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Easy Baked Rigatoni

Baked Rigatoni

I generally spend one weekend day preparing food for the week ahead.  A pasta dish is always a winner for a few reasons.

  1. The ingredients are cheap.
  2. It reheats well making a perfect lunch for the remaining work days.
  3. It freezes well so can be assembled and thrown in the oven an hour before dinner.

These are all qualities that I love in a weeknight dinner.  Yes I have made homemade “gravy” plenty of times but, for all time-intensive purposes, jarred sauce is a great base start to a very pleasing weeknight dinner without taking all day to make.  Hence the name, “Easy Baked Rigatoni.”

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 (24oz) jar pasta sauce
  • 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12oz rigatoni
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 log fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces

Directions:

  1. Brown Italian sausage.  Drain and transfer to a heavy Dutch oven.
  2. Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, garlic, pepper, and salt.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  3. Cook rigatoni until al dente in salted water.  Drain but do NOT rinse.
  4. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  5. Add basil and rigatoni to sauce and mix to combine.
  6. Transfer to a freezer proof dish and top with mozzarella.
  7. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling.  If freezing, cook covered with foil for 50 minutes.  Remove foil and cook another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Red Curry Paste (Freezer-Friendly)

Red Curry Paste

I have yet to find a pre-made curry paste that I like as much as this recipe.   It makes a large batch and can be frozen, so putting in the 10 extra minutes to put this together is worth it in the end.  I use this in panang curry, spicy peanut noodles, Thai coconut curry soup, and basically anything that I want to have a kick of spice with a nice complexity of flavors.

Yield: 2 cups                                       Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 30 dried chiles
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 15 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup white onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks lemongrass (bottom 2 inches only)
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup peanut oil, divided
  • 2 bunches cilantro, stems only finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Toast dried chiles, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns for 2 minutes over medium heat until fragrant.  Grind in batches in a spice grinder to make a fine powder.  Stir in paprika.
  2. Place the ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, and 1/4 cup of peanut oil in food processor to make a paste.
  3. Add the spice powder, salt, fish sauce, and lemon juice and blend until combined.
  4. Stir in remaining peanut oil and cilantro stems.

To Freeze: Place tablespoon amounts on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and place in freezer until solid.  Transfer to a freezer bag.  Use as needed.  Paste can be frozen for 6 months.

 
 

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Beef Noodle Soup (Freezer-Friendly)

Beef Noodle Soup #1

It’s 1 degree today in MN, but with the windchill it feels like -18F.  Brr!!!!!  When the weather is this frigid, I can’t help but think of my mom.  I remember getting off the bus in grade school on a day like this.  I would run as fast as I could into the house to get out of the cold while being careful enough not to biff it on the icy driveway.  As soon as I got inside I could smell the soup.  It was so warm and inviting just like my mom!  She would snuggle me up in a big blanket and feed me this soup with buttered saltine crackers.  It’s not fancy, but it’s comfort and it reminds me of home.  Stay warm people, eat your soup, and call your mother!

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless beef roast or stew meat, cut in bite-size cubes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 5 1/4 cups homemade chicken stock or store-bought reduced-sodium broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (16oz) package baby carrots
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Season cubed beef with salt and pepper.  Add beef to pot and brown on all sides.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add onions cooking for about 5 minutes until they are softened but not burned.
  3. Add flour to beef/onion mixture and stir to coat for about a minute.
  4. Slowly add chicken stock and water.  Scrape up any browned bits from the pan and stir until slightly thickened and raw flour taste is gone.
  5. Add carrots and potatoes.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool in an uncovered shallow container.  Once cooled, transfer to freezer-proof container.
  7. Remove from freezer the night before cooking.  Place mixture in slow cooker and heat on low for 6-8 hours.  One hour before serving add egg noodles and parsley.

Note: Soup will keep frozen for 2 months.

Beef Noodle Soup Label

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Crockpot, Entrees, Soup

 

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Chicken and Dumplings (Freezer-Friendly)

1

Serves: 6

Ingredients:
Chicken Base:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups chicken, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Dumplings:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup whole milk


Directions:

Chicken Base:

  1. In a heavy pot, melt 3 Tbsp. butter over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, celery, carrots, and leek.  Cook 3-5 minutes until onions sweat.
  3. Add 1/4 cup flour and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in chicken until cooked thoroughly, ~5 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
* Chicken base can be frozen for 3 months.


