Thanksgiving Casserole

November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving is here and that means food, football and leftovers. Each year after Thanksgiving we make Kentucky Hotbrowns with some of our leftovers, but inevitably, we're still eating leftovers a week later. Now you can make those leftovers into a quick, easy and yummy freezer meal that combines all of the goodness of Thanksgiving dinner, but you can eat it after the Holidays!

Thanksgiving Casserole

3 c. diced turkey meat
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 c. diced onions
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/3 c. frozen peas (unthawed)

3 c. prepared stuffing
(or 1 box prepared Chicken StoveTop stuffing)

To prepare:
- Combine all ingredients except stuffing.
- Place in 8x8" disposable aluminum pan.
- Top with stuffing
- Label and seal with aluminum foil.

To cook:
- Thaw in refridgerator for 24 hours.
- Remove foil and bake at 350* for 35-45 minutes until bubbly.


Hearty Beef Stew

November 25, 2008

Every October my little family hosts a Pumpkin Carving Party and it has become a tradition to have this Hearty Beef Stew on that occasion each year. That's fine by me because this stew is easy as pie and cooks in a crock-pot on my counter all day while I get ready for the party. And this Beef Stew freezes really well. Divide it and freeze in single portions for a slow cooked taste of home in a snap.

Hearty Beef Stew

1 ½-2 lbs. stewing beef
2 cans tomato soup
4-5 potatoes
1 can beef broth
1 medium onion
½ lb. baby carrots
3 bay leaves
3-4 cloves garlic

1 pkg. beef stew seasoning
2 Tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley
salt & pepper to taste

-Combine everything through the garlic in a 4 qt. Crockpot.
-Cook on High for 5 hours.
- remove bay leaves.
-Make a slurry* with seasoning packet and cold water. Add and bring to boil to thicken.
-Add salt and pepper to taste.
-Sprinkle top with fresh chopped italian parsley right before serving

To Freeze: Coll, uncovered in the refrigerator. Spoon into individual disposable soup bowls. Cover tightly with lid. Label and freeze for up to 6 months.

To Re-heat: Open one edge of lid to vent. Cook in microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking in two minute intervals (stirring in between) until desired temperature.

*A slurry is when you take a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch and whisk it together with cold water to make a thick paste. It is then added it to a hot liquid. Adding a thickening agent to hot liquid without this will create lumps. Be sure your soup comes to a boil again before serving or the thickening properties will not take effect.


Pie in a Jar

November 21, 2008

Can you freeze an entire pie? You sure can. Depending on what filling you choose. I have a detailed post planned on that topic for the future, but for's a genius idea for an individual size Pie in a Jar. I found this idea on a blog today and had to share it.

I love the thought of having a bunch of these, labeled and in my freezer for a weeknight when we need a special treat. And I plan on making them in a bunch of different varities since my husband likes blueberry pie and I don't. I plan on making apple carmel pies by dicing canned apple pie filling and adding caramel ice cream topping to it before filling the crust. Yum!

The following text and photos are taken directly from the Not Martha website. Don't worry, I got her permission first!

Freezer Pie in a Jar

Try these little pies, which you construct in jars and freeze to bake later so you have individual freshly baked pies basically on demand. This is genius. Please note the importance of using jars with straight sides that don't narrow at the opening. I bought some cherry pie filling in a can because, I will not lie, I am lazy. Here are a few things I learned:

1. When putting in the bottom crust allow it to stick up over the edge to give you something to turn under and crimp later. I don't have nearly enough crust in the picture above to do the job right. My second batch, which I didn't take pictures of, had properly tucked crust and didn't leak nearly as much. When you do leave enough crust they look more like this (one from my second try): photograph by Maggi, thanks Maggi!
2. Put filling in to about 3/4ths of an inch below the top. This way you'll have enough room to put the top layer of crust on and press the edges together.
There is no really good way to get a small disk of pie dough into the jar and press it into place. I sort of made a cone to lower the dough and just smooshed everything into place, trimming a bit off where needed. Put multiple holes in top crust. If you only put one hole in the crust they might erupt like a volcano.
3. Fold over and crimp the edges as best you can.

To Bake: Bake somewhere at 375 degrees until the bottom of the crust is browning, an advantage of baking in a glass container. The top might pop off or puff up adorably. Putting a Silpat on your baking sheet keeps the little jars from sliding around when you remove them from the oven, they are otherwise frighteningly slidy and hot. Don't forget to take the lid off before you put them into the oven!

Removal from the jar is a little messy. Just go with it.
I didn't get a chance to try blueberry....yet.


Taco Soup...Vegetarian Style

November 17, 2008

Remember this recipe for Toby's Taco Soup? It's pretty darn good, but Vegetarians don't need to miss out. Here's a version for you Herbivores too. My Sister-In-Law, Michelle, will be thrilled!

