Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie ~ NEW 31 Days of Freezer Cooking Recipe! and more...

Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie ~ NEW 31 Days of Freezer Cooking Recipe!

Tater Tot Shepherd's Pie on 5DollarDinners.com

It’s often joked in the mom circles that you lose brain cells with each kid you have. So I wonder if that means that I’ve have 4x less than I had before the little dudes showed up. And I wonder if I get an ‘all-boy-handicap’ of sorts. Because oh-my-holy-guacamole…they make me crazy sometimes.

For the most part I’m used to their level of busy-ness and movement, but sometimes I just want to push the pause button. Or scream at the top of my lungs FREEEEEEEEEEZE. Because oh-my-holy-guacamole. Just be still for one minute. Please.

It’s this meal that makes me wonder if I really am losing my mind. A few weeks back, I hit up the local grocery store during their ‘frozen sale’ and stocked up on a number of different types and sizes of hash browns, sweet potato fries, waffle fries and tater tots. In my mind, the tater tots were in one of the larger bags that I had purchased. You know, the mind that’s swirling and trying to keep tabs on the boys as they run around the backyard and ride their bikes and cars out in the cul de sac…often reminding, “remember…please don’t do anything that might result in a trip to the ER.” Seriously, I say that at least twice a week.

So back to this dinner we enjoyed.

I was browning the ground beef and getting the veggies ready, while rinsing out lunch boxes and mixing up batter for the next round of muffins, when I went to pull out the tater tots from the freezer. I grabbed the bag. And it was one of the smaller bag. NOT the larger bag that I remembered in my head. I let out an audible SIGH.

But had to run with it, we were going to have this Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie anyways!!!

(Why tater tots and not mashed potatoes?! Because I was too busy that afternoon swirling around the kitchen to whip up mashed potatoes!)

Lazy Mom's Shepherd's Pie

Hope you enjoy this slightly easier version of shepherd’s pie!

Note: There is a print link embedded within this post, please visit this post to print it.

Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie

Yield – 4 to 6 servings, 9×13 inch baking dish

Preparation Time – 25 minutes

Cooking Time – 25 minutes


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp minced onion
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • BBQ sauce or ketchup
  • 3 cups frozen mixed veggies, cooked and drained
  • 18 oz. bag tater tots (or larger)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Brown the ground beef with the minced onion and garlic powder. Drain.
  • Add the browned ground beef to the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Add several lines of BBQ sauce or ketchup over the ground beef. Add the mixed veggies over the top and then spread the tater tots on top. Lastly, add the shredded cheddar cheese over the tater tots.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until tater tots are warmed and cheese has melted.
  • Serve Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie.
  • To Freeze: Prepare the casserole as directed. After you sprinkle the cheese on top, you can cover the disposable baking tray or casserole dish with foil and freeze. To reheat: let thaw and bake as directed. If cooking from partially thawed or frozen, bake twice as long…half of the time covered with the foil and the other of half of the time uncovered.

Bulgur and Pesto Stuffed Bell Peppers

Bulgur and Pesto Stuffed Bell Peppers | 5DollarDinners.com

Have you ever noticed that certain genres of meals lend themselves perfectly to using up just about any leftovers?

Here’s an example. Oatmeal will accept any random leftover fruit to be stirred into the cooking process.  I once found one loan pear slice stashed in the bottom of the freezer. It got chopped and added in with the rest of the dried fruit on hand.

Then there’s soup. A few extra peas leftover from dinner a few nights ago add color to a soup and texture to even a blended soup. Any random vegetable can be tossed in.

Erin has even blogged about a Shipwreck Casserole meant as a way to use up a mixture of leftovers.

Recently, I found one more carrier that is blessed to morph into an amazing meal no matter ingredients are added in. And that winner is the beautiful and colorful stuffed bell pepper.

Think about it.

They hold any cooked grain. Think risotto, rice, or quinoa (and become a fast one-dish meal if that grain is a leftover!) Bell peppers are popular in all cuisines–Italian, Mexican, and Mediterranean–which means they cook well in any sauce. And roasted bell peppers can be served hot or cold. So a chilled roasted bell pepper can be stuffed with a cold grain salad for a speedy supper that looks and tastes amazing while making your life easier because you’re cleaning out your refrigerator.

And that’s exactly how this recipe came about. My two-year-old picked out bell peppers for Daddy at the grocery store. And I came home to a half a cup of leftover homemade carrot-top pesto (which accounts for the unusually dark color) and leftover bulgur wheat from a salad.

Light bulb moments that turn into amazing suppers. That’s what this is.

Note: If you are new to bulgur wheat, then it’s sort of an alternative to quinoa as a whole wheat grain with high protein, high fiber, and low calories.  A huge advantage to bulgur wheat is it’s partially cooked already so it’s quick to make!

Note: There is a print link embedded within this post, please visit this post to print it.

Bulgur and Pesto Stuffed Bell Peppers

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 10 minutes

Cooking Time – 45 minutes for rice cooker bulgur, 55 minutes for stuffed bell peppers


  • 1 cup cooked bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 2 bell peppers, halved and cored
  • Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, optional
  • Extra virgin olive oil, optional


  • To cook bulgur wheat, follow package directions for cooking in a rice cooker or in the microwave.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Spoon bulgur and pesto mixture evenly into each of the bell peppers.

Bulgur and Pesto Stuffed Bell Peppers3

  • Top with grated cheese of choice.
  • Drizzle with optional olive oil if the mixture and bell peppers look dry.

