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Thread: Thawing frozen casseroles

  1. #1

    Thawing frozen casseroles

    I will be having 20 people over for 2 days and will not have time to cook while they are there. We will have people sleeping all over the place. I will be making several different casserole dishes and will freeze them.

    How would I handle the thawing and reheating? I will not have place in the refrigerator to thaw them there, but I can put them in a cooler, or else I can put them in the snow outside (although it is much too cold outside to thaw).

    Should I put the frozen casseroles in the cooler the day before? How long before the meal should I put them in the oven to reheat? At what temperature should I put it, sort of a one temperature fits all average. Can I put say 6 casserole dishes in at once?

    This is the first time I have so many people over at once. I'm a nervous wreck so I can really use your advice. This gathering is not about food, so everyone will be very understanding.

    Daniele
    newcook

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    East Tennessee
    Posts
    3,554
    Most casseroles you can just put in the oven frozen. That would probably be the easiest solution. You will need to leave some extra cooking time, and bake them covered a good part of the time so the top doesn't get dried out or too brown. I usually add about 30-45 minutes (err on the side of adding too much time, since you can always take the casseroles out and let them stand for a while if they are done earlier -- they will stay hot for quite a while). If you bake them before you freeze them, then you will need probably at least an hour to get them thawed out and hot (I usually freeze then bake, so I just add to the regular cooking time). I think 350-375 is probably a good safe temperature that will work for most casseroles. As far as putting several dishes in at once, you can certainly do it but things will take longer to cook/heat and may not heat as evenly if you overcrowd it.

    Can you adjust your menu any to make things easier? For example, could you do one or two dishes in the crockpot or on the stovetop?

    Claire

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Rochester NY area
    Posts
    2,625
    I put casseroles in the oven frozen all the time. My biggest hint is -- don't put a (Pyrex/Corning/etc.) baking dish directly from the freezer into a hot oven as it will crack. Just put the casserole in the unpreheated oven and then turn on the oven to whatever temperature you wish. As Claire said, you'll want to cover it for most of the time and cook it longer than usual.

    Even for 20 people, I don't know why you'd have to put 6 casseroles in the oven at a time. If you make two large casserole dishes and supplement it with bread and salad, you should be ok. Come to think of it, would your oven even fit 6 casseroles?

    I would have lots of easy, no-fuss stuff on hand -- fruits, bagels with cream cheese, hunks of cheese with crackers, cut-up veggies with dip, etc.

    Do tell - why will you have 20 people staying with you?

  4. #4
    Thanks for the good advice. I thought the casserole type dishes would be the easiest because they already include meat and vegetables in one. Also my fridge will be jammed packed with juices, fruits, soft drinks and with breakfast foods, so I can't keep anything extra in there. My fridge always seems to be full even when I don't have so many people over. I managed to empty my small freezer over the last month, so I have freezer space.

    The gathering is sort of a meeting type of thing, so we will all be sitting for the meetings and will break for lunch and supper. I will not have time to do any preparation at all, so I thought the casseroles would be the quickest way. I can just pop them in the oven and return to the meeting. We will be eating out of paper plates sort of buffet style because my table only sits 6. We can't order in because most of the people couldn't afford it, and I can't afford to order in for everyone. This is already becoming a more expensive proposition than I originally thought.

    I think if I can put the casseroles in from frozen would be the best. Do you recommend then that I not bake the casseroles before freezing them?

    Daniele
    newcook

  5. #5
    We are all a bunch of people who wanted to experience more of church life than say going to church. What I mean is that we wanted church to be all of life rather than somewhere we go to. We found out that there are a few communities that actually do this. They all move close together in a neighbourhood and meet in their homes. There is no clergy as such, but they have someone from outside come and help them from time to time.

    So one of the men (from Philadelphia) who help the people will be coming to meet with us to help us try to achieve that dream. We don't know if we will be able to do it, but we at least would like to be more realistic about it and to find out what it really takes to make such a drastic move.

    Now back to the food. I thought each casserole dish serves maybe 6. I just wanted to make more food because I would hate to not have enough. I will probably not need to put more than 4 casseroles in at once. I think you are right that I probably can't fit 6 in there, I never even thought of checking. I will have at least 4 people plus myself for Friday night dinner, the others will arrive after breakfast on Saturday morning. So I need to have enough food for Friday dinner 5 people, then lunch and Supper Saturday for 20 people, and lunch Sunday 20 people, and maybe 5 people for supper Sunday evening.

    I'm sure some of them will bring bread, salads and desserts and other side dish type of things that don't need to be heated up. We will have to keep alot of those things in coolers or in the snow, but it should be OK.

    Daniele
    newcook

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Missouri
    Posts
    7,088
    If you have coolers and snow, why not empty the drinks out of the frig to free up space? If you think they will freeze outside, what about putting them in the garage or in the trunk of a car. We use our garage as a second refrigerator at many family gatherings for things that just need to be cold (like sodas) but will not go bad if the temp isn't controlled closely.
    kathyb


    Less rhetoric, more cowbell!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Rochester NY area
    Posts
    2,625
    Wow, Daniele, sounds like quite a meeting. I'm sure you'll have a good idea of how you feel about each other by having 20 under one roof!

