Thursday, May 22, 2008

3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days: Day 22: I Love Having Meals In the Freezer

Have I mentioned how much I love having meals in the freezer yet? I think I might have once or twice, but even still, it does bear repeating. I love having meals in the freezer!

My menu plan for dinner tonight included lentil and brown rice chili and tomato-basil bread. I got a call around 10:00 am that a realtor wanted to show our house today. This meant we had to be out of the house from 1-3pm. Not that big of a deal, but enough that I knew I wouldn't be able to make the chili. First of all, I love to let it simmer all day. I just couldn't do that today. And secondly, once I got off the phone, I couldn't even begin to think about what I needed to do for dinner because I had to get the house ready. So, without a moment's hesitation, I chucked the menu plan for today and decided we'd have the vegetarian lasagna from the freezer. (Sorry to everyone who was waiting for my recipe for the lentil and brown rice chili. I'll be making it next week and I'll post the recipe and pictures then.) I love having meals in the freezer!

One of the things I have found with my freezer meals is that they usually reheat best if I do not thaw them first. So tonight's lasagna went straight into the oven like this:The dish holding the lasagna is just a disposable aluminum casserole dish from the grocery store. We currently have 3 of these in rotation. I like to reuse them when I can. Unfortunately, I also like to use a sharp knife with a pointy little tip when I cut things. These two do NOT make a good combination. If I were a little smarter, I'd probably remember this fact before I feel the knife cut through the bottom of the pan. Oh well, maybe I'll learn someday, right?

Before freezing, I wrap the entire pan in foil two times. When cooking, I just remove the top layer of foil and leave the bottom one on until the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. A lot of my freezer meals are already completely cooked, so they truly are just reheating. However, I have found that lasagna and stuffed shells do better if I do not cook them first. So, tonight's lasagna actually took about 2 hours 15 minutes to be completely cooked all the way through. (In case you missed this point earlier: I love having meals in the freezer.) I will admit that is an awfully long time to have the oven on, so I usually try to bake at least one other thing at the same time.

Tonight, I baked a loaf of tomato-basil bread while cooking the lasagna. (So I did partially stick to my menu plan.) This bread really is easy to put together, although it does require two risings. It has an almost pizza-like flavor, so it is always a big hit.
Tomato Basil Bread
1 pkg. active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsps. yeast)
3/4 c. warm water
1/4 c. minced fresh basil (or 2 t. dried basil, oregano, or Italian seasoning)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. sugar
1 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
1/8 - 1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 c. flour (I use half whole wheat flour, half white flour)

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in basil, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, sugar, oil, salt, pepper flakes and 2 c. flour. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; knead for 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. With a sharp knife, cut a large X in top of loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. (I would recommend you start checking after 25 minutes. My bread always seems to be done by 30 minutes.) Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
For breakfast we had oatmeal (made dad's way) and grilled cheese with apple slices for lunch. As we get toward the end of the month, our lunch choices are going to require a bit more creativity on my part. While we still have plenty of food, the convenience items for sandwiches are in shorter supply. So, I think I may make a big batch of soup or something similar this weekend that will make a few days worth of lunch. And I do still have plenty of things in the freezer to work through. By the way, did I tell you I love having meals in the freezer yet?

Don't forget to stop by Toni and Joy's blogs to see what adventures they have been up to in their kitchens as well!


Allison 10:07 PM  

I really aspire to be like you, having meals in the freezer! I always talk and think about it, but never follow through and actually DO it. I'm sure it's extremely helpful.

Quick question, when you freeze your cinnamon rolls, do you freeze them after you've cut them into rolls, and just bake them the morning you want them. Or, do you bake them all at once, since you said you reheat them in the microwave? And what about the icing, do you premake that too?

I would love to have a stash of cinnamon rolls in the freezer, they are one of my weaknesses. It doesn't matter what kind of cinnamon roll, either! Thanks for the help!

Cajunchic 11:00 PM  

Oh wow that vegetarian lasagna sounds yummy. I wonder if it would be just as good without the zucchini. Monkette can not have these so I am going to try it without.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

Yet again, another recipe to try. The tomato basil bread sounds really good. I love nothing more than a slice of fresh baked bread with a slab of butter. Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Eden 5:04 PM  

Thanks for the Tomato Basil bread recipe - I've wanted one ever since I tasted Panera Bread's version!

A Grammatical Disclaimer

I freely admit to consistently using improper grammar in the following areas:
1. I like run-on sentences.
2. I have a tendency to end sentences with a pronoun. (I really do. I can't help it.)
3. I always seem to use passive voice in my sentences. (See?)

I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

Hence, I invoke Blogger Artistic License for this blog!

Copyright 2008. A Simple Walk. All Rights Reserved.

  © Blogger template The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP