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"Mad Hungry": TV Dinners

Lucinda Scala Quinn interrupts your regularly frenzied schedule to bring you delicious freezer-to-table meals -- updated for today's screen-agers.

Imagine the allure for a 1950s housewife: Television and convenience collided to spawn frozen, reheatable, downright revolutionary TV dinners. Ask anyone old enough, and there will likely be a twinkle in their eyes as they recall the dinner in a divided aluminum tray -- complete with dessert! -- eaten in front of the television on those nights when their parents were out.

I, for one, think it's high time to update and uplift this little slice (or section?) of culinary history. And is there a dish more ready for an upgrade than Salisbury steak? Most nights, I strive to eat with my family, but let's get real -- I love knowing that an entire dinner is nestled in the freezer. It's Mom's cooking, even when I'm not there.

I just block out time to cook, cool, and assemble meals in either BPA-free plastic trays or glass containers. That means that within 10 microwave minutes (or an oven-baked hour) my kids can have a wholesome, nutritious meal. Yes, with the sweet right next to the vegetable. And considering that my son eats this in the glow of his laptop, I'd like to rechristen this the "PC Dinner."


Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy
Potato-and-Carrot Mash
Creamed Spinach
Apple-Cherry Cobbler

The Make-Ahead Plan

  1. Get containers, tape, a pen (for noting date), and pans ready.
  2. Start baking cobbler.
  3. Start sauteing onions for gravy.
  4. While cobbler and onions cook, make potato-and-carrot mash.
  5. Prepare creamed spinach.
  6. Assemble and cook patties, then gravy.
  7. Let cool, then divide among sealable containers (if reheating in oven, place cobbler in separate glass dishes).
  8. Freeze for up to two months. To rewarm, microwave with cover open on high for 9 to 10 minutes or in a 350-degree oven, covered with foil, for 1 hour (cobbler for 45 minutes).

Ready in a Zap
Microwave-safe BPA-free sectioned containers let you freeze individual meals of Salisbury steak, mash, creamed spinach, and cobbler. Divided containers,

Magic Portion
If you plan to reheat the meal in the oven as opposed to the microwave, portion out the cobbler into separate small ovenproof glass containers, and divide the meat, spinach, and potatoes equally among larger ones.

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