Posts

Turkey Pesto Paninis

By Polly Conner

These Turkey Pesto Paninis have been a fan-favorite for YEARS. They come together quickly, make a great lunch, dinner, or last-minute weeknight meal. You can even make them in bulk and freeze them! The pesto brings a great taste and the sun-dried tomatoes add a punch of flavor that puts them over the top.

Freezer Friendly turkey pesto paninis stacked

Considering the simplicity of this recipe, I cannot believe how fabulous they are. They are one of the few recipes from this site that we chose to go into our cookbook, From Freezer to Table. They have proven to be a favorite among website visitors AND cookbook users.

What Makes a Great Turkey Pesto Panini

Let’s talk about the ingredients, shall we?

TURKEY – I prefer to use deli sliced turkey. It’s fresher, healthier (less preservatives), and just tastes better. Shredded turkey would be a delicious alternative too! This can be a great recipe to use up some from a smoked or fried turkey from Thanksgiving! Another great sub for this panini is shredded chicken. Totally yum!

PESTO – The fresher the better! My first choice would be to use our homemade Pesto recipe. And when I say “first choice”, I mean this choice is FAR ahead of my other choices. My second choice would be refrigerated pesto. I found that I like this kind a bit more than the jarred kind.

SUN-DRIED TOMATOES – I’ve used both dry-packed and the jarred kind in these paninis and both will work. I do prefer the jarred kind a bit more than the dried ones but it really comes down to what you prefer.

BREAD – This can be played with a bit too. I do love a good ciabatta roll for this type of panini, but I’ve also been known to use sour dough bread.

Hands assembling turkey pesto paninis

Can You Freeze Paninis?

Many don’t think of a panini as a freezer meal. The great news is, they work great to make ahead and freeze! I especially love them because like many of our Freezer Meals for 1-2 People, they can be individually wrapped before freezing. That way you can pull one out at a time!

TO FREEZE: Wrap the (uncooked) sandwiches individually in foil, place in a large freezer bag, seal, and freeze.

TO PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Unwrap and thaw using the microwave defrost setting or in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Cook as directed.

Hands prepping turkey pesto paninis for the freezer

Do I Need a Panini Press to Make these?

Nope! I don’t even own one. I simply use a cast iron skillet to sit on top of them while they are cooking to give that panini-squished-sandwich feel.

What Goes Well with Turkey Pesto Paninis?

Here are some side dish ideas that would go well with this sandwich.

Strawberry Avocado Salad

Tomato Bisque

Chopped Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Print

Turkey Pesto Paninis {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 minutes
  • Yield: 3 paninis 1x
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Toasting
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Did you know that Paninis can make a great freezer meal?! Considering the simplicity of this recipe, I cannot believe how great these freezer friendly Turkey Pesto Paninis are. To make them a freezer meal, simply assemble them and wrap them up before cooking. You can of course eat them fresh too. So simple and so delicious!


Ingredients

  • 6 whole wheat ciabatta rolls (or 12 slices of sourdough)
  • 612 slices provolone cheese
  • ½ cup Pesto
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 pound all-natural deli turkey slices 2–3 tablespoons softened butter

Instructions

To Make One Sandwich

  1. Butter the outside of both pieces of bread.
  2. Then spread pesto on the inside of both pieces.
  3. Add 1-2 slices of Swiss cheese.
  4. Add turkey.
  5. Heat skillet to medium-high heat.
  6. Place sandwich on heated skillet. Leave long enough for cheese to melt or until the bread gets toasted to your preference.
  7. When you flip it the first time, make sure to press down on the sandwich with a spatula. Do this a few times throughout cooking.
  8. Feel free to play with the ingredients.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To Freeze: Follow steps 1-4. Wrap uncooked sandwiches tightly and freeze.

To Prepare from Frozen: Thaw. Follow steps 5-7.

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:

Print

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

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

By Polly Conner

Who doesn’t love a simple BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich with moist shredded meat? After a day in the slow cooker, this shredded pork is a total crowd pleaser. Not only is it an easy dump and go meal for the Crockpot but it also makes a great make-ahead freezer meal!

Slow cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches on a yellow plate
Image Credit: Hélène Dujardin in From Freezer to Cooker

Why We Love Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This BBQ Pulled Pork has been a regular around our house. It’s SUPER easy, freezes beautifully, and makes a lot of servings. Since we used rolls to turn the last batch into pulled pork sandwiches, it was enough to feed 10+ people!

A butcher will tell you to plan for 1/2 pound per person but I find that to be pretty generous. I guess it just depends on the appetites of those you are feeding.

How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (A short video tutorial)

This crock pot pulled pork recipe is hard to screw up. Watch and see how easy it comes together!

What Ingredients do I need to make Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork?

The ingredients are SO simple! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1, 3-4 lb. pork shoulder (also known as Boston butt)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (Here is our homemade recipe)
Ingredients for slow cooker bbq pulled pork

How Long Do I Cook Pork Shoulder in the Slow Cooker?

After testing hundreds of recipes for our slow cooker cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we found that cooking a 3-4 pound pork shoulder should take 7-9 hours depending on your slow cooker.

Oftentimes, people take the pork out too early because it appears to be tough and dry. However, the pork needs lots of time to break down the fibers holding the meat together. When cooked correctly, pork in the slow cooker should be tender and juicy.

Cooked pulled pork on a wooden spoon coming out of the slow cooker

After years of testing slow cooker recipes for our website and cookbooks, we’ve developed a reliable cooking times chart for all different types of recipes. Never overcook or undercook a recipe in the slow cooker again!

How to serve Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

My favorite way to eat it is as a sandwich. If you want to go gluten-free, eat it without a bun. I serve it with more Killer Homemade BBQ Sauce on the side. Some side dishes that go well with Slow Cooker Pulled Pork are:

BBQ Pulled Pork on a plate with asian slaw

Can I freeze pulled pork?

YES! Like so many of our freezer meal recipes, BBQ Pulled Pork works great as a make-ahead freezer meal. To make this recipe into a freezer meal, follow these instructions:

TO FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow steps 1 and 2. Place the seasoned pork and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce in a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. Place the remaining 1 ⁄2 cup BBQ sauce in a small freezer bag or container and the buns in a separate freezer bag. Seal and freeze them alongside the pork.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Thaw. Place the pork in the slow cooker. Follow steps 4 through 6.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich on a white plate

This is a great recipe to stock up on when pork goes on sale! Such an easy freezer meal and a great meal to take to others.

