Here’s a yummy guest post from Diane. Okay, now I’m hungry!
If you are like most hard-working adults, when the evening comes and you finally get home from work the last thing you want to do is begin thinking about cooking dinner.
Unfortunately, this is when the endless supply of take-out menus on the refrigerator grow to be appealing, and pizza becomes the frontrunner, once again. Take control of your dinner menu by planning ahead with simple freezer friendly meals!
The first step to start planning freezer friendly meals is to think about dinner ahead of time—as in days ahead of time. Think about the type of meals you enjoy eating throughout the week, and organize a list of ingredients. Also, when grocery shopping over the weekend, think about the ways you will need to store the food in your freezer and grab a few freezer safe bags and disposable bins. Make sure the bins you find say “freezer safe” on them or they might let your food become too icy.
One great recipe to think about is baked ziti! This meal is ideal for a family of any size or for nights that you expect company. Baked ziti can easily be tailored to feed two, four—or more!
What you will need:
• Dried rigatoni noodles
• Ricotta cheese
• Mozzarella cheese
• Tomato Sauce
• Parmesan cheese
One great thing about baked ziti is that it is very easy to alter the recipe slightly to meet your needs. Feeding a family of 12? Great! Look on the box for the recommended serving amount, and incorporate as much noodles and cheese as you will need for your family. As a general rule, 1 pound of pasta is likely to feed 10 people.
As far as supplies, you will need a casserole dish and aluminum foil. To start, boil the ziti noodles until they are soft and then strain. Once your noodles are drained of all additional moisture, mix in the ricotta cheese. The amount of ricotta cheese will vary depending on the amount of noodles. Ideally, you will want the ricotta to cover the noodles, but not overwhelm them.
Place tomato sauce in the bottom of the casserole pan. You should put in just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. This will help the pasta to cook into the sauce, and will also help the pasta to not become stuck to the bottom of the pan! Follow the tomato sauce with a layer of the pasta and ricotta mixture, and then top that layer with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
Repeat this process until all ingredients have been used. Once you finish putting the pasta, sauce and cheese in the casserole dish cover your pasta dish with aluminum foil and let the fresh pasta cool. Do not place it in the freezer right away; instead wait about an hour before freezing the meal. This will give the heat from the pasta a chance to mix with the sauce and cheese before freezing.
When it is time to eat your pre-made baked ziti take it out of the freezer and remove the tin foil. This is when to use the Parmesan! Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of the ziti, put the tin foil back on the disk and then stick it in your oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Leave the tin foil on for the first 20 minutes, this will help contain the heat and help the ziti bake all the way through. To attain that yummy crust of cheese on the top layer of your meal take the foil off for the last five to ten minutes. You will know that your ziti is ready when it is warm the entire way through.
Baked ziti is a great freezer friendly meal because it is fully cooked before being frozen. This means that when you are heating it up later on there is no risk of undercooked meat. For a great dinner night pair baked ziti with a ready to go caesar salad kit and a few freshly cooked ready-to-bake dinner rolls!
Author Bio: Diane Johnson writes about a number of her interests including cooking, online schooling, and traveling.