Freezes Beautifully

Having a freezer stocked with what you need to make a good meal fast is a very valuable resource for a busy house. With both of us working outside the home, sometimes there just isn’t much time to cook when we get home in the evenings. Time is especially short during the school year. On ballet and soccer practice days, it’s so nice to come home and pop dinner in the oven while everyone works on homework and other chores. Using what we have ready-made in the freezer, saves time, which makes the whole evening a lot more efficient.

It’s a long, busy fall and winter season ahead. So, I hope to spend a weekend soon planning and stocking up the freezer with frozen veggies and fruit, ready-made casserole dishes and fresh meats. I’ll save time at the store and the stove after school starts, which in turn will save more time for homework…sigh.

Mexican Chicken Casserole
1 can (10 oz) red or Tex-Mex enchilada sauce
2 cans Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, drained
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
8 corn tortillas (taco size), cut in half
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Mix the sour cream, taco seasoning and enchilada sauce together. Spread two tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. In medium bowl, mix Rotel, chicken and beans. Arrange 8 tortilla pieces over sauce in the dish, overlapping as necessary. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over tortillas; sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the cheese. Spoon half of the sauce mixture over cheese. Repeat layers once, topping with cheese.

Cover with foil. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Bake uncovered about 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. At this point, cool the casserole completely the freeze. When ready to use, heat the casserole at 375 for about 45 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with olives and cilantro, before serving.  

Peanut Butter Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy or creamy
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup uncooked oats
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir together flour, sugar baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in peanut butter with a fork or pastry blender until dry crumbs form. Beat egg and milk together with a fork or small whisk. Stir into the peanut butter mixture until moist. Last, stir in the one cup of mini chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into a greased or paper-lined muffin tin, up to two-thirds full.

To make the topping, stir together the oats, 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips, honey and melted butter in a small bowl. Spoon the topping over the batter. Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes. Eat what you want and freeze the rest once they’ve cooled completely. To thaw, just warm one muffin in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

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