Monday, February 14, 2011

Freezer Dinners take 2

I just can't keep up with my sister. I meant to post this right after she posted her frozen dinners entry, but she has since posted like five other things. Oh well! As my more blog-productive sister stated, we are both within days of having babies! And the nesting phase has hit us both full force. I am actually quite proud of my accomplishments! I have stocked up our freezer to its full capacity with meals for me and hubby. If my calculations are correct, this should provide us with about 21 days worth of meals! Many of the meals I made are already on the Foodie Family blog. I will list them anyway along with the links to the recipes for your information. And I also have a few new recipes to add. So here it is...the contents of my freezer!

Ham: I got a big spiral ham for Christmas from my work. We had it Christmas Eve then froze the rest for later. I figure this should easily feed us for two days, plus a week's worth of ham sandwiches for lunch.

Soups, Stews and Chili: I think basically most soups, stews and chili are probably very freezer friendly. And it's great because you can make up a big batch and then have them for lunch leftovers too. I made some rolls, bread bowls and a very tasty Roulade to serve along side.

I made Tomato Soup, Squash Soup and Tortilla Soup, which have all been featured on this blog.

I also made a very delicious beef stew recipe that I got from this last month's Cooking Light magazine. It was scrumptious. My husband invited a friend over for dinner that night and I was a little sad to share it! ha ha! I'm awful! But we still had plenty for us and enough to freeze too. Here is the recipe for the beef stew:



7 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup dry red wine
3 3/4 cups chopped seeded peeled plum tomato (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, quartered
3/4 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add onion and chopped carrot; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from pan.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add half of beef to pan; sauté 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure.
Add wine to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping pan. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 5 minutes). Return meat and the onion mixture to pan. Add tomato and next 6 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, and stir in sliced carrot. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil, and parsley.
I also made some chili from an Everyday Food recipe...but to tell you the truth, I had to modify the recipe so much and add so many spices and things to make it flavorful, the recipe isn't really worth posting.
Another good frozen meal I'm looking forward to eating again are calzones!
Calzones are really easy to make and can be modified with a whole variety of ingredients to fit your particular palate. I usually make homemade pizza dough and stuff them with all kinds of yummies, but this time I was just too pooped to knead the dough, so I just got the canned pizza dough. This wasn't the greatest idea. They still tasted good, but the dough really makes a huge difference. But if your goal is quick and simple, the pre-made dough will do just fine.
Here is what I used for our calzones:
Spinach, Mushroom and Sausage Calzones
olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb fresh or frozen spinach ( if frozen, thaw and squeeze out excess water)
1 package sliced mushrooms
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 jar pizza sauce
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 package pizza dough, or fresh or frozen pizza dough
salt and pepper
oregano, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Cook sausage in sauce pan until no longer pink, breaking up into chunks. Set aside.
Heat oil in saucepan over med high heat. Add garlic, cook 3o sec. Add mushroom, cook until softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Fresh basil would also be delicious. Add spinach, cook until just wilted. Add sausage, cook until warmed through. Remove from heat. Stir in pizza sauce and cheese.
Roll out pizza dough, divide into four sections, cut into rectangles. Spoon topping onto half of each rectangle. Fold other half up and pinch edges to seal.
Cook at 450 degrees (Or as directed by pizza dough package) for about 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.
I just kind of made this recipe up. You could easily swap out ingredients. Get creative! It makes 4 calzones, and I froze two. To freeze, let calzone reach room temperature and then wrap tightly with aluminum foil. To reheat, place directly from frozen into a preheated oven and cook about 20- 30 minutes until warmed through.
Next up: Pastas!
Pasta is a really freezer friendly dish. I do believe my sister has shared some tasty baked pasta dishes. I made the Tomato Sausage Lasagna recipe she shared with us. It will feed us for a few days!
I also made some homemade ravioli from scratch with my pasta machine that my husband gave me for Christmas! It was a lot of fun, but A TON of work for an 8 month pregnant girl and I was seriously pooped the rest of the day after making them. I made two kinds, spinach and butternut squash and they were both delicious. I won't post the recipe at this point because you need special equipment and like I said, it was an all day affair. I think I might have to wait a few months to make more homemade pasta! But nevertheless, we have a few days of good eating to come from my labors.
I made two baked pasta casseroles that I got from the Martha Stewart/Everyday Food website.
The first is called Pastitsio, and is a lovely Greek pasta bake made with lamb and penne. The husband and I both enjoyed the unique flavor of the lamb and the creamy topping. It's a nice mix up from your traditional Italian baked pastas.

Serves 8
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound penne, cooked and drained
2 pounds ground lamb
2 medium onions, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook lamb, breaking apart pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a colander; drain fat, and discard. Return lamb to pan; add wine. Cook over medium heat until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon, and 2 cups water; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Make Parmesan Cheese Sauce while mixture is simmering: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if desired, and Parmesan.

