My goal between now and when our daughter is born is to put one meal per week in the freezer. We’ll see how many that adds up to (hopefully 4 or 5), but like I told Gerrit the other day I just have this sneaking suspicion that I am not going to make it the full 40 weeks. But putting meals in my freezer also means that I’ve been having to clean out my freezer to make room for them. And y’all, can we just talk about how bad I am at keeping my freezer organized?
Honestly for someone who loves to cook and who is known in my family as being extremely organized, it’s kind of embarrassing how bad my freezer is. I had to throw out meat that had been in there entirely too long (that one just makes me sad and ashamed), and chicken carcasses that I was saving for chicken stock (I think I just need to admit at this time and place in my life that homemade chicken stock is just not worth the hassle) and I haven’t even finished yet. I’m trying to cook what I can, but some things have been in there well past their freezer time allotment. (Related: let’s not talk about how cleaning out my pantry went a few weeks ago. We can just say that hopefully I am learning some good lessons about the food waste that has been going on in my house even without my realizing it.)
But now I have at least a little bit of room to stock my freezer up some, which is a good thing because in addition to what I want to put in my freezer my mom has also told me the meals she is bringing me and people at church have already mentioned meals, too. I get the impression that we are going to be doing just fine food-wise. (I really do have the best family and friends, and I am continually overwhelmed by the generosity of people in our lives.)
Some other meals I plan on putting in the freezer:
penne with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes (or, as I like to call it, pizza pasta)
chicken poppyseed casserole
sweet corn and mascarpone lasagna
I am always on the lookout for non-tomato sauce pasta dishes and lasagnas, and while this lasagna does have some sun-dried tomatoes, they are sprinkled throughout the dish and are much sweeter than a regular tomato. You can make this in a 9 x 13 pan, but the size is flexible as I made it in 2 smaller square pans, one that we ate the other night and one that went in my freezer.
- For the chicken:
- 3 chicken breasts
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
- For the filling:
- 1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 3 cups milk, warmed
- Kosher salt
- To finish:
- 3/4 lb. lasagna noodles (9-12 noodles)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Begin by baking the chicken. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and drizzle both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place a little bit of water in the bottom of the pan to help keep the chicken moist. Bake for 30 minutes. Then remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes, or until you can handle it.
- Chop the chicken into small cubes and place in a large bowl. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, milk, salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir to combine, until all the chicken is coated and the mixture is spreadable.
- To make the bechemel sauce, heat the butter over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Then slowly begin adding in the milk, at first just a tablespoon at a time and gradually begin adding more with each addition. Continue to whisk as you add the milk. Each time the mixture begins to thicken, add more milk. (You might need to increase your heat just a bit to help the sauce along as it thickens). Once all the milk has been added, season with salt, pepper, and pinch of nutmeg (taste to make sure it is seasoned well), and cook, stirring almost constantly, until the sauce has thickened. Then lower the heat to keep warm, and continue to come back and stir it occasionally to prevent a film from developing on top.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles for about 8-10 minutes, until they are pliable but not cooked all the way through. Then drain. (Tip: If you decide to cook your noodles earlier in this recipe, toss them with a bit of olive oil after draining them to prevent them from sticking together.)
- Now you can assemble the lasagna. Ladle a bit of the sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish. Then build three layers in the following order: noodles, filling, bechemel sauce, Parmesan cheese.
- Bake the lasagna at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. Serve warm.