It’s One Pot Wonder Week!

one pot wondersOooooooh, I’m so excited!  One Pot Wonders are deliciously easy meals that
require minimal clean up.  They often work well for outdoor cooking over an open fire with a skillet. (A flame is ok, no need to wait for coals.) And a lot of them can go in a freezer bag for make ahead prep, and dump and go cooking.

This is my preferred cooking method when I’m in a hurry, low on groceries, or tired of washing dishes. (And by preferred method, I mean using one pot on our indoor stove, not an open flame.) It’s perfect when the fridge is mostly bare, because you can combine bits of leftover things and turn it into one BIG dish.  If that sentence just grossed you out, try to hang on a little longer.  There are a few “rules” to make sure you get something delicious at the end.  Here’s what you need:

1.  Flavor theme:  Southwest, Italian, Oriental, BBQ….. For best results, stick to one flavor profile.

2. Protein:  Ground beef, Shredded chicken, Ground Turkey, Smoked Sausage, Breakfast Sausage; Italian Sausage; Eggs; Shrimp; Salmon…

3. Vegetables: Southwest: bell peppers; onions; corn; tomatoes. Italian: everything. Oriental: Everything, but especially baby corn; sugar snap peas; bamboo shoots; water chestnuts. BBQ: corn, carrots, onions, mushrooms; sweet potatoes; potatoes.

4. Starch: Pasta; Corn; Potatoes; Sweet Potatoes; Beans; Rice.

5.  Sauce or herbs; Cheese

I’ll be featuring recipes of tried and true one pot wonders the rest of this week.  I’m sure you can think of some you’ve had before:  Frittata; stir fry; fried rice; skillet lasagna; (hamburger helper….)

What’s your favorite one pot wonder?  Leave a comment and help us with ideas.


Freezer Bag Cooking: Lunch and Dinner

Freezer Bag Recipes lunch and dinner

Yesterday I shared with you some really simple Freezer Bag Breakfast Recipes perfect for camping or just to make ahead for busy moments.  Today I’m going to give you my best Freezer Bag Lunch and Dinner recipes.  When meals are packed frozen in a cooler, you need less ice and they gradually thaw to be ready when needed. (My FAVORITE part of this series is how often I can use the word smoosh <3.)

 Dutch Oven

Dutch Oven Pizza

Crust: 1 2/3 cup water; 1 Tbs yeast; 1 Tbs olive oil; 2 Tbs Honey; 1 tsp salt; 4 cups flour.  Mix together, kneading right in the bag, then press out the air and freeze.

Sauce: 6 oz tomato paste; 1/4 cup water; 1 tsp sugar; 1 tsp garlic powder; 1 tsp onion powder; 2 tsp parsley flakes; 1 tsp basil; 1/4 tsp oregano; a few dashes of oregano.  Mix in a smaller baggie and freeze.  Snip the corner to easily spread onto the pizza crust.

Additional ingredients:  Shredded mozzarella cheese; browned ground beef, pepperoni;

This is enough for 2 pizzas. Spread the thawed crust in the bottom and up the sides a bit of your well seasoned dutch oven.  Top with sauce, cheese and desired toppings.  Top with a lid. Bake for 20-3o minutes with 7 briquettes under the oven and 21 on the lid.
Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joes

2 lb Ground meat (I use a combination of turkey and beef.)

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced bell pepper

2 cans, 8 oz tomato sauce

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic salt

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Brown the ground beef, peppers and onions together, drain.  Place the tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic salt and worcestershire in a freezer baggie.  Smoosh it around.  Add remaining ingredients and smoosh to mix evenly. Seal well and lay flat to freeze.  To prepare, squeeze thawed contents into a dutch oven or saucepan and heat through. Serve on buns or stuffed into pitas with slices of cheese.



l lb macaroni noodles (dry)

8 cups tomato juice

4 tsp sugar, xylitol or similar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped bell pepper

8 American cheeses slices

Brown ground beef with onion and bell pepper, drain.  Combine all but the cheese slices in a baggie (pasta should still be dry.)  Seal, and smoosh flat to freeze.   To prepare, pour contents of the bag into a casserole dish or dutch oven.  Top with cheese slices.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (For a Dutch oven: 7 hot coals on the bottom 21 coals on the lid) or until heated through and pasta is soft.



