Friday, January 7, 2011

Planning Ahead with Freezer Meals


by Lois Breneman

Freezing meals ahead of time saves a substantial amount of time, energy and dollars, plus it's fun to do! By planning ahead we are all more likely to serve our families healthier meals as well. There will be no need to order pizza or be frustrated over what to serve your family or guests at the last minute, when you have your freezer stocked with a variety of great tasting meals.

This is a wonderful opportunity to get your preteens and teens involved in the assembling. It's fun to do and they will learn a lot just by pitching in where needed. Having the skill of cooking will come in handy even before your child leaves home, as they will be able to take over and cook meals with or without your help! They might even offer meal suggestions for the next assembly day!

There are good books available to help us make an entire month's worth of meals for our family in one or two days, and you may want to go that route. But for me, I find it much easier, less confusing, and more economical to concentrate on one dish at a time, and mix up multiple meals of that one casserole or dish to freeze. By "multiple," I mean I use a large dishpan to mix up an entire dishpan of meatloaf or a casserole in one day. In this way you get the benefit of the lowest meat prices. If you see ground chuck at a rock bottom price, that's the time to make a dishpan full of meatloaf or a casserole using ground chuck. When turkey breasts, chicken, roast beef or pork loins are on sale, use a recipe calling for that particular meat. When potatoes or sweet potatoes are at their lowest price, use a mashed potato recipe below, and freeze for later. Potatoes freeze well when mashed, although whole or cut up potatoes become mushy, so avoid freezing them unless mashed.

Before our third baby was born, I had eighty-three meals in the freezer, hoping to spend afternoons at the park while dinner was cooking in the oven. Meatloaf counted as a meal, and of course, a starch and vegetable were added later, but those meals did indeed come in handy, when I had to spend an entire month in the hospital, due to an inflamed sciatic nerve beginning  a few days after childbirth!  But that's another story.

Someone asked where I got that many casserole dishes. I used my Corning ware casseroles over and over, by freezing the food in them, then running hot water over the bottom of the dish and popping out the casserole with a sharp knife. The food was then wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, labeled, and stuck back into the freezer. The day before cooking that casserole, it was peeled out of the wrapping, placed back into the casserole dish to thaw in the refrigerator or defrost in the microwave and baked. So you see, you don't necessarily need a huge amount of casserole dishes.

You will probably want to quadruple many of these recipes to freeze. The first two casserole recipes below have been made in a dishpan and frozen for our family many times over the years! I hope you find all these recipes helpful in saving yourself time, energy, and dollars for years to come! Someday when it's just the two of you again, you can still freeze meals ahead. But then you will use smaller casserole dishes and the food will just last longer! I know some of you are already back to "two" again as we are.

4 pounds ground chuck
4 small cans tomato sauce
16 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
2 Tbsp. minced green pepper
1/4 cup minced onion
4 cups egg noodles, cooked

Cook ground chuck; drain fat. Mix tomato sauce with meat. Mix together the three cheeses, pepper and onion. Layer in large casserole dish:

1/2 egg cooked noodles
cheese mixture
remaining noodles
meat mixture Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

This is a recipe from my high school home economics class. We made this casserole, in assembly line style, for a faculty luncheon. My job was to grate the onions for ten batches! Tearful fun! Over the years I have used turkey breasts (on sale), cooked in the slow cooker, for this recipe - economical and easy to bone.

1 1/4 cup 2" spaghetti pieces (linguine is a good choice)
1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked turkey (chicken is fine as well)
1/4 cup minced pimento
1/4 cup minced green pepper
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup turkey broth
1/8 tsp. celery salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 grated small onion
1 1/2 cup grated natural cheddar cheese (6 oz.)

Cook pasta until barely tender. Drain, rinse with hot water, and drain well.
Add remaining ingredients except 1/2 cup grated cheese. Toss lightly; taste, add more seasoning if necessary.
Pour into 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated cheese.
Bake casserole (covered) for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Makes 4 servings.


Cook a large Dutch oven (6 qt.) full of brown rice, using a little more than twice as much water as rice. It takes 45 minutes of simmering time. While the rice simmers, put olive oil in a large nonstick pan. Add plenty of finely chopped carrots. I chop mine in the food processor. After the carrots soften up a bit, add plenty of chopped onions to the carrots, and cook both until tender. Lots of vegetables give added flavor, texture, and nutrition.

After the rice is tender, put it into a basin, and add the vegetable mixture.
I add some tarragon which gives it a yellow color. A large jar of chopped pimiento adds additional color and flavor. Pour in some dried dill weed, sweet basil or chopped parsley. Add salt, pepper and onion powder. Stir well and freeze.

