Chicken Taquitos- Freezer Friendly

One of the best ways to rein-in spending and stick to a budget is brown-bagging your lunch! My husband gets tired of taking the same few items again and again. During my last freezer meal cook-a-thon I tried out a new recipe for Chicken Taquitos. Hubby ate both meals in the first week. I’d say that’s a win! So I tweaked the recipe a bit to yield a large portion, this time making 5 lunches instead of 2.

Use a large baking dish, like Corning-ware. Place the chicken breasts in the baking dish, sprinkle packets of taco seasoning on top of chicken, add cream cheese and water. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Double-check with a meat thermometer that the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Once you’ve taken the chicken out of the oven, turn the oven up to 400 degrees.  Remove the chicken from the baking dish and shred the chicken. Mix cheddar cheese, shredded chicken and filling together.

Chicken Taquitos #3

Now its time to fill the taquitos. First, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Now lay out your tortillas and fill them. Roll the tortilla and place the taquito with the flap-side down on the cookie sheet. Repeat until all the tortillas have been filled.

Bake the taquitos at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until tortillas are crispy. Package 4 taquitos in tupperware or Ziploc freezer bags for pre-portioned, ready-to-go lunches! We also love freezing lunches in these Rubbermaid containers, but they were all being used with my recent freezer meal marathon.

Chicken Taquito Graphic

 

Heat for 2 1/2 minutes and enjoy!

Chicken Taquitos

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

3 Large, Uncooked Chicken Breasts
2 Packets of Taco Seasoning
8 oz. Cream Cheese, cubed
¼ C. Water
8 oz. Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
20 ct. Small Flour Tortillas[/recipe-indredients]

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a greased casserole dish, place chicken breasts and sprinkle with taco seasoning.
  3. Add cream cheese and water.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes.
  5. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Remove chicken from dish and shred using two forks.
  7. Return chicken to casserole dish and stir in cheddar cheese.
  8. Scoop filling out onto tortillas and roll up.
  9. Place filled taquitos on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
  10. Bake taquitos for 10 minutes.

Tip: These freeze and reheat very well. To reheat microwave for 2 ½ minutes.

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

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DIY Compost Bin from Up-Cycled Trash Can

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I are trying to decrease our carbon footprint. Of course our goal is always to do so without breaking the bank. Early this spring while planning additions to our garden I stumbled upon information about composting. Composting seemed like a perfect addition since we already recycle. However, compost bins are a special kind of expensive! I mean really, what is SOOO special about that plastic bin to make it cost $90?!?! My dear friend, Pinterest, showed me option to build your own compost bins, but I still wasn’t convinced. After all, we would still be spending around $40 to buy the supplies needed.

One day, it dawned on me. Sitting underneath our deck were 2 trash cans. Our city recently distributed matching trash bins to all the residents, and our 2 trash cans no longer had a purpose. After a few Google searches, I found some pictures of trash can bins turned compost bins. My research into compost bins continued. So what is needed for a successful compost bin?

  • Airflow
  • Moisture
  • “Brown” Items

Items you need:

  • Trash can or even a large Rubbermaid container
  • Drill
  • Large drill bit (1/2″ or larger)
  • Bricks, cinderblocks or wood

Gather all your items outside. A concrete surface would be ideal to allow you to sweep up the plastic shavings. Decide where your compost bin will live. We chose just outside of our side-door exiting the garage because we knew it needed to be in a convenient location for us to actually utilize it.

  1. Take the lid off and set it on the ground. Begin drilling 1/2″ or 3/4″ holes every 2″-3″. The goal is to create a grid of holes on every surface of your container.
  2. Drill holes all around the container itself, even the bottom. Our trash can has wheels on the bottom which affected the grid, but you want the most airflow possible.
  3. Once you have a grid pattern over your whole container/trash can, clean up all the shavings. You aren’t reducing your carbon footprint by leaving plastic out in the environment.
  4. Begin filling your compost bin! Shred apart cardboard, newspaper and printer paper to create a 6″ layer of your “brown” items on the bottom of your bin. See other awesome items to compost below!
    1. Fruits, veggies & their peels
    2. Coffee grounds & coffee filters
    3. Tea bags
    4. Rinsed egg shells (crushed in your garden egg shells deter slugs)
    5. Grass clippings,
    6. Dead & dried leaves
    7. Shredded paper & newspaper
    8. Dryer lint, hair & pet fur
  5. Maintain your compost bin by watering once or twice weekly, enough to keep it moist. Aerate it by rolling it around the yard once a week- the benefit to a round trash can.

