Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Make and Freeze

There are a ton of sites that have recipes that you can prepare ahead of time and freeze. Some of my favorite recipes can make enough for two meals (feeds 3-4 people), one to bake that day and one to freeze for later. 

I love to spend a Saturday and make a bunch of meals ahead of time so when things are crazy during the week I can just throw them in the oven and go... the other good part is the time you save. By cooking ingredients together at the same time that work with multiple recipes. It took me about 3 hours to prepare 7 meals from 4 recipes. It also saves money because I use similar ingredients for some of the recipes. 

Meal #1: Roasted Chicken
Meal #2: Lasagna (My Hubby's Favorite) *
Meal #3: Chicken Pot Pie (One of My Favorites)*
Meal #4: Creamy Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells*

*- Recipe can be split to make two separate meals or can feed 6-8 people
I do not claim to have created any of these recipes, they are ones that I have found and my have adjusted to my tastes. 

The majority of the ingredients that are needed for the recipes
Tip #1: Putting all the ingredients together ahead of time helps to make sure you are prepared, cuts down on the time, and helps to set a time line.

Meal #1: Roasted Chicken- Italian seasoned

Ingredients needed: 
1 whole chicken
Roasting pan or deep pan so drippings don't overflow
1 stick of butter melted in microwave
salt (I prefer Kosher salt)
seasoning (parsley, oregano, and sage)

Tip #2: Let chicken sit out to reach room temperature. (This helps to makes shorter cooking time and helps to cook evenly.) 

Take pieces out of the chicken, rinse off inside and outside of chicken, pat dry, and check for any little feathers left on the chicken.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Butter chicken with a little of the melted butter. 

Liberally salt, pepper, and season inside and outside of the chicken. 

Tip #3: If you do not have cooking string to tie the legs together I suggest you make small whole in the flap of skin that hangs down from the back of the bird and put the leg through and repeat for the other leg. 

Bake in the oven for about 90 mins while buttering every thirty minutes. 

Check chicken doneness using a meat thermometer or by cutting between the leg and breast and checking for clear juices. 

Let sit for 20 mins. (I pour out any extra juice or butter in the pan to keep the bottom from becoming soggy.)

Meal #2: Lasagna

Ingredients needed: 
2 Cans of Pasta Sauce
2 Boxes of NO BAKE lasagna noodles (recipe calls for one but I like more noodles)
8 oz container Ricotta cheese
1 package of Mozzarella cheese
1 package of Parmesan cheese
1 pound Ground Beef
1 pound Italian Sausage (can be tube or fresh package)
1 onion chopped

Brown ground beef and sausage in a pan, add onion until cooked,  drain extra fat, and let cool.(I like to put fennel seeds into the mixture to cook.)

Mix 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, all the ricotta cheese, and 1 egg.

Layer as follows in a slightly greased pan:
1 cup sauce
lasagna noodles (slightly overlapping)
1/3 the Ricotta mixture (1/6th if separating into two pans for two meals)
Sprinkle 1/2 meat mixture on top (1/4th if separating)
1 cup sauce
lasagna noodles 
1/3 the Ricotta mixture (1/6th...)
1/2 remaining mozzarella cheese
1/2 remaining parmesan cheese 
1 cup sauce
lasagna noodles
remaining meat mixture
1 cup sauce
lasagna noodles
remaining Ricotta mixture
some sauce
lasagna noodles
pour remaining sauce on top
put remaining cheeses on top

Tip #4 Switch direction of the noodles to make it cut without falling apart.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake for 45 mins-1hr for half serving... 1 1/2 hour- 2 hrs for full meal. Basically until all noodles are soft and cheese is bubbly and brown. 

Tip #5: Bake over a cookie sheet to prevent any bubbling over into the oven. 

Meal #3:Chicken Pot Pie- Makes 2 pies

Ingredients Needed:
1 1/2 large chicken breasts (2 chicken breasts will work well also)
2 boxes of store pie crusts (you can make your own)
1 bag frozen stew vegetables (thawed in refrigerator over night)
2 cans of cream of chicken soup (Cream of mushroom is also good)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg and a little water mixed together in a little dish

Boil chicken breasts until cooked all the way through, cool, chop into small square chunks.

Cut stew veggies into smaller pieces.

In a large bowl mix the cans of soup, the chopped chicken, milk, and the veggies.

Put bottom layer of pie crusts in the pans and fill evenly with the mixture.

Put top layer of pie crusts on the pans and seal the edges by pinching around outsides. 

Cut four slits in the top of the pie. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush egg water mixture on top of the pie crust to give it a beautiful golden brown crust.

Bake for 30 mins (45mins- 1hr if frozen) or until golden brown and crust is cooked. 

Ingredients Needed:
1 1/2 large chicken breasts (2 would work well)
2 tbsp of Pesto (homemade or store bought)
1 box of jumbo shells
1 8oz package of cream cheese- brought to room temperature
1 bag of parmesan cheese
1 tsp Garlic seasoning (I used garlic herb)

Boil chicken until cooked all the way through, let cool, and shred with forks).

Boil jumbo shells as directed on box. Drain and let shells cool.

In a bowl mix chicken, cream cheese, pesto, 1 cup parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Fill shells with the mixture and place in lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Bake for 30 mins (45 mins- 1hr if frozen).

Links to recipes I love either originals or ones that use similar ingredients are accessible by clicking on meal name.