Sun-Dried Tomato, Pesto, & Chicken Stuffed Shells

I found this link to freezer meals last week. Which led me to this recipe for Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

I modified only slightly to also add some sun-dried tomatoes that I had in my refrigerator. Plus I also doubled this and froze half for my friend Sara.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Pesto, & Chicken Stuffed Shells

12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)
3 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained and chopped)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (see Leftover Chicken)
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a 9×9 (or 8×8) baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

The leftovers- Maria loved this.  So kid-tested, mother-approved!Sun-Dried Tomato & Pesto Shells

* To make ahead/freezer meals – Prepare as directed but place filled shells in an oven- and freezer-proof baking dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells, cover and freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

Leftover Chicken

Do you know those recipes that call for 2 cups leftover chicken?  Or even any recipe that starts with “First cook the chicken…”  Blah!  That’s what I say to that.  That adds easily 10 minutes to a recipe.  Blah!

My answer to that.  2 big bags of frozen chicken breasts, a little bit of water and a crockpot!

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Remove chicken and cut into pieces or shred.  It makes about 10 cups. Freeze in 2 cup quantities.  Now you’re ready for those dumb recipes, without spending money on those pre-cooked bags of chicken which never seem to last very long in our house.

French Toast Sticks

Wondering what to do with leftover hamburger and hot dog buns?  May I recommend French Toast sticks?  Yummm!

French Toast Sticks

Gather what you need: eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, leftover buns (the unhealthy white ones are excellent!), cinnamon & sugar sprinkles* (all quantities to be determined by how much bread you have…)

French Toast Sticks

Cut Bread into 1″x3″ piecesFrench Toast Sticks

Whisk together remaining ingredientsFrench Toast Sticks

Dip bread pieces in mixture. Fry in greased pan (I used canola spray, but butter would be yummy!)
French Toast Sticks

Sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar. Serve immediately or freeze**.

P.S. My kids didn’t even need syrup!  But you could also add it to the dipping mixture for a little maple flavor.

* I always have some cinnamon and sugar mixed in my Pampered Chef shaker to use on toast.
** To freeze, lay a piece of wax or parchment paper on a flat pan.  Lay single layer of bread sticks on paper. Freeze for 1-2 hours. Transfer sticks to a plastic zipper bag or freeze-safe container.

Crockpot Freezer Rice

I stumbled across directions at Mommy Snacks on how to cook brown rice in the crockpot and freeze it.  I wasn’t sure if this was any easier than instant brown rice.  But now I think it’s more convenient than taking time to cook brown rice (even Instant) for any meal.  I really like being able to pull it out of the freezer as a side dish.  It definitely helps me get the timing of rice with my other dishes better, so everything is ready right around the same time.   Plus it’s great to pull out when I want to make Fried Rice when I have leftover Chicken or Pork.

Crockpot Freezer Rice

1 bag (lb) of brown rice
water (or chicken stock)
3 chicken bouillion cubes (eliminate if using chicken stock)
4 tbsp butter
crockpot liner (or cooking spray)

Line the crockpot with the liner or spray with cooking spray.

Empty the rice into the crockpot and cover with water (or chicken stock) chicken broth (or water) Add at least another inch of water to ensure it’s really covered.

Add the chicken bouillion cubes (unless using chicken stock) and butter.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Watching the last hour so it doesn’t get over done. (or too mushy)

Let cool and freeze in freezer bags. To reheat, thaw and reheat in microwave with butter.  (I don’t add butter when making it into fried rice)

The Best Meatballs

I tried this recipe a few weeks ago.  I served the first half of the batch with the Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce. The other half I froze for the next week and served with the Creamy Brown Gravy.   I preferred the first sauce, and Chad the second. But they are both good. Both easy!  And the meatballs would be good in lots of other sauces!  I made some adjustments to the sauces because I didn’t think it sounded like very much sauce, and I am pretty convinced I would have been right. I will definitely make these again. So easy with the stuffing mix!

