Category Archives: Appetizers

Stuffed Mushrooms

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This is the time of year were we get to eat LOTS of appetizers! YUM!!! Appetizer meals are the best!! Just top it off with a sweet treat or 8 and there you go! A lovely meal! ¬†ūüėČ ¬† These mushrooms are simple to throw together and really good. I do not like mushrooms, but I did eat one and didn’t EVEN cringe!!!! ūüėČ

What are your favorite appetizers to serve/make/eat? My answer? THEM ALL!!! HA!!!

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Stuffed Mushrooms 

1-2 (8 oz.) container whole mushrooms
1/2 c.- 3/4 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c.- 3/4 c. mayo
3 oz. pkg. bacon bits or cooked and crumbled bacon

Wash the mushrooms and pull the stems out. Disguard stems. Mix together equal parts of mayo and Parmesan, add bacon. Stuff the mushrooms with the mayo mix. Bake @ 350¬ļ for 20 minutes, drain and ENJOY!!!

Thanks Stacy for this recipe, found in Prized Recipes to Cook and Savor, Vol. II.

Cucumber Salsa

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Garden time is here! ¬†Or should I say, gardens FULL of yummy produce have finally sprouted!! I, myself, have a brown thumb ~ as brown as soil. BUT there are a few people that¬†I love, who have wonderful green thumbs and share fresh garden produce with me! Or a quick trip to the farm stand, even the grocery store has farm fresh produce right now! So it is right at ¬†our fingertips!! Let’s enjoy it!!!

Cucumber, plain sliced cucumber, make my noise flare. You know, when you eat something you really are not keen of, your nose flares, right? Well, for me that is cucumber. Unless it is sliced and in a lovely vinegar sugar mixture, now that IS good. Or made into a pickle. ¬†Or if it is in a salad and surrounded by other things, you don’t notice as much when your fork is full of lettuce and tomato and such. ¬†Dipping it is ranch is good too, tho I will still forever reach for the carrots or cherry tomatoes on a veggie platter (taking a cuke or two, simply cause it is probably real good for me being a veggie and all ;)).

Anyways, when your garden is brimming with cucumber or you find that you have a lonely cucumber in your fridge needed to be used up, try this recipe! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does. It does get watery after a day or two in the fridge, so don’t make tooo much at once. My family ¬†eats nearly this whole batch and dinner, the leftovers can be a bit watery (from the cucumber draining) the next day, but still good.

~ Cut the cucumber up nice and small, then let set a few minutes to drain any excess liquid, pat dry with a paper towel. It also helps to scoop out the seeds, just using the outer shell.

~ Technically this is ment to be eaten with chips, which we do, but is also good “as is” ~ grab a fork and eat¬†it like a salad!

~ Plum tomatoes work best for this recipe, as they are not quite as liquidy as other tomatoes, if you no not have plum (or Roma is good too) ~ then just take the seeds out of the tomatoes, then cut.

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Crisp Cucumber Salsa

2 c. peeled,  chopped cucumber (remove seeds 1st)
1/2 c. chopped plum tomatoes
2 TB. fresh minced parsley (can also use dry, about 1/2 Р1 TB.)
1/4 c. chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, remove seeds and chop
1/2 c. minced cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c. sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt

In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, onion, jalapeno and garlic. Set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and seasoned salt. Pour over cucumber mixture and stir to coat. Chill at least 4 hours. Serve with tortilla chips.

ENJOY!!!

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

Spicy Ritz Cracker Snacks, Cranberry Walnut Bagels & Our FAVORITE Snack (Straight from the Store!!!)

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Need an appetizer or snack for a party this Christmas? These Ritz Cracker Snacks might just fit the bill.

* Adjust the red pepper flakes to YOUR preferred heat level. I used the whole 1 TB. as we enjoy heat. BUT if you are unsure as to what your family would like, then start with 1/2 TB. (or less)~ you will still get a kick from that.

* The shaking part sounds easy, and, well ~ it is. BUT the part that is tricky is that the cheese and red pepper flakes clump together. No problem, if you find a Ritz with extra cheese chunks on it, then just spread it onto another less dressed cracker.

