Tag Archives: freezer meal

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

It might not be traditional American Labor Day BBQ food, but it is a favorite around here. If there is soy sauce involved, my kids will always eat it. Add some peanut butter, and Little J is in heaven!

I like to serve this with either grilled zucchini or asparagus. Set aside a little bit of the marinade before you add it to the pork and use it to marinate your vegetables for about half an hour before grilling.

Pork tenderloins almost always come two in a package at the store. Our family at home keeps shrinking, so now I usually divide the marinade in half and freeze one tenderloin in the marinade to cook another day. This also makes a good freezer meal to prepare ahead of time and have on hand for busy days.

RECIPE:

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

2 (1-2 lb each) unseasoned pork tenderloins (usually sold 2 per package)
Optional: vegetables to grill: zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus
Hot cooked rice

Marinade:
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil or peanut oil
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili paste
1 tsp lemon pepper

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili paste
½ tsp lemon pepper
½ cup natural creamy peanut butter

Place pork tenderloins in a Ziploc bag. (**See note below if planning to freeze one or both)

Combine Marinade ingredients. If you will be grilling vegetables as well, set aside ¼ cup of the marinade. Add remaining marinade to the bag with the pork tenderloins. Place the meat in the refrigerator and marinate for 4-6 hours (up to several days). Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Slice squash lengthwise (or trim asparagus ends) and place in a Ziploc bag with reserved marinade for about 30 minutes.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, combine all of the Peanut Dipping Sauce ingredients except for the peanut butter. Heat in the microwave for 45 seconds. Stir in peanut butter. Add additional water if the sauce is too thick or too strong. Heat for an additional 30 seconds, just before serving.

Prepare and oil grill. If you are using a gas grill, leave one burner of the grill unlit so that you can cook the tenderloin with indirect heat (so it doesn’t burn).  Remove the tenderloin from the marinade and place on the unlit side of the grill. Close grill cover. Grill the tenderloin for about 5 minutes per side (4 sides) until the internal temperature registers 145-150°F in the center. Remove from grill and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

While meat rests, grill the marinated vegetables over direct heat for about 3 minutes per side.

Slice pork diagonally into ½ – 1” slices. Serve the pork and grilled vegetables with peanut sauce and hot steamed rice.

**FREEZER NOTE: If you do not plan to eat both tenderloins (or just want to prepare a freezer meal ahead of time), place tenderloins in separate freezer bags and add half of the marinade to each bag and place in the freezer until ready to cook. The peanut sauce can also be prepared ahead and frozen. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before cooking. Do not freeze raw vegetables.

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Indian Curry: Butter Chicken

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Unlike some parts of the country, here in Pittsburgh we are still waiting for spring. Which means I can squeeze in one more post for a warm, hearty, great-for-cold-weather Indian curry.

If you poll my children, all five of them will list this curry in their top three favorite foods, with several of them ranking it right at the top. It is also the recipe that I am most often asked to share. Unfortunately, the ingredient list is a little bit intimidating and some friends never end up making it for themselves. Hopefully a little explanation will make this recipe not seem so intimidating.

There are a few spices and ingredients in this recipe that cannot usually be found in regular grocery stores. Some of the spices below I can get in my local store, some I buy from Penzey’s (which we have locally in Pittsburgh, but they also have an online store) and some at a local Indian grocery store.

Kasoori methi is an herb that is also known by the name fenugreek. Kasoori Methi (sometimes spelled kasuri methi) is the leaves of the plant, while “fenugreek” often refers to the ground seeds of the plant, but I have also seen leaves labeled “fenugreek”. I prefer the flavor of the leaves, which I have only found at an Indian market (online Indian stores sell them as well).

The Tandoori paste I also buy at the Indian store. Tandoori pastes vary a lot in color, depending on brand, from a bright orange-red to a very deep red. I don’t really have a preference. They all taste pretty similar. Just be sure to buy tandoori paste and not a tandoori marinade, which will be thinner and usually have a dairy component. The jar shown above is pretty large (26 oz) and will make several batches. I marinate the chicken in the Tandoori paste in Ziploc bags; a few hours at least, overnight for the best flavor. Since our family really loves this curry, I freeze extra bags with the chicken and Tandoori paste for using another day. I prepare as many bags as the jar of paste will make. I usually make double batches of this curry, and the large jar shown above will make 3-4 double batches. Buy a smaller jar if you don’t want quite that much!

