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Category: From My Kitchen

Baking Day: Lasagna, Ziti, and a picture of the fruits of my labors

After the girls went to bed last night, I quickly whipped up three pans of lasagna and three pans of Ziti.

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The lasagna recipe was a new one ( to see it) that highly recommended. I'm curious to see how it tastes. It was easy to make and less expensive than usual lasagna since I can often get cream cheese for $0.50 per package (with a sale and a coupon)–which beats the price of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese that I'd usually use in lasagna.

I don't have a recipe for the Ziti because I just made it up on the fly using ground turkey, pasta sauce, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, noodles, and spices. I've learned that a great way to be frugal in the kitchen is to learn to be creative and flexible with ingredients!

After finishing up the pans of Ziti and Lasagna, I called it a day. I didn't get to quite everything on my list, but I did get a lot done yesterday–and that's a very good feeling! In fact, I was surprised at how much I'd gotten done when I laid everything out on the table to take a final picture:

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5 batches of Whole-Wheat Waffles
3 bags of browned ground turkey (we'll use this for homemade pizza or possibly pair it with pinto beans to make chili)
1 bag of cooked chopped chicken
1 batch of
5 bags of cooked Pinto Beans
3 pans of
3 pans of Ziti
3 meals of Chicken Tetrazinni
1 bag of Southwest Roll-ups

It was about seven hours' worth of work total to make all of that and I'm figuring it will make at least 20 dinners and 8-10 breakfasts. That is totally worth it to me for seven hours of work. Plus, it means I don't have to worry about "What's for Dinner?" many nights for the next month nor do I have to mess up my kitchen as much!

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Did you have a chance to do any baking or cooking this week? If so, post about it
on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blog post. I'd
love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so I can get
more ideas for my next Baking Day projects! And I'm guessing many
others would be inspired as well.

Baking Day: Pinto Beans and Chicken Tetrazinni

Did you think I up and forgot about you? Nah, I just had to take a break for dinner and time with my husband. But everyone went down for an early bedtime so I'm trying to make the most of a quiet house!

Here's what I've done since my last update:

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I bought this big 10-pound bag of Pinto Beans at Sam's Club on Saturday for just over $6 so I used some of it to make a big pot of Pinto Beans. You can read how I cook these up here.

Once the beans cool, I will divide them into two-cup portions in bags and freeze them. Then, whenever I make a recipe which calls for canned beans, I can just use these instead. It's much cheaper and better for you, too. In addition, it's so easy to do.

I didn't have any brown rice on hand, otherwise I would have cooked some of that up, too, and then stuck it in the freezer in two-cup portions as well. It's so simple to then pull out a bag of rice and a bag of beans and thaw them overnight to use for a healthful and very inexpensive meal of beans and rice. (You can set out bowls of corn chips, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese along with the beans and rice and let everyone build their own Mexican dinner on their plates. Or just serve plain beans and rice with cheese.)

In addition to the Pinto Beans, I made a double batch up Chicken Tetrazinni. This is an easy and inexpensive recipe which freezes well:

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(For the record, this looks a whole lot better cooked than uncooked!)
 
Chicken Tetrazinni (serves 4-6)

2 cups spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1 can cream soup (you can )
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup green pepper (or red pepper, as I used this time since I had some given to us from a friend's garden!), chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated

Saute onions and peppers in a little oil. Mix with the rest of the ingredients. Cool and put a freezer bag and freeze flat.

When ready to use, thaw and place in a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until heated through. (I like to sprinkle with additional cheese.)

I doubled the recipe and split it into 3 freezer bags as it will be enough for three dinners for us.

Next up: Lasagna and Spaghetti Pie (and I haven't forgotten about the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins; I just keep procrastinating on those!)

Baking Day: Southwest Roll-ups and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I'm not meaning to leave you all hanging for hours on end, I just find that when I sit down to blog, I lose my focus. So I'm trying to stay off the computer more this Baking Day and just focus on, well, baking!

We also took a break from being in the kitchen to have our afternoon Reading Time. We love reading together and I try to make a point to read to everyone at least 20-30 minutes every day, even on those days when we take a break from our usual routine.

But here's what I've accomplished since I last checked in:

I finished all the waffles! I ended up with a mountain of waffles (five bags!) which should last us for every bit of 8-9 breakfasts. That means we should be stocked on waffles for at least another 5-6 weeks. And that's a great feeling. My picture of all of these will be coming in the final Baking Day photo.

I also chopped up all the chicken I had boiled and made up Southwest Roll-ups. These are one of our family's "staple recipes". You know, the kind that you turn to when you are feeling brain fried in menu-planning or just need a really easy dinner. I've been making these and freezing them ahead of time recently and have found this works well, too.

Southwest Roll-ups (makes 8 roll-ups)

1 can refried beans
1/4 cup salsa
1-2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
8 tortillas

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Mix together beans, salsa, and chicken.

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Spread 1/8 of mixture onto one tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and turn ends under. Stick in a freezer bag or in a 9×13 baking pan.

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When ready to bake, thaw and bake in a pre-heated 350 degrees oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle with more shredded Cheddar cheese, if desired. Serve with salsa. Serves 4.