Spicy Ritz Crackers Snacks

1 stick of butter, melted
1 env. dry Ranch seasoning mix
1/4 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 TB – 1 TB. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
about 75 Ritz crackers (which is about 3 sleeves)

Mix the butter, seasoning mix, Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Toss with the Ritz crackers. Place on a 10″ x 15″ baking sheet (with sides). Spread around any Parmesan cheese chunks you may see. Bake @ 300¬ļ for 15 minutes, stir/flip 1 time. Allow to cool completely. Serve.

I saw this ‚ÜϬ†recipe on Pinterest.

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The other day in the store I saw a display of Cranberry English Muffins. I had them in my cart, of course. THEN I saw the price. Over $3 for 6 English Muffins?!?!!? I get that they are dressed for the holidays, but really? I put them back. A few days later when making bagels, I remembered those pretty little cranberry bedazzled English Muffins and thought, if they can do it….so can I! So, in went chopped walnuts and Craisins to the bagel dough. Really good.

* If using a bread machine, add the coarsely chopped walnuts and Craisins (a handful of each) to the bread machine JUST BEFORE the last kneading cycle. Your machine SHOULD beep to let you know when this is. IF added to early the Craisins and walnuts will just be chopped to smithereens.

* I was doing half plain and half holiday jazzy, so when the dough cycle was done, I split the dough in 2 and kneaded in the walnuts and Craisins to half the dough. That worked really well too!

Cranberry Walnut Bagels

The recipe is easy. Just follow this recipe, adding in a good handful (or two! ūüėČ your preference of course) of Craisins and coarsely chopped walnuts. Add them JUST before the final knead, your bread machine will beep with this will happen (usually about 25-30 minutes in.) OR *my preference* knead the goodies into the dough when the entire dough cycle is complete.

Our favorite snack right now…..

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do your kids enjoy these as well??? No seeds!! Easy to peel!! DOUBLE high fives!!! ūüôā (There are also the equally yummy “Halos”.)

PS ~ I haven’t heard from many of you in a while!!! How was everyone’s Thanksgiving?? Can you tell us about your favorite dish? Was it a classic or a new-fangeled dish you tried for the first time? My favorite, as always, stuffing. Yum. ¬†(AND the sweet potatoes!!)

Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

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A few weeks back we had¬†Hawaiian Sweet ¬†Bread and I had thrown the round loaf in the freezer, for future use. It came in handy the other night when I wanted to have some sorta bread to go with dinner. I took it out and let it thaw, THEN went CRAZY…well, my kinda crazy…… It turned out delicious, a new favorite recipe for sure! Hope you enjoy it too, this would work just as well with the Hawaiian Bread Loaf you can buy at the store!

* Use whatever cheeses and herbs your family likes, let me know what you come up with! Green onions would be good, pepper jack cheese, bacon……lots o’ possibilities!

* Sorry about the “sprinkle” and “dash” type measurements for this recipe, it is the kinda recipe that you just have to use as little or as much as your family likes, more of a “method” recipe….be creative and have fun!

Cheesy Pull Apart Bread 
1 loaf of Hawaiian Bread
1/4 c. melted butter
shredded cheese of choice, I used Monterey Jack
garlic powder
Italian Seasoning
Parmesan Cheese

Cut your bread lengthwise and widthwise, nearly to the bottom of the loaf ~ be sure to leave the bottom in tack or you will just have a bunch of bread cubes, which would be delicious croutons but not really be a bread loaf per say.  Pull the bread apart a bit to make room for the cheesy yumminess.

Drizzle with butter, then with cheese (I used about 1 1/2 c…..) and then sprinkle with garlic,¬†Italian Seasoning and Parmesan. ¬†Wrap up in foil, leaving some room in at the top so the cheese does not stick to the top of the foil. Heat in a 350* oven for about 20-25 ¬†minutes till heated through and cheese is melted. You may uncover near the end to brown with cheese a bit.

 Enjoy, I sure hope you do!

Beer Bread & Dill Dip

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This post is LONG over due. I friend of mine brought this treat over for a cookout long ago and I just haven’t gotten a chance to get it out to you all!

Have you ever had Beer Bread? Did you think you could only make it from the packet you bought from Tastefully Simple? ¬†Well, you CAN make you own and it is NOT hard! This delicious dip was made by my friend, I have not made it myself yet BUT it replaced my other Dill Dip I had and THAT says a lot! The recipe calls for Accent, I do not have that ~ so I might mix up the other ingredients and add salt to taste. Though as my friend said, it might be SO good because of the Accent……so go the route that you so choose!

