Dump and Go Freezer Meal: Meatball Casserole

It’s time for meal #4 for our Fill your Freezer in 7 days blog series!

This comforting recipe can become fitness friendly with the use of Barilla Protein Plus Pasta.  It’s made with lentils, chick-peas, flax and other protein rich legumes.  Our local Wal-mart and Target both carry it and occasionally Target has coupons plus sales for great stock up prices.  If your local store doesn’t have it, Prime Pantry carries it for about the same price.

Any pasta will work in this dish, even gluten free pasta, so pick what works best for your needs.

Starting with frozen meatballs makes this super fast to throw together, but I’ll include a recipe for homemade meatballs at the end, just in case you prefer to do it yourself.

Meatball Casserole

Serves 8

1 jar, 24 oz, marinara sauce

3 cups water (just fill the empty sauce jar up and shake it up)

32 oz Turkey meatballs

14 oz bow tie or penne pasta

2 cups Mozzarella Cheese

For freezer cooking, pour the marinara, water and meatballs into a gallon baggie.  Press out air and seal.  Freeze.

For Oven Baking:  Thaw bag, pour into a baking dish with dry pasta and stir to combine.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top with cheese and bake uncovered for 15 minutes longer.

For Slow Cooker: Thaw bag and pour into a 4-5 quart slow cooker. Top with cheese and cook on low for 3 hours.

For Pressure Cooker: Thaw bag and pour into your instant pot.  Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. Use quick release on the pressure.  Top with cheese and let stand a few minutes until it melts.

For Skillet: Thaw bag, Pour into a skillet.  Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.  Top with cheese and stick under the broiler until golden brown.

Homemade Meatballs

2 lbs Ground Turkey (or Beef, chicken, pork, venison, etc.)

2 eggs

1 cup Milk (Use Unsweetened Almond Milk of Dairy Free)

1 cup Italian style Bread Crumbs (Gluten Free: use Almond Meal or Gluten Free bread crumbs plus 1 tsp Italian Seasoning.)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (Skip if Dairy Free)

2 Tbs Dried onion flakes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Use a mixer to combine everything together.  Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet with a rim.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.


Dump and Go Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

It’s recipe 3 for our fill your freezer in 7 days challenge.  I hope beyond just giving you a few recipes, that I spark your imagination about how to adapt some of your favorite recipes for the freezer or even create some new flavors.

If you pre-dice your chicken, or used browned ground meat instead, this dish can be made in a skillet in just 20 minutes.  I love how in the slow cooker, it’s hands off until the end.  It’s truly a fix it and forget it situation.

This recipe is both fitness and family friendly.  To add calories and filling power, my growing kids serve theirs over a plate of tortilla chips, then top with sour cream and extra cheese.  I skip that part, then we all top it with shredded lettuce and chopped fresh tomatoes and salsa.

Be sure to rinse your quinoa before throwing it into your mix.  It removes the saponins that can taste bitter.  Since the grains are so small, I line my colander with a tea towel.

Dump and Go Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

1 lb boneless Chicken Breasts (If you bought it frozen, keep it frozen.  Thawing and refreezing raw meats changes the texture in an unappetizing way.)

1 Tbs taco seasoning mix

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

1 chopped onion

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed

1 can red enchilada sauce, 20 oz

1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in a gallon baggie and freeze.  To cook, thaw just enough to be able to get everything out of the bag.  Pour into a slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks and stir into the dish.  Top with shredded cheese, then replace the lid for a few minutes to allow it to melt.   Serve with a toppings bar.

To make in the pressure cooker, follow the directions above, except cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, following the manufacturers directions for pressure release before opening the lid.

Toppings suggestion:  Tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, fresh diced tomatoes, green onion, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, salsa, diced olives.

The leftovers reheat pack well in a thermos for hot lunch on the go.

