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Big-batch treats and meals to eat all week

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times; prop styling by Nidia Cueva)

Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there and happy summer to us all. Below are dishes ideal for celebrating both occasions, whether solo or within a small quarantine bubble.

For the rest of this week, you probably still have to cook something wherever you fall on the anxiety scale of going back out as L.A. reopens. If you’re feeling kitchen fatigue, you can make big-batch dishes to freeze for future meals — and find out how to thaw them in my answer to this week’s reader question.

Before you start meal prepping, you may want to bake cookies. I always do. I’ve been churning out batch after batch of these hearty ones and am going to start another to drop off at my dad’s door. I bet yours might like them too.

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Time 1 hour
Yields Makes about 3 dozen

Packed with oats and walnuts, these buttery disks travel well if you want to mail them.

Sichuan Chile Hanger Steak

Time 25 minutes
Yields Serves 4

For a spicy spin on Father’s Day steak, toss grilled slices with dried chiles and Sichuan peppercorns in this dish from chef Brandon Kida.

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Serve this big roast tonight, then shred leftover meat to stuff into sandwiches and tacos or toss with rice or noodles.

Leona's seeded crackers and cheese

Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Nyesha Arrington’s easy take on homemade cheese and crackers tastes great with cocktails or as a WFH desk snack.

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Vegan Lentil and Fennel Salad

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Stash this lentil salad in the fridge and spoon out a bowl or two for lunch, dinner or anytime in between.

Ask the cooks

I make mac and cheese from scratch, usually eight servings as a main course. I freeze most for later use. I see recipes using eggs, which I would like to try since the eggs would boost the protein a bit. My question is: Can this be frozen without ruining the taste and primarily the texture?

— Dino Sanacory

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You can freeze a custard-based mac and cheese that includes eggs without ruining the texture if you reheat it slowly in the oven. Microwaving will cause the noodles to become rubbery. Also, the sauce might break and pockets of ice might remain even when other parts of the dish are steaming. The problem with oven reheating is that it takes time, but it saves you the hassle of making multiple fresh batches of mac and cheese.

If you have a block of frozen mac and cheese, put it in an oven-safe dish, cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees until heated through. You can test it by sticking a metal cake tester or knife into the center. When you pull the tester out, tap it to see if it’s really hot. If so, that means the mac and cheese is ready. If you want a crunchy top, uncover and broil for a minute or two.

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