Note: for less sticky rice, you may want to rinse the cooked rice in a colander with cold water before mixing with the vegetables.


Prep time: 40 minutes, including cook time. Using a hand-held immersion blender saves time and reduces clean-up. For more variety, butternut squash is a perfect substitute for carrots, with lots of vitamin A in both.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. carrots, about 7-8 large, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. butter spread with canola oil
5 c. low-sodium chicken broth
nutmeg and ground pepper

In Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan, melt butter spread over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Do not brown. Add carrots and ginger and sauté another 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until carrots are tender and pierce easily with fork. Using hand-held immersion blender, blend soup in pan until mixture is pureed/smooth. If an immersion blender is not available, transfer the contents of the pot in batches to a blender and puree, then return to pot to warm. Garnish with sprinkle of nutmeg and ground pepper. Makes: 4 servings


Yield: 24 muffins (Of course, most baked products freeze very well.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (Sucanat can be substituted as a natural sugar)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup applesauce
2 cups grated carrots
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup undrained crushed pineapple

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 12-cup muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, soda and salt.
3. In a small bowl mix eggs and applesauce and add to flour mixture. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
4. Fold in carrots, pecans and pineapple. Stir until blended.
5. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
6. Cool in tins for 10 minutes before removing.

Increase the amount as much as you'd like! These freeze well for later! All you need to do is thaw, heat and stir! 

5 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove (with all the segments)

Roast the garlic in a small covered ovenproof container with the olive oil for approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees. Roasting the garlic clove removes the strong odor and adds wonderful flavor to the olive oil. Peel and crush the roasted garlic. Cook the potatoes, mash, and add the crushed, roasted garlic and olive oil. Add butter and milk as needed. Freeze in casseroles. When ready to use, thaw, heat and stir!

Put either a turkey breast, pork loin, or beef roast in a slow cooker. Spread evenly over the top of meat: a stirred mixture of a can of cream of mushroom soup and a packet of dried onion soup mix. (No water!) Cook on LOW for 10-12 hours for a delicious melt-in-your mouth meal! Freeze in meal-sized portions for many delicious meals later!

Place one or more pork loins in slow cooker. Cook several hours until you are able to remove some of the fat from the top, using a ladle. To remove even more fat, wrap ice cubes with paper towels for dipping into the slow cooker. Add barbecue sauce, and liquid smoke if you'd like. Cook a total of 10-12 hours for very tender and delicious meat. Allow to cool and pull apart with fingers. Freeze in meal-sized portions. When ready to serve, thaw, heat and serve on hamburger buns.

Marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a marinade of Italian dressing with oregano, onion salt, garlic powder and cilantro sprinkled in. It's fun to try various herb combinations. Grill on both sides until juices run clear. Freeze in meal-sized portions.

Marinate 12-20 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 24 thighs in a marinade of 1 cup lemon juice, 2 T. soy sauce, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. oregano, 2 tsp. minced onion, dehydrated, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or more).

Note: Since one whole chicken breast is more than one person needs for a serving, I like to slice each one in half, horizontally through the middle, creating thin slices. Baking time should be decreased if slicing them.

Make a marinade of all the ingredients, except chicken. Pour over chicken and marinate overnight or longer in a large zip-lock bag.. Grill until partially browned (about 5-10 minutes on each side).Chicken does not need to be done clear through. Place grilled chicken in a casserole and add some of the marinade. Cover with foil. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees. This is a great recipe to do in large quantities to freeze. It just needs baked then, and it tastes like you just grilled it!

An herbal mixture to mix together for spicing up many recipes:
Mix the following spices together: Lemon pepper, onion salt, Mrs. Dash, oregano, poultry seasoning, hickory salt, garlic powder. Put in a spice container, with a shaker lid. Sprinkle onto chicken for extra special flavor as it is browned in olive oil. This is even good sprinkled lightly on a garden salad.

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a large baking dish (in oven or microwave). Put 1 1/4 cup of brown rice on the bottom of the dish. Stir in 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Lay 10 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the casserole dish. Heat 1 can each of cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup, cream of chicken soup, onion soup, beef consomme', 1 soup can of water and 1/2 cup cooking wine vinegar. Pour heated soups over the chicken. Sprinkle 2 ounces of Parmesan cheese on top. Bake covered at 275 degrees for 3 hours. (If you'd like, you could uncover the dish for the last half hour or just sprinkle a little paprika and dill over the chicken before serving). This is a good dish to bake in your oven while you are at Sunday school and church, as well as a great company casserole. Note: You can use any combination of soups you'd like. It's a versatile recipe.


