Divas on a Dine: Prepare for the holiday crush with easy freezer meals

If we are what we eat, then I’m fast, easy and cheap. Now that the holiday season is upon us, we need to be prepared for times when we simply can’t make a healthy dinner from scratch. Rather than hitting the drive-thru, let’s stock the freezer with shortcut suppers.

For fast and easy, bake a whole mess of chicken, shred it into freezer bags and have creative ideas for serving. For cheap, use the least expensive, most flavorful cut of chicken; the leg quarter.

Usually available for less than a dollar per pound, you can also find leg quarters in frozen 10-pound bags, bringing the price even lower. An afternoon baking a bunch of chicken is time well spent come crunch time.

Baked Chicken Leg Quarters

Leg quarters are easy to cook. My preferred method is oven baking, directions below. But they can be cooked in a crockpot, Dutch oven, even barbequed.

What You’ll Need:

4 leg quarters (about 6 lbs.)

Salt, garlic powder, lemon pepper seasoning

Here’s How:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking pan with foil and place a rack on the bottom. Liberally season both sides of quarters and place skin side up. Bake uncovered for one hour, then start checking for a temperature of 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh, continuing to cook until done. Let chicken cool enough to touch without pain. Pain is bad. Set yourself up with some good chicken shredding music and a beverage of your choice with a straw (because your hands are about to get messy) and start shredding chicken off the bone. Skin, no skin – your choice. I may or may not have eaten mine. Once you have a pile o’chicken, divide into zip-top bags and freeze.

To bake a frozen 10-pound bag, thaw first. This can take 48 hours so plan. Divide the quarters between two pans, bake for 90 minutes following directions above.

What to do with all this chicken? Well, let’s brainstorm. Chicken tostadas, burritos, enchiladas, chicken chili, chicken noodle soup, chicken veggie soup, chicken salad, chicken wrap sandwiches, chicken alfredo pasta, chicken parm, barbecue chicken sandwiches, or delicious chicken and rice. Look!

Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Yield: 6 normal servings, 4 obnoxious servings

Time: 20 minutes active, 40 minutes total

What You’ll Need:

3 tablespoon olive oil – divided

1 cup onion – minced

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

2 ½ tablespoons flour

1 (14.5 oz.) can chicken broth

½ cup sour cream

3 cups shredded chicken

2 cups cooked rice

1 cup frozen peas and carrots – thawed

1 cup crushed potato chips (trust me)

Here’s How:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil, add onion and mushrooms and sauté until tender and browned. Add remaining oil and flour, cook for one minute. Whisking constantly, add broth and bring to boil. Stirring, add sour cream, chicken, rice, and veggies. Transfer mixture to dish and top with crushed potato chips. Bake 20 minutes. Serve. Bask in glory.

Holidays are stressful, don’t stress about dinner. You’ve got this, Diva.

Fabulous Food contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! – www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.