Monday, April 30, 2012

Make Ahead Meals--Sweet and Sour Chicken

When it starts to get warm outside, I stop wanting to cook dinner.  I would rather be outside pushing kids on the swing.  But dinner still needs to be made.  

Last week I pulled out my list of make ahead meals/freezer meals.  These are main dishes that can be assembled ahead of time in Zip lock bags and then refrigerated (if used that week) or frozen for later use.  
this week I'll be sharing my favorite make a head meals, and my tricks and tips on making them.  (although dumping stuff in a bag is really not that hard). 

  Getting Started with Make Ahead Meals 

  • Choose a recipe- You can use mine or choose one of your own.  Before you invents a lot of ingredients in making multiples of the recipe be sure to try it out to see if you family will eat it. 
  • Mise en place--That is a fancy cooking word for putting everything in it's place. Get everything in order.  Find your ingredients and set them out with your recipe, and measuring cups.  Read over the recipe and make sure you know what you are doing.  This is a good idea in any recipe but when you are making a bunch of meals with raw meat it is a must. 
  • If using frozen chicken and you are planning on freezing it again DO NOT DEFROST.  Just put the frozen chicken in the bag with the other ingredients and refreeze.  
  •  If freezing your meals be sure to defrost them.  Try pulling them out of the freezer the night before or the morning of.  
  • If storing in the fridge.  Be sure to place your ziplock bags filled with meals in a spill prof container.  No one wants raw chicken to leak on the produce.  A large rectangle Tupperware or cake pan works well. 
  • LABEL all of the make a head meals that you make.  I know you are going to think.  I'll remember what this is.  Trust me you won't.  Everything looks different frozen. 
  • Flavors can intensify in the freezer so use a light hand with the spices.  If you love fiery spice try adding it at the table.   

Sweet & Sour Chicken                            
adapted from a recipe from Shannon Zaugg (who always has good recipes)

printable recipe

1 /4 tsp. lemon, garlic or plain pepper
1/2 c. ketchup
2 Tbsp. Mustard
1 /4 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. maple syrup
4-5 chicken breasts
¼ cup freeze dried onions (don't rehydrate)

Combine all ingredients in heavy duty zip lock bag.  Remove excess air from the bag and seal.  Double check that the back is sealed completely.  “Smush” sealed bag, mixing ingredients.  

Store uncooked:  In the fridge--1 week , Frozen 3 months.

To Bake:  Fresh or defrosted
Place in a large casserole dish.  Bake for 1 hour @ 350* uncovered. Test chicken for doneness using a thermometer.  The temperature at the thickest part of the chicken should read.  165 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from the oven.  Serve over rice or potatoes.  

In the Crock Pot:  place contents of the zip lock bag in the  crock pot.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours on high.  Do not open the lid of the crock pot until you are ready to check for doneness.  Test chicken for doneness using a thermometer.  The temperature at the thickest part of the chicken should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  Serve over rice.  

This post is part of my Make Ahead Meals series.  These meals can be made ahead of time and either stored in the freeze for up to a week OR frozen for up to 3 months.  Here are the others in this series:

Chili Lime Mango Chicken
Manti Pageant Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Greek Oregano Chicken
Lime Chicken Tacos 

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