Bulgur and Pesto Stuffed Bell Peppers4

  • You can cover your bell pepper with foil here to keep the peppers from drying out. But I like a crust-like top.
  • Bake for 50 minutes or until peppers have a lovely wrinkled appearance and cheese browns to your liking.

Bulgur and Pesto Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • Enjoy!

31 Days of Freezer Cooking Recipes: Freezer Smoothies – Make Ahead

8 Freezer Friendly Smoothie Recipes | 5DollarDinners.com

If you’re like me, you don’t have a moment to spare on weekday mornings. I love to have smoothies for breakfast…so having them prepped ahead of time and all the ingredients I need for each batch of smoothie really makes my busy mornings go smoother. (Pun intended.)

Set aside a few minutes on the weekend or when you have the energy on a weekday evening and package up what you would normally add to the blender in a quart size freezer baggie. Pour some milk or yogurt into an ice cube tray, then freeze and add 2-3 cubes to each of the baggies. Fill in with your favorite fruits and freeze it all up!

Below are a few of my favorite smoothie recipes:

Plus, an extra smoothie freezing tip:

Favorite Freezer Cooking Supplies:

31 days of freezer cooking square

While I love being in the kitchen, I need to make my time spent cooking as efficient as possible…and how I accomplish that is with batch cooking, freezer cooking and keeping easy and quick meals or ingredients ready to go in the freezer. This month, I’ll be sharing all my favorite freezer cooking recipes, tricks, hacks and how-tos.

See all of the 31 Days of Freezer Cooking recipes and tips here!


Checkout 51: Save on Bananas, Pineapple Juice, and Salad Mix

Checkout 51 Savings on Bananas, Pineapple Juice, and Salad Mix|5dollardinners.com

New coupons have been added to the free coupon app, Checkout 51, including savings on the following items:

  • Bananas, excludes frozen = cash back 25¢
  • DOLE Pineapple Juice, any canned, excludes chilled and frozen  = cash back 75¢
  • Salad mix, any variety pre-packaged, excludes loose produce = cash back 25¢

Check out the free grocery app, Favado, to see where Bananas, Pineapple Juice, and Salad Mix are on sale for you to save this week!

Sign up and save with Checkout 51 today!

Remember that some offers are regional, but the more you use Checkout 51, the more offers will be available to you.

See all the details to maximize your savings with Checkout 51 here!


Coconut Key Lime Bread ~ NEW 31 Days of Freezer Cooking Recipe

Coconut Key Lime Bread on 5DollarDinners.com

Last week a dream came true for me. This dream has been 2 years in the making. Not long after I found out I was pregnant with Cuatro in the summer of 2012, a terrible longing for the beach came over me. Like, a crazy longing. To be at the beach, by myself…with my girlfriends. (My husband is a mountain guy, so a beach vacation with him might be a bad idea!)

When you have young kiddos going on vacation as a family kinda like a crisis. And it’s also very expensive.

So when the opportunity came up for me to go on a beach vacation with the girls in the Turks & Caicos Islands, I JUMPED at the chance! My husband is very excited that I get to go on this beach vacation I’ve been longing for over 2 years…as maybe now I’ll stop “whining” about not being able to go to the beach! And I’m VERY grateful to my husband for holding down the fort while I was away…sitting on the beach…with my toes in the white sand…

Now that I’m home and have quenched my thirst for a beach getaway, I decided a little tropical reminder of my time away…in the form of Coconut Key Lime Bread…was in order!

I made 2 loaves…one for our family and one for our neighbors…and #2 boys declared this the best bread he’s ever eaten IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. (He really shouted!) And has asked me to make it every day.

Coconut Key Lime Bread

Note: This recipe is easy to half if you just want to make 1 loaf. (Although I’m not sure why you’d only want 1 loaf of this bread…it’s just that good that you’ll be glad you have a second loaf waiting for you after you polish off the first loaf.)

Note: There is a print link embedded within this post, please visit this post to print it.

Coconut Key Lime Bread

Adapted from Taste of Home Key Lime Bread

Yield – 24 slices, 2 9×5 loaf pans

Preparation Time – 15 minutes

Cooking Time – 50 to 55 minutes


  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 key limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Coconut Lime Glaze

  • 2 key limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sweetened coconut flakes, finely chopped
  • Drops of milk, if needed to thin the glaze


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray 2 9×5-inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a stand mixer bowl or using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until creamy batter forms.
  • Add the zest and juice from 2 key limes, the vanilla and mix until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and mix together. Mix in the milk, then fold in the coconut flakes.
  • Spoon and scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until knife comes out of the middle clean. Let cool on cooling racks for about an hour.
  • Prepare the glaze in a small bowl by mixing the zest and juice from 1 key lime with the powdered sugar. If needed, add a few drops of milk to thin out the glaze. Mix in the finely chopped shredded coconut, then pour the glaze of the tops of both loafs of bread.
  • To Freeze: Freeze before adding the glaze. Let cool completely and freezer the loaf whole, or slice into snack or dessert size portions and freeze individually in small plastic baggies.
  • To Thaw: Whole loaf – let thaw in the fridge overnight, then on the countertop until thaw. Glaze before serving. Slices – let thaw on the countertop for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle some of the glaze on the pieces as you serve them.

More Recent Articles

Click here to safely unsubscribe from "Recipes, Printable Coupons | $5 Dinners™ » Recipes." Click here to view mailing archives, here to change your preferences, or here to subscribePrivacy