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Posts Tagged ‘make ahead meals’

I think one of the top convenience foods for the freezer is ready-made pizza.  It’s an always welcome food at our house, and so easy when it can just be popped in the oven.  Unfortunately, I hate to buy them and much prefer the taste of homemade- I think the store-bought ones just keep getting worse!  While this homemade version isn’t quite as quick as the boughten, it’s pretty close.  Plus it’s so much better tasting!  When I make homemade pizza, I’m now doubling or tripling the dough just so I can keep these on hand.  It’s the latest “go-to” meal at our house.

Here’s the basic dough recipe I use (and double or triple now)

1 1/4 t yeast

2 c warm water

5-6 c flour

4 t olive oil

1 t salt

dried basil, oregano, onion, garlic, parsley, etc.  1/4-1 t each.  Can also use part of a spaghetti sauce seasoning packet.

Disolve yeast in warm water, add 4c flour and all other ingredients, beat smooth, add remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Knead ’til smooth and elastic.  Place in greased bowl, cover and rise 1 hr.  punch down, divide onto pans and spread.  Top as desired.  Bake 15-25 minutes at 400-450.

To make pizzas for the freezer, spread the dough into circles and flash freeze on a tray in the freezer.  Then pop them in a gallon size ziplock bag for storage.  They can be made various sizes- whatever you choose- so long as it still fits in your bag.

To use:  Pull out of the freezer, top with your choice of sauce and toppings, and pop it in the oven.  No need to thaw it before using- they bake up just fine from frozen in the oven. It works on a baking sheet or on a stone.  If you like to use a pizza stone, preheat your stone before you take out your dough.  Then add toppings, and you can pick up the whole mini pizza (since the dough stays stiff when frozen) and set it on your stone to bake.

It may take a bit longer than your usual homemade pizza to bake, but you didn’t have to make the dough and wait for it to rise.  Bake time is more like 20-35 minutes, depending on how “done” you like it.

Note:  I haven’t tried topping them when I flash freeze them, but it’s reasonable to say they’d probably do just fine if you want pizza that’s completely ready to throw in the oven.  Just maybe a bit messier to store and a bit longer to finish baking?

ETA:  I made some the other day.  Here’s pics of them going in the oven and coming out.  Yum!

  

Another edit.  I made some full size and scored them before flash freezing, then broke into chunks for longer term storage in ziplocks.  To use, just put those puzzle pieces back together for a full size pizza.  If you’re baking on a stone, move quickly to get the topped pieces onto the preheated stone before they thaw too much… or let them completely thaw and rise a bit before baking.  We’ve found that if you start the frozen dough on a cold stone the crust isn’t very good.  And don’t do big scores, do smaller ones so you don’t have as big of gaps to contend with- I have since modified my technique again.

  

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Our MOPS 4th Wednesday activity today was make ahead meals.  We make one for that evening’s meal and one to put in the freezer (or fridge) and use another day.  There’s more recipes of meals we’ve made in the past for this in the recipes tab.

The meal for tonight’s use is a broccoli, chicken, and cheese braid in crescent roll dough.  Everyone made two braids to take home.  One braid will just barely feed 4 with a side of salad. Note:  I don’t know if this dish will freeze well.  I’m trying it with an extra braid and will report back if it worked or didn’t work later!

ETA:  We pulled it out of the freezer and baked it up.  It worked fine and tasted about the same to me.

The freezer meal is Tatertot casserole.

Recipes are below.

A few details.  For group logistics:  We have no childcare on 4th wednesdays.  We break into 2 groups, half do meals while the other half watches kids and we switch part way through.  We figure the same time frame and day of the week as we usually meet for MOPS, since everyone should be free then.

We cook the meat ahead of time, since that takes a long time to do.  We have a sign up list so we know how much to purchase for ingredients, and we ask for money to reimburse the cost of ingredients.  We’ve done $10 for the two meals and that mostly covers it.

I printed off the recipes for everyone to follow and take home.

An explanation on the braids:  There’s (at least) two ways to do this.  Pics of the two methods are here, since this can be the confusing part from just written directions.  NEITHER way will completely cover the filling.  It will ooze a bit in baking.

Method 1:  Lay the crescent roll dough as pictured.  After the filling is in, pull the corners of the crescent rolls up over the filling.  Overlap so they stick to each other.

 

Method 2:  Lay the crescent rolls on your baking sheet as shown.  Use your fingers and the palm of your hand to flatten and blend the edges of the crescent rolls together.  I spread mine to fit my baking sheet (Note this is a smaller baking sheet, not a huge one!  The rolls are straight from the tube in the first photo, so there’s not a huge distance for them to stretch.)  Put your filling in the center as above, then cut slits in the edge  of the dough.  The paper has lines drawn in the same way that I cut slits in the dough.  It’s the same way I do my Stromboli.  Then fold them across the filling.  Overlap so they stick to each other.

     

Substitutions: you can use bread dough instead of crescent rolls, corn instead of green beans, cream of celery soup instead of cream of mushroom, or mashed potatoes in place of tater tots.  Make it flex to your tastes and ingredients.

Here’s the recipes- copy and paste to make your own printouts.

Chicken, broccoli, and cheese braid

1 8 oz tube crescent rolls-

4 oz velveeta/processed cheese, cubed

1 c cooked cubed chicken

2 c cooked broccoli

You are going to make 2 of these.  Each braid gets the above ingredients.

Put a piece of foil on the cookie sheet.

Spread one tube of crescent rolls out on the foil.  Flatten, stretch, and “fix” the seams.  Place on the center line of the dough the cooked chicken, broccoli, and cubed cheese.  Cut strips in the crescent roll base from both sides.  Pull strips of crescent roll over the top of the filling- it will NOT fully enclose it.

Pull the braid off the sheet with the foil, repeat with a second braid.

Baking:  375 for 15-20 minutes- ’til golden brown crust and heated through.

Tatertot Casserole

Layer in a 9×13 pan:

1 lb cooked ground beef (approx. 3 cups)

1 can of green beans, drained

1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted.  spread this over the top of the other ingredients, and use a bit of water to rinse the can, if desired.

onions/onion flakes if desired

6 pieces of sliced cheese, or sprinkle with shredded cheddar, your choice.

Top with 1 1/2 lb of tater tots (3/4 of a 2 lb bag)

Baking:  350 until heated through.

This dish is freezer friendly and can go directly from the freezer to the oven!

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I’ve finally gotten some Recipes posted.  Many of these are from MOPS creative activities or extra days.  Recipes added today include:  Homemade popsicles, Apple Enchiladas, Calzones/Stromboli, No cook noodle lasagna, Easy Chicken divine, Stuffed Shells for 20 pans, Seasoned Rice and Grains mix, Strawberry Jam-N-Can, Honey Chip Granola Bars, Basic Cheeseball, Peanut butter fruit dip, and Smoothies.

More to come!

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