Do you like to cook a bunch of meals to stock your freezer? I love to do this, and went at it last month so that I could benefit from a day's work all month long. If you are looking for new ideas, come along and I'll share!
First, I made four entrees. The first was Little Cranberry Meatloaves, a recipe I was given by a dear friend and mother-of-more-than-me, Cathi Warren. Meatloaf, cranberries, YUM! Gluten-free because the filler is rice instead of bread crumbs. I froze the little loaves uncooked, and put the sauce into a quart-sized ziploc to freeze, too.
Little Cranberry Meatloaves
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup tomato juice
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 1 lb. cans cranberry sauce
2/3 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine meat, rice, tomato juice, eggs, onion, Worcestershire, and salt.
Mix thoroughly. Shape mixture into 10 loaves; place in large baking pan.
Combine cranberry sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice; spoon over loaves.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove meat to warm serving platter. Pour
remaining sauce over meat or pass with loaves.
Yield: 10 servings
Next up, Creamy Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole. We eat gluten-free here, so this one does not contain canned soup. I made extras to give away :)
Creamy Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole
4 T butter
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/4 c gluten-free flour (or all-purpose)
6 c chicken stock
1 c heavy cream
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 c brown jasmine rice (any long grain rice will do)
1 1-lb bag frozen peas and carrots
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese (use sharp! it makes all the difference)
2 T juice from a lemon
ground black pepper
Melt butter and saute onion and 1 t salt. Cook until softened and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the broth and cream
Add the chicken breasts, partially cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover completely, and cook until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10-15 minutes.
Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Stir the rice into the pot, cover, and continue to cook over low hear, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is just tender, 20-25 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-sized pieces.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the shredded chicken, peas and carrots, cheddar, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread into a 9x13 pan. You may sprinkle with a crumb topping, but unless I happen to have gluten-free crumbs, I skip it altogether. Wrap well and freeze.
Bake covered with foil at 400 degrees for about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer.
That one was adapted from my favorite book for freezer cooking, The Best Make-Ahead Recipe. These recipes might be a few more steps than others, but the pay-off is big.
Seems everyone has a recipe for Taco Soup, and ours isn't neessarily better than anyone else's. I like it, though, because you pretty much just dump all the ingredients in and let it heat. In fact, when I made it last time I added leftover cans of Ranch beans, creamed corn, and chili. Great to use up a stray can of this and that!
8 cups chicken broth
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 15-oz. can corn, with juice
1 small can sliced olives
1 jar salsa
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 lb of ground beef, browned, OR cooked chicken, shredded
Combine all ingredients and heat. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, and tortilla chips all crunched up on top.
The last entree recipe is for Herbed Turkey Burgers, which I freeze as uncooked patties. They can be fried in a skillet or tossed on the grill depending on the weather, our mood, etc. We've made these before as a freezer meal and not only do they freeze well, they are really yummy. I used fresh herbs from my little herb pot that has given me an abundance of herbs this year.
Twice-Baked Potatoes freeze well. My ten-year-old chef rubbed the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, then baked them at 400° for 45 minutes. Cut them in half, then scoop out the innards with a melon baller. Usually, I rice the potato insides in a potato ricer, then add sour cream and a stick of melted butter. This time I was distracted and added the sour cream before ricing them. When I put the sour-creamy potatoes into the ricer, I was so pleased to see creamy goodness squeeze out! Folded in the melted butter, stuffed the potato shells, sprinkled grated cheddar and some fresh bacon bits on top. Really, if I served them with a hearty salad, they could be the main course.
Desserts had to be made, right? That's some beautiful gluten-free cookie dough right there. It's made from the King Arthur mix, but truth be told, it's pricey so we save it as a treat. Well worth every penny when you're gluten-intolerant and craving a chocolate-chip cookie! I wish I was glutton-intolerant.
Food Network Magazine (my favorite!) had a little recipe for adding a half cup of pureed pumpkin to a corn muffin mix (I also tossed in some brown sugar) and so what to do with the remaining pumpkin in the can? I googled "1 cup pumpkin recipe" and found these Pumpkin Blondies. Not gluten-free, but the kids and I thought they were delish. I didn't have the butterscotch chips, but they were yummy with just the white chips. Maybe not too sweet, too.
Do you have any favorite freezer meals you'd be willing to post in the comments? I need a list for next month :) Wouldn't it be fun to get together and cook?