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Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling Stew

By Polly Conner

Chicken and Dumplings in the slow cooker? Yes! It can be done!

This classic comfort food will fill your home with delicious smells and is a total crowd pleaser. To make Chicken and Dumplings even more versatile for you, we’ve included instructions not only for the crock pot but also for how to make it a freezer meal AND how to make it in the Instant Pot!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings in a white bowl
Image credit: Helene Dujardin/From Freezer to Cooker (Rodale)

This easy Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling recipe comes from our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker ,and was good enough to make national television. Seriously! Here is a segment of us cooking Chicken & Dumplings on Hallmark Home & Family!

Polly Conner and Rachel Tiemeyer on Hallmark Channel

In fact, all of the photos in this post were pulled from this very cooking segment on Hallmark.

Hopefully the process photos will give you a visual of how easily our Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling Stew comes together.

How to Make Chicken and Dumplings in the Slow Cooker

SAUTÉ YOUR VEGGIES

While we would love to not have to pre-cook vegetables for this slow cooker meal, we found that they don’t get cooked enough in the 3-4 hours it takes for the chicken to get done in the slow cooker. Plus, sautéing vegetables adds lots of flavor!

Sautéd vegetables for chicken and dumplings

SEASON THE CHICKEN THIGHS

Once those veggies start to get tender and you’ve added your garlic and seasonings, transfer them to the slow cooker and season your chicken.

We use chicken thighs for the recipe because they stay incredibly tender and juice when cooking in the slow cooker. Just make sure you cook the chicken the correct amount of time!

Chicken thighs on a baking sheet being seasoned

COOK IN THE SLOW COOKER

Add the chicken, broth, and bay leaves to the slow cooker and stir to combine.

Cover and cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours. (The chicken is done when it registers 165°F internally.) Trust us, this is really only how long you cook it or else it will turn out dry! Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaves (make sure to return the lid to the cooker quickly).

MAKE THE DUMPLINGS

Set the slow cooker to High. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and parsley. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the butter and milk together until warm, about 1 minute, then whisk to melt the butter and combine. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined (do not overmix).

Making dumplings in a glass bowl

ADD YOUR DUMPLINGS TO THE SLOW COOKER

Working quickly and using a soup spoon or tablespoon, uncover the slow cooker, scoop out heaping tablespoons of dumpling batter, and drop into the stew. (Wet your hands to prevent sticking and use them to help slide the batter off the spoon and into the stew.)

Try to spread the dumplings out so they cover the whole surface and aren’t on top of one another. Get the lid back on the cooker as soon as possible.

Cook on High for 30 to 40 minutes or until the dumplings have doubled in size and a toothpick inserted into the center of a dumpling comes out clean.

Scooping out dumplings into the slow cooker

DICE YOUR CHICKEN AND ADD IT BACK IN

Meanwhile, shred or chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside.

When the dumplings are done, gently stir the chicken and peas into the stew. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Moving chicken into slow cooker

Can I Make Chicken and Dumplings in the Instant Pot?

One of the beauties of this recipe is that it can be made in both the slow cooker AND the Instant Pot.

INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For the stew: Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Place the butter in the pot. When the butter has melted, add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook, stirring, until they just begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper and stirring in the poultry seasoning and garlic during the last 30 to 60 seconds of cooking. Watch to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Press “Cancel.” (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken, broth, and bay leaves to the pot and stir to combine.
  3. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 6 minutes, then quick release the pressure. (The chicken is done when it registers 165°F internally.) Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
  4. For the dumplings: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and parsley. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the butter and milk together until warm, about 1 minute, then whisk to melt butter and combine. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined (do not overmix).
  5. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté” and bring the stew to a boil. Using a soup spoon or tablespoon, scoop out heaping tablespoons of dumpling batter, and drop into the stew. (Wet your hands to prevent sticking and use them to help slide the batter off the spoon and into the stew.) Try to spread the dumplings out so they cover the whole surface and aren’t on top of one another. Cover the Instant Pot loosely with the lid, leaving a crack. Cook for about 12 minutes, until the dumplings double in size and a toothpick inserted into the center of a dumpling comes out clean.
  6. Meanwhile, shred or chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  7. When the dumplings are done, gently stir the chicken and peas into the stew. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

INSTANT POT FREEZER MEAL INSTRUCTIONS

FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow step 1. Let the veggies cool. Season both sides of the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place the chicken in a gallon-size freezer bag or round container (do not stack the chicken thighs in the bag/container; instead, place them side by side). Add the broth, bay leaves, and cooled veggies. Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen). Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and parsley in a quart-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze alongside the stew.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Note: You will need to have butter, milk, and frozen peas on hand to complete this meal. Set aside the dry dumpling mix. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen stew to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow step 3, but cook at high pressure for 15 to 20 minutes. Follow steps 4 through 7, using the bag of dry mix to make the dumplings in step 4.

Can I Freeze Chicken and Dumplings for the Slow Cooker?

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for fabulous freezer meals. THIS IS WHAT WE DO!

Many would not consider Chicken and Dumplings to be a great freezer meal. Wrong! We have devised a way that Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings can be frozen and thawed and still taste like a fresh, delicious meal.

Holding a freezer meal of chicken and dumplings

FREEZER MEAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SLOW COOKER VERSION

FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow step 1. Let the veggies cool. Season both sides of the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place the chicken in a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Add the broth, bay leaves, and cooled veggies. Seal and freeze. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and parsley in a quart-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze alongside the stew.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Note: You will need to have butter, milk, and frozen peas on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Transfer the chicken-vegetable mixture to the slow cooker and follow steps 3 through 7, using the bag of dry mix to make the dumplings in step 4.

What should I serve with this dish?

We love that Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings are a one-pot wonder. You’ve got vegetables, protein, and bread/starch all in one delicious bowl! But, if you’d like to add in something on side, here are a few ideas to round out this comfort meal…

Autumn Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Crock Pot Cinnamon Apples

Have questions? Feedback? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: american

Description

Chicken and Dumplings are probably the ultimate comfort food.  This one-pot-wonder is filled with tender vegetables, juicy shredded chicken, and soft dumplings in a rich creamy-brothy gravy.


Ingredients

Stew

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 4 carrots, sliced ¼ inch thick (about 1 ½ cups)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Dumplings

  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (You can sub white whole wheat flour, but we do not recommend subbing whole wheat flour.)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons dried parsley
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • ¾ cup milk (your choice)

Instructions

Make It Now

  1. For the stew: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook, stirring, until they just begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper and stirring in the poultry seasoning and garlic during the last 30 to 60 seconds of cooking. Watch to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Remove from the heat. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker. Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker. Add the broth and bay leaves and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours. (The chicken is done when it registers 165°F internally.) Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaves (make sure to return the lid to the cooker quickly). Set the slow cooker to High.
  4. For the dumplings: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and parsley. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the butter and milk together until warm, about 1 minute, then whisk to melt the butter and combine. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined (do not overmix).
  5. Working quickly and using a soup spoon or tablespoon, uncover the slow cooker, scoop out heaping tablespoons of dumpling batter, and drop into the stew. (Wet your hands to prevent sticking and use them to help slide the batter off the spoon and into the stew.) Try to spread the dumplings out so they cover the whole surface and aren’t on top of one another. Get the lid back on the cooker as soon as possible. Cook on High for 30 to 40 minutes or until the dumplings have doubled in size and a toothpick inserted into the center of a dumpling comes out clean.
  6. Meanwhile, shred or chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  7. When the dumplings are done, gently stir the chicken and peas into the stew. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Freeze for Later:

Follow step 1. Let the veggies cool. Season both sides of the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place the chicken in a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Add the broth, bay leaves, and cooled veggies. Seal and freeze. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and parsley in a quart-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze alongside the stew.

Prepare From Frozen:

Note: You will need to have butter, milk, and frozen peas on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Transfer the chicken-vegetable mixture to the slow cooker and follow steps 3 through 7, using the bag of dry mix to make the dumplings in step 4.


Notes

“I added some leftover grilled corn to it, and that was an excellent addition.” —Ashley D.

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Healthy Slow Cooker Turkey Chili (with Sweet Potato and Black Beans!)

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This lean turkey chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients. It’s also gluten-free & dairy-free! This crockpot chili is delicious fresh but is also a great make ahead meal.

‘Tis the season for a good, healthy slow cooker recipe!

In the midst of heavy holiday meals and baked goods, this Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans is…hmmm…refreshing.

Can chili be refreshing? Well, not like refreshing in as a cold drink on a hot day. But, it definitely qualifies as a welcomed break from the overindulgent foods of late. It was a winner and will be a regular in our winter menu planning for sure. The jalapeño lends just the right amount of heat without being overpowering. It’s perfect for a comforting weeknight dinner and then leftovers for lunch the next day.

What Makes this Turkey Chili Healthy?


This lean turkey chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients.

Here are some of the powerhouse ingredients in this delicious, yet, oh-so-healthy chili:

Is it Gluten-Free & Dairy Free?

You bet! This is a great recipe for anyone trying to minimize gluten and diary in their diet. Just skip the sour cream topping at the end and you have yourself a super healthy bowl of chili!

How Long do I Cook Turkey Chili in the Slow Cooker?

To make sure those sweet potatoes get cooked, this chili will need to cook on low for at least 6-8 hours. The shorter the time it cooks, the more firm the sweet potatoes will be. The longer, the softer.

You can also cook it on high for 5-6 but I prefer to cook it on low.

Turkey chili in the slow cooker

After testing hundreds of recipes for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we have narrowed down the perfect cooking times for almost all types of slow cooker meals. Be sure to download our cheat sheet below!

Can I Freeze Turkey Chili?

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for an easy, healthy freezer meal. It holds up incredibly well in the freezer! It’s one of my favorite soups to make at the beginning of the week and freeze for lunches.

There are two ways to make this a freezer meal:

  1. Fully cook and cool the soup and freeze it in small containers. Use one of our safe thawing methods when you want to eat it!
  2. Prepare it so it will be ready to dump in the slow cooker later. Here’s how:

Follow step 1, but set the sweet potato aside to cool instead of transferring it to the slow cooker. Follow step 2 and let the meat mixture cool. Transfer the sweet potatoes and meat mixture to a gallon-size freezer bag or container and add the broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 ⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Seal, toss gently to combine, and freeze.