Nutrition facts:  1/6 of the recipe without cheese or toppings yields: 381 Calories; 7g fat; 37g net carbs; 30g protein


Lime Chicken Tacos: A Freezer Meal That’s Slow Cooker and Pressure Cooker Friendly

Any meat that has to marinade makes a great freezer meal. Just don’t thaw it and refreeze it.  If your meat is already frozen, you can pour the marinade on it and put it back in the freezer.

Therea re two ways to make this into a freezer meal: 1. You can cook the meat through and then freeze it shredded and ready to serve, which saves time at the dinner time.  2. Or freezing it uncooked and in the marinade makes the freezer day prep super fast and easy. If you remember to pop it in the slow cooker or have an instant pot for faster cooking, this is a great option.

You’ll need 1 gallon freezer bag for this dish and then just your favorite taco toppings at time of serving.

I love how this dish is easily adaptable for all allergy and fitness needs.  For example, gluten free friends can use corn shells, or make a taco salad over corn chips. Keto friends can skip the honey and the shells or chips and make a big taco salad with full fat sour cream and cheese.  Dairy free friends can use avocado instead of dairy toppings.

Lime Chicken Tacos

Serves 4

1.5 lbs chicken breasts (These can be the ugly ones that are too thick or mis-shaped to grill)

1 Lime, zested and juiced

1 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tsp Honey

1 can, 4 oz, Green Chilies (If doubling the recipe, no need to double the chilies.  It saves money to use just 1 can while still giving great flavor.)

2 tsp Ground Cumin

2 tsp Chili Powder

1 tsp Minced garlic

A few dashes of cayenne if you like it hot

Combine everything in a Gallon size Freezer Baggie, press out the air.  Seal, Label and freeze.

To slow cook, place contents of the bag in a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours. Shred with two forks and stir to coat in sauce.  Serve with a slotted spoon or tongs with your favorite taco toppings.

To Pressure cook, place contents of the bag in a pressure cooker. Add 1/4 c of water and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.  Wait until pressure is reduced, or use quick release to bring down the pressure and remove the lid safely.  Shred chicken and stir into sauce. Serve with a slotted spoon or tongs with your favorite taco toppings.

Suggested Condiments: Tortillas 6″ or Tortilla chips, Shredded Lettuce, Diced Tomatoes, Diced Red Onion, Shredded Cheese, Sour Cream, Salsa, Guacamole

This is recipe #2 in our series, Fill your Freezer in 7 Days. Find more here.

Philly Pepper Steak Sheet Pan Freezer Meal

This delicious meal is fast to put together and cooks with hands off time.  Letting you pop it in the oven in the evening and unwind from the day’s tasks while it cooks.

You’ll use two 1 gallon freezer bags for the assembly.  The meat will marinate in the freezer, then cook up tender and flavorful.  It’s easier to slice cooked meat than raw meat, so I prefer to slice it after cooking.  If you know you’ll be too stressed to slice it at the time of cooking, slice it now, then reduce the cooking time in step 1 to 12 minutes.

If your family is on a regular diet, grab some sandwich rolls to make these into sandwiches. If you are gluten free you can serve it over brown rice, or low carb eaters can dish theirs over spaghetti squash or cauliflower rice.

This recipe is for 4 people, adjust as needed for your family:

Bag #1:

1 lb Flank Steak, or any boneless lean roast 3/4 inch thick.

2 Tbs cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp Onion powder

1 tsp Garlic powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Pepper

1/4 tsp cloves

Bag #2

2 Green Bell Peppers,Sliced

1 Onion (red or yellow), Sliced

8 oz Sliced Mushrooms

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Pepper

Seal both bags, pressing out all the air first. Then label with the recipe name, today’s date, and the bag #.  Freeze.

Additional Ingredients: Provolone Cheese Slices and Sandwich Buns or Rice.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper for easy clean up.  Place the steak in the middle and bake for 20 minutes (30 if it is still frozen.)

2. Spread the contents of bag #2 evenly around the outside of the steak. I doubled my recipe so I had to put veggies on top of the steak too.  Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until veggies reach desired tenderness.  Remove steak to a cutting board and cut into slices.  Return to the baking sheet and use tongs to stir it into the veggie mixture.

