Monday, November 5, 2012

Freezer Cooking Lunch and Dinner Recipes

Once again I would like to share some of my favorite freezer friendly meals with you. Today I will be focusing on meals for lunch or dinner. Having your freezer stocked with a couple meals that can be pulled out at the last minute is such a stress reducer on those unexpectedly crazy days.

First up is Hot Pockets. I am sure you have seen these little guys in the freezer at your local store but today I want to show you a way to make them with ingredients that you know, flavors you like, and a size that fits the appetites of your family.

1. Hot Pockets -

First off make the dough. Here is my favorite bread recipe -

Combine -

2 eggs with enough warm water to make 1 1/3 cups

1/4 cup oil or applesauce

1/4 cup sugar or honey

4 cups flour ( you can use a combination of white/wheat if you would like)

1 package (2 1/4 tsp) yeast

 You can make this dough two ways. 1. Mix all ingredients in a bread machine on the dough setting until done or 2. mix all thoroughly and then knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl in a warm place until doubled in size.

Place filling on half of circles then top with other half of circles.
Crimp edges to seal.

Once your dough has risen either in the machine or in your bowl you are ready to start making your hot pockets. Tear off about 1/2 of the dough and place onto a counter that has been dusted with flour. You will want to roll out your dough pretty thin for these. I would say about 1/4 in or so. Once your dough is rolled thin grab a biscuit cutter or even just a cup the size you want your pockets and start cutting. You will need an even number! Now, it is time to choose your filling. I have done plain old hamburger, ham and cheese, pepperoni and pizza sauce, chicken broccoli and cheese, and even sausage and egg! Just place a little of your filling into the center of half your circles. You will need to leave about 1/4 in around the edges to crimp them closed. Once your filling is in place use the other half of your circles to cover your filling. Use a fork dipped in flour to crimp around the edges.
Once your circles are closed place onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown (15-20 minutes depending on what size you made them). Remove them from the pan onto a cooling rack, cool to room temperature, and then freeze in a single layer in a ziploc bag.

Reheat - When you are ready to eat these you can reheat in a 300 degree oven or pop them into the microwave (we love our auto defrost setting for reheating freezer meals like this).

2. Peanut Butter Roll Ups -

This is an amazing lunch idea for children! It uses ingredients that most families have on hand.
Gather your bread, peanut (or any nut) butter, and jelly, honey, or even cinnamon sugar (my 4yr old's favorite combo). Start by cutting off the side crusts of each piece of bread. I hate wasting food, so I saved these pieces and used them to make bread crumbs or croutons). Once the sides are removed use a rolling pin or heavy glass and flatten the bread. Spread with your peanut butter and top with your favorite "partner". Then starting at the bottom crust roll each piece of bread up "sushi" style. For little ones you can cut each piece into smaller sections or leave whole for older children. Once you have assembled your roll ups place an appropriate serving for your children into a ziptop sandwich bag. Then place all of those smaller bags into a large freezer bag and pop into the freezer. Whenever you need a quick lunch for school or a last minute picnic in the park just grab the bags you need and place in a lunch box. By the time you are ready to eat they will be ready to be enjoyed! Just like those frozen sandwiches at the store only made to "order"!

3. Chicken Enchilada Casserole -

What you will need -
1 can cream of chicken soup (or use this recipe for a homemade substitue, I love it!)
1 can diced green chilies
1 cup sour cream
Roughly 2 cups diced cooked chicken (Use more if you want it "meatier" but I love this recipe for the fact that I can really stretch my meat)
6-8 flour tortillas

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and mix well. If you plan to freeze this meal I suggest using an oven safe pan with a tight fitting lid or foil. You will start by lightly greasing your pan. Then start with the tortillas and cover the bottom of pan. Think lasanga now. Cover the tortillas with the chicken mixture and a layer of cheese if you deisre. Repeat to fill pan or until all of your filling is used, but end with filling! I usually do not add cheese to my middle layers as this is just a personal preference. Now this is where freezing vs baking right away differ.

To eat - top with cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until warm and bubbly. Usually around 30 minutes but will despend on the shape of the pan you choose. Thicker casseroles will take longer.

To freeze - When you have added the final layer of filling, cover tightly with your lid or foil and freeze. When ready to use the casserole, place it into the fridge in the morning. Then about an hour before dinner place casserole into a 300 degree oven. After about 30 minutes check the casserole every few minutes as oven times vary and the shape and thickness of your casserole will affect the warming time. Once the casserole is warmed through sprinkle cheese on top and return to oven for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

Some people love to use taco toppings on this casserole
but I prefer to serve it with spanish rice, chips and salsa!

4. Stromboli

In our home we do a lot of hosting. And usually the families that we host have young children. So I love recipes like this that I can make one child friendly version and one more adult pallet friendly.
To make this stromboli I start with THIS pizza crust. It is the best recipe for pizza crust that I have found to date! As you can probably tell above I use a combination of whole wheat flour and white flour when I make it. Once the dough is finished and ready to roll out I dust my counter with flour and roll out my dough to be about 14in - 18in by 10-12in. Then I place my filling (just like the hot pockets I have tried all sorts of things pepperoni, chicken, ham and cheese, etc) in a straight line down the center of the dough. Once my filling is in place I then use sissors or knive to cut "strips" in my dough. I cut from the edge of the dough to right before the filling. Don't cut under the filling!! The strips do not have the match or be even. It will still taste fine. Once both sides are cut, I start at one end and fold in the strips onto the filling. Again this doesn't have to be perfect, just fold them in however they lay.

To eat - Transfer the stromboli using two spatulas onto a cookie sheet and follow your crust recipe's baking directions.

To freeze - Carefully transfer the stromboli (using two spatuals works best for me) onto foil or parchment paper. Wrap tightly and seal in a gallon freezer bag or freezer paper (sold near the foil at my store). When you are ready to serve you can unwrap your frozen stromboli, place on a cookie sheet into a cold oven. Allow the stromboli to slowly warm as the oven heats to 350 degrees. Bake until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Written by Happily Domestic contributor-Amanda Sikes

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Myrna said...

Thanks for some really good recipes. I have a dessert braid that I like to use and I assemble it on parchment paper right on the baking sheet. Then I don't have to worry about it bending or falling. (I am a bit of a clutz and drop things frequently).

Amy Watkins said...

Yum! I will have to try these. I have been a freezer cooker for awhile now.

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