    I agree with Kathy B. about the beverages. When I'm low on freezer space, the beverages go in the garage. You could do the same with a cooler in the snow. Most fruits can be left out on the counter if you're consuming within a couple of days.

    As for whether to bake first, it depends on what you're making. If it were a quiche (something that freezes great), you bake first. Lasagna, no. Do you know which casseroles you're planning on?

  8. #8
    I was thinking of making the Afghani noodle casserole, the Barbara's chicken pot pie, the chicken bake (I don't remember the name) but it is really good with chicken and mushrooms and rice pilaf and cheese and olives, the artichoke and chickpeas with pesto, the eggplant and beef pie. I think that is it but I would have to check my list when I get home. I'll also make a few desserts, the gooey apple sheet cake (my favorite), the mystery pecan pie but in tartlet form (I made them that way at Christmas and they were a huge hit), and some cupcake recipes from the cupcake thread, there was a chocolate one and I thought I might try the boston cream ones.

    I'm leaving the salads and breads and sides and drinks for others to bring. I will make the baked oatmeal for the breakfast, and I haven't decided what else. I think I will get bagels and cream cheese and a fruit plate or something and keep it simple. I'm working full time (and live alone) so it is a lot to pull off with the housework and all and only one week to go. Yikes! but in the end it should be lots of fun if nothing else

    So, which would you cook first and which would you freeze uncooked? I guess I should find the exact recipes first, I know they are all posted here because this is where I get all of my good recipes.

    Daniele
    newcook

  9. #9
    These are the recipes I was thinking about. Which would you cook first then freeze and which would you freeze without cooking?

    I live in a townhouse so the garage and parking lot is quite far away from my unit. It may be fine to keep them in the coolers in the snow, it will depend on how cold it happens to be that day.


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Afghani Meat And Noodle Casserole

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Beef Casseroles
    Keeper

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    2 cups fat-free yogurt
    2 large leek -- chopped
    3 tablespoons butter
    1 pound lean ground beef
    2 large onion -- chopped
    2 cups tomato sauce
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon coriander
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    12 ounces lasagna noodles -- broken
    3 cloves garlic -- chopped
    1 tablespoon mint

    Saute leeks in butter for 5 minutes. Add meat and brown, add onions and saute until golden, add tomato sauce, salt, coriander, cumin, pepper and cayenne, simmer 30 minutes. cook noodles as directed. combine yogut and garlic, stir well. Butter a 13x9 inch baking pan, put half yogurt on the bottom, layer with 1/2 noodles, 1/2 meat sauce, repeat ending in meat sauce. sprinkle mint over top and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

    Source:
    "CL BB"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 564 Calories; 23g Fat (36.4% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 62g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 74mg Cholesterol; 853mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 3 Fat.


    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Chicken And Wild Rice Casserole 1

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Casseroles Chicken
    Keeper

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    1 cup grated cheese
    1/2 cup chopped green olives
    1 can mushrooms -- (1 oz) including juice (or a box of those pre-sliced fresh mushrooms) (1 to 4)
    1/4 cup chopped onions
    1/4 cup butter -- (i have omitted the butter with excellent results)
    1 package uncle ben’s long grain and wild rice original recipe flavor
    2 1/2 cups water
    2 cups cooked chicken -- (can be omitted for a vegetarian version or as a side dish)
    1/2 cup sliced almonds -- toasted (optional, add after cooking)

    Mix all the ingredients except the almonds together and place in a greased 9” x 13” casserole. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 1 1/2 hours or until all the water is absorbed. Add the almonds after cooking, if desired. Mix lightly

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 555 Calories; 36g Fat (57.5% calories from fat); 36g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 120mg Cholesterol; 803mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 4 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 6 Fat.


    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 902678 0 0 0 1523 0 0 0


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Beef And Eggplant Pie

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Beef Keeper

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    1 eggplant -- (1 large eggplant or 2 small)
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    3/4 pounds ground sirloin
    1/2 cups finely chopped onions
    2 clove garlic -- minced
    8 ounces tomato sauce
    1 tablespoons dried oregano
    1 teaspoons salt
    1/8 teaspoons pepper
    1 pie shell -- unbaked, 9-inch
    1 cups shredded lowfat mozzarella cheese

    Cut the eggplant into 1-inch thick slices. Salt the eggplant and let it drain for 20 minutes in a colander in the sink. After 20 minutes, rinse the eggplant slices and blot dry with paper towels. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. You should have about 3 to 4 cups of cubed eggplant. In a small skillet, saute eggplant in oil until tender and browned. In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add cooked egplant, tomato sauce, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

    Pierce pastry shell with a fork. Add beef mixture. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 399 Calories; 26g Fat (57.7% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 918mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 4 Fat.


