Saturday, October 9, 2010

Food For Thought

This week, just like the many weeks before, was a full one.  We had just one night when we were all home in the early evening for dinner.  Due to baseball and gymnastics, our typical dinner schedules were a bit wonkified.  (One of my new favorite words ... a great adjective for my life!)  Seeing as we make it a point to eat together regardless of schedules, that meant our meals this week were later than usual.  Seeing as this pace of life appears to be our normal right now, I decided to make several meals this week that I could double, freeze and use for a later meal on another wonkified day! :)  So, here is this week's Food For Thought:  Double-Duty Dinners!

The following recipes are already doubled for you.  Half the recipe feeds our family of six with some leftovers.

Homemade Sloppy Bobs  
(I got this recipe from a Taste of Home magazine many years ago.)

2 lbs ground beef (or turkey)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 small red or bell pepper, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
2 T. mustard
2 T. vinegar
3 t. worcestershire sauce
1 t. celery seed
1/2 t. pepper

In a large pot, brown beef, onion and pepper.  When the meat is no longer pink, drain off the fat.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Add this to meat mixture and stir well.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes.  I ladled half the mixture into a ziplock bag, let it cool and then stuck it in the freezer for next month.

I love my PC meat breaker-upper!
The sloppy part.

Topped with cheese and a side of tater tots ... yum!

P.S.  This was one of our "come home in a hurry"nights so I put the Sloppy Bob mixture in the crock pot before leaving.  It was ready to go when we got home.

Wild Rice & Beef Casserole  
(I got this recipe from my sister-in-law.)

2 lbs ground beef
2 cans tomato soup
1/2 cup milk
2 boxes wild rice mix (Rice-a-Roni makes a good one)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

First prepare the rice according the box's instructions.  Rice typically takes about 25 minutes to cook so plan that into your preparation.  While rice is simmering, brown beef.  I chose to do this in a Pyrex bowl in the microwave, but you can do it in a skillet.  When the rice is finished and the meat is browned, mix that all together with the soup and milk.  Now for the baking part.  You will need two 8x8 pans.  Spray one with cooking spray and ladle in half the meat and rice mixture.  In the second pan, take a piece of Glad Press'n Seal and line the bottom and sides of the pan.  

Make your own disposable pan!

Fill the second pan with the remaining mixture.  The first casserole can go in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbling.  Top with cheese for the last 10 minutes.  We like to serve this dinner with a salad and french bread.  Delicious!

For the second casserole, let it cool a bit and then top it with cheese and cover it with plastic wrap.  Slid the whole pan in the freezer.  And fogidaboudit!

Tomorrow, when it is frozen solid, simply lift the Press'n Seal up by the edges and the entire casserole will come out of the pan in a thin block.  Slide that in a freezer bag and voila!  Dinner is ready for next month!

Frozen ...

Italian Flag Pasta Pie  
(I got this recipe from somewhere ... and then doctored it up!)

1 1/2 packages of spaghetti
2 eggs
16 oz. cottage cheese (you could use ricotta instead)
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb ground beef, browned
1 jar pasta sauce (I like Barilla)
2 packages frozen creamed spinach, thawed
optional:  1 cup mystery ingredient ... more about this in next week's Food For Thought :)

Cook the pasta according to directions and drain well.  In a small bowl, combine eggs, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.  Add this to the pot of hot noodles and mix well.  In two prepared pans (one sprayed and one lined with Press'n Seal) pour the noodles.  In a large bowl mix the meat, sauce and the mystery ingredient (aren't you excited to know what that is?!?).  

Pour half the sauce on each pan of noodles and spread it around until all the noodles are covered.  Take one package of spinach and spread it out in the center of each pan as shown:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cover the "to the freezer" pan with plastic wrap and set it aside to cool.  Freeze and bag as before.  Cook the "dinner for tonight" for about 30 minutes until bubbling.  Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella and let the cheese melt before serving.

The casserole needs to be cut as the cheesy noodles make a yummy "crust" for the meat sauce and spinach.  We served this with a side salad and some chewy ciabatta bread.

Che buono!

In reality you can double any casserole that is fully cooked prior to baking.  The baking process is essentially just reheating the already cooked casserole.  So ... keep that in mind the next time you are cooking.  If you have the extra ingredients, make two and save yourself dinner duty someday next month.  You'll be thrilled to look in your freezer and see all these casseroles lined up and labeled, ready to be plopped in a pan and baked to perfection!


  1. YUM! The Italian Flag one looks good, but Beffy cant have all the cheese... :-( I feel so honored to have my recipe featured on your blog! :) Thanks! I need to double it when I make it! It is a good one, we all like it!

  2. I bet you could do just the egg with the noodles (it could hold it together a bit) and then leave the cheese off a portion of the top. That has to be such a challenge to modify every meal! We do love the rice dinner ... plates are always cleaned! :)


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