Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meals to Freeze

Many women are approached with offers to help "after the baby comes". I suggest considering asking these generous friends to bring a meal that you can eat and freeze the leftovers (or make two meals: one for now and one for later!). Or, when things are going smoothly during pregnancy, make a few extra meals "for your freezer".

Postpartum life is busy with lots of new adjustments, and although everyone knows good nutrition is important, it can be easy to sacrifice to sleeping, or baby care. Breastfeeding mothers, in particular, need to be sure they are eating well.

Here are a few recipes that I've enjoyed postpartum - they do run the gamut from easy/quick to more involved as well as from lower-fat to yum: cheese! They all freeze well, just be sure to store them carefully in freezer bags, foil (line casserole dish with two criss-crossing layers of foil; fill; lift out of casserole and seal foil), tupperware, etc. Many of the recipes can be portioned out and stored in one-person sizes, so they can be reheated easily without waste.

Keep in mind, too, that other things you already make might also freeze well: soups, muffins, breads, pesto, oven-baked "fried" chicken, pizza dough, pie crust etc. Frozen berries and vegetables are also great to stock up on to round out a meal.

MAPLE-PECAN GRANOLA

2 cups regular oats
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 300°.

Combine oats and next 5 ingredients (through salt); spread on a large jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Serve with plain or vanilla yogurt and fruit (banana, berries, etc).

Freeze in freezer bag.



EASY CHICKEN CASSEROLE

This doubles easily and freezes well.

6-8 chicken breasts or thighs, boneless
4-6 Slices Swiss Cheese
1 Can Cream Of Mushroom Soup
1/2 C White Wine
2 C Seasoned Stuffing Mix
4 Tbsp Melted Butter
Salt
Pepper

Wash chicken pieces with cold water and pat dry. Cut off any extra fat. Place in a greased casserole dish large enough to hold them in ONE layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with cheese slices.

Mix wine and soup until smooth and pour over everything.

Mix stuffing with melted butter and sprinkle evenly on top.

Bake at 300 F for 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 4-6

Freeze cooked casserole in portion sizes to reheat in the microwave, or freeze unbaked casserole, thaw in refrigerator and bake.


CAPONATA WITH PENNE AND SHREDDED ITALIAN CHEESE

This is more work and a lot of ingredients, but really, really good.

2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cubanelle Italian long green pepper, seeded and diced
1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata black olives, pitted and chopped
1 (3-ounce) jar capers, drained
1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) golden raisins
1 medium firm eggplant, diced
Salt
1 (32-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Penne pasta (12-16oz)
Mozzarella Cheese or Italian blend cheese, shredded (8oz)

Place the cutting board near the stovetop. Preheat a big, deep pot over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, and crushed pepper. As you chop vegetables (peppers, onion, and celery), add them to the pot. Once vegetables are in there, increase heat a bit.

Stir in olives, capers, and raisins. Salt the diced eggplant and stir into the pot. Add tomatoes, diced and crushed, to the pot and stir caponata well to combine. Cover pot and cook caponata 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in parsley and remove pan from heat.

Combine half (freeze other half) and pour over cooked penne pasta. Sprinkle with parsley, red pepper flakes, and shredded cheese. Bake until cheese melts.

I freeze the caponata mix already cooked and then thaw/microwave; make pasta and bake.


BULK SPAGHETTI SAUCE

2lbs Italian sausage
2t garlic, minced
2C onions, chopped
5 jars commercial spaghetti sauce (12C)
½ C green pepper, chopped
4 16 oz cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes, cut up, undrained
½ C celery, chopped

Brown sausage, onion, green pepper, celery and garlic in large pot. Add sauce & stewed tomatoes. Simmer on low to medium for at least one hour. Stir occasionally. Allow to cool. Set aside sauce needed for other recipes and freeze the rest in bags/containers for sauce over pasta.


BEAN BURRITOS

These freeze very well (as burritos, or the mix) and it's easy to make a much larger batch of filling. I’ve used one chile from a can of chipotle/adobo instead of the jalapeno and that works fine too.