* I use 3 c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp. salt in place of the 3 c. of self-rising flour.

Beer Bread 
3 c. self rising flour *
1 – 12 oz. can of beer
1/2 c. sugar

* Make your OWN self rising flour!!! 3 c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp. salt, mix and use that in place of the 3 c. self rising flour.

Mix all the ingredients together, there may be a few lumps left. Pour into a greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan and bake @ 350* for about 45 minutes. Cool a few minutes, then put on a cooling rack to cool all the way. Then cut up into cubes to use as a dipper. Enjoy.

Dill Dip
1 TB. parsley
1 TB. minced onion
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. Accent
2/3 c. sour cream
2/3 c. mayonnaise
Put all the above in a bowl and mix till smooth. Cover and chill a while to meld the flavors. Serve with Beer Bread. Enjoy.

Beer Bread recipe from Prized Recipes to Cook and Savor. Dill Dip recipe from Annette.

Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball

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Appetizers and snacks are a given this time of year, sometimes that is all we have for dinner and¬†that¬†is fun. This cheese ball was a new one I tried for this year, and it was really enjoyable.¬†‚Üď

Games are also a given this time of year! Whether you are playing with ¬†your kids, your husband, your family or your friends ~ usually game playing leads to loads of laughing. I, myself, have always been a game loser. It stems back from the times we would play Memory and my brother would cheat… I would lose, he would win. Cheater. (YEP, callin’ you out bro.) ¬†Playing ANY game with my husband….I lose 9.9 times out of 10. As a mom, I just cannot win. When we ¬†play Memory, my husband and kids stacks are HUGE and I¬†maybe¬†have 2 matches. Believe me I am¬†trying.¬†I¬†guess I need to learn to watch. ¬†Playing Uno, our kids lambast us with “draw 4’s” and “draw 2’s” like crazy. Dad and mom end up in 4th and 5th place. Ha. Funny……

New Years Eve is right around the corner. The year did fly by. It is fun to look back on the past year and think about it, the good AND the bad. We have much to be thankful for.

I hope you have a wonderful Old Year’s Day and New Year’s Day! Whether you are with friends or family, enjoy.

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Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball 

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
3 TB. mayonnaise
1/8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 drops hot sauce
1/4 c. crumbled crisp cooked bacon
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 TB. sliced green onion
1 c. chopped walnuts

Combine the cream cheese, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Beat at a medium speed till combined. Stir in the bacon, cheese and green onions.

Wrap in plastic wrap and shape into a ball. Chill till it is cold and will hold the “ball” shape. Roll in the chopped walnuts and chill till ready to ¬†serve. Serve with crackers.

ENJOY!!

Recipe from Jen K., from the “Only the Good Stuff” Cookbook.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Crock Pot Cooking (Scroll down a bit to see a number of recipes!)

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I enjoy cooking with my crock pot, do you?? I enjoy having meals ready for me in the freezer, do you?? Both of those led  me to this post. I hope you find it helpful. Let me know IF you like this, I would be happy to do it again IF I know a lot of you have enjoyed it!!

I hope this is helpful to you in the busy weeks ahead! These recipes took me about 1 1/2 hours to put together. Not too shabby…….

SO. The layout of this post will be different from my others. I will start with pictures of each recipe, with the name of the recipe UNDER the picture. Then we will have the recipes all grouped together, for your copying and pasting pleasure IF you want too……I just am not sure how to set up a “print friendly” button or tab or link yet, sorry. THEN we will have the order that I did my prep, though you can ignore that if you wish. THEN you will see a grocery¬†list. You may have 90% of the stuff already in your home as most of them are staples, YES!! But I thought a grocery list would be a bit helpful as well, maybe.

Happy prepping/freezing/crock-potting!!

