No Panic Here: I’ve got meals in my freezer!

Welcome back… it’s the final day of freezer cooking 101 with recipes included!  Hope you’re still along for the fun freezer ride and thinking about some friends you can round-up and start a Cooking Clan with VERY SOON!  The sooner you start, the sooner your panicky afternoons will be over  You know those days…

It’s 4:00 and you have nothing arranged to do with that frozen pound of ground beef???)  Oh no!  I shutter thinking back to those days.. glad they are over for ME!  

Get ready, this ones super-duper easy… but don’t let the ease keep you from making this one.  I introduced this to my mother-in-law and now she makes it all the time!  And she knows she can make it when the Grandkids are over and it’s a huge hit! 

Cheeseburger and Fries Casserole

Cheeseburger stak frie casserole[1] (2)

2 pounds lean ground beef, browned and drained

1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup   (whichever suits your family best)

1 can cheddar cheese soup

1 can veggies of your choice  (corn, beans, peas)

1 20 oz. Package frozen Oven French Fries or Steak Fries or Tater Tots 

Assembly day:

Add beef and soups together.  Spread in 9×13 sprayed pan.  Top with can of veggies  (drained)  Arrange fries on top.   Cover with foil.  FREEZE

Cooking day:

Completely thaw casserole.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until bubbly and fries are golden.     this is another great one to do on time bake.  Just put the pan directly from the freezer on a cookie sheet.  Set your oven and come home from work or a busy day and supper is DONE!

ENJOY!   Add a salad and your family will love you!

cheeseburgerfries[1] (2)

    We kind of like comfort food and I would say this next recipe fits in that category as well.  This recipe came from my Don’t Panic cookbook as “California Quiche” and we have adapted it to fit our families and it is now “Ham and Cheese Quiche”.  One of these quiches is NEVER enough for a family of 5 or 6 with hungry teenagers, so some of us make it in a long 9×13 tin pan and some of us  (Like me, now that I have one away at college) make 2 pie pans so we can EAT one the day of cooking… it’s just too GOOD to put in the freezer right away when you smell it baking… and 1 goes in the freezer for later!!!   Either way, this quiche will make a lover out of you.. And yes, real men DO eat Quiche….  I’ve got several of them in the family to prove it!! 

Ham & Cheese Quiche

ham cheese quiche[1] (2)

Makes  enough for 1 family   (either 2- 9 inch pies or 1 9×13 pie)

2 (9 inch) pie crusts

7  eggs

2 cups milk

2 1/2 cups ham, diced

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

3 1/2 cups of a combo of cheddar cheese, co-jack or mozzarella, shredded   (divided use)

salt and pepper to taste

Additional options:  Broccoli  (I do half broccoli, half not for my family) or Spinach.   You can also sprinkle over the top:  Bacon bits, Parmesan Cheese, Parsley, or any other spices your family loves.  We like all 3!

Assembly day:

IF using 1 long pan:  Roll out 2 pie crusts in the bottom of the pan, brining the crust up the sides like you would a pie. 

If using 2 crusts, roll out each in a 9 inch pie plate.  You will just split all the ingredients between the 2 pans when you assemble.

Beat eggs with milk and salt and pepper.  Spread the  co-jack or mozzarella cheese over the bottom of the pie crust.  Top with ham.  Pour the egg mix over top.  Top with cheddar cheese.    Bake at 400 degrees for 40 min. or until knife inserted is clean.  Cool completely.  Freeze in a Ziploc freezer bag if it fits or cover with tinfoil.

Cooking day:  Thaw completely in the frig.  Warm in the oven at 325 for 15 – 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

hcquiche[1] (2)

Now, just to confuse you a little, I have a new and improved way to do all this…. yes, even an old dog like me likes a new trick once in awhile.  I always used to bake this first (which is why we had to eat it that night due to great smells)  The last time I cooked with my new group, we decided to try this one without baking and just put them in the freezer raw!  (I checked and you can do that safely with eggs).  GUESS WHAT?!?!??!?!  My family loved the frozen one even better this way because we didn’t think the crust was as soggy.  Not that the other one was completely soggy, but this one just seemed to come out better all the way around….   so there you go…  a new trick and the treat is ALL yours for trying! 

  The “new & improved” way to cook this is:

From frozen (raw):  Thaw several hours and cook at 400 degrees for 1 hour uncovered.

YUM!

quiche[1] (2)

Smile  I’m smiling!  How about you????

  Weeelllll….. it’s time to bring you to the 6th and final Freezer Cooking meal  (sniff, sniff)  and this one might be last but it is certainly NOT least!  By now you’re getting a feel for what kind of recipes do well in the freezer and this one is NO exception. I encourage you to find more meals that your family enjoys and try putting them in the freezer!  It’s another highly requested meal, not because it’s the prettiest, but because it is simply yummy, creamy and Ok I have to say it ONE MORE TIME… COMFORT FOOD!  I mean really, what is not to love about meat, pasta and cheese.  In fact, my BFF, Kristi and I have a motto when we try new recipes to determine if they are keepers or not for our freezer cooking…. the more meat and cheese the better, so most of our recipes have been “pimped” accordingly!    Gotta love that!    And since we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving   (please enjoy that wonderful holiday with family and friends and don’t by pass it like our society wants to!) and you are probably going to have lots of leftover turkey just waiting for another creative use…. now you have one!  This recipe is equally as good with turkey……  so let’s get making some chicken or turkey tetrazzini already!

