1.12.2013

Lessons in Freezer Meals

Ok, so my first attempt several months ago at making freezer-to-pot crock pot meals was a decent success. We found meals we liked, and ones we didn't. BUT the biggest lesson I learned was in my method and tools.

Method - CHOP CHOP CHOP everything before you start scooping into bags. Chop all your carrots, celery, garlic, etc and place into bowls to make an assembly line for scooping and divying into your freezer bags.

              - COOK your meats (if needed) while you chop. This should come to you as a DUH thing, but to me it did not the first time around. I have no idea why...

              - FOr gawd's sake, label your bags. Let me tell you, if you haven't done this before, once everything is frozen, it all looks exactly the same. I haven't screwed this part up yet, but I did lose my sharpie twice today... It was almost an ugly situation... 

Tools - I learned the hard way, aka leakage, spillage, and other messy things, that you should NOT skimp and use the cheapo bags. Get the good bags... With the zipper tops... Double, triple, quadruple sealing bags.... You get the picture?

         - If you can learn to NOT fill your bags so full that they look like a fat woman in a corset, you probably won't need to worry about buying the good bags. I, unfortunately, have NOT learned this lesson... Yet...

         - Make SURE you have room in your freezer for this stuff. Today, I made about 14 freezer meals, and uh, had nowhere to put them. I rearranged my freezer upstairs and could fit them... But I have to work on my freezer in the basement in order to make room for the 6 quarts of pasta sauce I made today... Yeah... I think I need another freezer... Hold up! Why, oh WHY do only TWO people need another freezer?! This is almost an asinine statement I just made... Honestly, at this point, we should not need to purchase any groceries.... For a long, long time... Except maybe fruit and milk....

So, here for your enjoyment and happiness, are some recipes! Note, none of these are my original recipes, but I did adapt them for freezer-to-pot cooking. Oh, this is in NONE of the recipes, but you will want to partially thaw your bags in order to get everything into the crockpot without going insane. OH! Some of these recipes call for you to garnish with bacon crisps... Just freeze your bacon leftovers in a little baggie and zap in the microwave to make them crisp again.



Crock Pot Dinners

Soups
Pumpkin Soup with Bacon
2 t olive oil
½ c raw pumpkin seeds
3 slices thick cut bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 t salt
½ t chipotle chili powder or more to taste
½ t black pepper
60 oz pumpkin puree (2 cans)
4 c chicken broth
¼ c apple cider
½ whipping cream

For the freezer: sauté all vegetables in bacon fat (reserve the bacon crisps for garnish) then add all seasonings and pumpkin puree. Place in freezer bag, mark with Add 4 c chicken broth, stir in cider at end. Cook on high for 4 hours. Garnish with bacon crisps and pumpkin seeds.

Parsnip and Carrot Soup
1 medium leek, thinly sliced
Garlic, minced
4 parsnips, diced
4 carrots, diced
4 cups stock
1 bay leaf
½ t salt
½ t pepper
½ c cooked pasta
1 T parsley
1 c croutons

For the Freezer: sauté leek and garlic, let cool and place in bag with carrots, parsnips, and seasonings. On bag, mark add 4 cups stock, cook low 3-4 hours or high 2-3 hours, garnish with parsley and croutons

Chicken and Vegetable Chowder
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 can (14 oz) stock
1 can cream of potato soup
1 package broccoli florets, thawed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 jar (14 oz) sliced mushrooms
½ c chopped onion
½ c corn kernels
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ t dried thyme leaves
1/3 c half and half or cream
For the freezer: Combine all ingredients in bag, then mark with “cook on low 5-6 hours”, stir in half an half just before serving

Mushroom and Barley Soup
8 and 1 c chicken broth
1 package (16 ounces) sliced mushrooms
2 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery
½ c uncooked pearl barley
½ oz dried porcini mushroom
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
½ dried thyme
½ t black pepper

For the Freezer: Add all ingredients to bag and mark with add 8 cups stock, cook on low 4-6 hours

Leek and Potato Soup
6 slices bacon, chopped
5 cups shredded potatoes
3 leeks, chopped
1 can cream of potato soup
1 can (14 oz) stock
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
½ c sour cream

For Freezer: sauté vegetables (not potatoes) in bacon fat, reserve bacon crisps for garnish. Place all ingredients in bag and mark cook low 6-7 hours, stir in sour cream at end of cooking.

Italian Sausage Soup
Meatballs:     1 pound Italian sausage
½ c breadcrumbs
¼ parmesan cheese
¼ c milk
1 egg
1/2 t dried basil
½ t balck pepper
¼ t garlic salt
Soup:
4 cups chicken stock
1 T tomato paste
Garlic, minced
¼ t red pepper flakes
½ c uncooked mini pasta
1 bag (10 oz) baby spinach, chopped
Grated parmesan cheese

For Freezer: make meatballs, bake in oven until cooked. Combine all ingredients in bag and mark “add 4 cups stock, cook on low 5-6 hours” and top with parmesan cheese
Chuck and Stout Soup
2 T olive oil
3 pounds beef chuck or stew meat
Salt and pepper
8 cups stock
3 large onions, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
Garlic, minced
20 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
4 sprigs thyme
1 bottle stout beer

For Freezer: Season meat with salt and pepper and brown. Bring stock a boil and reduce by half. Place all ingredients in bag and mark cook on low 10 hours.