I bought this huge bag of chocolate chips at Sam's Club on Saturday so I made some (the recipe is ).

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I've heard there is a canned pumpkin shortage in some parts of the country, but I have quite a few cans which I bought a number of months ago for $0.25 each so I'm well-stocked. And now that I have plenty of chocolate chips, I'll likely be making more of these muffins as they are one of our favorites.

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I made them with all whole wheat flour and I don't think you can even
tell a difference. My husband loves these in his lunches! I stick them
in the freezer once they are cooled and then just pull out a few and
stick them frozen into a baggie into his lunch box. By lunch time, they
are thawed and ready to eat!

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(Picture from )

Next up: Chicken Tetrazinni and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Baking Day: Whole-Wheat Waffles and Ground Turkey

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The dishwasher is humming, the chicken is boiling, the noodles are cooling, the waffles are baking, the girls are practicing their ABC's with at the kitchen table, Silas is sleeping, and I finally have a chance to sit down and post an update on my progress!

First thing this morning, I browned a big pot of ground turkey, turkey sausage, and ground beef. We prefer ground beef, but I was able to get some great deals on quality turkey over the last few months, so I'm being creative with what I have. I browned them altogether so I'm hoping it somewhat hides the ground turkey.

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(My apologies to any pregnant woman who is reading this. I'm sure that a picture of raw meat cooking is anything but appetizing!)

I'll be using the browned turkey in lasagna, spaghetti pie, and freezing some to have on hand for homemade pizza nights. I've found that if the meat is already cooked, half the work of putting together a pizza is done!

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After I got the meat browning, I mixed up a batch of Whole Wheat Waffles (see the recipe here). I took the recipe by five so it is making quite a massive amount of waffles!

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As I usually do, I used milk that I had gotten reduced and frozen. This time, it was organic milk which I picked up for $0.59 per half gallon after the reduction and coupons. I also used fresh-ground whole-wheat flour and fresh eggs from my family's farm so these waffles are packed with good nutrition!

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Once the waffles are cooled, I'll stick them into freezer bags and then we'll just pull them out and reheat them for quick and delicious breakfasts!

While the waffles were baking, I rinsed the pot I used to cook up the meat in and got the water started to boil the noodles. And then I cleaned up my very messy kitchen, started the dishwasher, got drinks and a snack for the girls, helped them get started on some new projects. (Since both girls are running fevers, I'm not having them help with cooking today so that our food doesn't get sick germs passed into it! So I'm pulling out a variety of fun things for them to work on while they rest.)

Then I was back to the kitchen to drain the noodles and start cooking up the chicken.

Next up: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Pinto Beans, and Hot Pockets

Baking Day: The Master Plan

As those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know, my two-year-old was very sick Sunday and Monday evenings. We were able to get her in to the doctor yesterday and were relieved to find out she just has a very bad case of the flu–which we were very relieved to hear!

I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to be able to do a Baking Day this week but when she started taking a turn for the better yesterday and I knew I was going to be home all day today and she'll likely be resting much of the day, my husband said if I was up to it, I should just go ahead and go with the planned Baking Day. So here we are!

I got a later start than usual because we all slept in this morning. I've learned that I'm not very productive when I'm tired so it's better to sleep in and get enough rest than to try and limp along in a sleepy fog. After a much better night's rest last night, I'm feeling much revived and energized and ready to hit the kitchen and get busy baking and cooking!

Before going to bed last night, I made a Master Plan for today's baking. It really helps me to have a specific, numbered list to go off of. In addition, it helps me to be able to maximize my efficiency so that I can be multi-tasking on most tasks.

Here's a peek at my scribbled down list for today:

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I'm off to brown the turkey and start on the waffles. I'll be back with a report shortly.

“Baking Day” list for tomorrow

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(Teaching the girls how to boil, peel, cut, and stuff eggs as part of our homeschool lessons a few weeks ago.)

After a long hiatus, I'm back to doing menu planning and Baking Days! It's amazing how good it feels to be getting back "into the groove" (Nevermind the fact that my baby boy is almost five months old! It seems I just had him; I can't believe how quickly time goes!).

I'm planning to host a Baking Day here tomorrow and I'll be live-blogging it like usual. However, since I'm trying to do more freezer cooking now that our homeschooling is in full swing, I'm actually going to be doing more cooking than baking. I've never combined the two like this before, so I'm anxious to see how it goes.

You can follow along with my progress on my blog and you can also follow along/join in on with the hastag #BakingDay. Speaking of which, I'd love to have you join me by doing some of your own baking. At the end of the day, I'll post a Mr. Linky so that everyone can link up and share what they accomplished in their kitchens tomorrow.

The Proposed (and likely way-too-ambitious!) Baking/Cooking Day List:

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whole Wheat Waffles

Homemade Applesauce

Pinto Beans (cook up and freeze)

Lasagna

Spaghetti Pie

Farmhouse Chicken

Chicken Tetrazzini

Barbecue Meatballs

Homemade Hot Pockets
Southwest Chicken Roll-ups
Turkey Enchiladas

Recipes, pictures, and more will be coming in my live-blogged posts tomorrow. And now I'm heading out for a quick trip to the store and then coming home to clean up my kitchen and thaw out meat, milk, and anything else I need for the morning!