Halloween is next week, and after that the rest of the holiday season will be bearing down on us like a freight train. A pretty, sparkly freight train decorated with lights and hauling roasted turkeys, to be sure, but a freight train nonetheless.
How many nights will you leave work thinking about all the errands you need to run and the fact that you’re not sure what to put on the table for dinner that night? I know it’ll happen to me more than a few times and it would be great to have a home-cooked meal in the freezer just waiting to be warmed in the microwave or in the oven.
That’s the point of Southern Living‘s new cookbook, “Fix It & Freeze It & Heat It & Eat It.” This book contains more than 200 recipes that can be cooked and frozen for nights like that. I love the concept and some of the recipes look tasty, so I think I’ll share a couple here. And if you know someone who could use this book, well, I’ve just given you a gift idea to boot!
Do you ever fix meals ahead of time and freeze them? What have you found that freezes and reheats the best?
Queso Potato Chowder
1/4 cup butter
1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup onion, finely chopped
3 poblano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 (20-oz.) package refrigerated Southwestern-style hash brown potatoes
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 (14-oz.) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded asadero or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings (optional): corn tortilla chips, chopped red bell pepper, chopped red onion, sliced jalapeno peppers, chopped fresh cilantro
1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add bell pepper and next 3 ingredients and saute 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add potatoes and cumin, then saute 5 minutes or until browned and tender. Gradually stir in broth, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes.
2. Whisk together flour and next 2 ingredients. Stir into potato mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat to low.
3. Add cheeses and cook, stirring constantly, until cheeses melt and mixture is thoroughly heated. Serve with desired toppings.
To freeze: Allow soup to cool completely (you can accomplish this quickly by placing the pot of soup in a bath of ice water in the sink to cool. Stir the soup often to help release the heat). Ladle into gallon- or quart-sized zipper freezer bags. Remove excess air, seal, label and freeze for up to one month. To reheat, thaw soup overnight in the refrigerator and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Cumin-crusted Pork Cutlets
Serves 4 to 6
3 whole wheat bread slices
2 Tbsp. self-rising yellow cornmeal mix
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
8 thinly sliced boneless pork loin chops (about 1 1/4 lb.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Process bread in a food processor until finely crumbled. Combine bread crumbs, cornmeal mix and cumin in a shallow bowl.
2. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. Whisk together egg, mustard and 2 Tbsp. water until blended. Dip pork in egg mixture; dredge in bread crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.
To freeze: Lay 4 chops on the bottom of a labeled gallon-size zipper freezer bag. Top with a piece of wax paper, then lay remaining 4 chops on top of the wax paper. Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, heat 2 Tbsp. hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 chops to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Place cooked chops in a warm (200-degree) oven while you cook the remaining 4 chops. Serve warm.
Crunchy Ranch Tortilla Chicken
1 (1-oz.) envelope ranch dressing mix, divided
2 lbs. chicken breast tenders
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 (13-oz.) package ranch-flavored tortilla chips, finely crushed
Vegetable cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. dressing mix over chicken.
2. Whisk together buttermilk, egg, and remaining dressing mix. Place flour and crushed tortilla chips in separate shallow dishes. Dredge chicken in flour, dip in buttermilk mixture, then roll in crushed chips. Coat chicken lightly on all sides with cooking spray. Set aside.
3. Place a large baking sheet in oven for 5 minutes. Place chicken on hot pan. Bake at 450 for 18 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.
To freeze: Cool chicken completely. Place in a labeled large zipper freezer bag and freeze up to one month. To reheat, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken tenders on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until hot and crisp.
Source: “Fix It & Freeze It & Heat It & Eat It” by Southern Living