Compost No-No’s: Avoid dairy, meat, fats like oil, pet waste, pesticides and coal ashes.

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Small Steps to Sustainability

Have you ever evaluated your spending in a desperate attempt to figure out where all your hard-earned income went? Finding sustainable options and alternatives leads towards a self-sufficient way of life rather than being reliant on stores’ merchandise.

Over the years, my husband and I have invested in options that will help save us money. We have items we want to purchase in the future which will reduce spending and our carbon footprint, and we have items that we reuse to give another life. If you start searching the web you can find all sorts of fancy (and PRICEY) items made to be reused. However, I can guarantee you that you can find, thrift, make and repurpose the same items – or something that will do the same job – for next to nothing!!

One of the first changes we made was hang-drying clothes. Perhaps to older generations and foreigners this is a daily concept, but for me this was new. We have 2 large drying racks that hold 1-2 loads of laundry. (I still dry my jeans in a dryer because… there’s nothing better than jeans fresh from the dryer!) When we bought the drying rack we lived in an apartment where we had to pay per load. Every load we hung to dry saved us $1.50. We’ve paid for those drying racks a few times over. Now, living in a house, it reduces our electric bill by using less energy and by not heating our house up. $15-$20 will get you unlimited dry clothes.

In the same spirit, use real dishes to eat on. Paper plates and bowls may be convenient but they are pricey and wasteful. Ditching the paper allows you to reuse and reduce by using the plates you already have. Next on our wishlist is cloth napkins that can be reused again and again to replace the paper napkins AND paper towels!

Ditch the store-bought cleaners! (OK, I still use them on the toilet.) Vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and Dawn dish soap are your friends. I also would be a horrible person if I didn’t recommend Thieves cleanser to you.

  • Window Cleaner: Dawn dish soap & water
  • Carpet Spot Cleaner: 1 part baking soda & to 2 parts hydrogen peroxide
    •  Great for pet accidents!
  • Drain Cleaner: Baking soda and vinegar
  • Keurig De-Scaler: Vinegar (Tutorial here)
  • Magic Microwave Cleaner: A vinegar soaked sponge; microwave for 5 minutes!

Composting is something that has always fascinated me. As I planted my flower garden this year, I started thinking about how I feel ridiculous paying for soil. Luckily, our city just rolled out new garbage and recycling bins at the beginning of the year. Our two old trash cans were sitting under our deck waiting for their next life. I found some awesome images of people making their own compost bins from up-cycled trash cans. We now have a compost bin that didn’t cost us a dime to make!!

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DIY Compost Bin from Up-Cycled Trash Can

Sewing and mending are skills I fought hard not to learn. I much preferred (and still would prefer) to have my mom mend my clothes. But having my own household I have started my own mending. Knowing how to repair a rip, hem a pair of pants or sew on a new button are priceless skills that have given our possessions much longer lives. My mom bought me my first sewing machine this past Christmas, and I have made multiple items since receiving it. I’d rather not talk about the pile of mending laying in the office at the moment. A’hem!
To help propel us into more sustainable options we subscribe to MightyFix. We get a new item every month to replace a previously disposable item. These are the products we’ve already received and love:

Small life changes can impact the environment and your wallet in impressive ways. This isn’t permission to run out and spend $500 on all reusable items, but maybe start exploring how much it will cost to replace your disposable Swiffer duster with a reusable one from Etsy. There is also truth in the saying, “You have to spend money to make (save) money.” i.e. our drying racks. Balance. Balance the wants, the needs and the cost to find the happy medium for your family.

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Spicy Breakfast Burritos – Freezer Meal

I discovered early on in my relationship with my husband that he didn’t eat breakfast. Well, I set out to remedy this huge problem! After all, I’m a nurse who understands the need for the most important meal of the day. Breakfast sets your metabolism into motion. It gives your body fuel for the day, and a well balanced breakfast helps stabilize your blood sugar too. However, finding foods that my picky-breakfast-eater hubby would enjoy day after day has been a challenge. This weekend I created a recipe of my own, and when my hubby tried these burritos for the first time he said, “I guess you figured out how to get me to eat breakfast everyday.”

These burritos are very customizable. If you can put it in an omelette you can pretty much put it in this burrito.

Here’s what you need for a base:

  • 10 flour tortillas (whole grain would work too)
  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 8 oz shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (but any shredded cheese you want would work!)
  • 1/4 C. milk

From there you can get creative! I added:

  • 1/2 lb. cooked sausage pieces
  • 1/8 C. diced jalapeños

Try to avoid watery additions like salsa because that will affect your eggs, but you could add chopped veggies, veggie sausage or a variety of meats.

