cold & flat root beer in to finish filling.   For a creamier popsicle, blend the ice cream with flat root beer.

10.  Pomegranate Banana Popsicle – Puree banana and add equal parts of pomegranate juice.

11.  Lemonade Fruit Pops  (pictured above)-  Lemonade with blueberries, strawberries, peaches!  Delicious!

BONUS #12  Fruit Pops – Any combination of fruit & juice.  Pack the Popsicle mold with fruit and fill with favorite juice.

popsicles

BONUS #13  Fruit Salad Popsicle
Pictured above & featured on Martha Stewart and the recipe is below.

1 peach, cut into 1/2-inch slices (1/2 cup)
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
3 ounces blueberries (1/2 cup)
4 ounces strawberries, hulled and halved ( 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 to 2 cups 100 percent white-grape juice

Directions:
Arrange some of each fruit in eight 3-ounce ice-pop molds, making sure pieces fit very snugly. Pour enough juice into each mold to just cover fruit. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until solid, 6 hours (or up to 2 weeks).

 

Making Popsicle Tips:

Freezing juice by itself can make ice-hard popsicle that could be hard to eat.  For a flakier easier to eat popsicle add some powdered jello to the juice or liquid of choice.

The stick falls over!  Insert the stick popiscles are half way frozen so that the top layer (which will freeze first) can hold the sticks in place.

Get Molds — Find many styles and prices of Popsicle Molds

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crockpot kidney bean hambuger cheesy stew

Cabinet Cooking Recipes

Welcome to my Cabinet Cooking recipes. These recipes are the “open your cabinet” and I bet-you-have-the-ingredient recipes.  Most of my Cabinet Cooking recipes derive from using staple items I find during case-lot sales. These meals become simple and inexpensive yet flavorful and filling.

As I create more Cabinet Cooking meals, I will share my recipes.

Crock-Pot Hamburger Cheesy Stew

The Stars of the Recipe are… (a.k.a. ingredients)

1# Browned Ground Beef*
1 Large Onion
6 Potatoes, medium
2 cans Kidney Beans, rinsed
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Diced Tomatoes (with juice)
1/2 Cup Water
3 Cloves Garlic (or 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon (or 1 Beef Bouillon Cube)
1/2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Seasoning Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 cup Shredded Cheese (for topping)

Potatoes can be sliced or diced, peeled or unpeeled. Chop onions and mince garlic. Brown hamburger meat (see my quick prep idea below)!

Using a 6 quart crock-pot, mix all of the ingredients (except cheese) and stir well.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Uncover, sprinkle with shredded cheese continue cooking uncovered for 1/2 hour.

As with most crock-pot recipes, adjust recipes to the ingredients you have on hand when you open your cabinet! Choose different beans or cream soup combinations.

*I buy high quality ground beef from Zaycan Foods at a discount and pre-brown the hamburger.  I freeze already browned meat in pre-measured packages making my meal prep a snap!  My packages are measured at 13 ounces to adjust for cooking.

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