(With Freezer Entrée Options)
Since I had my bout with very symptomatic pre-diabetes a couple of years ago, I have been trying to learn to cook and bake dishes with fewer carbs/lower glycemic index. About a year into this cooking (several months ago), I realized that one of the things that I missed the most were my one-dish meals.
I have been a *freezer cook* for twenty-five years now, and one of the greatest benefits of freezer cooking is pulling a nearly-complete meal out of the freezer, adding a salad, and calling it dinner. With lower carb cooking, this was seldom a reality for me.
Instead, I would pull a meat entrée (meat loaves, meat balls, marinated chicken breasts, cheddar coated chicken thighs, etc.) out of the oven then try to figure out what low carb/healthy sides I could put with it—while still keeping college and high school boys and my husband satisfied and full.
I missed the ease of the one dish entrée desperately, so I have been on a search for more “casserole-y” types of healthy entrees for the past several months. I have a few for you that will be coming up in the next few weeks—and this is one of those.
True confession: I do not like Olive Garden’s salad dressing. But that is probably only because I do not like salad dressing at all.
Period. Not.one.single.dressing. Nada. Nope. None.
However, I have some kids who are crazy about this dressing, so I make it with my homemade Italian Dressing Mix for them.
Recently on a visit to my sister’s in North Carolina (from Indiana), my sister made her mother-in-law’s old fashioned mac and cheese. I used to make homemade macaroni and cheese a lot, but since I cook primarily low carb (and I am tired of making sauces, etc. that are so time consuming), I was especially interested in her recipe.
First of all, this could be easily made ahead. That is always my first criteria (it seems) in cooking since I have been a freezer and mix cook for twenty-five years. Secondly, it didn’t require a white sauce or a cheese sauce that you cook on top of the stove (really, one pan to boil the noodles and one dish to layer the casserole are the only “pans” needed). Third, it had a few other “lower carb” ingredients (half and half or cream, eggs, butter, and cheese), so I could envision immediately some low carb options that I am anxious to try out and share with you.
I have been talking extensively in podcast episodes (see Five Tips for Efficiency in the Kitchen HERE) and in blog posts about my cycle cooking (PODCAST) and just the general idea of preparing meats to be used in dishes. (See my Shredded Chicken post here.)
Having meats ready to use in recipes is one of the best kitchen efficiency tips that I can give people. It truly makes creating a quick meal doable.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed the ease of my shredded chicken method! It is so simple to put chicken in the crock pot overnight or in the morning and come up with a speedy meal when it is done cooking. There are actually times in which I put the chicken in without even knowing for sure what I will do with it the next day since I know I have so many options that I can turn to at the last minute. (Plus, having it cooked forces me to do SOMETHING with it!) If nothing else, I can pour some bottled BBQ sauce over it and have BBQ chicken sandwiches!
This is a follow-up recipe to my post about cooking chicken to use in shredded chicken recipes. In that post, I shared that I have been compiling recipes for my two sets of newlyweds. I thought you might like to see their sweet faces (as I ALWAYS love to see their sweet faces!), so check out the pictures at the end of this post. When the married or college kids come home for a weekend or holiday break, I always like to make things that they like, or things that are special to them. I have been scouring the internet for a couple of years to find a recipe that is similar to the Arroz Con Pollo that our newly-wed son always orders at our family’s favorite Mexican restaurant. I was unable to find anything like it. (The ones I found were large chunks of meat more in a red sauce as opposed to a shredded chicken dish in a white sauce.) So….I combined a couple of other recipes that looked similar and came up with one that worked—and that all of the kids really liked. (And my Arroz Con Pollo son thought was a good knock off!)