Try-it Tuesday: Freezer Meal Exchange + Italian Chicken and Veggie Grill {Recipe}

So, I’ve already shown you the contents of my freezer once recently—when I wrote the post about my favorite freezer meals.

By the way, I don’t think I’ve thanked y’all yet for the amazing response you guys gave me when I asked for recipes (and yes, I know I just used “y’all” and “you guys” in the same sentence), but there were some fantastic ideas (many of you even took the time to write out recipes for me), and I will definitely be referencing all of those great suggestions the next time I stock my freezer. It really did feel like I’d sent out an APB to my girls, and y’all had gone above and beyond in your response.

So, thank you!  At the risk of dating myself…Y’all ROCK! : )

Anyhoo, so you know what my freezer looked like a few weeks ago.

Well, check it out NOW:

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Woooohoooo!

{Also, please note that both containers of ice cream are still present…although significantly diminished}

For those of you asking (from last time) how in the world I crammed so much food in there with space left over…this is what our freezer/refrigerator set-up looks like.

They’re not actually both full-sized, but they’re pretty darn close, and I. love. them.

(You can read all about how we got them in my kitchen reveal post).

Anyway, a while back when I admitted to having help “doing it all” (and still don’t get it all done sometimes…sheesh), I gave some suggestions for ways to team up with your girlfriends to lighten a load.

I don’t even remember if Freezer Meal Exchange was on the list, but I decided to follow my own general advice and, inspired by the Facebook pictures of a friend (thanks, Lisa! : )), I threw out a “Anybody want to go in with me on a freezer meal exchange?” status on Facebook.

And you know what?

8 girls (including my mom) responded!

We messaged back and forth to iron out food allergies and preferences and then each of us made 9 batches one of dish each (1 to keep at home) and then met up last night to exchange our various dishes so that we all came home with 8 different, yummy meals we didn’t have to cook.

I wish I’d taken a picture of all their sweet, pretty faces, but I had just pulled a 3 hour exercise session (1 practice, 2 classes taught) and was pretty much lucky to have shown up anywhere near on time after my phone sent my sweaty self on a wild goose-chase through every neighborhood in the area but the right one (picture-taking was far from my mind, in other words).

I am so pleased with how smoothly the exchange came together (everyone was super-accommodating of the requests we had from two girls, one who was non-dairy and one who was non-meat, so if you want to give this a try, don’t be afraid to ask about potential special arrangements if you have food limitations), and I can’t WAIT to start chowing down on something other than my own cooking!

If you have any questions about how to organize a freezer meal exchange of your own or how we did specific things, be sure to leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

But I will say that it was a simple and totally-worth-it process (even including the mild scalding I got from a pot of boiling pasta water I forgot to turn down because I was doing too many things at once).

Oh, and because I’ve been wanting to share this recipe with you for a long time anyway, I thought I’d show you what I contributed.

I made one of my favorite dishes of all time (which also happened to be the main course for our Enchanted Summer dinner party) because it’s so flavorful, pretty, and (relatively) good for you.

Plus, even though it has a few steps, it’s pretty darn difficult to mess up.

So, what is this magical dish?

Italian Chicken and Veggie Grill from my friend Kimberly’s No Guesswork Cooking Cookbook (I know…how exciting that I personally know someone who’s written a cookbook, right? She gave it to me as a wedding present, and I have absolutely loved every recipe I’ve ever tried from it—and I’ve only made it through maybe 10).

The best part of all is that every dish has two portion-sizes: a home batch (for a single family) and a 50-serving batch for larger gatherings.

I’m guessing you can tell which recipe I used to make 9 batches:

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But today, I’ll share the home batch recipe with you, and if you’re just itching to make the 50 serving version or see what other tasty options are in the book, you can go check out the entire cookbook (which I strongly urge you to anyway; it’s really good).

So, without further ado, I give you:

Italian Chicken and Veggie Grill (Home Batch)

Servings: 6 (13X9 pan)

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Ingredients:

Chicken (boneless, skinless breasts) – 1 1/2 lb

Zucchini squash (2 medium)

Yellow squash (2 medium)

Red bell pepper (3/4 cup = 3/4 pepper)

Alternative (my addition): 3 Roma tomatoes

Italian Dressing – approximately 1 cup

Soy sauce – 1 1/2 Tbsp

Mayonnaise – 1 Tbsp

Parmesan Cheese 1 1/2 Tbsp

Parsley (dried) – 1 1/2 tsp

Seasoned salt – 1/2 tsp

Garlic (granulated) – 1/4 tsp

Linguine – 8 oz.

