Cook ahead for those busy first weeks of school!

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With the beginning of August comes the first thoughts of back-to-school, so I can't help but start to stock my freezer with ready-to-go meals that I can pull out in a pinch. Those first few weeks are always more hectic than I anticipate, and having some frozen meals at the ready never fails to take the pressure off when we're still organizing our daily routines. 

So while I'm making a dish now, I simply double the recipe and freeze half. I still have time during our relaxed summer schedule to make the special meals my kids appreciate so much, and when I trot them out during the beginning of the school year, they feel extra special. 

One of our favorites is my No-Harm Chick’n Parm recipe made with Veggie Patch Chick'n Cutlets. This meatless version has whole grains, nuts, protein, and vegetables. It's  essentially a large, thin meatless chicken nugget covered in sauce and cheese, which together provide ample opportunity to sneak in vegetables, none of which is visible to the eye or detectable by the taste buds. This recipe converts a decadent dish into a nutritional superstar and a favorite for the kid in all of us!

So make a little extra now, freeze it well wrapped, and your family's transition back to the school day schedule will be a breeze. 

You can also find a host of other good back to school ideas in a great article here, and another very interesting artcile on the evolution of school menus here.

Enjoy in good health, 

Missy

NO HARM CHICK’N PARM RECIPE

Makes 4 servings 

(double proportions to freeze half)

4 Veggie Patch Chick'n Cutlets

Olive oil for pan frying
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
1/2 cup store-bought tomato sauce (or Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce)
1/2 cup Orange Puree
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add two Cutlets at a time, pan frying on one side until the crumbs look golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch for burning and turn down heat if necessary. With tongs, turn the pieces over and lightly brown the second side until golden, about 3 minutes. Place pan-fried Veggie Patch Chick'n Cutlet pieces on a large baking sheet, sprayed with cooking oil.

Mix the store bought tomato sauce with the Orange Puree.

Top each Veggie Patch Chick'n Cutlet with about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce/ Orange Puree mixture and cover sauce with mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

Serve with whole wheat spaghetti and tomato sauce.

(NOTE: Be sure to wrap well for freezing)  

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