Friday, August 30, 2013

A Weeks Worth of Meals Chillin' In My Freezer

In 4 days, my life is going to get A LOT busier. On top of starting a new job, I will also be attending classes for my Masters... all starting next week. I think I know myself well enough to know that I'm probably not going to want to cook dinner every single night, especially when I don't get home until after 8 p.m.. I love Ryan, but we probably shouldn't eat chicken and rice three times a week. So, I set out yesterday to stock our freezer with meals that we can enjoy on those days where we're too tired to make anything else!

I've seen these recipes floating around Pinterest for a while now, so putting them on my blog is really just for my sake and the sake of anyone else who just wants a couple easy freezer dishes all in one place. Anyways, first thing yesterday morning, I headed to the grocery store to pick up everything I would need for 6 meals + all of our dinners for next week! This turned out to be a really good day to buy all of my ingredients because the Stop & Shop was having a HUGE sale on all their meat. Score!

When I got home and unpacked the groceries, I immediately threw all of the chicken in to a pot of water to poach and all of the ground beef in a pan with chopped onions to brown. That way, all of my meat was cooked and could be incorporated into whichever meal it was intended for quickly.
Mid- Madness. 
In no particular order, here are the recipes I cooked up yesterday! (Sorry the pictures are crappy. I didn't take any pictures before I put them in the freezer, so everything was already frozen when I got around to it last night. Plus the lighting in my kitchen at night isn't the best!)

Baked Ziti: 


  • 1 lb. ziti pasta 
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lb. ground beef 
  • 1 1/2 jars spaghetti sauce 
  • 10 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream 
  • 6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded 
  • 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese 


1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta and cook according to package directions.
2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. add spaghetti sauce and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Layer in pan: half of the ziti, half the sauce, 5 slices of provolone cheese, half the sour cream, and half the mozzarella cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients and top with parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with tin foil and place in freezer for up to 2 months.
4. When you're ready to eat, take casserole out of the freezer and defrost in the fridge over night or for 8 hours. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cheese is melted.

Original Recipe can be found here.

Broccoli, Chicken, and Rice Casserole

  • 2 cups cooked rice (I used white) 
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped and steamed 
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

1. Once everything is cooked and prepared, combine all ingredients in a large pot and transfer to a lightly-greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with cheddar cheese and seal the casserole dish with tin foil. 

2. When you're ready to eat, defrost in fridge overnight or for 8 hours. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is bubbly. 

Original recipe can be found here.

**The rest of these recipes came from one of my favorite cookbooks- Southern Living's Busy Mom's Weeknight Favorites. No, I am not a mom, but I can be busy and these recipes are awesome!**

Taco Casserole


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained 
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup 
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup 
  • 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into quarters 
  • 16 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (Original recipe calls for Velveeta cheese crumbles- but I couldn't find them.) 
  1. Cook first four ingredients in a large skillet, until beef is no longer pink. Drain and return to skillet. Stir in beans, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, and diced tomatoes. 
  2. Layer half of tortillas in the bottom of your casserole dish. Top with half of the meat mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat layers with the remainder of the ingredients. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze for up to two months. 
  3. When you're ready to eat, defrost in fridge overnight or for 8 hours. Bake, uncovered, for 45-55 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. 

Beef Lombardi


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tsp. sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 package egg noodles
  • 1 (8 oz) container sour cream
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese 
  1. Cook beef in a large skillet over medium heat until browned. Drain and return to pan. Stir in diced tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and bay leaf, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles according to package directions; drain and return to pan. Stir in sour cream. Spoon noodle mixture into casserole dish. Top with meat mixture and sprinkle with cheeses. 
  3. Cover tightly and freeze for up to two months. 
  4. When you're ready to enjoy: Remove from freezer and defrost in fridge overnight or for 8 hours. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 more minutes.

Chicken & Stuffing

  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped 
  • 10 cornbread muffins, crumbled (my grocery store always has fresh cornbread for sale in the bakery, so I just bought a pan of that.) 
  • 1/2 (16 oz.) package herb-seasoned stuffing mix
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add celery and saute 5 minutes or until tender. 
  2. Combine cornbread and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; add sauteed mixture, stirring well. Spoon mixtures into a casserole dish; cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze for up to two months. 
  3. When you're ready to eat, defrost in fridge overnight or for 8 hours. Uncover casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until lightly browned. 

And there you have it! 5 good-looking recipes waiting to be defrosted and consumed on a night off from the kitchen!

Now, the 6 recipe was originally intended to be a freezer meal, but I needed something to bring with me to life group last night, so I cooked up double of this one and put the other half in the fridge to eat for dinner tonight. (I just cooked for 5 hours... I'm taking a day off!)