To prepare from frozen, thawing and transfer the chili to the slow cooker. Follow steps 4 and 5.

Pro Tip: I love using Super Cubes (like in the photo above) for freezing soups.

How to Make Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Alright, now that you are equipped with all of the turkey chili knowledge you will ever need, time to get cooking! Just follow the recipe below and let us know if you have any questions! Be sure to check out our round-up of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes that feed a crowd!

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Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potato and Black Beans

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: Chili
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This lean chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients. The jalapeño lends just the right amount of heat without being overpowering. It’s perfect for a comforting weeknight dinner and then leftovers for lunch the next day.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, liquid and all
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 ounce) cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Topping for serving: hot sauce, diced avocado, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheddar, diced onions, salsa, thinly sliced green onion, etc.

Instructions

  1. In a large pan over medium to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté diced sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes, until just softened. Season lightly with salt and pepper while sautéing. Add sweet potato mixture to slow cooker insert.
  2. Turn up heat to medium-high. In same pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté the onions, jalapeño pepper, garlic and ground turkey, stirring and breaking up the meat. Cook until meat is cooked through (no longer pink) and onions softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while sautéing. Drain off any grease. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Add meat mixture and remaining ingredients (chili powder through black beans) to the slow cooker insert, stirring until well combined.
  4. Slow cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  5. Taste and adjust salt and pepper amounts. Add hot sauce to increase heat at the end, if desired. Serve topped with your favorite chili toppings (diced avocado, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheddar, diced onions, etc.).

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To Freeze: Complete recipe through Step 2. Add the cooked and cooled meat and vegetables to a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Then, add the remaining ingredients (chili powder through black beans) to the same bag. Seal, toss gently to mix, and freeze.

To Prepare From Frozen: Thaw for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. Cook according to instructions beginning with Step 4.

Healthy slow cooker turkey chili being scooped out of a white bowl

Oven Roasted Broccoli

By Polly Conner

This simple side dish will turn your broccoli-hater into a broccoli-lover! Our 3 ingredients Oven Roasted Broccoli is DELISH!

Friends, take me seriously when I tell you that cooking broccoli this way will convert your family into broccoli eaters. Want proof?

  • My husband who has turned his nose up at broccoli his entire life now scoops a generous portion of this onto his plate.
  • My two-year-old repeated the phrase, “Mo brockwy” at least five times when we served this at dinner for the first time.
  • When we went to a tailgate a few days later, the same two-year-old passed up the chips and other junk food for a handful of raw broccoli (thinking it would taste the way I made it.) She wasn’t too happy when she took a bite to find out it didn’t have the flavor of the oven-roasted goodness.

I don’t think I’ll ever go back to steaming broccoli. We are oven roasted converts.

The Three Simple Ingredients in Oven Roasted Broccoli

This side dish is incredibly easy. To be honest, I don’t even measure the ingredients any more. Once you get the feel for it, you will be able to make it intuitively as well. The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • Broccoli – using fresh is far better than roasting it from frozen. BUT from frozen will work in a pinch.
  • Olive oil – another great option is avocado oil.
  • Sea salt – I have for sure used table salt, kosher salt, and even garlic salt and they all work.

Raw broccoli on a baking sheet

How Long do I Roast the Broccoli?

This really depends how crispy you want your broccoli to be. Anywhere from 13-18 minutes will have it done. I like mine pretty charred so I error on the longer side. If it’s not browning up like you want it to, you can always broil it for a minute or two at the end!

Overhead shot of oven roasted broccoli

How to Store and Reheat Roasted Broccoli

Like most leftovers, you’ll want to store your roasted broccoli in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

To reheat, I highly recommend using a toaster oven or your oven. If not, the reheated broccoli will be pretty soggy and sad.

What to Serve with Roasted Broccoli

Roasted broccoli would be a great side dish for SO many meals. Here are a few ideas:

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Oven Roasted Broccoli

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 18 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Roasted
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Oven roasted broccoli is the perfect side dish for your next meal. It is perfectly crispy, does not get soft, and has fantastic flavor because of the olive oil and sea salt.


Ingredients

  • 23 heads of broccoli, cut up
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Cut the florets off of your broccoli and put them all in a ziplock bag
  2. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and a pinch of salt
  3. Shake it up until broccoli is coated with oil
  4. Spread broccoli out on greased baking sheet
  5. Cook at 450 for about 13 minutes.

If you like roasted vegetables, you might also like:

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Vegetable Hash

Sweet and Savory Carrots

Make Ahead Banana Breakfast Cake

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Banana Breakfast Cake is my dream breakfast. My whole family likes it, it’s full of nutritious yet simple ingredients, and it works perfectly to double the batch to make a breakfast freezer meal. 

Make Ahead Banana Breakfast Cake

I’ve been making this breakfast cake for YEARS. It’s one of my go-to make ahead breakfast recipe ideas that my whole family will devour.

Think moist, sweet banana bread but in a cake form. I love to warm it up a bit and serve with a little bit of butter.

The best part: It is filled with banana and sneaky sweet potato! YES, you can get your crew to eat sweet potato for breakfast!

What’s in Banana Breakfast Cake?

As I mentioned before, this breakfast cake is made with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Bananas – The riper the better. Pro-tip: You can freeze ripe bananas for recipes like this! Here’s how to freeze bananas.
  • Cooked sweet potato – You can also substitute canned pumpkin or cooked butternut squash for sweet potato.
  • White Whole Wheat Flour – Please note that this is not just whole wheat flour. It needs to be WHITE WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR variety. If you don’t have that, you can use half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour as a substitute.
  • Coconut oil – Make sure it’s melted or substitute avocado oil.
  • Plain Greek yogurt – You can use full fat sour cream instead, if you want.
  • Mini Chocolate Chips – I’ve used dark chocolate chips before and loved it!
  • Standard baking ingredients: Eggs, vanilla, sugar (I used coconut sugar), baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Slice of banana breakfast cake on a plate

One thing worth noting on this recipe is that you will need a blender. This makes the batter SUPER smooth and hides all the sneaky produce.

How do I Freeze Banana Breakfast Cake?

We are huge fans of make ahead freezer meals. Not only have we written two freezer meal cookbooks, but we have a huge collection of freezer meals that are delicious, healthy, and easy! Banana Breakfast Cake is a recipe that freezes beautifully.

If you are already busting out all of the ingredients and utensils to make this breakfast cake, you might as well make two batches and freeze one for later. Here’s how:

TO FREEZE BREAKFAST CAKE: Bake breakfast cake just until done. Cool completely. Either cover the baking dish tightly in a few layers of foil or plastic wrap or carefully lift the cake out of the baking dish and wrap in several layers of foil or plastic wrap, pressing as much air out as you can.

TO PREPARE BREAKFAST CAKE FROM FROZEN: Thaw on the counter. Warm a slice in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and top with a pat of butter, if desired.

Banana breakfast cake in an 8x8 dish

What Should I Serve with Banana Breakfast Cake?

Our smoothies would be a perfect pairing with breakfast cake. Choose from one of the following flavors!

Another idea would be Oven-Baked Bacon. It comes out perfectly every time using our baking method.

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Banana Breakfast Cake

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: one 8x8 pan 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A deliciously moist banana cake that makes a healthy snack or breakfast. You will be surprised how fast your family will empty the dish on this one!


Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (sub: 1 cup wheat flour + 1 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I often use unrefined coconut sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cooked and mashed (about 1 cup) (sub: pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (sub: avocado oil or melted butter)
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (sub: sour cream)
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (I used carob chips, since they are low in sugar and dairy-free)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish (or a 9×13 baking dish, but note the shorter cooking time) with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a blender, combine the bananas, sweet potato, eggs, vanilla, coconut oil, and yogurt. Blend until smooth. (If needed, add just a splash of milk to help the blender get moving.)
  4. Using a spatula to clean out the blender, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir gently with a spoon just until combined (do not over mix). Batter will be thick. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread evenly using a spatula.
  6. Bake for about 35-40 minutes (for a 9×12, bake 25-28 minutes). It’s done when a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

Freeze For Later: Bake breakfast cake just until done. Cool completely. Either cover the baking dish tightly in a few layers of foil or plastic wrap or carefully lift the cake out of the baking dish and wrap in several layers of foil or plastic wrap, pressing as much air out as you can.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw on the counter. Warm a slice in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and top with a pat of butter, if desired.

Young boy holding banana breakfast cake

Want more make ahead freezer meal breakfasts? Hop over to our freezer meal index and browse around!

10 Vegetarian Meals Your Family Will Actually Like

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Not only is eating meatless meals easier on the budget, but it’s often healthier for your family. Finding vegetarian meals that please the meat-eaters and picky eaters in your home can be a challenge, though. That’s where our round-up of 10 family-friendly vegetarian meals comes in handy!

10 Vegetarian Meals collage

1. Tomato Bisque

I serve this decadent yet veggie-rich soup with what we call “Grilled Cheese Dippers” (i.e. grilled cheese sandwiches cut into sticks). This soup freezes well, so make extra. If you want a gluten-free version, try our Instant Pot Tomato Soup.

Tomato Bisque from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at FromFreezerToTable.com today.

2. 4 Ingredient Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Tired of the traditional grilled cheese sandwich? This one kicks it up a notch and is irresistible. Serve with our Tomato Bisque or Instant Pot Tomato Soup.

3. Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

I’ve been making this freezer-friendly recipe for my family and to take to others for over a decade now. You can put cooked chicken in these kid-friendly roll-ups if you want to add in more protein. Either way, they make a nutritious and delicious family dinner.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls are the perfect meal for large groups. With fresh and natural ingredients, it also makes a great freezer meal!

4. Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

With just a few simple ingredients, these easy and tasty wraps work for lunch or dinner. Make a big batch of them to have on hand in the freezer.

freezer-friendly lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board

5. Instant Pot Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese

This recipe takes just 18 minutes from start to finish, dirties only one pot, and tastes creamy and delicious! Plus, it’s made with all real food ingredients. Don’t have an Instant Pot? Try our Mac and Cheese with Sneaky Sweet Potato instead. Kids love it.

whole wheat mac and cheese in bowls on white plates with steamed broccoli on the side

6. Egg-in-a-Hole

This one may bring back fond childhood memories! Egg-in-a-Hole is a cheap, simple and fun meal idea that the whole family will enjoy. Serve with fresh fruit or one of our smoothies.

7. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Many of our readers’ families have told us how much they love this recipe. It couldn’t be easier to make, plus everyone can top it with their favorite Mexican toppings (i.e. sour cream, cheese, crushed tortilla chips, diced avocado, etc). I make a big pot of this once or twice a month to have on hand for healthy, satisfying lunches all week long.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup in a large stock pot

8. Fried Rice with Sweet Soy Sauce

This fried rice is full of flavor and is filling even without meat. My husband and some of my kids (there’s always a picky one, right?) love it. Plus, it’s packed full of fiber, good fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

9. Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

I serve these healthier pancakes (with sneaky pumpkin) for dinner quite often, because they turn out light and fluffy and are super flavorful every time. Make extras to freeze or refrigerate for later while you’re at it. Serve with scrambled eggs or hard-boiled eggs for more protein.

10. Instant Pot Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Marinara Sauce

Only 4 ingredients make up this nutritious dinner recipe that your family will love. It’ll be done in about 15 minutes and will only dirty up one pot. Now, that’s my kind of meal.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This pantry staple Vegetarian Tortilla Soup recipe is a meatless “one pot wonder” that I’ve been making and freezing for years for my family. Filled with beans, tomatoes, chilis, corn, and more, it only gets better the longer it sits in the fridge.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Photo Credit: Hélène Dejardin: From Freezer to Cooker

Why Make Vegetarian Tortilla Soup?

Years ago I implemented a small goal of having at least one day a week be meatless for our family. This is for three reasons: it’s cheap, it’s often healthier, and it’s better for the environment (raising animals utilizes much more of our natural resources than raising crops).

The great thing about Vegetarian Tortilla Soup is that it’s hearty enough for any meat eater in your family and makes a big batch for a crowd or just to have on hand all week long.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup in a large stock pot

Another benefit is the flexibility of this soup. You can prepare it on the stove, in the Instant pot, or in the slow cooker. Plus, we also include instructions for how to make it ahead and freeze a batch for later.

Not only that, but you can use up what you have on hand with this “kitchen sink”-type soup. Don’t have green chilis? Add a little more salsa. Don’t have rice? Try quinoa. Have fresh veggies on hand? I’ve thrown in chopped zucchini, spinach, and diced bell pepper before with great results (just cook until they are soft).

Ingredients for Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

While I typically stick to the ingredients below, feel free to use up what you have on hand with this “kitchen sink”-type soup. Don’t have green chilis? Add a little more salsa. Don’t have rice? Try quinoa. Have fresh veggies on hand? I’ve thrown in chopped zucchini, spinach, and diced bell pepper before with great results. They will all cook just fine. Here is where to start though:

  • Vegetable broth or chicken broth (make your own chicken broth here)
  • Vegetarian refried beans
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Petite diced tomatoes
  • Diced green chilis
  • Mild or medium salsa
  • Taco seasoning (Use our homemade taco seasoning here)
  • Cooked brown rice (or throw cauliflower rice in with all the ingredients and cook with all the other ingredients!)

Keep these pantry staple ingredients on hand all the time, and you’ll always have a delicious, healthy meal ready to go in minutes.

Can I Make this Soup in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?

Yep!

Slow Cooker Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Instant Pot Method: We have written a whole post on how to make Instant Pot Tortilla Soup here. Hop on over!

How to Make Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

It’s hard to mess up Vegetarian Tortilla Soup! Just follow this simple recipe using either the stovetop or slow cooker instructions. You can also freeze it! Freezer meal instructions are in the recipe.

Print

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This one-pot wonder is packed with flavor but is also vegetarian! This winning combination of ingredients and flavors is sure to impress your family and friends.


Ingredients

  • 1 (32 ounce) box vegetable stock (Sub: chicken stock or broth)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can vegetarian refried beans* (Sub: drained pinto beans that have been smashed with a fork)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (Sub: kidney or pinto beans)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained (Sub: 2 cups frozen corn)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes (juice and all) (Tip: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes are delicious!)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles (Sub: 1/2 cup salsa)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural taco seasoning mix
  • 12 cups cooked brown rice (Sub: cooked quinoa)
  • Optional Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips, lime wedges, diced avocado

Instructions

Make It Now:

Stovetop Method: In a large pot, combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Bring to a boil and quickly reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally while it cooks. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Slow Cooker Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Instant Pot Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Freeze For Later:

Method 1 (Uncooked): Combine all ingredients in a pot/bowl, except rice and optional toppings. (Don’t worry if the refried beans aren’t completely integrated.) Carefully ladle the soup into gallon-sized freezer bags or containers and seal. Package the cooked rice in a small freezer bag and freeze alongside the soup.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook the soup according to instructions. Stir in the rice. Let cool. Freeze in freezer bags or containers, as individual servings or one full meal. Freeze until ready to use.

Prepare From Frozen: 

Method 1 (Uncooked): Fully thaw the soup. Cook according to instructions.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked):

Stove or Slow Cooker: Warm over low heat on the stove or in the slow cooker.

Instant Pot: Turn on Saute button and warm over low, stirring frequently.*


Notes

*If you want to cook the soup from frozen in the Instant Pot, you’ll need to freeze it in a round container that is smaller than the diameter of the pot. When ready to cook, turn on the “Saute” function and saute the frozen block of soup for 5-10 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel”. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 12-17 minutes with a quick release.

Gluten-Free: If using a taco seasoning packet from the store, be sure to buy one that is gluten-free.

Dairy-Free: Omit using any cheese or sour cream on top.

Powerball Cookies

By Rachel Tiemeyer
Powerball cookies have been a longtime favorite in my home. Look no further for a great make-ahead, freezer-friendly snack. 
 
No Bake Powerball Cookies on a plate

What’s in these no-bake Powerball Cookies?

With a few simple pantry ingredients, you can whip these up in no time! The beauty of this recipe is the ingredients are somewhat fluid. Add or subtract based on what you like or what you have on hand. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Honey
  • Old-fashioned oats
  • Flax seed (Why eat flaxseed?)
  • Dark chocolate chips (or 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup any combination of these add-ins:
    • chopped nuts (i.e. chopped pecans, sliced almonds, etc.)
    • unsweetened shredded coconut
    • chia seed
    • soft dried fruits (i.e. raisins, dried cranberries, etc)
Powerball cookie ingredients in white bowls

Once you’ve gotten all of your ingredients beautifully placed in nice, neat, white bowls like above … (JUST KIDDING! No one actually does that unless they are a food blogger, right?!)

Anywhoo, once you’ve rounded up all of the ingredients you want in your powerball cookies, you’ll add them all into a big ‘ol mixing bowl.

Tip: I’ve found that if I warm the peanut butter and honey just a tad it makes it easier to stir all of the ingredients together.

Powerball cookie ingredients being mixed together

Watch How Easily Powerball Cookies Come Together…

How do I store Powerball Cookies?

Here’s the fun part. Using wet hands and/or a small ice cream scoop, form small balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

You’ll freeze them this way so that they hold their form. Once they are frozen, transfer them to an airtight freezer container and store them in the freezer.

Be sure to train the kids to know where they are at. They’ll be asking!

A hand holding a powerball cookie

Make sure to make a double batch too. Not only do these make a great afternoon snack, they can also be a great breakfast!

Closeup of powerball cookies
Print

Powerball Cookies

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3035 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Powerball Cookies are a healthy, real-food snack. Careful, it’s hard to stop at just one!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-natural peanut butter or almond butter (crunchy peanut butter is really yummy!)
  • 1 cup honey (I often cut this back to 3/4 cup and make up the 1/4 cup with more nut butter)
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats (quick-cooking works fine)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed (Why eat flaxseed?)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup any combination of these add-ins:
    • chopped nuts (i.e. chopped pecans, sliced almonds, etc)
    • unsweetened shredded coconut
    • chia seeds
    • soft dried fruits (i.e. raisins, dried cranberries, etc)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the peanut butter and honey until smooth. (Tip: You may want to warm them in the microwave first to make this step easier.)
  2. Stir in oats and flaxseed.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and your 1 cup of preferred add-ins. Stir until well combined.
  4. Using wet hands or a wet cookie scoop, shape the mixture into 30-35 balls. Use a heaping tablespoon of mixture per cookie.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-4. Place the rolled cookies on a sheet pan (line with parchment paper for easier clean up). Place in the freezer for an hour or so, until hardened. Place them into a freezer bag or airtight freezer container for up to 3 months. Prepare From Frozen: Either set cookies out on the counter to thaw slightly or warm in the microwave for about 15 seconds.

Hand grabbing a powerball cookie
 

More Healthy Snacks You Might Like:

 

Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This kid-friendly Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos recipe goes from frozen chicken breasts to a delicious dinner on the table in 45 minutes with very minimal hands-on work. You can easily double and freeze these for later.

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

How We Developed and Tested This Recipe

Polly and I spent over two years researching, developing, and testing Instant Pot recipes for our second cookbook called From Freezer to Cooker. It is a monstrous labor of love, and, thankfully, we had the help of 500 readers on our Recipe Testing Team along the way. Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos is one of the only recipes that appears both in our cookbook and on our website here. This meal was a HUGE win with them!

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

The inspiration for this easy dinner recipe originally came from our popular Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos. Both the Instant Pot and slow cooker versions have proven to be a favorite dish not only our own households but many of our readers’ and recipe testers’ homes, too. In fact, I had a mom tell me just yesterday that her pickiest eater told her that he loved this recipe. I could see the wave of relief on her face as she told me that story.

