Archive for the ‘Make Ahead Meal Ideas’ Category

Mama J’s Mama’s Recipe! 😉  Hats off to my mom Rosemary Ruth!  These are a family favorite.  Comfort food.  A little outside the norm.  I’ve even seen siblings eat them for breakfast.  We’re a little odd –but loveable!

Heat oven to 350 degrees oven ..cook 2-3 hours or until fork tender (and they’re ALWAYS better the second day!)

  • 2 cups cooked Rice
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ pound ground sausage
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning  (we like Bell’s but that’s not available everywhere I’ve found)
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large can of sauerkraut juice and all
  • 2 cans tomato sauce (15oz)
  • 2 individual cans spicy V8
  • Large head of cabbage
  • Salt to taste

A little prep then a little patience.  (Waiting long enough for ingredients to cool before stuffing is truly not my family’s strong suit – but it all turns out just fine!) First, you will need to “steam” the leaves.  Mom uses the microwave for 15 seconds or less — just enough to soften the leaves not really “cook” them – then remove the spine from each leave you want to use.  You can stack several in the microwave at a time.

Mix tomato juice & V8 together.  Then in bottom of roaster or baking dish add a thin layer of tomato sauce mixture and any of the broken leaves.

Next, brown the beef, sausage and onion in a skillet (then let cool!!!)  (We used to just used ground beef  – but we have found we like the taste of the sausage in it – so your call!)  Season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste.  Add cooked rice and mix thoroughly.  Then, with a slotted spoon, put the above mixture on the bottom of the cabbage leaf near the base of the “spine”  roll towards the top folding in sides to keep all stuffing in.

Add stuffed cabbage leaves, fitting as tightly together as you can on top in baking dish or roaster.  Then add a layer of tomato sauce, then thin layer of sauerkraut, and then repeat. Cover tightly with roaster lid or tin foil and bake for 2-3 hours until fork tender.  If you’re like my sister Michelle – you won’t last an hour before you want to “just check” it!

The sauerkraut is a little outside the norm – but mom learned it from a little old Swedish lady when we were stationed in Cleveland, Ohio way back in the day.  She said it adds tang to the rolls. And she’s right!   My stepdad liked all things spicy  – so the spicy V8 was a nod to his tastes!

You’d be surprised that even kids like this.  Just be sure to call it galumpkis and not cabbage if you want them to try it!  It sounds way more fun – don’t you think?

Thanks Mom for being an amazing cook and teaching me so much along the way!  Enjoy!  I’m making them now so I’ll post a picture when they’re done! 


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We eat a lot of chicken – so I’m always looking for ways to add a little twist – and make it less boring.  My kids love this meal – the chicken falls off the bone and they ladle the sauce over jasmine rice.  I usually serve it with cole slaw or zesty corn.  The nice thing about this meal – once you do the first part – is it pretty much cooks itself!  (Always a plus!)

It also re-heats well- so if you want to make it on the weekend and serve it during the week, that makes life a little easier too!  You can also transfer to a crockpot after the first steps and then put on low to cook for the rest of the day if that works better for you too!

  • 1 package chicken leg quarters with thighs**
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • garlic powder
  • ground cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • bottle of your favorite bbq sauce

All right — take a big skillet and put on medium heat – add about a tablespoon of olive oil and your butter. Season your chicken with garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Cumin can be strong – so you may have to play with it to get the right amount for your family. If you want you can take the spices and create a rub first and sprinkle it over the chicken that way – but I just tend to give everything a good shake then put the chicken in the skillet to brown (medium-gold) on both sides.

Take the chicken out when brown then add the wine & lemon juice to the drippings and scrape the drippings free to make a nice sauce base (about 5 minutes) — then put the chicken back in, cover and put in a 250 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours. After the first hour and a half, add about half your barbeque sauce, cover the chicken liberally and then cover the pot back up and put back in the oven. (If your skillet’s not big enough – transfer everything to a casserole to roast in the oven) At hour 2 – check your chicken for doneness — add remaining BBQ sauce. Cook additional 1/2 hour if needed or let rest. I serve it over jasmine rice – the kids pour the sauce all over the rice and are happy little BBQ campers!

**you can use any chicken pieces you want – these just happen to always be on sale here so you know — but if you prefer chicken breasts that’s cool too – or if I’m making a lot of it for company, I get a package of breasts, a package of leg quarters..

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When I first came to Tampa I discovered all new flavors – rich, intoxicating recipes from Cuba, Spain and Mexico and I fell in love with them.  This is my variation of one of my favorite soups, Caldo Gallego- which is hearty, amazing and good for what ails you as my mom would say.  Sometimes I’ll make it at holiday time as a first course, on a cold day or just when you feel like some nasty virus is just gunning for you – this is great for scaring the germs away!  I hope you like it!

  • 2 – 15+1/2 cans of white northern or navy beans (You can use dried beans if you prefer – but you’ll have to soak them overnight and then rinse before using – this way is faster!)
  • 1 small can chick peas (Garbanzo beans)
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 pat of butter
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 chicken bouillon
  • 2 medium potatoes – cut into cubes
  • 1 large Spanish onion – cut small
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove crushed and diced
  • 2 small or 1 large chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup fresh green collards -chopped
  • 1 ham hock – scored
  • ¼ cup roasted pork or smoky ham – shredded or cubed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 bay leaf

In a large soup pot – heat teaspoon of olive oil and add chorizo and brown for about 5 minutes, then remove and drain on paper towels. Chorizo is very oily – and I don’t like a lot of excess oil in the soup – but you do want the flavor of the sausage when browning your other ingredients- so take a quick swipe of the pan bottom with paper towels – just to remove the excess oil – then add in your garlic and onions – and stir until translucent.  Next, add a pat of butter and your potatoes and toss your potatoes well for about 4-5 minutes. Next add your broth, wine, beans, chick peas, collards, ham hock, pork or ham and can of tomatoes.  Season well with salt & pepper, add teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika and bay leaf.   Bring your brew to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer about an hour until potatoes are tender.  Great served in bread bowls –or at least with a big, warm, crusty loaf of Cuban bread —  add a smattering of shaved parmesan on top if you like.  Enjoy!

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  • 1 ½  pounds stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, in 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
  • 1 cup baby carrots, sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • ½ cup frozen green beans
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • fresh ground sea salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups beef stock
  • 1 cube beef bouillon
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet (found usually in the seasoning section of your grocer)

Sprinkle the beef cubes lightly with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.  In skillet, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil & sauté beef until browned on all sides.  Add beef and all your other ingredients except wine or beef stock to the crock pot.  Stir them around well. If using wine, add the wine to deglaze the bottom of the skillet, otherwise use a cup of the beef stock to deglaze and pour the liquid and dripping into the crock pot as well.  Add the rest of beef stock – stir everything again.  Place crock pot on low and cook for 8+ hours.

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Me:  “We’re making rosemary chicken tonight.”  My sister:  “What’s everyone else gonna have?”  My mom Rosemary:  “You two are not right…”

  • 3 lbs chicken pieces (1 large package) (I lean towards what’s on sale!)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary – (pull leaves from stem)
  • fresh ground sea salt & pepper

This can be made in the crock pot or in the oven.  If you’re making in the crockpot – I recommend removing skin or buying skinless chicken.  Place all of ingredients into the crockpot – put on low for 5-6 hours.  We usually serve over rice or penne pasta – with the broth spooned over and a smattering of shaved Parmesan.

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  • 2 cups roasted chicken – cubed**
  • 2 medium potatoes – peeled & cut into small cubes (or if you like baby red potatoes – use about 5 of them cut in ½ or quarters
  • 1 large sweet potato – peeled & cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup baby carrots, cut in ½ or 1/3
  • 2 stalks of celery cut into small pieces
  • 1 large sweet onion – cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup frozen kernel corn
  • ½ cup frozen cut pole beans or cut green beans
  • ½ cup frozen petite green peas
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 packages of chicken gravy mix (I like McCormick) You can make your own – but it takes longer!
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

**Grab a rotisserie chicken from the store, or roast your own (you can use half for the pot pie – half for salads or sandwiches during the week!), or a small package of chicken breasts (2-3 small)– cubed small – see below!  You can also use leftover turkey if you have it – just change out the chicken gravy for turkey gravy.

Got cooked chicken?  Skip to next step!  Need to cook the chicken breasts first?  Start here – in the bottom of a large stock pot, add 1 tablespoon butter and splash of olive oil and let pot get hot.  Cube your chicken breasts, season with salt/pepper/garlic powder – sauté in pot for 4-8 minutes- browning on all sides- remove chicken from pot and set aside.

Next – add one more tablespoon butter & splash of olive oil – bring pot up to med-high heat.  Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery & onions – cook for about 7-8 minutes – tossing every minute or so until potatoes begin to get tender.  Once potatoes start to get tender, add white wine & lemon juice to pot and start scraping up the bits of browned goodness from the bottom – keep gently tossing those veggies.  Add in chicken stock and frozen veggies and cooked chicken, salt & pepper to taste and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Mix gravy packets with ¼ cup cold water – just enough to liquefy – add to pot and simmer everything for additional 8 -10 minutes until broth starts to thicken.  Turn off heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.

Roll out pie shells – place one on either the bottom of a deep dish pie plate or I use a small casserole baking dish.  Fill with all the chicken & veggie goodness from above.  (I used a large slotted spoon to fill so there’s not as much liquid – once the dish is filled with the good stuff – you can add some of the additional gravy if you like).  Top with remaining crust, crimp sides and cut 2-3 slots in top to allow for steam to escape.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and amazing! 😉

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  • 3-4 lbs. boneless/skinless thighs and breasts
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1large red and 1 large green bell peppers, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon each dried basil (or 4-5 fresh leaves, chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano (or 10-15 leaves pulled from stem & chopped)
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup fresh, sliced baby portabello or white button mushrooms
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (8 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups burgundy wine
  • Shaved Parmesan for garnish & extra goodness!
  • Black olives (optional)
  • Fresh basil (optional)

Place sliced onions on bottom of crock pot. Add chicken. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Turn your crock pot on low and let cook all day!  Serve over hearty pasta like rigatoni or ziti with a sprinkle of Parmesan on top, a few black olives and a sprig of fresh basil!

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