Monday, February 20, 2012

Freezer Cooking #2

Foodsaver V3460 Smartseal Vacuum Sealing Machine (Google Affiliate Ad)
My Freezer
CHECK OUT FREEZER COOKING #3 "Sauce-A-Palooza!"


Since my last “Freezer Cooking” post I have learned a few things:
1.      All vegetables taste the same in the crock-pot.
2.      I am NOT a fan of potatoes in the crock-pot, no matter what the sauce!
3.      It ROCKS having 10+ meals in the freezer at all times-it makes life so much simpler!
4.      I will never post the “procedure” again without having the actual result first.  A couple of the meals in the First Freezer Cooking post turned out to be incredibly BLAND once I cooked them which was AFTER I had posted the method.   I like my food with a lot of flavor—and some of the recipes were lacking pizzazz!
5.      I got a FoodSaver as a gift, and I am not sure how I ever lived without it!  Everyone should get a FoodSaver… NOW!
6.      My freezer always looks like a work of art. =)

For Round 2 of Freezer Cooking most of the recipes DO NOT contain vegetables or potatoes.  I have decided that I prefer to cook a quick vegetable and starch to go with the freezer meal instead of cooking them all together.  By all means, if you prefer to throw your veggies in the crock-pot, you can add almost anything to these recipes and it will be good, carrots, onions, peppers etc… Just my own personal preference to leave vegetables OUT of the crock-pot this go-around.    I also included some recipes that are not “crock-pot” recipes but are easy to bake in the oven when you get home from work.

I will also point out that I have adapted all the recipes/bags to be for “2 servings” (except for the Chicken Pot Pie)  Since there are only 2 of us eating…this helps with waste & portion control.  If you will be serving more than 2 people with your freezer meals then adapt the quantities for 4.  (For Example:  My instructions for the Sesame Chicken: you will need to have (2) bags and put (2) chicken breasts in each bag & divide the given sauce recipe evenly between the two bags.  If you are freezer cooking for (4) people, you will want to DOUBLE the Sauce Recipe and you will want to place (4) Chicken Breasts in each bag)  If you decide to make each bag (4) servings you will need to increase the amount of meat you buy and increase the sauce recipes accordingly.

Also, I will be using my FoodSaver system to seal/store all of the meals.  For the sake of the instructions and so no one gets confused I will still refer to everything as “bags.”  For this round of recipes you will need Quart sized freezer bags if you follow my instructions how they are OR Gallon sized bags if you are increasing serving sizes to (4).   You will also need (3) foil round pie pans.

Here is the menu for Freezer Cooking Round 2:
·         Chicken Pot Pie (3) *this is 4-6 servings PER PIE (Thanks Amanda Hughes!)
·         ShreddedPork BBQ (3)
·         Chicken with Honey Sauce (2)
·         Oh So Easy Pork Chops (2)
·         Sesame Chicken (2)
·         Marinated & Baked Pork Chops (4)
·         Marinated Steak (2)
·         Twice Baked Potatoes (approx  24)


Here is my grocery list:  (don’t be alarmed!  The list looks a bit long but most of the ingredients were already in my cabinet and are probably in yours!  Everything in italics was already in my cabinet.   Compare this list to your cabinets and cross out the items you won’t need to buy at the store. =)  )

Fresh Produce:

·         Sweet Onions (3)
·         Package of Celery (6 stalks)
·         Package of Carrots (6 stalks)
·         1 Garlic Pod
·         5 Ib bag Russet Potatoes (I usually try to get a bag with larger potatoes)
Meat:
·         3-4 Ib Boston Butt
·         16 Chicken Breasts (I usually buy the HT Value Packs)
·         16 Pork Chops (You can get Bone-In or Boneless)
·         (4) Grilling Steaks – your choice
Grocery:
·         Worcestershire Sauce
·         Ketchup
·         Honey
·         Tabasco Sauce/Texas Pete
·         White Vinegar
·         Dijon Mustard
·         Fruit Preserves (Strawberry, Raspberry, Orange, Apricot)
·         (3) 14 oz cans Green Peas
·         (3) 10 oz cans Cream of Chicken
·         42 oz Chicken Broth
·         Soy Sauce
·         Teriyaki Sauce
·         Vegetable Oil
·         Olive Oil
·         Brown Sugar
·         White Sugar
·         Garlic Powder
·         Ground Ginger
·         Sesame Seeds
·         Lemon Juice
·         Dried Basil
·         Dried Parsley
·         Ground White Pepper
·         Salt & Pepper
·         Red Pepper Flakes
·         Sour Cream
·         Butter
·         Shredded Cheese (Cheddar or White Cheddar)
·         (3) Boxes Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts (near cookie dough/crescent rolls)
·         Quart Freezer Bags
·         (3) Foil Round Pie Pans


Of course, once you get everyone home and you are ready to cook put it on the counter and admire what you are about to do!! =)

