PART 3 COOKING AHEAD FOR BUSY DAYS

Hope your holiday was enjoyable. The weather finally decided to cooperate and let us out of the house towards the end of the three days. It was so hot at first it was just not “outside” weather as far as I was concerned. But finally we got some rain and it cooled down and turned into a beautiful last two days. Very nice.

I hope you had time to look at your menu planning. Here are the last few recipes for the menu I suggested for to you:

TORTILLA CRUSTED FISH
Serves 4

2 #        Alaskan Halibut , boneless, skinless
2           Eggs, beaten with 2 tbsp. water
1           Cup all-purpose flour
4           Cups tortilla chips, crushed in a plastic bag

Cut the Halibut (or other firm white fish) into strips. Lightly dust each strip in the flour. Spank off any excess flour. Then dip in the egg mixture. Then dip in the tortilla chip crumbs. Lay the fish strips on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen.
Once frozen, package, layering with clean parchment paper between each layer of fish in a container. Top with plastic wrap, and a lid or foil. Label and freeze.
To prepare: Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork. May also be fried in a skillet coated with vegetable oil. about the same amount of time.

BROCCOLI, RICE AND CHEESE CASSEROLE
SERVES 4

3 1/4             Tbsp. White or yellow onion, minced
3/8                Cup butter, melted
8                    Ounces frozen broccoli, broken apart enough to mix
3/4                Cup Minute rice, not cooked
8 5/8             Can Cream of celery soup, condensed
4                    Tbsp water
1/4                Cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4                Cup Condensed milk

Blend ingredients together, add to container.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Either add lid or foil.  Label.  Baking instructions- Bake at 350 degrees appx. 45 minutes, until bubbly and rice is cooked.

CHEESE STUFFED SHELLS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND BASIL
CREAM SAUCE
SERVES 4

1            Tbsp. olive oil
1            Red bell pepper, diced
2            Cloves garlic, minced
1            Tbsp. flour
1            Pint Half and Half, warm
1            Cup basil, fresh, minced
4            Tbsp. Sun-dried tomatoes, drained, minced
1            Tsp. salt and pepper
1/2        Tbsp. Roux (see below)
12          Jumbo Pasta Shells, cooked, drained
2            Cups Ricotta cheese
4            Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4        Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1            Egg, beaten

Cook the shells in salted water 2/3 the required amount of time, drain and set aside on parchment paper.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the diced red pepper, and cook until the pepper is tender.  Add the garlic, then stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the heated half and half, 1/2 cup of the basl, the sun-dried tomatoes, half the salt and pepper.  Cook and whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a simmer.  Add the roux and continue to simmer gently for 5 minutes longer.

Mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, half the Parmesan, the remaining basil, egg, remaining salt and pepper.  Fill the shells with this mixture.

Place the filled shells in your container, pour the sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap, foil or lid.  Label and freeze.  Reheating instructions – Remove plastic cover, re-cover with foil, and bake in preheated 350 degree oven about 30 – 40 minutes, until hot and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

ROUX
4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour

Heat butter over medium high heat. Add flour all at once whisking vigorously. When mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and whisk slowly.  Cook until you smell a toasty aroma then cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.Roux can be used immediately to thicken a liquid that is at or below room temperature. To thicken a hot liquid, allow roux to cool to room temperature, or refrigerate.Tightly wrapped, roux can be refrigerated for up to a month. Simply break off pieces and use as needed.(Adapted from FoodTV.com)

 

BREADSTICKS
SERVES 4

1        Package oven ready pre-baked breadsticks 8 or more to
             a package
1        Package of pre-cooked bacon, with at least as many slices as
you have breadsticks.
2        Cups brown sugar, or as needed

Spread brown sugar out onto a piece of parchment paper. Microwave the bacon wrapped in a paper towel on low for 30 seconds just until soft.  After letting the bacon cool enough that it won’t melt the brown sugar,  press one side of the bacon into the brown sugar.   Wrap the bacon in a spiral fashion stretching it end on the bottom side of the bread sticks.
Secure with a toothpick if necessary.  Wrap, cool and freeze.  Place in plastic bag, label.  To prepare, unwrap, place on baking rack in preheated 375 degree oven, and cook for about 20 minutes, until bacon crisps up, but doesn’t burn.  Let cool a few minutes, then serve.  (May add 1 tsp.of chili powder to the brown sugar if desired.)

Variations:  Add 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 package breadsticks.  Mix softened butter and cheese, then brush each breadstick.  Wrap and proceed as directed on breadstick package.  You may also use a baguette, cutting it horizontally, and spread the butter,cheese mixture over both halves and place the halves buttered sides together; then slice diagonally into 4 pieces.  Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, then foil and place in a ziplock bag.  Label and place in freezer.  Cook as instructed above after opening each of the four pieces and placing on a baking sheet.

BREAKFAST TORTILLAS
12 tortillas

1 1/2           #Breakfast sausage, such as Hillshire Farms, bulk package type
12                16 inch flour tortillas
1                  # Frozen hash browns, shredded type
3                  Tbsp. Olive Oil
12                Eggs, large, beaten with 6 Tbsp. water
12                Ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
Optional–
4                  Ounces your favorite salsa
8                  Ounces canned green chilies, diced, chopped,drained

Fry the sausage in a large skillet.  Remove to large bowl.  Add the oil and potatoes and fry until any moisture from potatoes is gone.  If using salsa and green chilies, add them to the potatoes.  Remove to bowl with sausage.
Scramble the eggs in a separate skillet to keep them light and fluffy.  Set aside to cool.
Briefly warm the tortillas in the microwave on low for 1 -2 minutes wrapped in a clean cloth towel.  Lay a tortilla on a work surface, add 1/12 of the meat/hash brown mixture to the shell, then top with 1/12 of the egg mixture.  Sprinkle with 1/12 of the cheese mixture.  Fold both sides in, then the bottom up halfway and roll into a burrito.  Wrap in foil and label, then freeze.  To cook, loosen foil, place in microwave on half power and microwave for 1 – 3 minutes, depending on your microwave.  You may choose to lightly wrap tortilla in a lightly dampened paper towel to prevent tortilla from becoming tough, it depends on your microwave.  They may also be baked wrapped in foil.

I hope you enjoyed these last three weeks of recipes.  I also hope you have decided to dedicate a day to “cooking ahead” and have looked at your favorite recipes, or maybe have been exploring options of new recipes that you want to try.  Just remember, you will be rewarded with time spent at the table with your family enjoying a meal that you prepared and the best part will be when you aren’t running all over the kitchen trying to get dinner on the table after a crazy busy day.  You will have a great meal waiting for you in the refrigerator, all you have to do is finish cooking it.

Until next time, cook something you love, for someone you love.  And pray for our world, we sure need a lot of love and prayer right now.  Pray for all the children who are suffering, and so desperately need food and love, I do wish I could bring them to my table to eat.  Let’s feed one another and show love that way.  Food is so much better than violence.