Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seriously it has been THAT LONG???

Sorry my beautiful bees!  Things have been hectic here with the holidays.  I have not done any mass cooking in a while.

Someone (ahem, me) left the door to the freezer open and I lost all my food.  Yeah, it is a bummer, BUT these things happen AND that means I get to restock it!!!

A couple of weeks ago I got my order from Delta Meat in.  WHOOOHOOO!!!!!  I had ordered it before Christmas, but they were backed up.  We got a hind quarter of beef and a side of pork.  I meant to order chickens, but forgot.

Anyway, I have not finished cleaning out the freezer (everything is still in there, refrozen, but it is -45 and I am not going to clean out the freezer and drag everything to the dump this cold!).

However, what I DID decide to do is to cook a bunch of meat today.  Firstly, as I have said before, the meat usually takes the longest in a meal.  Also, I could keep it in my inside freezer.  Plus I was missing ingredients for a massive meal cook.

So in just a couple of hours I cooked enough slab bacon (which I cut into chunks) for probably 2 weeks of TWS's breakfasts, 2 packs of sausage which will go perfectly in spanish rice, soups, and spaghetti sauce, plus two whole bags of boneless skinless chicken thighs.  I boiled those in seasoned water to cook them through.  Then I got out my little electric skillet thingy and put oil in it.  I took seasoned bread crumbs, added parmesan cheese (green can stuff), cayenne, and seasoned salt, then dredged the cooked chicken in that, then milk, then in that again and fried it up a couple of minutes on each side.  This is my Italian Fried Chicken and is PHENOM.  I now have enough breakfasts for me for probably 2 weeks as well (I have chicken for breakfast almost every day).

I love doing this with meat!  I am half tempted to go put in a roast or two since everything else is done, but my next job is actually chicken and dumplings for supper, so i think that is good for now :).

This is a great time of year to stock the freezer!  (just make sure the door shuts :) )

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pictures from Yesterday

I am really not a photographer.  I am not sure how to make all the food look wonderful and pretty, so I just take pictures and hope for the best :)

Here are a couple of photos from yesterday:
The first is the set up for distributing the chicken and dumplings to the freezer bowls.  If you look closely, you can see that the freezer bowls have ice cubes in them.  It is important to cool the food down as quickly as possible to prevent bacterial growth.  So I put ice cubes in the containers of anything like soup, broth, etc. Then I pour the soup in, cover tightly, and shake (or you can stir) the contents so the ice gets through the whole thing.

This is both pots of chicken and dumplings ready to be put in the freezer.  Again, we need these things to cool as quickly as possible, so when I put things in the freezer, I turn up the freezer (if I can), and spread the containers out (instead of stacking them) and put previously frozen food around the containers (frozen hard pans of lasagne do very well for helping the process along :) ).

I also put the chicken and dumplings into various sizes of containers.  That way I have sizes for a snack, a lunch, a supper, or a supper for Wonderbee :)

I should have gotten photos of my chicken wings!  I made up two large batches, one spicy, one not.  I emptied two bags of frozen wings into two pots and boiled them til they were cooked through.  Then I used two boxes of ready made batter mix as a breading and fried them in my little electric pan thing (which I LOVE).

Remember the arm roast I was afraid was going to end up tough?  I had started it frozen in the oven and cooked it at between 350 and 375 all day.  It came out wonderfully!  I had checked the meat about 3 hours in and it was done but VERY tough.  I was a bit disappointed, but figured I would just let it keep cooking--I had nothing to lose. 

WHAT A CHANGE by the time Wonderbee came home!  Thank the Lord! The beef was fall apart tender!  I found some of the refrigerator biscuits that I was going to use for muffin tin meals (those would not have worked by the way, they are entirely too rubbery to spread up the sides of a muffin tin).  So he made himself a few steak and biscuits, and the rest of the meat I placed in gallon baggies, and squished flat.  That way I can just break off what I might need for a soup, stew, breakfast, or more biscuits :)

I also saved the drippings from the pan and some of the fat and bone....I cannot WAIT to make some Tex Mex soup with that!

Keep sending recipes and ideas and stories in!  I love posting them :).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spontaneous Cooking Fest :)

My darling bees!  How have you been?  Hopefully getting some GREAT ideas about doing some freezer cooking!  Don't be shy, feel free to post any and all recent tries, successes, even failures (which are just successes still in their early stages :) ).