I label everything with name, date and instructions BEFORE I start:
·         Chicken Pot Pie (3):  350 Degrees, 45 Minutes  *you won’t be able to label this until you assemble it and write on the plastic wrap.
·         Shredded Pork BBQ (3 bags):  Thaw in fridge or Microwave, Heat & Serve
·         Chicken with Honey Sauce (2 bags):  Low 6-8Hrs/High 3-4 Hrs  Serve over Rice
·         Oh So Easy Pork Chops (2 bags):  Low 6-8Hrs/High 3-4 Hrs
·         Sesame Chicken (2 bags):  Low 6-8Hrs/High 3-4 Hrs Serve over Rice
·         Marinated & Baked Pork Chops (4 bags):  Thaw in Fridge Overnight.  350 degrees 30min/flip/15min 
·         Marinated Steak (2 bags):  Grill (time depends on cut of steak)
·         Twice Baked Potatoes (approx 12 bags):  From Frozen State:  400 degrees 25 minutes  # of bags will depend on # of potatoes in your 5Ib bag


First, we are going to get the BBQ Going.
*its takes about 10-12 hours for your Boston Butt to cook so depending on what time you start it, make sure it will “end” at a time you will be home so you can finish the recipe… If you start your freezer cooking at 9am- then your Boston butt will be ready around 7pm so be prepared to finish it =)
·         Trim your Boston Butt and cut away any excess fat (you want to leave a little bit of fat though because this is what makes it so tender while slow cooking!)
·         Place Boston Butt in crock-pot (on occasion I have to cut it in half to fit)
·         Mix together (2)Tbsp Sugar, (1)Tbsp Salt and (1) Cup White Vinegar.  Pour mixture over Boston Butt.
·         Cook on Low Heat 10-12 hours.
·         Once it is done, remove meat from crock-pot and shred with two forks removing any excess fat.  Place Meat in large bowl/container.
·         Mix together ½ Cup Ketchup, 1Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce, Texas Pete and 8 Tbsp Broth from Crock-pot.  (I also sprinkle some red pepper flakes in if I feel like it).  Dump sauce over shredded pork and mix well.
·         Divide Pork Evenly Among (3) Quart Sized Freezer Bags.  Make sure they are labeled “BBQ Pork, Today’s Date and Thaw & Heat”.
·         The pork is easy to remove from the freezer and thaw on demand in the microwave.  Serve on a bun with Chik Fil A Slaw recipe.

Second, we are going to simultaneously tackle the Chicken Pot Pies & Twice Baked Potatoes:
·         Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
·         Wash & Trim ALL the Chicken Breasts.  Put (6) Breasts in a pot of water on the stove and cook on med-medhigh heat for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Put all other uncooked chicken in the fridge until later.
·         While the Chicken is cooking…Wash ALL potatoes out of 5IB bag.  Set aside (3) of the smallest ones to use later.  Place the rest of the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake 30 minutes.  Remove Potatoes and stab each a couple times with a fork- place back in oven for additional 30 minutes.
·         Next, chop vegetables for chicken pot pie:  (3) Onions, (6) Carrots, (6) Celery Stalks and (3) Small Potatoes.  Put aside 1/8 cup chopped onion for another recipe.  Melt (4) tablespoons butter in large sauce pot and add all chopped vegetables EXCEPT potatoes.
Chicken Pot Pie all wrapped up
·         While the veggies are sautéing, shred the cooked chicken breast with two forks and set aside.   Add Chicken Broth (42oz) & diced Potato to pot with sautéed veggies after about 5 minutes and let simmer over med-med high heat until reduced by half.
·         Remove pre-made pie crust from fridge.  It will need to sit for (10) minutes before placing in round foil pans.
·         At this point your baked potatoes should be ready to come out of the oven—set aside to cool.
·         After the Chicken Broth has reduced by half with the veggies- stir in shredded chicken, 3 cans peas and 3 cans cream of chicken.
·         Line each of the (3) foil round pans with a pie crust.  Evenly distribute chicken/veg mixture into each pie pan.  Top each with remaining pie crust.  Pinch sides of each together using your fingers or a fork.  Cut 2-3 vents in the top using a sharp knife.  WRAP WELL with plastic wrap.  Using a permanent market- write on each one “Chicken Pot Pie, the date and 350 degrees 45 minutes” *or until golden and bubbly.  Place in Freezer.
·         Twice Baked Potatoes:        
o   Using an oven mitt or towel, hold the potatoes in your hand and one at a time cut them lengthwise in half.  Scoop “potato” out of the center and put into a large mixing bowl.  You should leave enough potato around the edge so it keeps it shape and looks like a canoe. 
Potatoes on a Cookie Sheet Freezing
o   Once all of the potatoes have been halved and “scooped”, add Butter (approx ½ stick or heaping scoop of spreadable), shredded cheese (2 handfuls) and 2-3 heaping scoops of sour cream into the large mixing bowl with the potato insides.  I also usually add some salt, pepper and if I’m feeling risqué a little garlic or onion powder!  Using a hand mixer, mix the ingredients well.  Taste the filling to see if you like it.  Add more ingredients if you think it needs more..
o   Once the filling meets your approval re-scoop it into the potato shells.  I find it easiest to line the potatoes up on a cookie sheet that will fit in my freezer as I am re-filling them.
Potatoes Portioned
o   Once all of the potatoes are re-filled, pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for 1.5-2 hours or until the potatoes are hardened.
o   Now, portion out your potatoes in freezer bags.  I usually only put “2” per bag since there is only 2 of us eating in the house… but you may want to put “4” depending on your family size.  On each bag write “Twice Baked Potatoes, today’s date and 400 degrees 20-25 minutes”


VOILA!  The hardest part is over I PROMISE!!

