Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stocking Up with Freezer Meals

The other day I wrote a post about one of our favorite freezer meals, ham pot pie. One meal, though, isn't enough to stock my freezer!  My freezer was nearly empty and I love having meals ready to get me through the Christmas season. 

I tried a few new things this time around.  I've found that lots of chicken dinners get old fast, and that's primarily the recipes I find.  This batch was quick to make and inexpensive.  In addition to the ham pot pie, I made slow cooker meatloaf, white chicken chili, pot roast, pasta bolognese and southwest roll-ups.  

Recipe #1: Slow Cooker Meatloaf  I've never tried it before, but it sounds great.  I bought a 3 lb. package of ground beef so that I could make several to freeze.  Most everyone has a favorite meatloaf recipe, I'm sure all kinds of variations would work.  I love the idea of it roasting in a crockpot all day.  Another good idea is to make individual meatloaves in a muffin tin, bake them, then freeze.  Individual servings can be microwaved quickly.  

Recipe #2: White chicken chili  I have made this recipe before, my husband loved it, so it's our new white chili recipe.  I've never frozen it and was concerned about freezing the cream of chicken soup mixture.  Then I realized I freeze casseroles with that all the time, so I'm sure it'll be fine.  It's definitely worth a try!

Recipe #3: Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast  Since we go to church on Christmas Eve in the afternoon, I think I'll have this pot roast in the crockpot,  ready for us when we get home.  That evening we have managed to keep for just myself, husband and daughter and so we have a great relaxed time, opening Christmas PJ's and watching a movie before the chaos begins!  It's one of my favorite parts of Christmas. 

Recipe #4: Pasta Bolognese I have made this recipe before and it's a winner.  You may wonder why bother with a pasta sauce when you can just open a jar of Prego and have a fast meal.  This is way better, that's why.  It uses sausage, which is a great alternative to all the chicken and ground beef meals.  I cut back on the red pepper flakes, though, because it was just about too spicy for my daughter.  She loved it anyway, just drank a ton of water with it!

Recipe #5: Southwest Roll-Ups These are great for lunch. I make a ton of these and freeze them individually.  In fact, I skip the baking step all together. Just roll them up, wrap them in foil or plastic wrap, then store in a gallon size freezer baggie.  When ready to eat, microwave for 1-2 minutes.  Great for a SAHM lunch, especially if you're prone to skipping lunch!

Check out future posts with other recipes and tips for successfully freezing meals!

Blogger's Update:  Since this original post, we've tried the two recipes that were new.  The meatloaf was great, my occasionally picky daughter loved it!  I'll definitely make it again.  The white chicken chili was also great, no problems freezing it with the cream of chicken soup.   


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ham Pot Pie, A Favorite Freezer Meal

I love having a fully stocked freezer, filled with enough meals to help me get through the weeks leading up to Christmas.  With so many evening activities, it's awesome to have meals ready to throw in the oven or in the crockpot. 

My current favorite freezer meal is Ham Pot Pie.  Crockpot meals that include chicken are so plentiful they get old fast!  If I don't have a meal we really want to eat, we'll end up eating out.   

This is actually a chicken pot pie recipe, and I just substituted ham (you could also use turkey).  I found this recipe from a site that no longer exists, but luckily I managed to hang on to the recipe.  So note to self: if you find a recipe you love on Pinterest, be sure and copy it because you never know when a site or blog could disappear!

Ham Pot Pie
4 cups cubed cooked ham
4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 (16oz) bags frozen mixed veggies (I use frozen corn and peas)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup flour
2.5 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups milk
9" round pie crusts (how many you need depends on if you want crust on top and bottom)
disposable 9" pie plates or 9" square pans
foil and gallon size freezer baggies for storage  

1. Boil potatoes in large stockpot. Add in veggies during last 5 minutes. Add in ham during last 2 minutes.  Drain potatoes, veggies and ham.  Return to stockpot.

2. In large skillet or soup pot, melt butter. Add onion and cook until tender. Stir in flour, salt, thyme and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk.
3. Bring broth mixture to boil; cook and stir until thickened. Pour sauce into stockpot with ham and veggies, stirring to coat.   
4. Add crusts to your preference.  I like to cut some carbs, so I only use one pie crust on top of my pie filling.  If you want a two crust pie, line a pie plate with single crust on bottom.  Add pie filling and top with an additional crust.  Be sure to cut slits in the top crust!
6. Cover pies with foil and freeze.  Or, freeze filling and add crust later to thawed mixture.
Bake fresh or thawed pie at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes.  You may need to cover the edges of your crust with foil to prevent it from getting too dark.  
To bake a frozen pie, bake in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for one hour or until golden brown.

This recipe makes about 4 pies.  It's a little bit more work than a typical freezer meal, so we usually eat one for dinner and I'll freeze the other three.  This time I only had one square disposable tin, so I made a complete one to freeze, and froze the contents for two more in freezer baggies.  I added little Christmas tree cutouts to my pies since a round crust didn't fit into a square pan and there was leftover crust.  I wasn't getting fancy, just wanted all the crust I had coming to me!  Plus, I knew trees would make my daughter smile.

Both ways freeze great.  The filling thaws faster, which might be nice if you're in a hurry.  Otherwise, try to remember to pull a pie out the day before and let it thaw in the fridge.  I think it's much simpler than cooking a solid frozen pie.