August 10, 2012

Freezer Meals & Sicilian Casserole

August 10, 2012

Dinnertime is very important to me.  I like for our family to all be together eating dinner at the dining table as many nights as possible.  Dinnertime is also the most hectic time of my day.  Colton and Claire have both had a nap so they are full of energy and usually want me to play with them.  If I prepare in advance I am good, but to be honest I have not been preparing too far in advanced lately!  When five o’clock comes around I am generally scrambling to put something semi-healthy together that everyone will enjoy. 

Adding a newborn to the mix in the fall is going to make dinnertime even more crazy … this is adding to my anxiety!  So I have been thinking about freezer meals.  I have heard of moms doing 30 days of meals in a weekend and have always wondered the ins and outs of the cooking and preserving/freezing process.  Colton has a classmate who’s mother is in medical school.  I found out that she does freezer meals for her family.  So on those LONG days of medical school her son and husband still get a home cooked meal.  She shared some of her recipes for me and I am super excited to give them a try! 

Sicilian Casserole

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

3/4 cup water

1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

2 cups elbow macaroni

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, cubed

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup sour cream

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, brown ground beef, onion, and garlic in heavy saucepan, stirring to break up ground beef. Add green bell pepper when beef is almost cooked; continue to simmer until beef is done. Drain well. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, and dried Italian seasoning and stir well to blend. Let simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, cook elbow macaroni as directed on package. While macaroni is cooking, combine cream cheese and milk in medium bowl. Cook in microwave on medium power for 2-3 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove from microwave and stir with wire whisk until sauce thickens and blends to form a smooth sauce. Drain noodles and add to cream cheese sauce along with sour cream and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; stir to combine.

In 2 quart casserole dish, place all of cream cheese mixture. Top with all of the ground beef mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until casserole is bubbly.

To freeze, add 1 Tbsp. cornstarch to the cream cheese sauce. Prepare casserole as directed, except instead of baking, chill in refrigerator. Wrap well and freeze up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered, for 25-35 minutes, then uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer until bubbly.

 

Thanks so much Anne for the recipes!


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