Sunday, March 11, 2012

Freezer Meals: Saved my booty

Freezer Meals: Saved my booty
Before I start this, I must admit....I procrastinate when I'm at home.... 
a lot...that being said, please continue reading. :)

We aren't a family that goes out a lot - normally one or two social gatherings every couple of months.  It's not that we don't have friends because we are blessed with some wonderful ones.  It's just we tend to busy with house projects, work, or the kiddo.  We don't have a lot of free time.

Last week a close, long time friend invited us to come over for a Theme Night dinner!  The theme was comfort food. Each person was to bring their own favorite comfort style food.  First thing that came to my mind was our White Chicken Chili, warm, a little spicy and very filling.  Lucky for me, this is a crock pot meal = easy. 
Time is flying by and before I know it - Saturday has arrived!  My boyfriend was at work, so that means Olivia and I lounge about in the morning and then get to work on a few projects.  As I look at the clock, I remember - oh I have to start my chili.  It takes about 5-6 hours if on high.  Remember all those freezer meals??

Well my freezer was full and I didn't have any plain frozen chicken for the recipe. 

Whoops

I figure, I'll run to the store.  Umm...my purse is in his truck. 

Whoops. 
So I call  ask where he is currently....  He's nowhere near for me to pick up my purse with my debit card in time. 

Now, I PANIC.

What am I going to do now? By this point, I have less than 5 hours to cook a meal with no cash.  My fridge is empty because I cooked everything ahead, but it's frozen.  I don't have time to take out a freezer meal and unthaw/cook.  Plus, I haven't tried all these meals in my own kitchen and I'd like to avoid taste testing on old friends and strangers! 

Oh no, oh no, no no.

As I stare at my crock pot, it hits me!  I have thawed Mexican Shredded Chicken leftover from lunch.  My recipe calls for frozen chicken, but this can work instead....right? 
I frantically begin throwing my ingredients together in the heating crockpot (high):

1 can of corn, undrained
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
8oz of cream cheese
1 packet of dry ranch
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder

Next, I dump the entire bag of unthawed Mexican Chicken.  As I am stirring, I think - the frozen chicken normally added would help to add water as it cooked.  This will need some added help with liquid.  So I stir in 1/4 a cup of warm water.

An hour passes.

As I stir the crock pot, I notice it still doesn't have enough liquid.  More water would seem to dilute this down too much, so I look in the fridge.  I had some salsa on hand (no shocker, I love salsa).  I mix in about 1/2 of salsa.

I wrap up a present for my friend's son (whose also turning one the following day) and get Olivia and myself ready.  It's almost time to go and I taste the chili.  It isn't lacking flavor and is very simular to my planned meal! With my critic mind going, I think the flavor isn't identical...the color is different...it's a little thicker.  However, it's good.  Let's cross our fingers.

We arrive a few minutes after we'd planned but we had the meal ready to go for everyone to eat.  Thankfully....

It was a HIT!


I didn't have time to take a picture, but you'll prob remember this one from the PIN floating around. 
It's pretty close to what I created, just think more chicken.

Whew.

We ended with a great night visiting with oldies and newbies. I really wish we'd get out more, I love socializing with friends.
So here is to Freezer Meals -

If I hadn't simplified my life by cooking ahead, I would have been empty handed for Theme Night.













~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
In case you'd like the original recipe:

White Chicken Chili
2 frozen chicken breasts or 1 bag chicken tenderloins
1 can of corn, undrained
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
8oz of cream cheese
1 packet of dry ranch
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
Cook on low for 6-8 hours

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Freezer Meals: Chive Chicken

Chive Chicken

What you'll need:
Pot
Spoon
Knife
Cutting Board
4 Freezer Bags
Ingredients:
6 Large Chicken Breasts
1 1/2 cups butter
6 Envelopes of Italian salad dressing mix
3 cans cream of chicken
3 cans cream of celery
3 cups dry cooking wine
          (I had left over Riesling and used this)
Instructions
Set out all of your ingredients.

Poor the butter into the pot and heat on medium until melted.  While melting add everything except the chicken into the pot.
Stir for a few minutes until everything appears to be well mixed.  Your kitchen will smell heavenly.  Once mixed, remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cut your breasts in half.  Put three halves in each bag and evenly divide the liquid between each bag.  I think I had two-three cups per bag.

Leave the bags open so the mix can cool slightly, then push as much air out as possible and freeze.
Chicken Chive
4 hours on LOW
8 hours on HIGH
+ sour cream and side dish

Cooking Day

I noticed my crockpot seemed to cook a little quicker and I shaved an hour of my cook time.  Ten minutes before serving, add cream cheese to mixture for the thickness and added flavor.

After thinking for a moment, I noticed my meal didn't have a veggie.  Then I remembered, there were leftover frozen green beans from the freezer cooking day.  So I added the frozen beans into the mix as well.


As the starch, I made one my favorites new potatoes boiled/baked. This made five-six servings.  I was hoping this would have a little more flavor.  Next round, I will add a flavored cream cheese to see if that makes a difference.

Hope you enjoy and let me know if you try this recipe!

 

Freezer Meals: Tortilla Chicken Soup

Tortilla Chicken Soup

What you need

Knife
Cutting board
Ziplock bags

Ingredients (1 meal)

2 cups of cubed chicken, raw
    (*) I substituted with a bag of tenderloins
1 can of corn
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 cans of 14oz chicken broth
1 can of tomato puree
    (*)I substituted with spicy V8 juice
1 can of diced tomatoes and green chiles
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
     (*) I substitutedwith a dash of ground bay leaves

Instructions

Gather all your ingredients and chop your onions.

Dump all your ingredients into the bag.  Push out air and label.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
8 hours low
4 hours high
Add tortilla strips

Cooking

Dump everything into the crockpot and cook based on setting. 



Five minutes before serving shred your choice of flour or corn tortilla (I used two flour) into thin strips and mix into soup.


Both the boyfriend and kid gave this a great review.  It had a mild spice to it but was very light, we all had two servings because the flavor was so wonderful.  We ended up with a total of seven good sized servings.

I made two freezer batches, so I am looking forward to the next batch.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Freezer Meals: Taco Soup

Family Favorite Taco Soup

What you'll need

Measuring Cup
Crock Pot (stove top pot works too)
Frying Pan/Skillet
Spatula
Spoon
Knife

Ingredients

1lb of lean ground turkey
1 medium white onion
(1) Can of Pinto Beans
(2) Cans of Kidney Beans, Light - drained/rinsed
(2) Cans of Kidney Beans, Dark - drained/rinsed
(1) Can of Corn - undrained
(1) Cup of uncooked white rice
(1) Taco Seasoning Packet
(2) Cups of V8 Juice
(1) Cup of warm water
Dash of Tabasco Sauce

Gather and layout all your ingredients.

Open your beans and drain/rinse them with cool water.
Then pour them into your crockpot (or pot on medium low)

Brown your turkey with the onions. 
Once brown, drain oils and add to your pot.

Next add the V8 Juice, can of corn (don't drain), and spices.
Stir very well.

Now add your rice and cup of warm water. 
Stir very well.

Add your meat and onion mix to the pot.

Stir very well and let cook on low for about six hours.  If using stove top, give it about two hours on low.  Stir often to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom.

When it's done, your soup (not really a soup, more of a chili) should look like this!


I love all the colors!  I've also added green peppers for another color in the past, looks nice as well.  All and all you should about fourteen meals.  The below containers are two servings and this meal is very filling.


Our family eats this meal often and it freezes wonderfully.  We do tend to serve this for lunch but it's perfect when you've been working in the yard all day and need something fast at dinner.

I hope you enjoy!




Freezer Meals: Healthy BBQ Chicken

Healthy BBQ Chicken

What you'll need:

Ziplock Bag
Knife
Measuring Cup/Spoon
(2) Bowls

Ingrediants for TWO freezer bags:

(2) Green Peppers Cut into Slices split between 2 bags
(1) Red Pepper Cut into Slices-split between bags
(1) Zucchini Chopped and split between bags
(3) Onions Chopped and split between bags
(6) Red Potatoes Chopped and split between bags
(4) Garlic Cloves Chopped & Split Between bags
(4) Chicken Breasts Split between bags (cut each breast in half)
(1/2) TBSP Quick Cooking Tapioca per bag
(1) 15 oz can of Tomato Sauce Split Between bags
(1) TBSP of Brown Sugar per bag
(1) TBSP Worcestershire per bag
(1) TBSP Mustard per Bag
(1/4) tsp Salt per bag



Lay out all your ingrediants.

Wash and chop your veggies and garlic.


"Mom, we can't eat the seeds."


As you chop the veggies, put the approriate servings in each bowl. 
Watch out for snack sneakers!


Once all of your veggies have been cut, load them into the bags.


Cut your breasts in half and put into the bags.


Add your sauce and seasonings.


Put into your ziplock bag and label

BBQ Chicken
High 4 Hours
Low 8 Hours


Enjoy!





We have not yet tasted this meal but will update this board with a review when we do!

