Category Archives: large batch cooking

Soup Swap

I forgot to take pictures and I’m disappointed.  People brought yummy soups that I am so excited to pull out of the freezer, and we had a lot of fun visiting. I’m going to tell you what we did and what I’d do differently, if you want to plan your own swap. (and you totally should)

The directions were pretty simple: each participant needed to make 6 quarts (24 cups) of soup, and prepackaged them in 4 containers that held 6 cups of soup each (people can bring more if they want, everyone will go home with the same amount they brought). Some people brought the Ziploc type tupperwares, and a lot of people used freezer zip loc bags. Either is great. Have them label the containers clearly before coming, and bring enough copies of the recipe for each person who will be there.

After everyone gets there and you’ve all had a chance to eat some snacks and visit, we each went around and told about the soup we brought, then drew numbers to see who got to pick their soups first. We repeated the rotation until everyone took home as much soup as they brought.

What I’d do differently: Some girls suggested a great idea – have everyone bring enough soup for the swap, then extra in a container for everyone to taste before swapping. Genius. Use the mini Dixie cups for tasting. We’ll so do this next time. Also, we had some friends who wanted to come but couldn’t because of sickness, recovery from surgery – whatever. I think next time it would be great to have people bring an extra container of soup, if they can, so we can deliver it to the friends who were sick or recovering or just had a baby or fill in the blank, and couldn’t make it. Call it “Soup Swap and Service” or something. Oh – we had 10 people this week, but last time I think we had 15 or 16. I think 10-20 people works great, but you can do it with only 5!

I’ll be posting the recipes from this soup swap here. There was nothing that sounded just “fair” – everyone made recipes that I can’t wait to dig into, and there were some soups I didn’t get to take home that I was dying to try (I was #9 of 10 for picking!) that I’ll be making pronto.


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.


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.


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.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

We serve this on top of rice, with some frozen veggie on the side.  Can’t get easier than that.   Again,k this is a bit more time consuming when making it, but worth it in the end.

From Fix, Freeze, Feast – Makes 6 entrees, about 20 meatballs each

1 tray (about 6 pounds) lean ground beef
2 cups dry bread crumbs
2/3 cup milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced onion
2 T minced garlic (about 18 cloves)
1 T salt
2 t black papper

2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 (106 ounce) can pineapple tidbits (NOT crushed), drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

Preheat your oven to 500.  Combine all of the meatball ingredients well and shape into 1″ meatballs, placing finished pieces close together on lightly greased baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes or until done.  Cool meatballs.

While meatballs are baking, mix the brown sugar and cornstarch in large pot.  Add pineapple juice, soy sauce and vinegar; stir.  cook over medium heat, stiriring occassionaly, until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.  Cool sauce.

Divide cooled meatballs and sauce evenly between freezer bags.  Divide pineapple tidbits evenly among bags.  Seal and freeze.


Completely thaw in fridge.  Heat through – you can do it in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, in the slow cooker on low for 2-5 hours, or on the stove top until done.

*I added some onion and carrot to ours.  Green bell pepper would be good, too.

Mariachi Chicken Rolls

This is another one of our very favorites from the freezer.  It’s more time consuming when you make it, but it’s one of the first ones I grab when I go to the freezer to pick a dinner.  I have to remember to buy fresh chicken breasts to make this – you don’t want to defrost the Costco pre-frozen chicken breasts, assemble the dinner, and refreeze without cooking.  I had always read the cream cheese isn’t a good thing to use in a freezer dinner, but this thaws and works just great.

From Fix, Freeze, Feast – Makes about 3 entrees, about 4 servings each

1 tray (about 6 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken half-breasts
1 large red bell pepper, diced
4 scallions, chopped
1 (2 1/4 ounce) can chopped black olives (about 1/2 cup)
3 (8 ounce) packages light cream cheese, cubed and softened
3 cups prepared salsa

Combine pepper, scallions, and black olives in a small bowl and set aside.  Blend cream cheese and salsa in a large bowl with electric mixer. Set aside.

Rinse and trim chicken.  Slightly flatten each breast to make each one the same flatness.  Place 2 T of pepper mixture near the wide end of the breast, roll the chicken around the filling.  Repeat with remaning chicken pieces. 

To freeze: I wrap each chicken roll tightly in saran wrap.  It holds its shape while cooking this way.  I then divide the cream cheese mixture evenly into zip loc bags.  Then I combine one bag of sauce with the rolled up breasts and food saver each entree together.  Voila.


Thaw completely in the fridge.  Preheat oven to 350.  Place chicken in an 8″ square dish and cover with sauce.  Bake, covered, for 1 hour or until chicken is 170 degrees.

Basic Red Sauce

From Fix, Freeze, Feast.  You could buy your own basic marinara, or use this.  It’s cheap, fast and easy to throw together and we have really liked the flavor.

makes about 10 cups

1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste
2 c hot water
2 T dried parsley
2 T minced onion
1 T minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
1 T sugar
2 t salt
1/2 t dried basil (I use more)
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried thyme
1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes

makes about 40 cups, or 10 quarts, or 2 1/2 gallons
4 (12 ounce) cans tomato paste
8 cups hot water
1/2 cup dried parsley
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/4 cup sugar
2 T salt
2 T dried basil
2 T dried oregano
2 t dried thyme
4 (28 ounce) cans tomato sauce
4 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes

Mix tomato paste and hot water in a large stockpot until smooth.  Stir in everything else and stir well.  DO NOT cook.  Use in your recipe, or divide into 1 gallon freezer bags for later use.