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Cook Ahead Meals


Lasagna Prima Vera


This Month I was asked to make a Vegetarian Lasagna for a catered banquet. I am not well versed in the art of vegetarian foods so I did some surfing around to see what I could find. This is so much fun because I always find so many neat things that I get lost. So I now have ideas that I will try for the next year.

I wanted to make a recipe that I could put together and not have to boil the noodles. I had been intrigued with this idea and so I wanted to try it. It really works marvelously.

Also, I found that this goes together very easily and you can make two just as easily as one and freeze the extra one. Also, you can cut and wrap individual portions and freeze them. I have done that with many other recipes for years.

Pick and choose your vegetables. I think any of your favorite vegetables will work. If you don’t like eggplant then substitute something else for it.

Anyway, here is the recipe that the Llama growers endorsed:

Focaccia has become one of our family favorites. It's simple and you can get creative with toppings, even use it for sandwiches.

Here is the recipe for a mix that will make 12 focaccia breads for you and your family to enjoy!

Focaccia Bread Mix

  • 12 Cups flour
  • 4 cups Cornmeal
  • 4 t salt
  • 4 T sugar

Mix well in a large tub or bowl. If you like herbs in your bread, add 2 T sweet basil, or a mix of Italian herbs. Mix well with a wire wisk. Then put in plastic containers to store.

To Bake

(Makes 3 loaves)
  • 2 C warm water (120 degrees) be very careful not to get it too hot you'll kill the yeast and ruin the bread.
  • 2 T yeast
  • 4 C mix

Mix and blend well. No need to knead, just mix well, till the dough is smooth, makes a firm ball, and is not sticky. If sticky, add some more flour till its firm. If I have time I like to condition the dough, well actually it conditions itself. you do nothing. I put it in the refrigerator and let it sit for a day. If you don't have a day, let it rise for a couple of hours , punching it down when it doubles. This will develop a much better flavor and crust. If your in a hurry the dough can go into the oven as soon as you roll it out, and let it rise for 15 minutes. We call rising, proofing in the restaurant business.

This is a very forgiving recipe so don't worry. Now when your ready to bake, separate the dough into 3 pieces. With a little flour scattered on your counter, roll each piece of dough out into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Set on greased baking sheets. Then let the dough proof or raise for 15 minutes. Then put your fingers into the dough making some impressions, brush with melted butter or olive oil, and then very lightly with Italian sauce. You can get creative with your toppings if you want. Parmesan, and fresh rosemary are great. Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes till nicely browned and crusty. The bottom should be brown as well. Brush again with melted butter or olive oil. Now when the bread has cooled, wrap in plastic wrap completely, and freeze.

Recipes from Chef Warren Lower in Adelaide Australia.

Hi there everyone! Well it's my turn to give you some do ahead recipes, that we can freeze. So for a couple of hours work in the kitchen a week, you can have more time to be with your family, or that someone special, and impress that someone special with you, well lets say culinary skills.

Now seeing it's winter in the northern hemisphere, we will do some nice soup, some beef and chicken casseroles, and a scrumptious dessert as well.

Now the reason I have made this soup for 8 people is we are going to cheat. And use ½ the finished soup as the base for our beef casserole. And it will give a wonderful full flavor.

Onion Soup

(Serves 8)
  • 8 onions (halved and sliced)
  • 2 liter or 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 120g or 4oz Butter
  • 8 cups warm water and 4 beef stock cube
  • 3 tbl Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and pepper to season

In a large pot or kettle, add the onions, butter and garlic and sauté till the onions are soft and turned a light brown. You see this time we are going to use the sugar in the onions to not only color the finished product but also flavor it. Now add the Worcestershire sauce and seasoning. Stir, then add the hot liquid (do you remember why we use a hot liquid)?

Bring to the boil and simmer for about 25 to 30 min.


This isn't French onion soup. But if you want you can garnish to soup as if it is one ok.

Now you can pinch ½ the soup, flour your diced beef and cook in a pan to brown add to the soup and cook the casserole as normal. Now taste the difference

Now sports fans, let's go to the video tape replay. oops!!!!!!!! Sorry been watching too much cable TV here in oz. We will make a base casserole first. And from this we will divide it into 4 potions to be frozen. When thawed it can be made into different tummy warming meals for 4 people.

Base Beef Casserole

  • 3kg or 6lb stewing beef
  • 850 ml or 1 pint of beef stock (or you can simply use water and 3 beef stock cubes)
  • 30g or 1oz flour
  • 4 tbs. oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 750g or 1 ½ lbs. onions (skinned and sliced)
  • Bouquet garni (herbs)

Ok cut your meat into ½ inch dice or to the size you like your casserole meat. Toss in the flour. Now heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions until soft and just a little colored. Remove from the pan. Now brown the meat in batches as you don't want to loose to much heat .As your meat won't brown it will just stew and you wont get the full flavor in the final product. Now put the onions and meat into a large ovenproof casserole dish. Now add the flour that is left to the pan juices mix in add the stock, and now we are going to deglaze the pan. Pour in with the meat and onions. Add bouquet garni. Cover with foil or a lid. After this, you're ready to cook!

Cook in the oven on 160F or 325 F for 1 ½ to 2 hours. But check often, as we don't want to over cook, as we are going to add and cook other things in it after we thaw it to use. After we are done we need to cool the casserole and then divide it into 4 freezable containers with labels.