Vegetarian Taco Soup

1/2 c. chopped onion
2 can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 qt. tomato juice
1 pkg. taco seasoning

optional additions
2 c. frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes

- In a large pot saute onions.
- add 2 cans black and 1 can pinto beans.

- take remaining can of pinto beans and use a fork to smash the beans into a think paste. Add to pot. *

- add taco seasoning packet. Stir to coat beans.
- Dump in remaining ingredients.
- Bring to boil. Leave at hard boil for 30 minutes, uncovered.
- salt and pepper to taste.
- to serve top with shredded cheddar cheese, black olives, sour cream, green onions and taco chips.

To Freeze
- portion out individual servings by spooning soup into ziplock disposable bowls. DO NOT COVER with lids. Place on cookie sheet and flash freeze in freezer for 4 hours. Write "Taco Soup" on lids with permanent marker adding a green sticker. Cover with lids. stack in freezer.

To Reheat
From frozen: Open one edge of lid to vent. cook in microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking in two minute intervals (stirring in between) until desired temperature. Add toppings or eat plain.

*Vegetarian Tip: Ever tried to omit meat from a soup recipe and got a watery result? Adding a can of smashed beans to any soup recipe will thicken the soup base and add a meaty texture...without the meat.


Breadsticks to die for

November 10, 2008

Remember the last post about my love affair with Puff Pastry?
Get ready to fall in love too.

Freezing Happy is not just about pulling completely meals from the freezer.
It's about having a freezer filled with a arsenal of tools to make your life easier in a variety of different ways.

So on a Monday night when you have not yet recovered from the weekend, you can make an easy and complete meal by boiling some pasta, adding your favorite jarred sauce, a green salad and whipping a few of these amazing, melt in your mouth breadsticks from the freezer to complete your meal. Or serve them as an accompaniment to a large dinner salad.

Freezy Cheese Straws

1 (9.5x9") sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed on counter for 10 minutes.
2 ounces grated *real Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper.

- Line counter top with silpat or wax paper.
- Unwrap slightly thawed puff pastry sheet and spread open.
- Sprinkle with 1/2 grated parmesan, salt and pepper
- Cover with second layer of waxed paper and use a rolling pin to lightly press down to press cheese into dough.
- Flip the dough over, carefully remove top layer of wax paper and repeat with remaining half of ingredients.
- Replace wax paper and roll until the dough is 10.5" square.
- Remove top layer of wax paper and use a pizza cutter to slice long strips that are 3/4" wide.
- Gently twist each strip and then place it onto a silpat lined baking sheet, 1 inch apart.

To freeze: wrap baking sheet with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. Remove from pan and place in a gallon freezer bag.

To Bake:
- Place needed amount of cheese straws onto silpat lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 425* for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and serve.

*Tip: How to tell it's real Parmesan.

Real Parmesan cheese will have a stamp on the rind made of many small pinholes as shown above. Fake domestic Parmesan may have a rough looking rind, but if there is no's not going to be as good. If the real stuff is too expensive for you, go with the domestic DiGiorno brand. I guess you can try using the grodey powdery can stuff, but it's not going to compliment the buttery goodness of the puff pastry and I'll probably be a bit mad at you.


About Puff Pastry

November 7, 2008

Let's talk about Puff Pastry.
It's one of your best friends in your quest for Freezer Domination.
Because it is incredibly versatile.

It can be sweet, savory, main dish, side dish, bread, dessert, appetizer...anything!
And it freezes like a dream.
It must be love.

Get ready to see this versatile ingredient a lot here in the future.
From Beef Wellington to cherry turnovers. And bread sticks to fancy appetizers.


On The Side: Cheesy Potatoes

November 5, 2008

I've covered a lot of Main Dish recipes so far, but the difference between going to a chain freeze-ahead place and doing it yourself is side dishes. Those chains don't provide them and let's face it, you need them to make a meal complete!

People in Utah call these "Funeral Potatoes", but you can make them for a more happy occasion. Serve these along side my Super Simple Meatloaf.

Cheesy Potatoes

1 24-ounce bag frozen shredded hash browns
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 c. shredded medium cheddar cheese
1/4 t pepper

- Soften cream cheese and cream together with soup.
- Stir in onions, cheese and pepper.
- Break apart hash browns.
- Gently stir into cheese mixture.
- Spray disposable aluminum casserole dish with cooking spray. Add potato mixture. Top with shredded cheddar.
- Cover with foil, label and freeze.

To serve: Thaw. Bake covered for 1 hour at 350°. Uncover and return to oven until cheese is melted.

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About This Blog

A new recipe will be posted each Monday and, of course, you can always search the archives by category.

The Goal of this blog is not just to give you my recipes, but to teach you which ingredients freeze well, which don't, methods and tips to help you freeze your own recipes...because who knows better what your family likes than you?

Do you only cook organic? Great! Are you a vegetarian? No problem! Make what works for you and save time, money and (let's be honest...stress) while doing it.

The Freeze Happy philosophy has made my life better and I'm pretty sure it can improve yours too.

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