Wednesday, December 21, 2011

like a crazed squirrel stockpiling nuts...


Subtitle: Freezable Recipe Bonanza, Ahoy! 

 freezer-x
Yep, this is totally what my freezer looks like.
{If it were 1995, this where I'd pause and then exclaim "NOT!"}

A few weekends ago, I cleaned out our freezer to make room for new additions to the Post Bebe Food Stash I began whiling away this month.  

I discovered two things...

{1} I seem to think we eat a lot of edamame.
{2} We don't actually eat a lot edamame. 

Pour one out for the sad, frost-bitten soybeans, y'all. 

I also compiled a list of my favorite freezable recipes... and thought I'd share in case you're looking for some make-ahead dishes! If you have a "must-make" gem in your repertoire, I'd love to try it... feel free to link on up in the comment section! 

Asian Turkey Meatballs {make the meatballs, but freeze before cooking}
Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins - GF/DF {my notes} {bake, then freeze - heat in toaster oven}
Bow-Tie "Lasagna" Pasta Bake {I like to use the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, below, in this}
Herbed Turkey Turkey & Spinach Meatballs {make the meatballs, but freeze before cooking}
Mama J's Beef Vegetable Soup
Traditional Chili 

**I think the trick to great, freezable pasta dishes {ie: great, baked pasta dishes, as they tend to be one in the same} is cooking your pasta slightly less than al dente.  If you start with too-crunchy noodles, you'll end up with perfectly cooking pasta after you eventually bake the dish. 

Searching for something new to add to the list of yummies above, I whipped up these Pesto Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Shells after a burst of inspiration from What's Cooking, Chicago last night.  

Pesto Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Shells

I know my iPhone skillz are lacking when it comes to food photography, so you'll just have to trust my word that these were scrumptious... 'cause they sure as hell look weird in the above picture. So many stuffed shell recipes are tedious, but this turned out to be simple and fresh.  And the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae?  The ingredients below easily yield three 8x8 casserole pans full of goodness {about 10 servings total}.  

Pesto Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Shells

Ingredients
- one 12oz box of jumbo shell 
- 2 large {or 3 small} broccoli crowns, stems removed and chopped
- 2 c. fresh pesto, divided {FYI: Whole Foods' pesto, found in the olive bar, is insanely good and tastes homemade... excellent discovery for the dead of winter!}
- 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature {I had the whipped kind on hand for bagels and it was so easy to blend}
- 1.5 c. freshly shredded Parmesan, divided
- 1.c shredded mozzarella 
- chicken from one rotisserie chicken, picked from bones, skin removed, and chopped {about 2.5-3c.}
- salt and ground pepper to taste 

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread 3/4 c. of pesto into the bottom of your casserole dish(es). 

In heavily salted boiling water, cook pasta a bit less than al dente {my shells had a 10 minute cook time on the box... I boiled them for 7}.  When you have about 2 minutes left to cook, toss broccoli into the pasta pot.  Drain the whole shebang and pick out shells, setting aside on paper towels. 

Transfer steamed broccoli to a large mixing bowl and "chop" with a spoon, separating the crowns into tiny pieces.  Add chicken, 1c. pesto, 1c. Parmesan, mozzarella, and cream cheese to the broccoli and stir well to combine, adding a little salt and pepper if you so desire.  

Stuff shells with mixture and place in pesto-lined dishes.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2c. Parmesan on top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until shells are bubbling.  {&/or cover in a layer of saran + a layer of foil and freeze.} Warm remaining 1/4c. pesto and drizzle on top of shells before serving. 

To reheat from frozen: Preheat oven to 375 and bake 30-40 minutes or until shells are bubbling. 

18 comments:

  1. you need to make skinny taste's chicken divan. it is amazing!

    http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/11/chicken-divan-lightened-up.html

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  2. Thanks for sharing these! I'm starting to plot and plan for our pre-baby freezing, so this is incredibly helpful!

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  3. skinny taste turkey & black bean enchiladas are divine! freezer friendly!

