I’ve had some requests for the recipes I used, so I’m going to try a little link-fest with notes for recipes I’ve done and we enjoyed. Hopefully I’ll have more in a month when we’ve eaten through the most recent round of cooking – I think there were some real winners in that round. Keep in mind with your frozen-but-ready-to-bake meals, it all depends on how big of a pan you do. A really big/deep pan will take longer to thaw and bake. Smaller pans can bake faster. It doesn’t seem to matter, you’ll just need to account for the possible extra time.
Also, let me throw out the tip of collecting recipes over a few days. When you choose all your recipes at one time, it’s easier to get a one-track recipe mind. I was apparently in the mood for everything that tasted like a taco or beef stew.
I’d probably make all of these again, some in heavier rotation than others. It took me the better part of a Saturday, but I was in no hurry and took a few breaks.
Crockpot Cheese Tortellini and Sausage. Now, I did not freeze this one, so I can’t speak for its freezing. But I did throw it in while I was making everything else, so I didn’t have dinner to worry about when I finished. This was easy, and really, really delicious. The kind of delicious where you exclaim every time you eat it, “THIS IS SO GOOD.” And then you make it again a couple weeks later because THIS IS SO GOOD. I used mild Italian sausage. I think I had it in the crockpot for 3 – 3 1/2 hours the second time, because the first time the full 5 hours seemed to ALMOST overcook the tortellini. But my crockpot runs pretty hot, even on low.
Taco Pasta. Made it. Froze it. Loved it. It was one of the more time consuming prep meals (because I am so lazy and tried to stick with dump & freeze). But it was worth it. I used ground turkey. I doubled it, because as long as you’re doing the prep just DO IT. So I made a huge batch and froze it in three pans. It took forever to thaw, so I usually ended up giving it a full hour to bake with foil on, then topped with cheese until bubbly.
Macaroni and Beef. I took extensive liberties with this one. I used rotini for the pasta. Instead of pureeing whole tomatoes, I just bought tomato puree. I think I threw in a can of diced tomatoes as well, because it seemed like it needed a bit more liquid. This is why you want to have extra cans of things. I knew this was going to soak up more liquid into the pasta, and I do not regret that extra can of tomatoes. I also threw in most of a package of fresh mushrooms, because I over purchased for another recipe. And I used ground turkey. Took a SWEET FOREVER to thaw, and I had to bake it way way longer, but it was delicious and should be made again. Part of the forever thawing was because I froze a giant, giant pan of it.
Chicken Enchilada Soup. This had a nice kick (Says the Scandinavian with a Minnesotan palate – so keep that in mind. My kick is not your kick.). It would also be good using rotisserie chicken, but I generally just buy giant bags of frozen chicken tenderloins and throw some of those in all the chicken recipes. I’m not saddling myself with the work of breaking down a rotisserie chicken on an already busy day. We topped it with a little shredded cheddar and some tortilla chips crumbled.
White Chicken Chili. Do you see the trend? Ok, I took liberties with this one as well. I used frozen chicken tenderloins, and shredded them when it was done cooking and put them back in. I used one can of white beans, and that was it. I don’t like beans. I can make it however I want. And I skipped the jalepeños. So it’s sort of loosely based on this recipe. I believe this is the meal that inspired my “place your bag in a bowl before filling” tip. Not sure how much chicken broth I lost all over the counter.
Baked Ravioli. Easy and good. I made two pans, and used two different kinds of ravioli so they would be a little different.
Chicken Enchiladas. Enchiladas are high maintenance to me. So much assembly. So I split this recipe into three pans, to enjoy three times. Right when I started cooking in the morning, I put some frozen chicken tenderloins in the crockpot on high with salsa and taco seasoning mixed together (so not really sticking to the recipe for the meat mixture at all). Wait – isn’t the tortellini soup in the crockpot, you say? I have two. I used the 4 qt for the chicken, and the 6 qt for the soup. Then I shredded the chicken and assembled the enchiladas as the last recipe. I kept the cottage cheese mixture as it reads. I have frozen with the sauce on and without the sauce on. I haven’t noticed a difference. These are pretty tasty, and you can spice to your preference by choosing the heat of the enchilada sauce.
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken. Six Sisters have some great recipes. I stuck to the recipe on this one. It didn’t knock me down with amazingness, but it was perfectly good. I’d probably make it again. It was easy and different.
Beef and Mushrooms. From the same Six Sisters post. It was good. I may have used red wine instead of apple juice, and I tend to throw some worcestershire sauce into everything with beef. Well look at that. Is there now an open bottle of red wine? Nice!
Beef Stroganoff. It was fine. I like beef stroganoff, and will make it again. I may or may not use this particular recipe.
Beer and Beef Stew. SO MUCH BEEF. See what happened here? I wanted a taco or some beef stew, and the next thing you know, that’s what we’re eating for a month. This was fine. But I skipped all the chopping vegetables and just threw in a bag of frozen stew vegetables. Then I added a small bag of frozen cubed potatoes when I cooked it. I’d maybe add the frozen potatoes much later or something, because the potatoes all broke apart in the broth. Probably if you do it the way the recipe says, it’s good.
Good luck! Let me know if you give the freezer cooking a try!