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Once A Month Cooking Whether you cook for a month or just double your dinners, this is the place to share ideas.

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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 08-13-2005, 10:01 AM
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I freeze things all the time. However, potatoes, mashed or otherwise do not freeze well. I tried freezing a Shephard's Pie once and it was terrible. I do make a freeze mac and cheese all the time and it turns out wonderfully. I cook my noodles al dente. Then, I make a white sauce and while it is hot, I pour sharp cheddar cheese in it. I mix it with the hot noodles and pour into casserole dishes. (I make several at one time.) Then, I mix some more cheese and bread crumbs and pour over the top. Everone likes the crunchy top. When I thaw it later, I put it in a 375 degree oven until hot and bubbly.

I freeze tuna casserole, meatloaves, brisket, and other things too. If it doesn't have potatoes in it, I can make it and freeze it. Unfortunately, I won't be able to do the OAMC in the 5th wheel. Bummer!
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Old 08-13-2005, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifestar

I am renting a house in the mountains at the end of August, and I want to prepare some meals I can freeze and then take with us. I'll have two large coolers, so I think the 4 hr drive will be OK.



Val
Here are a couple that I have done and work well, if you go to meals to freeze ahead in your search engine lots of sites will come up for you and you can pick some you know your family will like! Good Luck!

Veggie Jambalaya
From Linda Larsen,Your Guide to Busy Cooks.



True jambalaya uses sausages, shrimp and chicken. This rich vegetarian recipe version uses beans to provide meaty texture and flavor - with no meat.
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 15 oz. can butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz. can red beans, rinsed and drained

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, green bell pepper, celery, and garlic in hot oil until tender, about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water, tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, cayenne and fennel seed.


Bring to a boil and add rice. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender, stirring frequently.

Add beans and cover. Simmer 5-10 minutes longer or until well heated, stirring frequently. To freeze, cool casserole in refrigerator and ladle into plastic freezer containers. Seal and freeze. To reheat, place frozen jambalaya in saucepan and heat over very low heat, breaking up and stirring frequently, until hot. Serves 6-8 Calories: 340
Fat: 4 grams
Sodium: 770 mg



Veggie Pasta Shells

From Linda Larsen,Your Guide to Busy Cooks.

Freeze these jumbo stuffed shells either in a casserole covered with sauce, or freeze the individual shells in small bags without the sauce. That way you can take out one or two and zap in the microwave for a fast lunch.
  • 24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 10 oz. can vegetable broth
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 28 oz. jar spaghetti sauce

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse, drain, and let cool.

In a large saucepan, heat broth to boiling. Stir in carrots, potatoes and onions and cook 3-4 minutes until vegetables are tender. Drain vegetables well. Combine with ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Stir in Italian seasoning. Fill each cooked and cooled shell with this cheese mixture.

Pour 1/2 cup of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer on the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

To freeze, refrigerate at this point until cold. Then wrap, label, and freeze up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw whole casserole overnight in refrigerator. Bake as directed below, adding 15-20 minutes to baking time. To thaw and reheat individual shells, microwave on 40% power for 2-4 minutes until thawed. Then microwave on 60% power for 1-3 minutes until hot and bubbly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serves 8-10



Santa Fe Chicken

From Linda Larsen,Your Guide to Busy Cooks.

This recipe is a combination of several I read about in some of my cookbooks. It is one of the easiest in my collection, and so delicious.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 9 oz. pkg. frozen fully cooked diced chicken
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 24 oz. jar thick and chunky salsa
  • 1 cup taco sauce
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Cojack cheese

In medium microwave safe bowl, cook onion and garlic in olive oil on HIGH for 2-3 minutes until tender. Stir in frozen chicken, black beans and salsa. (If freezing, cool onion and garlic mixture before adding frozen chicken.)

In 2 quart glass baking dish, pour taco sauce. Lay four corn tortillas over sauce. Top with half of chicken mixture. Spoon on half of sour cream in small dollops. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Top with remaining tortillas, chicken mixture, sour cream and cheese. Cover with foil. At this point, you can wrap the casserole well and freeze up to 3 months. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes until bubbly. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer until cheese is melted. If frozen, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator, then bake covered at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until bubbly; uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer until cheese melts. Serves 6




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Old 08-13-2005, 11:52 AM
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Wow! You ladies are amazing! Tami, thanks for replanting my question...

I haven't seen one recipe here that doesn't look wonderful. I'm downright inspired!!

Barb, your suggestions about the pastas sounds prudent.. lol.. I was thinking about that too...