If you’re looking for recipes that work in both the Instant Pot AND Slow Cooker AND that you can make ahead and freeze, we think you’re going to love From Freezer to Cooker. Or, if you just want to learn more about freezer cooking and find some of our hands-down favorite freezer meals for families, try our first cookbook, From Freezer to Table.

What We LOVE About Instant Pot Chicken Taquitos

  1. Quick Dinner: If you missed the window for the slow cooker version of this recipe, you can still make it in the Instant Pot in time for dinner. This recipe only takes 7 minutes of pressure cook time (or 15 minutes with frozen chicken). Now, keep in mind that it will take some time for your Instant Pot to build pressure first (about 10 minutes for fresh chicken and 20 for frozen). This Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos recipe went from frozen chicken breasts to our table in about 45 minutes with very minimal hands-on work.
  2. Can Use Frozen Chicken Breasts! We’ve all been there…dinner time is rapidly approaching and all we have on hand are FROZEN chicken breasts. I’ve got good news, though. Unlike the slow cooker, you can cook frozen meat directly in the Instant Pot. Unfortunately, the USDA says it’s not safe to put icy ingredients in a slow cooker. It keeps the food in the “danger zone” for too long, a temperature range where bacteria flourishes. Not worth the risk! So, if you are working with frozen chicken breasts, Instant Pot to the rescue!
  3. Make Ahead and Freeze: Once you’ve rolled up your taquitos, you can either cook them right away or freeze them for later. We give you detailed instructions for how to do this below. Be sure to double this recipe so you can make the best use of your time in the kitchen. You’ll thank yourself in the future when you’ve got dinner already done for another night!
  4. Cooks Directly From Frozen: The AMAZING thing about this particular freezer meal recipe is that you can take out however many taquitos you want from the freezer and cook them DIRECTLY FROM FROZEN. This is the perfect solution for those busy weeknight meals.
  5. All Ages Love It! We’ve heard over and over from readers and recipe testers on our team for From Freezer to Cooker how much their entire family loves this recipe.
Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top. Other toppings are nearby, like avocado, tomatoes, and salsa.

Watch How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Taquitos

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1:

You are going to LOVE how simple this is. Start by placing your chicken breasts in the Instant Pot and then seasoning with some taco seasoning (try our Homemade Taco Seasoning here). Then, add some chicken broth.

Chicken breasts with seasoning and broth in an Instant Pot

Now here’s the key: Do not overcook your chicken! If you follow our recipe, you’re good to go. But…be sure to download and print off our Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart that we spent two years developing for our cookbook. This guide will help you pressure cook both fresh and frozen meals perfectly! It’s our gift to you!

Step 2:

Once that chicken has cooked, grab two forks and give it a good shred. Return it to the Instant Pot and stir it around with the broth.

Shredded chicken on a wooden cutting board

Step 3:

Then, stir some cream cheese and salsa into the shredded chicken mixture. Next, tightly roll up the chicken mixture and some shredded cheese in each tortilla.

shredded cheese being sprinkled into tortillas with shredded chicken

At this point, you can freeze a batch for later. Then, on a busy night, just pull however many you need out of the freezer, place them directly in the oven, and bake! This is such a smart use of your time in the kitchen. Your future self will be singing your praises!

Chicken Taquitos rolled up and in a freezer bag for a freezer meal.

Step 4:

If you’re making this recipe now, you’ll pop the rolled up taquitos in the oven until they are melty and golden brown.

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos are rolled up and lined up on parchment paper.

Step 5:

Serve warm. To round out the meal and take this crunchy, baked (read: healthier!) meal to the next level, serve with some of these sides or toppings: Homemade Guacamole or Creamy Avocado Dip, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and your favorite salsa. We love this Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa for something a little different.

Side Dishes to Go with This Recipe

What to Do with Leftover Tortillas

P.S. If you have leftover tortillas, did you know you can freeze them? Here is the best way to freeze tortillas for later.

tortillas in a freezer bag

Are you ready to be the dinner hero in your house? It’s time to get cooking some Taquitos!

Print
Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (2 taquitos per person) 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

With just a few simple ingredients, this kid-friendly Instant Pot chicken dinner takes minutes to whip up. It’s also freezer-friendly and goes straight from the freezer to the oven!


Ingredients

  • 11 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 package of all-natural taco seasoning or 23 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning recipe
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or substitute water)
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup your favorite salsa
  • 8 (8-inch) tortillas (we use whole wheat tortillas; corn tortillas won’t work)
  • 1½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (here’s how to easily shred your own to save money)
  • Optional: sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, salsa, guacamole

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Place chicken breasts in your Instant Pot. Cover both sides of chicken with taco seasoning. Add the broth. Lock and seal the lid.
  2. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure. (If chicken is frozen, cook for 15 minutes at high pressure.) Use a quick release when the time is up or you can use a natural release, if you have time. (Note: The chicken is done when it registers 165°F internally or has no more pink inside.)
  3. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  4. Shred the chicken in the pot with two forks and stir it with the broth so the seasoning is evenly distributed. Add cream cheese and salsa to the shredded chicken and stir until the cream cheese is melted.
  5. Arrange tortillas on a flat surface. Top each tortilla with an equal amount of chicken mixture. (Important tip: Drain off the extra liquid from the chicken as you remove it from the pot; I just used two forks to transfer it to the tortillas.) Leave a little room at the edges so the filling doesn’t spill out. Top the chicken mixture with 2-3 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Roll up tortillas tightly. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  6. Place the rolled tortillas on the baking sheet, seam side down. Spray the tops with cooking spray. You can also sprinkle any remaining cheese over the tops, if you like. Bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese melts and they are golden brown.
  7. Serving suggestion: Top with salsa, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and/or guacamole.

Freeze For Later: Complete the recipe through Step 5. Then, place rolled up tortillas in a freezer bag or freezer container (BEFORE baking) in a single layer. Separate the single layers with parchment paper. Seal tightly and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place frozen taquitos on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper or foil. Cover them lightly with a piece of foil (so they don’t brown too quickly). Bake for about 25 minutes or until warmed through and cheese is melty. Remove foil and bake about 5-10 more minutes until golden brown on top. (Note: You can use the broiler to crisp them up at the end for about 2 minutes, if desired. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.)


Notes

You can also make this recipe in the Slow Cooker. Find the recipe here.

Download and print our free Instant Pot Cooking Times chart here. Learn more about our rigorously-tested Instant Pot cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, here.

We get our meat from ButcherBox*.  The chicken is organic and curated from small, trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source DELICIOUS and HEALTHY meat—like uncured bacon, grass-fed beef, and wild salmon—and have used it for years ourselves. *Disclaimer: We are an affiliate of ButcherBox.

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

Baked Italian Meatballs

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Look no further for a delicious baked meatball recipe. Our Baked Italian Meatballs are a 30 minute meal staple in our house! The ingredients are simple but they are still packed with flavor. They make a great freezer meal because you can easily double the batch to freeze meatballs for later!

Baked meatballs on a white plate with marinara sauce

Easiest Baked Meatballs… EVER

Everybody loves a good meatball, right? Well, at least everyone in my crew does. And, as my mom friends out there know, it’s no small feat to prepare a meal that everyone eats and enjoys. These delicious, moist, Baked Italian Meatballs may get eaten before they ever make it atop whole wheat spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce or a Meatball Sandwich.

The ingredients in our baked meatballs are simple:

You likely have all of the ingredients for these easy baked meatballs in your pantry!

Baked italian meatball

Perhaps the best part: Skip the stove top mess and bake these away in the oven for only 20 minutes. They come out perfect every time. And, like so many of our recipes, you can make these meatballs ahead of time and freeze them for a quick, healthy meal later. Check out the freezer meal instructions in the recipe.

Here is a short video of how Baked Italian Meatballs come together

How to Freeze Baked Meatballs

One of the best parts about this meatball recipe is that it is freezer friendly. Meatballs work beautifully to assemble and then freeze before baking for a meal down the road. I’d suggest rolling them up and placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet to freeze.

How to freeze baked italian meatballs

After they are frozen enough to hold together, place them in an airtight container or freezer storage bag.

The beauty of freezing meatballs is that you can now pop out as many as you need for future meals. No need to bake them all at once. These can be a great freezer meal for 1-2 people.

Ways to Use Baked Meatballs

Baked meatballs are incredibly versatile. Here are some ideas on ways to use them!

  • Serve them over whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce
  • Bake them and then assemble them as Meatball Sandwiches
  • Eat them plain! They can be a great appetizer.
  • Lighten up but don’t miss out on flavor by serving them over zoodles.
Baked italian meatball on a fork

What to serve with Baked Italian Meatballs

Here are some ideas that baked meatballs would go well with:

Print

Baked Italian Meatballs {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings (about 24 11/2 inch meatballs) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Everybody loves a good meatball! These delicious, moist ones may get eaten before they ever make it atop spaghetti or a sub sandwich. You’ll want to make this baked version of meatballs again and again.


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef (This is where we get our favorite grass-fed ground beef.*)
  • 1 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

*affiliate link


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Using clean hands, gently combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Use a medium dough scooper or a spoon to scoop and then roll about 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Line up meatballs on the sheet pan, leaving room between each.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside (160 degrees internal temperature).
  5. Optional: Serve with marinara sauce over pasta or on a sub sandwich.

Freeze For Later:

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Then, complete Steps 2 and 3. At this point, flash freeze uncooked meatballs by placing on the sheet pan (or in a baking dish) in the freezer for about an hour or so. Once frozen, dump meatballs in a gallon-sized freezer bag, seal, and place in freezer.

Prepare From Frozen:

Thaw meatballs using one of these safe thawing methods. Cook according to instructions, beginning with Step 4.

Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

50+ Ways to Sneak Vegetables and Fruits into Kid Favorites

By Rachel Tiemeyer

healthy recipes kids like

I’m a big believer in offering my kids fruits and vegetables at every meal. Research has definitively shown that if you keep offering and keep offering, children will eventually try the produce you put in front of them. I know from experience! It does work, but it takes months and sometimes years of diligence.

While we wait for the “lightbulb” moment when our kids will try and like fruit and vegetables, though, how can we get that much needed nutrition into them regularly?

