Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Chicken Rice Casserole

Nothing is more satisfying than putting a hot, healthy, homemade meal on the table for your family. Make ahead meals are a great solution for busy moms. Cook once and have dinner twice!

Plan your shopping to include items for meal preparation for two weeks or more at a time. One morning spent preparing and freezing nourishing meals for the family will give you more quality time through the busy weekday evenings, and will lower your stress level.

What foods freeze easily and will reheat quickly? Consider one-dish meals or fillings for hot, savory sandwiches that can be served with a cold side dish. Here is a chicken broccoli rice casserole that is easy, delicious and freezes well! Notice that frozen or fresh broccoli can be used. And try some changes now and then:  use different vegetables (or a combo) and try using 2-3 cups of cooked pearl barley in place of the same amount of rice.

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

•5 cups cooked rice, either white or brown
•2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
•2 cups chopped broccoli, fresh or frozen, lightly cooked
•1 can cream of chicken soup
•1 can cream of mushroom soup
•2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
•salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, and divide in half for two freezer meals.

The easiest storage is to use zip-lock bags and freeze flat, making sure all the air is out of the bag. To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave. Prepare a greased 8x8 casserole dish. Have some extra cheese on hand to sprinkle on top before baking.

Serve with crusty bread and fresh fruit for a well balanced meal.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through.

This recipe makes around 10 servings, and each freezer bag serves 4-5 people.

The chicken broccoli rice casserole is budget-friendly, filling and easy to freeze. A good tip for your make ahead meals is to flatten your freezer bags so they will stack easily and save room in your freezer. Place bags on a baking sheet until frozen to help freeze them flat. Don't forget to label with the dish and date!

Don’t let busy schedules prevent your family from enjoying special times around the dinner table. A homemade dinner can be a memory maker, so take time to prepare great, nutritious meals ahead, and serve them to the most important people in your world – your family!

 

Mac & Cheese Spirals

Gratin with macaroni, meat and cheese

Mac and cheese is a simple, yet satisfying main dish for family members of all ages. The perfect comfort food on a chilly day, or a quick meal after your children's after school activities. This is an ideal casserole for moms who always seem to be on the go. If you have some of your children's friends or relatives show up for a surprise visit, this recipe doubles very efficiently without compromising taste and appeal. With added butternut squash, this recipe adds a vegetable into this dish to boost both nutrition and taste. Cook this casserole in your crock pot for perfect make ahead meal goodness. Be sure to prepare and freeze an extra batch of this delightful dish, so you can have an easy, effortless make ahead meal.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs Ground beef
2 boxes spiral pasta
2 boxes of frozen butternut squash, thawed
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb other cheese- Monterey jack, muenster, Swiss...your choice
(or a combination of cheeses)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbs. cornstarch
tsp. water
Tbsp. butter or margarine
Optional:  goldfish crackers, any flavor, crushed for topping

Directions: 

-Cook ground beef in skillet on stove.
-Cook pasta on stovetop until tender.
-Drain grease from ground beef. Also, drain water from pasta.
-Add both to crock pot. Mix them together.
-Put milk and butter into a pan.
-In a small dish, mix cornstarch and water. Be sure to stir until cornstarch is completely dissolved into water.
-Grate cheese and set aside (this is good to do a day or two ahead, to save time - or buy shredded cheese)
-Thaw butternut squash in the  microwave or on stovetop in a separate pan.
-Turn on burner and heat milk and butter mixture on low.
-Stir. Add grated cheese and thawed butternut squash.
-Turn up heat. Stir continuously as you add cornstarch and water mixture.
-Cook until sauce begins to thicken.
-Add completed sauce to crock pot with ground beef and pasta. Stir to combine all ingredients.
-Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
-Keep on warm for as many hours as you need to.
-Scoop out a portion to cool and then freeze in freezer-proof container for a second meal. For your second meal, when ready, add to crock pot to warm and you will be ready for quick goodness on another night.
-Serve casserole with crushed goldfish crackers on each individual portion for your family members who like a little topping on their Mac and cheese. Enjoy!

 

Enchilada Casseroles

Taco Casserole

Enchilada Casseroles are ideal for a family meal any day of the week. It satisfies our craving for spicy food, providing taste and comfort at the same time. This recipe serves 8 people, meaning it is a double batch. You can serve it to fewer people and freeze the rest for future use. It is an easy meal that you can make ahead of time in preparation for weeknight meals.

3 pounds ground beef
1/2  cup of olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cups sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
2 cups mild enchilada sauce
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
6 tortillas
2 garlic cloves, diced

You can substitute different types of cheeses for the cheddar and Monterey Jack. A mixed cheese blend or muenster cheese will work. You can also substitute other meats for the beef, like chicken or chorizo. Keep in mind that this recipe is mild in terms of spice, so feel free to add more of your own hot sauce, salsa or peppers.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spread the olive oil around a skillet on medium heat. When the pan warms, place a tortilla on it and warm until it is crispy. Cook them one by one and place each on paper towel after cooking.

Next, add the diced garlic and onions to the pan. Once they've cooked, put them aside on a plate or in a bowl. Cook the ground beef in the pan until it is brown. Then remove the beef and drain the fat out of the pan. Return the beef, garlic and onions to the pan and stir them together.