Time, energy and food dollars are extremely valuable to every wife and mother. Here is one way you can save lots of time, energy and food dollars, yet have some outstanding meals! You will find you can save so much time by preparing multiple meals of the same dish. You may want to save these prepared meals for special meals for your family or for guests. Keep several different meals in the freezer to pull when your time is limited. All of the following meat dishes are unusually delicious, and tasty enough for special occasion family meals or company meals. To complete your meal, just add a starch such as potatoes, brown rice, or p
asta, plus a vegetable! Or add a vegetable and green salad - maybe whole grain bread, if you'd like.

When a particular type of meat goes on sale, consider making several family meals of a recipe using that meat, and wait for other varieties of meat to go on sale before freezing in large quantities.

Zipped freezer bags are a tremendous convenience in preparing dishes ahead, without taking so many baking dishes out of commission. For filling a bag without the top caving in, place it into an empty coffee can (large or small, depending on the size of the bag used). Turn the top of the bag over the edge of the can to make filling the bag much easier. The bags also pack better in the freezer than casserole dishes.

The following recipes, first assemble all the ingredients for each dish you are preparing in large quantity. For these dishes, there is no cooking before freezing - only assembling into the Ziploc bags indicated. Use the appropriate sized Ziplock bags for assembling.
Flash freeze or at least chill the bags of food by laying them out flat on the freezer coils. For each recipe, wrap all the bags for that meal together with plastic wrap. Include a label and cooking directions. I've had lots of help with these recipes from my daughter, Joy, and daughter-in-law, Rachael, so thanks again, girls! Each dish below yields six servings. In general, figure 1/4 pound of boneless meat per serving.

Bag #1
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup plain low fat yogurt

Bag #2
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup ground pecans
4 Tbsp. liquid margarine
1. In the Ziploc bag with chicken, add all ingredients for Bag #1.
2. In a separate smaller bag, add all ingredients for Bag #2.
3. Wrap with label for directions:

1. Thaw frozen package in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Pour crust mixture on a plate.
4. Remove chicken from marinade and press onto crust mixture to coat both sides. Discard marinade.
5. Spray cooking sheet with cooking oil and place chicken breasts on a baking sheet.
6. Bake chicken at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes until it's crisp, brown and cooked through.
7. Check chicken after 15 minutes and reduce heat to 400 degrees if it is getting too dark or place a piece of foil over the top.


Ziploc Gallon Bag #1
1 1/2 # 1 pork tenderloin
1/4 Dijon mustard

Ziploc Gallon Bag #2
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup ground pecans
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme

Thaw in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put pork tenderloin into the bag of breadcrumb mixture, and shake bag to completely cover the meat. in a crust. Place tenderloin in a large baking dish and bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until done.


Ziploc Bag # 1
1 1/2 # flank steak
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarse ground peppercorn melange

Ziploc Bag # 2
1/2 cup butter
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. coarse ground peppercorn melange

Thaw in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Grilling Method: Grill steak 8-9 minutes for (rare/medium rare) or 16-18 minutes (medium/medium well), turning once during cooking time.
Broiling Method: Broil 8-10 minutes (rare/medium rare) or 16-18 minutes (medium/medium well) in oven 4-6


1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup spinach
2 Tbsp. steak seasoning

Directions: 1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the burgers.
2. Make turkey mixture into 6 patties.
3. Freeze or cook at this point.
4. If frozen, thaw in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Oven: Preheat oven to 375 degree and bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes or until juices run clear. Serve with buns.
Grill: Preheat grill to a medium-med.-high heat. Grill burgers for 12-15 minutes or until juices run clear, turning once. serve with buns.

Place in Gallon Ziploc Bag:
6 center cut pork chops (Chicken is a good replacement for pork)
2 Tbsp brown sugar (Or use natural sugar like sucanat)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. red cooking wine or apple juice

Thaw meat in refrigerator at least 24 hours before cooking.
Oven Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour entire package of bag into a baking dish and bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes.
Slow Cooker Method: Pour entire contents of bag plus 2 cups of water into slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

2 cups crab meat (or imitation crab)
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
2/3 cup liquid egg
4 tsp. Oriental chili garlic sauce
4 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
2 Tbsp. Ranch Dressing
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Mix all ingredients together and form into 12 crab cakes or 24 mini cakes for appetizers. Freeze for future use. When ready to use, thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Heat large stove top skillet with 4-6 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Cook crab cakes for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Ziploc Bag #1:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke

Ziploc Bag #2:
1/4 cup apple juice
2 cups hickory barbecue sauce
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and chopped

Thaw in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide sauce evenly into two bowls. Place chicken in a baking dish and discard marinade. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Brush one bowl of sauce over chicken and continue cooking an additional 15 minutes. Use second bowl for dipping.
Divide sauce evenly into two bowls. Grill chicken for 10-12 minutes, turning once. Brush one bowl of sauce over

Add to Ziploc Bag # 1 and mix in bag:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Small Ziploc Bag # 2
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Place marinated cubed chicken on metal skewers or wooden ones soaked in water for 30 minutes or more. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. If desired, spear a variety of vegetables with the chicken (mushrooms, bell peppers, and onion). Grill until cooked.

