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Category: Freezer Cooking (page 1 of 2)

Freezer Cooking 2014: Broth

Did you enjoy my post yesterday talking about prepping meat and organs for quick and easy dinners? I hope so. Today we are talking about BROTH!

Besides getting wonderful meat, organ meats, and tallow from Indian Creek angus, I also get lots of bones. Speaking of bones, I am a fan of any type of meat that is bone-in that requires a long slow cooking time. This is because the bones add flavor and tenderness to the meat, and lots of extra nutrition. Likewise, broth made from bones and connective tissue contains important amino acids, minerals and gelatin that have amazingly therapeutic effects. These effects include normalizing HCl production in the stomach, protecting gastric mucosal integrity, and providing elasticity to our skin and lubrication for our joints. Seriously, you are missing out if you only eat boneless skinless meat!

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Freezer Cooking 2014: Meat and Organs

I hope you guys are ready for a slew of posts in the next 7 days. School starts back a week from Monday and I have been cooking up a storm and doing everything I can to get ahead for when things get crazy.

That means that it is the time of year for freezer cooking!! I have done this every year for the last 3 years. You can read about freezer cooking 2012 (Part I, II, III, IIII) and 2013 (Part I and II) by clicking on the links.

As you can tell from those posts, normally I make a lot of sauces, some blanched veggies, and lots of chili and spaghetti. This year I am doing things a little differently.

Many times, when I am scrambling to figure out what to make for dinner, it is because I haven’t defrosted any meat. Generally, with frozen and easy to prepare veggies and starches, meals are easy on the fly, except for the meat portion. Chris can only take so many eggs for dinner, so having an assortment of pre-cooked meat options ranked high on my priority list for this years freezer cooking checklist.

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Freezer Cooking 2013 – Finished!

The freezers are full and I am done! I did the grocery shopping on Wednesday last week and finally finished today (Tuesday). I thought it was a good idea to spread out the cooking with having work/church/etc. But I have to admit that I got really sick of being in the kitchen. I am glad this ordeal is over. Though it was totally worth it, and I know we will enjoy the results in the busy nights that are coming. Click here to see freezer cooking part one.

Here are the pictures!

Chili is Chris’ favorite food, so I made sure to make plenty of it!

I got 7 bags each with 8 cups of chili.

I cooked the rice with chicken broth. For the beans I cooked them with beef broth, sliced jalapenos, garlic and onions. I kept some of the beans by themselves, and the rest I added to a bowl with fresh corn, mushrooms, onions and peppers as filling for enchiladas or quesadillas.

It is hard to make a picture of beans to look good. haha Though it did taste really good and will make some delicious enchiladas!

I bought two organic chickens from Costco, so I cooked the second chicken, and chopped the meat from both chickens to freeze.

I got 6 -1 cup- bags of chopped chicken total. This will be good for putting in stir-frys or making chicken salad for lunches.

Bags of enchilada filling with chicken added.

7 bags with 3 cups of rice in each.

Having a full freezer is a problem when you need to get something from the bottom :). I took the opportunity and reorganized after this.

Not wanting anything from my 2 chickens go to waste, for lunch on Sunday I cooked up the chicken hearts and chicken livers and served them with steamed veggies and fried okra. Chris was a champ and finished his before me. I struggled with the texture of the liver. But now I can say I have tried it :).

Last night I made enchilada sauce. I started with a bowl full of dried peppers.

I took of the tops and shook out the seeds.

Then I blistered the peppers in a skillet.

I poured boiling water over them and let them soak for an hour.

Then I blended up the soaked chilies with chicken broth tomato sauce and spices.

Unfortunately it turned out more spicy than I would have liked. But I couldn’t keep adding tomato sauce because I ran out of jars to put it in. haha I am hoping freezing it will mellow the spiciness a bit.

I also had some leftover chicken broth and I didn’t have any jars left, so I cooked it down and froze it in an ice cube tray for bullion cubes.

Finally, a clean kitchen!

Well there you have it folks. It feels good to be done :).

2013 Freezer Cooking Part 1

It is that time of year again for freezer cooking! I start school back in two weeks and I wanted to have a few stand-by meals in the freezer for when things get crazy this fall. I will be working part-time and taking a 16 credit hour load at school and Chris will be assisting with the high school marching band. That means lots of late nights at class for me and late night rehearsals after school for Chris.

I am switching things up this year and the only full meals I am making are chili and chicken and rice bake. For the rest I am making more separate items like sauces, blanched veggies, and pre-cooked meats so it will still be a breeze to put dinner together but we have more variety and more options. I am also spacing it out a little more this year. Last year I did everything in 3 days and my poor freezers took forever to catch up. Also, because I packed everything into the freezer without it freezing right away, all the bags got stuck together and trying to get them apart meant tearing some of the bags. This became very inconvenient when I would put a bag of chili in the fridge to defrost overnight.

Yesterday I put a lot in the freezer, so today I will just make chili and some pre-cooked brown rice and black beans and finish the rest next week.

You know this post would not be complete without the token messy kitchen photo. This is where things started yesterday morning. The little bit of counter space next to the water pitcher was where I did all my chopping yesterday.

I went out first thing in the morning and harvested fresh herbs for my cooking. I have thai basil in the top left hand corner, then chives, rosemary, and sweet basil.

