Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kickin' Cranberry Chicken

I'm not usually one to laud the practice of filling the freezer with extra meals, because it seems I can't ever convince myself that there is time in my life to devote to the actual filling part of the whole process. Before we left for our trip however, it became necessary for me to be converted. We've passed the half-way mark of our time away (and of eating almost exclusively what we brought with us for dinner) and I'm here to tell ya that the lack of stress involved in feeding my pack of hungry eaters because of the front end work of bagging and tagging and freezing our meals is WORTH IT!!

As school starts and schedules fill and life returns to a more ambitious pace, what my family needs and maybe yours does too, is an easy fix-ahead and freeze-an-extra sorta dinner solution. As we prepared to be away a few weeks ago I scoured my collection of cookbooks to find easy freezing and portable in a flat freezer bag meals. Of the twenty or so that we brought with us, this cranberry chicken meal was easily the easiest and even the cranberry-shy among us gave it a happy thumbs up. 

Kickin' Cranberry Chicken

{printable HERE}

Here's what you'll need:

6 skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs or a combination of both cut into serving size portions.
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 cup Catalina dressing (Russian dressing will also work)

Here's what to do:

If you are preparing for your freezer:

With a permanent marker write the following on a gallon freezer bag: "Cranberry Chicken, date, thaw then bake @350 for 90 minutes". You really do want to do this first if you are making this to feed your freezer because after you put the chicken and sauce in the bag, it's much more difficult to write on the bag. 

Cut partially thawed* chicken pieces into serving size portions and then place in the freezer zip top bag and set aside. (*NOTE: Some of those individually frozen chicken breasts that come in the mongo bag from the freezer section are huge. They realistically make two portions for an adult. I usually allow the chicken to partially thaw which is the ideal time to cut it because cutting a partially thawed piece of chicken is so very much easier than trying to slice into the gooey slipperiness that is a thawed chicken breast or thigh!) 

In a medium bowl combine the other three ingredients and stir well. 

Pour mixture into the freezer bag over the chicken portions.

Allow as much air as possible out of the bag and seal it.  

Lay the bag on a large plate or platter or even on a cookie sheet; anything that will fit in your freezer and allow your creation to freeze flat which both allows for quicker thawing and more efficient storage in your freezer (or cooler) once it has frozen. 

When you are ready to enjoy cranberry chicken for your dinner set your flat freezer bag in the fridge in the morning to thaw. If I need to hurry along the thawing process I'll sometimes set it on the counter top though I'm not sure the FDA would approve. Once your cranberry chicken has thawed, dump it into a sprayed casserole dish (9x13 works well).

Toss it into a 350 oven for 90 minutes. This dish comes with lots of yummy sauce that goes well over rice or mashed potatoes or even noodles.

If you are making this for dinner tonight...

Place chicken pieces in a sprayed casserole dish. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and stir well. Pour the mixture over the chicken in the casserole dish and bake at 350 for 90 minutes. This dish comes with lots of yummy sauce that goes well over rice or mashed potatoes or even noodles.

There was precious little of this dish left over when we enjoyed it on our travels, so I was glad to have doubled the recipe. If you are planning on feeding less than six, one recipe should serve you just fine. This is such a simple recipe to have in your back pocket and I plan on making two or three more recipes to have on hand for the upcoming fall. 

Here's to feeding your family AND your freezer!

1 comment:

G'ma suz said...

Guess what I'm fixing for din din tonight!!
(If $ General has Onion soup mix) Dad will get it!! Thanks! Mom

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