give me your top 3 make ahead meals
I need make ahead meals. I work, have two small kids and would love to eat something different every day for a year. However, I end up making some things over and over because they are easy to prepare. I do turkey breasts, pork ribs, corned beef, whole chickens, beef ribs; all in the slow cooker. It is just simple to get it ready in the morning and eat when we get home. From stuff I have in the pantry, I willl do salmon croquettes, linguini with clam sauce, doctored up spaghetti, ramen, mac and cheese. I can do a quick baked/broiled fish with roasted veggies.
But, what I am looking for is your top 3 make ahead meals. I want something that will be ready when I get home or perhaps, just assembled ahead of time so that when I do get home, it doesn't take much effort, ie throw in the oven, quickly saute, or just plate and eat! My husband doesn't really like casseroles, so those are out.
During the winter months I make a lot of soups and stews to tide me through the week as they are hearty, healthy, easy to freeze, and easy to reheat for dinner- a small side salad and its good to go. I find meatballs to also be a good thing to make on a Sunday and then have to re heat throughout a week, or save for a later date in the freezer.
Im not sure how much your kids would be thrilled :-) but I have salad for dinner basically every night because its fast and easy. Pre chop the veggies on the weekend-at least for a couple of days, and then I usually just grill a protein. Makes for a tasty dinner.
One of the ways I make quickie meals is using my trusty food saver. 1 - Pre-cook hamburger and divide into appropriate packages (1 lb. each usually works for us). Easily reheated for Sloppy Joe's, Beef enchiladas, Stroganoff, Pizza, Taco Salad, Tacos, Nacho's, et. al.) 2 - Make up a batch of Chicken Tetrazzini (my recipe makes 2 9x13 pans) - again, divide into sealed bags and freeze. Take out the bag from the freezer the night before and leave in fridge. Then reheat in a casserole dish for about 45 minutes while you relax (if possible). 3 - I make a batch of of shredded Chicken Enchiladas and seal them in individual portions and then can reheat them as needed.
Sure. Here you go!
TURKEY OR CHICKEN TETRAZZINI
1 (16-oz.) package vermicelli
½ cup chicken broth
1 Large Onion
1 Large Green Pepper
1 Large Red Pepper
2 Tbsp. Butter
4 cups chopped cooked Turkey or chicken breasts
½ Bag frozen peas/carrots (thawed)
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of celery soup
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 (6-oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained
½ cup (2 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cups (24 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
1. Cook vermicelli according to package directions; drain. Return to pot, and toss with chicken broth.
2. Sauté chopped Onion, Red and Green Pepper in Butter.
3. Stir together Turkey or chicken and next 9 ingredients; add vermicelli, and toss well. Spoon mixture into 2 lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dishes. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.
4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Prep: 15 min., Cook: 10 min., Bake: 35 min. Makes 2 casseroles. Freeze unbaked casserole up to 1 month, if desired. Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature, and bake as directed.
You really can add anything you like with this. Sometimes I add diced celery and saute' with the peppers too. And if I don't have red peppers, I'll add a small jar of pimento's.
My top make-ahead meal is definitely chili. Here is a chicken chili, slightly simplified from the smoky, dark recipe I recently developed.
2 T. canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
3 T. chili powder
1 t. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 T. ground cumin
½ t. salt
½ t. freshly ground black pepper
2 chipotle peppers (from canned chipotles in adobo), minced
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (fire roasted, if you can find them)
1 c. beer
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t. Tabasco sauce, or to taste
Fat-free sour cream, lime and scallions for garnish
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and green pepper and sauté 5 minutes more. Add the chicken, break up with a spoon and sauté for 3-4 minutes until it loses its pinkness. Add the chili powder, spices, salt, pepper and chipotle, and cook over low heat for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, beer, beans and cocoa. Bring to a boil, then simmer 40 minutes. Add additional water if the chili seems too thick. Stir in the Tabasco. Season to taste with additional salt, and serve. Top with fat-free sour cream mixed with a squeeze of lime, and sliced scallions.
Here is the more hardcore version - spicier, more complex: