No matter how good the picture on the cover of the box, the frozen dinner that is pictured and the one that emerges from the microwave are never quite the same. But no matter how many times I feel that pang of disappointment when I taste my first bite, I keep buying those ready-made dinners for one very good reason — sometimes you just don’t have the time to cook.frozen entrée with fresh touches that will turn your disappointment into something you actually look forward to eating after a long, busy day.
Take the classic Mrs. T’s frozen pierogis. You can find these in the freezer isle of most grocery stores. Turn them into a meal by chopping fresh bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Then, whisk together a couple eggs with a cup of milk. Arrange the cooked pierogis and sautéed vegetables in a baking dish, pour the milk and egg mixture on top. Sprinkle with a cup of grated cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until puffed and browned. Serve this crust-less quiche with a simple salad.
Make frozen mac and cheese taste like homemade with only a few minor additions. Cook the frozen dinner as directed. While your mac and cheese is cooking, grate a blend of cheeses: anything from Asiago to Cheddar to Gruyère will do. Then, in a sauté pan melt two tablespoons of butter, and add a half a cup of breadcrumbs. Stir in a tablespoon of chopped sage and a clove of minced garlic. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until they are golden brown. Remove the mac and cheese from the microwave and transfer to a small baking dish. Stir in the cheese and top with the breadcrumbs. Brown the mac and cheese under the broiler for a couple of minutes and voila, amped up mac and cheese.
Adding fresh vegetables, herbs, and seasonings helps tailor frozen dinners to your own personal taste and make bland freezer meals taste a little more homemade.
Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.