Category Archives: Recipes

Meal Prep: 14 Chicken Crock-Pot Freezer Meals


Our daughter is due in just 8 short days! The home improvements are done, the nursery is complete and the house has been fully deep cleaned. Now I’m switching gear to doing some massive food prep over the next few days.  In the end, I will to have 22 crock-pot ready freezer meals, 36 pre-made casseroles, 24 pre-made hamburger patties, 36 pre-made breakfast burritos, 24 pre-prepped fruit smoothies and 24 homemade granola bars!! I will be using 16 lbs of ground beef, 11lbs of beef, a whooping 18 lbs of chicken and over 10lbs of cheeses! My hope is by doing this, it will make our transition to first time parents easier and at least we will be well fed. Stay tuned for all the juicy details and outcomes!

Note: This post will cover the chicken based crock-pot freezer meals. I will also follow up this post with my full shopping list and estimated total cost.

Disclosure: These are not my recipes. I will try to find the original recipes and link to it for crediting purposes. I have previously made each recipes and can confirm that they are delicious! Feel free to modify to your taste.

Before I jump into the recipes here’s some quick tips and insights to help make this process much easier. Each recipe is designed to feed two adults with little to no leftovers and should be considered more of a main courses rather than full meals in a bag. However, each bag will be referred to as a meal for simplicity sake. I have added suggestions of what sides we serve each recipe with.

Each recipe below will create two bag meals. You can double each recipe to create a larger meal and/or double each recipe to create more than two – two person meal bags. Once frozen, meals will last for up to 6 months in a standard freezer. 

The Day Before Prep:
Step 1: Clean your kitchen and make sure you have a few sets of measuring cups and spoons available to use. You will also need a roll of paper towels, a cutting board, chopping knife and a few spatulas.

Step 2: Review your shopping list and remove any items you already have. Then go shopping to get what you need. For sanity sake, I never do grocery shopping and meal prep on the same day. It just makes for a terribly long day.

Step 3: Clean and organize your freezer and make space for the intended meals. From experience, I know you will need approximately 1 square foot of freezer space which roughly one shelf on a average sized side by side freezer/refrigerator combo.

Step 4: Using a permanent marker, label your gallon ziplock bags with the recipe name, cooking instructions and recommended side dishes. Writing a side dish recommendation on the bag makes meal planning easy since you can just pick which bag based on what sides you have in stock.

Step 5: Lay out all your room temperature ingredients including spices, seasonings and oils the night before along with your labeled bags.

Day of Meal Prep:
I start as early as possible especially now that it’s summer and the days are warming up. Invite a friend over to help, tune on some tunes or open a bottle of wine. I can’t drink since I’m expecting but by all means do whatever makes you the most comfortable even if that means doing this bra-less and in sweats. 🙂

Add all ingredients (minus the chicken) to each labeled bag one by one. If you are so inclined you can figure out how many recipes have over lapping ingredients and chop multiple veggies at the same time. For first timers, I really recommend going slow and completing each recipe one by one. It makes measuring a lot easier too. Clean as you go! Use paper towels to clean the seal of the freezer bags from any splattered ingredients.

Add all room temperature ingredients (plus frozen corn, peppers, ketchup and other minor refrigerated items) to all the bags first! Once all bags are done, add the fresh or frozen chicken last to all the bags at once. I prefer to use frozen chicken breasts. This process can take some time so it’s important that the chicken is the last thing you add so that it’s not sitting out for a prolonged amount of time!

Freezing Tips: Let out all excess air. Freeze each bag flat and fold the bag in half on itself to save space.

Cooking Tips: For best results, the crock-pot should be at least half full with your meals so choose the appropriate size crock-pot for cooking each meal. Also since it’s so hot, consider putting the crock-pot out on the front porch or out back to keep that extra heat out of the house.

Chicken Fajitas
(Makes two bags – divide ingredients evenly between two bags):
2 large chicken breasts
2 green peppers
1 cup chicken broth
2 taco seasoning packets
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt

Cooking: Grab from freezer, pour all contents into crock pot and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours. Serve with: Tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream and refried beans or rice.