Thawing and Reheating Instructions

Thaw in the fridge for about 12 hours and reheat for 45 mins on 190C or 375F Or if you forgot to take it out of the freezer heat for 1 ¼ hours on the same temperature.

Beef Stroganoff

(Serves 4)
  • 1 portion of casserole base
  • 125ml or 4oz soured cream (see note)
  • 100g or2oz button mushrooms (sliced)
  • Chopped parsley
  • 2tbl brandy (and 2 for your self, ha ha ha )

Add sliced mushrooms and brandy to thawed casserole. (Have some brandy to if you like I do). Reheat for same time as base casserole. Just before you serve add the sour cream reheat till near boiling add parsley stir and enjoy on a cold winter night spent in front of the fireplace.


If you don't have sour cream just use normal cream and add some lemon squeeze or the juice from ½ a lemon.

Curry Beef

(Serves 4)
  • 1 portion of casserole base
  • 2 apples (peeled and chopped)
  • ½ a hand full of sultanas or raisins
  • 1 tbl curry powder or curry paste
  • 1 tsp Turmeric

Add to thawed casserole and reheat for same time and temperature as base casserole.

Beef Paprika

(Serves 4)
  • 1 portion casserole base
  • 227g or 8oz tin crushed tomatoes
  • 2 caps canned red pimiento (sliced)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Paprika

Add to casserole, reheat as with base casserole and enjoy.

Beef and Vegetables

(Serves 4)
  • 1 portion casserole base
  • 250g or 8oz fresh blanched vegetables (diced carrots, potatoes, parsnips.
  • If time is short just use frozen mixed vegetables

Add to casserole and reheat as for base casserole.

Chicken Casserole Base

Right Guys 'n' Gals, we are going to do the same as we did with the beef base. And were well on our way to having another 4 meals for the freezer.

  • 2 whole chickens 2kg or 4lb each (cut into 8 pieces each)
  • 4kg or 8lbs Chicken pieces
  • 3 onions (skinned and sliced)
  • 8tbl plain flour
  • 60g or 2oz Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-litre or 4 pints Chicken stock or warm water and stock cubes
  • 60ml or 2 oz oil

Put the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag, add the chicken pieces and shake to coat them. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté' till the onions are soft. Drain well and place the onions in the ovenproof dish or dishes. Now add ½ the butter to the pan and add ½ the chicken a little at a time until it is browned all over. Then add the rest of the butter and repeat with the chicken that is leftover

Now add the flour that is left in the plastic bag and add it to the pan mix in and add a little of the stock or water to deglaze the pan. Pour this into the ovenproof dish or dishes, add the rest of the liquid, cover the dish and cook for 1 ¼ hours at 180C or 350F. But check often, as we don't want to over cook as we are going to add and cook other things in it after we thaw it to use. After this is all done, cool the casserole and then divide it into 4 freezable containers labeling each.

Thawing and Reheating instructions

Thaw in the fridge for about 12 hours and reheat for 45 mins on 190C or 375F Or if you forgot to take it out of the freezer heat for 1 ¼ hours on the same temperature.

Pineapple Chicken

(Serves 4)
  • ¼ of the base casserole
  • 227g or 8 oz can Pineapple pieces
  • 1 green Pepper (seeded and sliced)
  • 1 ½ tbl Corn Starch
  • 1oz Butter

Melt the butter in a pan and sauté' the peppers for a few mins. Add this and the pineapple chunks to the casserole ½ way through the Reheating time. Now deglaze the pan with the juice from the pan and add the cornstarch and add this also.

Lemon Chicken Pilaf

(Serves 4)
  • ¼ of the casserole base
  • 100g or 3oz Long grain Rice
  • 250ml or ½ pint stock
  • 60g or 2oz Cashew nuts
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric
  • 30g or 1oz Butter
  • Grated rind of ½ a Lemon

Add the stock, lemon rind and turmeric to the thawed casserole. Bring to the boil and add the rice. Sauté the cashews in the butter and add ½ to the casserole. Continue to cook the casserole until the rice is cooked and the chicken is heated. About 1 beer or a glass of wine should do it, he he. Serve your lemon chicken pilaf and top with the remaining cashews. This goes great with a salad.

Ginger Apple Charlotte

Well now we get to the part of the meal that everyone loves the dessert. And my house is no different, my family loves desserts and this is one of there favorites.

Sometimes they even leave me some. So make 2 or 3 so you have some in the freezer all the time.

  • 500g or 1 lb cooking apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/2tsp ginger(ground)
  • 120g or 4 oz Castor (powdered) sugar
  • 60g or 20oz melted butter
  • 120g or 4 oz (fresh) white bread crumbs

Ok fans; send the kids out while you make this one, as they will pinch it before it's finished cooking.Blanch the apple slices in boiling water for a couple of mins. Drain and cool.

Now mix together the sugar, breadcrumbs, lemon rind and ginger. Place alternative layers of crumbs and apples in a 1 litre or 1 ½ pint ovenproof container or a better idea is to use foil containers as they stack well, and save time and space. Drizzle some melted butter after each layer. And finish with a layer of crumbs. Now cover, seal and label with the contents and the date you froze it, remember it can get freezer burn.

This dessert you cook straight from the freezer. So take it out, take off the lid, set your oven to 190C or 375F and cook for 1 hour. Then increase the temperature to 220C or 425F for about 15 mins. to brown the top. But keep an eye on it as we don't want to over brown it do we. So keep an extra one in the freezer for yourself and one extra just for the kids.

Got questions? Then don't hesitate to email us!






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Last updated March 8 , 2001