One of the ways I ensure my kiddos, who can certainly be picky at times, are getting enough produce is to sneak extra fruits and veggies into just about every meal. It’s been a fun challenge for me over the years to figure out all the ways I can do this.

In fact, our cookbook called From Freezer to Table, is full of over 75 rigorously tested, whole foods freezer meals that are all family-friendly. We even put an icon by the recipes that have “Sneaky Nutrition” in them.

Learn to prepare delicious, healthy, stress-free meals for the family that go from freezer to table in no time!

The best part is that you can make these meals ahead and freeze them to have on hand later. Here are some of my kids’ favorites from the book that are chock full of nutrition…

Super Stuffed Potatoes from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook (copyrighted)

Tomato Bisque from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at FromFreezerToTable.com today.Cheddar Chive Burgers from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at FromFreezerToTable.com today.

You can read more about and snag a copy of our beautiful cookbook here. Your family will love it!

Now, I’m excited to share with you 50 more ways to sneak fruits and vegetables into kid favorites. Most of these can be made ahead and frozen for later, too!

 50+ Recipes That Sneak Fruits and Vegetables Into Kid Favorites

1. Blueberry Avocado MuffinsBlueberry Avocado Muffins with Lemon Streusel Topping

2. Herbalicious Chicken Bites

chicken meatballs with honey mustard sauce

3. Sweet Potato French Toast

healthy sweet potato french toast

4. Pumpkin French Toast

5. Add pumpkin puree or finely chopped spinach our homemade Slow Cooker Marinara.

slow cooker marinara sauce recipe

6. Pumpkin Banana Bread or Muffins

7. Creamy Autumn Chowder

Autumn Chowder Soup recipe

8. Mac and Cheese with Sneaky Sweet Potato

A better mac and cheese with sneaky sweet potato

9. Sweet Potato Quick Biscuits

Sweet Potato Quick Biscuits

10. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

11. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal is an easy and healthy breakfast or snack. It is a great family recipe and ideal for large groups!

12. Slow Cooker Easy Cheesy Mexican Chicken

Easy Cheesy Mexican Chicken - A delicious and healthy slow cooker recipe!

13. Cheddar Chive Egg Bites

egg muffins in a muffin tin

From Freezer to Table Cookbook

14. Whole Wheat Chocolate Pumpkin Waffles

15. Blueberry Pumpkin Baked French Toast

16. Dark Chocolate Banana Baked Oatmeal

This dark chocolate banana baked oatmeal is sure to be a crowd pleaser! With fresh ingredients and a rich, chocolatey taste, this dish pairs perfectly with fresh fruit. You won't even be able to taste the sneaky spinach!

17. Mini Meatloaf Muffins

Meatloaf Muffins on a plate

18. Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

These may be healthier than mashed potatoes, but these Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes will have your family coming back for more! #realfood #freezermeal #delicious

19. Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

20. Mini Italian Burgers

21. Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna

Slow Cooker Whole Wheat Spinach Lasagna

22. The Best Everyday Smoothie

The Best Everyday Smoothie Ever - Our family never gets tired of this delicious combination of juice, milk, fresh spinach, and tons of fruit.

23. Baked Chicken Fajitas

One of my favorite, family friendly dinners: Baked Chicken Fajita Recipe--Freezer Friendly.

24. Whole Wheat Calzones (add chopped spinach or whatever veggies your kids like)

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

25. Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Spinach Lasagna Rolls are the perfect meal for large groups. With fresh and natural ingredients, it also makes a great freezer meal!

26. Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini

Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini

27. Cheeseburger Instant Pot Pasta

28. Chicken Pesto Pasta

29. Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

mini chicken burger recipe

30. Zucchini Flaxseed Muffins

31. Zucchini Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Breakfast Cookies

32. Zucchini Pizza Crust

Zucchini Pizza Crust: Seriously, it's good! What a great way to sneak in veggies to your dinner too.

33. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Squash (or Zucchini) Cake

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Squash Cake

34. Chocolate Zucchini Waffles

Chocolate Waffle recipe with zucchini

35. Whole Grain Zucchini Pancakes

36. Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

37. Fruit Pizza Roll-Ups

Fruit Pizza Roll-Ups recipe: An easy lunch for kids!

38. Banana Boat

The Banana Boat: The perfect after school snack!

39. Banana Bites

40. Flourless Blender Banana Muffins

Flourless Banana Muffin Recipe

41. Pesto Burgers

42. Fried Rice with Sweet Soy Sauce

This fried rice with sweet soy sauce recipe is AMAZING. It's packed with nutritious ingredients and serves as a delicious side dish. It's also surprisingly freezer friendly!

43. Chocolate Banana Pumpkin Muffins

These Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Muffins are packed full of nutrition and flavor. Feel good about feeding your family these for a quick breakfast!

44. Chicken, Veggie, and Brown Rice Casserole

Chicken, Brown Rice, & Veggie Casserole

45. Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal

Delicious and healthy! Make this baked oatmeal ahead of time for a warm and comforting breakfast the whole family will love. Double and freeze an extra one for later, too. #freezermeal #realfood

46. Whole Wheat Cinnamon Applesauce Bread

47. Power Breakfast Smoothie

48. Chocomole (chocolate pudding make from avocado!)

49. Meatballs with Sneaky Veggies

Delicious meatball recipe for either subs or to go on pasta. Not only are the meatballs super flavorful, but they are also packed with veggies! Make a freezer meal out of them by doubling the batch and freezing them (uncooked).

50. Super Sloppy Joes

Super Sloppy Joes - A much healthier and tastier version of the canned stuff!

51. Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

Looking for more healthy, kid-friendly meals? Try these 30+ Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals

Hello Peaches! Make This Pecan Peach Crisp Now.

By Polly Conner

.5Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

Heaven help me, this was good.

I’m already a sucker for any fruity dessert so add a crispy-pecan crust to the top of fresh-seasonal peaches and I about fall over thinking about it.

I stumbled on this recipe over at Cooking Classy, made a few tweaks along the way, and now have a peach crisp recipe I will use for the rest of my life. Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

(I don’t have big feelings at all, do I?)

Lets get cooking, shall we?

What puts this recipe over the top is using in-season peaches. In fact, I used less sugar because I seriously had just picked these ripe peaches off of our peach tree. Chop up about 4-5 peaches and give them a stir in some sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Spread them out in a 9×13 baking dish.

Look at them showing off and being all pretty in there.

Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

The crumble topping is really simple.

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, a few seasonings, butter, and pecans. Spread them out over the peaches evenly and then pop it all in the oven.

Wait patiently as pure greatness is being created in your oven.

Voila…

Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

Give it time to cool a bit before eating.
Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

Scoop some in a bowl and top with either ice cream or whipped cream. (Thank you Alex, for being my ice cream scooping hand model.)

Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

This dish makes quite a lot so it’s a great one to use for a group.

Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

Side note: Some people like to remove the skin from peaches for dishes like this but I don’t mind them being in there. They also add a tad more nutrition (because that is totally what you’re concerned about when making a peach crisp, right?)

Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

Pecan peach crisp dessert. Heaven help me, this fruit bake was delicious. Super easy to make too!

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Pecan Peach Crisp

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This pecan peach crisp dessert is delicious. The key to incredible flavor is to use peaches at their peak of freshness.


Ingredients

  • Peach Filling
  • 45 peaches, cored and diced into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup sugar (up this to 1/4 cup if your peaches aren’t ripe)
  • 1.5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • Topping
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons butter, cold and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Toss peaches with lemon juice, sugar, and flour until well coated.
  2. For the topping, combine flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and brown sugar.
  3. Using either a pastry cutter or your hands, cut in the butter until everything is crumbly.
  4. Stir in pecans.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.
  6. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream!

Slow Cooker Sausage & Tortellini Soup–Simple Creamy Goodness!

By Polly Conner


Am I the only one who is a bit skeptical of slow cooker recipes? While we do have some fabulous, healthy slow cooker recipes in our recipe index, I for sure have tried MANY others that have turned out pretty bland or dry. My husband is especially skeptical of crock pot recipes. I think I’ve scared him one too many times with the promising smell of dry chicken.

While this recipe may not score the highest in the “healthy” department, it for sure gets high rankings in the, “I’m a busy person who needs a quick and easy recipe that my family will like,” department.

Finally, a slow cooker recipe that is SUPER easy to make yet packed with flavor. The creamy goodness of this crock pot sausage tortellini soup is a win with all ages and makes for great lunch leftovers.

I also beg of you to not rule this recipe out because it calls for two cups of fresh spinach. It feels like a lot when you put it in but when the spinach cooks down, it is barely visible and easily sneaks into bites unnoticed.

It’s also worth mentioning that the soup gets a bit creamer than in this post’s pictures. Some of my cream cheese hadn’t quite dissolved yet. While this didn’t affect the flavor, it might cause someone to ask questions.

So, all disclaimers aside, this soup was great in my opinion. I’ll for sure be making it again. And then probably again. You get the point. Finally, a slow cooker recipe that is SUPER easy to make yet packed with flavor. The creamy goodness of this crock pot sausage tortellini soup is a win with all ages and makes for great lunch leftovers.

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Slow Cooker Sausage & Tortellini Soup–Creamy Goodness!

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Finally, a slow cooker recipe that is SUPER easy to make yet packed with flavor. The creamy goodness of this sausage tortellini soup is a win with all ages and makes for great lunch leftovers.


Ingredients

  • 1 (19 oz.) bag frozen cheese tortellini
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 (32 ounce) carton of chicken broth
  • 1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, cut into cubes

Instructions

  1. Over medium heat, brown the sausage in a skillet until there is no more pink showing.
  2. Drain any excess grease.
  3. Add the sausage, spinach, tomatoes, chicken broth and cream cheese into a standard sized slow cooker.
  4. Stir to combine.
  5. Cook on low for 4 hours, stirring one or two times to help cream cheese dissolve.
  6. After about 4 hours, add frozen tortellini in.
  7. Cook for about 45 more minutes.

Light and Easy Chicken Cacciatore {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Crispy chicken bites atop a tomato-based, veggie-rich sauce are served over whole grain pasta. This healthy and satisfying classic Italian dish tastes like it’s been simmering away all day long.