Green Curry Sauce which I blended with my nifty immersion blender.

To prevent the sauce from turning brown in the freezer from oxidation, I heated it just until boiling then pulled it off the heat and let it cool.

Labelled, jarred, and ready for the freezer!

Garlic anyone??

Here I am making my favorite red curry sauce. I don’t have a recipe for this, but I will tell you what I put in. I chopped up about 5 onions and cooked them down. Then I added a whole head of garlic chopped, 2 inches of ginger chopped, and several tablespoons of red curry paste. I cooked that for a little while then added 3 cans of coconut milk, 2 cups water, 1 large handful each of fresh thai basil and sweet basil. I tasted it and then added a little bit of lime juice, sesame oil, rice vinegar and salt. I heated that to boiling and then let it cool before putting it in jars.

This turned out so good!

I get pasture raised beef from a local farmer and they gave me some marrow bones recently to make beef broth. I am still cooking it now but I will use it this afternoon to cook my black beans.

I started by putting the bones in a pan and roasting in the oven on 400 degrees for about an hour and a half.

Then I put them in a stock pot with a little bit of apple cider vinegar (to help get more nutrients and minerals from the bones) and filled with water and simmered on low all day. During the roasting process tallow was also rendered from the bones which I collected in a bowl and put in the fridge.

I am so excited about this tallow. It is great for cooking eggs and for sautéing onions and peppers.

On this side of the kitchen I have meat defrosting, stock cooking and water boiling for blanching veggies.

I also cooked a chicken and pulled off the meat. I will chop the meat and bag it up in 1 cup portions for quick dinners in the future. The bones were put back into the pot and left to simmer all night long to make chicken broth. I will use the chicken broth when I am cooking brown rice for the freezer.

Next I chopped up 4 lbs of carrots, 8 head of broccoli, 4 heads of cauliflower, 8 onions and 9 zucchinis for blanching and freezing.

I only have 2 ice cube trays with ice in my freezer. So submerging all of these veggies in ice cold water after blanching wasn’t going to work. So, I just spread them in in thin layers to cool quickly. It worked great and the vegetables weren’t as soggy either. Win-win!

I spent $21.79 on veggies and got at least 68 cups worth. That is $.32 per 1 cup serving.

Then I made Mom’s spaghetti sauce and added ground beef and some shredded carrots for sweetness. Having big stainless steel bowls has made things so much easier this year!  Thanks Aunt Joy!

I was able to get 8 cups in each bag. I also saved some out so we could eat spaghetti for dinner and so I can make lasagna for small group on Sunday.

Now I am waiting for beans to cook so I can make chili, Chris’ favorite food. Did you know putting a wooden spoon over the pot will keep it from boiling over?

Hope you all have a great weekend!!

Freezer Cooking 2012 (Part 4)

Well, I was planning on cooking one more recipe yesterday. But as you can see in the picture, the freezer is full! I am not fitting anything else in there.

We will have to start eating out of the freezer before I can add anything else. I guess this is a good problem :). I also finally got my kitchen back in order. Life is good!

I promised you I would give you the recipes for everything I made this week, so I made a list. Most of them came from blogs, so I have a link to each recipe and to the home page of the blog.

I got the recipe for Green Chili Chicken Chili from the blog The Whole Kitchen.

Bolognese from The Pioneer Woman.

Red Enchilada sauce from Alosha’s Kitchen. I didn’t have a recipe for the filling of the enchiladas. I just guessed on amounts for the beef, black beans, veggie filling, and cheese.

Chicken, broccoli, and brown rice casserole from Freeze Your Way Fit. I modified this recipe quite a bit and added carrots, mushrooms, peas, jalapenos, and garlic and used only a quarter of the cheese it called for.

Gluten- Free Shepherd’s Pie from Gluten Free Goddess. I also modified this recipe a lot. I didn’t use the mashed potato topping and called it pot pie filling. I used half the amount of chicken called for and added the rest in white beans. I added mushrooms and corn and didn’t use artichokes. I also used real butter in the sauce instead of vegan butter.

As for the chili, it is a family recipe.

As a recap of this experience, I froze a total of 44 meals. In addition I froze 3 bags of chicken, 8 bags of beans, and 3 bags of brown rice with 2 cups in each bag for quick meals. I also froze 4 jars of enchilada sauce, and six jars of roasted red salsa.

I think the hardest part was not having enough large containers to hold the large quantities of food during prep. It slowed me down a lot because I could really only work on one recipe at a time and spent a lot of time juggling food between different containers.

The other issue was the heat coupled with lack of freezer space. I didn’t mind working in the heat as I am mostly used to it. But when room temperature is 95 degrees, the freezers and fridge have to work that much harder to cool down the food. I think my strategy next time will include coolers and lots of ice to cool down the food before I put it in the freezer. Hopefully putting in cold food would help freeze the food quicker as I had to stack them on top of each other to get them in. On the second day, I tried to rotate a many bags as I could through the fridge first to cool down, and then to the top freezer, and finally to the chest freezer. That seemed to work better.

The biggest highlight is that I have 44 ready-made meals in the freezer. I definitely think this experience was worth it and there will definitely be a next time. I have learned so much and despite the amount of hard work, I enjoyed it immensely.

Thanks for reading!


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