Freezer Friendly Chicken Parmesan

My husband tends to pick the more expensive options for lunches. A very popular freezer meal brand charges $2.50 for one portion of chicken and a whole lot of pasta in the Chicken Parmesan meal. That’s HALF the tasty part for $2.50. You’ll be delighted to know that these 2 chicken fillet portions will only cost you $1.75 each! I know I was!

Chicken Parmesan (Freezer Friendly)

I hadn’t ever fried anything before making this, but after a few batches I feel like an old pro. First, I prefer canola oil for two reasons. It doesn’t affect the flavor of the breading and it has a higher flame point than olive oil. The flame point is the temperature at which the oil will catch fire, and because I’m a big old chicken… I prefer a higher flame point.

The first thing to do is prepare your chicken. After playing around with it, two smaller portions of chicken reheat much better than one large portion. If you are serving immediately this obviously is a mute point. Cut up all of your chicken.

Chicken Parmesan #1

Then I set up my assembly line of chicken, seasoned flour, egg wash, bread crumbs and a plate for the breaded chicken.  Each piece of chicken gets dredged in all three dipping stations. Flour first, then the egg wash and finally a heavy coat of bread crumbs.

Repeat this process until all of the chicken fillets have been breaded. You’ll want to fully attend to them once they are in the frying pan, and you don’t want to leave the hot oil unattended.

Chicken Parmesan #5

Now you want to prepare your frying pan. You only need about 1 cup of oil, potentially a little more if you have a really large frying pan. Keep in mind it only needs to cover one side of the chicken. Heat the oil on medium-high heat until the oil starts to become wavy. Once the oil is ready, cook the fillets for about 1 minute on each side. You want the breading golden brown but not burnt.

After both sides are golden brown place the fillets on a broiler pan. (I jerry-rig my own with a cooling rack on a foil-lined sheet pan.) Top each fillet with a generous amount of my Homemade Marinara Sauce, then grated Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.

Then you bake them for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees. Make sure the chicken is cooked through and your cheese is completely melted. Then label and package in freezer safe containers (these are my favorite). When my husband takes these to work he always stores them in the fridge until lunch time, and then microwaves them for 3 minutes until heated through.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Parmesan

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Ingredients

  • 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour, salt & peppered
  • 4 Eggs + 2 Tbsp. Water, Beaten
  • 2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1-2 Cups Canola Oil
  • Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated

Directions

  1. Cut chicken breasts into fillets.
  2. Mix flour, salt & pepper.
  3. Make egg wash with eggs and water.
  4. Form an assembly line with seasoned flour, egg wash and bread crumbs.
  5. Dredge chicken in flour. Tap off excess.
  6. Dredge chicken in egg wash. Let excess drip off.
  7. Dredge chicken in bread crumbs. Don’t be stingy!
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 until all fillets are breaded.
  9. Heat canola oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until oil is wavy.
  10. Fry each fillet for 1 minute on each side or until golden brown.
  11. Place fried fillets on a broiler pan.
  12. Top with a generous portion of my Homemade Marinara Sauce.
  13. Then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  14. Bake chicken fillets at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes, ensuring chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted.


To reheat from frozen: Allow to thaw in the fridge from morning to lunch. Reheat in the microwave for 3 minutes or until heated through.

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

I love sauce, especially red sauces. While this will always be my favorite, this marinara sauce has quickly become a must-have staple in my freezer. Its perfect for spaghetti, dipping bread or topping Freezer Friendly Chicken Parmesan. I served it over Christmas with my Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread, and I think the bread may have become a delivery system. There was no marinara left behind!

Homemade Marinara Sauce

As far as sauces go, this one is pretty quick and fool proof. The most time consuming part is letting the sauce simmer to develop the flavors.

Start by heating the olive oil on low-medium heat. The oil is ready when it looks wavy. Saute the garlic and onion until they are translucent, pictured below.

