Mason County News
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Family Times
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 • Posted December 15, 2010

Plan Ahead for Holiday Meals

Christmas can be a stressful time, and it would be so nice if you had one less thing to do. How about preparing and freezing some meals ahead of time so that when company comes, you can actually enjoy their visit and not spend it all in the kitchen?

You can also freeze holiday cookies, candies and cakes, and a lot of pies freeze well too. Why not prepare lots of your sides and desserts this week and then when your holiday meal time comes you can just cook your turkey or ham and go snuggle with your grandbabies!

Here is an easy, healthy meal with veggies included- it’s a lot like chicken noodle soup, but heartier. Just add a nice whole grain bread and fruit for dessert and you’ve got a great balanced meal! If you are freezing the casserole, follow the instructions at the end rather than cooking everything together right away.

Do an internet search for "casseroles that freeze well" and you’ll get tons more to choose from. Cooking ahead and meal planning can save you tons of money and time- anytime, not just at the holidays. Just be sure and wrap them up well so they don’t get freezerburned, and use them within a few months for best quality. And don’t cook the casseroles from a frozen state, thaw them first overnight in the fridge!

Vegetable Chicken Casserole

This hearty dish cooks entirely in the microwave oven. Follow the directions for freezing and you’ll have dinner ready in minutes.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 17 minutes

Total Time: 42 minutes

Ingredients:

· 8 oz. medium egg noodles

· 1 cup water

· 1-1/2 cups chicken broth

· 16 oz. pkg. frozen broccoli, cauliflower and red peppers, thawed

· 1 onion, chopped

· 2 cups chopped cooked chicken

· 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

· 1/2 tsp. salt

· 1/4 tsp. pepper

· 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Preparation:

In 3 quart microwave safe casserole dish, mix noodles, water and chicken broth. Cover with lid and microwave on high for 6 minutes, stirring once during cooking. Add vegetables, onion, chicken and seasonings. Cover and microwave on high for 7-9 minutes, stirring once during cooking, until vegetables are hot and crisp tender and noodles are tender.

Stir in half of cheese and mix well. Sprinkle casserole with remaining cheese. Cook, uncovered, on high for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

To freeze casserole, do not thaw vegetables. Cook noodles as directed above and then cool in refrigerator until cold. Add vegetables, onion, chicken, seasonings, and half of cheese; sprinkle with remaining cheese, wrap well, label, and freeze up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator. Microwave on medium for 3-5 minutes, stirring once. Then microwave on high for 1-3 minutes until noodles and vegetables are tender and casserole is thoroughly heated. 4-6 servings

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