Monday, August 8, 2011

September Mom's Night Out: Freezer Cooking

Please read the details of freezer cooking below, VERY carefully, before you sign up (at the bottom of this post). I hope LOTS of ladies will be able to join us for a fun and productive night!

What Is It?
A chance to get together with other moms for an evening of fun with the intention of filling our freezers with delicious, homemade meals for our families, thereby reducing the dinntertime-induced stress that is so common among moms of preschoolers.

Time, Date & Place
Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00PM
Derwood Bible Church, lower level

Meals (recipes here):
It's not a perfect list, but we have tried to choose a variety of kid-friendly meals to accomodate the wide variety of families we represent. Every meal will not fit every family, we hope there are a few things that your family will love.

Chicken Supreme (cheesey chicken and macaroni dish)
Chicken Enchiladas - a mild, creamy enchilada dish with chicken, cheese and spices
French Toast Casserole - a nice casserole that can be served topped with fresh fruit for breakfast or dinner
Manicotti - shells stuffed with cheese and covered with sauce
Meatloaf - delicious comfort food with a mixture of ground beef and ground turkey

**If you are a gluten free family, please email me. We may be able to work together to make some simple substitutions on some of the meals to allow you to participate.

Meal Selection:
Each mom can select up to 10 meals. Any combination, up to 10 meals, of the 5 designated meals (above) is acceptable. You do not have to have ten meals and you do not have to choose every meal on the list.

All of the following options would be acceptable:
2 chix supreme, 2 enchiladas, 2 french toast, 2 manicotti, 2 meatloaf
2 chicken supreme, 1 enchilada, 1 french toast, 3 meatloaf
1 chix supreme, 1 chix enchilada, 1 french toast, 1 manicotti, 1 meatloaf
3 chicken supreme, 1 french toast
Any collection of available meals, up to ten, is acceptable.

To read through the recipes for each meal, click here.

Below is a list of approximate costs/meal. The estimates below are based on the cost and availability of groceries at the time of writing, and include all food, disposable pans, foil, labels and all other needed supplies. The cost for actual meals may vary based on the cost of groceries at the time of purchase. We will do our best to meet or beat the prices listed below and you will only be charged the price paid for groceries. Final meal costs will be published once calculated after purchasing groceries. Each mom will be expected to pay for her chosen meals in full at freezer cooking.

Approximate cost per meal (includes foil, disposable 9x13 pans and all ingredients) is as follows:
Chicken Supreme - $9.36 ((a full 9x13 – 2 meals for my family of 5 (2 adults, 3 preschoolers)
Chicken Enchiladas - $11.39 (a full 9x13 – 2 meals for my family of 5 (2 adults, 3 preschoolers)
French Toast Casserole - $4.49 (a full 9x13 – 2 meals for my family of 5 (2 adults, 3 preschoolers)
Manicotti $11.45 - (a full 9x13 – 2 meals for my family of 5 (2 adults, 3 preschoolers)
Meatloaf - $7.00 (usually 1 meal for my family of 5 (2 adults, 3 preschoolers) with 1-2 pieces leftover

Mom Responsibility:
Each mom participating is responsible for the following:
1. Choosing and entering meal preferences for your family (up to 10 total) on the blog form by September 1, 2011. Grocery lists are created from the meal sign ups, once you sign up for meals, you are committed to freezer cooking and your meal order cannot be changed.

2. Selecting one area to help in: Prep work (prepping food, printing labels, food transport, etc.), Set-Up (arriving early at the church to set up stations and tables, some food transport possible), Clean Up (Cleaning up at the end of the evening). Expect to spend 1-2 hours in your chosen area. Time will vary based on how many moms are participating.

3. Arriving ON TIME, the evening of freezer cooking and participating in meal prep for the ENTIRE evening (2-3 hours), regardless of number of meals your family will receive.

4. Full payment for selected meals on the evening of freezer cooking.

5. Clearing your freezer before hand to make room for your meals.

6. Flexible, cheerful attitude.

Other items to note:
1. If you sign up, you are committed to freezer cooking. This means we are purchasing food based on your sign up and counting on your help to complete the cooking. Please only sign up if you truly intend to participate.

2. A general overview: We will have five stations. One for each meal. Each participating mom will be assigned to a station for the evening where they will help to prepare all of that particular meal for the moms present. Example: Judy is assigned to the “Meatloaf Table.” All night she works with a team of other moms chatting, laughing, while carefully preparing and packaging 25 delicious meatloaves. At the end of the evening, Judy collects all of her meals (not just meatloaf) and heads home tired, but happy to fill her freezer and enjoy many nights of reduced dinner-hour induced stress. While you won’t get the opportunity to prepare every meal, we do have recipes available for your future use/reference.

3. After September 1st (final day to sign up), I will use the collected data to make grocery lists, assign tasks and coordinate our night of cooking. I will be in contact with you about what to expect before/during/after freezer cooking on the 14th of September.

4. Even if you’re skeptical, you should try it! Choose just a meal or two.  It’ll be fun, easy, and you might find you really like the idea of ready made food in the freezer.

Freezer Cooking Recipes

Below you will find a list of recipes we will be using for freezer cooking.  Peruse them, use them, enjoy them!

Chicken Supreme
2 c. cooked chicken, cut or shredded into pieces (approx. 1.5 lbs.)
3 c. uncooked macaroni (I think 3-4 cups is better)
2 can cream of chix soup
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 T. butter, melted
3 cups grated cheddar
2 cups milk

Combine all ingredients in bowl and pour into 9x13 pan. Refrigerate overnight or freeze. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

1 slice white bread (I usually sub 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. bread crumbs)
2 T milk
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
2 lbs ground meat (I like 1/2 turkey, 1/2 beef, but anything will work)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (can sub the dried, but I think the fresh makes a difference worth the trouble)
1 T. dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried basil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 large eggs

Combine all ingredients (except for 1/4 c. of ketchup) and shape into a 9x5-inch loaf.
To freeze: wrap in foil or ziploc and freeze.
To bake after freezing: Thaw. Top with ketchup. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Enchiladas
2 lbs. chicken, cooked and cubed or shredded
4 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. chili powder
3 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
16 oz. sour cream
2 cups cheese
1 cup cheese for topping

Combine all ingredients(except cheese for topping). Place in tortilla and roll up.
For freezing: Place seam side down in ziploc bag. When ready to eat, remove from freezer, thaw and remove from bag. Place in 9x13 pan seam side down. Pour enchilada sauce on top. Top with 1 cup cheese. Cover with foil. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortillas are warmed through.

French Toast Casserole
1 loaf Crusty Sourdough Or French Bread
8 whole Eggs
2 cups Whole Milk
½ cups Whipping (heavy) Cream
¾ cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
½ cups All-purpose Flour
½ cups Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces
Fresh Fruit (optional)

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan. Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. (If you’re using fruit, sprinkle on before the crumb mixture.) Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Optional: Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup.

Spaghetti Sauce (32 oz.)
Canned diced tomatoes (14 oz)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1.5 cup ricotta cheese
5 T. grated parmesan cheese
3 egg whites
3/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 pkg. manicotti, uncooked
1 Cup Water

Combine spaghetti sauce, tomates and garlic; set aside. Combine cheeses, egg whites, parsley and basil. Stuff UNCOOKED shells using a smal spatula or knive. Fill bottom of a 9x13 pan with 2 cups tomato mixture. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer over the sauce, side by side. Cover shells with remaining sauce.
To cook: Thaw completely. Add 1 cup water to top of pan. Bake in 450 oven for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.