How can something so easy be so complex-tasting? This dish is what our tastebuds need--flavor, texture, and a beautiful dish to boot.

Although this recipe was a little out of my comfort zone, my husband and I (and my neighbor friend, Kelley, who is my trusted taste-tester) really enjoyed this Light and Easy Chicken Cacciatore. Now it is the week after holiday binge eating, so I feel obligated to tell you that this recipe is low fat and loaded with veggies. But what I really want to tell you…

…is about the tomato-based, vegetable-rich sauce. Oh my. It reduces down and develops this deep rustic Italian flavor while it simmers away. How can something so easy be so complex-tasting? Look, friends, if we’re going to eat healthfully in the New Year, this dish is what our tastebuds need–flavor, texture, and a beautiful dish to boot. 

How can something so easy be so complex-tasting? This dish is what our tastebuds need--flavor, texture, and a beautiful dish to boot.

My updated twist on this classic includes adding in browned chicken breast bites at the end, assuring the chicken doesn’t overcook (which was my mistake the first time around!) and still retains its crispy texture. Serve over whole grain pasta, brown rice, or quinoa for a healthy, comforting dinner. Don’t forget to add a glass of good red wine for an added “heart healthy” boost.

How can something so easy be so complex-tasting? This dish is what our tastebuds need--flavor, texture, and a beautiful dish to boot.

Bonus: The leftovers are great the next day or to freeze for later.

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Light and Easy Chicken Cacciatore: How can something so easy be so complex-tasting? Look, friends, if we're going to eat healthfully in the New Year, this dish is what our tastebuds need--flavor, texture, and a beautiful dish to

Light and Easy Chicken Cacciatore

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Crispy chicken bites atop a tomato-based, veggie-rich sauce are served over whole grain pasta. This healthy and satisfying classic Italian dish tastes like it’s been simmering away all day long.


Ingredients

  • 4 (about 2 lbs) chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat or unbleached flour
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, sliced
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (or dry white wine or chicken broth)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, juice and all
  • Cooked pasta, rice, or quinoa, for serving
  • Optional: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh chopped Italian parsley

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Season chicken pieces lightly with salt and pepper. Toss with a little olive oil to coat.
  2. Add whole wheat flour to a gallon-sized zip top bag. Add chicken pieces to the bag, close, and shake until pieces are coated.
  3. Sauté chicken in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until cooked through and browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Turn heat down to medium and swirl 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan. Add peppers, onion, celery, mushrooms, and garlic, and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season vegetables with red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper (to taste) while they are cooking.
  5. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the vegetables and stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. (Note: You can omit this step, but the sauce will be thinner.) Add wine and tomatoes to vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, scraping up any bits off the bottom of the pan, and reduce to simmer.
  6. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced some and smells fragrant. Taste and adjust seasoning. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  7. Add chicken pieces back into the sauce (or place them on top of pasta and add sauce over the top on each individual plate).
  8. Serve over whole grain pasta or brown rice with some fresh Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped Italian parsley on top.

Freeze For Later: Follow steps 1-6. Let sauce cool, then stir in the chicken. Place in a freezer bag or container, making sure to squeeze out any air and seal tightly. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the sauce and chicken overnight in the refrigerator. Warm in a medium saucepan over low heat on the stovetop, stirring regularly. Serve as directed in step 8.

 

Whole Wheat Calzones {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

Looking for a meal that everyone will devour? And that you can freeze and pack for school lunches? Whole Wheat Calzones are it!

These Whole Wheat Calzones are kind of a result of Two Peas and Their Pod‘s whole wheat pizza dough recipe making a baby with The Pioneer Woman‘s Easy Calzone recipe…with a few of my own tweaks. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures again.

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

Let’s pause here for a public service announcement about homemade pizza dough. Do not…I repeat…do not be scared off by the homemade dough part. It’s really not that hard! And let me tell you, friends, this entirely whole wheat dough comes out perfect–light, delicious and healthy. But, here’s the trick: use white whole wheat flour. It’s so much lighter than the other variety, but still a whole grain.

I always make two batches of the dough because it’s so easy. Plus, you can freeze the extra one if you don’t have time to make calzones or pizza with it right away.

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

You can see here that after I formed the dough into a big ball, I divided it into 8 equal portions, which resulted in man-sized calzones. On the second batch, I divided it into 16 portions, which were perfect kid-sized calzones.

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

After that, I formed them into little balls and then used a rolling pin to roll them out very thin.

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

Now, what’s inside the calzone, you ask? Well, the inside of the calzone is similar to a lasagna filling. Gooey, comforting, and just plain yummy. It’s got three kinds of cheese, seasoning, and whatever cooked meat or veggies you prefer. Then, you seal them and brush on an egg wash, which gives them a nice golden color.

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

Oops, I may have overfilled my first batch a little too much. It looked like they threw up lasagna filling. But, rest assured, the calzones were still gone minutes after being set on the table.

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!
I served these guys with some warm marinara sauce. We had to put the brakes on my 8-year-old son after he consumed calzone #4. Yes, #4. I’m gonna go broke when the teenage years hit, aren’t I?
These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

I know I sound like a broken record here, but can I say how much I love that you can double and freeze these Whole Wheat Calzones? All you do is bake, cool, and freeze them. They make for an easy lunch box main dish or weeknight dinner, because you can rewarm from frozen in the microwave in minutes. I even warm them in the morning, wrap in foil and an insulated pouch in their lunchbox, and send it with my kids to school.

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

Whole Wheat Calzones have already become a regular in our dinner routine. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

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Whole Wheat Calzones

Whole Wheat Calzones

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 58 minutes
  • Yield: 8 large calzones or 16 small calzones 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever! Enjoy them for a weeknight meal and then freeze a bunch for easy lunches.


Ingredients

For Dough:

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (one 1/4 oz packet) Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (Highly recommend using white whole wheat flour!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

For Calzone Filling:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage, cooked OR 1 package uncured pepperoni, chopped (suggestion: Applegate Turkey Pepperoni)
  • 15 ounces, ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 11/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • Marinara Sauce, for serving

Instructions

For Dough:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir and let sit until the yeast starts to foam and bubble, about 10 minutes.
  2. Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on low and slowly olive oil, honey, salt and the flour in 1 cup increments until all is added. Once dough starts to form, increase speed to medium. Mix for 5 minutes, until dough is well combined.
  3. Dust the counter with flour. Remove the dough and knead on counter a few times to form a ball. Place dough in a well-greased bowl, cover loosely with a towel, and let rise for 30 minutes in a warm place. At this point, dough is ready to use for calzones or to freeze to use later.

For Calzone:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper. If using pre-cooked Italian sausage or pepperoni, stir in now. Set aside.
  3. Grab a pinch of dough and roll into about a 2 inch ball (or desired size of calzone.) Roll out very thin, about 1/4 of an inch thick.
  4. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons (approximately) filling onto half of the dough circle, leaving a little room around the edges. (Do not overfill the calzone or it will split open while baking.) Fold half of the dough over itself, then press edges to seal. Use the back of a fork to make sure it’s sealed well. Then, poke a few holes with the fork in the top of each calzone.
  5. Brush surface of calzone with beaten egg, then bake on a parchment or foiled-lined baking sheet for 10-13 minutes, or until nice and golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:
To Freeze:
Cook according to instructions. Let calzones cool. Place in an airtight freezer bag or container. Freeze until ready to eat.
To Prepare:
Wrap frozen calzone in moist paper towel. Microwave on defrost setting until warmed through.

Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Freezer Friendly Balsamic Herb Grilled Chicken is moist, tender, and packed with flavor through and through. This easy grilling recipe be turned into a freezer meal and is a great recipe for groups of people. What more can you ask for in a chicken recipe!?

chicken on a grill and on a plate

Grilling season isn’t quite over yet in mid-Missouri thankfully. We’ve had 70 and 80 degree sunny days for what feels like months and our family is loving it! We just moved across town in late August to a “new” house that has a lovely back yard, so we’ve been enjoying many nights eating dinner on the deck.

A few weeks ago I decided to try out my Balsamic Dressing with Herbs as a marinade for grilled chicken, calling it Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken (original, eh?). I had a feeling the acidity from the balsamic vinegar combined with all those herbs and spices would transform this lack-luster piece of meat. And oh my! You can see the moisture and flavor on this chicken from the pictures. But, the taste…it’s even better! This will be one of my go-to marinades, in addition to Southwest Grilled Chicken, from now on.

Chicken on a grill

I threw some Mediterranean Shrimp Skewers on the barbie too. Have you tried these yet? My kids claw for them when I set them on the table. (What you can’t see is me holding my daughter’s greedy little hand out of the photo here.)

chicken on the grill

I added some cooked quinoa (seasoned well with salt, pepper, a little butter, and garlic powder), steamed green beans, and grapes to the table for what ended in a filling, tasty, and quite healthy dinner.

Balsamic Herbed Chicken on a plate with salad

The best part: no one complained. Can I get an amen to that, parents? 

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grilled chicken, rice, zucchini, and peaches on a gray plate with fork

Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken recipe is made with all pantry staples and turns out moist, tender, and packed with flavor through and through. 


Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, crushed in hand
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed in hand
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed in hand
  • 4 chicken breasts (about 1 1/22 lbs)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Pound out the chicken to about 3/4 inch thick (or cut it in half lengthwise) to help with fast and even grilling.
  2. To a large zip-top bag, add the balsamic vinegar, oil, garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, parsley, basil, and oregano. Seal and shake to combine. Add the chicken and seal. (Freezing instructions begin here.) Refrigerate for about 2 hours and up to 24 hours to allow chicken to marinate. 
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and clean the grates well. Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side, maybe longer depending on the thickness, until done. Chicken is done when it registers 165°F internally or has no more pink inside.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-2. Seal the bag tightly and freeze. 

Prepare From Frozen: Defrost the freezer meal using one of these safe thawing methods. Cook the chicken according to Step 3. Note: Be sure to cook the thawed chicken as soon as possible so it doesn’t get mushy or tough from over-marinating.

Here are a few more easy chicken recipes you might like. All of these can be turned into freezer meals too!

