Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Freezer Meals/Batch Cooking

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Freezer #1 (kitchen)

It's that time of year again...Back to School. And with that comes the need to have some meals ready to go in the freezer. Many years ago I tried "Once a Month" cooking. Brian and I would get a bunch of recipes ready in one day. Later I perfected it to "Twice a Month" cooking, which was much easier.

When Katie was born, however, I stopped doing that. For years, Brian would come home asking what was for dinner. "Uh...ummm....," I'd mumble as I searched the fridge, freezer, and pantry.

Last year I started getting more organized with our meals. First I started cooking multiple batches of favorite recipes. I'd make one to put in the oven, and then one for the freezer. Then I started the Meal Exchange. Around that time I discovered Dream Dinners, Entree Vous, and other meal prep places. These were fast and fun...but a bit more expensive to do frequently. It did, however, make me realize that I could (and should) be purposely making more foods ahead.

So, while I don't have a strict schedule, I do try to keep the freezer full of a variety of meals. Below are some of our favorites. In the next few months I plan on making each of these so I can take photos of them, to add to the recipes. But I love the recipes so much that I just wanted to post them sans pictures!
Freezer Door #1 (kitchen)


I make a lot of marinated steaks/chicken breasts ahead of time. I put out four ziplocks...add the marinade ingredients assembly line style, and then put the meat in the bags. Then they go in the freezer. I thaw them and just put the meat on the grill.

MARINADES FOR MEAT

Cajun Curry Chicken (Better Homes & Gardens)

Mix the ingredients in a baking dish. Add the chicken pieces, and mix so they are all covered by the sauce.

1/3 C honey
3 TB water
3 TB Dijon mustard
2 TB margarine
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts.

Bake uncovered at 350 for about 30 minutes. Serve chicken and sauce over hot cooked rice.

If you like REALLY spicy foods, you can add up to 1 more tsp of Cajun seasoning and up to 1 more tsp of curry powder.

Note: This sauce freezes well. To freeze it, simply place the chicken breasts and the sauce in a zip-loc bag.

Grilled Herbed Chicken (San Francisco Encore)

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Marinade:
½ C olive oil
½ C lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
1 TB rosemary, fresh & chopped
1 TB tarragon, fresh & chopped
1 TB sage, fresh & chopped
1 TB oregano, fresh & chopped
1 TB chives, fresh & chopped

Marinate at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. While grilling, brush frequently with the marinade.

To freeze it, simply place the chicken breasts and the marinade in a zip-loc bag.

Marinated Flank Steak (San Francisco Encore)

1/4 C soy sauce
1/4 C honey
1/4 C thinly sliced green onions
2 TB grated onion
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2 TB sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ginger

1-2 flank steaks

Combine all ingredients, except the steak/s. Pour over the steak and marinate overnight. Place the steak on a hot grill & cook 4-5 minutes per side, basting with the marinade. Slice thinly on the diagonal & serve.

We also use a lot of petite, and top sirloin with this recipe, as there are often good sales on those cuts of meats.

To freeze it, simply place the meat and the marinade in a zip-loc bag.

Barbequed Herb-Mustard Chicken (Sunset Magazine)

Combine:
Family Size
½ C dry white wine
2/3 C canola oil
3/8 C white wine vinegar
2 T onion, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp pepper
1/4 C spicy brown mustard

(Group Size....the quantities above X 4)
2 C
2 1/3 C
1 ½ C
1/8 C
2 T, 2 tsp
1 T, 1 tsp
12 cloves
2 tsp
1 C

Chop into 1" cubes: 4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (16-24 Group Size)

Marinate the chicken in the sauce at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Place on skewers, alternating with chunks of:
peppers (red, yellow, green)
onion
cherry tomatoes
mushrooms
zucchini

I freeze the uncooked chicken with the sauce and add the veggies fresh.


OTHER FAVORITE FREEZER FOODS

Stuffed Shells

Sauce
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
28 oz can tomatoes w/puree
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp dried basil, crumbled

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat; add garlic. Saute 2 minutes or until golden. Add tomatoes; break up with spoon. Add pepper, salt & basil; mix. Reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes, stir occasionally.

