Operation: Organization 2014 ~ 25 Healthy Freezer Meals from Terry

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25_Healthy_Freezer_Meals

 

Happy New Year! Have you all been enjoying Operation: Organization, or what? I am so motivated by what I’ve been reading here at 11 Magnolia Lane that I don’t know where to begin. I do know that I am inspired to kick off 2014 organized.

A great way to start a new year is by stocking your freezer with healthy and nutritious meals that your entire family can enjoy. There is nothing worse than coming home from a long day only to realize that you didn’t thaw or prep anything for dinner. It happens to the best of us; dinner is all too often an afterthought. Figuring dinner out last minute is stressful and can lead to ordering in or eating out. I am tackling this dinner dilemma for you by sharing 6 new recipes, which I have tripled or quadrupled, so the meals can be frozen and easily eaten at a later date.  It took me (and two friends) 5 hours to prep 25 healthy, low carb, kid approved freezer meals that you can throw into your crockpot and forget about until dinner time. I’ve included a shopping list, prep instructions and all 6 recipes to make this process as easy as possible. All you have to do is find one afternoon to shop (shortcut: order online) and another day to cook.  Invite a couple girlfriends over, drink some wine and stock your freezer with love this 2014! (Bonus: Your wallet and waistline will thank you!)

Shopping List (Big Cook #2, Shopping List)

Shopping List Big Cook #2

Prep Instructions

When I organize a “Big Cook” I usually invite one or two ladies over to my home to join in the fun. Since we are prepping 25 meals for 3 families, I ask that they do a bit of prep work at home to ensure we are able to stay on schedule (we allotted a 5 hour window of time). Here is what we did prior to meeting at my house:

Prep_Pork_Onions_Bacon

  1. Chop 20 pieces of bacon for the smothered pork chops. Cook bacon over medium high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then store it in the fridge until later. (Save the bacon grease for step 3)
  2. While bacon is cooking slice up 5 large onions and mince 5 cloves of garlic for the smothered pork chops and set aside for later.
  3. Fry up the pork chops ( 20 chops) in the same pan with the bacon grease. There should be plenty of bacon drippings in the pan (you may even need to pour some out into a mug to ensure each batch of chops has some bacon grease to cook in). If it doesn’t look like there’s enough, add butter or oil and increase the heat to high.  Add the pork chops to the pan and cook for two to three minutes per side, until they are nicely browned.  Transfer the browned pork chops to a storage container and place in fridge.
  4. While the chops are frying, finely dice 3 cups celery, 3 cups carrots and 3 cups onion for the tomato soup (Shortcut: use a food processor to chop all three ingredients as you will end up blending these ingredients later.)
  5. In the same pan you used for the chops, cook the sliced onions (from step 2). Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup water and cook until the onions are translucent. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of pork chop on the bottom of the pan. Add in 5 teaspoons of minced garlic and cook for another minute. Pour this mixture over the pork chops.
  6. Onion mixture in fridge until you are ready to assemble freezer meals.
  7. Fry (or bake) 40 chicken thighs for Cacciatori. I actually baked mine. I have two large sheet pans and covered each thigh in olive oil, salt & pepper. I baked the chicken at 350 until brown (20-25 minutes). If you want to fry them, heat some olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken thighs about 7 minutes on each side (just enough to brown the Outside) and set aside. Once cooled to room temp, place in fridge until you are ready to assemble freezer meals.
  8. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the 3 tablespoons of oil,  3 cups of chopped celery, 3 cups of the chopped carrots and 3 cups of the chopped onions; cook until golden. Place onions in a storage container and place in the fridge until you are ready to assemble your freezer meals.  (Shortcut: Bake these ingredients on a large baking sheet at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown).

Tip: Save all your scraps and freeze them for the next time you make chicken stock (click here for recipe). If you don’t like the idea of making stock, feed your compost or feed a farmers’ livestock. (Nothing goes to waste when you cook with friends who own pigs!)

Pig-Feed

 

Recipes

Slow-Cooker_Honey_Garlic-Chicken

1. Terry’s Modified Honey Garlic Chicken Recipe

Courtesy of Just a Taste

(Makes 5 Freezer Meals)

Ingredients

  • 16 skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 ½ cup honey
  • 2 ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ¼ cup blackberry jam (I would probably only use ¾ cup of jam and taste prior to adding more- this is a strong flavor)
  • 1 ¼ cup hoisin sauce (Gluten Free)
  • 10 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 15 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ½  cup diced onion
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 5 Tablespoon cornstarch (I did not add corn starch)
  • Sliced scallions, for garnish
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • White or brown rice for serving

Directions

  1. Equally divide and arrange the chicken breasts in your storage container or freezer bags.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, blackberry jam, hoisin, olive oil, garlic, onion and crushed red pepper flakes, and then ladle equal amount into each bag.
  3. Date, label and freeze each meal for 2-3 months.

