A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned -
Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Freezing Meals

This is my week of not buying groceries and eating what I have. See blog post here. The past few weeks I've been looking into the best way to freeze meals and found some great recipes for making meals and freezing them. Recipes here I have quite a few meals frozen to use this week. Instead of making a recipe in a 9x13 pan, I use two square pans so that I can cook the meal in the toaster oven and not heat up the house too much while the temperatures are still in triple digits. I cook one and freeze the other. These recipes all seem to freeze well. Arroz con Pollo is my favorite. One change I do make is to cook the chicken first. I cook it in the crockpot.

Here are some recipes that were featured on the Nate Show.

Baked Pesto Ravioli with Chicken
Serves: 6
Equipment: One 9 x 13 inch baking dish, large mixing bowl, 2 resealable freezer bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil
Shopping List
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 pounds cheese-filled ravioli
1 ½ pounds grated Parmesan
 
16 ounces canned low-sodium chicken broth
6 medium zucchini
2 15-ounce cans diced red bell peppers
2 medium yellow onions
12 ounces basil pesto
Salt
Pepper
Ingredients
For One Dish
For Three Dishes
Cheese filled ravioli
2 pounds
6 pounds
Sliced ½ inch, cooked chicken breasts
1 ½ cups
4 ½ cups
Chicken broth
2/3 cup
2 cups
Zucchini, cut into ½ rounds
2 cups
6 cups
Red bell peppers
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Chopped onions
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Basil pesto
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Salt
½ teaspoon
1 ½ teaspoons
Pepper
½ teaspoon
1 ½ teaspoons
Grated Parmesan
1 cup
3 cups
Directions
Prepare the baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine the ravioli, chicken, chicken broth, zucchini, red bell peppers, onions, pesto, salt, pepper and Parmesan in a large mixing bowl. Stir gently to mix ingredients. If making three batches, divide the mixture equally among the baking dish and two resealable freezer bags.
For dinner tonight:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour or until bubbly.
To freeze:
Seal the freezer bags tightly. Label, date and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and cook as directed above.


Tuna Tortellini Gratin

Serves 6
Equipment: Three 9 x 13-inch baking dishes, plastic wrap, heavy-duty aluminum foil
Shopping List
36 ounces albacore tuna
2 ½ pounds canned Alfredo sauce
5 pounds fresh cheese-filled tortellini, 2 lb dry
12 ounces white wine
Olive oil
30 ounces packaged bread crumbs
2 medium yellow onions
 
2 red bell peppers
Prepare the baking dish(es) with non-stick cooking spray.
Ingredients
For One Dish
For Three Dishes
Cooked, filled cheese-tortellini
3 cups
9 cups
Canned albacore tuna, drained
1 cup
3 cups
Chopped red bell peppers
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Diced onions
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Canned or jar Alfredo sauce
1 ½ cup
4 ½ cups
White wine
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Salt
1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon
Pepper
½ teaspoon
1 ½ teaspoons
Bread Crumbs
1 cup
3 cups
Olive oil
3 tablespoons
½ cup and 1 tablespoon
Directions
Combine the tortellini, tuna, red bell peppers, onions, Alfredo sauce, wine, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish (es), dividing equally among three if making a triple batch. Sprinkle 1 cup of bread crumbs over the top of each dish. Drizzle olive oil over top if desired.
For dinner tonight:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the foil and slide the dish under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.
To freeze:
Cover the dishes with plastic wrap and foil. Label, date and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and cook as directed above.



Arroz con Pollo
Serves: 6
Equipment: Three 9 x 13-inch baking dishes

Shopping List
24 ounces white rice
3 15-ounces canned black beans
24 ounces frozen yellow corn kernels
 
18 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (9 breasts)
Garlic salt
12 ounces canned chicken broth
24 ounces salsa
24 ounces marinara sauce
2 medium red bell peppers
9 scallions
Fresh cilantro
Ground cumin
Fresh garlic or 1 8-ounce jar minced garlic
1 pound assorted low-fat cheeses, or pre-packaged grated cheeses (Monterey jack, cheddar, mozzarella)
 Ingredient
For One Dish
For Three Dishes
Rice, cooked
2 cups
6 cups
Black beans, drained
2 cups
6 cups
Frozen corn
1 cup
3 cups
Chicken
6 boneless, skinless cutlets
18 boneless, skinless cutlets
Garlic salt
1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon
Pepper
¼ teaspoon
¾ teaspoon
Chicken broth
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Salsa
1 cup
3 cups
Marinara sauce
1 cup
3 cups
Sliced red pepper
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Chopped scallions
½ cup
1 ½ cups
Chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup
¾ cup
Cumin
¼ teaspoon
¾ teaspoon
Minced garlic
1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon
Grated cheese
1 cup
3 cups
Directions
Prepare the baking dish(es) with non-stick cooking spray.
Spread 2 cups of the rice over the bottom of each of the baking dishes. Layer 2 cups of the beans, 1 cup of the corn, and 6 chicken cutlets over the rice. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the garlic salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper over each of the chicken. Set aside.
Combine the chicken broth, salsa, spaghetti sauce, red peppers, scallions, cilantro, cumin and minced garlic in a large mixing bowl. Divide the marinara sauce mixture equally over the chicken, in each dish if making a triple batch. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over the sauce in each dish.
For dinner tonight:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake, uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until internal temperature of the chicken breasts reaches 165?F.
To freeze:
Cover 2 dishes with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Label, date, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and cook as directed above.


