Friday, August 6, 2010

Mini Freezer Cooking session

I've spent a lot of time reading about freezer cooking, aka Once a Month Cooking. Normally though, I just make a lot of one or two things, rather than tackling a lot of meals. Chicken quarters went on sale, and I looked through my OAMC cookbook and found a number of meals that used chicken pieces, instead of diced or whole boneless skinless chicken. I made up the plan for my mini freezer cooking session and got to it! Proper planning makes a huge difference when trying to make a number of things at once. All of the recipes are from this cookbook and therefore copyrighted, but I found one online so that one is linked.

Denise's Black Beans
Country Captain
Herbed Chicken x 2
Lemon Chicken
Oriental Chicken
Stove-Top Barbecued Chicken
(Each of these meals serves 4-6, so they will last even longer.)

Veggies purchased on sale:
Broccoli - 7 lbs.
Spinach - 7 bunches

I ran into a few problems; again, lack of proper planning. My fridge was full of broccoli and spinach so I didn't buy the chicken until Friday night, and it was frozen. Oops! I had to thaw it just enough to pry apart and pull off the skin, but not very much because you aren't supposed to thaw and re-freeze raw meat. That worked out okay for the "dump" recipes but not so well for the ones where I needed to cook chicken right then. Also, I made my own "cream of" soup and I should have done that in advance, especially because I only have two functioning stove burners.

Here are all the "dump" recipes (basically you throw ingredients together, no cooking).
Black Beans
Barbecued Chicken
The rest of the chicken cooking in the crockpot.

Labeling is super important when you're doing this. Sometimes you can't tell things apart when they're frozen, or you don't remember the cooking directions. Most of these items are served over rice or pasta.
Oh, funny story about the importance of labels! One day I grabbed a jar of home canned broth to use in dinner. Except when I opened it and tasted it to see if it was chicken or beef, it was sweet. Apparently my mom had canned pear juice and didn't label it. I couldn't drink it all right then, so I poured it into pint jars and froze it. Without labeling it.

Fast-forward many months. I needed broth this week, so I grabbed a jar from the freezer. Except when I started to defrost it, I tasted it, and it was sweet. OOPS! I threw it back in the freezer.....without labeling it, haha. How much do you want to bet this story will repeat itself in a few months.

Anyway, back to the freezer cooking. I ended up doubling the oriental chicken batch as well. Here was how it all worked, since I didn't actually have a full day to devote to it.

Thursday night:
Chop onions
Defrost celery and hot dogs
Start crockpot of 2C black beans, 6C water
Blanch and freeze broccoli
Side note: Package the chocolate-orange rolls I had frozen the night before on cookie sheets

Friday morning:
Drain beans, add remaining ingredients

Friday night:
Wash previously used freezer bags
Pull out ALL the ingredients so I don't have to keep scrounging in cupboards
Do dump recipes - Herbed Chicken, Country Captain, Lemon Chicken
Oops, stop and make "cream of" soup
Stove-top Barbecued Chicken
Cool and freeze Denise's Black Beans
More broccoli
Cook, chop, drain and freeze spinach

Saturday morning:
Put remaining chicken in crockpot

Saturday afternoon:
Deboned, shredded chicken (was going to freeze some, decided to save for dinner)
Oriental Chicken
Put skin and bones back in crockpot with lots of dried onions, basil, and pepper.
Labeled everything, moved it to the chest freezer, and celebrated.

Sunday morning:
Strained the grossness out of the broth. I'll freeze it tomorrow after pulling off the fat.

I'm pretty stoked at the fact that my freezer is almost full. Check out all that ricotta cheese! I found a ton on clearance! When I make lasagna, it's taken me awhile to first acquire all the ingredients on sale. Normally I only find one container of ricotta on clearance every 6 months. This time there were 6 and I bought them all! Maybe I'll finally make ravioli.

All kinds of fun stuff in here....
Chocolate-orange rolls
Breakfast burritos
Refried beans
Random other homemade yumminess

It's very comforting.

Go check out others' freezer cooking efforts this past weekend here! Or the following week's beef session here!


Jaime said...

You are incredible! I wish I had that kind of enthusiasm for cooking!

Amy said...

That's a lot of food, even for a large family. You are truly amazing. Do you ever relax? I was done after just a day of apricot preserving.