Next, we will assemble the rest of the meals.
The easiest way to do this is to get (4) Bowls in a row to mix up the sauces that will go in each bag/on each meat.  I placed my freezer bags that were pre-labeled behind each bowl so I wouldn’t get confused which sauce was which.

Bowl #1 Chicken with Honey Sauce
·         1 cup honey
·         1/2 cup soy sauce
·         1/8 cup chopped onion (that you set aside earlier)
·         1/4 cup ketchup
·         2 Tbs. vegetable oil
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes *if you don’t like heat, don’t add these

Bowl #2 Oh So Easy Pork Chop Sauce
·         1 1/2 cup fruit preserves of your choice
·         1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tsp dried ginger
·         ¼ cup Dijon mustard (I have also used honey Dijon when I was out of Dijon)

Bowl #3 Marinated & Baked Pork Chop Sauce
·         ¼ cup Soy Sauce
·         ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
·         ¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
·         4 tsp lemon juice
·         ½ cup Brown Sugar
·         ½ cup Ketchup

Bowl #4 Sesame Chicken Sauce
·         1 cup soy sauce
·         2/3 cup brown sugar
·         1/2 tsp. garlic powder
·         1/2 tsp. ground ginger
·         2 Tbsp. ketchup
·         2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (you can toast if you want.. I am lazy so I don’t)

Now that all your sauces are prepped, take your meat out of the fridge and distribute into freezer bags with sauces as noted below:


Chicken with Honey Sauce:
(2) Quart Bags w/2 Servings Each
Place (2) Whole Chicken Breasts in Each Bag and cover evenly with matching sauce.
Toss & Knead Bag so Chicken gets covered evenly in sauce.
Flatten Bag & Freeze.

Sesame Chicken:
(2) Quart Bags w/2 Servings Each
Place (2) Whole Chicken Breasts in Each Bag and cover evenly with matching sauce.
Toss & Knead Bag so Chicken gets covered evenly in sauce.
Flatten Bag & Freeze.

Oh So Easy Pork Chops:
(2) Bags with 2 Servings each
Place (3) Pork Chops in Each Bag and cover evenly with matching sauce.
Toss & Knead Bag so Pork Chops get covered evenly.
Flatten Bag & Freeze.

Marinated & Baked Pork Chops:
(4) Bags with 2 Servings Each
Place (2) Pork Chops in 2 bags and (3) Pork Chops in 2 Bags.
Cover evenly with matching Sauce
Toss & Knead Bag so Pork Chops get Covered Evenly.
Flatten Bag & Freeze

LAST ONE:
Steak Marinade:
In a blender (I used my Magic Bullet) combine the following:
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon texas pete or tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

(2) Bags/2 servings in each
Put (2) Steaks in Each Bag
Cover evenly with marinade.
Toss & Knead Bags to coat Steak with Marinade.
Flatten & Freeze
*Grill (time depends on cut of steak you marinated)


Make sure when you place all of your meals in the freezer you “flatten” them so the stack well!

And VOILA!  You are DONE!  You just made 18 meals and a bunch of twice baked potatoes!!!  Congratulations!
  
We typically have rice or a twice baked potato with every meal for the starch. 
Since most of these meals did not include a Vegetable... here are some of my Easy "Go-To" Vegetable Recipe Links to make with your meals... I am a huge fan of "Steamfresh" vegetables too.. SHHhhh don't tell anyone!



Let me know what you think of freezer cooking #2!

Enjoy,


   


118 comments:

  1. Yay! Thanks for the shopping list, and just in time for me to do another day of cooking. I used to use my FoodSaver all the time, but it died. How did you manage to vacuum seal the bags with liquid in them?

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    1. I just don't fill the bag toooo full and it works fine! =)

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  2. Melissa, found your blog through a friend. I am a rep for a natural food company and each month I help customers put 10 meals together for their freezer. I would love to chat with you about the meals I have done and share recipes with you. Please feel free to check out my menus that are on my Facebook page at Wildtree To You With Erin or check out my website at www.mywildtree.com/egirard

    These look great by the way!

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  3. I am SO THANKFUL that I found your blog! I am 6 months pregnant and was starting to look at getting meals together in the freezer for when our little girl arrives. (one of my readers gave me the idea!

    I printed off your Freezer Cooking #1 recipes and I will be printing this one off too! Aldi is having some great sales right now that will pair great with the meals!

    Thank you again for the inspiration and all your hard work! You have made my life easier!

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  4. I just had to laugh when I read this... I had the exact same thought last night after eating the second dish from your last post: Wow, it tastes like carrots too! :-) I think you are right about adding veggies later.

    Thank you for round two! I'm excited to try them.

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  5. I have been freezer cooking for 5+ years. I will have to try some of your recipes--I am ALWAYS looking for fresh meals to add to my rotation. Check out my blog at learningbytrying@blogspot.com if you want to see some of my recipe stash!

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  6. Thanks! I froze Honey Chicken tonight. Of course, I forgot to check how much soy sauce that I had, so I ran out and will have to do the other recipes tomorrow. I'm excited to try them!