3. Top all with Cheese slices and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is gooey.  Serve on buns or over rice.

Picky Eater Ideas: Not everyone is a fan of peppers, onions and mushrooms.  You can substitute any vegetable for them including broccoli florets, zucchini strips, or Long green beans.

Do you have tips for helping kids eat their veggies?


Fill Your Freezer in 7 Days

I have a love/hate relationship with freezer cooking.  I love the idea of healthy, budget friendly, ready to warm up and serve food at my fingertips.  This run through the field of blooming tulips vision of freezer cooking has left me falling on my face in a surprise pile of cow dung every time.  There are some definite tripping hazards that I’d like to prevent before we get started.

#1: Cooking sessions that take ALL DAY, completely wear you out, and destroy your kitchen.    Honestly my freezer cooking sessions (all 2 of them) have been so draining that the pain did not outweigh the benefits.  It took years before I was willing to try it again.

#2 Meals that are so thick and so frozen solid that if you do not remember to thaw them out ahead of time (overnight in the fridge is NOT long enough) that it will take 3 hours to heat them through.  At that point the edges will be burned and the middle will be sort of warm.  Bon Appetit!   I use freezer meals for emergencies and I don’t always think to thaw in advance.

#3 Picky Eaters! It’s a big letdown when you’re standing in your perfectly clean kitchen, feeling like Martha Stewart with your freezer meal fresh out of the oven, and then have your family decide they don’t like it.

To make this viable a few things have to happen:

  1.  We need healthy recipes our families already love or are sure to love.
  2. We need the meals to thaw quickly or cook quickly without thawing.
  3. We need the cooking session to be SHORT!  Ideally less than 3 hours.
  4. We need minimal mess when we get done
  5. Plus we need not to tie up our good pans in the freezer, have room to store these meals in our freezer, and not pack them in containers that will leach toxic substances into our foods.

Here are a few Suggestions to make this go better:

  1. Skip the foil pans.  Aluminum will leach into the food and it does it at an accelerated rate as it’s heated.  If you can’t avoid the aluminum pan or foil, place a parchment paper (preferably unbleached) barrier between the aluminum and your food first.
  2. While plastics can also leach hormone disrupting chemicals into your food, they are less likely to do it at super cold temperatures.  Even BPA free plastics are harmful.  When public outcry demanded the removal of BPA, the plastic industry had to find a substitute to keep plastics from getting brittle.  They chose BPS which has the same hormone disrupting properties as BPA.  I still choose gallon freezer bags for my freezer cooking, I just make sure my food is cooled completely before I bag it and remove food from the bag before reheating. For heating, glass; stainless steel; and silicone pans are your safest bet.
  3. To make freezer cooking sessions short, I focus on dump recipes in the following categories:

Sheet Pan Suppers

Slow Cooker Meals

Instant Pot Meals

& One Skillet Meals

These meals all fit into freezer bags and take up the least amount of freezer room as possible, thaw easily, and require a minimum of prep time.  They are almost all meals-in-one needing no side dishes or just a tossed salad or bread and butter to round them out.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with our first dump and go freezer recipe: Sheet Pan Pepper Cheese-Steak.

Does your family have favorite recipes that are sheet pan suppers, slow cooker meals, instant pot meals, or one skillet meals?  Have you had any experience with freezer cooking?  How did it go?  Send us your tips!


Makeover Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry Pretzel Salad is more dessert than salad, and it’s one of my favorites.

The original recipe is packed full of sugar, excess butter, artificial coloring, and hydrogenated fats.

I saw some opportunities for nutritional improvement without sacrificing much flavor.  I started by reducing the amount of butter by half…and honestly it still was plenty.  I also cut the sweetener amounts way down and then substituted Truvia or Erythritol for the sugar.  I got rid of the hydrogenated fats by swapping out the whipped topping for protein rich Greek yogurt. And ditched a pile of sugar and artificial food coloring by using homemade gelatin from light cranberry juice that was colored with vegetable powder instead of box gelatin colored with food dye. This healthier version is worthy of potluck suppers.