3/4 cup rice (I use brown)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño chile, chopped (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat) or 1 canned chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 box frozen corn kernels (10 ounces)
6 scallions, thinly sliced
8 burrito-size (10-inch) flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces)
Salsa and sour cream (optional)

Cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onions, garlic, jalapeño, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add beans and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add corn; cook to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in scallions. [I just mix rice into bean mixture at this point.]

Heat tortillas according to package instructions; fill with rice, bean mixture, and cheese.

Assemble: Mound 1/4 cup rice, 3/4 cup bean mixture, and 1/4 cup cheese on one side of tortilla. Fold, and hold in sides. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll into a bundle. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and prepare remaining burritos.

Serve immediately, with salsa and sour cream, if using, or wrap individually in plastic and freeze up to 3 months.

Reheating From Frozen

Microwave and oven: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate; microwave on high for 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet; bake at 450° until crispy, about 10 minutes. This is our favorite quick method. (I do it this way, but crisp up in my toaster oven.)

Oven only: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap; rewrap individually in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 450°, 40 minutes; remove foil, and bake to crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. (To reheat defrosted burritos, remove any wrapping, and bake for 10 minutes.)

Microwave only: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate, covered with a microwave-safe bowl, and defrost at high power for 3 to 4 minutes; uncover, and microwave on high, 3 to 4 minutes longer.


BROCCOLI SOUFFLE

6 beaten eggs
12 oz grated cheddar cheese
6 T flour
half a stick of butter
1 - 24 oz carton of cottage cheese
1 large bag of frozen broccoli (I prefer about same amount of fresh, washed/chopped/steamed - about one large head)
Garlic powder

Melt butter in a 9 x 13 dish as oven is preheating to 350. Combine all the rest of the ingredients and pour into the dish. Make for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and then eat.

Can be frozen either in a large blocks for dinner or small squares of foil for lunches.


TURKEY LOAF

This doubles, triples etc. very easily.


Mix 1 pound of Ground turkey
2 eggs
enough Pepperige Farm stuffing to hold the loaf shape
1 jar turkey gravy per loaf

Shape into loaves, wrap well and freeze.

Can bake from frozen - put in 350 degree oven for 1.5 hours. Can also be cooked in the crockpot - start in the morning on low.

Put turkey gravy over it as it bakes. If you like sweet potatoes or baked potatoes, throw in oven to cook while turkey loaf does.


LAVINA'S SPINACH LASAGNA

You can use half sharp cheddar cheese and half Monterey jack cheese. Easy to make half for dinner and freeze other half. To save time, you can use no-bake lasagna noodles and/or shredded cheese.

2 Lb Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
1 Tbsp Parsley
1/4 C Butter -- Melted
2 Eggs
1 C Parmesan Cheese -- Grated
1 Lb Monterey Jack Cheese -- Grated
9 Lasagna Noodles
3 Pkg Spinach – Chopped – thawed and drained
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder

Mix cottage cheese, parsley, butter, eggs, and seasonings.

Grease a 9x13" baking pan and layer as following: 3 noodles, 1/2 cottage cheese mix, 1/2 jack cheese, 1/2 spinach, and 1/2 Parmesan cheese.

Repeat, ending with noodles.

Dot with a little more butter and sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 F oven for 35-40 minutes.

Garnish with basil and/or parsley and serve.

Freeze in portion-sizes, or in unbaked in an 8x8" pan. Reheat in microwave (portion-sizes) or thaw and bake in the pan.

Do you have a favorite meal that freezes well? To share it, just leave the recipe in the comments section.

PS. This is my fiftieth blog post - the first one published 4/30/08. My web traffic has more than doubled - almost tripled (!!) since then.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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posted by Christina Kennedy at

1 Comments:

Anonymous MichelleB said...

Wow I would love to trye the chicken casserole recipe thanks! My BFF just had a baby, and we want to bring her lots of gifts and food etc. We just bought her some pretty jewelry from www.idonowidont.com and I made her cupcakes from scratch! But these recipes will be great thanks!

October 9, 2008 10:46 PM  

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