Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Always Prepared!

I often get asked if I cook full meals every night of the week; the truth is that most nights, I do. I personally find cooking to be an escape after a long day at work. However, as much I as love to cook dinner, some nights, there is just not the time or energy.
Instead of rushing out to the local fast food restaurant  I like to pull from my stash of quick meals. Below is my top 5 go to make ahead dinners. With these on hand, you will be able to throw a dinner together any night of the week.

1. Meatball Lasagna:  Having my meatball lasagna frozen in individual servings is a great way to have quick dinners or packed lunches. The noodles are still moist and the cheese is creamy. Every time I reheat this recipe, it tastes just as fresh as the day it was made.

2. Eggrolls: About once every 6 months or so, I make homemade egg rolls. Since all the wrappers need to be used up at the same time, I make about 30 rolls at a time. After much practice, I have found the best way to preserve and reheat. You will want to make sure to cook the rolls completely and then allow to cool. After they have come to room temperature, wrap them individually in aluminum foil and then lay in a freezer bag. These rolls are good for up to 6 months in the freezer stored this way. When you want to create a quick Asian dinner, simply place in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until they are heated through. Heating them in this manner allows the crust to be crisp. Great quick side to go with my Pork Fried Rice!

3. Soup: Soups are a staple in make-ahead freezer meals. I have never found a soup that cannot be frozen. The key to eating frozen soup is to allow it to thaw for a day in the refrigerator before reheating. Soups, stews, chilis.....they are all great. I like to make a large pot of chicken soup and store the remainder for a later day. Nothing beats soup for a long day and cold night.

4. Pulled Pork: When we make BBQ in this house, we make A LOT of BBQ. Rather than throwing it away, we freeze the pork in vacuum bags. To reheat, simply heat in a skillet on low and add additional sauce. My favorite way to use up the pulled pork is with my BBQ Cheese Fries. If nothing else, the fries alone are a great reason to have leftover BBQ.

5. Kicked Up Chili: My final go to recipe from the freezer is my Kicked Up Chili. This chili is used for hotdogs, chili cheese burgers, chili fries, nachos, and, my personal favorite, chili dogs! To reheat, simply remove from the freezer, thaw in the microwave for 5 minutes, and then place in a skillet with a lid. Simmer on low for 10 minutes or until hot throughout. That is it! Super quick meal!

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