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Query: Casseroles and Main Dishes that freeze well
kateelliott
Do any of you have a good recipe for a casserole or main dish that freezes well, nothing complex to make and something that would be appropriate to take to a house of mourning? (I note that this is not a personal loss but a family whose loss I would like to acknowledge with some practical help.)

Updated to add: Any vegetarian (or fish) suggestions?

I don't have a recipe off the top of my head, but for the most part, avoid things w/cheese in. It /will/ freeze and it won't kill you or anything upon reheating, but the texture will suffer.

Is that why one rarely sees frozen macaroni and cheese?

huh. never thought of it, but probably.

Hmm. I sometimes freeze lasagne and enchiladas and don't notice too much of a texture issue. I don't cook first (just prepare and then freeze); maybe that makes a difference?

it should affect it either way - if you make pesto to freeze, you should leave the cheese out and add when you thaw, for example. who knows?

You learn something new every day. Thanks for the tip. :)

Likewise, off the top of my head, most casserole / stew type dishes freeze well - also, bread freezes well, so something that can be accompanied by a loaf of good bread gives you the complete meal.

Oh, yeah, and I have some frozen stew meat which I could easily make in a crock pot.

Cheese by itself doesn't freeze well, but cheese sauce does fine. One can freeze a macaroni and cheese casserole if it's made with a proper sauce (ie, cheese melted into a white sauce.) When it comes time to reheat the casserole, the reheater can sprinkle some freshly-grated cheese on top.

Ditto a lasagna except for the very top layer of grated cheese. The inner cheese layers combine with the tomato sauce and are okay.

A couple of roasted chickens, unfrozen, will keep for some days in the fridge and can be turned into salad, sandwiches, tacos, pasta toppings, etc etc.

SAute onions, peppers, mushrooms, & garlic. Add diced cooked chicken and a jar of spaghetti sauce, mix with pasta -- I use whole wheat rottini. Top with Parmesan.

As offered up to Kristine Smith recently, re her crockpot purchase.

Note - this isn't complex to make if you have the sauce ingredients as staples in your store cupboard. Your mileage may vary.

This is from my BBC books 'Ken Hom's Chinese Cookery' - a book so old the author has a fine full head of hair in his jacket photo!

The recipe as given reads:

12 oz/350g stewing beef, such as brisket or shin
1 spring onion/scallion
2 tsp oil pref. groundnut
1 slice ginger
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
1 dried chilli (optional)
4oz 110g chinese white radish (mooli)

Braising stock
10 floz chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp light soy sauce
1 tblspoon dark soy sauce
2 tsp dry sherry/rice wine
2 tsp five spice powder
2 tblspoon hoisin sauce
2 tsp yellow bean sauce

Method (as done by me, with notes on adaptations to the recipe)

Brown inch-cubes of meat in a frying pan, add sliced spring onion/scallion, ginger, garlic and chilli and stirfry for about five minutes.

NB if I don't have spring onion/scallion to hand, ordinary onion works fine. Also, leeks as an alternative is good.

For oven cooking, transfer this to a large casserole/pot. Add braising sauce ingredients and bring to the boil, then cook on a low heat for 1.5 hours. Add peeled radish, raise heat slightly and cook for a further half hour. Then put on a high heat to reduce sauce as required.

NB, I throw all the braising sauce ingredients into to the frying pan I've just fried the beef in and bring them to the boil there, thus deglazing the pan - easier washing up and no tastiness wasted.

Oh and if I don't have chicken stock to hand, I've just used water with no complaints from the family.

I cook in my crockpot as per the basic beef stew recipe in the instruction book. And put whatever root vegetables I happen to be using in from the start.

We don't feel any need to thicken the sauce at the end, but doing so would be simple enough, ladling some off and sticking it in a pan for however long suits.


Now, fish is something that shouldn't be frozen at all, in my opinion, anyway. Witness the ghastly state of those "battered fish products"* once you cook them.

*I once saw an advert for frozen fishsticks that referred to them as battered fish products. The obvious question: you mean they beat the fish to death? : apparently did not occur to the advert writer.