8 oz broken spaghetti noodles

4 cups tomato sauce

3 cups water

1 tsp basil flakes

2 tsp parsley flakes

1 tsp salt

dash of cayenne pepper (opt)

1 lb ground beef

1 cup onion

Brown and drain ground beef with onion.  Add all ingredients to a freezer bag (use the noodles dry.)  Smoosh flat and freeze.  To prepare, pour thawed contents of the bag into a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender and dish is thickened.


2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips.

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 red onion

1 white onion

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice

1 1/2 Tbs Seasoned Salt (like Lowry’s)

1 1/2 Tbs oregano flakes

1 1/2 Tbs ground cumin

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs paprika

1 tsp salt

In a large baggie combine the oil, lime juice and herbs and spices.  Smoosh all around.  Add the chicken and sliced vegetables.  Press flat and freeze.  To prepare, thaw the bag. Use tongs to lift the meat and vegetables out of the bag into a hot skillet, discard remaining marinate. Stir fry until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.  Serve with tortillas and salsa.  (Other toppings as desired: lettuce, cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole….)

Fiesta Chicken Bowls

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lb corn kernels
1 tsp garlic powder
1 chopped red onion
1 can, 15 oz  black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Combine everything into a freezer bag and smoosh flat to freeze. To prepare, thaw bag.  Pour entire contents into a hot skillet and sauté until meat is cooked through.  Layer bowls with crushed tortilla chips and chopped lettuce.  Top with chicken mixture and serve with salsa, cheese, and ranch dressing.

Teriyaki chicken over Rice

2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

1 lb sugar snap peas

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup pineapple juice (I drain it from canned pineapple)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients into a freezer bag and smoosh to freeze.  Freeze 4-6 cups cooked brown rice in a separate bag.  To prepare, pour contents of the bag into a skillet and saute until chicken is cooked through. Heat rice, by simmering the bag in hot water for 2-3 minutes.  Serve Teriyaki chicken over rice.

Taco Soup

2 lb ground beef or turkey

1 cup chopped onion

1 lb corn kernels

2 cans, 15 oz each black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can rotel tomatoes, undrained

4 Tbs taco seasoning

Brown ground beef with onion, drain.  Combine everything in a freezer bag.  Smoosh flat to freeze.  To serve, pour contents of the bag into a stock pot or dutch oven. Add 1 cup of water. Heat through.  Serve with Frito style corn chips and cheese or sour cream.

Freezer Bag Cooking: Breakfast

Freezer Bag Recipes Breakfast

Prepping food at home and freezing it in baggies takes up less space in the cooler for camping.  Things stay colder longer this way. (Here’s hoping they thaw out in time for cooking. I’ll let you know on that one.) Even if you aren’t planning a camping trip, these recipes can easily be cooked in a regular kitchen and make rushed mornings that much easier.

Today is just about breakfast.  Tomorrow we’ll talk about dinner and then desserts :).  All of these recipes are good feed our family of 8.

Quick tip: Be sure to label your bags with a sharpee.  A few weeks later pancake batter and frozen smoothie can look kind of similar.

Breakfast Recipes

protein pancakes 033


3 cups flour

1 Tbs sugar or stevia blend

1 Tbs baking powder (or 1 tsp baking soda plus 1/4 tsp cream of tartar.)

3 eggs

3 Tbs oil

3 cups milk

Blend all ingredients together and process for 1 minute.  Pour into a gallon freezer baggie and squeeze out the air.  Lay the bag flat smooshing all the batter into an even layer and place it on a cookie sheet or tray to freeze it flat.

To cook, thaw the batter.  Then snip off a lower corner of the bag and use it to pipe the batter into a hot skillet.  (I’m going to test this method on my protein pancake batter and let you know how it freezes.) If you don’t want to use a blender, you could also just dump the ingredients in the bag and smoosh it around. It won’t be as smooth, but it will be ok.

Hash Brown and Egg Casserole

1 lb frozen hash browns (Raw potatoes don’t freeze well, so if you want a homemade substitute, cube leftover baked potatoes. For a low carb substitute, try frozen cauliflower bits or diced radishes.)