Double Thick Baked Potato Soup
2 pounds starchy potatoes, cubed
2 cans cream of potato soup
1 ½ c chopped green onions, divided
¼ t garlic powder
1/8 t red pepper flakes
1 ½ c shredded chedder cheese
1 c sour cream
1 cup milk

For Freezer: combine all ingredients (not milk, sour cream, or cheese) and mark “cook on low for 8 hours, then add cheese, milk, and sour cream at end, heat through, and serve with green onions and bacon crisps”

Corn Chowder
3 T butter
3 leeks, cleaned and sliced
3 + 1 cups stock
5 cups corn kernels
3 sprigs thyme
Salt and pepper
½ cup cream

For Freezer: combine all ingredients and place in bag and mark “add 3 cups  stock, cook low 4 hours, add cream at end before serving”

Harvest Beef Stew
1 T olive oil
1 ½ pounds stew meat
1 quart canned tomatoes
6 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup apple juice
2 T parsley flakes
1 T basil flakes
2 t salt
Garlic, minced
½ t black pepper
2 bay leaves
¼ c flour
½ c water

For Freezer: season and brown meat, discard fat. Place all ingredients in bag (except water and flour) and mark “cook on low 6-7 hours.” Thicken with flour if needed.

Wild Mushroom Beef Stew
1 ½ pounds stew meat
2 T flour
½ t salt
½ t pepper
1 ½ c beef broth
1 t Worcestershire sauce
Garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 t paprika
One box mushrooms
2 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
A celery stalk, chopped

For Freezer: coat beef and flour, salt and pepper, brown on all sides. Place all ingredients in bag and mark “cook low 10-12 hours”

Mushroom Beef Stew
1 pounds stew meat
1 can cream of mushroom soup
16 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 package dry onion soup mix

For Freezer: combine all ingredients in bag and mark “cook low 8-10 hours” and serve over egg noodles

Tuscan Beef Stew
½ c hot beef broth
¾ c dried porcini mushrooms
3 slices bacon, chopped
2 pounds stew meat
3 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup dry red wine
¼ c tomato paste
½ t sugar
2 T flour
2 T butter
For Freezer: Combine hot broth and mushrooms, let stand. Cook bacon, reserve crisps. Season beef with flour, salt, pepper, brown on all sides. Add all ingredients to bag and mark “cook low 7-8 hours.” Thicken with flour and butter mash if needed. Serve over pasta.

Beef Stew with Molasses
½ c flour
Salt and pepper
2 pounds stew meat
2 medium onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
8 ounces carrots, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
28 oz diced tomatoes
1 c stock
3 T molasses
2 T cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 starchy potatoes, cubed

For Freezer: season meat with flour, salt and pepper, brown. Combine all ingredients in bag and mark “cook low 5 hours”


Dinners

Molasses Maple Glazed Brisket
1 beef brisket, about 2 pounds
Salt and pepper
2 T olive oil
½ c maple syrup
¼ c molasses
2 T brown sugar
1 T tomato paste
Peel and juice of one orange
2 garlic cloves, mashed
4 slices fresh ginger

For Freezer: combine all ingredients in bag and mark “cook low 7-9 hours flipping at least once”

Turkey with Chunky Cherry Relish
1 bag (16 ounces) frozen dark cherries, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1 package dried cranberries (6 ounces)
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 T tapioca
1 ½ T salt
½ t cinnamon
½ t pepper
1 turkey breast (1.5-3 pounds)
2 T water
1 T cornstarch
For Freezer: Combine all ingredients (except turkey) in bag, mark with “place on bottom” and turkey in bag with salt and pepper marked “place on top, cook low 7-8 hours”. Remove turkey and slice, thicken cherry mixture with water and cornstarch

Italian braised short ribs in red wine
3 pounds beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
2 large onions, sliced
Garlic, minced
16 ounces mushrooms, quartered
2 cups red wine
2 cups stock
2 t Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper

For Freezer: season ribs with salt and pepper, brown and discard fat. Brown onions and garlic. Combine all ingredients in bag and mark “cook low 6-8 hours, serve with potatoes or polenta.”



6 comments:

  1. OMG, did you make ALL of those soups this weekend?!

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    Replies
    1. I didn't get the ones made that involve chicken simply because I had all my beef thawed and ready to go, got them all done and put away, and then realized I didn't have any room for more :(

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  2. I am a food hoarder. I have two packed freezers, plus a large refrigerator freezer, and not a square inch left in any of them! Two old people, both on diets, and two fat little dogs. I must stay away from Costco.

    I think one of my problems is that I'll cook a recipe that serves four, or six, so I have to freeze big portions of them. Most of those "leftovers" are in unmarked containers, so we're always getting surprise meals! Most of the time that's OK, but Otto and Annie are not happy when their crockpot chicken turns out to be cornbread stuffing :-)

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  3. Holy cow, you've been busy! I highly recommend doing a pork roast in the crock pot, on top of 1/4ed potatoes, rubbed with whole cranberry sauce, a little salt and garlic. Delish!

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  4. Thank you for all the recipes. You certainly have been busy. :)

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  5. Maybe you could can your pasta sauce leaving space for your veggies. Since you have a basement you could store canned goods there as long as its cool.

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