What to Serve with Pot Pie and Other All Inclusive Casseroles

What to serve

Last week we talked about side dish pairings and how to choose sides that will compliment your main dish.

This week I want to focus on sides that go with pot pies and casseroles. When I asked about recipes that are hard to choose side dishes for, pot pies were at the top of the list.

After all, pot pie already has a meat, vegetable and bread element. It makes it hard to know what to place with it. And yet, it does feel like the meal needs something to round it out.

Here are a few ideas. You may opt for just one side if it’s a simple, weeknight meal. If you’re feeding more people or serving a Sunday dinner, you’ll want to add more than one of these options.

Fruit or Fruit Salad

Sweet Potatoes

Green Veggies

Pot pie and casseroles usually do have vegetables included, but not as many as we should be eating in a meal.

Whole Grain Bread or Rolls

We love breads, but they don’t bring a lot of nutrition.  Make it whole grain to redeem them a bit.

What do you like to serve with pot pie and other casseroles?

 

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Slow Cooker Korean BBQ Tacos

Slow Cooker Korean BBQ Tacos

 

This recipe came about due to two things.

First, a friend mentioned having Korean tacos and how good they were.  I’d never tried them, but it sounded great!

Second, I wanted a homemade alternative to this Korean BBQ Mix.  We love this mix, but it’s nice to be able to make something from scratch too.

I did a little research and then altered the recipe for Slow Cooker Honey Hoisin Chicken to come up with this version of Korean BBQ Tacos.  I make no claim that these are authentic.  But I do know they are good!  Really good.

I used pork loin instead of beef or chicken, but any of those meats will work.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – March 2

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

Last week I completely forgot about writing this post.  We got 14 inches of snow that kept us snowed in the entire week.  My mind went to mush.  It was all about wrapping in a warm blanket, looking outside and saying “wow, that’s a lot of snow”.  We haven’t had this much snow in 17 years and it shut the whole state down.

1.  New Slow Cooker Recipe coming

I made Korean Tacos in the slow cooker and they are good!  The meat is so tender and full of flavor.  And the recipe is really easy.  Look for it on the blog tomorrow.

2.  Frozen meatballs are so convenient – and homemade is even better.

I stocked the freezer with homemade meatballs when we had the Virtual Freezer Cooking Party on Facebook.  I used some of them to make Sweet and Sour Meatballs this week.  We love that 15 minute meal!

Feel free to vary the vegetables in the recipe.  I used red bell pepper and carrots this time.

3.  Dining room re-do

I know this isn’t exactly a kitchen thing, but this project is taking over our house!

IMG_5455

 

That’s what our dining room normally looks like.  Yes, there’s an ironing board in there.  And a tripod.  And a sewing machine.  And various photography backgrounds and lights.

We use this room all the time.  But we don’t usually use it for dining.  So we decided to add some storage that makes sense for the sewing and photography things, but still fits with the dining room table.  We will still want to be able to eat in there sometimes.

And of course, if we’re doing this room we should also re-do the living room that connects.  And that decision led to taking up the carpet and getting new flooring.  And of course, we need to paint before that.

This is turned into a much bigger project than the original “let’s just buy some more shelves” idea we started with.  Currently we’re in what I hope will be the biggest mess of the entire project.  Both rooms are torn apart in process of being painted.  I think it will all be worth it, but right now it’s a mess!

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5 Reasons My Homemade Pizza disappointed Me and What I’m Doing to Fix It

5 Ways to make great homemade pizza

I’ve made homemade pizza many times over the years.

And I’ve been disappointed in my results quite a few times too.

From soggy crusts, to pizzas that don’t bake evenly to those that just don’t taste great. (To be fair, there have been many homemade pizzas we really enjoyed too.)

A while back I found a free Craftsy pizza making class.  It’s an online video course that comes with some recipes and shows how to really up your homemade pizza making game.

I watched the course recently and gave a few of the tips a try.  And I learned a lot about pizza making, even though my first attempt didn’t go quite as planned.

But I’m determined to master the homemade pizza.  I’ll be sharing tips and recipes with you here.  I’ve got a great sauce recipe to share.  And I’ve got a dough in the fridge right now that I have high hopes for.  It feels lovely already, unlike the last recipe I tried, which never gained the soft, elastic quality you want in pizza dough.

For today I want to share 5 reasons why I’ve been disappointed in my previous pizza making attempts and what I’m doing to fix that.

Baking in an oven that’s not hot enough

Pizza needs a seriously hot oven.  Way hotter than I ever would have guessed.  Previously, I would bake my pizzas at around 400 degrees.

But I’ve learned through the Craftsy class and other reading I’ve done that you really need to crank up the oven.

