Freezer Cooking Day, Part One

 A lot of people ask me how I learned to cook, and I honestly can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t cooking. My mom loves to cook, and she would set me on the counter in my little infant seat so she could watch me while she was in the kitchen. Basically, I’ve been cooking with her since birth. When I got older, I had a stool so I could reach the counter to join her in whatever cooking she was doing, and she always let me help, even when it would have been easier (and cleaner) for her to just do it by herself.

She is one of many great cooks in my family, and she is definitely the reason that I love cooking and sharing recipes so much.

I haven’t gotten to cook with my mom much since I got married and moved away from home, but I went to her house on Wednesday and we took the day to do a ton of freezer cooking. We stocked our freezers with all kinds of casseroles and prepared meals to help make things a little easier when the baby comes. At the end of the day, I came home with 24 freezer meals and my mom kept about 6 at her house.

Freezer cooking is something that we have only recently started doing. We used some of our own recipes and also tried some from The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook (she has a freezer cooking section in her newest cookbook). I would highly recommend checking out her recipes! 

Here’s how we made 30+ meals in about 5 hours:

Step One: Boil a HUGE pot of chicken

We decided to do a lot of recipes that used chicken to make it easier to do our cooking in bulk. 

Step Two: Prep your other ingredients. We had planned out our menu around the following recipes: chicken dressing, squash dressing, squash casserole, chicken and broccoli casserole, poppy seed chicken casserole, chicken pot pie, baked ziti, and taco meat. We started with the chicken recipes first, so once we started boiling the chicken, we cooked our cornbread, rice, broccoli and whatever other cooked ingredients we needed. 

Step Three: Assemble your recipes and casseroles. 

Step Four: Package your meals for the freezer. We used disposable aluminum containers for the casseroles, but you can put them in any container that is freezer safe and will keep your food air-tight to prevent freezer burn. Make sure to label each container with the container’s contents, date, and cooking instructions for easy prep later. 

We started with my mom’s chicken dressing recipe. This is a staple in our family on any holiday, but we love it too much to just reserve it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Typically, we make this whenever we have leftover cornbread. This is one of my husband’s favorites, so I kept one pan of this in the fridge last night and cooked it for our dinner tonight. It took about 40 minutes to bake it, and in that time I heated up some rolls and put some potatoes and butter beans on the stove. It was a pretty effortless dinner, and it was amazing. 

Here’s the recipe:

Tina’s Chicken Dressing

  • 1 large pone of cornbread 
  • 2 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
  • 2 chicken thighs, boiled and shredded
  • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 stick margarine, cubed
  • 6 eggs
  • Salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning to taste
  • Chicken broth (save from when you boil the chicken)

Crumble the cornbread in a large bowl. Crush the saltine crackers and add to the cornbread. Toss in the diced onion and cubed margarine and stir into the bread mixture.

Scramble 6 eggs in a bowl and pour them into the bread mixture. Make sure to stir the eggs into the bread mixture well. Add shredded chicken and stir. Slowly add hot chicken broth to the mixture (if you add this too fast, it can cook the eggs and you end up with scrambled eggs in your dressing – it’s best to use a ladle and add a little at a time and stir well after each addition of liquid).

Add broth until mixture is very wet (the picture above shows this in-progress – we added more broth to this before it was ready to pour into the pan). You want a really wet mixture so that the dressing will be moist after cooking it. 

Next, add salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning to taste (once you put in the hot chicken broth, it is fine to taste test this mixture – the broth cooks the eggs, so you can start by adding just a little seasoning, tasting it, and adding more as needed).

Pour the mixture into a large baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

For freezer cooking, we used disposable aluminum pans that were about 4×6 inches and about 2 inches deep. These pans are the perfect size to hold a casserole or meal for 2 people. We ended up getting 4 pans out of one of these recipes.

For freezing, you do not have to cook this before putting it in the freezer. Just cover your pan and stick it straight in the freezer. As long as it’s in an air-tight container, it will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. When you’re ready to cook it, place it in the refrigerator for a day to thaw it out, then bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of your container). You want the top to be golden brown. 

Our next recipe was one that we have adapted from Trisha Yearwood’s cookbook. Her recipe for chicken and broccoli casserole is wonderful, but I don’t like cheese, so I omit the cheese and cover my casserole with half cheese (for my husband) and half crumbled butter crackers (for me). Both toppings freeze really well. Here’s my adapted recipe:

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

When I make this just for Jeff and me, I half this recipe and use a can of Cream of Chicken and Mushroom soup (Campbell’s sells these half and half cans, and I love them!). I cook mine in an 8×8 baking dish when I’m making it for just the two of us, and I half my toppings as I mentioned above.

This is the full sized recipe, which makes a nice family-sized casserole in a 9×13 dish. 

If you want a cheesier version of this recipe, check out Trisha Yearwood’s cookbook Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen. 

  • 4 to 6 large chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
  • 16 ounces of sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb of frozen broccoli florets, steamed
  • 2 cups cooked white rice (I use Minute Rice and put some margarine and salt in the water as I am cooking the rice so it has some good flavor on its own.)
  • 1 to 2 sleeves of butter crackers, crumbled, OR 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (as a topping for the casserole)

Start by layering rice in the bottom of your pan.

Then, layer the steamed broccoli florets on top of the rice. Make sure to put some salt on the broccoli! Season each layer for the best taste.

Next, mix the shredded chicken, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir this mixture well. And layer this on top of the broccoli.

Next, sprinkle in your topping of choice. I make his and hers casseroles by topping mine with half crumbled butter crackers and half shredded cheddar cheese. 

If you are freezing this, you do not need to cook it before freezing. Make sure to store it in an air-tight container. It will keep well for up to 6 months.

When you’re ready to cook this, thaw it out and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles. 

This is a perfect meal all on its own. We have this at least 3 or 4 times a month at my house. It also heats up really well in the microwave if you want to take leftovers for lunch. 

Our next recipe is one that my husband requested when we first got married that I had never made or eaten before: poppy seed chicken casserole. This one is super easy and can be a complete meal on its own, although sometimes when I make it, I will microwave a bag of steamed veggies to go with it. 

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

  • 4 large chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 to 2 sleeves butter crackers for topping
  • Optional – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients except crackers together in a large bowl. If you like cheese, you can add the cup of shredded cheese to this mixture. 

Spread into your pan and top with crumbled butter crackers.

If you are going to freeze this, you can put it straight into the freezer without cooking it. When you’re ready to serve it, let it thaw, put a few pats of butter or margarine on top of the casserole, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. 
This is the first half of our freezer cooking day. I’ll be adding another post soon with the rest of the recipes we made. Make sure to check back soon for those!

Happy cooking! 

3 thoughts on “Freezer Cooking Day, Part One

  1. Ellen June 8, 2017 / 10:44 pm

    This is recipe heaven. All look delicious and simple enough to cook regularly. Thanks

    • christinahwallace June 8, 2017 / 11:02 pm

      It is rare for me to make something that’s complicated. Haha. I always try to keep it simple!

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