Monday, September 29, 2014

Freezer Cooking

Every time I freezer cook there are so many real life friends, Facebook friends and other friends who ask, implore, and beg me to include the recipes, them in the next round, or just pop some meals by their freezer.
I've done this a number of different ways over the past few years, sometimes it's just me in my kitchen with an overabundance of an item that needs to be used or frozen, sometimes it's a dozen ladies from church, my MOPS group and even people I don't know previously, and this time it was just me, one of my besties, and her Mama who was visiting from far away. We still used the church kitchen for convenience and space, but it was quick, painless, and oh so delicious.

If you are squeamish or overly concerned about germs, I do not advise doing this with large groups. Just don't. Everyone ends up touching your food in one way or another. We take all the usual precautions and wash hands and surfaces and even sometimes use gloves when handling raw chicken. But just wanted to put a general disclaimer in there. I should also note that most of the people I do this with are not picky. Nothing gets measured exactly every time. It just isn't likely to happen when making a large quantity of something. Quality control is compromised sometimes. And I always run out of something. It never fails. Sometimes it's honey, this time it was salsa. I forgot my salsa.

Katie, Grandma Darlene (as my kids call her), and I did 22 meals in about an hour. We had prepped a bit the night before by browning our ground beef, so there was no actual cooking the day of, just cutting, assembling, and labeling.

All this to say, here are the recipes Katie and I used and their origins to the best of my knowledge. We started by making a Pinterest board where both of us could pin our favorites. We had a request from a very pregnant friend for lasagna, so we knew we couldn't let her down. And then we just chose a few more. We have similar eating families (a few picky eaters between us and some not-so-picky eaters too) and so it was pretty easy and actually hard to narrow down. Once we picked 5 dishes, making two for each family (totaling 4 of each dish, except the lasagnas- we made six) was easy, its just the same thing over and over assembly line style. I made a shopping list, texted it to Katie, we did our shopping separately and showed up that morning with our supplies.

We lay it all out according to dish and just divvy up the duties, lasagna is more intensive, so Katie and I worked on that together, but the others are easy and we all kinda just pitched in. (Kudos to Grandma Darlene for cutting some super strong onions!)

Let's cut to the chase, here are the recipes.

Lasagna from Andrea Richards
This is my family's favorite Lasagna. We had it in Nebraska last year and now it's the only lasagna I make, mostly because you don't have to boil the noodles. I hate boiling the noodles.
1 lb. hamburger                        8 oz. uncooked lasagna
32 oz jar spaghetti sauce           ½ c. water
1 tsp. salt                                  3 c. mozzarella cheese
2 c. cottage cheese                   ½ c. parmesan cheese
Brown hamburger, drain.  Add water, salt & spaghetti sauce.  9x13 pan, layer 1/3 spaghetti sauce mix, ½ noodles, ½ cottage cheese, & ½ mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers ending with sauce.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake covered @ 350 degrees for 2 hours.

We had this tonight for dinner. Hubby was a skeptic (he's not a huge fan of black beans in his Mexican) but everyone loved it. We froze these without the sour cream and cheese and I froze mine without the salsa and just added it to the crockpot this afternoon when I put it on to cook. I used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream (shhhh, don't tell the family!) and quite a bit less cheese (and cheddar at that) and let everyone add their own to theirs. My boys ate these as tacos, baby girl ate hers as a soup, and I ate it over cooked frozen veggies because I forgot to make brown rice.

Italian Chicken from Kelly Drews
This is a family favorite that we made at our first ever freezer cooking thing and I have made at my house ever since. Hubby drains it a little and eats on a sandwich bun, the kids eat it over pasta, and I like it over brown rice and add cooked frozen veggies. (Are you catching a theme here?)
1lb chicken breasts                 1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 c tomato sauce                 1 packet Italian dressing seasoning mix
2 TBSP soy sauce
Put this all in a bag and freeze together. To cook put in crockpot and cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Take chicken out once cooked and shred and add back into crock.

The last two I haven't tried yet. Obviously, we think they seem delicious or they would not have made the cut. :)

Do you freezer cook? Cook together with friends? Have a favorite freezer meal? Let us know in the comments and we'll likely give it a try!

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