Freezer Meals: Savory Vegetable Beef Soup

Savory Vegetable Beef Soup
What you'll need:

Frying Pan/Skillet
Spatula
Knife
Cutting Board
Measuring Cup/Spoons
Ingredients for ONE batch. 
Times the ingredients by how many freezer bags you'd like to make.
1lbs of ground beef
(1) Onion
(2) Cloves of Garlic
(2) whole carrots chopped per bag
(2) celery stalks chopped per bag
(3) Red Potatoes chopped per bag
(1) can v8 split between bags
(1) 28oz can diced tomatoes SPLIT between bags
(1) cup frozen green beans in each bag
(1/2)TBSP Worcestershire per bag

(1/2) cup Beef Broth per bag
(1) TBSP Parsley per bag

(1) tsp Basil per bag
1/2 tsp Thyme per bag
(1/2) tsp salt per bag
(1/2) tsp pepper per bag
(1) TBSP Sugar per bag

Set out all your ingredients in your work area. I am making two batches so everything listed above will be doubled.

Wash, chop onions and garlic cloves

Add the onion and garlic to your pan, brown with ground beef.
Once browned, drain oils and set aside to cool.

Next, wash and chop up your remaining veggies: celery, carrots, and taters. Then add frozen green beans. If you're really special, you'll have a little helper that puts the cut veggies into separate bowls.  The bowls are quite helpful to make sure you have equal amounts in each bag.

Just make sure to keep track of your inventory...
hey kid - how's the carrots?
Now, pour your diced tomatoes into the bag.

After, add all your veggies and spices into the freezer bag.


The meat should be cooled by this point and is ready to add to the bags. 
Since we made 2lbs it will be split between each bag.

Follow the instructions to pump out air if using Ziplock freezer bags, if using. 

Finally, label your bags with the cooking instructions and title.
Cooking Instructions:
Savory Veg Beef Soup
Add 1.5 cups of water and 15 oz beef broth
Low for 8 hours in crockpot

Cooking Day

I took the meal out of the fridge about 10am after I realized I'd compeltely forgotten to pick a meal. (One fail moment in freezer cooking) 

My bag said to add water.  As I reached for the sink, I thought - wait!  This is still frozen and heating will create its own water.  So I just tossed in the whole froze lump and added the beef broth. 

I knew we'd be out of the house for part of the day after some exciting personal news.  So I put this baby on low for 8 hours.  (Normally, I aim for the fastest cooking method possible)  When I came home, I didn't smell the soup welcoming me...slighty disappointing.  It looked yummy but then again, I'm not a huge fan of soup that doesn't include noodles or a form of starch.  Note: I wasn't counting the few taters in this mix.  However, the flavor - was quite good.  The first bite was slow but as I ate more and more, I really enjoyed the taste.

Jakob really liked it as well.

I'll make this one again because of all the wonderful veggies.  The kid gave it a semi ok ruling but that may have been because MeeMaw let her have cheesecake before dinner.

Next round, I may add some spices for a small flavor kick.


Freezer Meals: Mexican Shredded Chicken

Mexican Shredded Chicken
What you'll need:

Crockpot
(1) Spoon
(2) Forks
Can Opener
(1) Bowl
Measuring Spoons/Cups

Ingredients for one batch:

(1) 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
(1) cup of low sodium chicken broth
(2) tablespoons dried onion flakes
(2) teaspoons dried minced garlic
(3) tablespoons chili powder
(2) teaspoons ground coriander
(2) teaspoons ground cumin
(1 ½) teaspoons sugar
(½) teaspoon salt
(½) teaspoon pepper
(4) medium to large chicken breasts (about 3 pounds)
         *subsitute with chicken tenderlions if neccessary, this exampe does.


Set out all your ingredients in your work area.

Pour your sauce, and all your spices into the crockpot - stir until combined.

Add the chicken into the crockpot, and mix into the sauce until chicken is covered.

Cook on low for six hours.  I use a expo to mark the time on this one because this pot doesn't have a built in timer.
After it's all done pull out your chicken and put in a bowl.
Using two forks, seperate the chicken so it shreds.

Now, you will set the bowl aside and allow the chicken to cool.  Once cool, put it into a freezer bag and pump all the air out of the bag. 

Make sure you note it's cooked, my sign is a circled 'C'. This is great for quesdilla, tacos, burritos - any fast easy mexican meal.   My family eats this up quick and loves it.

Just take it out in the morning, put in the fridge, and by evening you'll have chicken that just needs to be warmed.  You can also save the liquid in the crockpot for enchilada sauce!

ENJOY!
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