100110 031-1 The batch of Butter Chicken in the above photo was made with a Tandoori paste that was orange-red in color, while the one below was made with the Tandoori paste shown above, which has a very deep red hue.

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Once you have your ingredients, it really is easy to prepare: tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilies and the spices are blended together in a blender or food processor-no chopping necessary! Add to a pot with a little butter, cream and tomato sauce and you have your curry base. To make it extra flavorful, the chicken is marinated in tandoori paste (I like to do this the day before, or even weeks before, and leave it in the freezer until I am ready to make the curry). Over the years I have found that it is easiest to marinate whole boneless chicken breasts (I really dislike chopping raw chicken), bake them and then coarsely chop them with a metal spatula right in the baking pan. The cooked chicken is then stirred into the curry sauce and simmered for 10-15 minutes, or as long as it takes you to finish baking your Naan bread.

View Tandoori Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken can be eaten over rice, or on its own with Naan.

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Tomorrow I will share my Naan recipe, which Little J loves to help me make.

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RECIPE:

Butter Chicken

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4-6 chicken breasts, diced*(see note on alternate chicken prep)
¼ cup Tandoori paste
1 (15oz) can whole or diced tomatoes
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
2-3 Tbs diced green chilies (about ½ can)
1 ¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh ginger (or ½ tsp ground)
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves)
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne); add more for a spicier curry
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups heavy cream

Combine chicken, tandoori paste and 2 Tbs water in a Ziploc bag. Marinate several hours or overnight.

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, chilies and spices in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth.

Melt butter in a large pot. Add blended tomato mixture, tomato sauce and cream. Bring to gentle boil; simmer 20 minutes.

While sauce is simmering: Spread chicken in a single layer on a shallow rimmed baking sheet. Bake chicken at 350°F for 20 minutes. Stir chicken and any sauce in the pan into sauce mixture on the stove. Cook for 10-15 minutes longer.

Serve over rice and/or with Naan bread.

*Alternate chicken prep: do not cut chicken; use chicken tenderloins or whole breasts. Mix with tandoori paste and water (if using high water content chicken, skip the water). Roast until cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Use a metal spatula to cut chicken into chunks on the baking sheet. Then stir into the curry.

TO FREEZE: Prepare chicken as above; freeze raw, marinated chicken in a Ziploc bag. Blend sauce ingredients as directed above; place in Ziploc bag. Add melted butter, tomato sauce and cream to sauce bag. Freeze.

TO PREPARE AFTER FREEZING: Thaw chicken and sauce. Bake chicken in a shallow pan at 350°F for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring sauce to gentle boil; simmer 20 minutes. Add cooked chicken to sauce and cook 10-15 minutes longer. Serve over rice and/or with Naan bread.

 

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Hearty Beef Chili

092810 018-1This is my standard go-to chili recipe. Thick and hearty. Full of roasted vegetables, ground beef and sausage (chorizo is my favorite), and two kinds of beans in a thick, spicy sauce. No runny broth-that is soup, not chili.

I know that a true Texas chili does not have any beans, but while I love the flavor of a good Texas chili, I also love beans. I love the taste, the contrasting texture they give to chili, and the fact that beans are so good for you! So while my chili may not be approved of by hard core Texans, I will continue to put beans in.

Chili is a great crock pot meal, and tastes even better the second day.

You can make this chili the “fast” way or the “it takes a little longer but is so worth it” way. The difference is: to roast or not roast the veges (onions, peppers, garlic). I have definitely made my share of chili the fast way, but I do prefer the additional flavor you get by roasting the vegetables before adding them to the chili. To roast the onions, garlic and peppers: peel onions and cut in half. Cut larger peppers in half and remove seeds. Smaller peppers, like jalapenos can be left whole. You can roast a whole head of garlic, or roast individual cloves (this will be faster). Place onions, garlic and peppers on a foil-lined roasting pan. Brush with olive oil. Roast at 475°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until veges begin to blacken. See How To Roast Peppers or How To Roast Garlic for quick tutorials.

Top your chili with shredded cheese, sour cream or chopped raw onions (red onions or scallions are great). And make lots: chili freezes wonderfully for another meal another day.