I have frozen my lemon mushroom herb chicken dish befire ( the sauce breaks a little and isn't as pretty as it is fresh.. but it's OK)

Recently, when I gave them the option to have it.. they seem pretty tired of it and have been opting for BBQ sauced chicken or sauteed with garlic and white wine .. so I'm shelving thst recipe till the cooler weather.. They'll appreciate it again then.

Debora, I'll try that mac n cheese caserole... Just one question.. do you freeze it before cooking or do you cook, cool and then freeze it?

And yes.. the recipe Abear posted was the one I was talking about. It's fantastic.

I still want to know HOW to freeze foods...

I know to cool cooked foods to room temperature, refrigerate till cool, then freeze.

BUT whenever I wrap something for the freezer, it tends to get freezer burn anyway! Any wisdom there?

Thanks!

Val
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Old 08-13-2005, 12:10 PM
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I had recently taken some recipes and decided to freeze them. I know you said your family likes the meatballs. I usually make a ton of meatballs and use them for spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, meatballs over mashed potates with gravy, meatball kabobs, etc.
I also made Sloppy joes. I made everything as if you were going to eat them right then, except I put butter on both sides of the buns. I let the meat mixture cool and spooned it on there. Then I wrapped in foil. To heat, you just thaw in the refrigerator and either cook in the oven, for a more crunchier taste, or microwave works just fine.
I have also made pasta dishes with the corkscrew pasta, added veggies and chicken that was seasoned, grilled and cut up. These I usually let cool and then I use plastic freezer bags for them. I portion them out in the serving sizes I would want. I also make sure to write on the outside what it is. And if I have recipes, I also leaven them in a sandwich bag on the outside of the frig so I don't have to go looking for them when it is needed.
If you would like, I can email you some recipes I have tried. Just PM me and best of luck!!!

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Old 08-13-2005, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifestar
Debora, I'll try that mac n cheese caserole... Just one question.. do you freeze it before cooking or do you cook, cool and then freeze it?

Val
I spray several casserole dishes with Pam. As I am cooking the noodles, I make a roux with olive oil and flour. I add some milk to make a white sauce. I always ad a touch of Louisiana hot sauce for flavor as well as pepper, salt, and some garlic. Then, while it is hot, I add some sharp cheddar cheese. (I never measure.) Then, I pour it over the hot, drained cooked noodles and mix well. I then pour the cheesey noodles in the casseroles. I pour a little more cheese and some breadcrumbs on the tops to make it crunchy. I then spray the top with a little Pam and cover with foil and freeze. Once I am ready to eat, I take it out of the freezer and put in the oven on 375 degree oven until hot and bubbly.

Good luck on freezing your recipes!
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Old 08-14-2005, 03:35 PM
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Just wanted to say that we had lasagna from the freezer today and it was really good. I also cooked the noodles like Barbzy recommended. I also added a little more sauce to it.

I sprayed my pan with cooking spray and then layered the lasagna like I always do , covered with foil and put it in the freezer.

Since I dont have a lot of pans like this, the next time Im going to try using the non-stick foil in the pan and then making the lasagna and freezing it. Once it is frozen, then I can take it out of the pan and stack it in the freezer so that I can use the pan again. To reheat, plop it back in the pan so that it will hold its shape.

Im going to try your taco dish, Val.

I made extra pancakes today and stuck them in the freezer for quick breakfasts.

Im going to start working on more dinners plus lunch ideas too.



Things like meatballs, pancakes, waffles....etc can be frozen on a cookie sheet and then popped into freezer bags.

Spag. sauce can be put into Ziplock bags and flattened too to take up less space. ( Tip from Amanda! ) She also says she makes sandwiches in individual bags and then puts them all back into the bread bag to keep them organized.
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Old 08-14-2005, 07:47 PM
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I, too, was a freezing novice but when I was pregnant with my second child, I realized I'd better get on the ball and get my freezer stocked!! The best thing I ever did was check out some cookbooks on easy meals to make and freeze from our local library. I got some great recipes and learned lots of tips & tricks.

The two most helpful ones I found were: "Frozen assets : how to cook for a day and eat for a month" by Deborah Taylor-Hough, and "The best freezer cookbook : freezer friendly recipes, tips and techniques" by Jan Main.

If your library doesn't have them, then they can get them for you through inter-library loan, or maybe you can pick up some cheap used copies on Amazon.

Good luck!

~Leslie
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Old 08-17-2005, 06:46 AM
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I see Tami has thrown my name around here a couple of times LOL! So I thought I would throw my two cents worth in here too.


AIR is the enemy when freezing.
Whenever you freeze something, try to get as much air out of the containter as possible. This will minimize the risk of freezer burn.

