Freezer Meals: The Recipes

In my initial freezer cooking post, I didn’t include the recipes since I was still recovering from the day of cooking. But here are the recipes for some of the dishes I made, including the Chicken Pot Pie & the Southwestern Turkey Chili:

Chicken Pot Pie

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
3-4 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
frozen mixed vegetables, kept frozen
1-2 cups cooked chicken
prepared pie crust

In a dutch oven, saute onions and garlic in oil.
When onions soften, add the butter.
Once butter melts down, add the flour and stir, cooking for about 1 minute.
Slowly add the heavy cream and stir.
Once you have a roux and cream is all mixed in, add the broth.
Simmer until it thickens.
Add frozen veggies and chicken, seasoning to taste.
You can also add your choice of dried herbs like basil, rosemary, oregano, etc.
Place mixture in a disposable loaf pan.
Mixture should be luke warm and once cooled completely, cut prepared pie crust to fit the top of the loaf pan, to sit above the filling.
Cover with foil and place in heavy duty freezer bag.

To cook, preheat oven to 350.
Place thawed pot pie on a baking sheet uncovered and bake for 45-50 min.

Southwestern Chicken Chili

Chili is a great dish to freeze and is great during these cold winter months too. I made a southwestern chili and once it cooled, I ladled it into quart size freezer bags. The bags hold a perfect serving amount for 2 people and I like how I can freeze them flat like a book – maximizing the space in my freezer!

(you could even make this in a crock pot, cool then place in heavy duty freezer bags)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds ground chicken or turkey breast
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato puree
1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans chicken broth
2 tablespoons dark chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
flour as needed

In a large pot, heat vegetable oil over medium heat.
Add bell pepper, onion and garlic. Saute about 5 minutes, until onion is translucent.
Add ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up large chunks, until turkey is browned. Do not drain fat.
Add tomatoes, tomato puree, kidney beans and corn. Stir in broth.
Stir in the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne.
Bring to simmer, then reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or scalding.
If the chili is too thick, add additional broth. If it is thin, stir 1/4 cup masa flour into an equal amount of water, then stir into the chili. Cook 5 minutes.
If the chili is still thin, repeat with an additional 1/4 cup masa flour.
Taste the chili and adjust the seasonings and spices to taste.

When it snows… Cook!

Over the weekend I had initially planned on hosting a chocolate tasting event where friends & I would “deep” taste varying chocolate of different cacao percentages. However Chicago was hit with a pretty bad snow storm a few days prior to the scheduled event so I canceled the chocolate tasting so folks could deal with the snow storm “aftermath.”

So with a free weekend to myself, I decided to cook and stock my freezer with prepared meals. I think I went a bit overboard since I cooked quite a bit… perhaps way too much! I shouldn’t complain because now my freezer is chock full of food and the best part is that dinner will be easy to get on the table for the next month or so. Here are some pics of what I prepared in advance today, however I’ll be posting the recipe for the dishes on the days we actually enjoy them. Hopefully the meals I prepared will provide you an idea of what things can be frozen in advance and perhaps inspire you to prepare meals for your freezer during these cold months!