RECIPE:

Hearty Beef Chili

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1 ½ lb ground beef
½ lb chorizo or hot Italian sausage
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 onions
1 red pepper
1 large banana pepper
2 jalapenos, (use seeds for a spicier chili)
2 cloves garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (or 1 tsp chipotle chili powder)
1 Tbs adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
3 cans (14 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce
3 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 Tbs fresh)
1 Tbs chili paste
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Tomato paste, if needed
Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped raw onions (red onions or green onions)

Cook ground beef and sausage until browned. Drain and place in a crock pot with the cooked bacon. If desired, roast the onions, red pepper, banana pepper, jalapenos and garlic (Brush with olive oil and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 475°F for 15-20 minutes). Chop vegetables and add to the crock pot with the remaining ingredients (except tomato paste and toppings). Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Taste after about 4-6 hours. Add additional salt or more heat (more chili paste or crushed red peppers), if desired. Thicken with tomato paste if chili is too thin. Serve with desired toppings.

 

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Chicken Stuffed with Green Chilies, Bacon and Cheese

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One of my favorite things about this meal (besides the bacon, cheese and green chilies) is that it is easy to make this into 2 meals. One for now, one to put in the freezer for another day. The bacon, cheese and green chilies filling doesn’t hurt any either.

Stuffed chicken is best made with flattened chicken breasts. Chicken breasts seem to get larger every day, so for this recipe I start with 6 large breasts, cut them in half cross-wise, and then pound them flat, giving me 12 decent portions. If you have small chicken breasts, you can pound them whole.

102210 003-1 To flatten chicken breasts, I use a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. I cut off the top (where it seals), and also cut down one of the sides, so that it is easier to get the chicken in and out. Place one chicken breast in the bag and use the flat side of a meat mallet (or other flat heavy object-like the side of a filled soup can) to pound chicken until it is about 1/4” thick.

The flatter you get the chicken, the more room there will be for filling! And that’s why we are really eating this anyway, right? The chicken is just an excuse for not eating bacon-chili-cheese dip with a spoon for dinner.

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Spread the filling on the flattened chicken breasts and roll, beginning with the smallest end. Secure with toothpicks, if necessary. Dip chicken breasts in beaten egg and then a combination of Parmesan cheese and crushed tortilla chips.

071810 112-1 Place in a greased baking dish and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until cooked through. Cooked chicken will feel firm to the touch, but not hard.

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This recipe makes 12 stuffed chicken rolls. In the above picture, you will notice there are only 5. One lonely cheese-less chicken roll is hiding out in another baking dish.

The other 6  I freeze to eat another day (I actually ended up with 7 because I started with an additional small chicken breast)

TO FREEZE:

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Prepare stuffed chicken breasts. Before cooking, place rolls on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for several hours, or until firm. Transfer frozen chicken rolls to a labeled Ziploc bag. Return to the freezer. These can be cooked directly from the freezer; no thawing necessary (cook an additional 15-30 minutes).

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RECIPE:

Chicken Stuffed with Green Chilies, Bacon and Cheese

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6 large boneless-skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg (12-16oz) bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 ½ cups grated cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies with juice (do not drain)
¼ cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup crushed tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Cut chicken breasts in half cross-wise. Place a chicken breast half in a Ziploc bag (don’t seal) and pound until chicken breast is very thin, about 1/4 inch. Repeat with remaining breasts.

In a bowl, stir together bacon,  cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese, chilies with juice, and sour cream. Spread about 1-2 Tbs cheese mixture over each chicken breast, avoiding the very edges. Roll up the chicken, starting with smallest end, and secure each chicken breast with 2 toothpicks. Combine Parmesan cheese and tortilla chips in a wide bowl. Dip chicken rolls in beaten egg, and then roll each chicken breast in Parmesan/chips mixture.

Place chicken in baking dish and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the chicken is firm, but not hard, to the touch. Serve with salsa, if desired.

*****NOTE: I usually serve 6 for dinner, and freeze the other six on a parchment paper (or foil) lined baking sheet until frozen. Transfer the frozen stuffed chicken to a Ziploc bag to store in the freezer. Bake directly from freezer at 375°F for about 45-60 mins.

Yield: 12 stuffed chicken breasts

 

Recipe adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

 

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Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

This is one of those recipes for which I very rarely measure ingredients. The recipe below includes specific amounts, but feel free to just use these as guidelines. I usually use chicken that I have prepared another day (for shredding chicken in a crockpot, see this other recipe for enchiladas) and frozen in Ziploc bags.

The filling is a simple mix of shredded chicken, cheese, taco seasoning, green onions or chives (one of the few things still growing in my garden) and some of the sauce that also gets spread on top.

The sauce for these enchiladas is made from a mixture of prepared Green Enchilada Sauce (in the big cans), cream cheese and canned diced green chilies. I could eat it with a spoon!

