Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekly Menu 9/17: Prep Once, Eat Twice

Prep once, eat twice. I think we can all get behind that math.

Last week, I challenged you to menu plan, shop for and cook at least three homemade dinners. This week, I challenge you to double down and get twice the dinners out of your shopping and preparation time by prepping two quantities. One quantity you'll eat now, one you'll freeze for a future dinner. Speaking from experience, I've frozen these dishes before and they cook up AOK later.

If you do prep once so you can eat twice, remember to adjust the recipes for double the quantities and have sturdy Ziplocs handy for all of the dishes when they're ready for the freezer.

Other good freezable meals are the Homemade Mac and Cheese and the Italian Meatball Sliders from previous Weekly Menus. To freeze the mac, assemble all ingredients except the breadcrumb topping in a freezable dish, cool completely and cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil. To freeze the meatball sliders, cook the meatballs, cool completely and freeze flat in a Ziploc.
Now on to the good stuff...

Roast Sticky Chicken

This chicken never disappoints. If the seasonings seem too intense, cut down on the salt or the peppers. But please note - this seasoning is enough for two chickens. The chicken roasts sloooooowly at a low temp. There's little hands-on time, but plan this one for a day when you'll be home for several hours before dinner.

Sides: Biscuits and a simple tomato, onion and cucumber salad

Make Ahead Notes: 
  • Mix up seasoning blend
  • Rub chicken(s) with seasoning blend and allow to marinate before roasting
Ingredients (Recipe is for Two Chickens):
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 (4 pound) whole chickens
  • In a small bowl, mix together all seasonings. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken cavity, and pat dry with paper towel. Rub each chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Place 1 onion into the cavity of each chicken. Place chickens in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 to 6 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. (This cooking time is not an error!)
  • Place chickens in a roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 5 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F, basting occasionally. Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before carving. 
  •  TO FREEZE: Rub chicken with seasoning blend, but do not place onion in cavity. Place uncooked, seasoned chicken in a heavy, large Ziploc and seal to freeze. You may need to double bag the chicken if one bag doesn't seem strong enough. To prepare later, thaw completely and cook as directed above.
Recipe from Allrecipes

 Korean Style Pork Tenderloin 


The cooking technique for this pork dish pretty much guarantees it will be juicy. A little pink in the center is okay, and be sure to give the pork a few minutes to rest before slicing.

Sides: Trader Joe's Vegetable Fried Rice and steamed green beans drizzled with sesame oil

  • Use pre-trimmed, washed green beans
  • Use jarred, minced ginger and garlic
Make Ahead Notes: 
  •  Assemble marinade in large Ziploc and add pork to marinate in the morning
  • Place green beans in a steamer bag to microwave later
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed 
  • Cooking spray 
  • Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add pork. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Heat a large ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Add pork to pan; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides.
  • Place pan in oven; bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160° (medium) or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Cut pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices; serve with sauce.
  • TO FREEZE: Assemble marinade in Ziploc and add pork. Freeze immediately. While thawing, the pork will have plenty of time to marinate. Just be sure to give the bag a few good squeezes to mix up the marinade again. To prepare, thaw completely and cook as directed above.
Recipe from Cooking Light

Big Spicy Meatballs 

It might be hard to tell, but the meatball under there is about the size of a large plum. The only thing spicy about the meatballs is the amount of black pepper called for, so scale that back if you like less heat.

Sides: Caesar salad and crusty Italian bread

  • Use high quality grated Parmesan from the deli section
Make Ahead Notes:
  • Chop parsley or if you have a kid who's handy with scissors, let them cut the parsley over a bowl
  • Combine meat mixture and form meatballs. Place on a prepared tray, loosely cover and place in fridge for later. 
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef 
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 medium onion, minced 
  • 2 slices soft white bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces 
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Warmed pasta sauce and prepared pasta  of choice
  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • In a large bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients. Mix just to combine. Shape the mixture into 16 to 18 large meatballs (each should be about ¾ cup of meat). Place on a baking pan and set aside.
  • Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes in upper third of oven or until cooked through. Serve the meatballs with your favorite jarred marinara sauce and cooked pasta.
  • TO FREEZE: Place the baked meatballs on a baking sheet or in the cups of muffin tins and freeze for at least 1 hour. Transfer to resealable freezer bags and return to the freezer. Store for up to 3 months. 
  • To Reheat: Thaw the meatballs overnight in the refrigerator or thaw partially in the microwave. Place them in a baking dish, cover with foil, and heat in a 350° F oven for 20 minutes. Serve with warmed pasta sauce. 

Adapted from this recipe on MyRecipes

Extra Credit: Homemade Cereal Bar Cookies

Great lunchbox item. Although the consistency of these wasn't quite what I expected based on the recipe, they tasted *so good* and my kids inhaled them. I even froze and defrosted them as a test, and they tasted just as good.  There is a video on preparing them in case you need to troubleshoot the consistency and prep.

Make Ahead Notes:
  • Combine all dry ingredients and set aside for later
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups oats, ground (or oat flour)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • About 1.25 cups (9 ounces) organic jam (I used blackberry and strawberry-apricot)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients except the jam together in a large bowl. It is easiest to do this with your hands. Once it is mixed well together (all dry ingredients dust should be incorporated), add half of the mixture to each of 18 muffin tins. 
  • Press the mixture into the muffin tins creating a bit of a lip as you would for a pie. Add in 1 tablespoon of jam on top of each “crust.” Next, with the remaining mixture create 18 equal size balls. Smash each of the balls into a circle large enough to cover the top of each “cookie”. Add the disc to the top of the “cookie” and press the edges to meet the sides of the bottom dough. 
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and then gently remove to a cooling rack. 
  • TO FREEZE: Follow directions above, but allow cookies to cool completely. Add to a gallon freezer bag and freeze. To serve: Allow to thaw overnight or place in a microwave and heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Be careful as the jam inside will be very warm.
Recipe from Once a Month Mom

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