Sunday, September 23, 2007

Aldi Menu Planner!

Aldi revamped their website and added a new menu planning feature. I'm VERY impressed! And I think some of these recipe could be converted for freezer cooking. :)

Go check out the menu planner. Perfect if you have an Aldi near you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freezing Tips-What not to Freeze

Do not freeze these foods because their structure will deteriorate in the freezer. Some commercially prepared foods, such as already frozen potatoes, can be substituted in recipes that you want to freeze, since they are flash frozen and treated to maintain quality. If you want to freeze a food and you're not sure if it will keep well, wrap and freeze a small portion, then thaw and reheat. If the quality of the food is acceptable to you, go ahead and freeze the entire recipe.

Lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, and cucumbers do not freeze well because their cell structure breaks down. You can freeze fresh tomatoes, but then only use them in cooked dishes like tomato or spaghetti sauce.

Watermelon, grapes, apples, and citrus fruits do not freeze well. Generally, any fruit with a high water content loses quality when frozen.

Cooked egg whites become rubbery when frozen. You can freeze them in a salad or sandwich filling if finely chopped and mixed with other ingredients.

Mayonnaise separates when frozen. In a casserole, mayonnaise can freeze well. Use cooked salad dressings instead of mayonnaise.

Cooked and raw potatoes become mushy when frozen. Use purchased frozen potato wedges, chunks, or hash browns when making a casserole to be frozen.

These sauces and gravies separate when thawed. Freeze without the thickening agent, then add flour when reheating.

These sauces and gravies thickened with cornstarch separate when thawed. Freeze without the thickening agent, then add cornstarch when reheating.

If you want to freeze cooked pasta, mix it with a sauce or gravy before freezing. Plain cooked pasta becomes too mushy if frozen alone.

The cell structure of salad greens is destroyed when frozen; do not freeze.

Cream cheese becomes crumbly and grainy when frozen by itself. It will freeze well when mixed with other ingredients, like milk or cream, in a sauce.

Freezing can change the quality and strength of spices and herbs. If you want to freeze a highly spiced recipe, especially one containing cloves, paprika, peppers, and curry, add the seasonings during reheating. Season lightly when preparing the food for the freezer.

From Linda Larsen, Your Guide to Busy Cooks.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

October Exchange

Here is what we are preparing for the month of October:


Lemon Glazed Chicken
Orange Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry


Creamy Burrito Casserole
Cheeseburger Bake
Chunky Chicken Chili


Red Beans & Rice
BFF Chicken Bake
Beef Fajitas


Italian Sub Stoup
Maple-Mustard Chicken
Pork Chops w Apple & Herb Dressing

We will meet at Tina's house & Misti is cooking :-)

August & September Exchange

This past month a couple of the chicks had TWO months worth of freezer food to prepare & exchange so I am posting directions for both months (since I wasn't there to take notes & do my secretarial job):

Loaded Baked Potato Soup-Thaw & heat. If soup is too thick add some more milk to it.
2-9x13 pans of Spaghetti Pie-Remove plastic wrap under foil. Cover, bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, uncover & bake for another 5 mins.
1-2 lbs of meatloaf, reheat for an additional 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Already baked but directions call for an extra baking time.
1-8x8 pan of Jamaican Jerk Pork, it's shredded, add to buns & top with BBQ sauce, if desired.
1-bag of Apricot Pork Chops, thaw-bake, cook in crockpot or grill.

Stromboli-Thaw & bake.
Shredded Chicken-2 bags-2 cups each. Use in casserole, salads, etc.
BBQ Fillets-Thaw & grill.
Greek Goddess-Thaw & bake.
White Trash Chicken-thaw, bake or grill.
Sesame Chicken with Garlicky Broccoli-Need 4 cups of chopped broccoli and garlic powder to taste. Serve over noodles or rice.

White Castle Burgers-thaw, warm up & serve on buns.
Rouladon Beef-1 bag, thaw & warm. Serve with potatoes.
Chicken Kabobs-Thaw & grill.
French Dip Sandwiches-1/2 lb of beef & 1 quart bag of the Au jus. Thaw, heat & serve on buns.
Fettuccine Carbonara-Cook noodles, add ham, peas & sauce.
New Orleans Steak-Thaw & grill or bake.

Sweet & Sour Kielbasa-heat & serve with rice, noodles or eat straight out of bag:-)
Mexican Meatloaf-Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or longer depending of your likeness.
Grandma's Secret-Thaw & bake.
Parsley & Parmesan Chicken-1 bag, Bake at 350 degrees until done.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Misti is Cooking!


It's Sunday evening, I got home from the soccer fields around 4:00 pm this afternoon and have completed the following meals/done the following to prepare OAMC meals:

1. 3 Meatloaf-they are cooling & I will be putting them in the freezer before I go to bed.
2. Apricot Pork Chops-sealed & in the freezer.
3. Jamaican Jerk Pork-in crockpot cooking.
4. Potatoes in the oven cooking.
5. Thawing out the hamburger that is needed for one more meat loaf & for the spaghetti pie.