Then topped with additional cheese (can there ever be enough?) and green onions.

This is also a great freezer meal once it is prepared. To prepare this for a freezer meal, I usually double or triple the recipe (one for tonight, one/two for meals later), and roll the chicken filling in the tortillas. Line a baking sheet with foil or waxed paper and place the filled enchiladas on the pan, being careful not to let them touch. Freeze for several hours, until solid, then put the frozen enchiladas into a Ziploc bag. The sauce can be frozen separately in several smaller bags. Then you can pull out as many pre-made enchiladas as you need for dinner: you are not committed to a whole 9×13” pan. They can be cooked frozen (thaw sauce); just increase initial cooking time to about 1 hour.

RECIPE:

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

5 cups cooked and shredded chicken (about 4-6 breasts)
2 Tbs taco seasoning mix
¼ cup chopped green onions or fresh chives
2 ½ cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack and/or mozzarella), divided
28 oz can green enchilada sauce
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4  oz can chopped green chilies
Flour or corn tortillas (about 8 large)
2-3 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine cooked chicken, taco seasoning, 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives and 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese. Using a mixer/blender/immersion blender, mix green enchilada sauce and cream cheese until no lumps remain. Stir in canned chilies. Add about 1 1/2 cups of the creamy sauce to the chicken; mix well.

Pour a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a 9×13” baking pan. Roll chicken filling in tortillas. Place enchiladas in pan. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and chopped green onions. Cover and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer.

If desired, serve with Roasted Green Tomato Salsa

 

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Shredded Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas

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I shredded a crock-pot full of chicken a while ago with the intention of making these enchiladas, but life got the better of me, and I didn’t get around to it until recently. Once you have chicken shredded, these enchiladas go together really quickly. My husband loves these because there are no filler ingredients (rice, beans, etc) just meat and wonderfully creamy cheese.

I cooked the chicken in the crock pot with about 1 cup of salsa. You could also use leftover roast chicken or turkey.

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When the crock pot chicken was tender, I shredded it, using some of the chicken for a chili, some for a soup (details soon), and most of the rest for these enchiladas.

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The filling for the enchiladas uses the chicken, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sauteed onions, garlic, some salsa, and cream cheese (this is what makes them so wonderfully creamy!). You can also add cilantro to the filling, but I didn’t this time. I just used it in the sauce.

To make the enchilada sauce, dump all of the sauce ingredients (see recipe below) into a blender, and blend until smooth.

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Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.

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Roll about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of filling in a tortilla. I used flour tortillas, but you could also use softened corn tortillas.

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Roll tortillas around filling and place in baking dish. I got 8 filled enchiladas in my pan, plus another 2 that I put in a smaller pan (these 2 extra enchiladas were terribly unappealing, having NO CHEESE in them-how could I possibly end up with a daughter that doesn’t like cheese?)

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Cover and bake at 375°F for about 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. I love using non-stick foil for covering saucy or cheesy dishes. No sticking! Really.

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Uncover and top with additional cheese, chopped green onions and sliced olives. Bake for another 10 minutes.

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Serve with sour cream and additional salsa. We also like to have Mexican rice or refried beans on the side.

RECIPE:

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Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas

4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 onion, chopped and lightly sauteed
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup salsa
1-2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
4 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Sauce:
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1/2 cup salsa
3 Tbs ketchup
1 Tbs paprika (hot and/or sweet)
1 tsp chili powder
2-3 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped

Tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese
Sliced black olives (optional)
Chopped green onions (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine filling ingredients. Blend sauce ingredients in blender until smooth. Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13” pan. Roll filling in tortillas. Place in pan, seam side down. Top with remaining sauce.

Bake, covered, at 375°F for 30-45 minutes, or until cooked through. Uncover.

Sprinkle with cheese, olives and green onions. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes longer. Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole, if desired.

Makes 8-10 large enchiladas.

TO FREEZE: Prepare and fill enchiladas. Place on a waxed-paper lined cookie sheet and freeze. Place in freezer bag when enchiladas are completely frozen. Freeze sauce in a separate bag. Freeze cheese in small bag.

TO PREPARE AFTER FREEZING: Thaw sauce and cheese. Place small amount of sauce in a 9×13” pan. Place enchiladas in pan (it is not necessary to thaw enchiladas). Top with sauce. Bake, covered, at 375 F for about 1 hour, or until cooked through. Remove foil and top with cheese, olives and green onion. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes longer.

 

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