1 lb bulk sausage, browned and drained

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced bell pepper (I like the baby bell peppers because of the pretty colors.)

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup shredded cheese

8 beaten eggs

1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper

Beat yogurt or sour cream and salt and pepper into eggs.  Pour into a gallon baggie and add remaining ingredients. smoosh around until well blended.  Seal well, removing all air. Lay flat and freeze on a tray to keep it flat. To bake, pour thawed casserole into a dutch oven.  Use this handy guide to decide how and where to place your coals: Bake at 350 for about an hour.  You’ll need around 24 hot briquetts, 6 underneath and 18 on the lid.

This casserole can be made without all vegetables (but why?!) To make it dairy free, 1/2 as much plain almond milk can be subbed for the yogurt and the cheese can be left out or replaced with Daiya cheese.  I’m slightly milk sensitive, but found Daiya cheese (cheddar variety) to be pretty gross and would rather just skip it.

Apple Muffins

¾ C milk

½ C applesauce (or oil)

1 egg

2 C flour

½ C sugar

3 t baking powder

1 t salt

½ t cinnamon

1 med apple, pared and chopped

Mix everything together in the gallon baggie, then freeze flat.  To bake, snip off a corner and pipe into a seasoned cast iron muffin tin OR fill hollowed out orange skin halves 2/3 full with batter. Wrap loosely with aluminum foil (to give room for rising batter.) Nestle down into the hot coals (right side up!) and bake for about 1o minutes.  Any muffin batter can be baked this way.  Imagine chocolate in an orange. (If you compare recipes, the difference between a muffin and a cupcake are minimal….)


Use a quart sized freezer bag for each person.  Crack in 2 eggs then add whatever you like:  spinach, onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, ham, bacon, sausage, cheese etc.  Mush it all around, then freeze.  To cook, drop the bags in a large kettle (or dutch oven) of boiling water.  Boil for 8 minutes.  Only put in enough bags that can float freely (you don’t want them resting on the bottom of the pot.)


Blend up your favorite smoothie ingredients, then freeze flat in a freezer bag.  Thaw until slushy, cut off a corner and pipe into drinking glasses.

Portable Yogurt

Fill snack size baggies with a half cup of flavored yogurt.  Fold over and tape the zipper seal to the side and freeze firm. Snip off the end and push up to eat. Credit

Quick Oatmeal

This doesn’t need to be frozen, but goes in a baggie….so here you go.  Add 1/3 cup quick oats; 1 Tbs sweetener (brown sugar, coconut sugar, or xylitol etc….); 2 Tbs dried fruit; and 1/4 tsp of flavor (Cinnamon, nutmeg etc.)  Other flavor options: 1 Tbs chopped nuts; 1 Tbs mini chocolate chips;  1 Tbs peanut flour; 1 tsp flax meal; 1 tsp chia seeds; 1 Tbs cocoa powder; 1 Tbs dry milk; scraped vanilla bean.  To prepare, pour contents of the bag into a mug.  Add 2/3-3/4 cup of boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes.

Just for fun, let’s clear up some confusion about the different types of oatmeal.

1. Whole Oat Groats: look similar to wheat berries and are the hulled seeds of the oat plan. Since the seed is intact, there is no danger of oils going rancid. These take a long time to cook.

2. Steel cut oats: Whole oats that have been chopped into pieces for faster cooking.

3. Old-fashioned rolled oats: Whole oat Groats that have been rolled on a press. Oats can be thick rolled if the setting is changed on the roller.

3. Quick Oats: Rolled oats that have been chopped into smaller pieces for faster cooking. Nutritionally no different than Old-Fashioned roll oats.

4. Instant Oats: Quick oats that have been steamed and re-dried for faster cooking.  There is likely some nutrition loss in the heat process, but instant oat’s bad reputation mostly comes from the sugary additions in the prepackaged individual serving variety that make it so yummy.  By packaging up your own flavors you can control the quality of the ingredients and nutrition profile.

More Solar Cooking

When solar cooking, keep in mind that protective eyewear (sunglasses) are a really good idea.  Also, if children will be nearby, remind them that this not to look at the glare.

