9 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent

Sharing meatless meals on Fridays during Lent has become my favorite blog series over the years. I love finding new things to try and love hearing that the ideas help others break out of the stereotypical pizza or pasta with tomato sauce rut. And the annual Ash Wednesday post rounding up some of my favorite meatless meals from the previous year has been some of the most popular posts on my blog.

Today is Ash Wednesday so, of course, I’m sharing the annual round-up. And Friday will kick off the Lenten dinner series for this year.

If you’re looking for additional dinner ideas, check out my previous posts: 16 Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent and 16 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent.

9MoreMeatlessDinners

Bang Bang Cauliflower

Caprese Quiche

Thai Veggie Burgers

Vegetable Minestrone

Crisp Black Bean and Rice Burritos

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Jar Salads

Grilled Pizza

Eggplant Parm Burgers

Black Bean Fajitas

Freezer Meal Ideas

On Saturday, Eat at Home is hosting a Virtual Freezer Cooking Party on Facebook. So fun! This is a great excuse to try out some new recipes, fill up your freezer and get to chat with other people while you do it. We stocked the freezer before Jake was born and it was so, so helpful that I’ve kept it going. The last few weeks have been busy so we’ve depleting our stash fast. I’m so excited for this excuse to restock!

I haven’t narrowed down exactly what I’ll make for this party, yet, put I did pull together some of my favorite freezer-friendly recipes on the blog for inspiration. If you’re looking for some new or different freezer recipes, this should give you some ideas!

50FreezerFriendlyRecipes

Dump-and-Freeze Crockpot Recipes
For all of these, you can add all the ingredients straight to a gallon freezer bag and pop in the freezer. They can go straight from the bag to the slow cooker!

Drip Beef
French Dip Sandwiches 
Crystal’s Pulled Pork
Asian Style Pulled Pork
Chicken Caesar Sandwiches
Café Rio Chicken Tacos
Chicken Gyros

Freezable Casseroles
Casseroles are just perfect for the freezer. Prep up until the final baking step, then toss in the freezer.

Rattlesnake Pasta
Stuffed Shells 
Baked Ziti with Sausage
Chicken Spaghetti
Pepperoni Pizza Casserole
Homemade Manicotti 
Lazy Lasagna Bake
Taco Stuffed Shells
Pizza Cobbler
Chiles Rellenos Casserole
Enchilada Casserole

Freezable Burritos and Enchiladas
Tex-Mex is my go-to freezer food cuisine. Enchiladas I’ll divide into smaller pans with 2-3 servings. Burritos I’ll wrap individually in foil and then group in a gallon freezer bag. Many of these start with cooked, shredded chicken – it’s easy to throw in the crockpot and cook the night before so you have less to do during your big freezer-cooking day.

Garlic Beef Enchiladas
Bean and Rice Burritos
Roasted Vegetable and Black Bean Burritos 
Spicy Bean and Rice Burritos
BBQ Pork Enchiladas
Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas
Potato Enchiladas
Baked Chicken Mole Enchiladas 
Baked Chicken Burritos
Honey-Lime Chicken Enchiladas

Burger Patties and Sandwiches You Can Make and Freeze
I often freeze extra burger patties so we can enjoy the meal again later. I will prepare the patties, wrap them in freezer paper individually and then place them in sandwich or quart size bags. Buns go into another bag – as will any sliced cheese or other freezable toppings. I’ll group all of these bags into one gallon bag so that the whole sandwich stays together in the freezer.

Hawaiian Hula Pork for Sandwiches
Barbecue Chicken Burgers
Chicken Parm Burgers 
Kickin’ Chicken Burgers
Teriyaki Chicken Burgers
Chicken Caesar Burgers
Jalapeno Popper Burgers
Black Bean Burgers
Greek Turkey Burgers

Freezable Breakfasts
These can all be baked and frozen – reheat for an easy morning meal.

Baked Oatmeal 
Mini Broccoli Bacon Quiches
Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal
Apple Cinnamon Raisin Baked Oatmeal
Zucchini Quiche

Easy-Freeze Sweets
Get these baked or prepped and package them by individual servings before freezing for easy treats.