    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Barley Pilaf With Artichoke Hearts

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Beans Grains
    Keeper

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    2 cups warm water
    1 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 can quartered artichoke hearts -- (14-ounce) drained and rinsed
    1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
    2 tablespoons commercial pesto
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    15 ounces chickpeas (garbanzo beans) -- 1 can drained and rinsed
    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese -- (2 ounces)

    Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 3 minutes. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until tender.
    While barley cooks, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add artichokes and garlic. Sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

    Stir pesto, lemon juice, and chickpeas into the cooked barley. Serve artichoke mixture over barley; top with cheese.

    Description:
    "A serving of this meatless main dish offers nearly a third of an adult's suggested daily requirement of fiber. Serve with cherry tomatoes tossed with a bottled vinaigrette."
    Ratings : top rating 0
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 408 Calories; 12g Fat (26.4% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 60g Carbohydrate; 12g Dietary Fiber; 10mg Cholesterol; 715mg Sodium. Exchanges: 4 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

    NOTES :
    Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup barley mixture, 1/4 cup artichoke mixture, and 2 tablespoons cheese)

    NUTRITION PER SERVING
    CALORIES 405 (28% from fat); FAT 12.6g (sat 4g, mono 6.1g, poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 17.5g; CARB 57.8g; FIBER 8.7g; CHOL 12mg; IRON 3.5mg; SODIUM 825mg; CALC 267mg;

    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 2151 0 0 903025 0 4449 0 2603 0


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Chicken Pot Pie Casserole 3

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Casseroles Chicken

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    3 cups cooked chicken -- cubed
    4 cups frozen peas and carrots
    salt & pepper
    1 can cream of chicken soup (or cream of mushroom or celery)
    1 stick butter -- melted
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 cup self-rising flour

    Poach chicken in water or broth with the onion, celery, and carrot that have been cut into several chunks. Allow chicken to cool; remove skin, debone, and cut meat into bite-size chunks. Strain stock and reserve ¾ cup; discard vegetables and reserve remaining stock for another use.

    Spread chicken in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Top with peas and carrot slices, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Whisk together soup and ¾ cup stock and pour over chicken and vegetables. Whisk together butter, buttermilk, and flour and gently pour on top of mixture in baking dish. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 435 Calories; 22g Fat (44.9% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 106mg Cholesterol; 920mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 3 1/2 Fat.

    NOTES : It is not light, but you could lighten it somewhat by using light soup. I've not tried to make it with a reduced amount of butter, so I'm not sure how the crust would come out if you did.

    Also, you can simply use a roasted chicken and canned chicken stock instead of poaching the chicken yourself.





    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 2946 0 0 0


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Spaghetti Pie

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Casseroles Keeper
    Main Dish

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    1 pound ground round
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    2 cans tomato sauce with garlic -- (8-ounce)
    1 1/2 cups low-fat sour cream
    1/2 cup chopped green onions
    1/4 cup light cream cheese -- softened
    4 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
    cooking spray
    1 1/3 cups shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese -- (about 5 ounces)

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Cook meat in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well, and return meat to pan. Stir in salt, pepper, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Combine the sour cream, green onions, and cream cheese in a small bowl, and set aside. Place the spaghetti
    noodles in a 2-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the sour cream mixture over spaghetti noodles. Top with meat mixture.
    Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

    Description:
    "Though it's really a deep-dish casserole, many Midwesterners lovingly refer to this recipe as Spaghetti Pie."
    Source:
    "CL BB"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 473 Calories; 20g Fat (38.5% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 75mg Cholesterol; 910mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

    NOTES : You can substitute plain tomato sauce and add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, if desired.

    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 1506 0 0 0 2845 0 56587
    newcook

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Rochester NY area
    Posts
    2,625
    I can only comment on two.

    The chicken pot pie -- cook first.
    The chicken and wild rice -- cook first.

    My suggestion would be to cut down on the number of casseroles you are making. I would just make a triple batch of two different casseroles -- one for one night, and one for the other. It would be a whole lot less time consuming.

    You don't need to serve something as heavy as a casserole for lunches. Could you do a soup or chili in a crock pot for those?

    I sure hope these people recognize and appreciate all your hard work!

  11. #11
    Well I just thought I would post about my weekend experience.

    I ended up making 2 9X13 casseroles of Afghani noodle bake, 2 9x13 casseroles of chicken pot pie casserole, 1 9X13 Chicken And Wild Rice Casserole, 1 Beef And Eggplant Pie, 1 9x13 Barley Pilaf With Artichoke Hearts which is a double recipe, then one 9x13 Goey apple sheet cake, and 24 tarts of Mystery pecan pie.

    The favorites were the Afghani noodle casserole, and the Goey apple sheet cake.

    I had just enough food, there is only a little leftovers. Others brought the drinks, the bread, 3 salads and some desserts. We ended up with about 40 people but they were not all there at the same time. At any one time there were 15 people tops. I had 5 of them sleeping over, the others either went back home, or slept at someone else's house. The pleasant surprise is that everyone decided to come and have breakfast with us on Saturday morning and they brought all of the food.

    It ended up taking about 1 1/2 hours to heat the frozen casseroles.

    All in all it went very well. I was a bit of a nervous wreck until after the first lunch.

    I would really like to thank you for your help, honestly, I couldn't have done it without your reassurance.

    Daniele
    newcook

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