More Freezer Meal Experiments

I’ve been trying to be really good about cooking these past few weeks.  By good, I mean trying to cook new, “real food” meals at least twice a week (usually Wednesdays and Sundays) and trying to make extras to freeze.  So far, I have been having pretty good success at making meals my family likes/will eat, and – maybe more importantly to me – does not involve me spending a whole day, or even a whole afternoon in the kitchen.  The past few meals I have tried have been chicken pot pie, stromboli, and tacos!  In all of these cases I have yet to try the frozen-then-thawed version yet, but i will update once I do in case any don’t thaw well.

Stromboli (sorry I don’t have pictures for this one)

Recipe here from Fabulessly Frugal

Ease to make: Very Easy (I was able to assemble two strombolis (is that the plural of stromboli? haha) in about 25 minutes)

For my pizza crust, I used the pillsbury pre-made pizza dough in the canister, which I loved because I really HATE spreading out pizza dough.  I love all things pizza and would probably make all sorts of pizzas except for the step of spreading the crust.  I had never tried the pillsbiry pre-made dough, and was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to use and the final taste.

I made one stromboli for dinner that night and wrapped one in plastic wrap and tin foil to freeze.  The one I made for dinner tasted great, even V (the toddler) ate a little bit of it, and it tasted good left over and cold for lunch!

Verdict: Success!!

Chicken Pot Pie

Recipe here from Fabulessly Frugal (totally didn’t realize that these were both from the same blog until now, one was from Pinterest and one from Google Search)

Ease to make: This recipe took about 1.5 hours to make from start to finish, so pretty time consuming, but it doesn’t take much longer to make several than to make one.

I made a few modifications to this one.  The recipe is for chicken pot pie but the only crust is on the top, none on the bottom.  I think this is so you can make more pies with fewer pie crusts, maybe?  I was describing this to Mark (husband), who is the expert in southern cuisine in our house, and he was not a fan of the “crust on top only” idea.  Since he loves chicken pot pie way more than I do, I figured I should cook it to suit his tastes so I added crust on the top and bottom.  For the container I also used the regular pie containers that came with the pre-made crusts rather than the meatloaf container (I used deep dish pie crust).  I also didn’t measure my vegetable amounts at all, which resulted in the pot pies being very vegetable heavy, in particular very pea heavy.  I like peas, and I like veggies, so I thought it was good, but Mark would prefer more chicken.  I made 3 pot pies total, and wrapped the other 2 in plastic wrap and tin foil for the freezer.

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Verdict: Will probably make again because Mark likes pot pies, but a lot of work…

Taco Meat

 Ok, confession – this recipe is so simple you probably don’t need a recipe, but I have such cute pictures to go along that I had to share it.  I did, however, discover that it is possible to make taco meat in a crock pot, so it was a learning experience!

Recipe here at Passionate Penny Pincher

Ease to make: very easy – throw the meat and ingredients into crockpot, stir occasionally, done!

I didn’t read the recipe right and added the taco seasoning at the beginning of cooking rather than at the end.  This resulted in my meat being under-seasoned once it was done, but I just added more seasoning and it worked out ok.  It also turned out a little more soupy than my typical taco meat, but there were no complaints about it.  I served the meat on tortillas with typical taco dressings, and it was definitely a hit.  V thought it was amazing and ate soft tacos/burritos for dinner 2 nights in a row!  I put half of the taco meat in the freezer for later.

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Her first experience holding the burrito herself – she DID NOT want mom to help her 🙂

Verdict: Success!!

Hope my experience helps anyone trying to come up with meal ideas for their family.  I really prefer meals that take minimal prep work and that I can make extras of so Mark can heat them up for dinner when I work late.  Any good recipes you know of?  Feel free to let me know!