Chicken Pot Pie
Disposable loaf pans are perfect vessels for freezing food, especially when wrapped in a gallon sized freezer bag for extra protection. Here I made a chicken pot pie filling which I ladled into the loaf pans. I topped each pie with a prepared crust, trimmed to fit. Cover with foil and place in a freezer bag. To prepare, I just take it out of the oven and pop it in to bake!
Southwestern Chicken Chili
Chili is a great dish to freeze and is great during these cold winter months too. I made a southwestern chili and once it cooled, I ladled it into quart size freezer bags. The bags hold a perfect serving amount for 2 people and I like how I can freeze them flat like a book – maximizing the space in my freezer!
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Rosemary Tomato Soup
Aside from chili, soup is a great freezer meal too. It allows me to use up various ingredients I have around and saves me money from buying canned soup that’s loaded with a ton of sodium anyway. After cooking the soups in my dutch oven, I placed them in these plastic containers to cool. You can use freezer containers, but I don’t like how much space they take up. Once cooled, I ladled them into freezer bags, just as I did for my chili.Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup
For this soup, I just threw whatever ingredients I had to use up including lo mein noodles, carrots, bok choy, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, etc. It’s a hearty soup I’m looking to have on days where I want something filling and comforting!Teriyaki Salmon Croquettes
I had some leftover salmon that I previously marinated in teriyaki sauce. Being that it was already cooked, I combined it with panko breadcrumbs, scallions, egg, spices and a touch of orange juice. I formed some patties to brown on both sides before freezing. These make a simple light meal on a night when I don’t have much time to cook.Chunky Vegetable Pasta Sauce
One of my favorite freezeable things is a homemade pasta sauce. Today I decided on a chunky vegetable sauce made with some zucchini, italian green beans, carrots, onion, garlic and bell peppers. After simmering in my crockpot for hours, it came out perfect! I let it cool before putting it into freezer bags. Some of it I used to make some lasagnas…Chicken & Spinach Lasagnas
Spinach Ricotta Mini Manicotti
Using the disposable loaf pans again, I made some lasagna with a fun pasta find. Ecco la Pasta is a company that makes dry pasta mixes that only requires you to add water to make pasta dough. I purchased a few boxes recently and this turned out to be a perfect time to use them. You can certainly use dry lasagna sheets which fit perfectly in the loaf pans too. After rolling out my pasta, I used some to make my chicken & spinach lasagna… and I also tried a variation by making spinach ricotta filled mini manicotti. I’m looking forward to having these for dinner!
Chicken & Spinach Lasagna/Manicotti
Leftover Spinach Ricotta Filling
Chunky Vegetable Pasta Sauce
Here are the finished lasagna/manicotti pans, pasta sauce
and leftover spinach ricotta filling for general use in the future.

Chicken & Cheese Ravioli
Spinach & Cheese Ravioli
Using the Ecco la Pasta dough again, I made some homemade raviolis. I packaged these in freezer bags for 2 serving portions. They didn’t quite fill up a quart sized bag so I packed them into my freezer utility tray so they could fit nicely. I love how convenient the tray was!
Trio of Tilapia
For the following tilapia, I used individally frozen fillets
that I removed from its packaging.

Tomato Basil Tilapia
I ladled some rosemary tomato soup & topped with dried basil.
By doing this over pieces of foil, I’m able to wrap each fillet for individual servings.
The foil packet makes it easy to prepare too – just place in oven to bake.
Garlic & Herb Tilapia
I spread garlic & herb cheese over the frozen fillet and topped with sliced green onions.
To prepare, just bake and the cheese will melt, adding extra flavor and moisture.
Macadamia Nut Crusted Tilapia
I prepared seasoned flour and coated the frozen fillets.
Next, I dipped the floured fillets in an egg wash.
Lastly, I rolled the fillets in a mixture of panko breadcrumbs
and finely chopped macadamia nuts.
I didn’t wrap these in foil packets since I plan
on pan frying or baking them exposed.

Rubbed Pork Chops – 4 ways
Sweet & Smoky BBQ, Peppercorn Garlic, Greek &
Bell Pepper & Herb Rubbed Pork Chops
Take your favorite spices & herbs and rub it on uncooked meats like chicken, pork chops, steaks, etc. Place in freezer bags, label & freeze. When you’re ready to prepare it, defrost.
To prepare, coat it with a little olive oil and place on grill, grill pan, broil, bake or pan fry.
Bobby Flay’s 16 Spice ChickenBBQ Rubbed Chicken LegsGreek Rubbed Chicken LegsSouthwestern Chicken Filling
Chicken Quesadilas
I owe these to already made rotisserie chicken. They are a staple ingredient I pick up at the store because of the various dishes that can be made out of them; not to mention the time saved! I deboned the rotisserie chicken and used some to make my southwest chicken filling below. I combined the chicken with fresh cilantro, chopped tomatoes, diced jalepenos, some black beans, sweet corn, red onion, minced garlic, spices and lime juice. With some corn tortillas, I placed some of this filling between 2 tortillas to make a few quesadillas. These went into a quart sized freezer bag, which will be pan fried or grilled once it’s been defrosted. The remaining filling I froze to use & fill tacos, burritos, enchiladas, hearty chicken dip, salads, a southwestern pasta dish, combine with spanish rice, soup, pizza topping, etc… the possibilities are endless!
Arroz Con Gandules w/Pork
I seasoned and roasted a pork shoulder. Once cooled, I chopped it up and used some of it to make this popular Puerto Rican rice dish. It’s a hearty & filling dish filled with spices, pork, rice, pigeon peas, green bell peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes and chicken broth. Once cooled, I placed it into freezer bags. Being that dish is already cooked, it only needs to be reheated either on the stove tip or even the microwave.Tex Mex Lasagnas
Chicken Enchiladas
Once again the disposable loaf pans come to the rescue. I figured with italian inspired lasagna already in my freezer, why not have some tex-mex flavors too? Using corn tortillas, shredded rotisserie chicken, black beans, corn, cilantro, tomatoes, spices and a Mexican blend of cheese, I layered my lasagna then topped it with an enchilada sauce and more cheese. For the enchilada, I used the chicken filling above and made mini enchiladas cutting the tortillas smaller. These resulted in little chicken & cheese filled “cigars”.
As you can see from my initial picture in this post, my freezer is stocked with the items I’ve mentioned here, along with some portioned out chicken breasts, shrimp, edamame (our favorite guiltless snack!), some frozen desserts, and other miscellany that’s not exactly “blog-worthy.” But I hope this helps inspire you to use your freezer to your advantage! Not only does it save me time from slaving over the stove and oven, but it certainly has saved us money in the past. We’re not so quick to drive to a restaurant or call for delivery with all these meals waiting for us. This is a great way to also plan meals for families, including those who are pregnant, recovering from surgeries or medical procedures resulting in limited physical activity, students, etc.