Marinara Sauce #1

I like to go ahead and open the can of tomatoes and measure out the spices while the garlic and onion are sauteing. Once they are ready, you risk them burning if you wait to add liquid.

Marinara Sauce #2

Pour in the tomatoes and spices, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes. By now the flavors have developed, you can adjust salt and pepper to taste. The marinara sauce is very chunky at this point. To smooth it out either use an immersion blender (like this immersion blender I got for Christmas which is so much easier to use than a conventional blender and reduces clean up) or dump the whole pot of sauce into a blender and pulse until desired consistency.

Marinara Sauce #3

Use immediately or store in freezer safe containers to use for up to 3 months.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cans Crushed Tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Basil
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Salt
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil on low-medium heat until wavy.
  2. Saute garlic and onion.
  3. Add in tomatoes and spices. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.
  4. Use immersion blender or conventional blender to smooth sauce to desired consistency.

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

 

Freezer Meal Prep Tips

As I sat preparing for my next freezer meal marathon, I knew it was time to share what I have learned with you. I started making freezer meals about 3 years ago. There has been loads of research, experiments and some pretty remarkable failures. Haha! But every time I make a freezer meal, I learn something new.

Freezer Meals Graphic.png

One of the experiments was how to go about making freezer meals. There are multiple methods to packing your freezer: making extra and freezing it, making one to two dishes a weekend or dedicating one day every month (or two) to a marathon session. I prefer to give a day to freezer meal prep, and then reap the rewards for at least a month! Play around with it and figure out a routine that works for you and your family.

Start with a list of what you want to make. (Avoid: foods high in water content like melon or potatoes, recipes with soft dairy like milk/cream or sour cream, and casseroles with cooked potatoes or rice.) Once you have your list together it’s time to organize your recipes. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need to buy for each recipe and organize into a shopping list.

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Go shopping! To make your dollar go further buy in bulk wherever possible.

Let’s get cooking! Group recipes by main ingredient. For example, all your recipes with ground beef, then all the recipes with chicken and finally the recipes with sausage. Specifically if I’m making lasagna sauce, I’ll use the simmer time to assemble burritos or make enchilada filling. The more you can juggle at once the faster you finish!

Package & Label: First, you need quality packaging. I use a variety of Glad Press n’ Seal, Ziploc Freezer Bags, plastic wrap, foil pans and reusable plastic containers. You WILL NOT remember what is what or when you made it… Invest in some permanent markers and labels; include contents, date frozen and directions for cooking on each item.

What is on my freezer meal menu?

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What questions do you have about making freezer meals? Leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them! Until later, happy meal prepping!

See my post on Saving Money by Freezing to learn what you can freeze to save money!

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Freezer-Friendly Sausage & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

I’ve told y’all about my struggles to get my husband to eat breakfast. Well, as of late he has been popping into a certain fast-food chain to pick up a breakfast sandwich on his way to work, but I knew I could make a healthier freezer version for less!! These taste better than the fast-food chain’s and can be customized with your favorite type of sausage (veggie, pork or even turkey) and cheese.

What you need:

  • 1 pack of English Muffins (or if you are brave you can make your own)
  • 6 sausage patties (1/2 pound – I cooked it all and froze the remainder)
  • 6 pieces of Cheese

Cook the sausage into large but fairly thin patties. Like I said, I used 6 for this and froze the remaining 5? or so to use later. I also saved the grease to use if I want to make biscuits and gravy to go with the leftover sausage. While your sausage is cooking, cut all the English muffins in half like a hamburger bun. Then toast the muffins and set aside until the sausage is done.

Once your sausage is thoroughly cooked, drain the grease off on some paper towels. Better to have grease on the paper towels than on the English muffins. Now it’s time to assemble your sandwiches. Spread out some squares of plastic wrap or my favorite, Press’n Seal. Put the bottom of your muffin in the middle, layer on the sausage, then the cheese and top with the other half of the muffin.