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Simple Dinner – Rachel Ray 5 ingredient Stuffed Chicken Plus My Own Additions :)

Monday and Wednesdays are usually my main dinner nights.  Since I have those days off from work, I have a little more time for dinner planning/cooking.  For some reason I can’t really remember now, I was thinking about stuffed chicken.  I have never, ever “stuffed” anything before so I was a little intimidated about how exactly to go about doing that, but Mark really likes Chicken Cordon Bleu, so I was pretty sure he would like other stuffed chicken.  I Google searched “stuffed chicken” and found a recipe with bleu cheese in it, but it was just stuffed under the skin of a chicken breast, and I wanted the real thing.  However, I LOVE bleu cheese, so I decided whatever kind of stuffed chicken I made, it was going to have bleu cheese in it.  So then I stumbled across this Rachel Ray 5 Ingredient Recipe here, and it looked seriously easy!  It didn’t have bleu cheese in it, but I decided it would taste better with it added anyways…and it’s BACON WRAPPED!

Let’s get started.  Here are my ingredients for the chicken:

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My 4 ingredients: Chicken breasts (Tyson’s Frozen Boneless/Skinless), Bleu Cheese, Philadelphia Cream Cheese Onion and Chive Flavored, Bacon

This was also my first experience with a meat tenderizer (pretty sad, I know), and I was a little intimidated, but really, it’s not that hard – really.  It was kind of fun actually, and V thought the sound it made was very entertaining, she was running around the house knocking on things with her little fist – so cute.  And – we’re getting off topic here – she picked out her clothes on Wednesday too, and I just had to show you.

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yes, those are shorts on her head…

See?  Ridiculously cute, right?  Anyways, back to the meat tenderizer – I used it to pound out the (now thawed), frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts to about 4-5mm (maybe? I didn’t measure) thickness.  Next, I spread the cream cheese on the now flat chicken breast.  I have to mention, the recipe called for “Garlic and Herb” flavored cream cheese, but I couldn’t find it at Publix, so I opted for the Onion and Chive flavored.  Little secret:  Mark HATES chives (I never knew chives had enough of a flavor to hate), but i didn’t tell him what kind of cream cheese I used, and he liked the chicken.  Don’t tell…I’m sure he knows by now though since the leftover cream cheese is in the refrigerator and he’s pretty observant.  There were also a lot of other interesting flavors options that I found, chipotle flavor seeming the most interesting to me, but I played it safe for the first go.

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Next, I sprinkled a little bit of bleu cheese on top of the cream cheese and rolled up the chicken.  I wrapped each piece of chicken in 2 pieces of bacon and pinned it with toothpicks.

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Now the recipe recommends grilling the chicken for 25min.  We have a fairly nice grill, but I am not that comfortable with it, although it’s probably easy.  I am making this again on Sunday and will probably try grilling them.  This time I cooked them in a pan on the stove, medium heat for 25 min. which ended up charring the bacon a little bit.  I cooked V’s chicken first (she wasn’t that impressed).  With the second batch, I added a little olive oil to the pan.  This may have helped a little bit, but not much.  The grill might be better with that.  They still tasted good but the look could have been better.

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A little charred, not that pretty, but this is real life and it tasted good.  We ate it with sliced tomatoes and wild rice.  The taste was great, as mentioned, however I think the strong taste of the bleu cheese might actually have not gone that well with the onion taste of the cream cheese.  When I make it on Sunday I am going to try it without the bleu cheese 😦 and see how it tastes.  I really want to try it with chipotle cream cheese and bleu cheese sometime.  Definitely not low calorie, I’m sure, but it is nice for a fancy kind of dinner. Oh, by the way, this was also a pretty inexpensive dinner as well, and I have enough leftovers from what I made Wednesday to make another batch. If you want to try it yourself, you can find the original recipe here by Rachel Ray.  Thanks again guys!  Let me know what you think.  Any suggestions?

**UPDATE**

So I made this chicken again on Sunday, and it came out perfectly!  I still didn’t grill it, we didn’t have enough propane, but leaving out the bleu cheese made all the difference.  I guess the first time the cheese was melting and burning in the pan, without it the bacon didn’t burn at all.  I still put a little olive oil in the pan though.