A Week of Casseroles

I’m up at 5:30 on school mornings.  I get up, get dressed, and head to the kitchen where I pack lunches for the kids and myself, start breakfast, and either prep dinner or put something in the crock pot.  I wake the kids at 6:30, make sure they are dressed (in hopefully presentable clothing) and fed, and then we’re off.  On mornings when Michael is home, he takes The Boy to his middle school.  When he’s out of town, I take him before heading to my own school.  Right now, The Redhead goes to school where I teach, so she rides with me.  We arrive at my school at 7:30 and I sharpen pencils, assess needed supplies, and make sure my room is ready for all the classes that will come through my doors that day.  I teach music and art, so there is quite a bit of set up involved.  The Redhead generally studies and fixes her hair.  She discovered long ago that fixing her hair at school meant that she could sleep for an ten extra minutes, so that’s what she does on most days.  Kids start arriving at 8:05, announcements are at 8:30, and my first class arrives at 8:45.  I teach all day long – kids from kindergarten through fifth grade.  The kids leave at 3:30, but teachers do not.  I have duty every single day in the lobby where the car riders sit until their parents come.  We have about 250 car riders at our school, so the process takes a while.  On Mondays at 4:00, we have faculty meetings, which last at least an hour.  On other days, most teachers work for a while after kids leave – just so they are prepared for the next day.  And then there are the after-school activities that our kids participate in.  Yes, I know, that’s not just teachers’ kids.  It’s everybody’s kids.  Dance on Mondays.  Church on Wednesdays.  Football practice every day after school for The Boy.  The Redhead works with a trainer a couple of days a week.  The Boy works with a trainer after football season is over.  Oh, I know we’re not alone in this.  I have friends whose kids are involved in more things than mine.  Soccer, gymnastics, cheer, baseball, softball, piano, guitar, art lessons…the list goes on and on.

When we finally drag in at the end of the day (rarely before 5:00), there’s homework to contend with.  And there seems to be a lot more of that now than when we were in school.  Homework, research papers, essays, memoirs, projects.  I didn’t like doing my own homework and now I’m helping do someone else’s?

I love Jen Hatmaker‘s blog.  Have you read it?  She’s fantastic.  In one blog post in May, she said:

I wish zero teachers had to instruct all day then go home and oversee their own kids’ homework. That is just asking too much. Let’s call a teacher managing her kid’s science fair project at 7:30 pm what it is: a tragedy and impending meltdown. Stop it, universe. She’s done enough.

Preach on, sister.

There are nights when both kids have homework in every subject!  Some things can be done independently, but somethings must be overseen.  Closely.

“Did you study for that test?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, let’s go over it.”

“I studied!”

“Okay.  I believe you.  Let’s go over it.”

Eyes roll.  “Okay.  I didn’t study yet!  Okay?  Are you happy?”

No.  No I’m not.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, dinner has to miraculously appear on the table.  And, yes, sometimes, we eat in the living room just because the kitchen table is covered with homework and we aren’t finished with it yet.  Sometimes we eat and then leave again go to an activity.  It’s crazy.

Because nights like these are far too plentiful, I try to “cook ahead” during the summer and on weekends.  There are lots of recipes that I always double just so I can freeze a batch for later.

These are a few of my make-ahead-and-freeze meals that I make in the summer so I don’t have to cook as much once school starts.

These were all created to fit into 9X13 pans.  If you’re cooking for a smaller, less hungry bunch, use 8X8 pans and you’ll get a two-for-one deal!

Ready?  Okay, here goes!

 

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

DSC_0377

  • 2-3 cups of cubed, cooked chicken
  • 1 box of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, cooked
  • 1 can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 medium jar of pimentos, drained
  • 1 can of cream of celery soup
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 cup of frozen, chopped onion
  • 1 can of French-cut green beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Pour into a 9X13 pan and bake for 1 hour.

*If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Place in the refrigerator to thaw in the morning.  Remove foil and plastic wrap.  Bake until bubbly.

 

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

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  • 1½ lb. spaghetti
  • 3-4 large chicken breasts (boneless/skinless)
  • 2 cans of mild Rotel
  • 2 cans of reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 32-oz block of Velveeta, cubed
  • 16 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped (optional)

Cook chicken breasts in salted water until done. Remove the chicken from the water and add the spaghetti to the same water. I usually break the spaghetti so that it’s easier for my kids to eat it. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken into small cubes. Drain the cooked spaghetti completely and return to cooking pot. Stir in chicken, Rotel, soup, cheese, and bacon (if using), letting the heat from the spaghetti heat the remaining ingredients. Serve warm or refrigerate for later. If refrigerated or frozen, cook at 350º until bubbly.

*If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Place in the refrigerator to thaw in the morning.  Remove foil and plastic wrap.  Bake until bubbly.

 

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

ChickenEnchiladaCasserole

  • 2 cups of cubed, cooked chicken
  • 1 cup of frozen, chopped onion – don’t bother thawing
  • 1 large jar of salsa
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 4 cups of shredded Colby Jack cheese (or cheese of your preference)
  • 1 package of flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sautee onions in a little olive oil until they are soft and translucent. Add all other ingredients except cheese and tortillas and stir until combined. Simmer over medium heat until bubbly. Add cheese and stir until melted. Ladle a small amount of mixture into the bottom of a large baking dish and shake dish to make mixture coat the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of tortillas, followed by a layer of the mixture. Continue layering, ending with mixture. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

*If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Place in the refrigerator to thaw in the morning.  Remove foil and plastic wrap.  Bake until bubbly.