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  4. Awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Here is another bean recipe for you repertoire – it is based on Pappasito’s beans and the garlic quantity is correct and amazing! (sorry no link):
    Ingredients:
    1 1/2 lbs pinto Beans, uncooked
    1 gallon cold water
    3/4 lb. Bacon pieces, chopped into 1 inch squares
    1/2 C. garlic, I usually hate jarred garlic, but for this recipe I use one small jar and it is perfect
    1 bunch of cilantro chopped
    1 onion chopped
    1 Tbsp. cumin
    1 Tbsp. chili powder
    1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
    2 cups roma tomatoes, chopped

    Preparation:
    Soak beans in cold water for 8 hours. Drain when ready to use. In a large heavy pot cook the bacon pieces until well done. Do not undercook the bacon. Add garlic, cilantro (reserve some for the end for garnish), and chopped onions to hot bacon. Cook until onions are transparent. When onions are ready add beans, cumin, and chili powder. Stir and add 1/2 gallon cold water. Turn heat to medium low. Add salt and stir. Cook beans slowly until fork tender. Stir occasionally to avoid burning the bottom. Add tomatoes and remaining cilantro and serve.

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  5. YES! Thanks for posting this. I have a weird aversion to freezing food so I never do it but I know I need to start stockpiling soon. I think I'm scared of the whole defrosting part, I feel like there should be some magical formula but there's not.

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  6. Starring this post a thousand times over. THANK YOU for this!

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  7. I got into cooking in bulk while in med school... here are a couple that are worth sharing.

    Butternut squash soup http://www.laurenlosefast.blogspot.com/2009/11/soup-kitchen.html

    Pasta sauce- double the recipe and use some for lasagna

    http://www.food.com/recipe/jo-mamas-world-famous-spaghetti-22782

    http://www.food.com/recipe/jo-mamas-world-famous-lasagna-28559

    Burritos in bulk
    http://www.food.com/recipe/make-ahead-wraps-oamc-109655

    Chicken fried rice- just thaw and heat on stove, then add egg.
    http://www.food.com/recipe/chicken-fried-rice-oamc-110139

    If you go to food.com and type in OAMC (once a month cooking) it has tons of these to look through. Happy cooking!

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  8. Awesome that you are ahead of the game on post baby food stash! Hate to be a downer but be careful if you're breastfeeding. My little man has a sensitive tummy to broccoli, onions, garlic, tomatoes, citrus, and beans...which wiped out my ability to eat any of our frozen meals. I recommend some plain Jane chicken and rice as a back up just in case.

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  9. That is IMPRESSIVE. I think I had a lasagna when we had our first, maybe a frozen pizza?!

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  10. Those pesto shells look delish.

    I'm also very jealous of your food stockpile. Mine's not nearly as impressive.

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  11. Just found your blog from Pinterest! Can't wait to try some of these freezer recipes. I'm always in a crunch at dinner time since I work full time and have 2 small kiddos. These will come in very handy!

    And I'm laughing because I just noticed last weekend that we have FOUR bags of edamame. I guess I think we eat a lot of it too. Apparently, we don't.

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  12. I am with you on the edamame comment - ha! We have several bags. On another note - IMPRESSIVE!

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  13. I made these for my sister when she had a baby and they are great b/c you can freeze them individually!
    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mini-meatloaves/detail.aspx

    Also - thanks so much for your list, I'm ALWAYS looking for recipes I can freeze for people.

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  14. Can't wait to try the shells! Thanks for posting! It grabbed my attention because we are now happily empty nesters but have not learned to adapt well to meal time. This will get me on the right path.

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  15. woo hoo thanks for all of these recipes! babies are cominnnngggg!

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  16. These were just great. I used my mixer to chop the broccoli and the chicken (after I peeled it off the bones) to save some time. I purchased the Costco pesto for this, and it was delicious! My husband things we should take them somewhere for a finger food.

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  17. I'm pre-baby freezing as well. I discovered that making lasagna rolls, and wrapping them individually in foil like a burrito works great. You can pull out however many you want from the bag and bake them without a ridiculous amount of leftovers or a lasagna pan to scrub.

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happy little comments!