"Once A Month Cooking" is a really helpful technique for me. I don't manage to do it well enough that I only have to cook once a month. But I do use the basic principles to help me get a number of entres into the freezer. I use 8" or 9" disposable aluminum pans, and I have glass or metal baking pans the same size in my cabinets. When a dish is removed from the freezer, I pop it out of the disposable pan and into the glass or metal baking pan, to thaw. The disposable pan is washed and saved to use again. They don't really become disposable until I've used them four or five times and managed to stick a hole in them!
Once thawed in a glass baking pan, the dish can be microwaved, if its a simple reheat of an already cooked meal. And if thawed in a metal pan, it can be baked in the oven, especially if its something like a lasagne, etc, that has been prepped and frozen before actually being baked.
Tonight I got five meals prepped and they are now cooking (4), or marinating (1). I found a turkey on sale at Ralph's for just over half price! Instead of $16.60, it was $9.68! And it was a fresh one, which meant I could zip home and immediately make it into two main dishes. (I had looked at a frozen breast alone for $15.00, and this was way less, plus I had the rest of the bird to cook for broth, soup, and "dog food"!! All four dogs love a tablespoon of the turkey bits mixed with their dry kibble....
Since I only have two crock pots, I made two recipes in baking dishes and will bake in a low temp oven tonight and get up early in the morning to package the finished dishes for the freezer.
First I made Southwestern Turkey.
1 Tbsp oil
1-1/2 pounds turkey breast (cut into 1 inch chunks)
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained (14 oz can)
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
(I used mini red, orange and yellow peppers I had on hand)
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tsp sugar
1/2 Tsp salt.
I heated the turkey chunks in the oil until browned. Then I put the turkey in the baking dish, mixed the rest of the ingredients and poured them over the turkey. Its baking at 225 overnight. (Could go in crockpot for 6-8 hours on low setting).
This is one of Michael's favorites!
With the other breast from that turkey, I made Lemon Herb Turkey
1 turkey breast
juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 Tsp dried and crumbled)
1 Tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp spicy or Dijon mustard
1/2 Cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
First, Michael and I went out in the pitch black backyard, and I held a flashlight for him while he climbed up on the slope and got fresh lemons off our lemon tree. :)
I put the turkey breast in a shallow dish. I zested the lemons, and put that over the breast. The remaining ingredients, I mixed and carefully placed over the breast in the pan. It smelled SO good. I covered it tightly with foil and it's baking in the oven with the other turkey dish!
Into one crock pot, I made "Roast Beef To Die For"
1 large roast (can use pork loin, also)
1 envelope of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 envelope of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
1 envelope of brown gravy mix
1 cup of water
I put a layer of onions on the bottom of the crock pot, just 'cos we like them! I put the roasts on top of that, and then mixed the remaining ingredients and poured them over the top of the roast. This is such a simple recipe, but it's soooo good. Michael will smell it on his way out the door for work tomorrow. He hates working Saturdays, but maybe knowing that roast is waiting will make the day more tolerable!
In the other crock pot, I made "Steak Soup". Michael loves beef soups and stews, so I thought this would be great to put up in 2-3 serving sized containers in the freezer. Someday when I retire, I'll get back into canning. One of the things I will can will be soups and stews! If the power ever goes out, we won't starve and what is canned won't go bad!
I used a large sirloin steak, cut into bite sized pieces, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, a package of onion soup mix, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped celery ribs, 4 cups of water, some frozen peas, and some corn. This dish is Simplicity itself, but he loves a bowl of soup with a bit of cheese grated on top, and fresh baked bread. Can't get much more frugal than that!
And the fifth meal is Sticky Chicken. I got this recipe from a friend a long time ago and have seen variations of it online on different sites.
First, two nice chickens (bought on sale at half price - yay!)
After they were cleaned and dried, they were rubbed all over, inside and out, with a mixture of spices:
1/2 Tsp black pepper
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp white pepper
1 Tsp thyme
1 Tsp onion powder
1 Tsp cayenne pepper (I omitted this time, the other peppers are enough for us)
2 Tsp paprika
4 Tsp salt
After they were covered with the spices, they were put in bags and they are waiting in the fridge for tomorrow morning.
Right before I leave for my composting class, I'll stuff each one with 1/2 cup of chopped onion, and pop them in the oven. They get roasted, uncovered, at 250 for five hours. By the time I get back from class, they should have started forming pan juices and these will caramelize and can be brushed over the chicken during the last two hours or so of baking. They become a really nice golden cover and the flavor is fantastic. It's a great main dish, and I particularly enjoy the leftovers on top of a Ceasar or Cobb salad, later! The carcasses will be cooked to get a broth base for a future soup. Another frugal winner!
Anybody got any good freezer-friendly recipes to share? I'm always looking for new ones!!