Thursday, May 19, 2011

Freezer Cooking Part One

Me style.

After my experiment with ground beef last fall I kinda let freezer cooking fall by the wayside. Here lately I have been reading a lot about it. Mostly on blogs from couponers. Which is another new hobby I've picked up, I'll have to go into detail on it later. For now, a tale of big batch cooking.

Today started with Split Pea Soup. I used leftover ham & the bone from the Orange Glazed Ham I made last Sunday. It was super easy by the way, 1/4 cup brown sugar in the bottom of the crock pot, 3/4 cup brown sugar mixed with 1/2 can concentrated orange juice and poured over the ham as glaze. Cook on low for about 4-5 hours.

Back to the Split Pea Soup. I used the recipe posted by Emily of One Lovely Life. Only difference was that I added 4oz of finely chopped baby carrots in with the onion & celery, and I used garlic powder as I forgot to get whole garlic... Turned out DIVINE! and because Rickey won't touch it, it made enough for Robyn and I to have for dinner twice. In fact we ate half for dinner tonight before putting the other half in the freezer.

I put 4 lbs of pintos to soak... You need a BIG pot for this... I ended up using my crock pot for half and a mixing bowl for the other half as my big pot was busy with pea soup...

While the soup was simmering and the beans were soaking I divided 5 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1 lb bags.
I divided a bottle of Italian dressing between 2 of the bags, squeezed the air out, & froze.
Then I mixed 2 cups of buttermilk, 1/2 cup of dijon mustard, and 1/2 tbsp each salt & pepper. I divided this mixture evenly between the remaining 3 bags, squeezed, sealed, & froze.

These aren't really MEALS per se, more just timesavers. The Italian chicken is fairly simple- Thaw 24 hours in advance, pour in pan, bake. The buttermilk chicken (which BTW came from My Little Bit of Life) is more versatile. Thaw 24 hours in advance of course, but then it's just marinated chicken. I plan to use 1 bag for chicken nuggets, 1 for buffalo bacon ranch chicken, and one for who knows what ;-D

After the chicken was in the freezer I had a bit of a break. From the kitchen at least. I had to feed the baby HIS lunch LOL.

When I decided the beans had soaked enough, I started the long haul. I drained and rinsed them, then measured out 2 bags of 4 cups each. I added 2 cups of water to each bag, then squeezed, sealed, and froze.

I set the remaining beans to cook with just a little salt.

When they were done enough I drained them, keeping 1.5 cups of the liquid back. I measured out 9 cups, put them in the crock pot on high along with 3/4 cup butter, and mashed them as best as I could by hand.

To the last of the beans I added 1 cup salsa, .5 tbsp cumin, 1tbsp onion powder, and .5 tbsp garlic powder. I mixed this up well and added back the 1.5 cups cooking liquid. I divided this mixture between 2 bags; it worked out to 2 cups per bag.

Back to the crockpot, I continued to stir occasionally as the beans and butter cooked for about an hour. Then I got out my mixer and gave them a whirl because I was impatient. I added some garlic salt, and .5 tbsp chili powder, and let them simmer for about another hour. I filled 2 bags of 2 cups each for freezing, and put the last of the beans in a bowl for making burritos tomorrow.

And now it's BEDTIME. I'm beat, and it's storming. I have a feeling I'm gonna sleep like a ROCK.