A few weeks ago, I mentioned my super-awesome, life-saving, couldn’t-live-without-it freezer club. If you are a time-crunched parent who all too often finds yourself scrounging around for dinner at the last minute, I highly recommend you start a freezer club.
There are four of us in my club, including me. We each pick one freezable recipe every month and make four family-sized meals (about three to four adult-sized portions each). We keep one for ourselves, and give one to each of the other members. This works out to one freezer meal per week, and everything is so much better than any pre-packaged, frozen food from the grocery store. Thankfully all of my friends in the club are excellent cooks, so it’s fun to try what everyone comes up with. And none of us are picky eaters or have particularly finicky children or spouses, so it’s always open season for ingredients. We also have an “honesty policy” and let each other know if a meal wasn’t particularly delicious to prevent it from showing up again. Everyone’s cool with this, so no hurt feelings.
I’ll be sharing these recipes under the OAMC (once-a-month cooking) category and I hope you find them useful. Everything in this category should keep well in the freezer for three to four months. They’re great recipes to make for people with new babies, or to stock up in your own freezer before a new little one arrives.
First up is one of my family’s favorite meals — freezer club or otherwise. A couple years ago, I randomly tried the enchilada sauce recipe in my Vitamix cookbook and was hooked. We haven’t had canned sauce since then. I’ve made a few small changes to suit our tastes (the additions of cayenne, cinnamon, and onion). It’s definitely worth the time to make your own! Of course, if you’re in a time crunch, you always can use your favorite canned variety, too. I won’t judge. Happy freezing!
Freezer Chicken Enchiladas
(A combination of several recipes; mainly from Cook’s Illustrated and Vitamix)
Some tips before you get started (courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated):
- Freeze the rolled enchiladas and sauce separately; otherwise they will turn into a mushy mess.
- Spray the tortillas with vegetable oil cooking spray and briefly heat them in the oven to make them pliant enough to roll easily.
- Bake the enchiladas while still frozen. Defrosting them leads to a dried-out texture once baked.
- Partially bake the enchiladas “naked,” or without sauce. A light coat of vegetable oil spray will keep the tortillas from drying out too much.
- For a simple fix, use leftover cooked chicken or a store-bought rotisserie chicken in this recipe. Serve with avocado, pickled jalapeños, shredded lettuce, and/or sour cream.
- 8 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- 8 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
- 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 lb. frozen corn kernels (one bag)
- 20 (6-inch) flour tortillas
- Cooking spray
Sauce Ingredients (makes about six cups)
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ white onion, chopped
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1/3 cup chili powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- To make the sauce: Place all sauce ingredients into large blender or food processor in order listed and secure lid. Turn machine on high and blend thoroughly. Pour into saucepan and bring to boil on the stove over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, continuing to stir frequently. Transfer to heat-safe bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
- To begin making the enchiladas, toss the shredded chicken with two cups sauce, four cups cheese, beans, and corn.
- Place five tortillas on baking sheet and lightly coat both sides with cooking spray. Bake tortillas until just pliable, about 2 minutes. Working quickly, transfer one tortilla at a time to work surface, fill with 1/3 cup chicken mixture, and roll tightly. Transfer, seam side down, to large plate or cookie sheet. Repeat warming and rolling process with remaining tortillas. Place plate in freezer until enchiladas are frozen, at least one hour.
- Divide remaining sauce and cheese into four portions each and package separately in quart-size Ziploc bags (eight bags total — about one cup of cheese and one cup of sauce per bag). Tightly wrap enchiladas in bundles of five, first in plastic and then in foil. Place one portion each of five enchiladas, one bag of cheese, and one bag of sauce into a gallon-size Ziploc. You will have four meals total. Freeze for up to three months.
- When ready to serve: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. To remove sauce from bag, run warm over the bag for about a minute, then break up sauce and place into a saucepan. Warm on stove over medium, stirring frequently.
- Coat 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange frozen enchiladas in single layer in baking dish and coat tops with cooking spray. Bake until tops of tortillas are just beginning to flake, about 20 minutes. Remove dish from oven, top enchiladas with sauce, and bake 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle enchiladas with remaining cheese and bake until cheese melts and center of casserole is hot and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!