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  7. I found you through Pinterst and tried some of your freezer meals last month. Started looking this morning for more ideas for March. I do have to adapt my meals of course because I can't eat red meat. Ground turkey and ground chicken work well in any recipe calling for beef. Thanks so much for your ideas they really seemed to take a load off of me since I work really late in the evenings and usally don't get home till 6:30 at night. Again thanks so much.

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  8. Must you have a food saver? By the way, did you know that you have word verification on? I did a post about it.

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    1. no, you do not have to have a foodsaver to do these recipes... just use freezer bags.

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  9. Do all these crockpot meals do ok if they are cooked on low for 10-12 hours? I don't understand how people who work can start the crockpot before leaving for work and be home 8 hours later to eat . . .

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    1. typically, if the meat has nice marble/fat to it and bone-in, it will be fine 8+ hours in the crockpot. Chicken Breast and Boneless Pork Chops not so much. I would recommend adapting these recipes to different cuts of meat that may be thicker.. instead of pork chops, do a pork roast. Instead of boneless chicken, use bone-in chicken. Not sure what time you get home in relation to the time you eat but you can also try HIGH for 3-4 hours. That is what I do on the weekends. One of my crockpots also automatically goes to "WARM" setting after cooking X amount of hours.

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    2. Thanks. I think I need to look into getting a crockpot that can automatically change settings.

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    3. Wolf gang puck has one I have it. It's a 6- qt check amazon!! That's where I got mine! It also has a function for browning meat and setting a temp to use it like a mini oven!!!

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    4. I have a cuisinart slow cooker from Bed Bath and Beyond, and it has a timer/program that allows me to cook on low (or high) for however many hours then turns to a "keep warm" seething. I love it!!!

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    5. You can also take a suggestion I got from Alton Brown. Purchase an inexpensive lamp timer, like you use to turn on lamps when you are away on vacation. Plug your slow cooker into it and use it to delay the start of cooking. This helps me when I put frozen food into the pot and leave the house,

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    6. I have a timer, like the ones folks use for christmas lights. Set it up to come on at a certain time, plug in and set your Crockpot and go. Also, my oven has a setting so that it can turn itself on and off...

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    7. I wonder if a plug in light timer would work with a crock pot? Might be worth a try.
      Pat.

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  10. MELISSA!!!!! You and I experienced the EXACT same thing with the bag/freeze/crock meals. For two people, I had way too much and got REALLY sick of eating mushy veggies that all tasted the same (as if the first time wasn't bad enough) never mind feeling like I was eating baby food. I came to the same conclusion - cook the meat, but do veggies on the side. But I had one other issue - boneless skinless chicken ends up being either dry (too much cook time) or almost like a shredded consistency. And if I used bone in with skin, the meat is great but the rest of the meal is greasy with "unidentifiable" parts in it... did you have any chicken issues?

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    1. I would recommend de-skinning the chicken before putting it in the crockpot. the bones should help keep it tender enough, but the skin would definitely add some grease and floating "stuff" =)

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  11. I love web site. My daughter had highlighted your first crock-pot freezing on her pinterest site. I thought the second looked more interesting. So, I gave it a try this morning, and adapted some. Cannot wait to have quicker meals ready after work and swim. Thanks.
    http://peggysrecipeshare.wikispaces.com/Freezer+Cooking

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  12. I have made pretty much everyone of your freezer meals (even the ones from the first time) - still need to make the chicken pot pies and tomorrow I will be making the marinaded steaks. For the entire month for meals, it only cost me about $65 - I had a bit on hand so my list was huge.

    Thanks so much! P.S. The savory vegetable beef soup is amazing! One bag made enough for 2 dinners and 2 lunches!

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  13. I can't wait to stock up my freezer! Thanks for the great ideas!

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  14. FINALLY! Recipes that don't cram a ton of veggies into the crock pot. I am tired of the limp & lifeless items that used to be fresh & tasty vegetables. Excited to give these a try. Thank you for posting :)

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  15. I'm pregnant and was wanting to freezer cook for when baby arrives. I just got done cooking all of the freezer meals from your first post. Looking forward to cooking all of these new ones in a few weeks! That should give me plenty of food for baby's arrival! THANK YOU!

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  16. I had a big 'cooking' day when you posted the first post, and followed all the recipes. I too found them bland and DIDN'T like the potato at all. (But still glad I spent the day chopping as it meant I had plenty of meals to pull out). Looking forward to trying these new ones. Thanks for the effort you've gone to.
    Mim

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  17. We have enjoyed 3 meals since I cooked a week ago. Loved the BBQ and marinaded chops--very tender. The pot pie recipe made more than would fit in my pie shells, so we enjoyed some puff pastry with chicken pie filling. Wonderful time saving meals. Many thanks.

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    1. We had more pot pie filling than needed as well - I put the rest aside. Meanwhile, I boiled some noodles in water I'd reserved from the boiling chicken. Added the noodles (and a bit of the water) to the leftover filling - voila! Chicken noodle soup!

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  18. found you through pinterest and im totally impressed. amazing meal planning!

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  19. Found you through pinterest. Love your recipes and your instructions are awesome. Plus I love that you use the crock pot.