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Instructions:

1. Cut chicken into 1/2” strips

2. Combine 1/3 cup Italian dressing + soy sauce, then add to chicken and toss well.

3. Marinate in refrigerator for 8-24 hours (I’ve definitely done less, but it’s more flavorful the longer it stays in there).

4. Remove from marinade and roast on baking sheets: 425-450 for 15 minutes or until cooked through

5. Cut squash into fourths lengthwise and then slice across into 1/8” quarter-circles (I’m never this precise).

6. Cut peppers into 1/4” strips and then across into 3/4” lengths (again, not this picky; I just slice them).

7. Alternative: cut romas lengthwise and then again into thirds.

8. Combine vegetables in container, add 1/4 cup Italian dressing (I usually use more) and toss well.

9. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

10. Spread onto greased baking sheets and roast at 475 for 10-15 minutes or until starting to char.

11. Cook pasta in 5 cups of boiling water (according to package directions) until tender. Drain and set aside.

12. Combine all of the remaining Italian dressing (approx. 1/3 cup) with the other sauce ingredients and heat on the stove until gently boiling.

13. Combine chicken, pasta, and vegetables in a large casserole dish. Mix well. Add sauce and mix well again.

14. Serve it up with a smile! : )

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**I have three main modifications that I make to this dish:

1) I usually add or substitute Roma tomatoes for the red bell peppers. I love the taste/texture of roasted tomatoes, and it really adds something to the sauce, I think.

2) I usually make half again as much sauce and supplement as necessary.

3) When I have everything combined in the casserole dish, I give everything a good sprinkling of salt, since sometimes I haven’t marinated my veggies or chicken quite as long as the recipe calls for, and a little extra flavor is in order.

 

ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Try-it Tuesday: Freezer Meal Exchange + Italian Chicken and Veggie Grill {Recipe}

  1. Thanks so much for the idea of the exchange. Gonna try to convince my gaggle of gals to do one.

    Question: How did you go about freezing this meal? Did you put it into ziplocks of 9x13s? What are the thaw and reheat instructions?

  2. I’ve heard of Kim’s book before…didn’t she serve at IBLP’s HQ at one time? We use their homeschooling materials and love their resources. All IBLP stuff is top-notch. This recipe sounds delicious and I would love to try it. Thanks for sharing it :)

  3. Great idea Abbie – after nearly 22 years of cooking – I love eating ANYTHING not cooked by me. The chicken pasta recipe sounds delicious – I love to use penne alot. I think it would still work. I have a salami and penne dish that my family loves.

    Boil 1 packet of penne pasta till soft…
    150 gms of salami – cooked in a pan for 5 mins….
    add 1 onion…
    add tablespoon of garlic paste
    tablespoon of parsley paste
    tablespoon of thyme paste
    2 grated carrots… keeping stirring…
    12 roma tomatoes sliced and diced…..
    Drain pasta and add contents of pan..
    into a large dish suitable for oven… cover in mozorella cheese
    cook in oven till cheese is melted.. 15 mins,,
    serve in beautiful bowls..
    and present to loving, appreciative familly. xo

    I served it up to my nephew who eats like a sparrow and he came back for seconds!!
    cheers :-)

  4. Man oh man I just love the idea of the freezer meal exchange, but I only have maybe 3 people in mind that might be interested. I think I’d be willing to find enough time to exchange maybe once a month. Do you think that will work?

    PS you have a beautiful kitchen!

  5. The freezer meal exchange sounds fantastic. I’m gonna have to organize one w/ my friends…..I’d love be able to cook less!! But, I’d really probably need to follow a family-sized recipe if I was gonna cook that much!
    And what a delish looking recipe…and a great way to use garden veggies. It seems like alot of freezer meals I see use cream of whatever soup & cheese. Nice to see a healthy freezer meal! I’m pinning for future reference :)

  6. Yay, I’m so glad you got to have a FME too! I’m still enjoying the dishes from ours and looking forward to the next :-) I’m definitely going to have to try this dish, it looks sooo yummy. I just made your Chicken Pesto Pasta dish from your freezer meal post and I loved it! I made a double batch and since it’s just 3 of us eating out our house I got 3 freezer portions plus dinner that night :-) Thanks for all your ideas, I love reading your blog!

  7. This is so weird…I just made something almost identical to this last night after picked a bunch of veggies from my garden last night. Didn’t have a recipe, just made it up and it was delish. Great minds must think alike, lol! =D

    Love you kitchen by the way!! =)

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