Freezer meals that can be cooked frozen
Please share your experience of what meals I can put together and freeze AND cook from the frozen state. Due to all of our family's schedules I never know what will be going on for dinner the next day or how many of us there will be. I have frozen many meats in the past (good sale, didn't have a chance to cook before goes bad, etc) but we never end up using them because we didnt thaw before wanting to use them. I want to make freezer meals ahead of time but would like to cook them without defrosting first. Crock pot meals are ok but I hubby and I both need to go to work in mornings before knowing our schedules for that day. I can come home at lunch, program oven, or have kids start oven when home from school.
I freeze my leftover chicken enchiladas (the ones that didn't get sauced because the pan was already full). I cook those (heat in the oven, actually, as the chicken is already cooked) straight from the freezer with fresh enchilada sauce. I'm awfully picky about leftovers and freezer meals, but these I like just as well as the first day I make them.
I can't think of any pre-cooked food item that can't be cooked straight from its frozen state. It's usually better to reheat them at a low temperature (e.g 200 degrees) and warm them through slowly but when the center reaches serving temperature the food should be just fine to serve.
Uncooked foods are considerably more difficult to deal with, especially meat products, so I wouldn't even try that.
I make giant stuffed shells and freeze them. I cook the shells before stuffing them with a ricotta based filling, freeze them on a tray and then throw them in a freezer bag. To heat, place frozen shells in a casserole in a single layer filling the base of the dish, cover with a marinara or meat sauce, home made or store bought, sprinkle on some parm, cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 1 hour. I make these in individual serving casseroles so I only use 2 to 3 shells per serving. This is a good base recipe to build on.
I have had several delicious beef roasts that I've cooked directly from the frozen state. They all had a nice dark brown seared crust. Of course, this goes against tradition and many will knock it before they try it.
If you're willing to give it a shot, you can program your oven or have kids start it and then throw in some potatoes or veggies to roast when you get home and are ready for dinner.
Here's a study from Kansas State University that found that color, "shear force", juiciness, flavor, connective tissue amount, and overall tenderness did not differ (P>0.05) between steaks cooked from frozen and thawed states. However, thawed steaks cooked faster.
My mother always used to make a vegetarian moussaka that always heated up nicely. I tend to make extra chili as well, I find it reheats beautifully from frozen.
For friends going through tough times (older cples where one has had a stroke,etc) I make up a number of meals that I put into those small disposable "bread" pans.....most take 40-50 mins to heat at 300-350.
pork tenderloin slices in marsala with onions over rice
beef in broth with rice
chicken pot pie without the crust......use eng muffins or Pillsbury pie dough
pork, apples, onion in a chicken broth over noodles
beef stew....Pillsbury rolls separate
veal,marsala, mushrooms, onions on thick noodles
One of those 3 inch pans will hold enough for two ppl as long as they are average eaters. The main trick as I see it is to have enough liquid to keep the meat moist and tender without makijng it too "soupy". These are all pre-cooked and basically only need to be heated through.
Most recipes will make enough to fill 3-4 of those. I label them all then stock their freezers. Suppose in other containers they could nuke them, but the slower cooking seems to work better and probably is emotionally more fulfilling.
When my wife's uncle was dying and in hospice, his wife and son would spend the day over there and then come home around 7. As they said...it was like being at the automat or a vending machine! Such fun....more likely, they had enough on their minds to not figure out what to eat at that hour and take-out only goes so far, especially when all you want to do is get home and rest.
I once saw a recipe for a Prime Rib for 2 where you take a frozen Prime Rib(maybe about a pound?)...perferably thickish...wedge it upright between two Baking potatoes and cook at 450 for an hour. Never tried it, but sounds plausible
I was going to say enchilladas too! What about spanokopita? I bake them straight from the freezer and add a salad. Twenty minutes tops.You can do this with anything in filo or puff pastry - savoury strudels or turnovers.
I construct several at a time,with and without meat,white or red sauce
freeze uncooked,cook at two temperatures,20 minutes 250*f convection plus 35-45 minutes 400*f ,easy
if degree of done is ?,I check with a thermometer
I recently discovered this site. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I like the idea of it: http://cookitfrozen.com/
Also, if you google on "Martha Stewart cook from frozen" you get a ton of recipe hits:
enchiladas http://www.marthastewart.com/351778/v... (see the cooking from frozen directions in the first comment
)bean burritos http://www.marthastewart.com/312932/b...
mac and cheese http://www.marthastewart.com/312881/m...
baked penne with chicken http://www.marthastewart.com/313371/b...