 

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

DSC_0407

  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 2-3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast
  • 1 can of peas and carrots, drained
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cans of Grands biscuits

Preheat oven to 350º. Sautee onion in olive oil until transluscent. Add chicken and cook until heated through. Add peas and carrots and soup and stir in whipping cream. Cook on medium high heat until thickened. Pour mixture into a 13X9 baking dish and top with biscuits. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush biscuit tops with melted butter. Wait 10-15 minutes before serving.

*If freezing, do not top with biscuits!  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Place in the refrigerator to thaw in the morning.  Remove foil and plastic wrap.  Top with biscuits and bake until biscuits are browned.

 

Spaghetti Casserole

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  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 package of spaghetti, cooked until tender and drained completely
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 8-oz. package of cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 can of sliced black olives
  • 3 cups of shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 pint of sour cream

Brown ground beef with onions until meat is done. Add spaghetti sauce and cook until heated through. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add spaghetti to this mixture and stir to mix all ingredients together. Place half of spaghetti/meat mixture in a 9X13 pan and top with half of the shredded cheese, half the sour cream (in little dollops), and half the olives. Layer the other half of the spaghetti mixture, cheese, sour cream, and olives. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

*If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Place in the refrigerator to thaw in the morning.  Remove foil and plastic wrap.  Bake until bubbly.

 

Lasagna

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  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 box of lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 1 large tub of ricotta cheese
  • 5 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef with onions until meat is done. Add spaghetti sauce and heat through (It will seem really “liquidy” but that’s okay. The noodles will need the moisture!). Put a little of the mixture in the bottom of a 9X13 pan and swish the pan to coat the bottom. Place a single layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom. Spread with about 1/3 of the ricotta and 1 cup of the cheese. Top with about 1/3 of the meat mixture and then layer the same. Your layers should be: thin layer of sauce, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, meat sauce. Keep layering until you have used three layers of each ingredient, and then top with remaining cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

*If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Place in the refrigerator to thaw in the morning.  Remove plastic wrap and replace foil.  Bake until bubbly.

 

Beef Enchilada Casserole

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  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 large cans of enchilada sauce
  • 1 can of chopped green chilies
  • 3 cups of shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 pint of sour cream
  • 1 package of corn tortillas

Brown ground beef with onions until meat is done. Stir in enchilada sauce and chilies and heat through. Put a little of the mixture in the bottom of a 9X13 pan and swish the pan to coat the bottom. Layer in: tortillas, meat mixture, 1 cup of cheese, tortillas, meat mixture, 1 cup of cheese, tortillas, and meat mixture. Spread the top with sour cream and remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

*If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Place in the refrigerator to thaw in the morning.  Remove foil and plastic wrap.  Bake until bubbly.

 

Ready to cook?  It’s actually cheaper to buy all of the ingredients at once!  Here’s the grocery list to make all of the dishes above:

  • 7 9X13 disposable baking pans (or 14 8X8 pans)
  • 2 bags of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 3 bags of frozen, chopped onion
  • 1 box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice
  • 2 1/2 pounds of spaghetti
  • 3 large jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 box of lasagna noodles
  • 1 can of cream of celery soup
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cans of mild Rotel
  • 1 small jar of diced pimentos
  • 1 can of peas and carrots
  • 1 can of French-cut green beans
  • 1 can of sliced black olives
  • 2 large cans of enchilada sauce
  • 1 large jar of salsa
  • 1 can of chopped green chilies
  • 1 can of water chestnuts
  • Light mayonnaise
  • 1 package of corn tortillas
  • 1 package of flour tortillas
  • 3 pints of sour cream
  • 1 large tub of ricotta cheese
  • 1 quart of half and half
  • 9 cups of shredded Mexican cheese
  • 5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 32-ounce block of Velveeta
  • 1 8-oz. package of cream cheese
  • 2 cans of Grands biscuits

 

You’ll be so glad that you have these waiting patiently in the freezer until you have a long, exhausting day and don’t feel like cooking!

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9 thoughts on “A Week of Casseroles

  1. LOVE this! I’ve been wanting to stock pile my freezer with meals, but I just didn’t know where to start. Here it is! =) I love that you instructed HOW to freeze then cook because those 2 things are my biggest concern. My fear is to freeze several meals only to have them ruined because I didn’t freeze, thaw or cook properly. Thank you!!

  2. You have a Mexican casserole in the old beech springs cookbook, I think. It’s a beef casserole that you layer with beans. Top with crushed Fritos. Can that now be made ahead & frozen?

  3. You are Awesome!!!!!! Thanks for the recipes! I will for sure be cooking up a storm next week in preparation for the start of school, which is all too soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Pingback: Creamy French Onion Chicken Casserole | Mama, Can I Lick the Spoon?

  5. Pingback: Crispy Spicy Baked Shrimp | Mama, Can I Lick the Spoon?

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