Filling
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 ½ packages (15 oz total) chopped frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed very dry
3-4 oz (1/2 a jar) roasted red peppers, drained & chopped
1 C (4 oz) shredded fontina cheese
½ C grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

12 oz jumbo pasta shells, cooked, drained

In bowl, combine filling ingredients & mix.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 13 x 10" baking pan. Spoon filling into shells; arrange in prepared pan. Top with sauce. Cover. Bake 30 minutes or until hot.

8 servings. Per serving: 427 calories, 22 g protein, 45 g carbohydrate, 19 g fat, 76 mg cholesterol, 904 mg sodium.

You can freeze the filling -or- you can fill the jumbo shells and flash-freeze them before placing them in a zip-loc bag. Sometimes I freeze the sauce with the stuffed shells, and sometimes I don't!

Lasagna with Pesto (San Francisco Encore)

1 lb ricotta cheese
1 ½ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
½ C minced fresh parsley
½ C minced green onion
½ tsp minced garlic
1 egg yolk
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp marjoram
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper

1 pound lasagna, cooked, rinsed in cold water and drained.
Pesto Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a shallow baking dish. Combine all the ingredients except noodles and Pesto Sauce. Blend well. Taste and correct seasonings. Spread some of the filling over each lasagne noodle. Roll up jelly-roll fashion. Stand vertically in the baking dish in a single layer. Spoon Pesto Sauce over the top of each roll. Cover and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through. Serve immediately.

To freeze this, you can freeze the filling-or- the individual rolled up lasagne pieces. If you freeze the pasta, place the rolls on a cookie sheet and flash-freeze before you put into a zip-loc bag.

Pesto Sauce

Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce
(San Francisco Encore)

Preheat oven to 350̊.

Heat in a frying pan:
1/2" of oil
Fry just until soft, about 5 seconds on each side:
12 corn tortillas
Lay flat and drain on paper towels.

Combine the following:
4 C cooked shredded chicken
2 C shredded Jack cheese
1 7 oz. can diced green chilies
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Spoon ½ cup of the filling down the center of each tortilla. Cover with 2 T of Tomatillo Sauce. Roll up the tortilla to enclose.

Lay tortillas, seam side down, in a 10 x 15 inch baking pan. Bake, covered, approximately 15 minutes or until hot.

Bake uncovered, until cheese has melted.

To serve: Spoon 3/4 C of Tomatillo Sauce onto dinner plates. Set 2 enchiladas on each plate.

Top with:
shredded lettuce
dollop of sour cream

Garnish with:
lime slices

Tomatillo Sauce (San Francisco Encore)

Heat in a large saucepan:
6 T oil (3/8 C)

Add, and cook until soft:
2 medium onions, chopped
1 7 oz can diced green chiles
26 oz. (2 13 oz. cans) tomatillos, drained
1 C chicken stock
3 TB fresh lime juice
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt

Simmer 25 minutes over low heat. Taste and correct seasonings. Puree in food processor or blender until smooth.

Uncover and sprinkle with
8 oz. shredded Jack cheese

You can freeze the enchilada filling by itself, or you can fill the tortillas, and flash-freeze them before you place them in a zip-loc bag. The sauce should be frozen separately (in a freezer bag) because it will make the enchiladas too mushy.

Chinese Postickers
To freeze these, fill the dough, then flash-freeze before placing in a freezer bag.

3 comments:

Lisa said...

Wow! These really look great! I really, really have to get a chest freezer so I can do this.

dg said...

I'd love a freezer chest too! We have no room for one. I'm limited to the space in two top freezers (one in the kitchen & one in the garage).

Dan, Jamie, & Bryson said...

I Google searched "freezer meals" and i ended up at your blog. These recipes look like they are right up my alley. I like the ethnic flair. Thanks for so generously sharing with the public! Can't wait to try the new recipes.