Slow Cooker Mexican Chili with Cornbread Topping – (makes two bags)
2 chicken breasts
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped (about one cup)
1 pepper (any color), chopped (about one cup)
1 cup frozen corn
1 package of store-bought taco seasoning
10.75 oz can of condensed tomato soup

1/4 pound cheese (we use cheddar or pepper jack), shredded (about one cup)
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix + the necessary ingredients listed on the box (Jiffy calls for one egg and 1/3 cup milk)

Split all ingredients EXCEPT the cheese and muffin mix into two bags.
Cooking: Add bag to crock-pot, cover with lid and cook on “low” setting for 4-6 hours, until chicken is cooked through and tender. Shred chicken with fork. Cover shredded chicken chili with cheese and assembled corn muffin batter. Pour batter over chili. Add lid and cook on “high” setting for 60 minutes or until cornbread topping is cooked through.

Honey Sesame Chicken (Makes 2 bags – divide ingredients evenly):
2 large chicken breasts
6 T olive oil
1 Cup honey
1/2 Cup soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
2 T sesame seeds
2 tsp salt and pepper

Cooking: Pour in crock pot & cook on low 4-5 hrs. Remove chicken, shred & pour sauce from crock pot over it. We serve with rice or steamed vegetables.

Sweet & Sour Chicken (makes two bags – divide all ingredients evenly)
2 chicken breasts
1 white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
½ c. ketchup
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
5-6 tsp. Worchestichire sauce
2 c. pineapple juice
1 c. brown sugar
½ c. flour
1 can pineapple chunks

Cooking: Pour bag in the crock-pot & cook on low for 4-5 hrs until chicken is done. Serve over white rice.

Crock-Pot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak (Makes two bags – divide evenly)
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup chicken broth
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 large onion; sliced
3 bell peppers (the more colorful the better), cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced

6 slices of provolone cheese

Divide all ingredients EXCEPT for cheese. Divide evenly.
Cooking: Cook on “low” setting for 6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and peppers are soft. Lay cheese over mixture. Cook on “low” for additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve on a fresh, hot roll.
You can use as much or as little of the sauce as you would like, depending on how soggy you like your roll. I also like to serve it on the side and use it as a dip. Best served with homemade sweet potato fries!

Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Chicken (Divide Into Two Bags)
4 chicken breasts
BBQ sauce, 10 oz
¼ cup olive oil
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
salt/pepper (optional)

Cooking: Divide all ingredients into two gallon size storage bag and mix thoroughly. Thaw overnight. Place all contents into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until done.

Serve with: Hawaiian sweet rolls as sliders, or serve with salad, side veggies or rice.

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken (Divide Into Two Bags)
4-6 Boneless Chicken Breasts
1 Bottle BBQ sauce
1 20 oz. can Pineapple Chunks, drained

Cooking:
Spray the inside of your crock pot with cooking spray for an easy cleanup!
Dump the bag in the crock pot. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or Low for 6-8 hours. Shred chicken with two forks while still in the crock pot so the chicken will be well coated with sauce.

Serve with: Rice or steamed vegetables.

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The Best Homemade Limoncello You’ve Ever Had!


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Limoncello is an Italian liqueur, traditionally served after meals, or sometimes as a welcome drink. It’s typically served chilled at the very least, and occasionally it may be so cold that it borders on Slurpee consistency (though it has to be a lower-proof version or an extremely cold freezer to make that happen).

Generally speaking, there are only three ingredients in limoncello: sugar, spirit, and lemon. Occasionally you might find one that adds a dash of rosemary or another herb to the mix, and, if that’s your thing, we won’t judge. It’s generally clear with maybe a little cloudiness, and yes, it’s super easy to make, you just need a little patience. We typically start this process in early spring so that we will have delicious and well rested Limoncello available for those warm summer months.