For pasta sauce (I make my own), I make a large batch and let it cool, then I pour a meal's worth into a gallon sized freezer ziploc bag. Last time I made it, I had 9 bags full. I squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible, then I lay them on the counter and I fold them in half if that makes sense. If it doesn't I can take a picture so you can see what I mean. I freeze them that way so that when they are frozen you can stand them up and stack them or lay them down and they take up minimal space.

Packaging and Wrapping
As far as wrapping things go, it depends on what it is and how long you think it will be in the freezer. For example, when I make big batches of pancakes, I stack them on top of each other with a piece of wax paper in between each pancake. Then I put them in ziploc gallon bags and put them in the freezer. Then when we want pancakes, you just reach in and take one out, the wax paper makes it easier to separate them. I do this same thing with French Toast as well. Another great thing to do with French Toast is when it has cooled off, cut the toast into dipping sized pieces, usually 6-8 per slice. Then place them all on a cookie sheet (like Tami mentioned) and freeze them. After a few hours, remove the cookie sheet from the freezer and put all the individual french toast dippers in a ziploc freezer bag. This way they are already frozen and will not stick to each other and become a huge lump or frozen mass. LOL

For sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly and cold cuts, Just make the sandwich as usual (excluding condiments like mayonnaise and mustard) and place each sandwich in a sanwich bag or wrap in plastic wrap. Then use the empty bread loaf bag (if you make a whole loaf like I do) and place all the wrapped or bagged sandwiches back into the loaf bag. Place that in the freezer. Then you can take out whatever sandwich you want and place it right in the lunchbag, it will thaw out by lunch time and taste just fine. I've been doing this for several years without any complaints. Oh, and like Tami mentioned, for PB&J, spread a thin layer of peanut butter on the jeely side of the bread first, then the jelly. This will keep the jelly from soaking through the bread. I do this even if I'm not freezing the sandwich!

Casseroles tend to freeze very well. I read some good tips here, and I saw Tami mention this about her lasagna. Line your casserole dish with foil first. I use enough foil so that there's a lot extra hanging out the side. Then I use the extra to wrap around the top and enclose it when I freeze it. Then build and cook your casserole. Let it cool, cover it with the extra foil and freeze. When it's frozen, remove the casserole from the pan so you can use your pan again. Baked pasta dishes freeze well, like lasagna and baked ziti, and as mentioned here earlier, cooking the noodle al dente is best since they will cook more in the baking process as well. Be sure that all noodles are covered with sauce.

I freeze meatloaves and meatballs as well. Some people cook them first and them freeze them. Personally, I don't, I prefer to freeze them raw and then thaw them out when I need them. I make 4 batches of meatballs and pack them in ziploc freezer bags, again squeezing as much air out as possible. I lay them in the bag in a single layer rather than throwing them in the bag to get stuck to each other. For meatloaf, I form the meat in the loaf pan, then I remove it, wrap it in plastic wrap, then place that inside a ziploc freezer bag and freeze.

Marinated Meat
Another thing I learned recently, from this board in fact, is freezing meat in marinades. I hadn't known about that but I'm hear to tell ya that it's awesome! I bought several marinade packages on sale and made chicken, pork chops and steak. I froze the meat and marinade in ziploc gallon bags, queezing out excess air, and laying flat in the freezer. Then you can stand them up for stacking or lay flat. I took these with us to San Diego (in our RV) and then took out the ones I wanted for that night and cooked them on the grill. They were awesome!! Very tender and tasty. I will definitely be doing this again.

Desserts
Cupcakes and cookies freeze very well. You can make several batches of cookie dough and freeze the dough for later baking, or you can bake the cookies and freeze the cookies. For cupcakes, I bake the cupcakes, let them cool, then I wrap each one in plastic wrap (unfrosted). I then put them all into a ziploc freezer bag in one layer. usually 9-12 cupcakes will fit in a gallon bag, depending on how big you make yours. When you want a cupcake, take it out and thaw it at room temp for ten to fifteen minutes, frost and enjoy!

Hope this helps, I know it's not a ton, but a few tips that I have learned along the way
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Old 08-18-2005, 07:44 PM
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Wow Amanda! That's a lot of experience in one post! lolol..

I have done the marinade thing..and the tip about freexing caseroles in their own foil.. is great.

I'll have to try the sandwich thing.. I am a bit skeptical on this, but hey.. tomorrow I will freeze ONE sandwich, and see how we like it.. ( I'll be sure to give you the girl's verdict)

You have all be so very helpful.. This weekend I begin the big freeze.. so I'll keep you all posted.

Val
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Old 08-18-2005, 10:06 PM
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I also have never thought of doing sandwiches. If this works, it will work out well when school starts. I can just make a bunch of sandwiches at one time and forget about it for a while. I may try it next week when school starts.
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