Brownies
Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bars
Mini Chocolate Thin Mint Cookie Pies
“Fried” Ice Cream
No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Monster Magic Cookie Bars 
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

New recipe index!

If you’ve tried to use the recipe index page in the last year or so, you’ve probably noticed it was a hot mess. It was ugly, hard to navigate and updated incredibly infrequently. I apologize if it annoyed you – it annoyed me too.

So, I spent a whole bunch of time and moved everything over to Pinterest to create a visual index. Now you can browse a variety of categories with colorful pictures, instead of just the recipe name. And in addition to the basic categories I’ve been using – Breakfast, Dessert, etc. – I’ve created a slew of new ones, including one devoted entirely to pizza. Yes.

As an added bonus, if you’re a Pinterest user, this will make it super easy to follow every recipe I post and pin your favorites!

I’m a visual person so this works for me. I hope it works for you guys, too.

Clicking “Recipe Index” at the top of the page will take you there. Or, click here to check it out.

If you run into screwy links or anything, let me know and I’ll get them fixed up. And let me know if there are other categories you’d like to be able to browse by. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in general, too!

Soup Swap Party

On Saturday, I hosted one of the most fun get-togethers I’ve had in a while – a soup swap party. It was like a cookie swap, but more appropriate for January weather. Everyone brought 4 1-quart containers of soup for swapping and then some extra to sample.

As everyone arrived, I noted their soup on a chalkboard right outside the kitchen for everyone to see.

SoupSwap1

To go along with the soup, I set up a DIY grilled cheese bar for lunch. It was super easy and super fun.

SoupSwap3

Since things were super causal, I just laid out ingredients on a disposable table cloth and made quick notes to explain the flow of things and label ingredient choices.

1) Grab some bread – I had out wheat and white.

2) Add some cheese – there was a choice of American, Jalapeno Cheddar and Swiss.

3) Top it off – personalize your sandwich with regular mayonnaise, garlic mayonnaise, sriracha mayonnaise, ketchup, tomato slices, roasted red peppers, pickles, caramelized onions, pear slices, bacon and ham.

4) Heat it up – I had out two panini grills for toasting the creations.

And 5) Grab some soup. We heated up some of everyone’s soup and divided them into shot glasses. Add mini spoons and they were perfect for sampling!

SoupSwap2

After we’d eaten, we voted on soup awards and the winners took home mini bags of chocolates as recognition.

For favors, I found microwavable soup mugs at my favorite dollar store. I added mini loaves of homemade bread too, since they seemed like the perfect soup accompaniment.

For the kids that came, I filled their soup mugs with baby Goldfish crackers and picked out some fun coloring books.

SoupSwap4

At the end, we divided up the soup so everyone left with 4 quarts of soup.

It was such a fun way to spend a snowy afternoon – I’m already looking forward to next year’s soup swap!

My Favorite Recipes of 2014

Yesterday, I shared the recipes that were most popular with readers in 2014. Today I’m highlighting some of my favorites. I would highly recommend all of these recipes! They’re some of the best things to come out of my kitchen this year.

GarlicHerbCheddarFondue

Garlic Herb Cheddar Fondue

I love a good fondue. We really love this Golden Pizza Fondue, so I don’t do much experimenting with other cheeses, but this one was a huge hit.

EggplantParmBurgers

Eggplant Parm Burgers

These were my favorite meatless meal of the year and officially became my go-to meatless burger.

PeanutButterFudgePie

Peanut Butter Fudge Pie

This was on my to-make list for so long it’s shameful. I’m always a sucker for chocolate/peanut butter desserts, but this one is particularly awesome.

ChipotleChickenKabobs

Chipotle Chicken Kabobs with Avocado Cream Sauce

These quick, easy kabobs were a go-to all summer. And I made the avocado cream sauce every time I could, even if it wasn’t for these. Such a fantastic combo!

FlankSteakPinwheels

Flank Steak Pinwheels

I was thrilled to track down this recipe and make these after a few year lapse. These are going to be a regular in our summer rotation. And looking at that picture is making me miss grilling weather!

TacoStuffedShells

Taco Stuffed Shells

This is another dish I’ve made several times and finally got around to blogging. I’m glad I finally shared these, because I really do love them and they make a great freezer meal.

