Mi hermana, Inés McBryde, and I have been cooking together on the weekends when both of our schedules allow it. We will make stuff that we can stash in the fridge or freezer for the coming week. As you can imagine, this cuts down on the last minute trips to the grocery store and slaving in the kitchen in the evenings when we'd rather be relaxing with our families. This past Saturday we cooked three meals and two loaves of homemade bread in four hours! We were pretty proud of ourselves considering it was only our second attempt.
As I imagine this freezer meal thing would be an attractive concept to my homegirls, I will start sharing tips and tricks and recipes as I have the time. The first recipe I want to share with you is for a ridiculously easy, and oh-so-good ham potato bake. I found a recipe on allrecipes.com that was close to what I wanted, and then I gussied it up a little. So, without further ado...
Ham Potato Bake
2 (32oz) bags Potatoes O'Brien, frozen (cubed potatoes w/onions and peppers)
2 lb ham, diced or cubed (you could certainly use turkey or chicken here)
1 (16oz) bag frozen green beans (or broccoli, or peas)
3 cans cream soup (whatever you have on hand - we used 2 cans of cream of potato and 1 can of cream of celery)
1 (16oz) container sour cream
4 c shredded cheese (cheddar or colby is probably best - but again, use whatever. This isn't rocket surgery.)
1 c shredded parmesan
1 tsp black pepper (probably won't need salt b/c of the cream soups)
1 c milk (more or less)
Find the most gigantic mixing bowl you have (like 6qt to 8qt). Then grease your cooking dishes. Here are the possible combinations of cooking dishes:
- Two 9x13s
- One 9x13 and two 9x9s
- Four 9x9s
Dump all of the ingredients, except the milk, into your gigantic (seriously, it needs to be BIG) mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add milk as you go if you feel like it is needed. The mixture needs to have a slightly thicker consistency than what you will want the finished product to have.Divide the mixture among your cooking dishes. To freeze, cover tightly with two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of heavy duty foil. It's probably not a bad idea to use a Sharpie to write the contents and preparation date on top, either. Then just stash it in your freezer.
To defrost, put in the fridge for 24 hours. Or set out on the countertop for 4-6 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and re-cover with the foil. Cook 30 mins covered, and then 10-15 mins uncovered.
Cost per serving :: approximately $1
-- To make this healthier, use chicken instead of ham, and all of the low fat/low sodium options you can find in the dairy products; and add another 16oz bag of frozen veggies.
-- This is a huge recipe. You can halve it and it'll just make one 9x13 or two 9x9s. But you know, even if you're cooking by yourself - if you have the room in your freezer, go ahead and make the full recipe. It'll keep for at least a couple months, and you certainly don't have to keep it all for yourself. You can help out a family in need by taking a frozen meal to them.