Friday, August 20, 2010

Food, glorious food! (Cooking, Freezing & Eating 101)*

I've been busy the past few days cooking &; freezing, stocking up the freezer a bit.  Cooking a whole meal at dinner time is difficult, since I'd rather spend the time with Dave & Maya once he gets home from work . . . cooking & freezing lets us have whole meals, or meal components, prepped ahead of time so that the nightly hands-on time is minimized.  (Note to my fellow apartment dwellers:  we have a chest freezer on our terrace, which gives us substantial freezer room.  But I bet that if you cleaned out some old random stuff and organized your freezer you could fit a lot of meals in there, as well.)

Below you will find a few recipes & pics of stuff that I like to keep on hand in the freezer.  Once we get some ground beef (we haven't had any for a few months, we've been waiting to order it from a local farm----which should happen this weekend!) I'll add in some pre-cooked taco meat (in ziploc bags), meatballs, and meatloaf slices.  My "recipes" are often done to taste, and tend to be kind of "throw in poultry seasoning until it tastes good"ish, but they're a start, I guess.   The freezer techniques are helpful if you want to freeze stuff but you've been unsure how to start.

And sometimes, we just go out to eat :)  Like this afternoon, when we went for seafood at City Island (pictures on the blog's Facebook page) or this evening, when we headed out for yummy Italian food in NYC's real Little Italy (aka Arthur Avenue, in the Bronx).  Here are Maya & I, all dolled up and ready to go out to dinner:

Ok, the food.  Here we go . . . easy things to make and freeze:

1. Pesto/Other Sauces (lower right bag)  The real trick with soups & sauces is to freeze them in ice cube trays.  It takes longer to freeze, but then you can defrost however many cubes you need, instead of trying to sloppily defrost a whole ziploc bag of sauce & wasting some.  

Ingredients: basil (2-3 bunches), spinach (one bag), pine nuts (aka pignoli nuts), olive oil, grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best)

Method: In a food processor, process the basil & spinach.  Drizzle in olive oil until it looks nice and smooth.  Add in pine nuts & cheese, a bit at a time, and keep tasting it until it tastes the way that you want it to :)  Warning: The cheese can make the pesto very salty, so add it slowly.

Freezing: Freeze in ice cube trays, then pop the cubes into Ziploc freezer bags.

2. Chicken pot pie (lower left bag): A fantastic way to use leftover chicken/turkey, and you probably already have a lot of this stuff laying around anyway.

Ingredients: 1 onion (chopped), 3 carrots (chopped), 2 stalks celery (chopped), 2 potatoes (peeled & chopped), 2 tbs parsley, 2 cups cooked chicken/turkey (cut into small chunks), 4 tbs flour (whatever type you have), 4 cups chicken stock (or 4 bouillon cubes + 4 cups of water), 1 cup of frozen peas (or half a cup--I love peas), a chunk of butter, seasonings

Method: Melt butter in pan, add onion, saute a few minutes.  Add carrot & celery, saute a bit more.  Stir in flour and (you guessed it) saute a few more minutes.  Add whatever seasonings you like (I like poultry seasoning, salt & pepper, maybe some sage).  Add the broth, bring to a boil.  Add potatoes, simmer until they're tender.  Then stir in the chicken, peas & parsley.  You're done!

Freezing: Let it cool (probably in the fridge).  Dump into a gallon size ziploc bag and freeze it flat.

Eating: When you're ready to eat it, defrost and dump it into a 9 x 13 glass pan (or whatever you have).  Top it with pie crust (I used frozen, don't use the graham cracker kind-obviously)---it takes me 2 frozen crusts to top it, broken into pieces, don't worry if it doesn't look pretty . . . it will taste great.  Bake at 350 until the crust looks cooked (maybe 25 mins?).  Yum!

3. Lasagna  (top bag):  Frankly, I'm tired of typing recipes, but you can see that I cut the lasagna into chunks before freezing.  If you want to freeze a tray of anything, the best way to do it is to cut into slices or chunks, and freeze those first.  An hour or two in the freezer and they won't be freezer burned, they'll just be independently frozen.  Then you put those into a big ziploc bag and ----viola!---you can easily defrost a slice or two for dinner anytime.   

(I'll continue my "Cooking & Freezing" series with more recipes & tricks if people are interested.  For now, I'm done.  If YOU have any ideas for ME as for things to do with 6 lbs of tomatoes, please post on Facebook, or here, or email me at: .  We got a lot of tomatoes from the CSA this week!)


Colleen H said...

That chicken pot pie sounds great - I'm going to try it - I'll probably add corn also. Good idea to freeze the pesto sauce in ice trays - I may try that one too. Glad to hear Maya is feeling better - how's my friend Parker?

Sarah said...

Are you going to try to can any of the tomatoes? I've been canning with my mother this summer and it's relatively easy with the right supplies. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing a science experiment:) I can share a recipe if you're interested in trying to can. Let me know.

Dana said...

Colleen--Parker is great, although possibly missing the open fields of Vermont!

Sarah--canning?! You overestimate my domestic capabilities, for sure. That sounds out of my league!

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