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  20. I love your blog, I'm actually giving you a heads up I'll be referring to you and this particular blog post in a post I'm writing today on my feeding a large family for less segment. Come on over and take a look, it should be up in a little while. I promise you'll be linked properly :) Thanks!

    Desiree' with Feisty FruGals

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  22. I also found you via Pinterest. I started cooking this today but found it was WAY too much cooking for one day (plus getting all the groceries). So far I've made the stuffed potatoes and chicken pot pie, I'll cook the Pork butt overnight and I'll tackle the rest tomorrow.
    So far I am loving it. I found the pot pie made way too much filling. I put the remainder in a freezer bag to use up later.

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  23. Do you thaw the frozen meal bag before placing in the crockpot or do your crockpot cooking times take in consideration the meat is frozen?

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    1. I typically pull the frozen meal out of the freezer the night before and put it in the fridge. It is still mostly frozen when it goes into the crockpot but it is easier to get out of the bag a big thawed around the edges =)

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  24. HI Melissa! I found you on pinterest, and I love your ideas for "freezer cooking". I have twins on the way so I'm planning on filling my freezer with easy meals to have on hand when we need them.
    I have a couple of more veg ideas if you're interested... One is parmesean roasted broccoli. Cut broccoli into "spears" and put in a bowl and mix them around with olive oil. Put on a baking sheet (lined with foil for easy cleaning), sprinkle with real parmesean cheese and roast at about 400 til the cheese is lightly browned. The broccoli takes on a yummy "nutty" flavour :).

    Also, simple asparagus sauteed in butter with a bit of salt and pepper. SO simple and really delicious.

    Again, thanks for your ideas :).

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  25. okay this may sound like a stupid question but...i have been freezer cooking for years and i too LOVE my food saver. my problem is if i try to seal the bags with liquid in them (obviously) the liquid gets sucked out. so i try to freeze them before i seal them but then i can't get them flat. HELP...any suggestions. thank you.

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    1. When I vacuum- seal my bags with liquid I just try to angle them in a way that the bag is "below" the reservoir so it doesn't suck our much liquid at all.

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    2. Thanks! I had this issue too when I did your first round of freezer meals. I will try this this time. I think I am going to do a combo of the last ones and these ones :) We loved the Teriyaki Chicken.. didn't think that one was bland at all, but my husband thought the Healthy BBQ chicken was a little on the bland side (even though I loved it.) I only made one bag at a time since there is just the two of us and our older son (2.5 years) to eat the food! I made a mistake with the Savory Beef Stew though, and I added the same amount of liquid when I was cooking as I should've for one bag, so that one turned out very bland the first time. Unfortunately, due to a freezer accident, we never got to try the 2nd bag or either of the goolash bags.

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    3. I put the bag in the freezer very carefully and let it freeze before I seal it. That is the only way I have been able to not suck out the liquid.

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  26. Loved the first set Freezer cooking meals and just fixed these up this past weekend! I love how you put everything down step-by-step right down to the grocery list! (LOVE THE GROCERY LIST!) I fixed one of the pot pies this evening. It was delicious, but I ended up having to bake it for over 2 hours for it to get done! What did I do wrong?

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    1. Petrina, I am not sure why you had to bake the pot pie so long! Was it completely frozen when you put it in the oven? Ovens vary.... sometimes I do let my pot pies bake longer bc I like the top to be nice and brown!

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    2. Yes, completely frozen. But I saw your reply below saying you take it out a day or two ahead of time...I'll do that next time! THANKS! And I can't wait for freezer cooking #3!:)

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  27. How can I change this to 3-4 servings per bag? Can I just add 2 more pieces of chicken or pork chops to each bag or do i need to double the meat and the sauce?

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  28. Do you have to thaw the pot pie before putting it in the oven? Thanks for all the recipes! Awesome!!

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    1. I usually pull mine out a day or two before I bake it just to thaw it a bit. If you put it in the oven completely frozen you may need to cook it longer.

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  29. On the Marinated Streaks, do you thaw then grill or put the frozen steaks on the grill?

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    1. Thaw completely before grilling =)

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  30. I too don't like vegetables or potatoes all cooked together in the crockpot. If you have room, put the potatoes in a covered Pyrex dish and you can wrap your vegetables in a foil packet and set it on top of everything. Just before serving, remove the potatoes and vegetables, put them in the crockpot or on serving platters.

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  31. Can't wait to try some of these. =D I do my chicken pot pies a little differently. I make up the sauce/veggies and freeze that in a gallon size baggie and then assemble it the night I need it using the Pillsbury Pie Crusts which I've about decided I don't like anymore. They have a funky taste lately. I do set out the bag of sauce/veggies 24 hours prior to cooking so it's thawed too. Thanks for the detailed instructions!

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  32. I spent my day preparing a bunch of the meals you posted. This is my first time trying freezer cooking and I know it will make our busy lives much simpler! Thank you for sharing!

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  33. Melissa,

    Just curious, which recipes from the first session did you find to be bland? I'm looking forward to getting several of these in the freezer before school starts in a few weeks. Thanks your clear directions and shopping lists.