Just a few more notes:

  • I have included 1 Dessert, 1 Hot Fruit Salad (a yummy side dish) and 1 Appetizer. I ATTEMPTED a Vegetable Side Dish, ¬†but if failed the freezer test…..miserably.¬†
  • As you see it is mostly chicken recipes, including no pre-cooking of meat ~ making it nice and easy. There is¬†one¬†pork recipe, though there was¬†supposed¬†to be two. The other one failed the freezer test…..miserably.¬†¬†The pork recipe might be good with chicken though……don’t quote me however! ūüėČ
  • Be sure to thaw the frozen meals COMPLETELY before cooking. ¬†I recommend taking it out of the freezer and popping it in your fridge the morning BEFORE you plan on cooking it.
  • Freezer safe bags work the best, they do not leak as quick and protect from freezer burn.
  • Some of the recipes have ingredients that need to be added JUST before cooking and NOT to be frozen. I will have those items highlighted in the recipe and they are NOT included on the grociery list. ¬†PLEASE make note of that!!!
  • I cooked these recipes in my 4 1/2 – 5 qt. crock pot, not sure on the size exactly.
  • The Crisp, Fruit Salad and Fondue serve a lot!!! The rest served my family of 2 adults and 4 kids ~ with some leftovers at times.

Here we go!!!!

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Hot Fruit Salad 

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Very Berry Cherry Crisp

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Cheesy Pizza Fondue

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Chicken Tortilla Soup 

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Lime Chicken Tacos

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California Chicken 

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BBQ Chicken Dinner 

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The Recipes!!!

Hot Fruit Salad 

21 oz. apple pie filling
21 oz. cherry pie filling
20 oz. can of pineapple tidbits, drained (I used 2 cans of fruit cocktail, drained)
16 oz. can sliced peaches, drained
8 1/2 oz. can of apricots (I skipped, didn’t have, though it¬†is¬†real good in it)
11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 c. sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all your ingredients in a large Ziplock bag (or two bags, for two!! separate dinners! As this batch yields more than WE can eat at one meal!! It is good to pack in kids lunches though……) Freeze. ¬†Thaw completely when ready to cook. Cook in crock pot on low for 4 hours, or till hot. Serve and Enjoy!

Recipe from Becky.

Very Berry Cherry Crisp 
6 c. TOTAL of any berry (I used 3 c. blueberries, 2 c. strawberries and 1 c. cranberries)
21 oz. can cherry pie filling
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 TB. quick cook Tapioca (I used a heaping TB. of instant Tapioca Pudding powder this time, did not thicken it as much…but worked OK)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 c. butter

Combine the berries, pie filling, 1/3 c. sugar, 1/4 c. water and Tapioca in a large Ziplock bag.  In a bowl, combine the cinnamon, oats, flour, brown sugar and pinch of salt ~ cut in the butter and put in a smaller Ziplock bag. Freeze. Thaw before cooking.  Pour the fruit mixture in the bottom of your crock pot and top with crumbly yumminess. Cook in low for 3 1/2 Р4 hours. Serve with ice cream and ENJOY!

Cheesy Pizza Fondue 

1 jar spaghetti sauce (about 24 oz.)
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried onion
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Mix everything together in a large Ziplock bag. Freeze. Thaw completely before cooking. Pour into crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours, stir once or twice. Serve with bread sticks, bread cubes or pizza! Enjoy!! (The leftovers  make for a great pizza sauce to use on your homemade pizza!)

Recipe from the Tried and True Cookbook, page 59.

Chicken Tortilla Soup 
1 lb. chicken breasts
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
10 oz. enchilada sauce
1 med. onion, chopped
4 oz. can of diced green chilies
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1-2 bay leaves (be sure to remove BEFORE serving)
10 oz. frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drain
4 c. water (to be added just before cooking)
cilantro, for topping
sour cream, for topping
shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
crushed tortilla chips, for topping

Combine all but the water and topping ingredients in a large Ziplock bag. Freeze. Thaw. Pour contents in a crock pot and add the water. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours. Take chicken out and shred,  place chicken back into crock pot. Stir. Keep on low till ready to serve. Serve. Top with toppings of choice. ENJOY!

Recipe from Stacie, with a few changes.

Lime Chicken Tacos 

1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 TB. lime juice
1 TB. chili powder
1 c. salsa
1 c. frozen corn
handful of chopped cilantro, opt.

Combine all in a large Ziplock bag. Freeze. Thaw. Pour in crock pot and cook on low for 5 hours, shred chicken. Heat on low till ready to serve. Serve on tortillas with all your families favorite taco toppings.  ENJOY!

