By Sherrie Norris
According to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, we have just entered into National Frozen Food Month. That’s a good reason, if we need one, to start digging through our home freezers and pulling out those long-forgotten “deals” we got at the grocery store several months ago. Or, as I often discover on those in-home treasure hunts, the last bag of shredded zucchini from summers past that I can still throw into a bread or casserole. Or, maybe you still have a frozen dinner the neighbors brought over during your COVID incarceration that you just didn’t feel like eating at the time.
Keep in mind, however, that even frozen foods don’t last forever, or at least they do not retain their “fresh” appeal after a couple of years. Be careful to look for signs that they might be best tossed in the trash or thrown out for the deer.
I like to have plenty of frozen foods on hand for those evenings when cooking is just not a priority. But of course, that usually means having to think ahead to allow for proper thawing — in the fridge, and not on the countertop.
The frozen foods sections of our supermarkets can make life easy for us on many levels. It seems that there is something “new” and convenient almost every week, so take a few minutes to explore. Perhaps, you will find a new family night favorite between the lasagna and burritos, and during March, at a really affordable price. Or, like our mamas did, prepare several meals in advance, cook one for tonight and freeze the others for later.
Frozen Breakfast Sandwiches
Choose your bread:
English muffin (toasted or plain)
Bagel or mini bagel
Any type of prepared sausage (links can be long-ways and opened flat)
Veggies ( peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomato, etc.)
Salsa or Hot Sauce
Potatoes / Hash Browns
Prepare as you would for immediate consumption, but wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil to freeze. When ready to eat, remove wrap, especially the foil; rewrap in a paper towel to remove excess moisture, and microwave for a minute at a time until heated through. Timing will vary according to microwave.
Cream Of Coconut Cake
1 box yellow butter cake mix
1 can cream of coconut
1 can Eagle Brand milk
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 pkg. frozen coconut (thawed)
Bake yellow butter cake mix by directions on box in 13x9x2 pan. While cake is hot, pierce with fork. Combine cream of coconut and Eagle Brand milk; pour over cake. Cover and refrigerate. When cake is cool, spread with 8 ounces of Cool Whip and a package of frozen coconut (thawed). Store in refrigerator or wrap well and freeze.
White Chicken Enchiladas
10 soft taco shells
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese ( I like the Kraft Tex Mex)
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chillies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up in tortillas and place in pan.
In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir in sour cream and chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don’t want curdled sour cream. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake 22 minutes and then under broil for 2 minutes to lightly brown the cheese. Cool; wrap tightly in plastic and foil to freeze. When ready to eat, thaw in refrigerator and heat through before serving.
Beef and Macaroni Casserole
8 oz. macaroni, cooked and drained
1 cup chopped onion
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 Tbsp. oil
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. chili powder
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup buttered bread crumbs
Heat oven to 350. In a heavy skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat; brown ground beef and onion. Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper and chili powder. Reduce heat; simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. In a lightly greased baking dish, combine meat mixture with cooked macaroni. Stir in 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese. Top with 1 cup buttered bread crumbs and remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, or until hot and top is lightly browned. Cool, wrap well and freeze until ready to use.