Print

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 810 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This pulled pork recipe is a cinch to make when you whip it up in the crockpot. Add some BBQ sauce and your dinner is done!


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 (3- to 4-pound) pork shoulder (also known as Boston butt), trimmed

  • 1.5 cups BBQ sauce, homemade or your favorite all-natural store-bought BBQ sauce


Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels and rub it with the seasoning mix to coat all sides. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Place the seasoned pork in the slow cooker and top with 1 cup of the BBQ sauce.
  4. Cover and cook on Low for 7 to 9 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat easily shreds.
  5. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and shred the meat. Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir it into the sauce.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to the toasted buns and top with the remaining BBQ sauce as desired. Serve.

FREEZE FOR LATER:

Follow steps 1 and 2. Place the seasoned pork and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce in a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. Place the remaining 1 2 cup BBQ sauce in a small freezer bag or container and the buns in a separate freezer bag. Seal and freeze them alongside the pork.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN:

Thaw. Place the pork in the slow cooker. Follow steps 4 through 6.

Making this for a group of people? Here are more recipe ideas for large groups if you need some! You can also check out our 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes for a Crowd if you want more ideas.

Collage image of 20+ meal ideas for groups of people

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Freezer-friendly lunch wraps are nutritious, hearty, and completely adaptable to whatever your family might like in them!

fruit and tortilla wraps on plates

Right now during this time of quarantine, I know many of you are right where I’m at–trying to keep up with work, homeschooling your kids, feeding your family three meals/day, and trying not to gain the ‘Rona 15.

Meals have to be simple and something your kids won’t groan about. A bonus is if it’s cheap and healthy, too.

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps to the rescue, my friends.

strawberries, grapes, vegetarian burrito wrap on a plate

These Lunch Wraps were a staple in my Freezer Club many years ago and make for a healthy and quick lunch or dinner when you’re hanging by a thread.

Video Tutorial: Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

I mean really, it couldn’t be simpler to make these. Watch this short tutorial to see how to make these freezable wraps…

Why Make Freezer-Friendly Lunch Wraps?

Yes, this question deserves an entire section. Because you NEED to know how serious I am about you trying this recipe. It might just save your sanity this week.

  1. They’re cheap.
  2. Uses up leftover rice and beans of any kind.
  3. Fast to prepare. Easy to grab and go.
  4. Healthy and will keep you satiated. Just because they lack meat doesn’t mean they won’t fill you up!
  5. Freezable! (Our favorite way to save time!)

See why my Freezer Club friends and I have made Lunch Wraps for years? Now it’s time to join the “club”.

What Are in Make Ahead Lunch Wraps?

ingredients for make ahead lunch wraps on a cutting board

All you need are 6 simple ingredients:

  • Whole wheat tortillas – Flour tortillas are preferred because they hold up best. Note: corn tortillas will not work well.
  • Brown rice – Substitute ideas: white rice or quinoa.
  • Black beans – Kidney or pinto beans work well, too.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese – Or substitute your preferred shredded cheese. Here’s how to shred your own cheese.
  • Salsa – Use your favorite brand and preferred heat level.
  • Corn – Canned, frozen, or fresh will work.

Feel free to toss in anything else that floats your boat: baby spinach, sautéed bell peppers and onions, green chilis, taco meat, grilled chicken, etc.

Can You Freeze Wraps?

Absolutely! Just follow our simple freezer meal instructions…

vegetarian lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board with small bowls of corn, salsa, and rice

To Freeze Wraps for Later:

Assemble lunch wraps as recipe states. After tortillas are wrapped in foil and before baking (Step #2), place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Prepare Wraps From Frozen:

To heat from frozen, add about 10-15 minutes on to baking time (so total baking time is about 25-35 minutes). Or remove foil, wrap in a moist paper towel, and microwave in 30-60 second increments until heated through.

What to Serve with Lunch Wraps

Here are a few ideas to serve alongside this super simple recipe…

freezer-friendly lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board

Creamy Avocado Dip

creamy avocado dip

Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

What to Do with Leftover Tortillas

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

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps Recipe

Print
freezer-friendly lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 lunch wraps 1x
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Lunch wraps are nutritious, hearty, and completely adaptable to whatever your family might like in them! Make a batch and freeze them for a delicious lunch!


Ingredients

  • 6 (8-inch) whole wheat or multigrain tortillas (corn tortillas are not recommended)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup black or kidney beans, cooked or canned (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drained)
  • 1/2 cup salsa (your favorite kind)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (how to shred your own cheese)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lay out the tortillas on a cutting board or clean surface. Evenly distribute the rice, beans, corn, salsa, and cheese among each one. Roll up like a burrito, tucking in the bottom and top and rolling tightly. Wrap each burrito in foil. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Bake directly on an oven rack for about 15-20 minutes, until hot all the way through.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1 and 2. Then, place the uncooked wraps in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: To heat from frozen, you have two options:

Option 1 (Oven): Cook according to Step 3, adding about 10-15 minutes on to baking time. So, the total baking time will be about 25-35 minutes.

Option 2 (Microwave): Remove the foil, wrap in a moist paper towel, and microwave in 30-60 second increments until heated through.

Super Sloppy Joes

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This homemade veggie-rich Sloppy Joes recipe with a tangy-sweet tomato sauce is a family favorite. Double and freeze extras for later!

Sloppy Joes in a bun on a plate with salad

After polling dozens of my friends and family, I learned that Sloppy Joes are quite the divisive meal. People either love them or hate them.

I counted myself as a hater until just a few years ago because I always envisioned the canned version from childhood. Yuck!

sloppy joes mixture in a pan

However, I decided to give this poor man’s entree a try again, albeit the non-canned, non-processed, veggie-rich, grass-fed beef version.

Why? Simply, my husband loves them and my kids will eat them.

ingredients for sloppy joes recipe including red pepper, garlic, ground beef, tomato sauce

And I was won over by this particular recipe; the tangy-sweet tomato sauce surprised me in a good way. Plus, you know I love any recipe where I can sneak in more vegetables for my family.

Now these are the only Sloppy Joes my family (and Polly’s family) likes!

How to Make Super Sloppy Joes

Watch this 1 minute video tutorial to see just how easy it is to make sloppy joes from scratch…

How to Freeze Sloppy Joes for Later

sloppy joes mixture in small freezer containers

A smart idea is to package up any of the leftovers into individual serving sizes and freeze them for easy lunches in the future. Or, of course, you can always double this recipe and freeze an entire batch for another family meal, another night.