Add all ingredients to Ziploc Gallon Bag #1:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Add the following ingredients to Ziploc Gallon Bag # 2:
2 cups pineapple chunks
1 cup water chestnuts, sliced
1 1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Add the following to Ziploc quart bag # 3:
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup diced green onion
1/4 cup cornstarch

Brown chicken in oiled non-stick pan. Pour content of Bag # 2 into the pan and simmer until hot. Pour contents of Bag # 3 into a small bowl and stir. Pour over simmering chicken, and stir until sauce thickens. Serve over hot brown rice.

Sloppy Joes
Quiche Lorraine ~ I freeze this unbaked, stacked with light dinner plates in between, until frozen. When ready to use, thaw in fridge and bake according to directions.
Breakfast casseroles

Tips on How Not to Spend Your Entire Holiday in the Kitchen - Start Cooking Now!
by Lois Breneman, © 2003, Revised 2004, Heart to Heart Newsletter

Since we could all use extra hours around the holidays, any shortcuts we can apply in our kitchen will give us more time and energy to be used elsewhere - preferably with our families! Here are a few ways of trimming down our kitchen time and energy over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sweet potatoes can be cooked and mashed ahead of time, then frozen. We used to grow sweet potatoes in our garden and harvest several bushels at one time. That's when I learned to freeze them! Now when sweet potatoes are on sale, I like to stock up, because the prices fluctuate greatly. Autumn is when we find the best prices in the US. Bake the washed sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven or roaster pan with a small amount of water added for moisture. Bake at 350 F. for about an hour (check for tenderness). When cool enough to handle, peel, mash and freeze in freezer bags. It's as simple as that! I like to freeze sweet potatoes without salt or seasoning, so they can be used for sweet potato casseroles, bread, muffins and pies. Of course, freezing a casserole flavored with ingredients such as butter, salt, brown sugar (or sucanat), cinnamon or cranberries also works very well. It's wonderful to go to the freezer and take out a dish already prepared, except for thawing and heating! If you are able to freeze your casserole in the same dish you plan to set on the table, that saves even more time.

A last minute tip: Brown sugar or sucanat, from the health food store, placed around the outside edge of the casserole not only looks and tastes good, but it allows those who prefer not to have sugar to reach into the center for a scoop. Color and texture give the dish more appeal, so why not add chopped walnuts and/or dried cranberries, sprinkled around the edge or only in the center?

Five or ten pound bags of white potatoes are often "Buy One -- Get One Free," so in order to take advantage of these special prices, without them spoiling, you can cook, mash and freeze them for multiple casseroles to use later. Sometimes I cook the potatoes and mash them, adding some of the cooking liquid, butter and salt - and freeze them in a casserole dish until needed. Before serving them, I thaw the potatoes, heat them in the microwave, add a little milk as I mix them up with a potato masher and they are ready to serve! They can also be held over in the oven, covered, until the rest of the meal is ready.

Or here is a delicious and convenient recipe from the More-With-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. If your family does not like spinach, try substituting grated carrots or other vegetables, although it is very good plain, with vegetables served on the side. If potatoes are the only vegetable your children will eat, try mashing a few cooked carrots or some sweet potato in with the white potatoes. When I've done this, my family thought I had added cheese. For extra nutrition and a yellow tint, an egg can also be added as the potatoes are whipped. A sprinkle of dried dill weed mixed into the potatoes as well as over the cheese before (or after) baking adds extra flavor and color.

Cook and mash: 3-4 large potatoes.
Add: 1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar (given in recipe, but certainly not necessary)
1/4 cup butter
Add just enough milk to bring to proper consistency and beat until fluffy.
Add: 1/8 tsp. dill seed
2 tsp. chives, chopped
1 cup cooked spinach, well drained, chopped (optional)

Place in greased casserole and top with 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. May be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated, or make a double recipe and freeze half to add to a future oven meal. Or freeze now to use during the holidays!