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazinni[1] (2)

2-1/2 or 3 cups broken spaghetti

3 -1/2 cups cooked chicken (cut up) (or Turkey)

1 cup sour cream

1 cup chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

1 can cream of  mushroom or Chicken soup

2 cups grated cheddar or co-jack cheese

1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce (optional) 

Assembly Day:

This recipe can either be done in a freezer bag or a Glad ware pan, which ever you have more room for in your freezer!

Cook and drain spaghetti. Mix all Ingredients together. Put In 9×13 baking dish. Cover and Freeze until ready to use. Can be frozen in a Ziploc bag too.  Rather than mix in a bowl, use the “Smoosh method”  SEE BELOW!

Cooking day:

Thaw completely  and pour bag contents into casserole dish to bake or bake in glad ware pan from freezer  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncovered.  You can also crock pot from the freezer bag.  Leave contents frozen (they are in a nice shape of your crock pot if you have been listening to bag instructions along the way )   From frozen, crock pot on low for 4-5 hours.  You are just re-warming and melting cheese, everything is already cooked.

Chk Tetrazinni[1] (2)

OFFICIAL SMOOSH METHOD: I can’t believe I waited until the LAST recipe to teach you the SMOOSH method!  Seriously, it’s the best. Rather than dirty another pan or dish, simply put all the ingredients in the bag and gently “smoosh” them around until the ingredients are well mixed.  Very simple.

Now you know the rest of the story and ALL the secrets there are to know about Freezer cooking…

OK maybe not every single one,  but pretty close!

THERE!  Don’t you feel REFRESHED???  Less panicky for sure about meal time???  GOOD, me too!   You now have all the tools to GET FREEZER COOKING!  I promise you’ll love it and miss it dearly if you ever have to stop for any reason.

And now it’s time to say goodbye and say a super huge THANK YOU TONYA for asking me to share your blog for 3 whole days!  It is quite an honor, because honestly, this blog is the only blog I personally follow daily and it’s AWESOME in every way!   

So until another time and place….

DON’T PANIC… IT’S IN THE FREEZER!!!!   (You can do it.. I believe in you!!)     

Your freezer fan,

Christy

Special thanks also to my BFF Kristi, for creating a Facebook group that we had already downloaded these recipes to, so I didn’t have to retype them. 🙂

  A BIG thank you to you, Christy, for working so hard to put together all these recipes and blog posts for our enjoyment!  I hope you will come back and guest blog for us again sometime!  This was SO FUN! 🙂  Love, T

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Freezer Cooking Day 2: I’m Baaa-ack & Armed with Recipes!

DON’T PANIC.. It’s In The Freezer…. 

I’m Baaaaack…. and armed with recipes!

  I know you didn’t sleep a wink last night just waiting on these super yummy freezer recipes I am about to share!  What, you slept like a baby?  Well, OK, I’ll just share them anyway.. but warning, your mouth might start watering and I am not responsible for drool clean up on your keyboard.   Seriously, over the years we have perfected some mighty fine recipes and I just know your family is going to enjoy them as much as we all do.  Most are super easy to make, economical for the food budget and just plain yummy to serve your family.   So without further ado:  Let’s get cooking!  (freezer style that is)cooking chicken bruscetta[1] (2)

First off is Chicken Bruschetta!  Have to say this one is great for company or just feeding a hungry bunch of teenagers.  Lots of Italian flavor to tingle your taste buds too!

Chicken Bruschetta

chk bruscetta[1] (2)

Ingredients:

1 can Italian style diced tomatoes, un-drained

1 1/4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded,  divided

1/4 cup fresh chopped basil  and 3 tsp. minced garlic  

OR  3 Tbsp. Homemade Gourmet Garlic Basil seasoning

1 pkg. Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken

8 small boneless Chicken breast halves 

1 small bottle Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing  (Or Zesty Italian)  Split 1 bottle between 2 pans

Mix tomatoes, 1/2 cup cheese and basil in a bowl.  Add stuffing mix, stir until moistened.

NOTE:  You will have enough stuffing mixture  and Dressing to do 2 recipes of this… so plan accordingly!!!

So if making 2 pans.. all you need for the 2nd pan is the chicken and cheese to top!  Very economical, sorry this one is hard to divide and make 1 pan .