Healthier Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 cups (about 5 oz) roughly chopped pretzels (gluten free work too)

6 Tbs butter, melted

3 Tbs Erythritol or Truvia

8 oz Neufchatel Cream Cheese

8 oz Unsweetened Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup Erythritol or Truvia

1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

2 cups Low Calorie Cranberry Juice, look for an aspartame free variety.  I got mine from Aldi and it has 5 calories per cup.

1 Tbs plain Gelatin

  1.  Sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup of cranberry juice.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Microwave on high for 1 minute or until dissolved.  Stir in the remaining cup of cold juice and chill until thickened.  (About 30 minutes to an hour.)
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together pretzels, melted butter and 3 Tbs sweetener. Press evenly into the bottom of a glass 9×13 pan.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.  Cool to room temperature.
  3. Beat together cream cheese, Greek Yogurt and sweetener until smooth.  Spread over cooled crust.
  4. Top cream layer with sliced strawberries, then pour thickened gelatin over all.  Chill for 3 hours or until set.Note: If you don’t let the gelatin thicken before pouring, it will sink to the bottom and make your crust soggy. I learned from experience

It makes 8 generous servings each with 262 calories; 16g fat; 20g net carbs and 8g protein.  I enjoy a piece for breakfast, or a snack, or both.

For the same size serving, the original recipe has 510 calories; 29g fat; 57g net carbs and 4g protein.

Have you given a favorite recipe a healthier makeover?  I’d love to hear about it.

This post contains amazon affiliate links.  Linking to the products that I personally use in my home. If you choose to purchase anything through one of these links, I will receive a small commission.

Grab and Go Muesli Breakfast Cookies

I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to simplify our lives, and if it makes us healthier too, it’s a double win.  Breakfast cookies are one of those double wins and are easy to grab and eat for a healthy breakfast on the go or an after school snack on the way to music lessons or sports practice.

I made these Muesli breakfast cookies last week for the Fit Mama meal plan and it was instant love. I had three the first day, one at breakfast and at each of my snack times. Inspiration for the recipe came from Sweet as Honey and I tweaked it to simplify the number of ingredients and to fit into the macro nutrition profile I needed for the Fit Mama plan.
I can imagine all sorts of different variations just by changing the type of dried fruit and seeds or nuts added.  Different fruit options include: dried blueberries, golden raisins, apricots, cherries, strawberries, apples, dates, bananas, mango, papaya, pineapple, prunes. Prunes are shockingly delicious despite their old person stereotype and taste sweeter than dates without as many active carbs . Nuts and seeds might also include macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, filberts, or cacao nibs.

I love dried fruits and nuts so much that it’s easy for me to overdo it and gain weight on them even though they are healthy foods.  By baking them into these cookies, there’s instant portion control.

After dropping the dough onto the sheets, you’ll want to use a silicone spatula to flatten and shape them into cookies.

Something you need to know about these is that they are HEALTHY and they taste like it.  They aren’t super sweet, just sweet enough to be pleasant.  More the sweetness of a piece of honey wheat bread instead of the sweetness of a chocolate chip cookie.

For that reason, I’m going to share the small recipe first.  It makes 4 large single serving cookies, enough for your family to taste them before you waste large amounts of ingredients.

I found everything except the unsweetened coconut at Aldi.  I also chose to use Great Value Sugar Free Syrup from Wal-mart instead of honey to keep the macros in fat burning zone. If I were making these for kids, I would use honey or real maple syrup as listed.

Muesli Breakfast Cookies, Small Recipe

3/4 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour or Almond Meal

1/4 cup Craisins

2 Tbs Pepitas (Shelled pumpkin seeds)

2 Tbs Sunflower Seeds

2 Tbs Fresh Ground Flax Meal

1 Egg

1/4 cup honey or real maple syrup

2 tbs melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in the order given and shape by 1/3 cupfuls into 4 large cookies onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before moving so they don’t fall apart. Enjoy with your favorite warm beverage.

