As requested by my friend Julie, I'm posting some yummy meals. In fact, I'm going to make Mondays on my blog, "Monday Meals!" Give you some ideas to try for dinner each week :-)
For today's meals, it's perfect for the Christmas Season. "Why?" you may ask. Well, it's not because these meals have a "Christmas feel" to it or anything, but rather, I've chosen them for their convenience. Most of us have December calendars that are slammed full of play dates, work parties, shopping lists, visiting family members -- I could go on and on. So, here are some great freezer meals to try.
Each of these freeze really well. So, make them when you have the time, pop them in the freezer and save for a night when you don't want to cook or you have family in town.
I recently made these meals for my friends Elaine and Mike as a thank you for watching Toby over Thanksgiving while we were gone. I doubled each meal and kept one for my family to try,. So, I can vouch they're all yummy, especially the manicotti- that was my favorite.
-CAREFULLY COOK THE MANICOTTI SHELLS- Do NOT overcook, in fact, undercook by about 2-3 minutes. This way the shells will not be too flimsy when you're filling them, plus they'll finishing cooking perfectly when placed in the oven.
-Read all the directions carefully before starting to make the meal...Some recipes use frozen ingredients to start with and you don't need to mess with thawing freezer ingredients you may have.
-The Wild Rice Turkey Bake would be wonderful to use leftover holiday turkey with. Or, I think rotisserie chicken would be a great substitution too!
-The chili recipe is super easy, and very yummy. This would be a great meal to double or triple and serve when you have company in town. Keeps you out of the kitchen while you're entertaining, and you can serve it with a fun "chili bar" filled with lots of toppings to jazz up an ordinary meal to make it special for company.
-Also on the chili, if you have eaters who don't like spicy food, omit the cayenne pepper, although I didn't find it to make it all that spicy...Lucy ate it fine :-)
Enjoy! And I'd love to hear what recipes you tried and liked! And if you have requests for "Monday Meals," just let me know! I probably have a recipe I could suggest.
Ham Stuffed Manicotti
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
- 14 manicotti pasta shells
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup butter or olive oil
- 1-2 cups cooked cubed ham
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
- 6 Tbsp. flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook manicotti as directed on package. Drain, rinse in cool water and set aside. Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic, and green bell pepper in 4 Tbsp. butter or olive oil until tender. Add ham and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
In another heavy saucepan, cook 6 Tbsp. butter or olive oil until foamy. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles, about 3 minutes. Add milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens. Stir in cheese. Mix 1/4 of cheese sauce with ham mixture.
Fill manicotti shells with ham mixture (your fingers work best for this; it's messy, but most efficient). Spread about 1/2 cup cheese sauce in greased 13x9" glass baking dish and arrange filled shells over sauce. If there is any leftover stuffing, just sprinkle it over the filled shells. Pour remaining cheese sauce over filled manicotti. At this point the casserole can be cooled in the refrigerator, then wrapped and frozen up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator, then uncover, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. If not freezing casserole, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until bubbly. Serves 8
Spicy Freezer Chili
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 onions, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (14 oz.) cans chopped tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 (15 oz.) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
Cook ground beef with onions and garlic in heavy skillet until ground beef is brown and vegetables are tender; drain. Mix all ingredients except cornstarch and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes. If you want a thicker chili, mix cornstarch and water in small bowl until smooth and add to chili, stirring well. Uncover and cook for about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. 8 servings
To freeze, do not add cornstarch and water. Cool quickly in refrigerator, then place in plastic freezer containers and freeze until solid. To reheat, place chili in saucepan with 1/4 cup water and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reheated. At this point you can add the cornstarch and water mixture if you'd like a thicker chili.
Chicken Potato Casserole
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 60 minutes
- 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.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 3 cups cooked wild rice
- 3 cups chopped cooked turkey
- 16 oz. pkg. frozen french cut green beans, thawed
- 17 oz. jar alfredo sauce
- 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix rice, turkey, green beans and alfredo sauce in large bowl. Place in 12x8" glass baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until casserole bubbles at the edges and bread crumbs are browned.
To freeze, undercook rice by 10 minutes. Do not thaw green beans. Mix all ingredients and place in baking dish. Wrap well and attach small freezer bag with bread crumbs. Label and freeze up to three months. To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator. Uncover, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and bake at 350 degrees for 50-65 minutes until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Serves 6