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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Easy Pantry Meal Maindishes...with Ingredients Already Onhand!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Easy Pantry Meal Maindishes...with Ingredients Already Onhand!

Sometimes we really get caught up in...well, life. Even though I like to call myself organized, every once in awhile, I find myself staring into the dark confines of my pantry or freezer, wondering what I'm going to make for dinner. Or maybe, you had a serious of unfortunate events that kept you away from your regular shopping trip. Regardless, we're going to put together some pantry meals. If you have a freezer and a pantry, then give these recipes a try. The important point with these recipes, is that all ingredients can be stored for longer periods of time and prepared and served without a trip to the store!

Try these:

Baked Ziti

1 pound dry ziti pasta (or can use macaroni)
1 TBS freeze dried onions (or use some onion powder)
1 pound lean ground beef (just take it right out of the freezer; can also microwave it first)
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
1-1/2 bags Italian shredded cheese (make sure it is mostly Mozzarella and/or Provolone; can be stored in the freezer if you don't use shredded cheese too often)
1- 1/2 cups sour cream (I have substituted Ricotta with good flavor but this dish tends to be a bit drier; sour cream lasts longer than you think; I always have a small cup on hand)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
2. In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Add dried onions. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer 1/2 of the ziti, 1/2 of shredded cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, remaining shredded cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
4. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are nicely melted.

I like to make this meal with a green salad and some home baked bread! Enough for leftovers too.

This next meal isn't completely last minute. You do have to thaw the meat in the refrigerator three days beforehand (for a big roast), but I just had to include it, 'cause the kids just love this!

Crockpot Southern Pulled Pork On Buns

1 TBS minced dried onions
1/2 TBS minced dried garlic
1/4 TBS chili powder
1 bottle tomato based chili sauce (find this next to the BBQ sauces in grocery store)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke (also next to the BBQ sauces)
1 boneless pork shoulder (2-3 lbs; defrost in refrigerator 3 days before needed)
4-8 hamburger buns (can keep these in the freezer until the day of cooking)

Place roast in crockpot. Add all ingredients (except buns) and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 6 hours til falling apart. Shred meat with two forks and mix with sauce before serving. Serve with hamburger buns.

These buns will have your husband and kids wiping their chins! Serve this dish with a pasta salad and some baked beans, and you will be exalted at your house!

This next recipe is nice enough for company.

Chicken and Bacon Rice Bake

6-10 frozen chicken tenderloins
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1-3/4 cup water
1/2 to 1 lb bacon
2 boxes long grain and wild rice
1 seasoning packet from rice

Bake bacon on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F and save the grease (my husband uses some of the bacon grease to doctor up canned cream soup). Or cook bacon in the microwave on paper towels, pouring some of the grease in your 9x13 baking dish. Put dry rice on top. Put frozen chicken on top. Mix soup with 1-3/4 cup water and pour over chicken. Sprinkle with rice seasoning packet. Cover with foil. Bake about 1-1/2 hour at 400deg. When dish is done, it will look a little runny. Let sit before serving. While it's sitting, I like to take a big serving spoon, cut all the chicken pieces into chunks, and then mix everything up.

I like to serve this chicken and ric meal with a platter of sliced up tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella pieces (see your gourmet food section). Sprinkle salt and pepper and a few swigs of balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes and chunks of cheese. To make the tomatoes even tastier, grow a pot of basil on your windowsill and use a few snips of that before sprinkling this dish with the vinegar.

You can find more great pantry recipes at Busy Cooks, Meals from your Pantry.

Do you have any recipes you'd like to share?

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