Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bulk Freezer Cooking, Tips & Recipes

OK, so once again it's been forever since I posted.  I really must get better at this.  I should probably get back to my blogging with a post about the house we bought... but instead I'm going to post a whole bunch of recipes.  Why?  Because I said I was thankful the other day on Facebook for a freezer full of meals and I had some friends ask how I go about accomplishing that.

I don't really like to "cook" I do however like to "bake."  (Sidenote: Jason asked me once how that is possible and I told him that a bout of baking lasts a whole lot longer than stuffed florentine shells at dinner time. Spending 2 hours making dinner to have it disappear in 20 minutes is depressing.  Loaves of pumpkin bread sitting in my freezer, ready to be defrosted and eaten is a much nicer thought.  Yes, I'm strange.)

Since I don't like to cook every night and eating out, every night, isn't an option I spend 2-3 days shopping and cooking once a month.

Pull the recipes you want to use, make your grocery list using those recipes (double them if you wish, you'll get more meals and it really doesn't add much more cooking time) and then go shopping.  Do your cooking the next day.

Try not to make super complicated recipes as they usually require lots of ingredients and you want to make the cooking as easy and as inexpensive as possible.

Here is a random selection of some of my favorite recipes!

Quick Tomato Sauce
Makes 8 c. (4 c. needed per lb. of pasta)
3 T olive oil
4 tsp. minced garlic
2- 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1- 28oz can diced tomatoes
6 T minced fresh basil (or 2 T dried basil)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Heat the oil and the garlic in a deep pot, stirring frequently until fragrant, but not browned.  Only about 2 minutes!  Stir in the cans of tomatoes with their juice.  Bring to a simmer and cook till slightly thickened about 30-40 minutes.  Stir in the basil, sugar and salt.

You can then let the sauce cool and freeze as a "chunky" sauce, or you can cool it and use a blender or food processor to make a smooth sauce.  Store in 4 c. servings

I like to double, triple and even quadruple certain things like spaghetti sauce, because it's great to have extras.

1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. basil
1 1/2 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1 egg
1 lb. hamburger

Mix all ingredients together.  Shape into 1" balls and bake on tin foil lined cookie sheet for 20 min. @ 400.  Cool and freeze in ziplock bags if desired.  To reheat: thaw and cook over med-low heat in sauce pan for about 10 min.

I get certain items at Sam's or Costco- like hamburger.  My last trip I bought 8 lbs of hamburger and got out of it 32 burgers, 2 lbs of plain hamburger to make into meatballs or use for tacos, and then 2 meatloaves.

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken
10-12 pieces boneless/skinless chicken tenderloins OR 4-6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts 
(I throw them in frozen, makes this recipe even easier!)
1 bottle BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix BBQ sauce and rest of ingredients in a bowl, place chicken in crock pot and pour sauce over top.  Cook on low 6 hrs.
I serve this chicken with the following biscuit recipe and a veggie side.

J. P.'s Big Daddy Biscuits
Makes 6 grand sized biscuits (I always double and can get 12-14 BIG biscuits)
2 c. all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 T sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. shortening (I use Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening - can't tell any difference between it and Crisco taste wise.)
1 c. milk

Preheat oven to 425
In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening and then stir in milk.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 10-15 times.  Pat or roll dough out to 1" thick.  Cut biscuits with a large cutter, repeat until all dough is used.  Place biscuits onto an un-greased baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Make sure you mix, knead, pat or roll and handle dough as little as possible - you'll get lighter, bigger biscuits this way!

Chicken Taco Chili
1 15oz can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 15oz can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
1 15oz can corn kernels w/ liquid
1 16oz can tomato sauce
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
1 T chili powder
6-8 boneless/skinless chicken tenderloins

Put everything in the crock pot and give it a stir.  Cook on low 6-8 hrs.  
I serve it with the following!

Cornmeal Waffles
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour 
1 1/4 c. corn meal
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
3 T vegetable oil
2 eggs

In a large bowl mix all ingredients together, pour and cook waffles according to your waffle iron instructions.  (These are pretty thick, I don't have to pour as much batter on the iron as I do for regular waffles.  These are also great for breakfast with honey on them!) 

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
1 6oz pkg. wild rice mix (I get any quick cook 10 min wild rice mix- I don't have 40 minutes to cook rice)
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 T butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. sour cream
1/3 c. chicken broth
2 T minced fresh basil or 1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 c. shredded chicken
1/3 c. parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350
Prepare rice mix according to directions
In a large skillet, saute onion and celery in butter until tender.  Stir in soup, sour cream, stock and basil. Stir in rice and chicken.
Transfer mixture to an un-greased 2-quart baking dish, sprinkle with cheese.  
Let cool and freeze OR
Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
(If frozen- to reheat: thaw and bake uncovered for about 30-35 minutes.)

For awesome shredded chicken-
I buy fresh or frozen boneless/skinless chicken tenderloins, thaw them if need be and then boil them all.  After they have cooked, I toss them in my Kitchenaid mixer and using the paddle attachment turn it on high and watch that chicken shred itself up!  I will do an entire bag at once, cooking in batches, to use in multiple recipes.  I'll freeze what I don't use!

Balsamic-Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Ok- my grocery store sells tenderloins 2 per pack.  So what I do is divide the original ingredient measurements into 2 gallon ziplocks and then toss a tenderloin into each one.  Roll up to get the air out, seal and freeze!  

Into each gallon ziplock add the following:
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 T olive oil
1 pork tenderloin

Seal bag and sort of twist and turn tenderloin so that the garlic, oil, etc. is dispersed evenly, then either freeze or marinate overnight in fridge.

To cook:
(thaw if frozen)
Preheat oven to 400
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add pork and brown all over about 5 minutes.  Transfer pork to foil lined baking dish and roast, turning occasionally, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting and try to let it rest 10 min before slicing.

I buy a big pack of tin foil pans at Sam's and use them to freeze casseroles, cinnamon rolls, meatloaves, etc. They are easy to stack once frozen, just cover your dish with tin foil and write the contents and date on top.  

Honey-Orange Marinade
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. orange juice
2 T olive oil
2 T worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. minced garlic

Mix together and pour over chicken breasts in gallon ziplock.  Marinade overnight or freeze.  Cook however you wish!  We like to grill them!

Buy a jar of minced garlic.  I love my garlic press, but it's way faster to just scoop a tsp. out when I need it.

Yeast Raised Waffles
Best thing about this recipe is you can make it at night and eat them in the morning, or if you want breakfast for dinner, make it in the morning and it's ready that night!  I used to make these with my grandma! :)

Mix 8 hrs. ahead of baking:

1/2 c. warm water + 2 tsp. yeast
Let stand 5 min.

2 c. lukewarm milk
1/2 c. melted butter
1 tsp. salt

2 c. all purpose flour
2 eggs
Pinch of baking soda

In a large bowl, mix milk, butter and salt, add yeast mix and then add flour.  Mix well.
Let stand covered loosely with plastic wrap in the fridge a minimum of 8 hrs.
When ready to bake, add eggs and pinch of baking soda.
Beat well, batter will be thin.
Cook according to waffle iron instructions.
Waffles will be thin and delicious!