Spray a cooking spray onto a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Then put the enchilada sauce (only ½ cup) into the dish and spread around the bottom. Put 3 tortillas over the sauce. Then add another half cup of enchilada sauce onto them. Put a layer of the onions, garlic and beef onto the sauce. Add a layer of sour cream, spreading it across the top, and sprinkle with cheese. Perform this same layering with 3 more tortillas and the rest of the ingredients for a second layer.

Cook for about 20 minutes or until you see that the cheese has fully melted. An enchilada casserole is something you can make ahead of time and freeze, as it tastes great after being warmed up.

 

Vegan Casserole

quinoa salad, vegetarian food

Veganism is more prevalent today than it ever was, and as such you likely already have a friend or two who eat the vegan way. As a definition, eating vegan means to omit all animal-related foods from the diet. This of course includes all meats and fish, but it also includes eggs and all dairy products, as well. There are also a few other lesser known food items that vegans don’t eat because they contain small amounts of animal products. These can range from marshmallows to some candies, most of which contain gelatin from animals.

For those of us who are not vegan, cooking for vegans can be difficult. Not only is it hard to always know what products are vegan and what products aren't, but cooking for vegans and making it taste good for everyone can be a real challenge!

To prepare for those times when your vegan friends come to visit, avoid the extra work and strain of making two meals, and have this fancy (but easy!) vegan Mexican casserole on hand. It's a dish you can freeze, and it only takes a while in the oven to become warm and tasty before a meal.

What You Will Need:

1 chopped onion
1 cup of quinoa
2 cloves minced garlic
1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 - 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
½ - 1 cups of water
1 Tbsp. tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of chili powder
a pinch of salt and touch of ground pepper
1 - 19 ounce can of rinsed black beans
1 - 11 ounce can of corn
3 cups of fresh spinach

Instructions

Start by preheating your oven to 350 F, then heating your olive oil on medium in a pan on the stove. Add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is almost translucent.

While onions are sautéing, get a casserole dish that is oven safe ready with the quinoa, tomatoes, water, ketchup and spices. Once onions are translucent, remove them along with the garlic and add to the casserole dish. Put on a cover, place in oven, and cook for roughly 30 minutes.

Remove the dish and add the beans, corn and a bit of water to moisten. Return casserole to oven and cook for another 30 minutes. Take out once more, and stir in the spinach.

At this point, you can freeze your casserole, possibly in portions, and take it out at any time for quick heating when your guests are coming. When serving, add cilantro, sour cream, cubed avocado and vegan cheese, if desired.

Remember, if you happen to be caught off guard by guests who are vegan eaters and need quick meal ideas for them, salads or pasta rarely fail. Make up a salad, or cook up some (egg-free) pasta along with some stir fried fresh vegetables that you have on hand, and voila! Other grains like brown rice and lentils also work, but remember, pasta is quick!

 

Tater Tot Casserole

bigstock-Tater-Tots-Casserole-20252540

When you were a child, you probably looked forward to any meal that included tater tots. This simple little potato nugget tastes similar to french fries, but tater tots somehow seem more exciting and delicious than ordinary fries. Your kids probably love them as much as you did, but when you're trying to eat healthy, you tend to skip frozen foods in favor of something you make yourself. Once you take a lot at this recipe for tater tot casserole, you might find yourself excited about tater tot night again.

Start with one pound of boneless chicken. Chicken breasts are delicious, but chicken thighs are a little more economical. No matter what you choose, cut the chicken into bite size pieces and set inside a skillet. Cook the chicken over low heat until cooked through. If you prefer beef, cook a pound of ground beef instead.  Add one small can of cream of mushroom soup, or make gravy with the meat drippings by adding some broth, milk and flour. Add one cup of water to the mixture if you use the soup, and stir until well combined. While the mixture cooks, add one bag of frozen corn and one bag of peas, or the equivalent in your favorite frozen vegetables.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased or buttered baking dish. Pour one bag of tater tots over the top of the mixture and make sure they are evenly spread around in one layer. If you're feeling a little fancy, you can arrange the tater tots in a pattern on top of the casserole. Bake the mixture for 25 minutes at 425 degrees or until the tater tots are lightly browned on top. This is also a great make ahead dish. Place everything inside the dish except for the tater tots and cover with plastic wrap. Thirty minutes before dinner time, remove the dish from the freezer, top with the tots and bake as directed.

Tater tots aren't just for dinner either. Create a quick make ahead breakfast dish with tater tots, bacon, cheese and eggs. Whisk one dozen eggs with ½ cup of milk and season with salt and pepper. Cook one pound of bacon until slightly crispy, and arrange the bacon in the bottom of a casserole dish. Cover the bacon with one bag of tater tots (spread evenly) and pour the egg mixture over the top. Cover the eggs with several handfuls of cheddar cheese and bake at 325 degrees until the eggs set.

Tater tots are a great and versatile food. You can pair these little potato nuggets with a simple turkey hot dog for a quick and simple dinner, or you can create a make ahead dish for those nights when you don't have a lot of time. Some stores even carry sweet potato puffs, which will add more nutrition to your meal...and they're delicious!