IMG_1416Wrap the completed sandwich tightly with plastic wrap or my favorite, Press’n Seal. I stored mine in a gallon sized bag in the freezer. To reheat, place on a plate or paper towel in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Enjoy!!

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

 

Freezer Garlic Toast

Italian food is a staple in our house. It freezes well and makes amazing left overs. Garlic bread makes an Italian dish all the better, and is a cheap way to fill up leaving left overs for tomorrow’s lunch. What isn’t cheap about garlic bread? The garlic bread you buy in the freezer section at the grocery store. Sure you can make garlic bread fresh every time you want it, but I’m all about DIY convenience meals.

*Note: My pictures show the amounts for a double-batch because we eat this yummy stuff up so fast that one batch just isn’t enough.

Before you get started, I recommend freezing your Texas toast overnight. Frozen bread allows you to evenly spread out the garlic butter without smashing your bread. You can also flash freeze the bread by laying it out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freezing it for an hour.

I used my homemade butter in this recipe. I just leave it out for a while when its fresh to make it easy to work with. Mix together in a medium mixing bowl your butter, parsley, minced garlic and salt. I have found that a sturdy wooden spoon works best for all the mashing.

Once its thoroughly mixed, spread it on one side your frozen slices of bread. Arrange the buttered bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Flash freeze for 15 minutes. When you remove the bread from the freezer the butter should be firm to the touch. Flash freezing prevents your bread from becoming one giant loaf never to be separated again. Homemade Freezer Garlic Bread #3

Put your pieces of garlic toast back in the original bread bag and put in the freezer. Now anytime you want to add some garlic toast to your meal just grab as many pieces as you want. Bake at 425 degrees for 5-6 minutes or until the bottom of the bread is toasted.IMG_1460

Freezer Garlic Toast

  • Servings: About 18 pieces
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 C. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 t. Dried Parsley
  • 2 T. Minced Garlic (3-4 cloves)
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 1 loaf Texas Toast

Directions

1.Freeze Texas Toast overnight. The butter mixture will not spread well on room temperature bread.
2.Combine butter, parsley, garlic and salt in a mixing bowl.
3.Remove bread from freezer and spread garlic butter mixture on one side of the bread.
4.Place bread on a cookie sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes.
5.Place garlic bread back into the bread bag and freeze until ready to use.

Cooking Instructions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until toasted.

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Chicken Taquitos- Freezer Friendly

One of the best ways to rein-in spending and stick to a budget is brown-bagging your lunch! My husband gets tired of taking the same few items again and again. During my last freezer meal cook-a-thon I tried out a new recipe for Chicken Taquitos. Hubby ate both meals in the first week. I’d say that’s a win! So I tweaked the recipe a bit to yield a large portion, this time making 5 lunches instead of 2.

Use a large baking dish, like Corning-ware. Place the chicken breasts in the baking dish, sprinkle packets of taco seasoning on top of chicken, add cream cheese and water. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Double-check with a meat thermometer that the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Once you’ve taken the chicken out of the oven, turn the oven up to 400 degrees.  Remove the chicken from the baking dish and shred the chicken. Mix cheddar cheese, shredded chicken and filling together.

Chicken Taquitos #3

Now its time to fill the taquitos. First, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Now lay out your tortillas and fill them. Roll the tortilla and place the taquito with the flap-side down on the cookie sheet. Repeat until all the tortillas have been filled.

Bake the taquitos at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until tortillas are crispy. Package 4 taquitos in tupperware or Ziploc freezer bags for pre-portioned, ready-to-go lunches! We also love freezing lunches in these Rubbermaid containers, but they were all being used with my recent freezer meal marathon.

Chicken Taquito Graphic

 

Heat for 2 1/2 minutes and enjoy!