Southwest Grilled Chicken Kabobs

These Grilled Marinated Chicken Kabobs are one of our favorites for the grilling season. Make ahead and freeze before or after grilling!

 

Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches

 

Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches are the ultimate chicken sandwiches for any weeknight! Just prep and freeze all the components ahead of time. This well-seasoned, versatile grilled chicken also works to top pasta or salads. #freezermeal #realfood #thrivinghome

Southwest Chicken Tenders

 

This southwest chicken tender marinade is sure to please all the eaters in your house. This healthy, freezer friendly dinner idea is full of flavor, but not spicy. Great make-ahead meal or for freezer parties or freezer clubs!

 

Pulled Pork with a Mexican Flair {Freezer Meal}

By Polly Conner

Try this unique Mexican spin on pulled pork. Made in the Dutch oven OR the slow cooker, it will feed a massive crowd and will become one of your next favorite dump and go meals. Makes a GREAT freezer meal too!

Pulled Pork on a Plate

Lets see. How do I communicate the deliciousness of this flavorful pulled pork recipe? Should I elaborate on the tangy-rich-mexicany flavor that comes with each bite?

Should I explain how great it is in a tortilla combined with guacamole, lime juice and sour cream?

Should I tell you how super easy it is to make AND that the recipe yields a ridiculous amount of freezer friendly pulled pork?

Or maybe I should just quote my husband as he was sneaking bites while I was taking pictures.

  • “Woman, what have you done?”
  • “This is dangerous.”
  • “Oh my gosh. We are never going back to BBQ sauce pulled pork.”
  • “You done did it.”

While I continue to ponder which route I should take to convince you to try this recipe, let’s walk through the steps on how to make your own flavorful pulled pork.

(Printable recipe at the bottom)

Start by buying a big ol’ pork shoulder. The recipe calls for one that is 4-7 pounds, so naturally I went with a 7 pounder. This chunk of meat is hilariously huge.

Pat it dry so it will soak up the yummy rub you are about to put on it.

Patting dry a pork shoulder

In a food processor or blender, toss in: 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 2 tablespoons salt, pepper to taste, 4 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons white cooking wine, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 medium onion (quartered).

Blend it up until it is nice and smooth.

Marinade for freezer friendly pulled pork

Dump it on your pork shoulder.

marinade on top of pork shoulder

It’s about to get messy so take off any rings!

Rings

Using your hands, rub the rub (hehe) into the meat. Make sure to cover all of the surfaces.

Pork shoulder in a dutch oven

Now, pop it into a 300 degree oven for about 4.5 hours. If your pork shoulder is on the smaller side (4-5 lbs), cook it a little less.

About half way through, at about 2 hours of cooking, flip the pork over.

When pork is done, take it out leaving the lid on. Crank up the heat to 425 degrees. Remove the lid and put it back in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the surface of the meat is browned.

Remove the pork from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.

Using two forks, start to pull the meat apart. (Get it, pulled pork!)

Shredding pulled pork

Do your best to fend off hungry children or husbands who may interfere.

After the meat is pulled apart, use a ladle and pour some of the remaining juice over the meat.

Pulled pork on a plate

Serve with your favorite Mexican fixins. We like it with a squeeze of fresh lime, guac and sour cream.

Pulled pork in a tortilla

As I mentioned, this recipe makes a ridiculous amount. It was enough for our dinner, lunch the next day, AND two freezer meals for the future.

Pulled pork in freezer containers

Pulled pork on a plate with limes

As if this didn’t make enough pulled pork for us, next time I make this, I will buy two pork shoulders, double the marinade, make one for dinner, and then freeze one (in the marinade) for future dinners. You’re welcome.

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Great pulled pork recipe that is made in the dutch oven. Packed with flavor and makes a ton!

Pulled Pork with a Mexican Flare {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican American

Description

Try this unique Mexican spin on pulled pork. Made in the dutch oven or the crock pot, it will feed a massive crowd and will become one of your next favorite freezer friendly crockpot meals. Serve it up with all your favorite Mexican toppings. Makes an awesome freezer meal too.


Ingredients

  • 47 Pounds Pork Shoulder
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt
  • Pepper To Taste
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons White Cooking Wine
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 medium Onion

Instructions

  1. Rinse and pat dry the pork shoulder.
  2. Throw the dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine, brown sugar and onion (cut into quarters) into a food processor or blender.
  3. Blend the mixture until totally combined and then pour it over the pork shoulder.
  4. Rub mixture over every surface of the meat you can find.
  5. Place the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven and add 2 cups of water. Cover tightly and roast pork at 300º for 4.5 hours, turning once at the half way point.
  6. When the pork is tender and can peel away, crank up the heat to 425, remove the lid, and roast it, skin side up for another 15 to 20 minutes to get the skin crispy. When it’s done, let it rest for 15 minutes before shredding.
  7. Using two forks, shred the pork. When it’s all shredded be sure to pour the juices all over the meat.
  8. Serve with warm tortillas, lime wedges, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa, or whatever other Mexican fixings you like.

Notes

Slow Cooker Instructions:

Cook the meat and sauce in the slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours. Shred and broil for a few minutes at the end to add a crispy crust.

Freezer Meal Instructions:
To Freeze:
Follow steps 1-4 but then place marinaded pork into a freezer bag and seal. Freeze that baby up!
To Prepare:
Let the pork thaw for 48 hours in your fridge. Then follow instructions 5-7.

Make sure to check out our 101 Real Food Slow Cooker Freezer Meals too!

101 Real Food Slow Cooker Freezer Meals - Your life just got easier and healthier with this list of the best whole foods freezer meals for the slow cooker. Enjoy these real food crockpot recipes today or freeze for later.

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer
This Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin is a lean, flavor-packed, crowd-pleaser. It's been part of our family dinner rotation for years. #freezermeal #realfood

True or False? Once upon a time, a local news reporter did a 5 o’clock news story about my Freezer Club. My only line in the whole thing was, “I’ve never met a pork tenderloin I didn’t love.”

True. And my husband still loves to quote my “famous” line back to me almost every time we eat pork tenderloin. Hey, but look. It’s truly an awesome, easy-to-fix, and hard-to-mess-up piece of affordable meat. And, this Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin recipe has been part of our regular dinner rotation for years.

This Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin is a lean, flavor-packed, crowd-pleaser. It's been part of our family dinner rotation for years. #freezermeal #realfood

The seasoning rub turns this bland cut into something superb every time. Kids and adults ask for this one around our house. So, don’t forget to double or triple this recipe and freeze extras for later. Freezer meal instructions are included.

This Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin is a lean, flavor-packed, crowd-pleaser. It's been part of our family dinner rotation for years. #freezermeal #realfood
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This Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin is a lean, flavor-packed, crowd-pleaser. It's been part of our family dinner rotation for years. #freezermeal #realfood

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A wide range of dried herbs and seasonings from the pantry makes this simple main dish a win every time. Roasting at a high temperature creates a crust on the outside, while cooking it just until it’s done (and not a minute more) and letting the tenderloin rest, keeps all the juices inside. Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin pairs nicely with creamy mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, and a crisp white wine.


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In small bowl combine garlic powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, thyme, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Place pork tenderloin in foil-lined or parchment-lined roasting pan. Pat dry. Then, drizzle and rub about 1 tablespoon olive oil all over pork tenderloin.
  4. Next, rub the seasoning mixture all over the tenderloin, pressing gently so the seasoning adheres well to all sides.
  5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until it reaches an internal temp of 145 degrees. (Note: At this safe internal temperature, it will still be slightly pink inside.) Do not overcook. (Note: If you prefer to cook in your slow cooker, instructions are at the bottom.
  6. Let meat rest for 5-10 minutes so juices redistribute. Slice on an angle and serve.

Notes

Slow Cooker Instructions:
Complete recipe through Step 4. Add pork tenderloin to the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 2-3 hours. (Internal temperature should be 145 degrees F when done.) Let meat rest for 5-10 minutes so juices redistribute. Slice on an angle and serve.

Freezer Meal Instructions:
To Freeze:
Complete Steps 2-4 and place the seasoned, uncooked pork tenderloin in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.
To Prepare:
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Set on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes right before cooking. Then, roast in a preheated 450 degrees F oven according to the directions in Step 5 and 6. If the middle is still cold, it may take longer to reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Need a side dish idea?

Serve this with our 3-Minute No-Boil Corn on the Cob!

Slow Cooker Steak Chili

By Rachel Tiemeyer
Slow Cooker Steak Chili is a super easy dump-and-go meal, yet incredibly flavorful! Make ahead and freeze. #freezermeal #realfood #thrivinghome

Three cheers for the slow cooker! I love this set it and forget it Slow Cooker Steak Chili because I don’t have to do anything but dump it in, set the timer, and walk away. Seriously. Several hours later I’ve got a hearty and comforting family meal.

Slow Cooker Steak Chili is a super easy dump and go meal but is full of Tex-mex flavor! Delish! #freezermeal #realfood

Just a few minutes of prep work results in an all-day, slow-cooked Tex Mex flavor! Wouldn’t this be a fun tailgate recipe in the fall?

Note: The heat level is fairly mild, so be sure to kick up the red pepper flakes if you like it hot.

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Slow Cooker Steak Chili is a super easy dump and go meal but is full of Tex-mex flavor! Delish! #freezermeal #realfood

Slow Cooker Steak Chili

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: Chili
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Slow Cooker Steak Chili for the win! This dump-and-go crockpot meal is hearty, flavorful, and freezer-friendly.


Ingredients

  • pounds stew beef, cut in 2-inch chunks
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced (or 1/2 cup frozen diced onions, to save time)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, with juice (tip: use fire-roasted tomatoes for more flavor)
  • 1 cup beef broth 
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to add heat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • Optional toppings: grated cheese*, sour cream or Greek yogurt*, diced avocados, a squeeze of lime, and/or fresh cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, hot sauce or salsa

*Omit if making a dairy-free version.


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Place all ingredients, except the optional toppings, in the slow cooker. Gently stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours, until beef shreds easily two forks.
  3. Shred the beef with two forks before serving, if desired. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, as needed. Add optional toppings of choice and serve warm. 