How to Freeze for Later: To make sloppy joes into a freezer meal, fully cook an then let the sloppy joe mixture cool. Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Try to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly before freezing. Here are our favorite freezer containers.

How to Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the meal using one of these safe methods. Warm the meat mixture over medium-low heat on the stove or on Low in the slow cooker, gently stirring until heated through. (Tip: Add chicken or beef broth if it needs more liquid.) Serve as directed in the recipe.

Serving Suggestions for Super Sloppy Joes

We served our sloppy joe mixture on whole wheat hamburger buns. Tip: Toast the insides of the buns under the broiler for a minute, so they hold up well.

We like to serve them with Oven Steak Fries and a simple green salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing.

Two plates with forks and sloppy joes, fries, and salad

Sloppy Joes Recipe

Full of veggies and flavor, you’ll love our freezer-friendly Super Sloppy Joes recipe…

Print

Super Sloppy Joes

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This homemade version of Sloppy Joes is packed with veggies and has such great flavor! Your family will never ask for the canned variety again.


Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed; we get ours here)
  • 2 teaspoons all-natural steak seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans unsalted tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns (or 8 mini buns), toasted (Gluten-Free Option: Use GF buns.)
  • Optional: cheddar cheese slices (Omit this for the Dairy-Free Option.)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, until shimmery. Add the ground beef* to the pan and begin to break it up while it browns. Sprinkle the brown sugar and steak seasoning evenly over the meat and continue to stir and break it up until it has browned completely. Remove the meat to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the oil.
  2. Wipe out the skillet and place it over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. When the oil is shimmery, add the carrot, onion, red peppers to the skillet. Cook until veggies are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire during the last 30-60 seconds of cook time.
  3. Stir in the cooked meat, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and maple syrup to the veggies until combined. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer. Taste and season with salt, if needed. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile meat mixture onto toasted bun bottoms**. Add a slice of cheese, if desired, and top with bun.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3 and let the Sloppy Joes mixture cool (see our tips for doing this quickly here). Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Try to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly before freezing.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the meal using one of these safe methods. Warm the meat mixture over medium-low heat on the stove or on Low in the slow cooker, gently stirring until heated through. (Tip: Add chicken or beef broth if it needs more liquid.) Follow Step 4.


Notes

*You can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken for the ground beef, if desired.

**To toast the hamburger buns, place them on a sheet pan with the insides facing up. Preheat the oven’s broiler to high and broil them on the top rack for about a minute or until golden brown. Watch closely so they don’t burn!

Looking for more ground beef recipes?

Check out our Top 10 Ground Beef Freezer Meals!

Ground Beef Freezer Meals

Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

By Polly Conner

With just a few pantry ingredients, you can have a large batch of marinara sauce cooking in your slow cooker in no time. You can also use this homemade marinara recipe to stock your freezer. Instant Pot and freezing instructions included, as well!

slow cooker marinara sauce in mason jars
Photo credit: Hélèn Dujardin in From Freezer to Cooker

Making marinara sauce in the crock pot is incredibly easy. It’s very similar to the one in our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, but this batch is doubled so you can make lots (14 cups!) to stock the freezer!

What ingredients do I need to make marinara sauce in the slow cooker?

With a few simple pantry ingredients, you can have your home smelling delicious as marinara cooks in the slow cooker. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • Garlic
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Fresh or dried basil
  • Fresh or dried parsley
  • Red pepper flakes

How long do I cook marinara sauce in the slow cooker?

Homemade marinara is one of those recipes in which the longer your cook it, the better it is.

You’ll cook this marinara recipe in the slow cooker on low for 9-11 hours or on high for 5-7 hours.

Homemade marinara sauce in a mason jar

Can I make marinara sauce in the Instant Pot?

You bet! Here is how to make homemade marinara in the Instant Pot.

Depending on the size of your Instant Pot, you’ll likely need to cut this recipe in half. (An 8 quart Instant Pot might work for this amount of sauce, but since we haven’t test it, we can’t say for sure.) Bottom line: You always need to leave the top 1/3 of the Instant Pot empty to create room for pressure to build.

Set the Instant Pot to “Saute.” Pour the oil into the pot and heat until shimmery. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 to 60 seconds more, until fragrant.

Press “Cancel.” Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release the pressure. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

How do I freeze homemade marinara sauce?

Since this recipe makes a large batch, you’ll want to save it for future recipes. Here is how you freeze homemade marinara sauce:

  1. Let the cooked sauce cool completely.
  2. Place the sauce in BPA-free freezer bags, freezer containers, or wide mouth mason jars, being sure to leave at least 1 inch of headspace.
  3. Seal and freeze for up to 6 months.
  4. To prepare, just thaw using one of our safe thawing methods.
slow cooker marinara sauce in a bowl

Recipes that use slow cooker marinara sauce

Here are some recipe ideas that you can use your homemade marinara sauce for:

Beefy Baked Ravioli in casserole dish
Print

Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 9 hours
  • Total Time: 9 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 28 servings (or about 14 cups) 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Homemade marinara sauce that is slow cooked in a 6 quart crock pot with just a few ingredients!


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 4 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic for about 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. 
  2. Add the onion/garlic mixture and the rest of the ingredients into a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on LOW for 9-11 hours (or on HIGH for 5-7 hours).
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.

Freeze For Later: Cook the sauce and let it cool completely. Portion into to freezer bags, freezer containers, or mason jars, being careful to leave at least 1 inch of head room at the top for expansion. 

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the sauce using one of these safe thawing methods. Warm over medium-low to low heat on the stove, or use the microwave.


Notes

  • Cut this recipe in half for 3 quart slow cookers and for 6 quart Instant Pots (because you need head room at the top to build pressure).
Marinara sauce in mason jars

Egg-in-a-Hole: A Classic Breakfast Idea

By Polly Conner
Eggs in a hole on a plate

Why I love Eggs-in-a-Hole

There are quite a few reasons this mama loves a good ‘ol egg-in-a-hole for breakfast.

