Monday, October 8, 2012

Freezer Meals

Back before we moved I mentioned (on FB) that I had made some casseroles and put them in the freezer to help us not eat a ton of fast food during the moving process.  It was a hit!  Since several of you asked, I thought I'd let you know what I made and how they turned out.
I actually only made three recipes, but got five meals out of it.  Two of these normally fill a 9x13 baking dish, but there's always a bunch left over so I split them into two 8x8 dishes.  Also, I used the foil containers so that I could just toss them when we were done.  That worked out great!
If you know my cooking skills, then you know these are not gourmet meals but they are good and they work for us.

Let me know if you have any deliciousness to add to my short list of freezer meals!

#1:  Chicken Casserole
This is a regular around here and the recipe can be found here (just scroll down to the bottom of that post).  I've made that casserole approximately one bo-jillion times and have only ever boiled the chicken...this time I baked it and it was way better!  If you have the time to bake the chicken, it's the way to go. I almost always use frozen chicken.  It's more cost efficient to buy meat in bulk and freeze it rather than just in the pack that you need for that night, so that's what we do.  A lot of times I'm not thinking ahead enough to thaw the chicken so I'd just boil it.  This time I was on top of things, so I thawed it, drizzled it with EVOO and seasoned with- you guessed it- Nature's Seasons.  Since I didn't know what I was doing I texted my sister. :)  Then I set the chicken to bake on 375 for about 40 minutes.
When this casserole was done, it was a little juicier than normal.  I'm not sure if that's because it was frozen or because I baked the chicken.  Either way, it's one I'll do again.

#2:  Mexican Casserole
When I was given this recipe from one of my gal pals, it was intended to be a vegetarian dish.  I've made it without meat, with chicken, and with ground beef.  All are good, but our favorite is with ground beef.  
The only thing you have to prepare ahead is the meat.  I browned, seasoned, and drained the meat before adding it to my mixing bowl.  Everything else is tossed in and stirred together.  Then, just spoon it into the baking dish.  

15.5 oz can whole corn, drained 
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
10 oz can whole diced tomatoes with green chiles (I use Rotel.)
8 oz sour cream
8 oz salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 cups cooked white rice
I usually sprinkle additional shredded cheese on top, either before I bake it or when I'm serving it.
You could also add chopped green onions, black olives, or whatever other toppings you dig on.  
Bake on 350 for 45 or 50 minutes.  
*When I was ready for this one, I thawed it out but it still took a little longer to warm all the way through than it does if I don't freeze it.  
As with all Mexican dishes, we eat this with chips and salsa.

#3:  Baked Penne with Sausage & Creamy Ricotta
I had never made this dish before (it was a Pinterest find), but it looked awesome and was "in the freezes beautifully section of my cookbook."  If you're not familiar with the quote, you should watch Steel Magnolias!
Anyway, I was a little nervous about this because I've never bought or cooked Italian sausage before.  I did it.  It was fine.  
The recipe calls for ground fennel, but I didn't have that or feel the need to buy it.  It also says to use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, but mostly I had Mozzarella and Parmesan so that's what I used. 
It was good, and I've added this one to my regular rotation cookbook.

We're loving the new digs!
We've already met some of the neighbors (which is a little out of my comfort zone, but is going well) and the kiddos are having a great time finding new places to play and ride their bikes!
I'm thankful that God blesses me instead of giving me what I deserve.

They were talking to Daddy on the phone.  I love to see those happy faces!

He's fascinated with the leaves.

Have a great Monday!

Now, I'd better get to packing since we're leaving for Orlando in less than 48 hours!!

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