Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Filling the Freezer!

Money Saving Mom is hosting a "Freezer Cooking Day" and stocking up her freezer, so I thought I would share the results of my most recent freezer cooking fest I did a few weekends ago.

First of all, let me just say that the thought of cooking for 8 (or more!) hours straight makes me want to curl up in a ball, crawl under the table, and cry. Seriously! I just can't do that much. I am so impressed with all the ladies out there that regularly do full day cooking sessions, but I am nowhere near that level. The best I can usually do is about 4 to 5 hours before my lower lip starts to quiver. But I love love LOVE the convenience and flexibility I get from having a freezer full of meals ready to go. My solution is to do half day freezer cooking sessions, spreading it out over a few days if neccessary.

My main goal this time around was to get some easy LUNCH items stashed for Ninja Hubz and me to bring to work. I'm usually pretty happy with a sandwich, yogurt, and some fruit, but Ninja Hubz likes something closer to a real meal for lunch. If there isn't something easy and ready to go in the fridge or freezer, he will end up eating out. And I admit I do like having something different now and then.

I also had bags full of chicken bones, turkey bones, and old veggies waiting patiently to be made into stock. Since I needed to make room in the freezer and I would be in the kitchen all day anyway, I decided to get that going as well. I had a big bag of potatoes sitting on the counter, so I added twice baked potatoes to the list, and threw in some meatballs and muffins just because they're nice to have on hand :)

So my freezer weekend went something like this:

Friday Evening
Bake Blueberry Oat Muffins (1 dozen)
Bake Orange Raspberry Muffins (1 dozen)

Saturday
Put Chicken Stock on stove, let simmer all day
Put Chicken Taco Meat in crockpot, let cook most of the day
Make twice baked potatoes
Make home made Hot Pockets (recipe below)
Cook Mexican Rice
Prepare Chicken and Rice Burritos (recipe further below)
Cook Chicken Tortilla Soup

Sunday
Put Turkey Stock on stove, let simmer all day
Make meatballs

It all made for a busy weekend, but it was totally worth it!

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Home-Made Hot Pockets (Beef & Veggie)
This was my first time making these, I got the idea from the blog "Our Best Bites".

Dough
I think that any french bread recipe would work great for these. I chose french bread instead of a pizza crust or other options I've considered because I knew these would end up being microwaved and would not be crispy. I think french bread is still pretty tasty when its warm and soft, but pizza crust just isn't the same without the crispiness.

Here's the recipe I used (if you don't have a bread machine, you can make the dough by hand or maybe buy some Pilsbury dough):
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
Combine all ingredients in your bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Set on dough cycle.

Filling
I wanted to do something that would incorporate some vegetables, always a challenge! So I went with sort of a pot-pie like filling. I used about 2 lbs of ground beef and ended up with a lot of extra filling, so I think 1.5 lbs would be better. My amounts here are estimated... sorry but I just kind of made it up as I went along :
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mixed veggies (I used some frozen peas and fresh chopped carrots)
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • salt and pepper
In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add vegetables and cook through.

Making your pockets
Roll dough out flat and divide into 16 equal rectangles (I divided the dough in half and did 8 at a time, it seems easier to work with this way). Place a couple spoonfuls of your filling and a spoonful of the mashed potatoes in the center of each section of dough. Fold the sides of the dough in so they overlap and cover all the filling, then fold a bit of  he top and bottom up to make your pocket. Pinch the edges to form a good seal so your filling stays in. It may take a few to get the hang of it... even if they're not pretty they will still taste good :)

Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes (until golden brown). Let cool completely, wrap in foil, place in freezer-proof Ziploc and freeze. To heat up, allow to thaw and microwave for 2-3 minutes. If you take them out of the freezer in the morning, they will be ready for nuking at lunch time.

Other Filling Ideas
We both liked this meat and veggie pocket, although next time I will probably add a little cheddar cheese. Some other ideas I would like to try are:
  • Pizza: spaghetti sauce, pepperonis, mozzarella and parmesan cheese
  • Meatball: same as pizza but with meatballs instead of pepperoni
  • Ham & Cheese: diced or sliced ham, shredded cheddar
  • Taco: Seasoned ground beef or chicken, cheddar cheese, maybe some salsa
  • Spicy Chicken: diced or shredded chicken, cream of chicken soup, pepper jack cheese
I think there's all sorts of great possibilities for these.

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Chicken and Rice Burritos
These are really quite easy, they freeze well, and they are super yummy!

Prepare Chicken Taco meat
Prepare Mexican Rice

To make burrtios:
Take a flour tortilla. Place a couple spoonfuls of chicken taco meat in center of tortilla, add a couple spoonfuls of rice. Top with grated cheddar and monterey jack cheese. Roll up burrito, wrap in waxed paper. Repeat until you run out of tortillas. Place burritos in freezer-proof Ziploc and freeze. Heat in microwave when ready to eat.

Use any remaining chicken taco meat and mexican rice in Chicken Tortilla Soup.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday

4 comments:

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing. =0)

Stephanie said...

Ooh your muffins and hot pockest sound delicious!

Rona's Home Page said...

Terrific freezer tips!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

What a great idea! I am always trying to fill up my freezer with dinners, but neglect lunches in the mix.

:)

Thanks for sharing!

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