The Best Meatballs

2 lb. ground beef
1 pkg.  (6 oz.) Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1-1/4 cups water
2   eggs

HEAT oven to 400ºF.

LINE 2 (15x10x1-inch) pans with foil; spray with cooking spray. Mix ingredients until blended; shape into 32 (1-1/2-inch) balls, using 1/4 cup for each.

PLACE 16 meatballs in each prepared pan. Bake 16 to 18 min. or until done (160ºF).

COMBINE half the meatballs with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce or Creamy Brown Gravy. Cool remaining meatballs; freeze for later use.

Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce
Mix 1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce, 4 oz. cubed PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese and 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil in large skillet; cook on medium-low heat 3 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Add 16 hot meatballs; stir to evenly coat. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese before serving. Makes 4 servings, 4 meatballs and 1/3 cup sauce each.
Creamy Brown Gravy
Mix 2 jar (12 oz.) beef gravy, 1 cup BREAKSTONE’S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream and 2 tsp dried parsley in large skillet; cook on medium-low heat 3 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Add 16 hot meatballs; stir to evenly coat. Makes 4 servings, 4 meatballs and 1/3 cup sauce each.

Easy Yogurt Popsicles

I made some frozen yogurt popsicles for Maria this weekend and she loves them! And I love them because they are a great healthy treat for her!

Frozen Yogurt Popsicles

Vanilla Yogurt
Mixed Berries (or fruit of choice)

  1. Put both ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds* (or use paper cups with popsicle sticks)
  3. Put in freezer for several hours until frozen.
  4. If there is extra, pour it in a cup and enjoy! Maria was a big fan of that too!

*My mother was kind enough to give me the Tupperware ones we had growing up and they work really well! (Thanks, Mom!)

Cranberry Icebox Cookies

In early December, Nicole, Heather, and I got together to do some holiday baking. I mixed up this recipe, and then stuck the dough in the freezer. I just thawed the dough the other day in the fridge, and baked them tonight!  Super yummy, and I still have another roll of the dough in the freezer!   The only change I made was using dried cranberries instead of fresh or frozen.


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Freezer Cooking and Catch-Up

Today Heather and Carrie came over for some freezer cooking. Nicki joined us later too for the conversation.  It was fun to see them all and meet Carrie’s little Nick! (He was sooo good!)

I don’t think we had been together for awhile (maybe since Carrie’s shower in January?). So it was fun to catch up!  And we are going to try and get together again next month too.

Our freezers are now stocked with Sausage and Tortellini Soup, Ice Cream cakes, Stuffed Red Peppers, Not-So-Sloppy Sloppy Joes, Deep Dish Pizza, Turkey and Jack Chimichangas – Plus we made apple crisp.  YUMMM!!! 

Spaghetti Sauce

I made this recipe that I got from Nicki tonight. It was very good. Definitely beats the stuff out of the jar! I know, it’s pretty sad, that that is how I’ve made spaghetti up until now! This is easy, and makes a ton! So I have at least 2 more dinners worth in the freezer!

Spaghetti Sauce
From Nicki

2lb. hamburger or Italian sausage
2-15 oz. cans tomato sauce
4-6 oz. cans tomato paste
2 envelopes Italian style sauce mix—any flavor
2 sm. cans sliced mushrooms, drained (I didn’t add any)
2 c. water
1c. red wine
1 Tbsp. sugar (I forgot to add this, but didn’t notice)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Onion, chopped—as much as you like. (I used about 3/4 of a large onion)
Green pepper, chopped—as much as you like (I used about 1 1/2)

Brown hamburger. Mix in rest of ingredients. Simmer for about an hour.

Notes from Nicki:
This recipe already doubled. Makes a nice big pot of sauce. Usually enough to eat and freeze for about 2 more meals. I usually throw in whatever I think might taste good!!

This is about 4 points per serving.