GrilledSrirachaBroccoli

Grilled Sriracha Broccoli

Oh, summer, how I miss you! These were part of my ongoing quest to switch up our side dishes and they were so, so good.

GreenBeanFries

Baked Green Bean Fries

Another new side dish – this one first appeared when we had an abundance of green beans in the garden, but I keep making them because they’re so addictive.

HoneyChipotleChickenTenders

Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders are a comfort food for me and this sweet-and-spicy version was absolutely awesome.

Brownies

Brownies

These were amazing, and quite possibly my favorite dessert of the year. I’m thrilled to have a go-to recipe!

Now, that we’ve looked back, some looking forward: What will Kate’s Recipe Box look like in 2015? Mostly the same, I think.

In 2014, I ended up focusing a lot on meals that were quick, could be made in the slow cooker or were freezer-friendly. Now that we’ve sort of settled into life with a baby, these are dominating our meal plans. Of course, special meals and treats will always find their way in, too!

I’m also going to work on a mini cooking bucket list for the year. I know trying to make homemade bagels will be on it – I’m still debating what other new things I want to tackle.

Do you have any cooking goals or resolutions for 2015?

2014 Top 10 Reader Favorites

I’ve been looking forward to this recap for a few weeks now. This year has felt both so long and so short. I spent the first half pregnant, and the second half adjusting to motherhood. In my head, I haven’t done much cooking so it’s been nice to look back on the blog and see that wasn’t really the case. Here’s a rundown of the most popular recipes I blogged this year.

DillPickleDip

10 – Dill Pickle Dip

I’m thrilled this one made the list – if it hadn’t been here, it would have been on my list of favorites. We polished it off embarrassingly fast. If you like pickles, you’ll love this.

RanchVeggieDip

9 – Ranch Veggie Dip

This is another great dip that I’m glad made the list. Once you try this, you’ll never buy a pre-packaged version again.

BangBangCauliflower

8 – Bang Bang Cauliflower

I had forgotten about this dish, which is one of the reasons I love these look-back posts. With a string of solo dinner nights coming up in the next few months, I’ll definitely be making this again.

HawaiianHulaPork

7 – Hawaiian Hula Pork Tacos with Pineapple Slaw

This was one of the meals I stocked the freezer with before Jacob was born and it was probably my favorite of all the meals we pre-prepped. That pineapple slaw is really something special.

CherrySourCreamPie

6 – Cherry Sour Cream Pie

This was an adaption of my favorite Strawberry Sour Cream Pie, made when we had an abundance of cherries. It was fantastic, and I’m glad this made the list.

HoneyBBQWraps

5 – Honey BBQ Chicken Wraps with Broccoli Slaw

This was another dish I’d forgotten about that I need to make again soon. Thanks, readers, for reminding me of this one!

StrawberrySnowIceCream

4 – Strawberry Snow Ice Cream

I was a bit surprised this one made the list. While I like playing around with snow ice cream flavors, I generally prefer the classic version. I’m glad to see that my readers enjoy the variations!

IrishCreamCookies

3 – Irish Cream Double Chocolate Cookies

These were a delicious part of our St. Patrick’s Day menu – and will probably turn into a yearly tradition.

BrownieBatterDip

2 – M&M Brownie Batter Dip

The third dip to make the list – I guess you guys like your dips, huh? It’s cool, because I do too. This one was super decadent and a fun treat while watching football. It’d be a lot of fun to track down M&Ms in applicable team colors for the Super Bowl.

PepperoniPizzaSliders

1 – Pepperoni Pizza Sliders

I feel like these are a really fitting dish for the most popular of the year. My biggest pregnancy craving was pizza, so it’s nice to see one of my indulgences top the list.

Did your favorite recipe of the year make the list? Check in tomorrow to see my favorites of the year.

October Unprocessed 2014

October Unprocessed 2014

For the last several years, Eating Rules has hosted October Unprocessed– a challenge to forgo processed food for the month. This year, I’m joining in.

We do a fairly good job of eating like this on a normal basis, but there are always things that find their way into the kitchen that could be better. Going completely unprocessed has been a goal of mine for a while and this seems as good of an excuse as any to bite the bullet and actually try it.

