August 29, 2013

Back-to-School Cooking 101

Back to School Cooking Ideas

Today is the day. My daughter is back in school and we are in officially in back-at-school mode. For her this means a fresh start with a new teachers and classmates. For me this means it is time to revisit our quick dinner favorites, lunch box ideas, and stock the freezer with homemade snacks. While the jist of back-to-school cooking is that meals should be fast and healthy, there is still a lot that goes into it. A lot of things I make in advance and I am always mining the freezer for sauces and herb mixes I’ve made in bulk. I draw on all of my resources to get dinner on the table every night! Luckily, the new baby is on a great new nap schedule I can return to naptime cooking, but I still have to be smart about my time with everything else on the docket. Here are a few tips for your own back-to-school cooking and our family favorites I’ll be making a lot this fall!

Turkey Lasagna


Make Now, Bake Later:

There really is something to the whole “fix it and forget it” idea. I love a good casserole that I can prep ahead of time. Sometimes I do it during naptime, other times I do it in the morning! Here are a few of our favorite make-ahead family favorites:

* Turkey Lasagna

* Chicken Enchiladas

* Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Stacked Enchiladas

* Butternut Squash Soup

* Tortellini Spinach Soup

* Uncle Will’s Mexican Lasagna

Slow Cooker Meals

Slow-Cooker Meals:

I use the slow-cooker year-round and it really gets a workout during the school year. I am no stranger to stirring together ingredients in the morning and letting them cook all day long. The long slow braise makes terrifically moist meat. It also cooks things like delicate pastas and complex soups. Here are a few of our favorites:

* Slow-Cooker Lasagna

* Slow-Cooker Tortilla Soup

* Slow-Cooker Mushroom-Sage Risotto

* Slow-Cooker Sausage Soup with Dumplings

  Everyday Gremolata

Utilize the Freezer:

If you are closing down your garden here are a few tips for things you can freeze. A lot of things you can freeze as they are, but somethings things, like pesto, are better when frozen after they’ve been made!

* How to Freeze Herbs

* How to Freeze Strawberries

* Classic Basil Pesto

* Walnut Pesto

* Everyday Gremolata

Pesto Grilled Chicken

In a Flash:

There are plenty of days when you simply don’t have time to make anything ahead or defrost ingredients from the freezer. When those days hit I turn to these quick and easy recipes and whip up din-din Powernap-style:

* Back-to-School Eggplant Parmesan

* Ham & Cheese Paninis

* Pesto Grilled Chicken

* Roast Chicken Thighs with Tomato & Shallots

* Roast Sausage with Grapes & Onions

* Cranberry Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Have a great Labor Day weekend! I’ve been cooking a lot for the past few days and will have lots of great new things to share in September. Now, go relax and make a Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad to celebrate the last weekend of summer!

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