  1. Break all 1 dozen eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk them together.
  2. Add milk, 1/2 the cheese, sausage and jalapeños. Mix well.
  3. Pour mixture into your frying pan on low to medium heat.
  4. Cook the eggs thoroughly, removing excess liquid. Liquid is your enemy when it comes to freezing foods.
  5. Once the filling is cooked, warm your tortillas between two moist paper towels for 30 seconds in the microwave.
  6. Put your filling in the middle of he tortillas and sprinkle a little of the remaining cheese on top of the filling to help create a seal once melted
  7. Fold the edges of your tortilla in – this will keep the filling from falling out.
  8. Tuck the side nearest you over and roll! Voila! You just made a breakfast burrito.
  9. Now wrap the burrito in plastic wrap or something like it to keep it fresh. I put all of the burritos into a large plastic bag to help contain them in my freezer.

To reheat: Place burritos in the microwave from 1 1/2 minutes. Enjoy!

Spicy Breakfast Burritos

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 10 flour tortillas (whole grain would work too)
  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or substitute your favorite cheese)
  • ¼ C. milk
  • ½ lb. sausage pieces, cooked (optional)
  • 1/8 C. diced jalapeños (optional)
Avoid watery additions like salsa as they will affect your eggs, but you could easily add chopped veggies, other meats or cheeses.

Directions

  1. Break all 1 dozen eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk them together.
  2. Add milk, 1/2 the cheese, sausage and jalapeños. Mix well.
  3. Pour mixture into your frying pan on low to medium heat.
  4. Cook the eggs thoroughly, removing excess liquid. Liquid is your enemy when it comes to freezing foods.
  5. Once the filling is cooked, warm your tortillas between two moist paper towels for 30 seconds in the microwave.
  6. Put your filling in the middle of the tortillas and sprinkle a little of the remaining cheese on top of the filling to help create a seal once melted.
  7. Fold the edges of your tortilla in – this will keep the filling from falling out.
  8. Tuck the side nearest you over and roll! Voila! You just made a breakfast burrito.
  9. Now wrap the burrito in plastic wrap or something like it to keep it fresh. I put all of the burritos into a large plastic bag to help contain them in my freezer.
  10. To reheat from frozen: Place burritos in the microwave from 1 1/2 minutes. Enjoy!

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Homemade Butter

Making your own butter isn’t just for the off-the-grid homesteaders or Amish. Making your own butter is actually quick, easy and CHEAP! I honestly don’t understand why butter costs so much at the store. Depending on the brand its $4.00-$5.00 per pound; store brand is even $3.00 per pound, on “sale”.  You’re 20 minutes away from having both 1 pound of butter and 1 pint of buttermilk for $3.75!

*I highly recommend using a stand mixer, but a hand mixer would work too. *

Directions are based on a Kitchen-aid mixer.

What you need:

1 quart of Heavy Whipping Cream

1. Pour heavy whipping cream into mixing bowl.  Place the cover over the bowl and drape a towel over the back of the mixer. Mix on speed 6 for 2 minutes. This is to thicken up cream before you increase the speed lest you splash cream all over the kitchen. IMG_1429

2. Increase the speed to 8 for 2 more minutes. After 2 minutes you will have whipped cream. IMG_1431

 

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Cover the pouring spout before increasing the speed.

3. Increase speed to 10 for 6-7 minutes. Stop the mixer when you start noticing lots of splashing. This means the fat has separated and you have butter and buttermilk. This is what it will look like:

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4. Take the bowl out. Get the remaining curds out of the whisk. Use a spoon (I’ve found a wooden spoon to work best.) to paddle or smash together the curds. You want to start smashing the butter into a big ball to separate out the buttermilk. IMG_1434

5. Start pouring off some of the buttermilk. Use a strainer to catch any curds. Alternate smashing together the butter and pouring off buttermilk until you have about 2 cups of buttermilk. You’re ready to wash your butter when it is nearly solid.

6. Washing your butter. Yes, you’re about to wash butter and here’s why! Remaining buttermilk will cause your butter to spoil. Using cold water, pour about a cup of water over your butter. Smash your butter around, fold it, mash out air pockets, pour off the water and repeat until the water pours off clear. Once the water pours off clear, your butter is ready to enjoy! IMG_1437

Royally Cheap Tip: Buttermilk will keep beautifully in the freezer until you are ready to use it. I like to measure it out and freeze it. Put it down in the fridge to thaw. Freezing does cause the fats to separate; simply shake thoroughly before using. (Try using it in this amazing Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe – coming soon!)

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.