Tomorrow, I plan on making the Baked Potato Soup, shredding the pork for the Jamaican Jerk Pork & cooking & assembling the Spaghetti Pie! I will have both August & September meals done TWO days before our exchange!


Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti Pie (6 servings)

This recipe can easily be double, or tripled. The original Spaghetti Pie recipe calls for a full pound of ground beef, but I only use half a pound per pie. I find half a pound to be more than enough. This recipe could also be made with ground turkey, Italian bulk sausage, TVP (texturized vegetable protein), or no meat (or meat substitutes) at all.

6 oz. dry spaghetti noodles
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 well-beaten eggs
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (8-oz.) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (don't drain)
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, American, or Jack), shredded

Cook spaghetti noodles. Drain. Stir margarine into hot noodles until melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and eggs. Form pasta mixture into a crust shape in a buttered 9-inch pie plate. In skillet, cook ground beef and onions until meat is browned. Drain. Stir into ground beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar , oregano and garlic. Heat through. Spread cottage cheese over bottom of spaghetti crust. Top with tomato/meat mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese over all. Cover pie pan with foil; label and freeze.

To Serve:
Thaw. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes at 350 F. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes more until cheese is lightly browned.

Mom's Homemade Meat Loaf

Makes: 8 servings

Nonstick cooking spray
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup finely crushed saltine crackers
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 t dried thyme, crushed
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
3 slices bacon

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Coat a 13X9X2 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

For meat loaf mixture, in a large bowl combine ground beef, crackers, egg, onion, bell pepper, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, and pepper. Use a fork or your hands to mix well.

Form meat loaf mixture into an 8X5X2 inch loaf in prepared baking dish. Spread ketchup over top of loaf. Place bacon slices on top.

Bake, uncovered, about 45 minutes or until internal temperature reads 155 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

FREEZE: Place cooked meat loaf in a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. Defrost in refrigerator. To reheat, preheat over to 300 degrees. Place meat loaf in baking dish. Bake, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature reads 155 degrees.

Mom's Homemade Barbecued Meat Loaf-Prepare as directed, except substitute barbecue sauce for the tomato sauce in the meat loaf mixture and for the ketchup on top of the loaf.

Recipe from "Super Suppers Cookbook" by Judie Byrd.

Loaded Baked Potatoe Soup (Low-Fat Version)

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Hands on Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook: 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves 12

4 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed
4 strips center-cut reduced-fat bacon
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (12-ounce) can evaportated skim milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teapsoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
2 scallions, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick potatoes all around with a fork. Place on the overn rack and bake until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 1 hour. Let the potatoes stand until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Peel the potatoes, cut 2 into 1/4-inch dice. I scoop them out with the Pampered Chef melon scooper.

Transfer the remaining 2 potatoes to a bowl and coarsely mash. Stir in the diced potatoes.
Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick Dutch overn over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning occasionally, utnil crips, 4-5 minutes. Transfer with tongs to a plate lined with paper towels; drain. Crumble the bacon and set aside. Add the onions and garlic to the drippings in the Dutch oven; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown, 5-6 mintues.

Combine the evaportaed milk and flour in a medium bowl, beating with a whisk until smoothe. Add the milk mixutre, broth, potatoes, and pepper sauce to the Dutch overn; increase the heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until the soup is thick and creamy, 6-7 minutes.

Remove the Dutch oven from the heat; stir in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and ground pepper. Divide the soup among 12 bowls; top each serving with the cheddar cheese, scallions, and reserved bacon. Serve at once.

If your tste buds gravitate toward the spicier side, increase the red pepper sauce to 1/2 teapoon.

For freezer cooking sessions. I basically dump everything into a glad container, stir & freeze.

To serve: Thaw, heat and enjoy!

Shredded Chicken

2 bags of boneless skinless chicken breast

Put all chicken in crockpot (no need to thaw chicken) and cook on high for 4 hours with 1 can of chicken broth. Drain when chicken is done and shred with 2 forks. If you don't want to shred it you can chop it into chunks. Package in 2 cup quantities in quart size ziplocs. I have to do this in two batches because my crockpot isn't quite big enough for 6 lbs of chicken breast.

* For use in soups, casseroles, salads, etc

Apricot Pork Chops

6 Pork Chops (about 1/2-3/4 inch thick)
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups apricot jam or preserves
2 cups french dressing
2 (1oz.) packages of dry onion soup mix
2 garlic cloves, crushed

To put in freezer: Package pork chops in quart ziploc bags (3 per bag). Mix jam, french dressing, soup mix and garlic in bowl. Divide mixture into 2 quart ziploc bags. Put chops and marinade packages into gallon ziploc with instruction card and freeze.

