Taste and see …

Cooking day with (some of) the girls!! August 9, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Group cooking — F. Penner @ 9:24 PM

I have this cookbook, Don’t panic – dinner’s in the freezer, that my sister-in-law got me for my birthday several years ago.  I thought that since there are a bunch of us who have our own place, and have busy lives, it would be fun to take a day and cook a bunch of the recipes out of it so that we’d have some ‘real’ food in our freezers for those evenings when the day has just been crazy and we don’t want to do anything.  So 3 of us (it was going to be 4, but someone decided she needed to visit family instead…) decided which recipes we wanted to make, figured out what we needed to buy vs. bring, and we made a day out of it!  We made pizza for lunch – from scratch.  Well, I guess technically I made the pizza, at least the first one, but pizza dough isn’t really a 3-person job, so…

We started with the easiest recipe – Chicken in raspberry sauce.  All we had to do was mix stuff together, put the chicken pieces in a freezer bag, throw the sauce in the bags with the chicken, and freeze it!

Chicken in raspberry sauce

  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves (fruit-only type)
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries, mashed
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine preserves, juice concentrate, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, curry powder, garlic powder, and mashed raspberries.  Place raspberry mixture together with chicken breasts in freezer bag and seal bag securely.  Freeze.

To cook: Thaw chicken mixture completely and place sauce and chicken in large baking dish.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Remove from oven, transfer chicken to serving platter, and top with pan juices.  Garnish with fresh raspberries.

A note on this recipe:  We couldn’t fine pineapple juice concentrate (and we looked in multiple stores!) so I decided it would be just fine to substitute a can of Goya pineapple juice, since it was all part of the sauce anyway.  If anyone in this general area knows where to find pineapple  juice concentrate, please let me know!  🙂  Also, since the purpose of this cooking day (and the cookbook) was to have dinners in our freezers, I’m including the freezing instructions from the book, but you can always just skip that step and cook stuff right away.  Oh, and the soy sauce makes the chicken look a little grey, but it’s still really good.  Just FYI.

We took a break here to make the first pizza for lunch.  I sometimes take over in the kitchen, so I made this one, but I let one of the girls help with the second pizza that we had for dinner! (mmm – pizza for lunch and dinner!)  I thought it would be nice to try the sauce I used in this recipe instead of regular pizza sauce.  It turned out pretty well, except that the crust was a little crunchy.  That’s what happens when you use an oven that cooks things hotter than yours…

Next up…

Chicken breasts stuffed with pesto butter

  • 6 boned chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed & dried
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup flour (seasoned with salt & pepper)
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

Flatten chicken breasts to 1/8-inch thickness.  In food processor or blender, combine basil, cheese, and garlic.  Mix until a thick paste is formed.  Add butter and blend.  On a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, shape into a 3-inch square.  Chill until firm.  (To quicken chill, place in freezer for 10-20 minutes.)  Slice chilled square of pesto butter into 6 sticks, approximately 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long.

Lay out a flattened chicken breast.  Place a stick of pesto butter on the larger side of the meat.  Fold the remaining side over the butter, then fold under the two ends.  Press meat together on all sides to securely enclose butter.

Using 3 separate plates, place seasoned flour in one, beaten egg in another, and bread crumbs in the third.  Dredge rolled chicken breast in flour and shake off excess.  Dip into egg, then roll in bread crumbs.  Firmly pat bread crumbs onto chicken.  Refrigerate chicken rolls for at least 1 hour to allow crumbs to adhere.  Wrap each piece of chicken in plastic wrap, place in freezer bags, then freeze.

To cook: Unwrap chicken rolls and thaw completely in refrigerator.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large pan, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter together with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil.  Sauté chicken for 10-15 minutes, turning chicken until golden brown on all sides.  Place in lightly greased baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, until meat is white all the way through.

FYI: I haven’t made this one yet, but one of the other girls did, and she said it was yummy. 🙂

And last – because it required the most prep…

Colorado style beef enchiladas

I don’t know why Colorado… but it’s wicked good, so I’ll go with it.

  • 1 1/4 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion (about 3/4 c.), diced
  • 3-4 T. taco seasoning (roughly 1 package)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste
  • 1 small can mild green chiles, chopped
  • 1 6-8 oz. can green chile salsa (any picante or salsa may be substituted)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water
  • Vegetable oil, for quick frying
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 lb. cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, grated


  • 1 15 oz. can mild red chile enchilada sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can medium green enchilada sauce (mild green sauce may be substituted)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. cream or milk

Brown meat and diced onion in skillet on medium heat.  While meat is browning, prepare sauce (below).  Drain meat and return to pan; add dry taco seasoning, salt, pepper, green chiles, green chile salsa, and 1/4-1/3 cup water.  Mix well, cover; and simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes.  Check meat mixture to see if most of the water has been absorbed.  The meat should remain moist.  Adjust seasonings at this point (if desired).  Cover and keep warm.

For sauce: In medium bowl, combine red and green enchilada sauces, sour cream, and cream or milk.  Whisk together until well blended and smooth. (More sour cream or milk may be added if you prefer a less intense sauce).

In a smaller pan, add 3-4 Tbsp. oil and heat over medium heat until hot.  Using metal tongs, work quickly and dip each side of a corn tortilla in hot oil (not more than 1-2 seconds per side).  Promptly place tortilla on plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.  Repeat with remaining corn tortillas, adding extra oil to pan as needed.  Note: We didn’t do this because we were trying to be healthier, but I think the crispy tortillas would have been good because they got a little too mushy.

To assemble:  In 9×13 baking dish, pour 3/4 cup of sauce on bottom of dish to cover.  Place a single layer of corn tortillas on sauce.  Top with a layer of half the meat mixture, then sprinkle with cheese.  Repeat tortilla, meat, and cheese layers.  Pour remaining sauce over layers and top with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and heated through.

If you want to freeze this for later, line the pan with foil, then plastic wrap, follow the assembly instructions, cover as tightly as you can with the plastic wrap & foil, and then put it in your freezer.  When it’s frozen, you can pull the wrapped casserole out of the dish, keep the casserole in the freezer, and have the dish free for something else!  When you want to eat the casserole, pull it out of the freezer, unwrap it, and put it in the dish.  Let it thaw completely, then follow the cooking instructions.  This casserole is also really yummy.

So I wrote this a couple of days after the actual cooking day, and it’s taken me about a month to post it.  Almost exactly.  According to my revisions log, I started it on July 10… and it’s August 9.  Wow.  I’m awesome at this blogging thing! 🙂