Dressing up Frozen Meals


A frozen meal usually implies a quick dinner because for families eating between six and seven is preferable to sometime after eight or nine in the evening. But these rock solid masterpieces deserve a bit of sprucing up while the dinner is heating either in the oven or microwave. Many times a casserole of some variety is the fare, while a hardy stew or soup is waiting in the wings for rediscovery. Whatever the choices, let’s see how they can be dressed up for a feast fit for a royal family.

Lean Cuisine

Frozen Fruit Salads

There are even some salads that lend themselves to freezing and are a real treat especially on a hot summer day. In fact, heating up a chicken and rice casserole nestled in the freezer, some cheesy corn bread, and a slice of frozen fruit salad cushioned on a leaf of butter lettuce sounds wonderful right about now. You might want to feature frozen fruit salads also as healthy desserts made with yogurt instead of heavy cream. Several recipe suggestions are available online; this one is a good beginning and includes a picture.

Wedge

One addition to a frozen casserole meal might include a “wedge.” These delectables, if sized as a side salad, are the perfect accompaniment. By cutting a head of iceberg lettuce into several slices resembling wedges you have the makings of a beautiful salad. Depending on your preference, many come with bleu cheese dressing, topped with a few crumbles of fresh bleu cheese and crisp bacon, sprinkled with chopped tomatoes, though you can try your hand at your own creations. At this point your dinner is ready. As an aside, slightly increase the size of the wedge and there you have a light, delicious meal.

Dishes, Plus

Adding an assortment of side dishes is one way to dress up frozen meals, but, in addition, using attractive table settings can help as well. After all, a Stouffer’s lasagna tastes even better on real plates…stoneware or china; take a minute to tie a red napkin with a unique ribbon. And you really can use that red vino you’ve been anxious to try; there’s certainly no law saying you must reserve wine for lasagna slaved over for hours. To continue to dress up this meal, instead of a green salad, change to a few diagonal slices of steamed Zucchini and baby carrots. Sounds pretty tasty!

More on the Table: Flowers and Candles

Another idea is using flowers and candles to give fancy flair to frozen favorites like stuffed bell peppers. A simple pot of flowing green vines, flanked by a couple of khaki colored candles resting in either wood or brushed nickel holders detracts from the once icy main dish. Possibly an orange and strawberry salad with a few strands of coconut tweaks your creativity as an accompaniment for this entree.

Table Linens plus Flatware

Table mats, tablecloths, and runners seen twisted softly down a table offer just the touch to dress up beef stew that only moments before was a block of ice in a Ziploc bag.  Of course a couple of long, crusty bread sticks go well with this meal. And for dessert, a simple brownie sundae would be perfect.  In addition, I know you would only serve a dressed up meal with your best flatware; maybe stainless; maybe sterling.

Just Getting Started

From this menagerie, surely there abides food for thought. Dressing up frozen meals offers limitless opportunities. Today’s scenario might look like this: You got off a little early; you are in the driveway, shoes off, keys in hand. In the door the decision is now beef, chicken, or pork. A beautiful day calls to you for a run; open the freezer and your dinner has arrived. You retrieve the candles and cloth napkins, assured you will return in about thirty minutes. Put supper in the microwave, wine on the counter, and off you go. You return to shower with your favorite body wash; throw on a quick and easy something; bee line to set the table and light the candles; a small wedge salad and voila, dinner is ready! What a great picture to imagine. The only difference is that we forgot Johnny and Susie, but short of those elementary details, is a dinner to remember…and be thankful you have a freezer.

Callum Defoe is a professional chef and writer who likes to write for those with limited cooking skills. He loves to blog and often covers topics ranging from new recipes to tips on serving quick and easy dinners.

Photo Credit: rebecalynda

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