Ham Tetrazzini 

Original recipe calls for Turkey instead of ham- but Ryan and I always preferred ham in this one!
  • 12 oz. vermicelli, broken in half 
  • 1 tbsp. butter 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 cups cubed ham steak
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 (8 oz) container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat; add onion, mushrooms, and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until tender. 
  2. Stir in ham, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, and remaining 7 ingredients. Drain vermicelli, and add to ham mixture; stir well. 
  3. Spoon mixture into casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze for up to two months. *I skipped this step since we're eating it tonight!*
  4. When you're ready to eat, defrost in fridge overnight or for 8 hours. Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is bubbly. 

Phew, that was A LOT of cooking! If this turns out to be as good of a thing as I think it will be, I will be doing something like this once a month! Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DIY Necklace Holder

I'm sick of studying. Just in time for my Master's classes to begin. (1 week- AH!) I'm taking my final MTEL (General Curriculum + Math) this afternoon and praying to GOD I pass so I can put these tests behind me!

I honestly believe I have studied as much as I can to prepare myself, so before I go sit in front of the computer for 255 minutes, I'm plopping down in front of my computer to tell ya'll about a recent project Ryan and I tackled last week!

Since I began substitute teaching last year, my jewelry wardrobe as continued to grow- since everyone knows a cute necklace can make an outfit, right?! Anyways, I had all these necklaces laying around and nowhere to really store any of them. So, of course, I took to Pinterest to find a solution! I stumbled upon an Etsy sight that sold Jewelry organizers and thought, "I could totally make that myself!" So, I did!

Here's what you need:
  • 1 piece of wood (I went to Home Depot and had them cut a piece of wood to 1x4x10 for $1.50!)
  • 1 can of Wood Stain + a rag you don't mind throwing away after
  • 4 drawer pulls/knobs

Like I said before, Home Depot will cut the wood you chose to your desired length. The wall I wanted to hang this on is pretty small, so I wanted it to be just less than a foot long, therefore the man cut the 1x4 wood plank to 10 inches long. Once I grabbed that, I headed over to a different section and picked out 4 knobs I wanted to screw onto the board and a stain color. Once you have all of your supplies, the rest is easy!

First, stain your wood board. I used Minwax Dark Walnut and brushed on two coats with an old rag.

Once that dried (about 2 hours), my big, strong husband screwed in four drawer knobs. Next, we took a frame hanger and screwed that in to the top middle so that we could hang it!

Finally, we hung up the piece! Now my necklaces are displayed beautifully and won't turn into a tangled mess on top of our dresser!! Plus, the whole project cost about $10 and only took a couple hours (including drying time)! I call that a successful DIY!

Alright ya'll, I'm off to ACE this test! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake

I woke up the morning of my birthday with a desire to bake something fresh for breakfast! When I opened the fridge, a carton of blueberries was staring me right in the face and I just knew they needed to be folded into a homemade coffee cake!

Here's what you need: 

    For the Cake: 

  • 2 cups Flour 
  • 1 cup Sugar 
  • 4 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil 
  • 1/4 cup Milk 
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla 
  • 2 cups Fresh Blueberries 
    For the Crumb Topping: 
  • 1/4 cup unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar 
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a bundt pan and set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla and mix together. Slowly add in flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Carefully fold in blueberries and pour cake mix into bundt pan. 

Combine all of the crumb topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the cake batter. Bake for 55 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Remove from bundt pan and serve.

By the time Stephanie and Ben woke up, the cake was just about fully-baked and ready to be enjoyed as a birthday morning breakfast treat!

*Every recipe I've posted can be found on my Recipe's page! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Boston With My Bestie + 24

Hey Ya'll! Happy Birthday to me! As Ryan woke me up this morning, he said... you're ALMOST a quarter or a century old. Thanks babe!

While I was 23, I .. celebrated a birthday in New Jersey, planned a wedding, got married to my best friend and love of my life, honeymooned in Jamaica, moved to the Boston area, lived through my first blizzard (or two), substitute taught in Weymouth (and realized how great my passion is for teaching), traveled to Maine and skied, went snoeshoeing, and snowmobiled for the first time ever, traveled to Indiana for the 4th of July, traveled to St. Kitts for a Smith family vacation, and did many, many more things. 23 was an unbelievable year for me and I can't wait to see what's in store for 24!!

I'm so excited I get to spend my birthday with my best friend from home and some of our AMAZING Weymouth friends! I feel so blessed that these people want to spend time with me and I can't wait to celebrate with them!

So let's back up a bit and talk about this weekend!


Saturday morning, Ryan and I headed into the city to pick up Stephanie and Ben from the airport! They got in around 11 with no problems and we took off straight for the Sam Adams Brewery to take those crazy kids on a tour!