Freeze For Later:

Option 1 (Uncooked): Add all ingredients, except the optional toppings, to a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.

Option 2 (Fully Cooked): Cook and completely cool the chili. Place in a freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen:

Option 1 (Uncooked): Thaw completely using one of these safe thawing methods. Dump all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Follow Steps 2 and 3.

Option 2 (Fully Cooked): Thaw completely using one of these safe thawing methods. Warm in a pot on the stove over medium-low heat, until warmed through. Stir occasionally.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken and Veggies

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Slow Cooker Chicken and Veggies resulted in perfectly moist chicken and flavorful veggies. This simple method of generously seasoning the chicken inside and out took no time at all and was a family-pleaser.

Between baseball games, multiple school drop offs and pick ups, working two part-time jobs, and pretending to keep up with laundry…I am ALL ABOUT my slow cooker these days.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Veggies - An easy and healthy weeknight dinner.

For sure the best meals we have at this life stage tend to be ones that require opening the slow cooker lid (and maybe adding a quick veggie, fruit, and maybe some sort of quick starch to the table) at 5 p.m. That’s because I can enjoy my family during the dinner prep hour instead of getting frustrated at interruptions.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Veggies - An easy and healthy weeknight dinner.

One of my family’s favorite meals over the years is this older Roasted Chicken with Veggies recipe. It’s to die for. Plus, whole chicken is one of the cheapest ways to enjoy chicken, especially when you try to buy the organic birds like I do. But, because of my infatuation with the slow cooker, I began researching what it takes to “set it and forget it”. Last night, I gave Slow Cooker Whole Chicken and Veggies a shot.

The chicken came out perfectly moist and flavorful! And the veggies were a bonus, as well. I tried a simple method of generously seasoning the chicken inside and out based on advice from Gimme Some Oven’s similar recipe, which took no time at all. And, the chicken juices made a nice sauce for the veggies, too. I can’t wait to try my original Roasted Chicken recipe with lemon, rosemary and garlic in the slow cooker, too.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Veggies - An easy and healthy weeknight dinner.

Now, one thing to note is that the Slow Cooker Whole Chicken does not come out with a nice browned crust like it does in the oven. So, I went ahead and broiled it in the oven for a few minutes at the end to get that texture on the outside. You can certainly skip this step, though.

Happy weeknight dinner to you!

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Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Veggies - An easy and healthy weeknight dinner.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken and Veggies

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

An easy and healthy weeknight dinner that can stretch a buck. Put this one on your repeat list.


Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (35 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (increase for more heat)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 23 medium yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  2. Place the vegetables in the bottom of a large (6 quart) slow cooker.
  3. Remove the neck and other parts of the chicken that are inside the cavity. (Be brave!) Place the chicken, breast side down, in slow cooker. Rub the spice mix all over the bird, inside and out. Wash your hands well.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when it registers 165°F  near the inner thigh, between the leg and breast.)
  5. OPTIONAL: To get a crispy skin, remove the chicken from the crock at the very end of the cooking time and place in a baking dish. Place under a preheated broiler for about 3-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it so the chicken doesn’t burn.
  6. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving. (I recommend carving on a large wooden chopping board.)
  7. Bonus: Save all the bones and leftover juices (and even the neck!) to make bone broth in your slow cooker. Throw all the bones/leftover juice, along with some onion, celery, carrots, and a bay leaf back into the crock. Set to LOW and let cook overnight. Strain out the vegetables and bones. Cool and freeze the broth for later use.

Notes

To ensure that the vegetables cook evenly, be sure to dice them the same size. I would also suggest cutting them smaller than I did in this picture! My carrots were still a bit too crunchy, but the potatoes were perfect.

How to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs

By Polly Conner

How to make homemade breadcrumbs. You will be surprised at how simple and easy this is! Homemade breadcrumbs are SO much healthier than the store bought ones. Give them a try!

For those of you who have been cooking with “real foods” (foods that are more of a product of nature than a product of industry), the idea making your own breadcrumbs may seem elementary. Perhaps not even worth a post.

However, when I began to dive into cooking food from scratch more, I would often buy bread crumbs from the store not knowing how easily I could make my own. What I didn’t realize was how much money I could save by making my own breadcrumbs AND that store bought breadcrumbs have a ridiculous amount of ingredients in them.

Well I’m here today to:

1) Make you feel like super woman if making your breadcrumbs is second nature

OR

2) Blow your mind on how easy it is to make your own breadcrumbs. Ready?

 Step One: Get some bread.

It can be the heels of past loaves that have collected in the freezer, or even slightly stale bread (not moldy though!). If it’s not very stale or dry, you can always toast it for a little extra crisp.

This delicious version of bread crumbs is homemade and fan static! Try to make some - it will not disappoint.

Step Two: Tear it up a little bit and put in the food processor.

These steps are getting crazy, I know. This delicious version of bread crumbs is homemade and fan static! Try to make some - it will not disappoint.

Step Three: Press On

Let it blend until the bread is all broken into little bitty pieces-otherwise known as breadcrumbs. This delicious version of bread crumbs is homemade and fan static! Try to make some - it will not disappoint.

Step Four: Use them or save them.

You can immediately use your breadcrumbs on recipes like: A Better Mac and Cheese, Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Parmesan Casserole,  or Crispy Baked Drumsticks

You can also put the crumbs into an airtight container and freeze them for future cooking.

It’s a great way to be resourceful with leftover bread and to save money on the grocery bill. If you make your own bread, it can also dramatically cut back on the amount of unnecessary ingredients that comes with store bought bread.

This delicious version of bread crumbs is homemade and fan static! Try to make some - it will not disappoint.

Hope this little nugget of cooking wisdom serves you well. Pin it to your boards so you don’t forget!

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How to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Prepare
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Do you have any idea HOW easy it is to make homemade bread crumbs? Think of the many things you could do with them. This recipe will show you how to effortlessly make delicious bread crumbs.


Ingredients

  • 46 slices of leftover bread (can be from freezer)

Instructions

  1. Select your slices of bread.
  2. Tear up the bread a little bit and put in the food processor.
  3. Let it blend until the bread is all broken into little bitty pieces-otherwise known as breadcrumbs.
  4. Use (or save) the bread crumbs.

Notes

Freezer Instructions:
To Freeze:
Put the crumbs into an airtight container and freeze them for future cooking. Store them in the freezer for up to one month.
To Prepare:
Use the crumbs as needed in particular recipes.

Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

  Delicious and healthy! Make this baked oatmeal ahead of time for a warm and comforting breakfast the whole family will love. Double and freeze an extra one for later, too. #freezermeal #realfood

After discovering how life-changing (well, close) Brownie Baked Oatmeal can be, I knew I had to try other forms of this make ahead oatmeal breakfast. Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal did not disappoint.

The first time I made this, I prepared it the night before, popped it in the oven at 5:50 a.m. in the morning. And, by 1 p.m. it was gone. Yes, we had it for breakfast and lunch! It’s like dessert, except healthier. It’s full of protein-rich, fiber-rich ingredients that will keep you full all morning long. Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal has been in the regular breakfast line-up for years.Delicious and healthy! Make this baked oatmeal ahead of time for a warm and comforting breakfast the whole family will love. Double and freeze an extra one for later, too. #freezermeal #realfood

Little people go crazy over this stuff. I mean it. Make a lot! I serve it with a little milk over the top.

One of my favorite parts of a simple recipe like this is that you can make two at one time and freeze it for later. As you probably know, Freezer Meals are our passion and specialty around here. So, I included Freezer Meal directions at the bottom of the recipe.

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Delicious and healthy! Make this baked oatmeal ahead of time for a warm and comforting breakfast the whole family will love. Double and freeze an extra one for later, too. #freezermeal #realfood

Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Delicious and healthy! Make this baked oatmeal ahead of time for a warm and comforting breakfast the whole family will love. Double and freeze an extra one for later, too.


Ingredients

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (Why eat flaxseed?)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/31/2 cup honey (I prefer raw honey)
  • 1 cup milk (any kind will do)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter, melted or softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/31/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flax, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and bananas. (Tip: I find it’s much easier to throw all of the wet ingredients into the blender instead.)
  4. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
  5. Spread into the dish. Bake at 350°F until firm around the corners and still a little soft in the middle, about 20-25 minutes. If you like it a little crunchy on top, cook for a few minutes longer.
  6. Serve warm in bowls with milk poured over the top. We also like fresh berries on top. Enjoy!

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To Freeze: Prepare according to directions but freeze the baked oatmeal before baking. Wrap tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap and one layer of foil. Place in the back of the freezer for up to 3 months.

To Prepare: When ready to eat, thaw in the fridge for 24 hours and bake according to directions. You can also defrost in the microwave and bake.

Mini Italian Burgers {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house. Freezing instructions included.

Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
Oh how I hate a boring, flavorless piece of meat. That’s why I’ve been making these Mini Italian Burgers for years. They are packed full of fresh flavor (and some added nutrition) thanks to the additions of Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, tomato paste, garlic and more.
Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
And, just recently I discovered how completely amazing these burgers are served on these easy, homemade Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns. I don’t know if I can go back to store-bought buns after these. They are inexpensive, healthier, and flat-out delicious. Although they don’t contain any preservatives, they also store well for a few days on the counter.
Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
Add some Roasted Asparagus, Oven Fries, and fresh fruit salad to the Mini Italian Burgers and you’ve got a family-pleaser! My kids and husband devoured this meal…

 

Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
These raw burgers also freeze well. So, save yourself some money by buying ground beef in bulk and save yourself some time by simply doubling and freezing an extra batch of these for later. Freezer meal instructions are included below.
Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
If you like these simple, delicious burgers, you’ll love our cookbook called From Freezer to Table that is packed full of healthy, family-friendly freezer meals. You can make all the recipes as either a fresh meal or into a freezer meal. We show you how to feed your family healthy, homemade food all while saving time, money, and stress. This book is filled with our families’ favorite recipes all in one ultimate resource. Watch this 60 second peek inside our cookbook…
 
 
Now, ready to whip up some mini burgers (and make an extra batch for later)?
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