Category Archives: freezer cooking

The freezer meals post…

So for Shanelle and Lauren the others who asked what meals I made on the marathon cooking morning the other month, here is the info for you, finally.

My favorite freezer cooking books have been Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer, and Fix, Freeze, Feast. I am picking up Don’t Panic, More Dinner’s in the Freezer from the library this weekend. Really, though, you don’t have to stick to fancy cookbooks or special pinterest recipes.  I haven’t had good luck freezing recipes with potatoes well, but most of your “go-to” family recipes are likely freezer friendly. Some people say don’t freeze recipes with milk, cream or cream cheese – we’ve usually done just fine with those. Most soups freeze amazingly well and they’re so easy to double and triple.

And also – if a big cooking morning (which means a big kitchen cleaning afternoon for me) is too much for you – one of the other tricks I like to do is once or twice a week, cook two or three of whatever you’re making that night for dinner.  Eat one, freeze the other one (or two). Ta da. Much more manageable than planning a big cooking day.

I usually put each meal in a ziploc, then put that ziploc inside Food Saver bag and sealed it on up. This time I bought super cheap tin pans (18-25 cents) from the restaurant supply store so I could just place each meal in the pan, stick the pan inside a Food Saver bag, and seal it there. On cooking day we cut the bag open and just stick the pan in the oven, then throw the pan away. Sweet.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole x3
Chicken Parmigana x3
Cream cheese salsa chicken x 3 (was supposed to be Mariachi chicken rolls but I forgot to buy two ingredients, so made this instead – was just cream cheese and salsa blended, poured over breasts)
Chicken Satay x3
Buttermilk Herb Chicken Breasts x3
Chicken with Pesto Butter x3
Lemon Glazed Chicken Breasts x3
Loaded Baked Potato Soup x3 (was advertised as a freezer recipe but didn’t do great in the freezer – needed a bunch of work to make good the next day, so I won’t link until I figure out a better freezer version)

This manicotti is another of our freezer faves.  I’ve been bad at adding the new recipes we’ve tried and loved; should get back in the habit again.

We ended up with 23 frozen meals for later (ate one of the potato soups that night). As for cost? I don’t know. I bought all the chicken the night before, on sale for $1.79/lb for the boneless skinless breasts. I spent about $75 on the chicken alone. I tried adding everything together but am guessing – I feel safe saying it was all well under $125 for 24 meals, which averages what…about $5/meal?. Some things like cream cheese were on sale for $1/8 oz, which is a huge sale and really helped – the potato soup and salsa chicken used a bunch of that.

Any questions?

Best Pumpkin Bread

One batch of this recipe made everything you see above.  And really, you want that much.  It’s delicious, and also freezes well.  Change around the spices to suit your tastes.

1 – 29 oz can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups oil
4 cups sugar
6 eggs

5 cups flour
1 T cinnamon
2 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t EACH: cloves, baking powder, baking soda, salt

Mix everything together and pour into well greased pans.  Bake at 350.  I did 20 minutes for the minis, about 28 minutes for the small, and 45-50 for the large (9X5).

Then lick the beaters.

enjoy

Tomato-Basil Soup

My friend, Heidi, brought this soup to our soup swap this week and we LOVED it.  Nathan is a huge fan of tomato soup, but I can’t stand the stuff in the can.  This has a hint of orange that makes it more full flavored.  From the cookbook Fix, Freeze, Feast.  As written, this recipe makes 3 entrees, each which serve 4 people.

1/2 cup butter
3 cups chopped onion (about 3 medium)
1 t minced garlic (3 cloves)
3 lbs Roma tomatoes, chopped
8 c chicken broth
1 T lime juice
pinch sugar
3/4 c chopped fresh basil leaves
zest of one orange

Melt butter in stockpot over low heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 15 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes, broth, lime juice and sugar; bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Stir in basil and orange zest.

Let soup cool slightly; transfer to a food processor and puree.  If you’re freezing for later, divide cooled soup into bags, seal and freeze.