The Sam Adams Brewery offers a free trolley ride to Doyle's Pub in Jamaica Plain, where, if you bring your tour ticket and order a cold Sam Adams, they let you take home the specialty glass for free! We've been on the tour 3 times and have never taken them up on this offer until this time! The four of us hopped on the trolley for a short 15 minute ride! The restaurant was fun and we had a good time catching up over lunch (and a couple beers!)

Since Steph and Ben had to get up super early to catch their flight to Boston, we decided to head back to our apartment and rest up before our dinner reservations that night.

After we rested up for a bit, the four of us met up with Kristen and Stephen for the evening! Dinner Saturday night was enjoyed at Lucia's, an Italian restaurant in the North End, followed by some dessert at Mike's Pastry, because... well... you just can't go to the North End and not get some Mike's! (Right, Kristen?!) We had plans to go see the 10:00 comedy show at Improv Asylum, but it sold out before we could buy our tickets, so we stuck around for a bit and caught the Midnight "Raunch" show, which really wasn't any dirtier than their normal shows! It definitely made for a few laughs. (Dancing Lobsters, anyone?) The show got out around 1:15 AM, so we dropped Kristen and Stephen back off at their house and headed straight to bed.


Sunday morning, after church, the group went to Uncle Charlie's for brunch before heading back into the city to explore some more. Our first stop in Boston was Newbury Street in Back Bay, where we did a little shopping before resting at the Joe's American Grill bar! After we enjoyed a nice cold drink, we got back in the car to explore Beacon Hill before heading to dinner. We had to eat an earlier dinner, so after we parked the car, we walked to the Union Oyster House (the oldest restaurant in America) and shared a couple bowls of clam chowder and two seafood platters!

On Boylston! 

After dinner, we walked to the Boston Harbor to catch our boat! Earlier in the week, I bought tickets for us to enjoy a 90-minute sunset cruise around the harbor. Unfortunately, the boat was delayed 30 minutes for some reason so we missed the majority of the sunset, but it was still pretty awesome to see the Boston skyline all lit up against the night sky. We wrapped our night up with a couple scoops of Friendly's ice cream and some VMA's (turned on just in time to enjoy a little N'SYNC reunion).

Red Sox owner's "Investment Yacht"

I just love this city! 

Now, it's time to squeeze the most out of this last day of my best friend's visit!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Homemade Strawberry Muffins

T-minus 24 hours until I get to pick up my best friend from the airport. This girl is EXCITED!! So excited, in fact, that I decided to whip up a batch of homemade strawberry muffins for all of us to share during breakfast this weekend! (if they make it until tomorrow!!)

Here's what you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups Strawberries, chopped 
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 6 tbsp. Butter 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt 
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Line a muffin tin with liners and/or spray with a cooking spray. (I do both so that the muffins don't stick to the liners!) Combine strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and let it sit together for at least 45 minutes. This allows the juices from the strawberries to combine with the sugar. YUM. 

In a stand mixer, beat together butter and 1/4 cup sugar until fluffy. Add in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Slowly add dry ingredients to the stand mixer and beat until incorporated. Fold in strawberries, including the sugar liquid from the bowl. Spoon into muffin tin. (I had a little left over batter, so I spooned the rest into a 24-cup mini muffin tin as well- those only bake for about 10-12 minutes.)

Bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Enjoy! 

I can't wait to dig into these this weekend! Happy Friday, ya'll!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Pull This String... See What You Find..."

For Lisa's bachelorette gift, I wanted to do something more creative than the usual lingerie gift! I figured While shopping in Target, I came across some SUPER cute underwear and started to formulate a gift idea around them. Here's what I came up with!

I picked up 4 pairs of underwear from Target and 5 pairs of underwear from Victoria's Secret. While I was checking out at Victoria's Secret, I asked for a large bag and some extra tissue paper to wrap the gift with. I also grabbed some ribbon and a gold tag to write my little poem on! 

One by one, using the ribbon, I tied each pair of underwear together, making a chain. I started and ended with a white bridal pair of underwear to make things a little more festive! When I was finished, I had one extra-long chain of underwear! On to the last pair of underwear, I tied a long piece a ribbon and a tag. 

The tag hung out of the bag by the ribbon and read, "Pull this string, see what you find... might be something cute for your little behind!" Lisa would read the tag, pull... and pull.. and pull.. until all 9 pairs of undies were dangling from the bag! 

And there you have it! A super simple and creative way to change up the usual lingerie bachelorette gift! I think Lisa enjoyed opening the gift and I hope she enjoys using it!! 

It's the gift that keeps going... 

And going....

And going!

Happy Bachelorette Party, Lisa!!