Stock the Freezer!

Winter has set in and after the holiday chaos, I don’t want to put in too much effort cooking in the kitchen. To help make things easier during these cold months, I’m stocking my freezer with meals Ive prepared in advance. Spending a whole day cooking preparing several meals is also referred to OAMC/OAWC (once a month/week cooking).

Today I hosted an event dedicated to OAMC/OAWC. I had about 23 attendees come join me in the kitchen where we:
– prepped several meals to store
– learned grocery shopping tricks to stretch your money
– learned how to properly store foods in your freezer
– learned how to thaw and cook these prepped meals safely
– And everyone took home 5 prepped meals (serves 2) to enjoy!

A great freezer cooking resource I found extremely helpful can be viewed here.

Here are pics of the meals we prepped:

Firecracker Salmon

Garlic & Herb Cheese Stuffed ChickenHoney Mustard Pork ChopsThai Beef StirfryFour Cheese Vegetable Lasagna

Freezer Fitting…

I love my lil freezer and will work it hard! I love it so much, sometimes I’ll cook enough meals for a month and freeze them so we can just reheat and eat. This is known as Once a Month Cooking (OAMC).

The concept of OAMC is to spend a set time cooking, whether it’s a day or two, and ending with enough meals to last through the whole month. OAMC recipes usually involve freezing the meals until needed.

The primary advantage to this method of cooking is to save time over the course of the month by buying groceries in bulk on the cook date. There are some other substantial advantages, however:

  • Saved food resources: buying what is needed and preparing it into a finished dish right away rather than losing track of it or losing it to spoilage
  • Saved energy: cooking several dishes at once means less pre-heat time and better use of the energy that is being consumed
  • Saved money: having a ready supply of finished meals makes it less tempting to eat out because “you’re just too tired to cook”

I haven’t done OAMC since October, just before the holidays, but I will probably do it in the coming months when I can dedicate a whole day to shop and cook. But here’s what my freezer looks like now.

The following are the current total contents of my freezer:

2 lb pkgs of chicken spinach asiago sausages
3 qt sized bags of raw shrimp
3 qt sized bags of cooked shrimp
4 qt sized bags of ground turkey
12 chicken breasts – divided between 6 qt sized bags
1 bulk sized bag parmesan tilapia
1/2 pkg bacon
1 bulk sized bag broccoli
1 bulk sized bag asian stir fry mix
1 bulk sized bag mixed berries
3 large bags frozen spinach
1 1/2 qt sized bags spaghetti squash
1 bag corn
1 bag strawberries
1 bag artichoke hearts
1 bag pineapple tidbits
1 bag tri-color bell pepper slices
1 bulk sized pkg swiss cheese
1 1/2 qt sized bags blue cheese
1 pkg garlic naan
1 pkg biryani rice mix
1 tray of frozen cilantro cubes

Here is the freezer that all the above is going into:

And my freezer measures 18 inches across, 14 inches deep and 13 inches tall:

Here are all the non-meat items packed in:

Here are all the meat items packed in:

When freezing items, I use frozen freezer bags so that I can stack food flat on top of each other and remove as much as possible. I apply this to freezing my OAMC meals too so it is possible to freeze up to a month’s worth of food in a little freezer!