Saturday, September 3, 2011

Freeze Ahead Meals

I've had several requests for recipes for meals that freeze well.  I'm guessing from the number of them that there are a lot of your ran into the same issues I did.  Lots lasagna and enchilada recipes out there.   If you're at a loss, here are some that might help.  These are my "go to" freezer meals.  Happy cooking!

Sicilian Casserole- I can guarantee that there is nothing Sicilian about this dish.  My Sicilian grandmother would be so disappointed in me.  But, I'm not going to lie.  It's DELICIOUS!

Sicilian Casserole
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
2 cups elbow macaroni
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, cubed
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, brown ground beef, onion, and garlic in heavy saucepan, stirring to break up ground beef. Add green bell pepper when beef is almost cooked; continue to simmer until beef is done. Drain well. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, and dried Italian seasoning and stir well to blend. Let simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors.
Meanwhile, cook elbow macaroni as directed on package. While macaroni is cooking, combine cream cheese and milk in medium bowl. Cook in microwave on medium power for 2-3 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove from microwave and stir with wire whisk until sauce thickens and blends to form a smooth sauce. Drain noodles and add to cream cheese sauce along with sour cream and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; stir to combine.
In 2 quart casserole dish, place all of cream cheese mixture. Top with all of the ground beef mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until casserole is bubbly.
To freeze, add 1 Tbsp. cornstarch to the cream cheese sauce. Prepare casserole as directed, except instead of baking, chill in refrigerator. Wrap well and freeze up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered, for 25-35 minutes, then uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer until bubbly.
Appalachian Chicken Casserole- This one came from a friend, after my recipe APB.  By far, one of my favorites.  Thanks, Kathleen!

Appalachian Chicken Casserole

3 cups cooked diced chicken or turkey
1 can cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cups chicken broth (reserved from cooked chicken/turkey)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 package stuffing mix, (6 to 8 oz) - herb, cornbread, or chicken flavor
1 cup shredded cheese, Swiss or Cheddar - optional

Combine soups and chicken broth; add diced chicken to the mixture. Add butter to dressing mix. Combine chicken mixture with the dressing mixture. Place in a 2 to 2 1/2-quart casserole and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. (Mother and I usually layer chicken mixture and the dressing mixture, with the chicken on the bottom. Either way works well.) Top with shredded cheese during the last 5 minutes if desired.

I have nothing to say about this next one except....Yummy!
Chicken Potato Casserole

10 oz. can condensed reduced fat and sodium cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1-1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
3-1/2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed*
1-1/2 cups frozen peppers and onions, thawed*
1-1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine soup, sour cream, milk, chicken and 1-1/4 cups cheese. Spread three-quarters of this mixture in a greased 2-quart baking dish.

Sprinkle hash browns and peppers and onions over the top of the casserole and press down lightly, then top vegetables with remaining soup mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and potato chips.
Bake casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. 8 servings

*To freeze, assemble casserole as directed, except do not thaw potatoes, peppers, or onions and do not sprinkle with potato chips. Wrap casserole in freezer wrap or heavy duty foil and freeze. Reserve potato chips in pantry. To thaw and bake, let thaw overnight in refrigerator. Uncover and bake at 350 degrees F for 60-70 minutes until bubbly. Then top with crushed potato chips and bake 5-10 minutes longer.

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