Company’s coming directions:

Place 2 chicken breasts at a time in a freezer weight plastic bag.  Pound with a meat mallet until chicken is flattened to about 1/4 inch think.  Repeat with rest of chicken.   Spread each chicken breast with several Tbsp. of stuffing mix.  Roll up and put seam side down in a greased 9×13 pan.  Repeat with all chicken.   Drizzle 1/2 bottle of dressing over top of chicken.  top with remaining cheese.    At this point Cover with Foil and Freeze.

Cooking Clan’s PREFERRED directions:  

We are not LAZY, we’re just good time managers!  LOL 🙂   FORGET pounding the chicken… just lay the chicken in the sprayed pan, cover with Italian dressing, the stuffing, then cheese.  Freeze and bake as before… we found the stuffing doesn’t get as mushy this way and gets a bit crunchy which adds to the YUM factor 🙂

On cooking day:

  Thaw completely before baking.  Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 40 minutes or until chicken juices run clear and cheese is golden brown.Chicken bruscetta[1] (2)

A helpful hint for all of you that have timed bake on your oven… Pull freezer pan out of the freezer in the AM and place on a cookie sheet  (Glad ware pans we use can’t be baked above 400 degrees and also must cook on a cooking sheet…. just trust me, otherwise they start to sage and bend and it’s just not pretty!)

Onward to our next recipe:  Taco Soup! 

  tacosoupbeforefreezer[1] (2)

  This is hands down our favorite freezer soup because it is easy to assemble on cooking day and even easier when you put it in the crockpot on serving day.  It’s hearty, healthy  (lots of beans for protein) and even the picky kids in your family will love it!  

  As I write I am wrapped up in a blanket typing because it is a cold rainy day in Iowa and I would really LOVE a bowl of this RIGHT NOW…. Good thing I have another one of our favorites in the crockpot to enjoy when the family gets home… Chicken Tetrazzini… you get to peak at that one tomorrow!  

Taco Soup

Tacosoup-after[1] (2)

1 pound ground beef 1 small onion, chopped

1 can pinto beans (drain)

1 can black beans (drain)

1 can chili beans (do not drain)

1 can corn (drained) or 1 1/2 cup frozen kernels

1 small can green chili’s (optional)

1 pkg ranch dressing mix

1 pkg taco seasoning

1 can Tomato juice   (Just give a can of this to each of the cooking clan — they will add it later when they actually cook the soup)

Assembly day:

Brown hamburger and onion, drain.

Put all ingredients in a zip lock and freeze.

A little tip for using freezer bags:  If you have room in your freezer, I like to freeze my bags sitting in a small bowl that will fit in my crock pot… why?  Then your bag of frozen food goes directly into your crock pot on cooking

Taco soup-before[1] (2)

Cooking day:

Place frozen soup in the crockpot.  Pour in can of Tomato juice.  Cook all day in the Crockpot on low.

Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips, sour cream if desired

Ole’!

 

COMFORT FOOD:  Everyone loves it.  This next recipe is just oozing with comfort!     We have been making this one for all 11 years I’ve done cooking and every single group requests it and it gets made almost every month.   Yes, it’s that good!   Creamy pasta, cream cheese and more,  C O M F O R T  F O O D at it’s finest.  

Did I mention this one is serious comfort food?  What’s NOT to love???

Cream Cheese Chicken

Creamcheese chicken[1] (2)

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons melted butter

salt & pepper to taste (If I use salted butter I omit the salt here)

1 package dry Ranch Dressing mix/seasoning (or 3 Tbsp.. of the large pantry size container of the Ranch mix)

1 can cream of chicken soup

8 oz. cream cheese cut into 1 inch cubes (softened)

1 Tbsp. minced onion (optional)

Assembly:

Place chicken in a crock pot on low. Pour melted butter over, add salt/pepper as you layer it in. Sprinkle dry Ranch mix over all.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (or overnight works great). 

About 45 minutes before you want to serve this if not freezing:

Mix soup, cream cheese, and onion in a small saucepan or microwave. Cook and stir until smooth. Pour over the chicken and stir. Cover and cook another 45 minutes if serving immediately, otherwise, for freezing, turn off the crock pot and allow to cool completely.  Put into a gallon sized freezer bag. Label with name and cooking instructions.   Freeze.

If freezer space is hard to find, lay flat to freeze.  If not and you want to re-heat in the crock pot, place in a bowl that will fit in your crock pot to allow for easy freezer to crock pot transition. 

Cooking day:

Thaw completely and reheat on the stove top or in the microwave in a glass bowl. 

OR  Put in crock pot on low for 4-5 hours.

To Serve: Great over pasta  (our personal favorite) rice,  or potatoes…. or use for sandwiches filling.

We like to add the pasta to the chicken just before serving.  Get creative, you really can’t serve it wrong or mess this up no matter how hard you try!   ENJOY!!!

Whew…. that’s a wrap for today….. hope you’ll tune in tomorrow for more (3 more to be exact) yummy recipes  and great freezer ideas!    

That was easy wasn’t it?!?!

See you tomorrow for more great recipes!

~Christy