Monday, May 16, 2011

make ahead meals save time & money!

I know if you are anything like millions of american families your days can often be busy,busy, busy!
And if you are like me dinner sometimes sneaks up on you and you have no idea how you are going to prepare dinner and get it on the table before 6pm. 

So like some you order out. Even though in your house you have plenty to make but just didn't have the time. 
So you spend say $25.00 on delivered pizza. GREAT! Dinner is done.
But you are out $25.00 that really wasn't necessary to spend because you have the food just not the time.

Well I read awhile back on another blog of mom's making meals ahead of time and freezing them. PERFECT!
What a great way to avoid ordering out when you are just to busy or let's be honest, just do not feel like cooking!

So now I set aside time one day a week usually for me at night because everyone is in bed and I can focus entirely on cooking. But obviously it's up to you when you decide to do this if you decide to do this. 

Now tomorrow night I will pull out one of my freezer meals and TADA! Dinner is done in 30 minutes and it only took me 5 minutes to get it out of the freezer and pre-heat the oven.

I wanted to share one of my favorite freezer meals. Best part about this meal is it can either be one large dinner or broken down into multiple lunches. 

Chicken pot pie
Large or handheld

the crust.
1 stick of butter 8 tbsp's
4 0z of cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
* In your stand mixer or handheld whip together the butter and cream cheese.
Once combined at the heavy whipping cream and whip for 1 minute.
The add flour and salt and blend until dough starts to combine and you can see that it is ready to roll into a ball.
Sprinkle flour on your cutting board or counter top and knead this dough a few times to combine more. Then half it and form into 2 disk that will go in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Now while you are waiting for the dough prepare the inside of your pot pie
Here is where you have options. I buy one whole organic chicken and boil it for a few hours before I start prepping this meal.
From this chicken I will make 2 pot pies or 24 hand held pot pies for lunches. I also will have some chicken left for another meal of my choice. usually I go with a soup because of all the broth I end up with.
You can also go the easy route if you only intend on making a large pot pie or 12 hand held pies and buy a rotisserie chicken. How easy! But then remember to purchase a pack of chicken broth for the filling.

Filling:double if making more then 1 pie or more then 12 hand held pies.

1 carrot(chopped for pie, diced for hand held)
1 celery(chopped for pie, diced for hand held)
1/2 small onion(chopped for pie, diced for hand held)
1 small potato( chopped for pie, diced for hand held.)
peas & corn(optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 heaping cup of shredded chicken
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
In saute pan melt butter. Then add all your veggies except for pea's and corn if you are using.
cook 5 minutes.
Then add any other veggies you plan on using and flour.
With the flour you are making a roux.
Once that is mixed add the 1 cup of broth and parm cheese.
Then add chicken.
Filling is complete set aside until dough is ready.
Roll the dough out to either fit into large pie crust or use small biscuit cutter or baby snack gerber bowl (which some may or may not have)
and cut out small circles. 
If you are making hand helds then drop in 1 tbsp of filling wet the sides of the dough and fold in half sealing the sides.
Then place on sprayed cookie sheet and crimp with fork and poke a few holes as well to let steam escape. Now at this point I do a egg wash on top of mine. This is only if you are going to cook and then freeze not just put them straight into freezer.
Now if you doing large pie put one half of the crust into greased pie pan and put in oven for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.
Then fill the crust and top with the other half of crust. poke holes. Now same thing here as for the hand helds if you are cooking and freezing egg wash now. if you are putting this straight into the freezer egg wash when you are going to cook it. 
These both need to be cooked at 400 degree's. Hand helds for 10 minutes large pie I go about 25-35minutes depending oven. They both should be golden brown on top.

Just an FYI 
use the leftover dough to make cinnamon and sugar scraps! YUM! 
spread on a little butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and bake for about 10 minutes or less. YUM! And no waste :)
Also this crust is great for fruit pies!


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