What is considered “unprocessed”? We’re using Eating Rules’s kitchen test – if a person with reasonable kitchen skills could make it in a home kitchen with whole food ingredients, it’s unprocessed. What does that mean in layman’s terms? It means things like canned tomatoes, peanut butter and humus I don’t necessarily have to make myself – I just plan on buying versions that I could make, if I really wanted to.

We will have two exceptions for the month – we’re going to two weddings and will be partaking in the festive food, whatever that may be, but any of our own cooking and eating out will be as unprocessed as possible.

So, for the month of October, I’m going to be sharing recipes that fit the bill for the challenge. It’ll be a little different than usual, but it should be interesting!

Stocking the Freezer Pre-Baby

Even before I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to stock the freezer to give us some help during the first weeks of having a baby. I had visions of all these new, exciting recipes covering all different kinds of meals. What I ended up doing didn’t match that at all.

What changed things? Well, I essentially got a test run. I mentioned back in November that I had stocked up in preparation for NaNoWriMo. I, more or less, did what I thought I’d do for a baby – lots of freezer-to-crockpot meals, casseroles, and the like. We found out in early November that I was pregnant and while my NaNoWriMo writing fell by the wayside, those meals I’d made ahead ended up being a huge help in getting us through the first trimester. The thing was, we weren’t super thrilled with a lot of the meals, we ended up getting sick of leftovers, and I wasn’t a huge fan of figuring out a new recipe while not feeling my best.

So, for this go-round, I tackled things differently. Instead of making meals just for the freezer, I cooked up regular meals and portioned out a section for freezing. I stuck with things we’d made – and liked – before or things that came highly recommended from friends. And, I only froze portions for one or two meals so we wouldn’t be drowning in leftovers.

jacob

Here is what we had in the freezer when Jacob was born:

Things I made up:

Hawaiian Hula Pulled Pork – enough of the pork for 4 good sized sandwiches
Creamy Taco Mac – 2-3 servings
Garlic Beef Enchiladas – two servings
Baked Chicken Chimichangas – four servings (prepped, wrapped in foil and individually frozen)
Pork Potstickers – about 1 1/2 dozen (frozen on a baking sheet for about 2 hours, then transferred to a large freezer bag)
Baked ziti with sausage and peppers – four servings (no real recipe – just made with leftovers we had on hand)
Taco stuffed shells – 2-3 servings
Brownies – half a batch

Things we bought to have on hand for easy meals:

Frozen, microwavable rice
Chicken that I pre-cut into bite-sized pieces for stir-fry (and some bottled stir-fry sauces in the pantry)
Stir-fry veggies
Pizza dough and shredded mozzarella (and pizza sauce in the pantry)
Our favorite ravioli
Pierogies and Kielbasa
Assorted sides: Fries, Garlic bread and veggies
Girl Scout Cookies (a necessity!)

Altogether, we had about two weeks of dinners in the freezer when he was born. We ended up not touching our stash until Mark went back to work because generous friends and family brought us food or we were able to tag-team cook dinner those first two weeks. Since he’s been back to work, I’ve been mixing in a freezer dinner or two to the weekly menu for nights I know will be busy. Even though we’ve mostly found our groove with this whole baby thing, being able to just pull something out and heat it up has been really, really great some nights and I think having a few meals ready to go in the freezer is something I want to continue going forward.

This worked out so much better than my first attempt that it’s definitely how I’ll work on freezer-stocking going forward!

Introducing Chef Jacob

We have a new chef in our kitchen – Jacob William was born July 25th!

chefjake

We’re so loving our new little guy. So far, Jake is an amazingly good baby. He’s making the transition to a family of three relatively easy on us, but we’re still working on getting our new routines down so new posts here may be sporadic.

We are eating, though! Mark has been on paternity leave with us for the last two weeks so we’ve been able to tag-team cook dinner every night. Soon, I’ll be sharing how we stocked our freezer and fed ourselves in the early weeks – and I’m sure there will be a new focus on easy weeknight meals and crockpot dinners going forward. You know, life with a baby and all.

I’d also love to hear your tips for getting dinner on the table with a newborn. What worked for you?

Hope you’ll all be around for our next chapter of cooking adventures!

PS – Thanks to Kristen for the adorable picture of our little chef! It’s fitting, don’t you think?