The old household favorite: noodles, can of mushroom soup, chicken (I tend to use the canned chicken I get from Costco, and pour the broth into the soup can to wash out the dregs of the soup). Mix, cook, freeze, reheat. You can add vegetables of whatever sort if you wish, but the casserole itself will do nicely.

Black Bean Enchilada Bake...

* 2 cups chopped onion, fresh or frozen
* 1 1/2 cups chopped red pepper, fresh or frozen
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 3/4 cup salsa
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 15.8 ounce cans black beans, drained
* 12 6-inch corn tortillas
* 2 cups Monterey Jack and Cheddar blend cheese shredded
* 3 tomatoes chopped (optional)
* 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
* 1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine onion pepper, garlic, salsa, cumin and black beans in large skillet and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.

Arrange 6 tortillas in bottom of 9" x 13" baking dish overlapping them as necessary. Spread half of bean mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat layering process with remaining tortillas, bean mixture and cheese.

Cover dish with foil and bake 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil and serve warm.

Garnish with tomatoes, sour cream and olives.

From memory, so the proportions may be off:

Salmon glop:

Cook a package of small pasta, preferably multi-coloured (rotini, fusilli, macaroni, farfalle, etc). Or broad egg noodles if that's what you have.

In a med frying pan, melt 2-3T of butter. Cook ~2 cups of vegetables: for example, chopped green/red/yellow peppers and chopped celery, until barely tender. You can also use chopped, peeled carrot, but you have to precook it a bit first. Other chopped veggies if you prefer them: just try to keep the pieces about the same size. Frozen peas are good, but they don't need to be cooked (they'll heat sufficiently in the oven).

Make 2 cups of medium white sauce. Add 2 cups of grated old cheddar.

Open 2 6-7 oz or one 14-15 oz can of salmon (sockeye is best, but pink will work fine. Remove skin. Either remove or crush and mix in bones (your choice). Flake the salmon into small pieces.

Put veggies, pasta, salmon in large casserole dish. Toss. Add sauce over all and toss again until thoroughly glopped together.

Toast some bread crumbs (a couple slices of bread run through the blender) in a small amount of butter until just golden. Cover top of casserole with crumbs.

Bake in a 350F oven until bubbly and warmed through.

If you're going to freeze it, don't bake it.

Make some sort of short pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotilli)and set aside. Saute some chopped onions and garlic in olive oil, then add washed and chopped greens (a mixture of spinach and some bitter green, like dandelion or kale, is great; just spinach is fine too). Frozen chopped greens can be added if time and energy are short. Cook greens and onions together until greens are done. Then add some crumbled feta cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the feta melts. Salt and pepper to taste. You probably won't need much salt, as the feta is fairly salty.

For immediate consumption, serve a spoonful of the feta sauce over pasta. For freezing, mix together and freeze. It's not as tasty when frozen and reheated, but it's still good.

I can't give proportions because I have cooked this dish so often that I don't measure any longer. Proportions aren't critical, as long as you have some cooking sense.

This can be a one-dish meal. You gotcher starch, protein, and vegs.

Not vegetarian, but something that keeps forever, even in the fridge, is Filipino adobo. Basically chicken and/or pork in soy sauce & vinegar & garlic.

Here's one version:
http://www.filipinofoodrecipes.net/adobo.htm

My version is simple.
Crush & peel a lot of garlic (maybe half a head).
Put it in a pot.
Add 2T soy sauce & 1/3c vinegar. (or more , in those proportions)
Add whole peppercorns and 1 broken up dried bay leaf.
Some people add a pinch of coriander.

Chop up chicken(skin on) & pork, total around 1 to 1.5 lbs. Put them in pot and swish and marinade for a bit. Add some water so everything is covered. Boil.

When everything seems cooked, turn it off. Get out a frying pan and put it on med to med-low heat. Put the chicken & pork in it with just a bit of sauce, and kind of glaze them by sprinkling brown sugar then letting the sauce evaporate off.

Eat with steamed white rice.


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