  • It’s quick and easy to make. It’s one of my go-to weekday breakfasts.
  • It’s cheap. All you need are a few pantry ingredients: eggs, butter and bread.
  • It’s got protein. I find it hard to get healthy protein in the morning and I know that a crash will come mid-morning if I only eat carbs for breakfast.
  • If you use whole wheat bread, it is an entire breakfast of real food ingredients. No additives or mystery ingredients.
  • Lastly, my whole family likes it! It’s a recipe that any age can be happy about.
Eggs in a hole sliced on a plate

Making an egg-in-a-hole is very simple. Just fry an egg inside of a piece of bread.

However, since I have made eggs-in-a-hole seemingly hundreds of times, I’ve learned a few tricks that have perfected the process. The detailed instructions below are to help you see exactly what I do when I make them but I wanted to make sure you knew it doesn’t have to be complicated AND you don’t have to do it exactly like me.

Onward!

How to Make a Great Egg-in-a-Hole (+ some pro tips!)

Using a round cutter of some type, remove a circle from the inside of a piece of bread. (Tip: if you don’t have a cutter, you can use the top of a drinking glass or mason jar!)

Bread with a hole cut out of the center

Set your “roundies” (as we like to call them) aside.

Now this tip is very important for the next step: use softened butter. We always have some out on our counter and it comes in handy!

Softened butter

Spread the softened butter on ONE side of your bread. Just one. Trust me. You’ll understand later.

bread with holes cut out of the center

Depending on the size of your skillet or pan, warm 1-2 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. It should be to the point that it will sizzle when you put something on it. Mine usually takes about 5 minutes on medium to get to this point. If it starts smoking, remove it from the heat and let it cool down a touch.

You want to have enough butter to coat the majority of the pan’s surface. Once it starts melting, tip your pan around so the butter spreads all over it.

butter melting on a pan

Now, place your bread, butter side up on the pan.

Eggs in a hole cooking

Crack an egg into each of the holes.

It is at this point that you have options.

Eggs in a hole cooking

I know as an adult, I’m supposed to like runny yolks but I just don’t and neither do my kids. So when I make them for us, after I crack the egg, I break the yolk of the egg open and let it spill out. 

If I’m making them for my husband, I let the yolk remain intact because he likes it a little oozy.

Eggs in a hole cooking

Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper.

After a few minutes, flip and cook the other side to your desired level of doneness.

Eggs in a hole cooking

Don’t forget to cook up your roundies as well! If you have extra butter in the pan, use them to soak it up. I usually have to add more to the pan and even to the roundies. Let them toast on the pan and then give them a flip after a few minutes.

Eggs in a hole cooking

Customize your roundies to what you typically like on toast.

Eggs in a hole cooking

I like strawberry jam or apple butter. My daughter likes honey. Some may like cinnamon sugar. Or you can just be boring and eat them plain. They are still delicious. It’s up to you!

I like to add avocado slices to my eggs-in-a-hole too sometimes!

That’s it! Told you it was super simple. Now just serve it with some perfectly cooked bacon and you’ll be dominating breakfast time!

Eggs in a hole on a plate
Print

Egg-in-a-Hole: A Classic Breakfast Idea

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Skillet
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A cheap, simple and easy breakfast idea that the whole family will enjoy. Try these and they’re sure to become your new family favorite.


Ingredients

  • Softened butter
  • Eggs
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Using a biscuit cutter, remove a circle out of the middle of a piece of bread and set it aside.
  2. Generously butter one side of the bread.
  3. Warm 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. (The more the better!)
  4. Place bread on skillet, butter side up.
  5. Crack an egg into the middle of the circle.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let it cook a few minutes on each side.

Notes

Don’t forget to toast the round circles you cut out!

Add some sliced avocado over your egg-in-a-hole for some extra nutrition.

Eggs in a hole on a plate

More Easy Breakfast Ideas You’ll Love

Swing by our recipe index for more easy breakfast ideas!

Honey Garlic Skillet Shrimp {Freezer Meal}

By Polly Conner
This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version! So, if you're looking for a healthy freezer meal, look no further.

Through all the recipe testing for our cookbook, I’m learning that I instantly gravitate towards any sweet-savory flavored recipe. Any combination of a honey-soy-garlic marinade is pretty much going to be a win in my book. So it comes as no surprise that this shrimp recipe received a big thumbs up in my opinion. It’s pretty easy to make too. 

This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version! So, if you're looking for a healthy freezer meal, look no further.

Start by whisking together a simple marinade of soy, honey, minced garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.

This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version! So, if you're looking for a healthy freezer meal, look no further.

Pour it over your shrimp in a plastic bag or bowl. 

This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version! So, if you're looking for a healthy freezer meal, look no further.

Let those flavors infuse for 20-30 minutes in the fridge.

This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version! So, if you're looking for a healthy freezer meal, look no further.

Preheat a saute pan to medium-high heat. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and toss them in the hot pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side until shrimp is opaque all the way through.

This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version! So, if you're looking for a healthy freezer meal, look no further.

This shrimp is super versatile. You could toss it in some pasta or whip up some brown rice (which is what I did).

This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version! So, if you're looking for a healthy freezer meal, look no further.

Yummo!

This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version! So, if you're looking for a healthy freezer meal, look no further.
Print

Honey Garlic Shrimp {Freezer Friendly}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 minutes
  • Total Time: 11 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This honey garlic soy shrimp marinade makes a great healthy dinner. I love the sweet savory flavor and that the shrimp can be used in a variety of ways. This recipe also includes how to make a freezer friendly version!


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of raw, peeled, deveined shrimp

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. To a medium-sized mixing bowl (or gallon-sized freezer bag), mix together the oil, soy sauce, honey, pepper, and garlic. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Add the shrimp to the marinade and toss to coat. Cover/seal and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil over medium-high heat until it’s shimmery.
  4. Remove shrimp from the marinade* using tongs or a slotted spoon and add them to the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until shrimp is opaque/pink. 

Freeze For Later: In a gallon-sized freezer bag, mix together the oil, soy sauce, honey, pepper, and garlic. Freeze it alongside the bag of shrimp. (Do not add the shrimp to the marinade because it will make the shrimp mushy).

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the marinade and shrimp overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the shrimp in a colander over the sink and pat dry. Follow Steps 2-4.


Notes

*What To Do With the Marinade: Either discard the used marinade OR boil it in a small pot for a few minutes. After boiling the marinade is safe to use as a sauce and is delicious over shrimp, rice, and stir-fried veggies.

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!

Print

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? 

Print

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!

