Suggestions for Make-and-Freeze Foods?

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#21
Learned the hard way. Do not freeze big containers of things (although I have a hard time teaching this to DH).

I make stuff and then freeze it in 2-3 serving size portions, so it's enough for us to have dinner, and possibly leftovers. Except lasagna--then I cut single serving sizes.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#22
Oh, very good! Great idea!

Hmm... I bet I don't have enough freezer space to do this initial freezing however... :(
I'm lucky that we have a full-sized upright freezer downstairs, which is very much underutilized.

But even without that, you'd be surprised. Take some stuff out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to make room, and then carefully balance the trays on top. Or, freeze it on places, or foil (turn up the edges to keep onion chunks from going everywhere, or a baking dish, or whatever. It doesn't take long to freeze--maybe 20 minutes per batch, just to get it to the point where you can put it in the bag without things sticking.
 

etp777

Active Member
#23
One advantage to freezing single servings (or 2-3 whatever), is you can get containers that are stackable, and all of same or similar size, and that can help save a lot off wasted space. Will ahve them stacked all the way to top of freezer.
 

tj

New Member
#26
Occasionally, I'll precook chicken breasts, chop them up, and freeze it.

Or if I'm feeling really lazy, go buy a precooked chicken, and freeze leftover chicken meat.
 

DWise1

Well-Known Member
#28
Talking about comfort foods - one of my issues is with reheating a single portion. Do any of you size out portions as you know you'll reheat them? (i.e. if you're cooking for one, single size portions, or family size for the whole family)

There are dishes that get overcooked if you have to reheat them more than once. And while I don't necessarily mind overcooked rice or pasta, I do prefer slightly al dente (dunno what the rice equivalent term is, but you get the drift, right?)
I second etp777's love of disposible "tupperware". But instead of just putting a single serving in each one, I'll fill it, which amounts to three to 6 servings, depending on what it is (more servings if it's spaghetti sauce, fewer if it's soup). So I'll take one from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge, then spoon out a serving and microwave that serving. Thus the food will only get flashed once, when it's about to be served.

There was (and probably still is) a site devoted to engineers who cook, so they would get into all kinds of technical discussions. Besides their search for the best way to microwave bacon (complete with a report on one engineer's controlled experiments), they discussed the issue of how best to thaw meat, particularly how to do it so that you could refreeze the meat if necessary. Thawing it in the fridge was deemed best, because raising the meat's temperature above fridge temps would allow the bacteria to resume its work of decomposing the meat, work that is halted (or at least very greatly retarded) by freezing and is greatly retarded by fridge temperatures (around 40 deg F, as I recall). So by that token, taking out a frozen container and thawing it in the fridge should allow you to keep it in the fridge until you've used it up. Too large of a frozen container and it could still spoil before you've finished it. Heating the whole thing up and re-refridgerating it would allow the micro-beasties to have their go at it and it would spoil sooner.

I think those semi-disposible containers are really great for this because they're not too big and they are very stackable.

Otherwise, for some things I'll use quart-size freezer zip-lock bags. And I'll cut up meats into single servings and bag them separately before freezing them; I have a lot of recipes that call for one pound of pork.
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
#29
Onions alone? Eh...they freeze okay, but the ice crystals do damage them. Also, they're basically "in season" all the time--the dried bulk kind keep all year, so it's not like peppers where they have to do something to them to ship them.

For taco meat, what I do is buy a jar of supermarket salsa (or make salsa, if I'm feeling unusually productive) and after browning and draining the meat I mix the salsa in. It adds moisture if you buy very lean ground meats (I usually buy the leanest available beef, or lamb, turkey, or chicken) and vegetables, and if you buy the right brand not too much sugar or preservatives.
 

tj

New Member
#32
Hey, I was just reading some blogs from Top Chef, and they were talking about Sous Vide. Doing a google search revealed this article. Apparently, it's a technique that involves re-heating food.
 

samina

Well-Known Member
#33
yeah, sous vide makes a huge difference. cooking proteins at high temps causes the protein strands to twist & harden, but doing so at low temps retains moisture & true tenderness... so when the food is reheated, it will taste massively better.