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This is my tried and true homemade limoncello recipe. Our family loves it as a chilled treat for hot summer days plus a beautiful bottle of Limoncello make a wonderful gift for any occasion! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Zest of 6 or 7 large lemons*
  • 1 litre or quart of pure grain alcohol or vodka**
  • 5 cups (1250 ml) water
  • 3 cups (700 gr) sugar

*Homegrown lemons are free from pesticides and wax. If using store bought lemons use hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.

** Use 100-proof vodka or pure grain alcohol, which has less flavor than a lower proof one and will be smoother. Also the high alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.

Step 1:  Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush. Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello.

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Step 2: In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar), add the vodka; add the lemon zest as it is zested. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (60) days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better the taste will be. I do the full 60 days! As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest. There is no need to stir – all you have to do is wait.

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Step 3: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; cook until thickened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture. Add to the Limoncello mixture from Step 2. Allow to rest for another 10 days. Again the longer it sits the better it is! For step two we like to have it rest for 30 days or more!

Step 4: After the rest period, strain and bottle: discarding the lemon zest. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. Keep an eye out for cool corked bottles, I used an old Courvoisier bottle as seen below.

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Kitchen Notes:                                                                                                

Whenever I start a batch of limoncello, I always make a batch of lemon bars around the same time. Take the zested lemons and juice them. Strain well and bottle the juice to be used in future recipe like delicious lemon bars. Limon juice can be kept bottled in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

STAY TUNED FOR MY FROM SCRATCH CLASSIC LEMON BARS

The limoncello itself will keep for one to two years. Store it in bottles with a cap or cork in your refrigerator or freezer. For an additional touch, serve in a chilled shot glass.

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I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as we do! If you tried this recipe, tell us what you thought in the comments below. Ciao!

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Top 10 Homesteading & Preparedness Books


With Homesteading, self-sufficiency & survival preparedness on the rise; it’s no wonder that so many great books have been published on these subjects. Here is a list of my personal top 10 favorite books to ensure your homesteading library is well rounded and complete.

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Country Wisdom & Know – From the Editors of Storey Books

This book is in my opinion the bible of Homesteading. It boosts a whooping 8,167 useful skills and step by step instruction on various topics including animal husbandry including slaughtering, home brewing, basic construction, maximizing your garden harvest, food preservation methods,  building root cellars, basket weaving, making toiletries, and even home remedies. I think my favorite part of this book is that all the skills and crafts provided are shown in multiple how to diagrams and picture illustrations. If the apocalypse happened and my house was on fire, this would be the one homesteading book I would go in to retrieve. Trust me, you will want this one on your bookshelf!

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The Kitchen Table Book – From the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing

This book has blown me away. No where else have I found a more accurate and  complete collection of home remedies and kitchen cures for just about every heath and household problem. Packed full of recipes and remedies from helping depression to boosting brain power this book has it all!  Not only does it feature individual fruits and vegetables including their healing properties; it also features a database of healing herbs and medicinal cures.  Each section has several processing recipes for each food mentioned. Healthy fruit smoothie anyone?Super fabulous bonus: Dabbled throughout the book are interesting tips and tricks to common household issues like how to clean a fireplace the right way.

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Made At Home Eggs & Poultry – Dick & James Strawbridge

This is an excellent introduction to raising chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys for eggs and for eating. From hatching to slaughter to carving and cooking this book offers it all from start to finish. With insights and wisdom, this resource is riddled with lots of delicious recipes to inspire the cook in all of us. With vibrant full color pictures and step by step instructions, this is a beautiful addition to any homesteaders library.

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Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners – C.E. Spaulding D.V.M and Jackie Clay

This book is a comprehensive easy to use reference guide that provides everything you need to know about caring for and treating pets and barn yard animals. It covers in depth information on sexing, breeding and disease prevention and treatment. This book has helped me take over tasks that normally require a vet appointment. With this book you can become proficient in administrating medications, assisting animal delivery and much more. A glossary in the back, helps with learning unfamiliar medical terms and procedures.