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    1. Kim-Honestly most of them were!! The only one that was not was my own recipe for the vegetable beef soup! Honestly, everyone has different taste buds so you may enjoy the others- or I would just recommend adding some spices to each one!

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  34. I have a question. Whenever I cook chicken in my crock pot it always has the same kind of taste, no matter the recipe or the cut of chicken. Also it has a stringy texture that is moist (like it falls apart) but tastes dry. Does that happen to anyone else? Any suggestions? I didn't know if maybe I was cooking it too long. So I got a crock pot with a timer and then it automatically switches to warm, but it does the same thing. Any suggestions?

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    1. This does sound familiar-- only suggestions would be to use a smaller crockpot or reduce cooking time. I usually do chicken on high setting for less time instead of low.

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  35. I just put up almost all of these today (didn't do the BBQ). I also shared a link to this post on my blog! Trying the steak marinade tomorrow for Sunday dinner!

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  36. I so wish you had print buttons for your shopping list, recipes, etc. So that I didn't have to copy and paste them all. But thank you so much for making the lists and making it easier to make healthy family meals on the fly. Thank you for all your hard work!! :)

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    1. You know, I originally wished for print buttons, too, but in the end, I customized everything - doubling the recipes for 4, eliminating grocery items I had, etc.

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  37. I'd add a link to your old post. I found your original post through pinterest (and didn't see this one), but went out and bought all the ingredients for the first set of meals to make today and now i'm worried they will be bland :( Maybe a disclaimer? lol

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    1. Amber- see comment below- I put a couple recommendations for jazzing up the first set of recipes. Great idea about putting a "disclaimer" at the top !

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  38. Hi Melissa,
    I live in Brazil and thanks to Pinterest I found your blog. I am getting ready to do Freezer Cooking #1 and #2 at the same day, but first I would like to know which ones were the 2 meals from #1 you thought were bland. I do like lots of flavors at our meals. Thanks so much!
    Tais.

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    1. The Healthy BBQ Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken and Goulash were the ones that were a bit bland for my husband and I's tastes! I would just recommend adding some spices into each one! For the teriyaki chicken you can add in brown sugar, garlic salt and soy sauce to add a little more flavor. To the BBQ Chicken- I just added some actual bbq sauce out of the bottle to the recipe and to the Goulash I added some basil, oregano, worcestershire and beef broth. This helped a little with the flavor! =)

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    2. Maybe it was because we added more Teriyaki sauce (my husband LOVES sauce in general,) but we didn't find the Teriyaki bland at all. The Healthy BBQ chicken was a little, although I didn't mind, my husband complained.

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    3. I think it's great you provided what should be added to flavor up the dishes but could you perhaps provide some measurements of the added ingredients. Thanks!!

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  39. I think this is awesome but I don't really need to make this many at a time. I am also in taiwan and don't have access to some of these ingredients so I have to pick and choose the meals I freeze. I get confused too on what goes with what in the way you have posted it. Is there a way you can provide the ingredient list with the individual needs for each recipe all together? Maybe you already have it like that in another place and i just missed it. Anyway-- great ideas and would love to try these. Thanks. - Heather

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  40. What would you recommend if you live in a tiny, Brooklyn apartment with barely any freezer space???

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    1. Have you considered pantry cooking instead of freezer? Look for "The Can Opener Gourmet" by Laura Karr or "100-Day Pantry" by Jan Jackson for some ideas.

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    2. That sounds interesting. I have a full size freezer on my refrigerator but since I buy frozen veggies that takes up a lot of space as does the frozen meat. Freezer cooking would actually be helpful to me.

      I've never heard of pantry cooking - but I don't have a pantry so perhaps that's just as well. =D

      Thanks!

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    3. Tina,

      I also use to have this problem, so i would just make less at a time. This list is good enough for 18 meals and some potatos...so maybe do with for 7 days instead. You will be replacing the room your current meat takes up with some bags of meat and added ingredients.

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  41. I have two daughters who are old enough to finally have their own place, so I will be living by myself for the first time ever! I work crazy hours and this is just what i needed! My youngest daughter does most of the cooking now, and since she will no longer be living with me, it would be really nice to still have home cooked meals. Thank you for this, especially for the shopping list!

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  42. I am so grateful for this post. I tried your day one post and also found everything to be bland. I thought it was just me. Whew! Looking forward to trying these!

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  43. Thank you so much for doing this' it's exactly what I needed to take the chaos and fear out of freezer cooking for the first time! Now not only me but several of my friends (all with new babies) are following your blog! Thanks again and we hope to see another cooking spree sometime soon ;)

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  44. Thank you so much for all these wonderful recipes! I also found you through Pinterest. Just one question, even though most of your recipes say to cook them in the crock pot, can't we cook them in the oven for an hour or so instead of the crock pot? I was thinking this especially since there are some saying the chicken seems to be overdone. Thoughts?

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  45. I am totally trying this at home this weekend! Couple questions though (just to be sure I'm doing things right): once you put everything in the bag and freeze it, you need to thaw it out before cooking, correct? Except the pot pies? Also, when you make all the marinades, it usually states to place the meat into 2 bags - are you just dividing up the marinade between the 2 bags, or is that all for one bag and then you mix another batch for the other bag? Thanks!!

