For the past sixteen years or so I’ve been doing some form of freezer cooking. By “freezer cooking” I mean putting either entire meals or the recipe-ready components for meals in the freezer to use at a later date. I’ve done the “cook all day and make whole meals” method, doubled recipes so we could eat one night and freeze the second for later, and just cooked meal or recipe ingredients to put together the night we eat. That could include browned ground beef, cooked chicken, cooked rice, homemade refried beans, cooked meatballs, homemade spaghetti sauce, etc. Freezer cooking was invaluable to me when I was working full time and the kids were in high school.
Even though Greg and I have been “empty-nesters” for a few years, I still do freezer cooking for us, as well as for lunches with the grandboys four days a week. Since I’m picking Brad up from preschool in town right at the time I should be cooking, I try to have it ready before we leave, then tuck it into the toaster oven to get or stay warm during the 45 minutes that trip takes. I like to feed them a hot lunch most days, and they are usually more than ready to eat by the time we get home, so having it ready to go makes the lunch hour much more enjoyable.
Today I pulled the components from the freezer for a delicious recipe of chicken and rice. I had cooked rice, cooked chicken, and homemade chicken stock to use. Then after making the recipe, I was able to put enough into the freezer for a second lunch for us in a few weeks.
Here is the original recipe, with the changes I made in blue:
Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole Cups
Author/Source: Kim @ onceamonthmeals.com
- 1 cup brown rice (uncooked) (I had cooked brown rice already in the freezer, so used that and about 1/4 C homemade chicken broth)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups broccoli, cut into florets (yeah, I forgot about the broccoli – blame it on the time change! LOL)
- 1 Tablespoon parsley flakes
- 0.5 teaspoons garlic salt
- 0.5 teaspoons onion powder
- 0.25 teaspoons pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping)
- 0.25 cups plain yogurt (didn’t have any yogurt, so used light sour cream instead)
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 1 Cup cooked, chopped chicken
Cook rice according to package directions, but substitute chicken broth for water. Meanwhile, steam broccoli until crisp tender in the microwave or over stovetop. (If you are using a rice cooker, you may be able to steam the broccoli with the rice.) Place rice and broccoli in a large mixing bowl and cool slightly. Stir in remaining ingredients reserving 1/4 of cheddar cheese for topping. Scoop into a greased or paper lined muffin tin. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes until lightly browned and crisp. (I used a large-muffin tin, and there was a bit of mix leftover, so that went into a ramekin. It popped right out after cooling.)
Cook as directed above. Cool casserole cups completely. Divide among freezer bags, label, and store. To serve: Thaw and reheat in microwave or toaster oven.
Servings: 4 (about 15 cups)
These were served with hot green beans and fresh Halo oranges. Yum. I like that the recipe did not include any “cream of…” soup at all. The yogurt (or sour cream in my case) and egg hold it all together, helped out by the melted cheese. Since my rice was pre-cooked and frozen, I added only a touch of chicken stock, which seemed to work just fine.
Supper tonight and part of lunch tomorrow will also be from the freezer. Even though I’m home all day, the boys keep me pretty busy, and freezer food makes sure we get a good homemade meal on the table.