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Friday, December 31, 2010

Cooking Extravaganza!

A wonderful friend of mine, Katie (yes, the one who gave us the hit dish Cornbread Chicken Enchiladas), is having a little baby girl in February. In her ever-so-responsible nature, she decided she wanted to freeze a whole bunch of meals so that when she and baby return home, her husband wouldn't be burdened with all the cooking and she wouldn't be even more overwhelmed with cooking on top of all the other new tasks. What better way to spend a Thursday than cooking with a great friend?!

Naturally, it's important to cook on a full stomach, so we swung to Qdobas and picked up some burritos for lunch. We also needed to get some storage containers for her food, so we hit the Target attached to the Springfield Mall. Let me tell you what - it's a two-story store (which I've never seen before) AND the coolest part was that in between the escalators in the middle, there was one for the cart?!? I was so amused watching the carts go up and down alongside the people. It's the little things that amuse me...

Anyways, we got home, scarfed down food and then went to work (oh, right, and we took a chocolate fondue break...yummmm!). We made a black bean pie (thanks to Barb C. for that recipe!), a chicken pot pie (not traditional PA Dutch...the stereotypical kind), a chicken-noodle bake, meatloaf and lasagna. When it was all said and done we had enough food for at least 15 days worth of dinners! I'd say it was a resounding success. We're hoping to get one more all-day session in so she has a  good month's worth of food.

Here's our prep area:

Here are recipes for everything we did and some photos recapping our fun :)

Black Bean Pie
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2/3 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (9 inch) unbaked 9 inch pie crusts
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion and green pepper until tender. Sir in beans, salsa, red bell pepper, chili powder, cayenne and black pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  3. Spoon half of the mixture into one of the pie crusts and cover with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining beans and cheese. Top with remaining crust. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. 
  5. Let it sit for about 5 or 10 minutes before cutting into it so that it has a chance to firm up. 

Pre-cooked pie:

Me in my cooking glory:

Chicken Pot Pie
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
3/4 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
3 medium potatoes
1 bullion cube
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch) unbaked deep-dish pie crusts

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, potatoes and celery. Add bullion cube and water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust (making a dome on top), seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.  

Chicken Noodle Bake
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 ounces egg noodles
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled buttery round crackers
1/2 cup butter

  1. Poach chicken in a large pot of simmering water. Cook until no longer pink in center, about 12 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside. Bring chicken cooking water to a boil and cook pasta in it. Drain. Cut chicken into small pieces, and mix with noodles.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together mushroom soup, chicken soup, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir together cream soup mixture with the chicken mixture. Place in a 2 quart baking dish.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan, and remove from heat. Stir in crumbled crackers. Top casserole with the buttery crackers.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 30 minutes, until heated through and browned on top. 
Katie's chicken-noodle bake:

Our finished pies and the bake:

All stored up:

I don't have the meatloaf recipe (forgot to write it down, but I know I can still get it from Katie!), and her lasagna was simple...layers of ground beef, mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce and noodles.

Everything turned out deliciously (we, of course, had to sample!). If you have any recommendations for good freezable meals for us to make on our second go-round, post it in the comment section. We plan to make baked potato soup and her husband's going to make shepherd's pie, but we need a few more suggestions. Oh, and next time, Katie - we need a photo together!!

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