Chicken Taquitos

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

3 Large, Uncooked Chicken Breasts
2 Packets of Taco Seasoning
8 oz. Cream Cheese, cubed
¼ C. Water
8 oz. Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
20 ct. Small Flour Tortillas[/recipe-indredients]

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a greased casserole dish, place chicken breasts and sprinkle with taco seasoning.
  3. Add cream cheese and water.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes.
  5. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Remove chicken from dish and shred using two forks.
  7. Return chicken to casserole dish and stir in cheddar cheese.
  8. Scoop filling out onto tortillas and roll up.
  9. Place filled taquitos on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
  10. Bake taquitos for 10 minutes.

Tip: These freeze and reheat very well. To reheat microwave for 2 ½ minutes.

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Spicy Breakfast Burritos – Freezer Meal

I discovered early on in my relationship with my husband that he didn’t eat breakfast. Well, I set out to remedy this huge problem! After all, I’m a nurse who understands the need for the most important meal of the day. Breakfast sets your metabolism into motion. It gives your body fuel for the day, and a well balanced breakfast helps stabilize your blood sugar too. However, finding foods that my picky-breakfast-eater hubby would enjoy day after day has been a challenge. This weekend I created a recipe of my own, and when my hubby tried these burritos for the first time he said, “I guess you figured out how to get me to eat breakfast everyday.”

These burritos are very customizable. If you can put it in an omelette you can pretty much put it in this burrito.

Here’s what you need for a base:

  • 10 flour tortillas (whole grain would work too)
  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 8 oz shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (but any shredded cheese you want would work!)
  • 1/4 C. milk

From there you can get creative! I added:

  • 1/2 lb. cooked sausage pieces
  • 1/8 C. diced jalapeños

Try to avoid watery additions like salsa because that will affect your eggs, but you could add chopped veggies, veggie sausage or a variety of meats.

  1. Break all 1 dozen eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk them together.
  2. Add milk, 1/2 the cheese, sausage and jalapeños. Mix well.
  3. Pour mixture into your frying pan on low to medium heat.
  4. Cook the eggs thoroughly, removing excess liquid. Liquid is your enemy when it comes to freezing foods.
  5. Once the filling is cooked, warm your tortillas between two moist paper towels for 30 seconds in the microwave.
  6. Put your filling in the middle of he tortillas and sprinkle a little of the remaining cheese on top of the filling to help create a seal once melted
  7. Fold the edges of your tortilla in – this will keep the filling from falling out.
  8. Tuck the side nearest you over and roll! Voila! You just made a breakfast burrito.
  9. Now wrap the burrito in plastic wrap or something like it to keep it fresh. I put all of the burritos into a large plastic bag to help contain them in my freezer.

To reheat: Place burritos in the microwave from 1 1/2 minutes. Enjoy!

Spicy Breakfast Burritos

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 10 flour tortillas (whole grain would work too)
  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or substitute your favorite cheese)
  • ¼ C. milk
  • ½ lb. sausage pieces, cooked (optional)
  • 1/8 C. diced jalapeños (optional)
Avoid watery additions like salsa as they will affect your eggs, but you could easily add chopped veggies, other meats or cheeses.

Directions

  1. Break all 1 dozen eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk them together.
  2. Add milk, 1/2 the cheese, sausage and jalapeños. Mix well.
  3. Pour mixture into your frying pan on low to medium heat.
  4. Cook the eggs thoroughly, removing excess liquid. Liquid is your enemy when it comes to freezing foods.
  5. Once the filling is cooked, warm your tortillas between two moist paper towels for 30 seconds in the microwave.
  6. Put your filling in the middle of the tortillas and sprinkle a little of the remaining cheese on top of the filling to help create a seal once melted.
  7. Fold the edges of your tortilla in – this will keep the filling from falling out.
  8. Tuck the side nearest you over and roll! Voila! You just made a breakfast burrito.
  9. Now wrap the burrito in plastic wrap or something like it to keep it fresh. I put all of the burritos into a large plastic bag to help contain them in my freezer.
  10. To reheat from frozen: Place burritos in the microwave from 1 1/2 minutes. Enjoy!

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.