 

Cilantro Lime Chicken Rice Bowl

I saw this recipe on Good Things Utah and didn’t think too much of it.  They had the girl back on to do an ice cream recipe, and one of the hosts kept talking about how she had made this rice bowl after the last show and it was unbelievable.  So I made it.  And we think it’s pretty darn yummy, too.  It goes together quite fast – don’t be intimidated by all the directions and sub-recipes below.  I made half the dressing, and we had plenty of leftovers.  I froze some chicken in the marinade for later, so it will be a quick dinner one night.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 ½ C cilantro lime marinade, recipe below or bottled Cilantro lime rice, recipe below
  • 1 C Mango salsa
  • ¾ C Sour cream
  • ½ C finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 ½ C Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Tomatillo Ranch Dressing, recipe below
  • Extra cilantro and limes, for garnish
  1. Place chicken breasts in a re-sealable plastic bag.  Add prepared marinade and mix to coat.  Marinate for 4 hours to overnight.
  2. While chicken is marinating, prepare tomatillo ranch dressing and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
  3. 30 minutes before removing chicken from marinade, prepare cilantro lime rice as directed. Set aside for later use.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and grill in skillet or on the grill.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes then shred with fork.
  5. While chicken is cooking, mix sour cream and ½ C chopped cilantro together.
  6. To compile rice bowl, place desired amount of rice in an oven safe bowl. (Preferably the same bowl you’ll serve it in)  Top rice with the following in this order: shredded chicken, cilantro sour cream, mango salsa, and finally shredded pepper jack cheese.
  7. Place rice bowl under the broiler just until cheese is melted and the dish is warmed through.  Serve with a drizzle of the tomatillo ranch dressing, garnish with cilantro and lime then enjoy!

Cilantro Lime Marinade

Ingredients

  • ¾ C vegetable oil
  • Juice and zest of two limes
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ C finely chopped cilantro

Preparation

  1. Add all ingredients except oil to a food processor or blender.
  2. Slowly drizzle oil in while food processor is running.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet
  • 1 C mayo
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 5 sml-med tomatillos
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded or not depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

Preparation

  1. Use a food processor to blend all the ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*This makes about 4 cups of dressings but will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
*Leftover dressing is fabulous on any fresh ‘south-of-the-border’-style chicken or pork salads.

Cilantro-Lime Rice

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked rice
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
zest of one lg lime
2 cups hot water
1 chicken bullion cube
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

  1. In a saucepan melt butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add hot water and bullion.
  3. As soon as water comes to a boil and bullion is dissolved, stir in rice and reduce heat to medium.
  4. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender.
  5. Remove from heat and add lime zest, juice, cilantro, garlic and sugar.
  6. Fluff rice with fork, stirring ingredients together as you do so.  Enjoy!

Layered Fiesta Casserole

Sometimes I jump on here to look up a recipe I need, and am shocked not to find it, since it’s an oft made favorite.  We’re having this for dinner tonight and I was surprised I hadn’t posted it yet.  The original is from Kraft food & Family Fall 2005.  I love it because it’s fast, easy, versatile (leave out some peppers, throw in some black beans, add some Mexican rice) and freezes fabulously (and makes a great dinner to take to a friend!).  Tonight I’m making three of these, and sticking 2 in the freezer for later.

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 jar (16 oz) salsa
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen corn, thawed
12 corn tortillas (6 inch)
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, divided

Preheat oven to 375.  Brown meat with peppers, stirring frequently; drain.  Stir in salsa, tomatoes and corn.  Bring to boil.

Spoon 1 cup meat mixture in bottom of 9X13″ baking dish,  Top with 6 tortillas, overlappin gas necessary.  Spoon half of remaining meat mixture over tortillas, top with 3/4 cup of cheese.  Top with remaining 6 tortillas and meat mixture.  Cover with foil.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until heated through.  Remove from oven, uncover.  Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.  Let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

**NOTES FOR FREEZING:

1) This works well in a 9″ round cake pan, which we usually have more of than 9X13s, and makes freezing easier.

2) layer your dish with foil, then saran wrap BEFORE you start to layer the food, and make sure there are “tails” of saran and foil coming over both edges.  Layer everything, cover with the saran and foil, and freeze BEFORE baking.

3) When the casserole is frozen through, take it out of the pan and then use your food saver (or zip loc) and label before freezing.

4) The extra 3/4 cup of cheese that you put on at the end of the recipe?  Stick the shredded cheese in a snack size zip lock bag and place it on top of the frozen casserole before you food saver (or zip loc) the food closed.

5) On baking day: peel off the saran and foil and place the frozen casserole in the pan you’ll be cooking it in to defrost, you won’t be able to get it off later without making a huge mess, and follow cooking directions above.

Easy Key Lime Pie

My friend, Heidi, made this for me one night and it was so good.  Also, I went into labor the next day, so her husband now calls this “pop it out pie”.

1 – 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 – 6 oz can frozen limeade, still frozen
1 cup heavy cream
1 – 6 ounce graham cracker pie crust
Zest of 1 lime for garnish

Beat the milk, limeade and cream until you get soft peaks.  Pour the filling into the pie crust.  Refridgerate until chilled – at least 4 hours, or up to overnight. Can also be frozen.  Sprinkle with zest before serving.