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    1. For all of the recipes, I typically pull them out of the freezer the night before I plan to serve them so they are thawed or semi-thawed. It doesn't hurt to do this with the pot pie either-- some people have said the pot pie took close to 2 hours from a frozen state to bake, so it just depends on your oven with that one, but it doesn't hurt to thaw it also before baking =). For the marinades- the sauce recipes are to be divided between each bag =)

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  46. Excuse my ignorance, if this is supposed to be obvious, but do you take straight from freezer to slow cooker or thaw overnight? I believe it would affect the cooking time, so wanted to make sure... I have never done these before. Thank you! They sound great!

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    1. I typically place frozen item in fridge overnight to semi-thaw before putting in crock pot. It is easier to get out of freezer bag =)

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  47. Just a quick question... Are we suppose to let the items thaw before baking? I baked the pot pie the other day straight out of the freezer and it took an additional 2 hours in the oven to become warm throughout! Just wondering what you would suggest to speed up the process?

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    1. Sarah- it definitely helps (& speeds up) the cooking process to thaw the night before in the fridge. Oven temps vary so this could also have something to do with how long it took! The pot pie especially, it doesn't hurt to let it thaw overnight before you bake =)

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  48. Just finished off your list of freezer meals. We actually ate one of the chicken pot pies tonight - Very good!!! One thing, though, I must have used three smaller pie tins, because I ended up with a enough filling for four pies. Didn't mind that though. Ok, off to finish the Boston Butt recipe and then I'm finally done after 8 hours in the kitchen :) (you can subtract a bit of time as I did a meatball freezer meal that came from another site).
    Thank you so much for posting all of this - can't wait to try out the rest of the meals!

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  49. YAY! i am almost finished with this! about to finish with the chicken pot pie! i skipped the twice baked potato recipe but I did everything else! I did all your freezer cooking 1 recipes but added more flavor thankfully since I saw you posted that they lacked flavor. Thank You! thank you! thank you!

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  50. I found you on Pinterest and loved the idea of freezer cooking. I tried the first meal plan that you posted and it CHANGED my life! I spent three hours in the kitchen that day making the meals but let me tell you, to not have to spend at least two hours a day making dinner....amazing! My family needed some adjustments due to different tastes but all agreed that freezer cooking is great! Love the extra time and I am HOOKED for life on this!

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  51. so i discovered that the times for the crockpot recipes are off when I did it on both high and low settings. I feel that on the high settings, 2 hours was sufficient, if not the meat is dry. And on the low setting, 6 hours was sufficient
    any one else have this same problem? I wonder if my crockpot is acting up

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  52. This is the first time I have ever done freezer cooking. Boy did I need to do this a long time ago! I am a full time working Mom. I had to modify the servings as we are a family of 5 sometimes 6. We have 2 adults 3 teens& a 6 year old who wont eat anything. lol Next time I will doubling everything but the pot pie (which we had last night and it was amazing) I added more spices to the pot pie and made our twice baked potatoes like loaded baked potatoes.
    I also had to break my meal prep into 3 days. One of shopping (The list is a life saver!!!) The next afternoon I did the pies n Potatoes. We ate a pot pie for dinner. This morning I put on the BBQ Pork and in under 2 hours the rest was complete with clean up! Thank you

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  53. This freezer session is great! The pot pies have been particularly amazing because they don't require remembering to put stuff in the crock pot :) haha.

    Also, I may be the only person who didn't know this, but honey doesn't freeze solid. I pulled out my honey chicken this morning after it had been in the freezer for a couple weeks and the sauce wasn't frozen! I freaked out a little until I did some Googling. Just thought I'd share for anyone else who was wondering :)

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  54. Great post! Just a note... On my freezer meals, I typically write the meal information (reheating instructions, recipe, etc) on a card & put it in a sandwich bag. Also, cause everything gets jostled around in my freezer, I tend to double bag things. Just a thought!

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  55. Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I am new to freezer crockpot meals, do you cook them frozen? Or do you thaw them out first and then put in crockpot?

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  56. I see peas on the shopping list but I'm not seeing them in the instructions unless I'm missing something.

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  57. Yummy! We had grilled steaks tonight using your steak marinade and my husband and I both agreed that this recipe was definitely a keeper. Thanks so much for posting.

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  58. Just finished the BBQ Pork this morning and gearing up to do the pork chops and chicken dishes in the next couple days. I am two weeks from having baby #2 and I know that after people stop bringing meals, these are going to be a life saver! Thanks for the detailed instructions. (I doubled everything for our family of 3- soon to be 4, as I have a very hungry husband!).

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  59. I'm so glad I found you! Just got a stand alone freezer and it is changing my life! We live overseas so some ingredients are hard to find but I love what I"ve seen on here especially after I read what you said about the Mamaand babylove recipes! I found them bland as well and was frustrated with what to try next- great recipes! Thanks!

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  60. You've totally inspired me. I'm following your directions from start to finish this weekend. I need something easy in my life!

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  61. Hi Melissa, I love all of your ideas for freezer cooking and I can't wait to try them all! Just one question before I begin, how much of the Texas Pete sauce do you add to the shredded pork BBQ?

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  62. For your twice baked potatoes. Do you thaw before cooking? Would chopped bacon and green onion be a good addition.

