Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pizza Pasta Bake Freezer Meal

Lately, I've been contemplating the idea of doing some freezer cooking which basically means I've been sitting in front of the computer, reading up on what other bloggers have done and "pinning" away. 

Although I love the concept of freezer cooking, I think 1-2 freezer meals a week would be sufficient for us tackle those busy nights we when normally would fall prey to the drive-thru.  Soooo... instead of cooking for the entire month in one day, my goal is to cook a double batch of something each week to freeze for a later date.

Sooo...for my first attempt, I found this yummy Pizza Pasta Bake recipe on Freezer Meals for Us which is full of freezer friendly recipes.  I have a hard time following directions (just ask my kindergarten teacher)  so I changed it up quite a bit.  You have the option to throw in a bunch of veggies to bump up the nutritional value or leave them out if you're in a hurry.  The hubs liked that it was pretty meaty, but you could definitely cut back on the meat to save money and/or calories.  This recipe is totally customizable.

We really enjoyed this.  It was moist and full of flavor.  I'll update when I try the frozen one. 

Adapted from: Freezer Meals for Us
(Makes 2 9x13 pans, 1 for now and 1 to freeze)
1 lb lean ground beef
12 oz reduced fat pork, turkey or chicken sausage (I used Jimmy Dean, but will try a lighter turkey sausage next time.)
1 lg onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 c veggies, (ideas- shredded carrots, shredded zucchini or squash, chopped spinach, diced green or red bell pepper, olives)
1 46 oz jar spaghetti sauce
1 8 oz can tomato sauce with basil, onion and garlic
1 small can mushrooms, diced
16 oz penne pasta (regular or whole wheat)
4 c mozzarella cheese
1/2 parmesan cheese
4-6 oz turkey pepperoni

1.  Spritz a large pot with olive oil.  I found a natural olive oil in a can that I like.  Some day I'll splurge for a real spritzer.  Saute meat, garlic onion and veggies over medium heat until meat is cooked and veggies are soft.  Make sure you break up the meat as you cook it.  Drain well.
2.  In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions, but under cook by 2-3 minutes.  Drain.
3.  Add sauces, mushrooms and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese to meat and veggies.  Mix well and stir in pasta.  Divide evenly between 2 9x13" pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Top each dish with pepperoni.
4.  Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 or cover and freeze.  To cook from from frozen, thaw in fridge and then bake as normal. 

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