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading – Sundari Elizabeth Kraft

Despite my disliking for the title, this book was one of my first and has grown to be a personal favorite. It is well written and full of useful information on small scale homesteading. Subjects include how to sell your excess harvest, raising animals for food, beekeeping, utilizing aquaponic techniques, small batch food preserving, soap making, homemade cleaners and my favorite topic: urban foraging. Each chapter includes several bonus tips and tricks to increase your success.

extreme

Extreme Survival – Akkermans, Cook, Mattos, & Morrison

Self-sufficiency in the wild, making tools, self protection and much more – this book covers it all! From how to survive a car accident to assessing dangerous environments, you can learn everything you need to know about survival. Living off the land is one of the key components of homesteading. Living off grid requires skills and knowledge of the environment including possible threats. This book covers topics such as foraging, bushcraft techniques, street smarts, and how to make escape and rescue plans. I highly recommend this book to anyone considering rural homesteading or off grid living. Plus it’s a beautiful large coffee table book that features color pictures and life saving insights.

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The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving  – Elle Topp & Margaret Howard

I can honestly say that this book should be in every homesteaders library! This is by far my favorite cook book. Working on a mini farm, small batch recipes and the knowledge with this book are priceless. There’s tons of delicious recipes from butters to jellies to marinades and oils. This book is an easy reference to process and preserve your fruits throughout the year. It’s saved me countless hours in the kitchen!

soapmaking

Soapmaking For Fun & Profit By Maria Given Nerius

This book is hands down awesome! It’s got amazing recipes with easy to understand instructions and is packed with information on soap making! I picked this book up at a garage sale for a quarter and it’s money well spent! This book will not only help you understand the concepts behind soap making but will allow you to create beautiful and wonderfully smelling gifts for family and friends. You can even make a profit as it teaches the business aspects of soap making. I found this book to be especially helpful by creating lovely soaps that I could barter or trade with friends for their homemade items. This book started my interest in soap making which has since expanded into homemade toiletries and household cleaners.

medical

Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook – Skyhorse Publishing*

Anyone interested in surviving an apocalypse needs this book in their library! This is hands down the most extensive and complete collection of medical information that’s easy to read for the average Joe. This covers everything from medical triage, birthing babies, treating diseases, wrapping wounds and so much more! It’s packed with pictures and step by step instruction to handle the most common elements and beyond. There’s also several handy reference sections for easy look up. I have read this randomly section by section and I’ve learned so much about medical care. In a situation where no doctor or medical professionals are available this book is a potential game changer.

*Disclosure – I’m not a medical professional and this should not be considered medical advice. It’s best to consult a medical professional before trying any medical care from this book. This post is purely for entertainment purposes only.

This concludes my list of some of my near and dear all time favorite homesteading and preparedness books. I hope you found this list complete and informative. As my collection grows, I will be posting an updated version every few years!

If you have any must have books that I need to add to my collection, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear which ones are your personal favorites! Enjoy!!!

Simple Fresh Squeeze Orange Juice Recipe


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Fresh squeezed orange juice is a delightful morning treat! The nutritional benefits are incredible and you’ll love the boost of energy that accompanies each glass. Oranges are in abundance right now. Check out our simple juice recipe to make your own!

Need free fruit? Check out our article on urban foraging.

Warning: Wear gloves when peeling oranges! Especially if doing a large quantity! I learned first hand that orange oil/juice burns the skin and changes the ph of your skin to uncomfortable levels. If your skin starts burning or stinging, wash well with soap and water. Rinse as needed. Ice can relieve the pain.

  1. Roll the oranges with your palm to soften them.
  2. Peel the oranges, juice whole or  in large chunks.
  3. Add oranges to blender or juicer. Cut in half if juicing by hand.
  4. Run the blender/juicer. 12 large oranges gives approx. 24 oz of juice.
  5. Let sit for a few minutes to settle, chill & serve chilled!
  6. Add sugar if needed.

Fresh orange juice will separate in your pitcher. Shake or stir before serving. If stored in the refrigerator, freshly squeezed orange juice can last between 2 and 3 days. To keep fresh orange juice for a longer period of time, one has to freeze it.

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Have more than you can use? Oranges going bad? Juice it and pour extra juice into jars. They make excellent gifts for friends, family or neighbors! They will love you for it! Enjoy!

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