 

Mummy Dogs–A Fun Halloween Treat

By Polly Conner

Mummy dogs are an easy to make, fun Halloween treat. This spooky treat is a huge hit at Halloween parties. Make lots! | Thriving Home

Look no further for an easy to make, fun Halloween party food!

Mummy dogs were a hit with all ages. They fall far from the real food philosophy that we try to aim for around here but prove to be a great party food and a favorite among youngsters. And lets be honest, we kind of have to chuck healthy expectations out the window on Halloween night. Just embrace it, people. Your kid is going to be stuffed full of sugar and processed food for a night. I promise they will survive.

Mummy dogs are an easy to make, fun Halloween treat. This spooky treat is a huge hit at Halloween parties. Make lots! | Thriving Home

To make your mummies, slice the bottom of a hotdog open to create legs. Now carefully cut each side of the hotdog to make arms.

Now slice up crescent rolls into thin strips. Wrap your strips imperfectly around the hotdog.

Mummy dogs are an easy to make, fun Halloween treat. This spooky treat is a huge hit at Halloween parties. Make lots! | Thriving Home

Cook according to the crescent roll’s instructions and serve warm.

Mummy dogs are an easy to make, fun Halloween treat. This spooky treat is a huge hit at Halloween parties. Make lots! | Thriving Home

Make lots–they go fast!

Make sure to check out our roundup of Halloween Crafts for my fun Halloween ideas.

31 crafts for preschoolers

Print

Mummy Dogs–A Fun Halloween Treat

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 22 minutes
  • Yield: 8 hot dogs 1x
  • Category: Halloween Treat
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Make this kid-favorite, crowd-pleaser meal on Halloween night. Kids love the unique look of these hotdog mummies. Fun to make and eat!


Ingredients

  • 1 package hot dogs (look for nitrate, nitrite-free)
  • 1 package crescent rolls

Instructions

  1. To make your mummies, slice the bottom of a hotdog open to create legs. Now carefully cut each side of the hotdog to make arms.
  2. Slice crescent rolls into thin strips. Wrap your strips imperfectly around the hotdog.
  3. Cook according to the crescent rolls’ instructions and serve warm.

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

Disclaimer: This recipe was created in partnership with Frigidaire. But the opinions are all ours!

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
Print
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!

By Far, The BEST Way to Make Cinnamon Toast

By Polly Conner

By far, the best way to make cinnamon toast. A simple trick that you'll be so glad you tried. | Thriving Home

Cinnamon toast is pretty hard to screw up.

I mean it’s just a combination of cinnamon, sugar and butter on bread. Not much skill to it, right?

WRONG.

You’re all wrong.

There is a fabulous, beautiful, unbelievable, life-changing way to make cinnamon toast that you must know about. For 30 years of my life, I missed out on this goodness, but in the meantime, we are making up for it. My husband and kids have no objections either. By far, the best way to make cinnamon toast. A simple trick that you'll be so glad you tried. | Thriving Home

In fact, we almost have to buy two loaves of bread a week since we seem to make this type of cinnamon toast almost twice a week. This, in addition to our discovery of eggs in a hole, is cleaning out our bread supply fast.

Are you ready to change your cinnamon toasting experience for the rest of your life? (Can you tell I’m in a dramatic mood?)

Deep breath. Here we go.

1. Generously butter your bread.

By far, the best way to make cinnamon toast. A simple trick that you'll be so glad you tried. | Thriving Home

The key to this method is the butter. A generous amount of butter. Reason is, when you broil the toast in the oven, the butter creates a slightly crispy-caramelized-rich tasting crust. If you skimp on the butter, this recipe will be lacking the goodness I am making such a big deal about.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of softened butter all over the slice of bread.

2. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on top of your butter.

By far, the best way to make cinnamon toast. A simple trick that you'll be so glad you tried. | Thriving Home

3. Sprinkle on a touch of cinnamon.

I can taste the goodness now.
By far, the best way to make cinnamon toast. A simple trick that you'll be so glad you tried. | Thriving Home

4. Broil your toast.

Yes, seriously. Broil it.

Put your prepared toast in your oven and turn the broiler on high. (Do not preheat or your toast will cook too fast!) After about 2-3 minutes, depending on your oven, the butter will start to bubble a lot and the edges of your toast will start to turn brown. Using tongs, remove the toast when it is toasted to your liking. Just don’t overdue it or you will have charred that delicious butter.

By far, the best way to make cinnamon toast. A simple trick that you'll be so glad you tried. | Thriving Home

Oh my heavens, get ready.

You’ll never go back to your old ways.

You’re welcome.

By far, the best way to make cinnamon toast. A simple trick that you'll be so glad you tried. | Thriving Home

Make sure to check out other delicious breakfast recipes we have in our recipe index. Yum!

Print

By Far, The BEST Way to Make Cinnamon Toast

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Once you try the broil method for cinnamon and sugar toast, you will never eat it any other way again! A few simple steps and you’re in for the treat of your life.


Ingredients

  • 4 slices bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Generously butter your bread with about 1 tablespoon of softened butter.
  2. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on top of your butter followed by a touch of cinnamon.
  3. Broil the toast – it will take approximately 2-3 minutes to melt the butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Light & Easy Penne Rosa Pasta: 15 Minute One-Pot Dinner

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This four-ingredient pasta dish is so simple to make and has fantastic flavor. Garnish it with some basil and parmesan cheese for a meal you're sure to love.

Many nights of the week, I’m looking for a meal that I can pull together in just minutes and that doesn’t dirty up the kitchen. Penne Rosa Pasta fits the bill! Plus, this cheesy and filling pasta dish is also light and tasty! I like to steam some broccoli florets in a colander over the boiling pasta for a fast and healthy side. You’ll have this meal on the table in about 15 minutes. Score.

light and easy penne rosa pasta

This four-ingredient pasta dish is so simple to make and has fantastic flavor. Garnish it with some basil and parmesan cheese for a meal you're sure to love.

Print

Penne Rosa Pasta

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This four-ingredient pasta dish is so simple to make and has fantastic flavor. Garnish it with some basil and parmesan cheese for a meal you’re sure to love.


Ingredients

  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 cups marinara (either homemade or a good store-bought one)
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese (low fat works)
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt (fat-free works)
  • Optional garnishes: chopped fresh parsley and/or basil, freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook penne pasta according to directions. Drain pasta.
  2. Combine hot pasta with marinara, cream cheese, and yogurt in the pot. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted.
  3. Serve warm with chopped parsley or basil and/or shredded Parmesan cheese on top.