Defrost and Cooking Directions

  1. Remove package from your freezer and allow it to defrost for approx. 1 hour.  (It doesn’t have to defrost all the way, just enough so you can break it up to fit into your crockpot with the lid on.  I have cooked mine completely frozen and the results seem to be the same.
  2. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high 3-5 hours until the chicken easily shreds.
  3. To serve: Place a garlic chicken atop fluffy cooked rice,  spoon gravy over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

*****I did NOT follow below instructions to thicken my sauce.  I simply shredded my chicken in the crockpot and served over rice. It tasted great but if you prefer a thicker sauce, then the below 3 steps are for you.*****

  1. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the slow cooker (reserving the liquids) and place it on a cutting board. Remove the bones then use two forks to shred the chicken into smaller pieces. Place the shredded chicken in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry.
  3. Transfer the liquids from the slow cooker into a small saucepan set over medium-high heat and whisk in the slurry. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook it until it reduces and has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken, tossing to combine. Serve the chicken topped with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.

 

2. Terry’s Modified Red Wine Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

Courtesy of Mostly Homemade

(Makes 5 Freezer Meals)

Ingredients

  • 40 chicken thighs
  • 5 tablespoon olive oil
  • (5) 14oz Pomi strained tomatoes*
  • (5) 14oz Pomi chopped tomatoes*
  • 5 green peppers, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 ½ teaspoon basil
  • 2 ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 5 cup(s) red wine (I would only do 2 -2 ½ cups total)
  • 10 tablespoons sugar (Honey or coconut sugar is a better alternative)
  • 2 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Polenta or pasta for serving

Instructions (If you followed the prep instructions above, please skip to step #2)

  1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken thighs about 7 minutes on each side, just enough to brown the outside.
  2. Equally divide chicken thighs in your storage container or freezer bags (approx. 8 pieces per bag)
  3. Add equal amounts of the following ingredients to each bag: strained tomatoes, sliced green pepper, garlic, seasonings, red wine, and sugar.
  4. Label, date and freeze up to 2-3 months.

Defrost and Cooking Directions

  1. Remove package from your freezer and allow it to defrost for approx. 1 hour.  (It doesn’t have to defrost all the way, just enough so you can break it up to fit into your crockpot with the lid on.  I have cooked mine completely frozen and the results seem to be the same.
  2. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high 3-5 hours until the meat is falling off the bone tender.
  3. To serve: Place chicken Cacciatore on a bed of pasta or polenta and serve with Parmesan cheese

 

3. Terry’s Modified Smothered Pork Chop Recipe

Courtesy of Center Cut Cook

(Makes 5 Freezer Meals)

Ingredients

  • 20 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick seasoned with salt and pepper on each side
  • 20 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 10 tablespoons canola oil
  • 5 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 ¼ cup water plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
  • 5 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 10 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 15 cups low-sodium chicken stock (6 cans)
  • 10 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 5 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 5  teaspoon dried parsley
  • rice or egg noodles for serving

Directions (If you followed the prep instructions above, please begin with step #5)

  1. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels, then season both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook bacon over medium high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain, then store it in the fridge until later.
  3. There should be about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan.  Add the pork chops to the pan and cook for two to three minutes per side, until they are nicely browned. Transfer the browned pork chops to a plate and let sit.
  4. Add a small amount of oil to the pan if there is no remaining fat/oil, about a teaspoon. Add the onions, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 cup water and cook until the onions are translucent. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of pork chop on the bottom of the pan. Add in garlic and cook for another minute. 
  5. Get out your gallon sized freezer bags (or whatever you plan on using to store your food in).
  6. In a separate bowl, mix the cider vinegar, parsley, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.  Mix together until well combined.
  7. Place 4-5 chops into each bag followed by 5 bay leaves and equal amounts of the onion/bacon mixture.
  8. Ladle liquid into each bag (I go ladle by ladle until it is gone- I try to make it as even as possible).
  9. Label, date and freeze up to 2-3 months.

Defrost and Cooking Directions

  1. Remove chops from freezer and allow it to defrost for approx. 1 hour.  (It doesn’t have to defrost all the way, just enough so you can break it up to fit into your crockpot with the lid on.  I have cooked mine completely frozen and the results seem to be the same.
  2. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high 3-5 hours until the pork chops are tender.
  3. Discard the bay leaves.
  4. To serve: Place a pork chop atop fluffy cooked rice or egg noodles, spoon gravy over the pork chop and sprinkle with parsley.

 

4. Terry’s Modified Hoisin Beef Stew Recipe

Courtesy of Kelsey’s Apple a Day

(Makes 4 Freezer Meals)

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 (7 oz.) bottle hoisin sauce (gluten free)
  • 8 tsp. hot sauce (recipe calls for Sriracha, i used Franks hot sauce)
  • 20 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 4 in. piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6-8 lbs. cubed stew meat
  • 12 stalks celery, cut into large slices
  • 12 carrots, peeled and cut into large slices
  • 4 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 Tbsp chopped green onion
  • 8 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Steamed rice and broccoli for serving, if desired

Directions

  1.  In a large bowl, whisk together broth, hoisin, hot sauce, garlic, and ginger.  Add meat, celery, carrots, and onion and toss to coat.
  2. Place equal amounts of mixture in each gallon freezer bag.
  3. Label, date and freeze up to 2-3 months.