Add pasta to lamb mixture; transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon until level. Bake until browned in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Read more at Pastitsio - Martha Stewart Recipes
The next recipe I tried was Mediterranean Tuna Casserole. Now, I can honestly say I don't think I have ever had tuna casserole before. So I thought, what the hay! Why not try it? It was pretty good. It's definitely a comfort food dish. I don't think it will become part of our regular repertoire, but it is worth trying for sure. I added some sliced olives just for the heck of it.
Mediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole
Serves 8
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound wide egg noodles
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
4 cans (6 ounces each) tuna in olive oil, drained
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and thickly sliced
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until 2 minutes short of al dente; drain, and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add bell peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.

To Freeze: Prepare through step 3; cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze up to three months.

To Bake from Frozen: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake, covered with foil, until center is warm, about 2 hours. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more.

To Bake from Thawed: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake, covered with foil, until center is warm, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more.

Remove from heat; add mixture to noodles in pot, along with tuna, artichoke hearts, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Divide between prepared baking dishes, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Read more at Mediterranean Tuna-Noodle Casserole - Martha Stewart Recipes
So speaking of casseroles, I also made the tasty Chicken Tamale Casserole previously posted on the blog.

I also tried one more new casserole, that I got from Martha's website. This was a tasty casserole, and it's a little different then your typical casserole so I thought I'd give it a try. I think it would be even better with a pound of sliced mushrooms added to it. And maybe some walnuts. I wish I would have thought of that! But even without, it's a very nice, savory dish.

Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage
Serves 8
1/2 baguette (about 4 ounces), torn into pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves (about 25)
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound fresh chicken sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
3 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse bread until very coarse crumbs form (you should have about 3 cups). Add 2 tablespoons oil; pulse briefly to moisten. Season with salt and pepper; set breadcrumbs aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add sage; cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sage to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside (reserve pan with oil).

Add onion and garlic to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add sausage and wine; cook, breaking sausage up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in beans; cook until beans are tender and creamy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer sausage-and-bean mixture to a shallow 4-quart baking dish; scatter breadcrumbs over top. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until topping is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve casserole topped with fried sage leaves.

Read more at Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage - Martha Stewart Recipes

And lastly......I also made a nice quiche. I was making quiche for dinner and it dawned on me...hey this would be a pretty easy thing to double...I wonder if you can freeze it? So I did a Google search and according to the internet, quiche is easily frozen! I'll have to let you know how it turns out. According to the internet, you just place from frozen and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until warmed. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I had a favorite quiche recipe that I would use and then I lost it when my computer crashed, so I did my best to recreate it. And here is what I came up with. Again, like the calzones, feel free to mix in whatever veggies or cheeses you would like.

Laurie's Favorite Quiche


4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon oregano
salt & pepper
veggies of your liking. I have done spinach and frozen veggies mixtures. This time I used halved cherry tomatoes and frozen corn
1 pie crust


Prepare pie pan with refrigerated pie crust. Set aside.

Add eggs, cheeses, mustard, and spices. Mix in veggies. Pour into pie shell, cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until set. Cool for about 10 minutes.

Phew! That is about it for the contents of my freezer. I'm exhausted now just thinking about it! ha ha! I'm sure glad I made all those meals while I had the energy, because this week I am totally just relying on my crockpot!


  1. Sorry! Once again, I created a new post without realizing that you were in the process of making a post of your own!

    Those calzones sound so, so, so, so good! I'll have to try them...but I don't think I'll be trying them until a month or two after my baby is born. Just like you, my freezer is packed full and I will now be concentrating on super easy meals (such as slow cooker dinners) until I go into labor!

    Thanks for sharing these freezer friendly recipes! Yum!

  2. Oh, and you had emailed me this quiche recipe almost three years ago. I think this is the original recipe that you lost when your computer crashed. From the looks of things, you have a great memory because I don't think you forgot anything from the original recipe!

    Mixed Vegetable Quiche with Cheddar and Parmesan

    Copyright, 2006, Robin Miller, All rights reserved

    Show: Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller

    Episode: Britain to Baja

    Mixed Vegetable Quiche with Cheddar and Parmesan


    1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust
    1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
    1 cup cooked stir-fried vegetables
    1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    3/4 cup grated Cheddar
    1/4 cup low fat milk
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon grated Parmesan


    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

    Press pie crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch, removable-bottom tart pan (or 9-inch pie pan). Set aside.

    In a large bowl, combine spinach, stir-fried vegetables and place on top of uncooked crust. In another bowl combine ricotta, cheddar, milk, eggs, Dijon, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Spoon cheese mixture on top of vegetable mixture in prepared pie crust and top with Parmesan.

    Bake 20 minutes, until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean and crust is golden brown.

  3. You are the champion! I am glad you found my original recipe. I think the new version is actually a little better because it uses more eggs and has a longer cooking time, so it makes for a firmer texture. If you use the original recipe you will have to increase the cooking time!

  4. Hm, what do I want you to save for when I come out????

    It all sounds good!

  5. Laurie, I made the pastitsio and added pictures. I hope they match the masterpiece that must have been your pastitsio!