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Banana Bites

By Polly Conner

Are you craving something sweet? Try this healthy alternative to your afternoon sweet snack. The combination of bananas, peanut butter, and dark chocolate chips will hit the spot!

I’ve got a perfect fix for that afternoon sweet tooth!

Try out these peanut butter, dark chocolate, banana bites. They are YUMMO and super easy to make.

Simply slice up some banana, slab a little peanut butter on one side, top it off with one or two dark chocolate chips and sandwich it all together.

Are you craving something sweet? Try this healthy alternative to your afternoon sweet snack. The combination of bananas, peanut butter, and dark chocolate chips will hit the spot!

Pure, simple goodness.

In my mouth.

Are you craving something sweet? Try this healthy alternative to your afternoon sweet snack. The combination of bananas, peanut butter, and dark chocolate chips will hit the spot!

Make lots! Your little people will be asking for more!

Are you craving something sweet? Try this healthy alternative to your afternoon sweet snack. The combination of bananas, peanut butter, and dark chocolate chips will hit the spot!

Are you craving something sweet? Try this healthy alternative to your afternoon sweet snack. The combination of bananas, peanut butter, and dark chocolate chips will hit the spot!

Make sure to pin this to your food boards!

Print

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Banana Bites

  • Author: Polly Conner from Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Homemade
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Are you craving something sweet? Try this healthy alternative to your afternoon sweet snack. The combination of bananas, peanut butter, and dark chocolate chips will hit the spot!


Ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 23 tablespoons peanut butter
  • Dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Slice up banana(s).
  2. Add peanut butter and dark chocolate chips to a slice.
  3. Top with another slice of banana and enjoy!

Pizzadillas: A Quick Kid Favorite for Lunch or Dinner

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Ask any child their favorite food and you'll likely hear, "PIZZA!" So do yourself a favor and make these pizzadillas for your next family meal. Just a few simple ingredients are sure to give you the wow factor!

Kid Food Tip #1:

Put the name “pizza” in any recipe.

Kid Food Tip #2:

Cut said “pizza” recipe into small bite-sized pieces with a pizza cutter.

Kid Food Tip #3:

Provide a dip for said bite-sized pizza-inspired recipe.

In other words, make these healthy Pizzadillas for your kids. They are super kid-friendly and super easy for lunch or dinner!

Print

Pizzadillas: A Quick Kid Favorite for Lunch or Dinner

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Ask any child their favorite food and you’ll likely hear, “PIZZA!” So do yourself a favor and make these pizzadillas for your next family meal. Just a few simple ingredients are sure to give you the wow factor!


Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 4 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas (I like the whole wheat flour tortillas at Trader Joes)
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Optional toppings: 1/2 cup chopped baby spinach, nitrate-free ham, and/or turkey pepperoni, finely chopped basil
  • 1 cup marinara sauce (I like Newman’s Own Marinara)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Spray a jelly-roll pan with cooking spray. Then lay out the tortillas in a single layer.
  3. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cheese over each tortilla and divide additional toppings over tortillas. Top each with 3 tablespoons of more cheese.
  4. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and carefully fold each tortilla in half. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes or until browned and crisp, turning after 4-5 minutes.
  5. Serve with warm marinara for dipping.

Homemade Whole Wheat Egg Noodles

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These homemade whole wheat egg noodles are cheap, healthy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. All my favorites in one recipe!

Homemade whole wheat egg noodles - delicious and simple!

My 5-year-old daughter and I threw these together one afternoon in about 15 minutes. I know it looks fancy or difficult, but I ASSURE you that you can do this.

Check out just how easy it is to make Homemade Whole Wheat Egg Noodles…

Homemade whole wheat egg noodles - delicious and simple!

My kids took several helpings of the chicken noodle soup we made with these. And, the leftovers were even better the next day. We’ll be making them again soon!

Print

Homemade Whole Wheat Egg Noodles

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Mix and prep
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade whole wheat egg noodles are delicious and simple! Make them from scratch and enjoy the fantastic flavor in Chicken Noodle Soup or as pasta with sauce on them.


Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups whole wheat flour (I recommend white whole wheat flour for lighter noodles.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions

Make the Noodles:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Then, make a “well” in the middle using your finger.
  2. In a separate small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, water and olive oil. Pour this wet mixture into the “well” in the middle of the dry mixture. Stir with a spoon until the ingredients are mostly combined. Add a little more water if it is too crumbly and not coming together like a dough.
  3. Generously dust flour over a clean countertop. Dump the dough out onto the well floured surface and knead it with your hands a little bit to get the ingredients combined well. Form into a round disc-shaped dough ball. Sprinkle with a little more flour.
  4. Use a well floured rolling pin and roll out your noodle dough until it’s very thin, about 1/8 inch in thickness. If needed, add more flour under the dough to keep it from sticking to the counter. This is very important!
  5. Use a pizza cutter to cut long strips of noodles as thin or thick as you like and any length you like, but try to keep them a uniform size.

Cook the Noodles:

Simmer your homemade egg noodles in a big pot of salted water until noodles are fat and tender to the bite (aka al dente). Drain in a colander. Or, try using them directly in this Chicken Noodle Soup.

Store the Noodles for Later:

Option 1 (Freezing the Dough): After Step 3, place the dough in a freezer bag, seal, and freeze until ready to use. The dough will be good for about 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw the dough in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours and following the instructions, beginning with Step 4.

Option 2: (Drying and Storing the Noodles): Complete the recipe through Step 5. Spread the cut noodles on a wire cooling rack and let dry for about 2 hours. Store in an air-tight container in the pantry for up to a month.

 

Pretzel Rolo Bites

By Polly Conner

Delicious, bite size Rolo pretzel treats. Takes just a snap to make them and can be made a few days in advance.

Lets go ahead and state the obvious. These are not healthy. In any way. If you’re looking for a healthy, all-natural treat for your child’s birthday party, look away. I said LOOK AWAY!

OK, you’re still reading. Good. I like people who are OK with a tasty treat every now and then. Everything in moderation, right?

So let’s state another obvious fact: These pretzel-rolo snack bites are AWESOME and addicting. They are dangerous, people. That is why they are a perfect treat for a party or get-together. That way you don’t end up on the couch mindlessly eating them while you watch Breaking Bad with your husband. Wait, what? Who would do that…?

I digress. OK, moving on from my passive confessions.