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  63. Hi Melissa, I love freezer cooking and was going to attempt to freeze pot pies. Does the crust stay good when you thaw and cook or does the bottom get mushy? Thanks.

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  64. I consider this the finest blog I have read all this hour.
    recipes for salad

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  65. Thank you for such a great post! I know I read it somewhere, but can't find it now...do you cook the sesame chicken from frozen?

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  66. This is by far the most efficient way of freezer meal blows I've seen!! The list is a huge help, thank you for that!! Reading your blog and how to i actually feel like its something i can do :)

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  67. Just found this on pinterest and LOVE! Doing three receipts now. Question, if u freeze them dont you have to add a few more hours of cook time? That's what my mom always taught me. Please help! I'm in the kitchen now!

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  68. Oh my goodness!! You are a HUGE lifesaver!!!!! I just got married and have eating disorders so providing meals have been very difficult for me, and trying to provide healthy meals takes too much strength for me (i get weak from lack of eating =/). This has been a life-long battle of mine, and my husband has been such a huge support and has been so kind and understanding. Your post of these healthy, easy meals that look so filling, I seriosly think, is going to save my life! Finding easy recipes that I and my sick husband can handle while we both have to work full-time is so difficult, and we give up so many times and either spend more money on going out, or we just don't bother eating. This may seem a very irresponsible way of living, and it is. Because of your easy recipes we will be able to function again.....thank you!

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  69. This post is amazing! I'm here to give great feedback! First of all, I have never been able to make a baked potato successfully, much less a twice baked one. Yours have been a delicious hit every time! The shredded bbq: fabulous. Chicken pot pie: one of hubby's new favorite meals. Baked pork chops: yummy (even though I don't really like pork chops). The other pork chop meal, and one of the chicken meals, were huge flops because my crock pot blackened them beyond recognition...I'm a little peeved at my crock pot! Still trying to figure out what to do there. But everything else has been awesome and a huge timesaver, so thank you!

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  70. Keep it up!! You have done the nice job having provided the latest information.
    pork chop recipes

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  71. Can the Twice Baked Potatoes be reheated in a Microwave?

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  72. Just found these recipes and I love the idea! My parents bought my husband a deep freeze for his birthday and we now stock up on meat during specials. This would great to do with some of it so it's already ready to go. Question about the chicken pot pie...would a bag of frozen veggies work? I am not a fan of canned vegetables..I could do the fresh carrots and celery, but I usually buy a bag of the mixed veggies for soups/pot pies. If i let them thaw a little maybe? Also, this may be a dumb question...but would any of the recipes (whole chicken/pork chop recipes) work with already frozen meat? Could I just add the sauces to them? Thanks!!

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    1. Thank you, Melissa! I was wondering that, too!

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    2. I made this last weekend and used frozen peas instead of canned. I also wondered the same thing about the mixed veggies but it turned out so amazing that when I make it again I will follow the recipe and just sub the frozen peas again.

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  73. Just made these today and everything turned out great! So nice knowing I can spend more time with my family and less time cooking.

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  74. Xawaash Spice

    Pan Baked Salmon :

    In this mouth watering pan baked recipe we feature Tabil and Chipolte Sea Salt made with real smoke-dried jalapeno peppers. The sea salt adds warmth and is delicious as its namesake, this salt has a rich, toasted pepper flavor that brings out the natural flavors in recipe.
    This is an easy way to cook fish fast, we prefer to use salmon, feel free to use halibut, sole, trout or mahi mahi.
    Double or triple the recipe for serving large groups without a huge deal of effort.




    Pan Baked Salmon
    Ingredients
    2 Filets (8 ounce each) of salmon, cut into chunks
    1 Onion, cut into large slices
    1 Orange, peeled and separated
    1 Cup Sliced black olives
    1 Ounce fresh dill
    2 Teaspoons USimplySesaon Tabil Spice Blend
    USimplySeason Chipotle Sea Salt to taste
    Fresh ground pepper to taste
    Directions
    Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil pan or cookie sheet, remove the skin from the fish and rub olive oil into both sides. Add onion, orange, olives, dill. Sesaon with USimplySesaon Tabil Spice Blend and USimplySeason Chipotle Sea Salt. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste. Bake for 20 minutes or until fish is flaky. Serve immediately, smile and enjoy.
    Serves about 4

    Contact Us:>
    website: www.usimplyseason.com
    Call: 888-243-7770
    Address:
    Amboseli Foods
    569 South 600 West #102
    Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  76. I'm loving these Twice Baked Potatoes! Just tried them out - added my own seasonings and subbed yogurt for some of the sour cream since I ran out. They were excellent and such an easy addition to a meal! These would be great to add on to a Meal Train (http://www.mealtrain.com/) ! Thanks so much for the recipe and the inspiration!

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  77. I made this up last weekend and LOVE it so far. I tried the pot pie last night and it was amazing. Thank you for such a wonderful blog post.

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  78. I make lots of pot pies for the freezer, and I freeze them raw, then put them in a Foodsaver bag and vacuum and seal it. Super easy, and no plastic wrap to undo!

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  79. Very good and easy way to cook a nice thick pork chop, and relax at the same time.

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