They are also really good frosted with Natural Peanut Butter.

Muesli Breakfast Cookies, Family Size Recipe

3 cups Old Fashioned Oats

1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour or Almond Meal

1 cup Craisins

1/2 cup Pepitas

1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup Ground Flax Meal

4 eggs

1 cup Honey or Maple Syrup

1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in the order given and shape by 1/3 cupfuls into 16 large cookies onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before moving so they don’t fall apart. Enjoy with your favorite warm beverage.

Made with Sugar Free Syrup instead of honey, each cookie contains: 270 calories; 16g fat; 24g net carbs; 7g protein.

The batter is moist enough that I think I could stir in some vanilla protein powder for extra sweetness plus protein.  If I try it out, I’ll update with the results.

Do you ever have call for grab and go breakfasts? What’s your favorite?


Easy No Bake Eggnog Pie 2-Ways

Easy Eggnog Pie 2 Ways---delicious and creamy with weight loss versions too

This light creamy pie is perfect for last minute desserts.  It’s fancy enough for company or basket dinners or even a neighbor Christmas gift, but so fast even a stressed out Mama can whip it up.  Graham cracker pie crusts are easy to make but for $.69 each at Aldi, I just buy them and keep several on hand at all times.

The first version uses instant pudding mix and sugar free works just fine.  If you want to replace the Eggnog with a non-dairy version, you’ll need to add additional thickener like 1/2 tsp of Xanthan gum or Glucomannan powder.  There’s something about the dairy milk protein that is essential to thickening up instant pudding mix properly.

Eggnog Pudding Pie

1 Graham Cracker Crust

1 box, Instant Vanilla Pudding

1 cup Milk

1 cup Prepared Eggnog

4 oz Whipped topping

Beat the milk, eggnog and pudding mix together.  Pour into the crust.  Let chill for at least 30 minutes then top with whipped topping.  Alternately the whipped topping can be folded into the pudding mixture and spread into the crust.  Sprinkle with a little nutmeg.

This second pie is a no-bake cheesecake that is easy to make fitness friendly.  For the most diet friendly, skip the crust and use a homemade sugar free eggnog, recipe coming soon.

Eggnog No-Bake Cheesecake Pie

1 Graham Cracker Crust

8 oz Neufchatel Cream Cheese

8 oz Plain Greek Yogurt

1/3 cup Sugar or Erythritol

1 cup Prepared Eggnog (Regular or Dairy Free)

1/4 cup water

1 Tbs or 1 Packet Unflavored Gelatin

4 oz Whipped Topping

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water in a medium sized microwaveable bowl.  Let stand for 1 minute or until gelatin is dissolved.  (It will be clear and no longer yellow in color.)  Microwave for 1 minute or until melted, clear and smooth.  The gelatin will bloom and spill over if your bowl is too small.

Meanwhile beat together cream cheese, yogurt, sweetener, and eggnog. Beat in gelatin mixture.  Pour into crust and chill until firm (about 3 hours.)  Spread with whipped topping.

So what’s your favorite easy Christmas dessert?  I’m looking to expand my repertoire!

Our Thanksgiving Table, On letting children help, and Easy Roast Turkey

We hosted Thanksgiving this year, for our first time ever.  I roasted a 26 lb turkey, which didn’t go well the last couple of times I tried it.  It made me nervous, but it came out beautifully.  I’ll share my super easy recipe at the end.

We had 19 guests, but thought planned for 22. I set up two 6 foot round folding tables and pushed 2 rectangular folding tables together in the middle for a circle, square, circle configuration.  My goal was to feel like we were all sitting at 1 table, but be able to still walk around the room as needed.  It worked!

We’ve still never gotten a real table for this room. I keep thinking I’m going to build one and have several pinned in my “wood” pinterest board.  Other things take priority, so it will probably be a few years before I actually build something.  With a table cloth, we mostly forget our every day table is a portable fold up tables.   I used 2 of these and 2 of these tablecloths for this setting and love that they come in a ton of color options for a great price.  I also grabbed 3 of these runners to dress it up.  I had planned to write scriptures down the middle layer with chalk, but in the end, we liked the simple cleanliness of it all.

