Don’t Panic: Dinner’s in the Freezer = 13 meals
I have made 47 meals and 12 bags of spaghetti sauce over the past week or so. My goal was to make 10-15 meals a month, and I exceeded my goal with flying colors! I am definitely going to plan on making and freezing meals every month. Lately, I have found that I am carrying a lot of stress in my shoulders. I’ve noticed that I am so tense that I have to consciously tell myself to relax. But I’ve also found that cooking helps with that- I have found myself smiling, relaxed, and actually having fun!
The meals so far have saved time and effort in the kitchen. I feel that it has cut down on my prep time. In fact I have found myself standing around with time to clean the kitchen and time to spare! It takes a lot of guess work and stress out of the equation. I am looking forward to not having to worry about making dinner every single day.
Update’s on previous freezer meals from part 1 : How did it taste?
Chicken Alfredo Pizzas: Yummy, but it was a little salty due to the cheese.
Meat balls and Spaghetti Sauce: They were both so good! 🙂 I added some red pepper flakes, oregano and some other spices. The meatballs started to fall apart, so next time I am going to add more bread crumbs. (opps no picture 😦 )
The last set of meals I made for the month that are mentioned in this post are: Spinach Lasagna, Cheese Ravioli, and Spinach pasta.
Spinach lasagna: This was super easy to make. I cannot wait to try it and tell you how it tastes. I have made lasagna before and it usually comes out tasting great! Usually I just make meat lasagna but this time I wanted to try the vegetarian meal. There was only one problem: my husband is VERY allergic to mushrooms. If even one mushroom is cooked in the meal, he will end up very sick. So I substituted ground sausage for the mushrooms. Update: This is really good though you may need to cook it for 1.5 hours instead of 1 hour. I enjoyed the spinach and the whole tomatoes. The best part was getting small bites of sausage occasionally and the cheese.
2 T olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ t crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used ½ lb of ground sausage)
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
1-28 oz can whole tomatoes, including liquid
1-6 oz can tomato paste
1 t salt
1 t oregano
½ t. basil
½ cup red wine
1-10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
8 oz lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1 lb mozzarella cheese, grated
Original recipe yields
Cooking Day Instructions:
In large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Sauté onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Add mushrooms (or sausage) and sauté gently. Blend in tomato sauce, canned tomatoes with liquid, tomato paste, salt, oregano, basil, and wine. Simmer about 15 minutes, breaking tomatoes into small pieces as mixture cooks. In medium bowl, mix egg with spinach, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Line 9X 13 baking dish. To assemble, pour half of the sauce into baking dish. Cover with half of lasagna noodles. Sprinkle with half of mozzarella cheese. Repeat, layering with remaining lasagna, then sauce, and ending with remainder of mozzarella cheese. Cool completely and freeze, using foil and plastic wrap method.
Serving day instructions:
Remove lasagna from freezer and thaw slightly. Remove foil and plastic wrap from still frozen lasagna, and return lasagna to original baking dish. Finish thawing. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Note: I just put the lasagna in to aluminum baking dishes and it makes it a lot easier to freeze and cook.
Spinach pasta: I have never made homemade spinach pasta before. I saw the recipe on Annie’s Eats and of course I broke down and made it. I chopped around 5 lbs of fresh spinach for this recipe. I do not have a pasta machine so I rolled it out by hand and cut it with a pizza cutter. Some of my pieces turned out the same width and others didn’t. I think it will take practice before I can cut pretty well and even. I hope by that point, however, that someone buys me attachments for my mixer. 😉 I am looking forward to having this pasta. My plan is to make an Alfredo sauce with it and top it with some yummy shrimp.
Cheese Ravioli: The other pasta I made was cheese ravioli. The recipe can be found here (https://texlilo.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/homemade-ravioli-with-a-few-twists-and-innovations-saturday-july-11-2009/). I made my cheese ravioli and it turned out well. With my arm injury it makes it difficult to do things like rolling out pasta after a while which is part of the reason that I want a pasta attachment for my Kenmore stand mixer. I also think I need to find a better recipe for pasta dough. I have thought about making the pasta recipe off of Annie’s eats with semolina flour.
Fresh Spinach Pasta
Yield: 1 1/2 lbs. dough
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 T water, plus more as needed
1 T olive oil
4 large eggs
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Wring all the liquid out of the spinach until it feels very dry. Finely chop spinach in the food processor or blender.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the spinach, 1 T water, olive oil, eggs, and flour. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are well mixed and dough begins to form. If the mixture is not coming together add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough is formed. Remove the dough from the mixer and transfer it to a work surface. Knead 1-2 minutes by hand.
Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Flatten each piece with a rolling pin until it is flat enough to go through the pasta sheet roller at its widest setting. Run one piece of the dough through the sheet roller on its widest setting once (keep the rest of the dough covered with a kitchen towel to prevent drying out). Remove the sheet from the roller and lay it on the work surface lengthwise. Bring both outside edges into the middle, folding the sheet into thirds. Flatten with the rolling pin until flat enough to go through the sheet roller on the widest setting once again. Pass the folded sheet through the roller, open end first. Remove the sheet from the roller and lay it on the work surface lengthwise once again. Fold the sheet into thirds as before, flatten with the rolling pin and pass through the roller once again. Continue this pattern until the dough is smooth and supple, approximately six times total.
Pass the dough through the pasta sheet roller at narrowing widths narrowing it one setting at a time, until the dough has reached the thinness you desire. Set the sheet aside, cover with a towel and repeat the entire process with the remaining three segments of dough. Once all the pasta sheets are finished, pass through a noodle cutter if desired. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, 2-5 minutes. Drain well and serve.
This post was edited by Mara W.