Delicious, bite size Rolo pretzel treats. Takes just a snap to make them and can be made a few days in advance.

ANYWAY, like I said, these Pretzel Rolo Bites are super easy to put together and make a great treat for birthday parties, graduation parties, or any other reason you need a sweet snack in massive numbers. I also like that they can be made ahead of time (even a day or two) and be stored in an airtight container until your party. Most treats can’t stay fresh that long. Below you can see how easy these are to assemble:

Here is a shot of all of my pretzels and Rolos ready to go into the oven.

Delicious, bite size Rolo pretzel treats. Takes just a snap to make them and can be made a few days in advance.

Delicious, bite size Rolo pretzel treats. Takes just a snap to make them and can be made a few days in advance.

Print

Pretzel Rolo Bites

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 doz 1x
  • Category: Snacks
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Delicious, bite size Rolo pretzel treats. Takes just a snap to make them and can be made a few days in advance.


Ingredients

  • One bag of Rolos
  • 1/2 bag small pretzels
  • 1 bag of Preztel M&Ms OR Peanut Butter M&Ms

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  3. Place one unwrapped Rolo on top of each pretzel
  4. Cook Rolos and pretzels for about 2 minutes. Rolos need to be softened but NOT melting
  5. As soon as you remove Rolos and pretzels from oven, gently press an M&M into the rolo.
  6. Let cool (mine took over an hour before they were cooled down enough to solidify)

Creamy Avocado Dip: For One or For a Crowd

By Rachel Tiemeyer

creamy avocado dip recipe

As afternoon snacks go, dark chocolate chips and peanuts rank #1 in my book. But, Creamy Avocado Dip might come in at #2. This healthy and filling dip is a great love of mine for lunch or for snacking.

You can also whip up this Creamy Avocado Dip for an appetizer for a crowd. Pinky swear that it doesn’t taste “healthy”–just creamy and delicious! Serve with tortilla chips, carrots sticks, and any other fresh veggies you like.

I must note that my absolute favorite salsa in this recipe is the Double Roasted Salsa from Trader Joes. We always stock up on it when we’re in the city. As you may know, I heart TJs.

Check out more of our healthy snacks here and appetizers here. I hope you can enjoy some of this green goodness soon!

creamy avocado dip

Print

Creamy Avocado Dip

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 (single serving) or 8 (crowd directions) 1x
  • Category: Dip
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You can whip up this Creamy Avocado Dip for an appetizer or for a crowd. It is creamy and delicious! Serve with tortilla chips, carrots sticks, and any other fresh veggies you like.


Ingredients

  • For One:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
  • 12 tablespoons of salsa (I love Double Smoked Salsa at Trader Joe’s in mine!)
  • 12 tablespoons of plain Greek Yogurt (fat-free works fine)
  • For a Crowd (serves 8-10):
  • 8 avocados
  • 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of 23 lemons)
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (fat-free works fine)

Instructions

  1. Remove the avocado flesh with a spoon and place in a bowl. Add lemon juice and smash with a potato masher or back of a fork until smooth.
  2. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in salsa and Greek yogurt and stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Serve with fresh veggies (carrots, celery, broccoli, peppers) and/or chips.

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)?
Print

Mini Italian Burgers Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 8 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 (8 sliders) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 1 1/21 3/4 pounds ground beef (I prefer grass-fed)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 mini buns, sliced in half
  • 4 slices Provolone or mozzarella cheese, cut in half
  • Optional toppings: lettuce, tomato slices, mayonnaise, ketchup

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat a greased skillet over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.
  2. Place the ground beef, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, tomato paste, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Using clean hands, combine the ingredients until they are all well-incorporated into the beef, taking care not to compress the ingredients. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Shape the meat into 8 small patties of equal size and thickness.
  4. Place the burgers on the grill or in the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes each side, until cooked through.
  5. Top each warm burger with a half slice of cheese and serve on buns with preferred toppings.

Freeze For Later: Complete Steps 2 and 3. Then, place uncooked burgers in a gallon-sized freezer bag or container in single layers with parchment paper between layers. Put the buns in another gallon-sized freezer bag. Wrap cheese slices tightly in plastic wrap or foil and place in the bag with the buns. Freeze the burgers, cheese slices, and buns together in the freezer as a meal kit.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in refrigerator overnight (preferred method) or using the cool water method (submerge freezer bag with the burgers in cold water until thawed, replacing water every 30 minutes). Cook according to instructions.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1-2 sliders
From Freezer to Table Cookbook

Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast Recipe {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer
Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast Casserole

Ever wonder what to do with the heels of bread or crusts that your kids turn their noses up at? How about apples that are about to go bad?

You could make this recipe, if you have time to flip French Toast in a pan. Or…you could turn them into this delicious and healthy make-ahead Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast that makes great leftovers. Did I mention this recipe only takes a few minutes to throw together the night before and you’ll only dirty up your blender and a casserole dish? Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast speaks my language!

To make this healthy, I used a few tricks of my trade (like this one). I snuck in nutrition-packed real food pantry staples (almond meal, flaxseed, pumpkin puree, cinnamon) plus refrigerator staples (eggs and milk). To cut back on processed sugar, I used a little Stevia powder (an all-natural herbal sweetener sold as Truvia) and a little real maple syrup (look for Grade B, since it is the healthiest). These power-packed foods and tricks helped transform some old bread and apples into a cheap, real food breakfast casserole for the masses.

Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast

My kids came back again and again for more. It’s a crowd-pleaser and a mom-pleaser because I know what’s actually in it!

 

Print
Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast

Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: French

Description

This french toast casserole is made with all real food ingredients, is lower in sugar than most, full of fiber and other nutrients, and tastes great! Make ahead and freeze instructions included.


Ingredients

  • Enough stale whole grain bread, torn into pieces, to fill a 9×13 casserole dish (about 10-12 pieces)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (your choice)
  • 2 packets dry Stevia (2 teaspoons) or 8 drops of liquid Stevia (sub: 1/2 cup brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 8 organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 2 apples, cored and cut up
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (you can double this for more nutrition)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons melted organic butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond meal or ground flaxseed

Instructions

  1. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish or two 8×8 dishes. Fill with the bread pieces.
  2. Put all other ingredients, except the almond meal/flax, in a high-power blender and blend until smooth. (If you want your apple to be in chunks rather than blended, then just whisk these ingredients together in a mixing bowl until combined.)
  3. Pour this egg mixture over the top of the bread. Sprinkle the almond meal and/or flax on top for crunch. Ideally, let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours, but it will work to bake immediately.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set and the top is golden.
  5. To serve, top each serving with more butter and maple syrup or with yogurt and fruit.