Turn it to 500 degrees or hotter.  Mine goes up to 550.  Then turn on the convection bake if you have it.  This will add 50 extra degrees to the temp.

With the oven heated as high as it will go, pizza will bake in just 5-6 minutes.

In case you’re wondering, baking stones such as you buy from Pampered Chef cannot take this kind of heat.

Proof:

pizza stone cracked

Takeaway – Turn up the oven the next time you bake.  But be sure to use a metal baking sheet or iron skillet if you don’t own a baking steel or pizza stone.

Pizza takes patience

Homemade pizza is not a 15 minute meal.  I love, love, love a quick dinner, but pizza is not in this category.

And I think that may be why I’m drawn to it now.  Learning to bake great pizza at home feels like a hobby and creative pursuit and less like the “get dinner on the table” routine that I do every day.

Good homemade pizza crust needs to be made at least 24 hours before it’s ready to be worked with.  The dough needs time to become strong and elastic.  Without that time, it won’t be possible to get it to stretch and form the crust.

Homemade pizza

Takeaway – Try making your crust at least a day ahead of when you’re planning to bake it.

If you want round crust, start with a round dough ball

Last week I made homemade dough, but didn’t separate it into individual pieces until I was ready to work with it.  I ended up with triangle shaped pizza crusts.  (My dough had a few other problems that didn’t help either.)

I’ve since learned that dividing the dough before storing in the fridge and storing the balls in a round container will help with keeping things round.

pizza dough in round ball

Takeaway – Store your dough already separated into pieces in a round bowl or dish.

Great flour really helps

I usually use bread flour for my pizza crust, but still wasn’t getting the results I wanted.  This time I bought King Arthur bread flour and it’s made a huge difference.  I could tell as I was running the mixer that this dough was a higher quality.  And as I worked with it, I knew for sure.

High quality flour that is high in gluten will produce the best pizza crust.

Homemade Pizza slice

Takeaway – Pick up a bag of high quality bread flour the next time you’re in the grocery.

Pizza tools are important

Pizza stones or baking steels that can take the heat are preferable to baking on a regular pizza pan.

I’ve recently ordered a pizza steel from Dough Joe.  These have the best price that I could find.  It’s still an investment, but it won’t ever break.  The steel is HEAVY!  15 pounds of metal.

dough joe pizza steel

 

We used this for the first time last Friday and I love it!  It’s a pizza-baking game changer!

Dough Joe also sells pizza stones.  I almost went with these.  They come as a 4 or 5 piece set, so they aren’t as prone to breaking as one solid stone would be.  They also aren’t as heavy as the pizza steel.

A pizza peel is essential for slipping the pizza into and out of the oven.  I have this one that I bought from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I think it was in the Beyond section ;)

Takeaway – Consider purchasing a steel or stone and peel.  Or use your iron skillet to bake your pizza if you’re not ready to invest.

Pizza making parties are fun

I gather all the ingredients on the kitchen island.  Everyone gathers around to help work the dough, add toppings, talk and laugh.  We eat each pizza as it comes out of the oven.

It’s messy, noisy, delicious fun!

Takeaway – Invite your friends and family into the kitchen with you to experiment and have fun!

IMG_5562

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The Art of the Side Dish – What Goes With…

Art of the Side Dish

Side dishes are my dinner downfall. Only because I have a habit of forgetting about them when I’m prepping dinner.

I’ve written about easy side dish ideas a couple of times.

But how do you know what sides pair well with different main dishes? Some things are easy – Spaghetti and salad. Meat, vegetable, roll.

There are other recipes that present more of a challenge. Sides to go with stir-fry. Moving beyond chips and salsa with a Mexican meal. What to serve with potpie and other all-inclusive casseroles.

We’ll be tackling some of these in future posts, but today I want to share a few things I keep in mind when planning the meals for Weekly Meal Plans.

A good side/main dish pairing will do a few things for your meal:   [Read more…]

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Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish and Caribbean Citrus Slaw

Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish and Caribbean Citrus Slaw

 

When I made these recipes, the entire state of Kentucky was knee deep in snow.   But the bright flavors in the McCormick Caribbean Citrus Seafood Marinade Mix made us think of a warmer place.

I know many of you eat fish on Fridays during Lent.  This is an easy dinner that’s quick to fix, but has a big pay off in taste.

I used the marinade packet for both the fish and the slaw.  I wasn’t sure how it would work in the slaw dressing.  After all, the packet does say Seafood Marinade.  But it works great!  I added a little sugar and more oil.  The instructions are below in the recipe.

Using the same seasoning for both fish and slaw keeps things simple and ensures that the main dish and side dish complement each other.  If you want to add another side, I recommend sweet potato fries or a simple baked sweet potato.