The black chargers are Dollar Tree gold chargers that I spray painted with chalk paint.  One can of paint and one can of primer did all 22 chargers.  I topped the chargers with my every day white Corelle plates.

I grabbed buffalo check napkins which match my curtains (ahem tablecloths with a rod pocket sewed in the top.)  I saved the napkins to use the first time for the Thanksgiving table, but they will be our new everyday napkins since the old ones are worn thin.

The day after Halloween I bought a couple of boxes of foam craft pumpkins on clearance at Hobby Lobby.  They were glow in the dark orange, so the kids and I painted them to look like heirloom pumpkins.  Walmart is the best price for craft paint even with sales and coupons if you ever wondered.

Then we printed up some name tags and tied them to the stems with jute twine from the Misc. drawer.

While the clearance sale was on, I also grabbed 2 large heirloom pumpkins.  They cost about the same as buying real pumpkins, but won’t rot and I can use them year after year.

This is a fake one on a burlap wrapped Dollar Tree Foam Wreath and Ikea Eucalyptus branches.  I had the branches on hand and just pulled them out of the arrangement they were in to try to beef up the table.

This pumpkin is real.  My guests thought they were all real until they touched them.  The faux boxwood wreaths are from Ikea and were on my front doors just the day before I set the table.  It was all clever and fun until a spider walked out from the wreath and ran across the table during dinner.  EEEEK!

We placed a butter dish, salt and pepper shaker, roll basket, and gravy boat on every table.  (I asked some of the guests to bring theirs so we’d have enough without buying extra things.) All the other food was served buffet style.

My oldest daughter helped me arrange the table settings and place cards the morning of Thanksgiving, and I watched her running around in a frenzy, shooing the younger children out of the room because they weren’t doing things perfectly and being completely frazzled.  In that moment I saw a perfect reflection of myself during her younger years.  I felt convicted and grateful simultaneously.  Sorry that she was only living what she had seen, and glad that she was still in my home and mine to teach.  So I apologized to her for her crazy holiday mother from her childhood, and we had a talk about the value of little hands and how their imperfections make life that much more sweet.

Two things made our holiday especially less stressful.

A.  I set out a yogurt buffet for breakfast, so I didn’t have to cook and they could come in and grab something when they were ready.  I even let them eat at the coffee tables since the kitchen tables were already set for lunch.  Everything was from Aldi and I was so excited that they offered fresh raspberries and blackberries for $1 a clamshell the day before

B.  I roasted the turkey the day before and carved it up into 9×13 pans.  Then I poured the broth back over the meat to keep it moist.  Then Thanksgiving morning, I reheated the meat in the broth.  After we transferred the meat to a serving platter, I could still make gravy out of the broth.   So here’s my super easy Turkey Roasting Instructions:

Super Easy Turkey Roasting Instructions:

  1.  Thaw the bird in the refrigerator ahead of time. Here’s a handy chart.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Don’t wash it, but do pull out the neck and the bag of giblets.  (Or leave it in, it really doesn’t matter.)
  4. Place a wire rack in a large, deep roasting pan.  Place the turkey breast side DOWN on the pan and rub it all over with melted coconut oil (about 2 Tbs) and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Roast at 400 for 1 hour (this seals in the juices), then without opening the door turn the temperature down to 350.  Cook for 1 hour longer.
  6. After the bird has been in the oven for 2 hours.  Take it out and flip it over so it’s breast side up. Rub it all over with coconut oil (2 more Tbs) and salt again.  Then stick the probe of an oven proof digital thermometer with alarm in the thickest part of the thigh.  (The thigh is right inside the leg.) Put it back in the oven and shut the door with the alarm part of the thermometer outside the oven.  You’ll close the door on the cord.
  7. Then leave it be until the alarm goes off.  If you want an estimate for how much time you’ll need, here’s a handy chart.
  8. When the alarm goes off, set the turkey and pan out of the oven and let it rest for 1 hour.  This allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat, but if you carve it right away it will all run out and be dry.