Today Wonderbee had to work.  Usually I use Sunday for laundry and football, after Wonderbee does our Bible study with us.

However, today I was too restless to sit in front of the tv.  So I went to two of my freezers to see what mischief I could get into.

First place I hit was my chest freezer.  We buy most of our meat (pork and beef and roasting chickens) from a meat company down in Delta.  They grow their own beef, source well their chickens and pork, as well as a ton of other stuff (yak, buffalo, etc).  I usually place an order per year with them and get a quarter of beef and a side of pork.  Their beef has no antibiotics, no hormones, and is grass finished.  Their bacon is REALLY the best ever (I know I have mentioned this before!).

Well we are getting down to the bottom of the chest freezer where I keep my uncooked meat (I keep cooked stuff and frozen veg, etc in a different freezer).  So I grabbed two chuck steaks and an arm roast (which I had NO idea what to use for) and figured I would cook those off.  I placed them, still frozen, in my largest pyrex, poured in much quantity of water, wine, herbs, water, onion flakes, pepper, etc and sealed the top with tinfoil and placed it in a 350 degree oven to cook ALL.  DAY.  LONG.  The liquid and the sealed top should allow the meat to have a steam bath to make it more tender.  Later on in the day I added some brewed black tea to act as a tenderizer as well (I am REALLY fretting about that arm roast and wondering if it is going to be tough :) ). 

What I love most is that I can take all that wonderful liquid that the meat has been stewing in all day and save that for a starter for a soup (probably with the meat )! 

I am kinda bonkers for saving the broth, drippings, water from stuff that has cooked.  I cannot tell you how many times I save the water from homemade noodles (spaetzle).  I just look at it and think that it looks PERFECT for if someone needs a carb rich, mild broth to eat, or to use as a base for a stew or something.

Next,  I knew I was out of my previous batches of freezer chicken and dumplings, plus I had the bones, skin, and some meat of a chicken I had roasted a few days ago in the freezer.  So I got that out, and put it in one of my bigger pots.

When I had roasted the chicken last week, there were all those wonderful drippings at the bottom of the pyrex.  I had poured those into a container and froze those as well.  That was PERFECT because I went to the chest freezer and found some boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins that were past their prime (a little icy and a little freezer burned).  Now, because they had been frozen, they were not BAD, they just were not as great of a quality as non-freezer burned stuff.  So they went into my other big pot with water and the left over chicken drippings.  The flavor from meat to make soup, etc, comes from the bones, skin, fat.  But boneless, skinless chicken has none of that (and frankly, unless you deep fry them or smother them with butter or teryaki sauce or something, they do not taste like much either).  So with the drippings, I had a ready made start to the broth for the chicken and dumpings.

I let those two pots with miscellaneous chicken just boil and boil to get every bit of numminess out of the carcass.  Then I got the bones and skin out, had Superbee help me make dumplings, then put the pots back on to make wonderful chicken and dumplings.

THEN I wanted to try a mock sourdough bread.  I get into sourdough cravings from time to time, but cannot seem to a)keep a starter going and b)make the sourdough SOUR.  It is not as easy as one might think, but rather depends on length of resting, temperature the starter is kept at, temperature the dough is kept out, overhydrating, underhydrating, blah blah blah.  Truth is I have tried all the different variations that the internet promises me will make a sour bread and never really get it.

Besides maintaining a starter is a committment that I am just not into right now :).  So I wanted to find something easy. 

It is still a work in progress.  The first loaf I used malt vinegar, but it was entirely too astringent.  The second loaf I used balsamic vinegar, milk, and sugar and that was somewhat better, but still needs work.  I read that some people use yogurt, so I will try that as well.

My last project for the day, I think, is going to be frying up a bunch of chicken wingies to go in the freezer.  I LOVE fried chicken and the little chicken wingies are just the perfect way to get the fried food flavor without committing to a LOT of chicken or runs to Popeyes.

So that is what I have been doing (what I won't do to get out of folding laundry :D )...let me know what you have been doing!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Storage Containers

Morning darlings!!