Notes

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3. Then, wrap up the casserole tightly with plastic wrap and foil to avoid freezer burn. Store 1-2 months in freezer. Prepare From Frozen: When ready to eat, thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove the plastic wraps and foil. Bake as directed in Step 4. It may take longer to bake if you don’t thaw it completely, so keep an eye on the top. If it starts to get too brown, cover with foil until the casserole is done.

Here’s another baked french toast recipe your family will love!

Blueberry Pumpkin Baked French Toast

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken {Freezer Meal}

By Polly Conner

This easy dump and go freezer meal will become a regular family dinner in your home. This freezer friendly dinner is so versatile too. Eat it straight from the slow cooker, put it in wraps, or turn it into nachos. Choose your own Cilantro Lime Chicken adventure! Great healthy dinner idea to make in bulk or at freezer cooking parties. 

Slow cooker cilantro lime chicken

I’ve has my fair share of slow cooker freezer meal recipes. I can understand why so many people want these types of recipes. I mean who doesn’t want a meal that you can assemble quickly and be thrown in a slow cooker?!

While I am all about a great dump and go freezer meal, finding a GOOD one can be hard. Most real food recipes that go into the slow cooker need a little help up front or a little help at the end. Otherwise you’re relying on artificial ingredients to bring the flavors you want.

However, I am proud to present to you a meal that actually works well as a dump and go slow cooker freezer meal: Cilantro Lime Chicken!

Close up of cilantro lime chicken in a wrap

Now here’s the key to a great slow cooker meal with chicken: DO NOT OVERCOOK THE CHICKEN. Believe it or not, boneless skinless chicken breast is done in the slow cooker in about 3 hours. Seriously! As we’ve been writing our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we have tested hundreds of recipes. Chicken is done (reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees) between 2.5-3.5 hours, depending on your slow cooker.

Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read our full disclosure policy here.

If you go much further past that, chicken will start to dry out. Let as simple meat thermometer like this one be your guide!

Once you’ve cooked your Cilantro Lime Chicken, (You did double it and make it a freezer meal, right?!) you can now choose how you want to devour it.

One option (my personal favorite) is to put it in wraps and top with your favorite Mexican toppings.

Slow cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

Another option (my kids’ personal favorite) is to shred that meat up, put it over nachos.

This was inspired by our Baked Nachos recipe. We simply spread out chips on a cookie sheet, spread out our leftovers over the chips, and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese. After baking it in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes, we scarfed down our baked nachos.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Nachos

Print

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

Cilantro lime chicken recipe. So easy to make! Dump ingredients into a slow cooker and come back hours later for a delicious, family friendly healthy dinner.


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn (or once can of corn, drained)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I only used 1/2 can because I’m not crazy about beans)
  • Whole wheat tortillas or tortilla chips, for serving
  • Your favorite Mexican toppings, for serving (i.e. cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, and chopped tomatoes).

Instructions

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and the cumin on both sides. Then, place all ingredients into the slow cooker and stir until mixed together.
  2. Cook on LOW for 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks and stir back into the slow cooker. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to your preference.
  3. Serve chicken with tortillas and toppings, such as with cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and lettuce. Or, spread chicken out over tortilla chips, top with cheese, and bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes (until cheese is melted).

Freeze For Later: Place all the ingredients in a gallon-sized freezer bag. (You will NOT slow cook this meal ahead of time.) Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these three safe ways. Follow Steps 2-3.

 

Want more slow cooke freezer meal ideas? Here are 101 Real Food Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

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.

Raspberry Cocoa Smoothie

By Polly Conner

This is a truly healthy smoothie option for you chocolate lovers out there. Raspberry paired with dark chocolate and sea salt makes this an unforgettable snack or breakfast.

This is a truly healthy option for you chocolate lovers out there. As one among you, I adore this smoothie. I love this gorgeous reddish earthy hue, which tells you exactly what you’re about to taste: raspberry, followed by dark chocolate, enhanced with a pinch of salt. Because the avocado lends the smoothie a thick, creamy texture, you’ll want to grab a spoon. It’s not dessert for breakfast, but it’s close enough.

This is a truly healthy smoothie option for you chocolate lovers out there. Raspberry paired with dark chocolate and sea salt makes this an unforgettable snack or breakfast.

If you can’t find a bag of frozen raspberries, strawberries are a great substitute. Rich, caramel-like, and potassium-packed, Medjool dates are my favorite add-in for sweetness. Although they might be a little harder to keep on hand than honey or agave nectar, I can find them at Costco.

Print

Raspberry Cocoa Smoothie

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 as a meal; 2 as a snack 1x
  • Category: Smoothie
  • Method: Blend
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is a truly healthy smoothie option for you chocolate lovers out there. Raspberry paired with dark chocolate and sea salt makes this an unforgettable snack or breakfast.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • ½ avocado, pitted
  • ½ large very ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 3 tablespoons natural cocoa powder or raw cacao
  • big pinch (about ½ tsp) sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups milk of choice (I use brown rice milk)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, optional
  • 23 soft Medjool dates (can substitute 23 tsp honey)

Instructions

  1. Add everything to the blender and puree on high for a minute or two. You should arrive at a thick consistency—think slightly melted frozen yogurt.
  2. Taste and adjust to your liking, then pour into a glass and enjoy immediately.

 

Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This easy and oh-so-cheesy baked pasta is a great way to use up leftover veggies, like frozen or fresh spinach. Even your meat-lover will dig this one!

Need a 25-minute four-ingredient dish for dinner that everyone will love? Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini is it!

This easy and oh-so-cheesy baked pasta is a great way to use up leftover veggies, like frozen or fresh spinach. Even your meat-lover will dig this one!

Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini is a vegetarian spin-off of my Baked Beef Ravioli. It’s meatless but oh-so-filling. Plus, it’s also a great way to use up leftover frozen or fresh spinach and sneak in more nutrition into some comfort food. Using only four ingredients, you’ve got a family-pleaser for sure.

This easy and oh-so-cheesy baked pasta is a great way to use up leftover veggies, like frozen or fresh spinach. Even your meat-lover will dig this one!

Print

Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins