This month I am a little behind on my menu plan and freezer cooking. I just haven’t wanted to get organized and do it. I have done a little freezer cooking over the past few days, but I have not had a whirlwind day of do it all at once. I just haven’t had time. These past few days in May, we have just been eating up some of the freezer meals we didn’t eat in April and I plan to continue that this week to eat up some stuff that just needs to be eaten. I think that is part of the reason I haven’t really made a menu plan for May. I have one that I have started working on today, but it is still a work in progress. I will post it later when I get it done.
As for the freezer cooking, this week was teacher appreciation day at my son’s school. I decided that a freezer meal in a homemade reusable tote bag (that folds into a built in pouch for easy carrying) would be something she and her family would appreciate. So, last weekend Lance and I made Lasagna, focaccia bread and brownies to take to both his teacher and the assistant in his class. We started by making the sauce on Saturday in the crockpot. I based the sauce on this recipe with a few tweaks of course, I used a giant can of tomato sauce with 1 T onion powder, 1 T garlic powder, 3 T italian seasoning and 1 tsp salt, oh and a bit of olive oil. It is much cheaper to buy the gallon sized cans of tomatoes at Sam’s club for $2.80 and make your own sauce for spaghetti, lasagna, pizza etc. than buying jar of Prego or whatever brand you like. This is the first time I have done this and I really like how the sauce turned out. We then based the lasagna off of a recipe I have of my aunt’s, although I left the meat out and used the sauce we had made the previous day. We ended up making 2 8×8 pans of lasagna for Lance’s teachers and 2 5×9 bread loaf pans for us. This was about 2 recipes.
1 lb ground beef
6 oz sausage
3/4 c chopped onion
1 16oz can chopped italian tomatoes
1 15oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp parsley
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
*note I did not use any of the above this time since I made a meatless version and used the sauce I made the previous day. Therefore, I did not do the steps for cooking these below.
2 cups of cottage cheese blended in blender (2 12 oz containers)
*I used 1 16 oz container of cottage cheese blended and 8 oz of ricotta cheese since that is what I had on hand.
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano (I was out, used basil instead)
1 pkg cooked lasagna noodles
Cook meats and onion. Drain. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and spices. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until thick. Heat oven to 350°. Mix cottage cheese, parmesan, parsley, salt and oregano. Reserve 1/2 c. sauce for top layer.
In an ungreased 9×13 layer 1/4 each noodles, cottage cheese mixture, sauce, mozzarella cheese. Repeat 3 times. Spread reserved sauce on top and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake for 45 minutes. OR cover and freeze. Either bake from frozen 375° for 1 1/2 hours (for a 9×13 1 hour if you freeze in 8×8) or you can thaw in fridge overnight and bake as directed above.
I didn’t take pictures of the focaccia bread that we made, but here is the recipe. It is supposed to be a Maccaroni Grill Bread copycat, but I don’t think it tastes much like the bread there. Although, it is tasty.
1 T dry yeast
1 tsp canola oil
1 T sugar
1 c warm water
2 T butter
2 1/2 c flour
1/4 c fresh rosemary chopped or 2 T dried (I used italian seasoning since I was out of rosemary)
1 teaspoon salt
Bloom yeast in sugar and water. Mix in 2 c flour and salt. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Add flour if necessary (I used it all). Oil a bowl and put dough in. Cover and rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled.
Punch down dough and divide in half. Let dough rest for a few minutes. Coat 2 9″ square pans (I used round) with spray. Press dough into pans. Melt butter and brush on the tops of the dough. Sprinkle rosemary over surface and press lightly into dough. Rise loaves until double again, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt over the tops and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until lightly browned.
UP Next Chicken!
The rest of my freezer cooking was all about chicken. When I headed out to Sam’s Club to get dog food today, I picked up 2 of their big packs of boneless skinless chicken breast. I decided to make this wonderful Chicken in Peanut Sauce recipe that is specifically for the freezer. We will get 6 meals out of this recipe for our family of 3. Let me tell you, this stuff is amazing! I was literally scraping the pan with my fork eating the bits that were left after packaging for the freezer. When the time comes, I will just serve over rice. I even have some pre-cooked in the freezer left over from last month.
The rest of my freezer cooking was not really cooking, but freezer prepping. I put together some marinades for the chicken and froze the chicken in the marinades so that it will be ready to pull out and cook on the grill. With the warmer weather we like to cook outside and this is a way to make it easier. I mixed up a southwest citrus marinade with frozen limeade concentrate, sunny delight orange juice, cilantro and a mexican meat seasoning making 4 dinners worth. I have 2 dinners worth of teriyaki chicken with a bottle of teriyaki I had taking up space in the refrigerator and another 2 dinners with a marinade I had on had called sioux-z-wow. All I have to do is thaw the chicken in the fridge the day before cooking. Then, let it sit and soak up all the wonderful flavors. Look out grill, here we come!