Here’s what you’ll need for the fish.  I cooked mine on a George Foreman grill.  But I’ve included baking instructions if you’d rather use the oven.

Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish ingr

 

[Read more…]

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It’s Virtual Freezer Cooking Day!

Virtual Freezer Cooking Party

 

Pop in and visit us while you get some freezer cooking done.  We’ll be chatting on the Facebook event page all day today.

Even if you aren’t cooking today, feel free to pop in and gather recipe ideas.

And if you are cooking, we’d love to hear what you’re working on!

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Why and How to Freeze Cooked Meats

One of my secrets to quick meals is having cooked meat in the freezer.  This is by far the biggest time saver you can do for your meal prep.

 

Ground Beef

You can cook ground beef (or ground chicken, pork, sausage etc) on the stove-top.  Or use this trick to do it in the slow cooker.

Grilled Chicken

If it’s nice out, fire up the grill and cook the chicken outside.  Slice and freeze. The smokey flavor will bring summer to your winter meals.

Rotisserie Chicken

3 Costco Rotisserie Chickens yield 5-6 meals. 13 possible recipes

 

If you’re not in the mood to cook it yourself, grab several rotisserie chickens.  Pull the meat off the bones and freeze it.  You can find meal possibilities here and 10 more meal ideas here.

Whole Chicken 

Or bake a chicken yourself.  Use the slow cooker or do several at once in the oven.

Freezer Friendly Meatballs

how to stretch ground beef

 

Meatballs are so versatile for quick meals.  I have this recipe that includes rice to stretch the ground beef and make it go further.  Or try this more classic meatball recipe that still makes a bunch.

Turkey Breast

turkey breast in slow cooker

 

You can get a lot of meat off a turkey breast.  It’s a great deal if you find a sale.

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork is always good to have stashed away in the freezer for quick meals.  Serve it as sandwiches.  Add pineapple and cheese for a Hawaiian version.  Serve it over rice, like haystacks.  Lots of possibilities.

Virtual Freezer Cooking Party

 In case you’d like to have grocery lists and plans done for you, we’re running a sale on 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans.  Click the image  below to find out more and use the code PARTY to save $2.

200 lp12 slow cooker freezer meal plans

 

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Dessert Recipes to Freeze

Desserts may not be the first thing you think of stocking your freezer with, but there are a lot of great reasons to do just that.

Having something sweet stashed away can help you avoid running to the grocery at night to grab a snack (or are we the only people who do that?).  Kids and teens especially like having cookies in the freezer to grab.

And prepping a dessert for company before the occasion arrives is a great time saver.

No matter what your reason, here are some dessert recipes to consider making and freezing.

peanut butter fluff pie done

Peanut Butter Fluff Pie

cappuccino pie

No Bake Cappuccino Pie

Frozen Fruit Cups

Frozen Mocha Marble Loaf

Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Candy Cane Fudge Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Amish Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pudding Pops

Black Forest Cherry Ice Cream Dessert

Black Forest Cherry Ice Cream Dessert

coffee toffee ice cream pie done

Coffee Toffee Ice Cream Pie with a Ribbon of Fudge

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream Cake

Easy Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream Cake

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Jello Popsicles 

buster bar inside

Buster Bars

Pumpkin Chip Cookies

10 homemade ice creams

Ice Cream of all Kinds!

Virtual Freezer Cooking Party

 In case you’d like to have grocery lists and plans done for you, we’re running a sale on 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans.  Click the image  below to find out more and use the code PARTY to save $2.

200 lp12 slow cooker freezer meal plans

 

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Main Dish Recipes to Freeze

There are so many main dish recipes that will work for freezing.  In fact, nearly any recipe will work (although there are some exceptions).

Instead of listing every possibility, we’ve pulled together a short list for you.  Let these get you started, but know that there are lots of other options as well!

minideepdishpizzas

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

chicken lettuce wraps done

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

Honey Pork Chops

 

Smothered Steak with Onion and Mushrooms

stromboli done sliced2

Stromboli

Mel’s Diner Chili

Reuben Calzone

50’s Primetime Meatloaf

baked-spaghetti-done-this-one

Baked Spaghetti

freezerburritosdone_thumb.jpg

Black Beans & Rice Freezer Burritos

Chinese Cheater Chicken

Thai Chili Chicken Egg Rolls

Smoked Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup

Chicken and Dressing Casserole

Stuffed Shells

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Virtual Freezer Cooking Party

In case you’d like to have grocery lists and plans done for you, we’re running a sale on 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans.  Click the image  below to find out more and use the code PARTY to save $2.

200 lp12 slow cooker freezer meal plans

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