Veggie Pasta Shells

Freeze these jumbo stuffed shells either in a casserole covered with sauce, or freeze the individual shells in small bags without the sauce. That way you can take out one or two and zap in the microwave for a fast lunch.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients:
·         24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
·         1 (10-ounce) can vegetable broth
·         1 carrot, minced
·         1 potato, peeled and diced
·         1 onion, finely chopped
·         2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
·         1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
·         1 egg
·         1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
·         1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
·         1 (28-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
·         1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preparation:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse, drain, and let cool.

In a large saucepan, heat broth to boiling. Stir in carrots, potatoes and onions and cook 3-4 minutes until vegetables are tender. Drain vegetables well. Combine with ricotta, mozzarella, egg, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Stir in Italian seasoning. Fill each cooked and cooled shell with this cheese mixture.

Pour 1/2 cup of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer on the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

To freeze, refrigerate at this point until cold. Then wrap, label, and freeze up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw whole casserole overnight in refrigerator. Bake as directed below, adding 15-20 minutes to baking time. To thaw and reheat individual shells, microwave on 40% power for 2-4 minutes until thawed. Then microwave on 60% power for 1-3 minutes until hot and bubbly.

To bake immediately, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly.
Note: This is a cooking recipe, which means that ingredient amounts do not have to be precise. Use the carrot, potato, and onion you have on hand. Just use common sense.
Chicken Potato Casserole

This super simple and delicious recipe is perfect to freeze ahead of time, then thaw and bake on nights when you just can't face the kitchen.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes
Ingredients:
·         10 oz. can condensed reduced fat and sodium cream of chicken soup
·         1 cup sour cream
·         1/4 cup milk
·         2 cups cubed cooked chicken
·         1-1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
·         3-1/2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
·         1-1/2 cups frozen peppers and onions, thawed
·         1-1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
·         1-1/2 cups crushed potato chips
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine soup, sour cream, milk, chicken and 1-1/4 cups cheese. Spread three-quarters of this mixture in a greased 2-quart baking dish.
Sprinkle hash browns and peppers and onions over the top of the casserole and press down lightly, then top vegetables with remaining soup mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and potato chips.
Bake casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. 8 servings
To freeze, assemble casserole as directed, except do not thaw potatoes, peppers, or onions and do not sprinkle with potato chips. Wrap casserole in freezer wrap or heavy duty foil and freeze. Reserve potato chips in pantry. To thaw and bake, let thaw overnight in refrigerator. Uncover and bake at 350 degrees F for 60-70 minutes until bubbly. Then top with crushed potato chips and bake 5-10 minutes longer.


Vegetable Chicken Casserole
This hearty dish cooks entirely in the microwave oven. Follow the directions for freezing and you'll have dinner ready in minutes.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes
Ingredients:
·         8 oz. medium egg noodles
·         1 cup water
·         1-1/2 cups chicken broth
·         16 oz. pkg. frozen broccoli, cauliflower and red peppers, thawed
·         1 onion, chopped
·         2 cups chopped cooked chicken
·         1/2 tsp. garlic powder
·         1/2 tsp. salt
·         1/4 tsp. pepper
·         1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Preparation:
In 3 quart microwave safe casserole dish, mix noodles, water and chicken broth. Cover with lid and microwave on high for 6 minutes, stirring once during cooking. Add vegetables, onion, chicken and seasonings. Cover and microwave on high for 7-9 minutes, stirring once during cooking, until vegetables are hot and crisp tender and noodles are tender.
Stir in half of cheese and mix well. Sprinkle casserole with remaining cheese. Cook, uncovered, on high for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.
To freeze casserole, do not thaw vegetables. Cook noodles as directed above and then cool in refrigerator until cold. Add vegetables, onion, chicken, seasonings, and half of cheese; sprinkle with remaining cheese, wrap well, label, and freeze up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator. Microwave on medium for 3-5 minutes, stirring once. Then microwave on high for 1-3 minutes until noodles and vegetables are tender and casserole is thoroughly heated. 4-6 servings



Meatball Stew
The inspiration for this recipe, Meatball Stew En Casserole is rich, delicious and wonderful. This version is much easier and just as good, using some of my favorite convenience foods.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 8-10
Ingredients:
·         1-1/2 lbs. frozen fully cooked meatballs
·         9 oz. pkg. baby carrots
·         1 onion, chopped
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         2 Tbsp. olive oil
·         8 oz. pkg. button mushrooms, sliced
·         10 oz. can low sodium cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic
·         1/2 cup milk
·         1/4 tsp. nutmeg
·         1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
·         1 tsp. onion salt
·         16 oz. pkg. frozen baby peas, thawed
·         1 container refrigerated mashed potatoes
·         1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preparation:
Bake meatballs as directed on package, or make and bake two batches of Easy Meatballs. Set aside. In small saucepan, cook baby carrots in water to cover until barely tender. Drain and set aside.
In heavy saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add mushrooms and cook and stir 3 minutes. Stir in canned soup, milk, nutmeg, marjoram, and onion salt. Gently stir in cooked meatballs, thawed peas, and cooked carrots. Pour into 3 qt. casserole dish.
Prepared mashed potatoes as directed on package, adding Parmesan cheese. Spoon dollops around the edge of the casserole. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until potatoes are browned and casserole is bubbly.
To freeze ahead, leave meatballs frozen or bake and cool homemade meatballs. Do not precook carrots. Saute onion and garlic in oil, add mushrooms and cook, then stir in canned soup, milk, nutmeg, marjoram, and onion salt. Chill this mixture in refrigerator, then stir in frozen meatballs, carrots, and frozen peas. Place in casserole dish, wrap well, label, and freeze up to 3 months. Store mashed potatoes in refrigerator and Parmesan cheese in fridge.
To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered, at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until casserole bubbles around edges. Uncover casserole, then combine potatoes and Parmesan cheese and spoon around edge of casserole. Bake for 15-20 minutes longer until potatoes are browned and casserole is bubbly.

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