Chicken Tikka Masala

This has become my go-to for mercy meals — if the family likes Indian food and doesn’t need to cut out dairy, this is probably what I’ll bring. It also makes a great freezer meal.

Originally posted in March 2009: I saw this recipe a while ago on Bethany’s blog and finally decided to try it this week. Oh my. It was goo-ood. And, best of all, Simon ate it up (it’s hard to get him to eat, so this is definitely a keeper). I made a few substitutions from the original recipe to make it lighter (with Jason’s full knowledge).


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut in 1-inch cubes

Marinade

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, minced
  • 6 (6-inch) bamboo skewers

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (I omitted this, and it was just spicy enough for us)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup lite coconut milk (the original recipe calls for the same amount of whipping cream)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade, add chicken pieces, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator (or for at least an hour).
  2. Thread chicken onto bamboo skewers, and grill or broil until thoroughly cooked (8 to 10 minutes).
  3. For the sauce, melt butter in a skillet and saute the garlic and jalapeno (about 2 minutes).
  4. Add the spices and the tomato sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken and coconut milk (or cream) and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and naan.
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Cafe Rio Chicken

An easy and tasty way to make chicken for salads, burritos, tacos, whatever. You can also double or triple this to make extras for freezing. Then simply thaw and reheat.

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts (boneless and bone-in both work equally well)
  • 1/2 a small bottle of zesty italian dressing
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix (mixed with 1/2 cup of water)
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
Place all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on High 5-6 hours OR on Low 8 hours. Shred with fork.

Orange Ginger Chicken

I found this simple recipe while scouring the Internet for easy freezer meals (I can’t remember exactly where; sorry to the recipe’s original creator). 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, legs, etc)
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

To freeze:

  1. In a small bowl, combine marmalade, honey mustard, ginger, and red pepper flakes, stirring well.
  2. Put chicken in a Ziploc bag or freezer container and pour sauce over top.
  3. Refrigerate for about 1 hr, turning every 15-20 minutes, then place container or bag in freezer.

 To prepare:

  1. 
Thaw chicken in refrigerator overnight.
  2. Remove chicken from container or Ziploc (do not baste with sauce) and grill or bake in the oven at 350F for 35 to 45 minutes until juices run clear and thermometer registers 165F.

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

This was a great recipe for our family. I don’t think Simon has really eaten anything I’ve cooked for weeks. He threw a colossal fit before dinner, but I talked him down with a promise of cereal if he ate three bites and still didn’t like it. No need. He ate his whole piece and asked for seconds too. A totally unsolicited review: “Mommy, this is really good meatloaf. Thank you for making it. If you make it again sometime, I will eat it.” Success! (Jason and Ian went for seconds too, and we polished off the whole loaf.)

The recipe is from What’s Cookin, Chicago? and is a riff on, well, Chicken Parmesan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chicken (ground turkey can be substituted)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1–2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • minced parsley for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. To not over handle the mixture otherwise it will get tough. Place the mixture in the greased loaf pan and form into a loaf. Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce.
  3. Place filled loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese. Place the meatloaf back in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.
  4. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow to rest for 5–10 minutes before serving/slicing. Garnish with parsley if desired.

* To make ahead/freezer meal – Prepare the meatloaf mixture as directed and place in a disposable loaf pan. Cover and freeze. When ready to prepare and serve, defrost the meatloaf completely and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top with pasta sauce and place filled loaf pan on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese. Place the meatloaf back in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow to rest for 5–10 minutes before serving/slicing. Garnish with parsley if desired.

 

Pizza Stuffed Pretzels

These are kind of a cross between a calzone and a stromboli — in a fun shape and mini-size (though one pretzel is pretty filling). I’m guessing you could use a store-bought dough, but the dough was really easy to make and we liked the taste a lot. The whole process was quick and easy (and all the more so, I imagine, if you make it ahead of time as a freezer meal), and the results were tasty.
recipe adapted from What’s Cookin’, Chicago?
Pizza Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 package quick-rising yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup hot water (120-130°F)
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Other ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 -2 cups whatever combination of pizza toppings you like (e.g., pepperoni slices, browned hamburger or sausage, chopped vegetables)
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup marinara or pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)

To make the dough:

  1. Combine flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. With the stand mixer is running, gradually pour in enough of the hot liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water; if too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Continue mixing until the dough forms a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Coat a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it, sprayed-side down, over the dough. Let the dough rest for 10 to 20 minutes.
To assemble the pretzels:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Divide the prepared pizza dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each out into a rectangle. Scatter the cheese and other pizza toppings (not the sauce) over the dough.
  3. Brush the one of the long sides with a little egg wash then, starting with the opposite side, roll the dough up into a log, enclosing the toppings inside. Shape the log into a pretzel and transfer to a baking sheet.
  4. Brush the top of the pizza pretzels with egg wash and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. While the pizza pretzel is baking, place a medium pot over medium-high heat to heat up marinara or pasta sauce, until warm. Serve the pizza pretzel with the marinara/pasta sauce dipper alongside.
 * To make ahead/freezer meal – Prepare the pretzels as directed above and do not bake. Instead, wrap prepared pretzels in plastic wrap and foil. Place in a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to prepare, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place frozen stuffed pretzel on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. No need to defrost pretzel before baking.

Italiaroni

This is one of the meals I made for the freezer meal exchange. It comes originally from Jana Ghormley in the NZC. As a bonus, I made my version this time for just under $5, which makes this meal about $0.62/serving. Not bad.

Ingredients

  • 1 (12-ounce) package rotini pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (32-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (4-ounce) can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 (6-ounce) package sliced pepperoni
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Brown ground beef in a large skillet; drain.
  3. Season to taste with onion, salt, garlic, Italian seasoning, oregano, and pepper.
  4. Add spaghetti sauce and mushrooms to beef mixture.
  5. Drain cooked pasta and combine with ground beef mixture in skillet.
  6. Pour in a 9×13 pan.
  7. Layer pepperoni on top, then cover with the mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25–30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Note: I use spaghetti sauce that already has garlic and herbs and just skip the spices (step 3).


Ham & Cheese Quiche

Did you know that quiches freeze really well? So next time pre-formed pie crusts are on sale, consider filling your freezer with a few of these versatile meals. I mix up the egg mixture, pour it into a gallon size freezer bag, set that bag into the deep dish crust, then place the entire meal into a 2-gallon ziplock bag. The nice thing about quiches is that you can add veggies, change cheeses, omit meats, etc. Like I said, versatile.

This recipe comes from my friend Joan Texel.

Ingredients

  • 9-inch deep-dish pie crust (unbaked)
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2-cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup cubed ham
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 Tb flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper (opt)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion (opt)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Sprinkle Swiss cheese on bottom of crust.
  3. In a bowl, mix 3 eggs beaten, half & half, ham, mushrooms, salt, (pepper and onions).
  4. Pour mixture into pie shell over the Swiss cheese.
  5. Sprinkle Monterey jack cheese and bacon over the top of mixture.
  6. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.