Defrost and Cooking Directions

  1. Remove package from freezer and allow it to defrost for approx. 1 hour.  (It doesn’t have to defrost all the way, just enough so you can break it up to fit into your crockpot with the lid on.  I have cooked mine completely frozen and the results seem to be the same.
  2. Transfer all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. To serve, ladle beef and veggies over rice and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.  Serve broccoli alongside, if desired.

 

5. Chicken Noodle Soup

Courtesy of Cooking Classy

(Makes 3 Freezer Meals)

Ingredients

  • 4.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 15 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (1 3/4 cups)
  • 3 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 12 stalks celery, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 9 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 18 cups low-sodium chicken broth (9 – 15 oz cans)
  • 3 cup water
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 3/4 tsp celery seed, finely crushed*
  • 6 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
  • 10 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Saltine crackers or parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Directions

  • To a 1 gallon freezer bags add equal amounts of: chicken (cut or un-cut), diced carrots, onion, celery, and garlic.
  • Drizzle olive oil into each bag then add in chicken broth, water, thyme, rosemary, celery seed, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
  • Label, date and freeze up to 2-3 months.

Defrost and Cooking Directions

  1. Remove package from freezer and allow it to defrost for approx. 1 hour.  (It doesn’t have to defrost all the way, just enough so you can break it up to fit into your crockpot with the lid on.  I have cooked mine completely frozen and the results seem to be the same.
  2. Cook on low for 7-8 hours until the cubed chicken is cooked through or the chicken breasts shreds easily.
  3. Add egg noodles and parsley to slow cooker. Increase temperature to high, cover and cook 10 minutes longer (or until noodles are tender).
  4. Stir in lemon juice, crushed the rosemary and crushed celery seed.  (Tips: use a coffee grinder to crush and grind dried herbs).
  5. Serve warm with saltine crackers or top with Parmesan cheese.

 

6. Creamy Tomato Soup

Courtesy of Skinny Taste

(Makes 3 Freezer Meals)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups finely diced celery
  • 3 cups finely diced carrots
  • 3 cups finely diced onions
  • (3) 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 tsp thyme
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil
  • 10 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable for vegetarians)
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese rind (optional)
  • 3 bay leaf
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 3/4 cups reduced fat (2%) milk, warmed
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

Directions (If you followed the prep instructions above, please begin with step #2)

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the oil, celery, carrots and onions; cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden.
  2.  Place equal amounts of celery, carrot and onion mixture into your 1 gallon freezer bags.
  3. Place the following ingredients into each freezer bag: canned tomatoes (Please crush the tomatoes by hand prior ot placing inside the bag, chicken (or vegetable broth),  the cheese rind (if using) thyme, basil, and a bay leaf.
  4. Label, date and freeze up to 2-3 months

Defrost and Cooking Directions

  1. Remove package from freezer and allow it to defrost for approx. 1 hour.  (It doesn’t have to defrost all the way, just enough so you can break it up to fit into your crockpot with the lid on.  I have cooked mine completely frozen and the results seem to be the same.
  2. Add 1 1/4 cups of milk (Almond or coconut are great dairy free alternatives)  to slow cooker (If you want a thicker soup, skip this step and read below for further instructions).
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, until the vegetables get soft and the flavors blend.
  4. Remove the cheese rid and, using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth (or you can carefully do this in small batches in the blender).

****I enjoyed my soup after step #3, however, the original recipe sugested adding flour and butter to thicken the soup.  If you are interested in a thicker soup please follow the next three directions****

  1. Melt the butter over low heat in a large skillet and add the flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in about 1 cup of the hot soup, then add the 1 3/4 cups of warmed milk and stir until smooth.
  2. Pour back into the slow cooker and stir, add the grated Pecorino cheese and adjust salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Cover and cook on low 30 more minutes.
  4. Makes about 9 1/4 cups.
  5. Serve with cracker and extra Parmesan chcese

 

The photo below is Amanda (purple shirt) and Eliza (cream sweater) and me after a full day of cooking.  We had such a fun time talking, chopping and preparing all these nutritious meals for our families that we’re already planning “Big Cook #3″.  You can also see the recipes for “Big Cook #1″ {here}!

 

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You can follow the Operation: Organization Pinterest board {here}.

Here’s the rest of the all-star lineup for Operation: Organization:

Thanks for stopping by~

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Comments

  1. This looks so amazing! I’ve heard about these “meal making parties” and now I may have to try it with a few friends.
    How awesome! Thanks so much for sharing and for all of these fabulous recipes! xoxo

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