We still haven’t put up any Christmas decorations, because we have 6 of these until next Wednesday.  It’s worth the wait.

How was your Thanksgiving?  Is your Christmas tree up?



Flaky Layers Whole Wheat Pumpkin Biscuits

These slightly sweet, spiced biscuits are perfect for a grab and go breakfast, after school snack, a side dish for hearty stew or as part of a brunch menu.

Flaky Layers Pumpkin Biscuits

3 cups Unbleached Flour (or Hard White Wheat Flour or WW Pastry Flour) The pictures show the White Wheat option.  I ground the flour fresh just before baking for maximum nutrition.

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2 tsp pumpkin spice

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold butter

1/2 cup Buttermilk (If using homemade Buttermilk, reduce by 1 Tbs)

1 cup Pumpkin Puree

1/4 cup Real Maple Syrup or Honey

Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. (This time don’t measure by scooping.)Combine flour, baking powder, baking sods, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and then use a a pastry blender to work it into the flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Chill 10 minutes.

3. Combine buttermilk and maple syrup, stirring with a whisk until well blended; beat in  pumpkin. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir lightly just until dough comes together.  Do not over work. Some loose flour is ok.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Do not knead and roll dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle; lightly dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough into thirds. Roll again into a ½ inch thick rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough into thirds then gently roll to a 3/4-inch thickness.

6. Cut dough with a 2 inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits, 1 inch apart, on a greased baking sheet.

7. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool 2 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm. Yield 12 biscuits.

Slice your cold butter into pats before using the pastry cutter.  It will make the cutting in go much faster.

Here’s what it will look like when you’re done cutting in.  You’ll still want some fairly large pieces of butter–like pea sized.  This will help make the layers.

Your pumpkin/buttermilk mixture will look like this.  At first when you try to stir it in, you won’t think there’s enough liquid, but I promise there is.

This dough is DONE mixing.  Please don’t keep going until all the flour is mixed in.  Your biscuits will be tough.  Start rolling without kneading at all.  In the layer making process the dough will fully come together.  I use a silicone mat which makes the layers easier.

Rol it 1/2 inch thick them lightly dust the top with flour.  

Lift the mat to fold the dough into thirds.  The bottom part of my dough was a bit sticky, so I used a spatula to scrape if up, then dust the mat underneath again.  Roll it out like you did the first time.

Then fold it up again.  Keep it lightly dusted if it’s sticking.

This dough here just needs a light rolling to be ready to cut.  I over did mine.  They still tasted good but weren’t as thick as I like.

I wish I had rolled my dough a little taller.  It’s only about 1/2 inch, but it might have made them tough to start again.  Make yours taller.

The last biscuits on my pan are a little wonky, but I choose not to knead the dough for the second roll out.  I just kind of bunch it together to keep the light and flakey texture.

These are delicious with butter, but pumpkin butter is even better!

This is day 15 of 31 Days of Pumpkin Recipes

1 Pumpkin spice mix

2 Homemade pumpkin puree

3 Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

4 Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

5 Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

6 Pumpkin Bagels

7 Butternut Chicken Stew

8 Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Scones

9 Pumpkin Waffles

10 Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

11 Butternut Squash Chili

12 Pumpkin Jar Mix

13 Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

14 Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

15 Pumpkin Biscuits

16 Easy Pumpkin Cake

17 Pumpkin Dump Cake

18 Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

19 Pumpkin Mousse

20 Pumpkin Cheesecake

21 Pumpkin Latte

22 Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

23 Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

24 Maple Pumpkin Butter

25 Stuffed Sugar Baby Pumpkins

26 Pumpkin Pancakes

27 Pumpkin English Muffins

28 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

29 Pumpkin Biscotti

30 Pumpkin Caramel Monkey Bread

31 Impossible Pumpkin Pie