What have I been up to?

Wow, I’m so sorry I took such a hiatus from the blog! Life’s always super crazy and….. I’m going to stop with the excuses. Not a single one of them is a “good excuse” because I know I have time. Okay, maybe one excuse… I drew a blank. I couldn’t figure out what to write about and just write it out. There. That’s my excuse. I hope I can avoid that problem again though!

I have gotten into freezer cooking! I do it all on my own, but a cooking party would be fabulous! And make it so much more fun! :)

So, most of my freezer cooking is tailored to the slow cooker. But recently I’ve branched out and started making oven friendly meals as well. Freezer cooking can take as little or as much time as you’re willing or able to spend on it.  If you don’t have much time, double up something you’re already making, but put half in the freezer. If you have a lot of time (like me…) you can set aside a couple days to do a whole bunch at once.

I’ve been doing about a month’s worth at a time – though generally broken up into 2-3 days total.  That’s to plan, shop, do prep work, get it all assembled, and into the freezers.  Even though I am a SAHM, I still only see my kids in the afternoon/evenings during the school week – so it’s a good way to make sure dinner is ready, and getting to spend time with them as well.

I have a lasagna recipe I used this month, that we’ve had numerous times, but this is the first time I’ve frozen it before baking.  I’m going to share that at the end of the post. It’s unique in the fact that it does not have a traditional sauce. And it’s not veggie lasagna either!

With slow cooker meals, everything gets dumped into labeled freezer bags, froze flat, and then I stand them upright for more space once solid.  I have my standard freezer on top of my fridge, but I also have a small deep freezer as well. That’s how I manage to make a month’s worth at a time.

Some oven or grill meals can get tossed into freezer bags as well. Sometimes it is something as simple as your meat with your favorite marinade.  Freeze it together and while it thaws it gets lots of extra time to marinate! Yummy!

Whatever way you plan on stocking your freezer with meals, it is a good idea to remember to pull it out of the freezer the night before you plan on making it allowing it to thaw. If it’s going in the slow cooker you need it to be able to fit when you put it in!  I will say I’ve forgotten a few times to pull something out. If it happens to be frozen solid and I need it into the slow cooker I will run it under some water to at least break it up. Some things don’t have a lot of liquid, those I can usually get to go into the slow cooker without a problem.

If you’re making lasagna or another type of baked dish that needs structure you don’t have to buy foil pans! Just make sure you have plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  I first line my pans with foil, with the foil extended on each side, then I line it with plastic wrap, again making sure it’s extended on all sides. You want enough that you can completely wrap your food. Then add all the ingredients how they need to be in the pan. Once it’s all assembled wrap your flaps over the top, and put it in the freezer.  Once its frozen you can take the package out of the pan and you’re pan will be available to use for other things!

Always remember to label everything! You want the date you put it into the freezer, what it is, and cooking directions for sure. I also like to add what sides need to be made/prepped to the label.

I need to make sure I take more pictures of the process I use, because right now I have very few pictures! But I hope that when I add more recipe posts, I’ll actually have pictures to post.

This recipe for the lasagna is intensive to make (like most lasagna), requiring a bit more time than just dumping stuff into freezer bags, but in my family’s opinion it’s well worth it!

3-Cheese Sausage Lasagna

1 ½ lbs bulk Italian sausage, browned and drained

6T butter

6T flour

1t salt

1t pepper

3c milk

9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

6oz sliced mozzarella cheese

4oz sliced provolone cheese

1/3c grated romano cheese

In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.

In a prepared (with foil and plastic wrap) 9×13 pan, layer a fourth of the sauce, 3 noodles, half the sausage and a third of the mozzarella and provolone slices. Repeat layers once. Spoon half the remaining sauce over the top. Layer with remaining noodles, sauce, and sliced cheeses; sprinkle with romano cheese.

Wrap it up with the excess plastic wrap and foil and put it in the freezer to well… freeze of course! Remember you can take the whole thing back out of the freezer and remove it from the pan.

When you pull it out to actually cook it, grease the same pan you prepped it in, then completely unwrap the lasagna and put it in the pan. Let it thaw in the pan, without any wrapping on it.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 45-60 minutes (more or less depending on the temp it was when you put it in the oven) or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with garlic bread/toast/sticks and salad.

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