Freezer Recipes

Next week I will be having rotator cuff surgery and a long road of recovery. While I hope that I can return to typing soon after the surgery, I thought I would share some recipes that will be on my menu while hubby (who is an awesome cook and baker) will be in charge of the kitchen. Before I go into surgery I will be freezing some meals so that once my hubby returns to work, it will be easy for him to come home, get dinner on the table, and take care of me. Also, once hubby returns to work and I am at the house all day by myself, I will need easy dishes that I can heat up in the microwave one-handed for a couple of weeks. All of the recipes that I will be sharing this month, you can freeze in individual containers and in bigger containers for the family. I hope you never have to have surgery, but hope these meals will help you through some week-night meals.

Also, I challenge you to Google freezer recipes. I love to take a day to spend in the kitchen and make my own home-made TV dinners. I do this when I know I have to work late for the next few weeks, or if we have a lot of commitments coming up in the evenings. Freezer meals saves you money from eating out all the time, but yet quick and simple to heat up and get on the table in a hurry. Enjoy!

Chicken Noodle Soup

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 large onion, diced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots
3/4 cup sliced parsnips
6 oz. medium egg noodles
1-1/2 cups cooked Rotisserie chicken breast, shredded
salt and pepper to taste (I recommend Maldon sea salt or kosher salt)
Bring chicken broth and water to a boil in a large stockpot or dutch oven. Add onion, celery, carrots and parsnips. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes. Add egg noodles and allow to simmer 15 more minutes or until noodles are cooked. Add chicken and heat 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 teaspoons basil chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
15 ounces tomato purée
1/2 cup vegetable oil
10 corn tortillas cut in 1/2″ slices
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
avocado slices
monterey jack cheese sliced or shredded

In a 4 quart Dutch oven, saute the onions and garlic in 2 T oil until tender. Stir in the broth, red bell pepper, ground red pepper, basil, salt, pepper, and tomato puree. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Heat 1/2 cup oil in 10-inch skillet until hot. Cook tortilla strips in oil until light golden brown, 30 to 60 seconds; drain on paper towels. To serve, divide the tortilla strips and cooked chicken between 6 bowls; pour broth over chicken. Top with cheese and avocado slices.

Serves: 6

Pinto Beans with Ham

1 pound dried pinto beans, sorted and washed
5 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
4 to 8 ounces cooked ham, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Cover beans with water and soak overnight; drain. Place beans in a 5- or 6-quart crockpot with water and remaining ingredients. Cover cooker and cook on low setting for 9-10 hours, or until beans are soft and done. Stir a couple of times during cooking, if possible. Serve with cornbread, rice, a green salad.

Crock Pot Thanksgiving Chicken and Dumplings

6 boneless chicken breasts, whole
48 oz chicken broth (or enough broth to cover all ingredients well)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 small onion, chopped
2 large baking potatoes cubed
6 carrots chopped
2 teaspoons celery salt (or two stalks of celery finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
2 teaspoon Emeril’s Essence (google for recipe)
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
Season Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tube refrigerator biscuits (recommended Pillsbury Buttermilk biscuits)

Put all ingredients into the crock pot, stir and cover. Cook on low all day or on high for 5 hours. Last 30 to 45 minutes, with chopper, break up chicken. Turn Crock Pot to high. Cut biscuits into 6ths and drop into broth. Cover and cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Biscuits should be soft but not doughy.

Leftovers can be frozen.

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

Beef chuck roast—about 2 ½ lbs.
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
1 1/3 cups water
½ cup sliced mushrooms and/or onions
Extra-wide egg noodles—cooked and drained just before serving

In a small bowl, stir together the soup and onion soup mix. Place roast in crock pot (along with mushrooms and/or onions if desired), and cover with soup mixture. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

With a large wooden spoon, stir the finished roast a bit before serving, the meat will shred apart and mix in with the gravy. Serve warm over bowls of extra-wide egg noodles.

Store leftover beef stroganoff in fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze (without the noodles) for later use (within 6 months).

Serves:8

Beefy Three-Cheese Enchiladas

3 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
48 ounces mild salsa or picante sauce (for use with beef mix)
1-1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
6 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 red or green peppers, finely chopped
36 (6-inch) tortillas
48 ounces mild salsa or picante sauce (for topping)
4-1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Note: These instructions are for make-ahead freezer meals (6 meals of 4 servings each). However, if you are cooking for a crowd, simply use a large pan and skip the freezing instructions. For a chicken version, substitute shredded cooked chicken for the ground beef.

In a stock pan over medium heat, brown ground beef. Drain and return to pan. Over medium heat add garlic, cumin, chili power and salsa; stir to combine. When mixture is heated, add cream cheese chunks, stirring until melted. Stir in cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese and peppers. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble enchiladas by placing 1/2 cup beef-and-cheese mixture onto each tortilla and rolling. Place 6 enchiladas in each container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down to cling to food. Package salsa in snack bags, 1 cup per meal. Package cheese in snack bags, 3/4 cup per meal. Place a package of salsa and cheese in each container and cover. Freeze.

Defrost in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove lid, salsa, cheese and plastic wrap. Spread salsa over enchiladas and cover loosely with foil to prevent drying. Bake until bubbly around edges and hot in the center, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with cheese during the last 5 minutes of baking. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Serves: 24

Inside-Out Manicotti

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 ounces dry ziti pasta

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large saucepan, heat oil over moderately high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, blend together ricotta, mozzarella, egg, black pepper, and nutmeg.
Cover the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart baking dish with about 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Layer with half of the ziti, haf of the cheese mixture, 2 more cups of the tomato sauce, and remaining ziti. Top with remaining cheese mixture and sauce.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.

If you like these recipes and would like more, please check out our cookbook “Back to the Table with My Country Kitchen.”

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