Here’s a solar cooking video from Minnesota.  Roberta roasts a chicken and bakes cornbread in her solar oven.  The worst part about this is having to go outside to set it up and check it, brrr!  But if she can do it on a -10 degree day, then cooking on a pleasant summer afternoon should be a piece of cake.

Here’s another type of cooker, with a parabolic mirror–that made a really fast grilled cheese sandwich.

Other Solar Cookers

There are other ways to cook with the sun than in a cardboard box. 

Here’s an open reflector.  This one can be purchased on ebay for about $30.

This one is made from a reflective windshield covers (the kind designed to keep your car cooler in the summer.)

Here’s a page for making a similar style reflector from cardboard and foil.

This oven is also for sale on ebay for around $50.  It fascinates me because it folds down very compactly–perfect for those with small amounts of storage space.

And here’s a video of a man sun roasting a 6 lb chicken in Ontario Canada on a windy day in February!  He paid so much for his supplies for his slow cooker that he could have purchased this one and come out ahead (since his didn’t turn out as well as he had hoped.)  But I love that it shows you don’ t have to live in Arizona to cook with the sun.

The Solar Oven

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s so hot you could cook an egg on the sidewalk.”  But cooking with the heat from the sun is not a cliche.  With about $5 in materials you can create a solar powered oven that will bake bread, cook a casserole, or even boil water.  For 3rd world areas where cooking fuel is scarce, solar ovens can give natives a way to purify their water.  For the rest of us, solar ovens offer a cost effective way to cook our summer meals without heating up the kitchen.

Solar Oven cooking times resemble those of an electric crock pot, but will vary based on the cloud coverage and time of day.  If your box is well insulated, the outside temperature is not as crucial as how direct are the sun’s rays. It helps to invest in an inexpensive oven thermometer positioned so you can read the temperature without lifting the lid.  Also helpful are black or dark pans that aren’t reflective. 

I’ve searched the web for the best online instructions for building yoru own solar cooker.  Try it with cardboard and plastic first and if you like it, you can build a more permanent model from wood, metal hinges, and glass.  Click the photos to go to the instructions.

Also See: and

Solar Cooking fascinates me, and tomorrow I’ll show you some other types of solar cookers, plus show you the most affordable places to buy your own if crafting isn’t your thing.

The Summer Grill

Cooking outdoors on a grill gives great flavor to food, reduces fat, and prevents heating up the kitchen.  If you have a covered porch to grill on, a summer shower doesn’t have to stop your cooking plans.  We enjoy our gas grill but the most economical way to grill is in a traditional fire grill (Like a Weber), with coals made from fallen wood that has been allowed to cook down into coals.

When you think about a grill, what foods do you think of most?  The first thing that popped into my mind was BBQ chicken, then hot dogs and hamburgers.  But there’s even more that can be cooked on a grill, including stew and pizza!

To make the most of your grilled foods, consider marinating them.  There are lots of commercial marinaids available for sale, but homemade ones are easy, cost effective and delicious.  Marinades typically have oil, an acid ingredient like vinegar, pineapple or lemon juice, and herbs and spices.    I’ve found that I can replace the oil with water which saves money and calories.  We didn’t notice a difference in flavor. 

You can marinate meat or vegetables, just don’t marinate them together.  To marinate, mix all ingredients, pour over the food in a zipper seal bag and store in the refrigerator overnight.  Flip the bag over and continue to marinate until time to grill.  Discard raw meat marinades after use.  If you’d like to brush the meat with marinade as it cooks, save some separately before you marinate the food to keep it from getting contaminated.

Here’s my favorite chicken marinade recipe:

3/4 cup water or oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup vinegar (red wine or rice vinegars are nice)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Favorite Fajita Marinade

2 Tablespoons oil

2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1 1/2 teaspoons oregano

1 1/2 teapspoons cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika


Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables to grill.  We like to slice it thick (about 3/8″) and marinate it in low calorie Italian dressing before grilling.

We’ve also grilled corn on the cob:

Here are some links for grilled pizza instructions: and


Photo Source: Food Network

Or try making your own individual meal packets in foil and grilling them.  We love hamburger patties with carrots, potatoes, green beans, garlic and salt.  Or fish with carrots, zucchini, onions and lemon pepper.