I just thought I would share a link to the storage containers I use. This set is very inexpensive and extremely convenient as the lids lock together (and to the bottom of the stack of dishes) to keep the cupboard neat.   They are square and therefore fit better in the freezer.  All rubbermaid food storage products are BPA free :)

As I mentioned before, I also use 8x8 disposable aluminum pans to freeze casseroles because they fit perfectly in gallon baggies.  I just pop the casserole out of the pan while it is frozen and put it in my one pyrex 8x8 pan for the microwave, which I have sprayed with cooking spray  (for easier clean up).  If I am baking the casserole, then I leave it in the aluminum and set the aluminum pan in the pyrex in the oven.

What are you going to try this week? :)  Have you looked in your cupboards and fridge/freezer and seen any meat, veg, etc that could be made into something for the freezer?  The year is going to get REALLY busy with the holidays, so now is a GREAT time to stock that freezer!

Have a great day!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wrap up :)

Let's tally, shall we? :)
4 pans of Spanish Rice
58 lumpia
59 bean burritos
3 extra bowls of chip dip

I did not get to my oven baked chicken or my fried chicken wingies.  But still, not too shabby for a day's work!  Remember, you would be able to do this much faster than I...I took a lot of time taking pics and posting, etc :) 

Because we cleaned up as we went, this is what the kitchen looks like.  About 10 dishes in the sink.  That's it!!!  And Peekiebee is the one who has to do dishes, so that is not even my cat :)

Now, my dear queen bees, let me tell you what might happen.  You will get to the end of the day weary, full from sampling and adjusting spices and someone will meander into the kitchen and say "So, what's for supper?" (OR "Can we order pizza?").

PLEASE my darlings, try to restrain yourself from heaving the pan of 28  burritos at them!  Just smile lovingly, take them by the arm and lead them gently to the freezer. Open the door grandly and say "Darling, the world is your burrito.  Take your pick.  I am going to take a bath." and leave them there figuring out how to nuke lumpia.

Or order pizza.  Either way :D

Last Dish of the Night (I think :) ) BURRITOS!!!

We are taking our incredible rolling skills that we honed making lumpia to a whole new level....BURRITOS!  Stacks and stacks of beany, salsa-y, burritos. 
Ok, I do not eat beans (green beans, yes,, so it is hard for me to get all het up about this one :). BUT BUT BUT the great thing about the freezer meals is that I can cook something I do not like, but that my family loves, and without me having to eat cereal for supper some night :). Plus they are incredibly handy for lunches :)

Really folks, make ONE batch.  Don't double it.  Because this is what you get when you do.....

 A mess. :)

 The tortillas will have to be heated and moisturized in order to be flexible enough to be folded into burrito shapes.  There are many methods, but I use the "Put entirely too many on a plate with a wet paper towel and nuke the mess out of it" method. 

Everything ready for the great assembly :)  Our pan of bean stuff, a stack of tortillas, and a bowl of cheese :)  I had lined a cookie sheet with tinfoil and sprayed it with nonstick spray.  The burritos will need to freeze solid before putting them in baggies, or they will just fall apart.

Some bean stuff.

A sprinkling of cheese.  Not too much because these are even better when you melt cheese ON TOP when you reheat them :)

 My second pan full.  Altogether I made 59 burritos.

This was how much was left over after my FIRST PAN FULL of rolled burritos!!!!  Really.  One batch is fine.  :)  Buy LOTS of tortillas even for one batch.
I ran out of tortillas WAY before I ran out of beans.  I probably needed at least another three or four packs of tortillas.  Wonderbee offered that I could just put the rest of the bean filling into freezer canisters to mix with sour cream and more cheese to make a dip for football.  BRILLIANT that man is!  It ALMOST makes up for his "Sooo.....what are you thinking about for supper?" comment an hour and a half ago. Almost. ;)

Lumpia, Part 2

Let's Roll, Baby! :)

Empty lumpia wrapper.  Don't be tempted to double up on the wrappers, I promise you will not need to :)

Put a generous spoonful of filling on one end of the wrapper.  Make sure not to get the liquid that will be at the bottom of the bowl as that will make the wrapper unpretty and soggy.

Fold the bottom edge up and roll one turn.

Fold in one side.....

Then the other.  Then continue rolling til you reach the edge.

Place seam side down on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed liberally with oil.  When you have filled the pan, spray or brush the top of the lumpia with oil as well.

One pan going in (left), the other coming out (right) :).  They took about 25 minutes to bake.  The amount of filling actually works perfectly with the two boxes of wrappers!