Dumplings:

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley.
  2. Cut in butter.
  3. Stir in milk.
  4. Make 6 equal dumplings.

* Dumplings will keep frozen (uncooked) for 3 months.

DSCN2170 1. Wrap dumplings in wax paper.

DSCN21742.  Next wrap in tin foil.

DSCN21763.  Last place wrapped dumplings in a freezer bag.


To Serve:

  1. Heat the chicken broth mixture slowly on low heat until unfrozen, stir frequently.
  2. Increase heat to medium.  Add dumplings, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes until dumplings are puffed and cooked thoroughly.

Chicken and Dumplings Label

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Entrees, Soup, Uncategorized

 

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No-Waste Chicken Stock

DSCN2181

I love homemade stocks.  They add much more flavor than any store-bought stock could ever offer and although they are time-consuming to make, they are not hard.  I consider homemade stock to be my “secret ingredient” at holiday time.  It’s freezer-friendly and one batch of stock can last a long time.  If you are laying around on a Sunday, make some stock.  You won’t regret it.

One thing that’s always bothered me about making chicken stock is that after the chicken has been simmering for several hours it really can’t be used in anything as it is very rubbery.  But guess what?  Your cat or dog won’t care.  In fact, they will love you for it and you can save yourself about a week’s worth of pet food!

The last great thing about chicken stock is that you can use whatever chicken parts are on sale and it will still turn out great.  This week chicken drummies were on sale, but I could have easily substituted wings or legs.  You really need to use something that’s very bony as this is where most of the flavor of your stock will be derived.  So enjoy my recipe for liquid gold!


Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds chicken parts (wings, drummies, legs)
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 black peppercorns, whole
  • 10 parsley stems
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt

Directions for stock:

  1. Roast chicken at 475F for 1 hour, turning once.
  2. Remove chicken from roasting pan and place in stockpot.
  3. Add onions, carrots, and celery to roasting pan and cook for ~30 minutes, turning once.
  4. Add vegetables to stockpot.  Deglaze pan with 2 cups water.  Add to stockpot with 8 more cups water.
  5. Add 1 tsp. salt, parsley stems, peppercorns, and bay leaf.
  6. Simmer slowly for 3 hours.
  7. Remove from heat and strain.  Pour strained mixture into large shallow container and cool uncovered in refrigerator.  Skim fat before using.

Stock will freeze for 6 months.


Directions for pet food:

  1. Allow chicken and vegetables to cool before handling.
  2. Remove all chicken bones from mixture.
  3. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for a purr-fect treat!DSCN2184
 
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Posted by on January 27, 2013 in How-to's, Made from Scratch, Uncategorized

 

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Swedish Meatballs (Freezer-Friendly)

Swedish Meatballs

I’m on week 2 of freezer-friendly meals and so far I am loving it!  I grocery shop on Saturday, cook on Sunday, and do next to nothing the rest of the week.  During the week, it’s just a matter of heating and assembling.  How did I not think of this before?

Since I married into a Swedish family, I thought I should polish up on my Swedish meatball-making skills.  Since it’s just the two of us, I made the entire recipe below, but portioned the meatballs and gravy in half so we actually were able to make two meals out of one recipe.  Yet another bonus to making this meal ahead of time!

Makes 30-35 small meatballs (6 Servings)

Ingredients:
Meatballs:

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. evaporated milk
  • 2 lbs. ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley

Gravy:

  • 2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half-n-half

Directions:
Meatballs:

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until soft, ~3-5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs and evaporated milk, stir.  Add ground beef, onion, egg, salt black pepper and parsley.  Mix just to combine making sure to not overwork the meat.
  3. Roll meatballs and brown on all sides in skillet over medium-high heat.

* Meatballs will keep frozen for 6 months.

Gravy:

  1. Melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in beef broth until combined.  Add onion powder, garlic powder, dried parsley, salt, black pepper, and fresh parsley.
  2. Heat until boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened.

* Gravy will keep frozen for 2 months.


To Serve:

  1. Simmer meatballs and gravy in a skillet over medium heat until both are heated thoroughly, about 10 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to low, add 1/2 cup cream and mix to combine.


 Ground Beef & Heavy Cream                                                Ground Turkey & Half-n-Half

Swedish Meatballs Label                                               Swedish Meatballs Label-Turkey Sub

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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