California Chicken 
2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 c. orange juice
1/3 c. chili sauce
2 TB. soy sauce
1 TB. molasses
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
11 oz. can of mandarin oranges, drained (to be added when cooking) ((I will skip next time, my family was not keen on the oranges, so this is an opt. ingredient.))

Combine all in a large Ziplock bag, except the oranges. Freeze. Thaw. Pour in crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from “Fix It and Forget IT” Slow Cooker Cooking.

BBQ Chicken Dinner 

1 1/2 – 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 TB. Worcestershire sauce
2 TB. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. ketchup
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a large Ziplock bag, freeze. Thaw when you are ready to cook. Pour into crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve over noodles. Enjoy!

Ranch Pork Chops 

4 thick cut pork chops
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. white wine (or you may use water or chicken broth)
1/2 tsp. pepper

Combine all  in a large Ziplock bag. Freeze. Thaw when ready to cook. Pour into crock pot and cook on low for 6 (if thin) Р8 (if thicker) hours. Serve over potatoes, makes a yummy gravy. Enjoy!

Wow! That looks like a lot, but really it IS easy and relatively quick considering how many meals you will be enjoying!!! The game plan….

  • I did all my recipe organizing one day, making sure I had a good list as to what I needed to buy and what I had in the pantry/fridge/freezer.¬†
  • Shop. ¬†Be sure to set aside the ingredients you bought special for your “prep” day ~ so they do not got used. I will note this for next time, as I had a last-minute scramble cause I had¬†used an ingredient I needed for another dinner..
  • I work better in the morning. So I knew I would do my meal making then. IF you like to be organized, then take some time to pull out the pantry ingredients the night before, it will shave off some time the next day.
  • Label your bags. With the name of recipe, any additional ingredients needed. (ex. *add 4 c. water when ready to cook*.) ALSO be sure to add how long it needs to cook, so you do not need to search down the recipe ev.ery.time. ¬†(This can be done the day before too.)
  • START with the fruit/dessert/appetizer. They require no chopping, no raw meat and are just really easy.
  • Seal bags well and freeze.
  • Clean up.
  • Get out your veggies. ¬†Chop, add the appropriate amounts to the appropriate bags.
  • Get out the “sauce” ingredients. Add the appropriate ingredients to the appropriate bags.
  • Get out the meat. Add the appropriate amounts to the appropriate bags.
  • Seal well.
  • Freeze.
  • Clean up.
  • Enjoy some easy dinners in the nights/weeks ahead!!

Supplies Needed!!!

Large Ziplock Freezer Safe Bags

Meat

  • 4 thick cut pork chops
  • about 6 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts ($1.69 per lb. at Aldi this week….FYI!)

Fridge Items

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. orange juice

Fruits and Veggies 

  • 6 c. berries (blueberries, strawberries, cranberries)
  • 2 limes (need 3 TB. lime juice)
  • 3 med. onions
  • 2 medium peppers
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • cilantro

Frozen Items

  • 2 (10 oz.) ¬†frozen corn (or 1 (10 oz.) bag + 1 c.)

Pantry Items

  • 21 oz. can apple pie filling
  • 2 (21 oz.) cans cherry pie filling
  • 2 (16 oz.) cans of fruit cocktail OR 20 oz. pineapple chunks
  • 16 oz. can peaches
  • 8 1/2 oz. can of apricots
  • 11 oz. can of mandarin oranges
  • little over 1/2 c. sugar, total
  • 2 TB. brown sugar
  • about 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 TB. quick cooking tapioca
  • 3/4 c. oats (quick cook is fine)
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • about 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • about 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried onion
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 4 chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 TB. + 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 TB.¬†Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TB. soy sauce
  • 1 TB. molasses
  • 24 oz. spaghetti sauce
  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 10 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 4 oz. diced green chilies
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 c. salsa
  • 1/3 c. chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 pkg. ranch dressing mix, dry
  • 1/2 c. white wine or chicken broth

Please let me know if this is something that is helpful/fun for you and if there is plenty of interest I will do it again!! I found it nice to have freezer meals at my fingertips……Thanks for reading this loongggg one!!!