the last restaurant i worked at never froze meat, and they'd vacuum pak it fresh every night to extend its life, and often cooked sous vide. i think the technique would work well for food you intend to freeze...
 

tj

New Member
#34
yeah, sous vide makes a huge difference. cooking proteins at high temps causes the protein strands to twist & harden, but doing so at low temps retains moisture & true tenderness... so when the food is reheated, it will taste massively better.

the last restaurant i worked at never froze meat, and they'd vacuum pak it fresh every night to extend its life, and often cooked sous vide. i think the technique would work well for food you intend to freeze...
I'm a bit of a foodie - is this a viable technique for the home kitchen?
 

samina

Well-Known Member
#35
yah, sure. absolutely. definitely. have listened to the chef of that restaurant (one of the best in the world) lecture at shows in attempt to convert the masses to this technique, or at least to the very low-temp meat cooking he uses in his kitchen.

one great benefit, besides the tenderness & moisture-retention of the technique, is that you can't overcook the meat that way. if you never raise the temp above 130, for example, howzitgonna overcook? so entertaining or feeding one's family gives a lot of wiggle room WRT timing...
 

tj

New Member
#36
This sorta fits - I tried one of those Bertolli frozen dinners, the ones where you put it in a skillet for 10 minutes. It was pretty good. The packaging says serves two, but if you're cooking for two, you'll probably need more. Maybe a side of veggies or something? It's a bit large to serve one, but on the smallish side for two.
 

Sagitta

Well-Known Member
#37
Chicken fingers. Finger cut semi-frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts (semi-frozen so easy to cut). Dip in egg batter (egg, spices such as pepper, salt, cumin seed, chile powder, tumeric), roll in bread crumbs (add spices here to is what I do). Put on two baking pans and bake in oven for about 20 minutes. I believe at 300 or 350 maybe? Cannot be more than that.
 

etp777

Active Member
#38
after thanksgiving, to be lazy and do seasoned bread crumbs, I'll buy the bags of seasoned bread cubes for stuffing, and crush them up a bit. Of course, if I was a real cook, I'd get out my dehydrator, get fresh seasonings, etc, and make real seasoned bread crumbs, but I'm too lazy for that. :)
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#39
Since I just made it, and it freezes beautifully, and has ALWAYS been a hit with EVERYONE we've served it to (and has, by request, become the Christmas day dinner tradition), here's the recipe for:

Mahogany Chicken

4 cups water
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped, peeled fresh ginger*
4 large cloves garlic, lightly mashed and peeled*
4 tsp fennel seeds
1 3-inch cinnamon stick*
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 medium orange*
Chicken*

Mix everything together. Add chicken. Cook,* turning periodically.

NOTES
We use bottled ginger--puree-ish stuff, chopped, sliced...doesn't matter.

We use bottled garlic, texture doesn't matter. Or, like today when we ran out of the bottled stuff, some garlic powder.

We've used ground cinnamon, just be careful not to overdo it.

Who wants to juice an orange? Some orange juice (or orange tangerine, today's variation) works fine--a one-second pour is about good.

Chicken drumsticks and thighs seem to work best. Remove the skin, and cut off the skinny end of the drumstick. Or, use chicken breasts or tenderloins. Or, whatever you prefer. If using all skinless/boneless stuff, add a bit of vegetable oil to help keep it from getting too dried out.

Probably the best way to cook it is in a large, straight-sided pan. You can also cook it in a crock pot, but the chicken ends up almost too tender. Whatever you do, leave the lid askew so you can cook down the liquid so it thickens a bit. Or, you can put it in a large baking pan (disposable is good) and bake it in the oven until it's cooked down enough for your taste.

Edit to add: It seems like a lot of notes, but really you can't screw this up. At all. Ever. We've had to delay dinner a few times, so we just add some more water and keep cooking it--won't hurt it. You can freeze it and microwave it without a problem. You can make it and transfer some to a crock pot while you make the next batch. It's got to be one of the most forgiving recipes out there.
 

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