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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals (freezable)

I just love knowing exactly what I'm going to make for dinner and exactly how long it's going to take during those hectic week nights.
Don't get me wrong, I love to cook from scratch, but I have a husband and 3 boys to feed and with all of the other things going on during the week I just don't always have time to slave over a hot stove.

But I still want to make healthy meals...

This ongoing dilemma is what inspired my post.

Have you ever heard of those boxed meals that come with "everything" you need to make dinner? I purchased one made by Banquet:

The package says that it serves 4. . . 4 what? It definitely didn't serve 4 of my family members! I also noticed that everything looked very processed and preserved, I mean even more so than most packaged food. It actually tasted pretty good but I knew I could do better.

My version of one-dish week night meals:

You'll need a few key ingredients to make several different versions of these casseroles. I literally made one of these meals every day for a week and no one got tired of it.

Let's start with one basic recipe:

What you'll need

1 big can Cream of Mushroom (or Cream of Chicken)
1/3 cup milk
1 - 1 1/2 cup frozen chicken
Powdered biscuit mix like Bisquik or Jiffy
1 - 1 1/2 cup frozen veggies
2/3 cup shredded cheese (optional)

Dump the creamed soup into an 8x8 pan and mix in the milk. (I use disposable pans for easy clean up.)
Mix in the chicken, then the veggies.

Mix in the shredded cheese and smooth it out.
Stop here and wrap tightly with foil if you want to freeze it, then you can put it in the fridge the night before cooking to let it thaw and proceed to the next step.
Mix your biscuit mix according to directions for drop biscuits. It's ok if it's a little lumpy.
Spoon the biscuits evenly on top of your mixture.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until biscuits are browned and cooked through. You can sprinkle shredded cheese on top during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Another version of this one-dish meal is to start by adding a layer of mashed potatoes to the pan, mix chopped, cooked ham and veggies with country gravy and layer on top of potatoes, then add your biscuits on top.

My twist on chicken fettuccine alfredo
Add cooked noodles of your choice to one jar of alfredo sauce in your pan. Mix in one can of very well-drained tomatoes, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1-1 1/2 cups cooked chicken. Add some dried basil or other Italian seasoning if you'd like.

Add refrigerated breadsticks to the top.

Or try this one:
Cooked noodles, cheese sauce (or cr. of chicken), crumbled sausage, veggies, shredded cheese, refrigerated biscuits on top.

The possibilities are endless!

Use canned crescent rolls or biscuits.
Use shredded chicken, beef, cooked ground beef, sausage, bacon etc for your meat. Just make sure it's always cooked meat.
Use cream of chicken, cream of potato, cream of mushroom, cream of broccoli etc. or a combination.
You can also use several other types of sauces or gravies including spaghetti or alfredo sauce.
Any frozen or canned vegetables can be used including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc. or a mix.
Add cooked noodles or rice to the mix.

You can make a bunch of these dishes in advance, (minus the bread), and freeze them for a whole month of ready-to-make meals.

More to come.

What are your favorite combinations?