To cook: Thaw. Season chops with salt and pepper and brown in olive oil. Place chops in baking dish lined with foil and cover with apricot mixture. Bake about 40 minutes on 400 until pork is no longer pink in the center.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

As requested: Greek Goddess

The original name of the recipe is Chicken Pesto Pizza. Our group is really goofey. When we get together we love to rename recipes to suit our sense of humor and this last meeing my chicken pizza and the ziplock chicken recipes received better names. It's one of the fun things about working together. This month we decided to try something very new with our group. We now meet over the noon hour and thought it would be fun if someone provided lunch that could be a future freezer meal. It was my turn this month and I suggested that we try a family favorite that was passed on to me down the line. It originated with our Associate Pastor's wife. She didn't give me the recipe so I'm sure that it has been modified over and over again to the point that she would recognize it but not say it is the same. Another thing that I love about sharing our cooking experiences. :)

Anyway the recipe is fairly greek in origin because of the feta cheese. You can adapt to suit your families needs. It also originated as a PIZZA, not a stromboli or calzone. But I adapted it because a stromboli just fits better into the freezer, not to mention how much easier it is to package.

Now that I talked your ear off, here's the recipe. Quanities are non existant because I never had quanitites. LOL

Greek Godess (or Chicken Pesto Pizza/Stromboli/Calzone)

1 dough ball of your choice
(I suggest that you try Rhodes bread dough loaves or get dough balls from Sam's!)
Olive Oil
Pesto Sauce, prepared
(I get the package of Knorr but since I'm making a larger quanity I will buy it premade from Sam's)
Cooked Chopped Chicken (however you like it cooked! Use leftovers)
1 Roma Tomato, chopped
1 Red Onion, chopped
Crumbled Feta Cheese
1/2 cup Italian Cheese
(optional toppings: Artichokes, Black Olives)
packet of italian dressing

Grease a cookie sheet with Olive Oil. Preheat oven to about 350 degrees. Allow the dough to rise and then roll it out into an oval. Spread the Pesto Sauce onto the dough down the center. Top with all the other ingredients in whatever order you like. I prefer the cheese to be on top when I'm working with a stromboli but if it is pizza, I like all the veggies on top.

For the stromboli, cut the edges of the dough so that you can braid it. If that is too complicated, then just fold and seal the dough and cut some slats on the top to allow it to steam. Mix 1 egg and the italian dressing and brush that on top of the dough.

Place into the hot oven and allow it to bake. I don't have a time but it will smell soooooo good and you will want to dive right into it! LOL You'll know when it is done because it will be a nice golden brown all around.

Serve with a salad or a Greek Pasta salad. ENJOY! Questions? Ask!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sesame Chicken with Garlicky Broccoli

1 T toasted sesame oil
1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 in pieces
2 T sesame seeds
1 c chicken broth
1/2 c Chinese black bean sauce
1/2 t black pepper
1 -2 t garlic powder (to your taste..or lots in my house!)
4 c broccoli florets

Heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add the chicken & cook until golden brown on all sides. Add the sesame seeds and stir to coat the chicken. Cook 1 -2 minutes until the seeds turn golden. Add the broth, black bean sauce & pepper - bring to a simmer. Cover pan & cook until the chicken is cooked through ( about 5 minutes).

To freeze:
Cool mixture and freeze.

To Eat:
Thaw chicken mix & reheat over medium heat. When the sauce is simmering, add broccoli & sprinkle with garlic, cook until broccoli is crisp & tender. Serve over angel hair noodles.

New Orleans Flank Steak

Apparently, this marinade has many versions. We went with Robin Miller's version from her Quick Fix Cookbook.

2 T red wine vinegar
2 t light brown sugar
2 t Creole or Cajun Seasoning
2 t reduced sodium teriyaki sauce
1 t dried oregano
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 1/14 lb flank steak

Mix marinade and pour over steak. Refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze 3 months. Thaw & grill.

LONG month & September Menu

Well - It has been a month since you've heard from any of the freezerchicks! Mainly, we are 4 busy moms & have had over the top family lives this month!

The beauty of it is that our freezer cooking has kept our families bellies full and our hair intact!

To update you on our planning meeting in August -

We were treated to a fabulous Chicken Pesto Stromboli by Jannylynn that was quickly renamed the Greek Goddess! The result was adding the Greek Goddess to Janny's Sept recipes! Also, Jen whipped up a perfect Greek Pasta salad with lots of black olives and kalamatta's! As if that wasn't a big enough treat - Jen opens up her freezer to reveal a tasty frozen desert of peanut butter, cream cheese & nutter butters! It was a very rich lunch that we all enjoyed immensely!

It was almost sad to start business! Yet, we created a great September menu!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (to kick off the soup season!)
Spaghetti Pie (a Misti classic!)
Jerk Pork (*new*)

The Greek Goddess
White Trash Chicken (or Ziploc Chicken)
Sesame Chicken with Garlicky Broccoli (*new*)

New Orleans Flank Steak (*new*)
Fettucinni Carbonara
French Dip

Sauces (*new*)
Mexican Meatloaf
Crowd Pleasing Casserole

All the recipes marked (*new*) are well - new - but they come from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals Cookbook. I checked it out at the library and was really pleased by how Robin thinks about mealtimes and how to use prep time efficiently.

We meet next week to exchange and have another meal - which I think I'm cooking...ummm what will I make?