(How easy can it get?)
1 #2 can crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 cup sour cream (Whipped cream could be substituted for all or half of the sour cream.)

Mix together and put in ice cube trays or in a 9x9 glass dish. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Freeze overnight. Cut into squares and serve as a salad with green lettuce beneath or serve as a dessert - maybe with a cookie on the side.

1 can whole cranberry sauce 1/2 cup sugar (Healthier - Splenda or NuStevia, but much less)
8 oz. crushed pineapple with juice, drained 1 cup chopped pecans
8 oz. sour cream (Whipped cream could be substituted for all or half of the sour cream.)
Mix together all ingredients and freeze in muffin cups.
*Note: Small pieces of banana mixed in is delicious too! Either cranberry recipe is a great make-ahead salad or dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas! Of course, either recipe can be frozen in a large mold, glass dish, muffin cups, custard cups or individual molds.

Using the best rolled gingerbread cookie recipe I've ever found, cut with round cookie cutters and bake, following the directions below. A time-saving tip would be to make enough gingerbread cookies in all kinds of shapes right now and freeze them. Then have the children help to decorate them with frosting closer to Christmas. For Pilgrim hats, after the round circles have cooled, unwrap a small peanut butter cup and place one upside down in the center of each round cookie. Using store-bought frosting in a tube or your own frosting, pipe a ring around the base of the peanut butter cup, "gluing" it onto the cookie. This can be a thick or a thin line, and it will automatically form the band of the hat! Lastly, pipe a square buckle from that line, upward onto the peanut butter cup to form the buckle. These can be made ahead, as well! You may want to bake the round cut-out cookies and freeze way ahead of time to simplify things even more, then have family members join in this fun decorating project. That's what I did this year, thinking my daughter would enjoy this! When our children were young, my sister and two brothers got together for Thanksgiving and we moms organized fun art projects for the children. Those are priceless photographs, now that they are all grown! Well, enough reminiscing!

The Best Gingerbread Cookies Ever!
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup or less brown sugar (or use sucanat from a health food store)
1 egg
3 Tbsp. orange juice
4 tsp. grated orange rind Beat butter and sugar (sucanat) together.
3 cups flour Mix all ingredients well and chill dough for 3 hours.
2 tsp. baking soda Roll 1/4" thick. Cut cookies in various shapes.
2 tsp. cinnamon Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake.
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
a dash of salt

I like to make a large dishpan full of stuffing at Thanksgiving, so I can freeze the extra and completely skip the process for Christmas -- it's already done! I don't really use a recipe for this, but make it as my mother always did. Cube bread (whole wheat and white mixture) and let it dry out on a large tray for a day or so. Sometimes I dry it in a dishpan, stirring occasionally over a 2-3 day period. Melt butter, add chicken broth, beaten eggs, lots of cooked celery and onions (sometimes a small amount of grated carrots for color), salt, onion salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and other dried herbs (parsley, Greek oregano, thyme, rosemary or tarragon, etc.). Stir well. Add enough bread crumbs for a slightly moist mixture. I bake it in greased dishes, (rather than in the bird) at 350º F. until golden brown on top. Don't overbake. The unbaked stuffing mixture will freeze great in containers or freezer bags to serve later. Note: Anytime before Thanksgiving is the time to make this recipe and freeze for both Thanksgiving and Christmas or any other time you want to enjoy stuffing throughout the year.

If you want to save last minute meal preparation, cut a couple pats of butter into a microwavable casserole dish. Add finely chopped fresh or frozen green pepper, a jar of chopped pimientos (drained), dill weed and a bag of frozen corn. Cover and put the dish in the freezer. To make things even easier for us, some supermarkets sell bags of frozen chopped onion, red, green and yellow bell peppers. On the day you are ready to serve the corn, take the dish from the freezer, thaw and microwave as you normally microwave corn. Add salt to taste just before serving. To cook on top of the stove, add a small amount of water first. This is a quick, tasty and colorful dish -- yellow with red and green!

If using a frozen turkey or turkey breast, be sure to give it a couple days in the refrigerator for safe thawing. For a juicy turkey or turkey breast, place a grapefruit, orange or lemon inside the cavity prior to roasting. Pierce the fruit to prevent it from bursting, and simply cook it as usual. You are "guaranteed" a juicy bird each time and there will be no citrus or orange flavor in the turkey. I don't know how this works, but it does. You simply take the fruit and dispose of it after roasting. Obviously, you don't stuff this bird, but it works great to have a separate casserole dish of stuffing as a side dish. Several "Heart to Heart" ladies and I have tried this and we all agree that it works great!