RE: Once a month cooking..What did you

anrsazJanuary 19, 2005

find to freeze and taste the best? What dish? This sounds like such a good idea, but some stuff I froze and it's kinda yucky later!

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I still am experimenting, and need to spend some time on the forum that deals with this and also reading books on this subject. I do know that UNDER COOKING the pasta is a must, to keep it from getting mushy during reheat . . . "al dente" I think they call it, cooked but still firm. And make dishes with sauces a bit "over saucy" as the sauces absorb and dishes can become dry.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 4:08PM
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I do this but not on such a grand scale. Instead, maybe every two weeks, I make a big pot of soup, chili, casseroles, dessert. Earlier this week I made four casserole dishes of macaroni & cheese, and fixed a small (5 lb.) bag of twice stuffed potatoes. I freeze them first, then vacuum seal them (dish and all) to take out later. We had the pasta with some steamed broccoli this week; so easy! The twice baked potatoes are always a big hit, and serving one half is a way to portion control. The chili I serve over spaghetti (for Cincinnati style) or over beef dogs, and add coleslaw. I've made chicken pot pie (without crust; add a puff pastry crust at the last minute, or things like stuffed pasta shells or lasagne is good. I even have cut and sliced garlic bread in the freezer. I always freeze half of a roast when I make it; the last pork roast gave us 8 meals (for two) which included pulled pork sandwiches, burritos, pork medallions. Undercook your vegetables just a bit, as well as the pasta. Things do get mushy with the reheating.

You do have to invest in some big bowls, half sheet pans and have plenty of freezer space.

Is this TMI?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 4:52PM
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Nope Claire...great info..both of you. Thanks

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 5:41PM
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I like to make frozen dinners that seem just like the ones you buy but always taste much better! If I make a roast dinner I freeze as many dinners as I can out of the leftovers, in tinfoil containers and heat them up from frozen. They taste just as good as they were fresh! I don't much like potatoes done this way but rice, veggies and meat all work great.
Chili is another favorite. I also like to cook a large roast, then after dinner slice it up real thin and freeze in small freezer bags to use for sandwich meat. It saves a lot of money and tastes a lot better than sandwich meat from the store! Lunches are so much less of a hassle to make too when you already have sliced meat ready to use.
I cook huge amounts of spaghetti sauce and freeze in meal sized containers, just boil pasta when I need it and heat frozen sauce in a pot on the stove. Meatballs are always great to have on hand too, I freeze them cooked in bags of 6 or 8 and add to sauce whenever I want.
I find having a freezer full of raw food is useless. I really prefer to bring it all home, cook, THEN freeze.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 7:43PM
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My family loves enchaladas. I leave off the cheese until the last 10 min of reheat. Beef and chicken both do well.

I also stew chickens. I pull it off the bones, return bones to the pot, add onion, carrot, and celery. I simmer this for along time. Strain broth, remove fat. Package chicken with a little broth, then freeze remaining broth in containers. Now you have the makings for soup, tacos, broth for noodles or dressing, chicken tetrazzini etc.

Beef...Italian beef works well. I have also sliced a roast covered with gravy and served beef Manhattan style. Beef stroganof, but don't add the sour cream until right before you serve it. Slice beef as for stirfry, put in zip lock bags, cover with marinate (SP?) Thaw overnight. Meat marinates while it thaws.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 7:57PM
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When my kids were young, I used to cook large batches of pancakes and french toast and freeze them. Now, I try to cook extra servings of such foods as Cincinnati chili, spaghetti sauce, sweet and sour meatballs and chicken soup. I don't freeze extra cooked noodes, though, because I prefer to make that fresh.

The best cookbook that I own is "Make Your Own Groceries" by Hartwig. I own her first book and it gave me many ideas.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 11:27PM
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My favorite things to freeze are lasagna, chicken spaghetti, king ranch chicken and enchiladas.

We also will grill up a bunch of boneless chicken all at once and freeze them in small meal size portions - great for when you want a quick chicken salad, quesadillas or tacos.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2005 at 12:48PM
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I've been a long time Garden Web member but have not visited here before. I live in Southern Missouri now. But we've lived all over the world. England, Washington DC..and more.

I like to keep a comfort meal in the freezer. If I travel leaving my husband alone I prepare enough that he can treat himself every few days by taking out just one pan and heating in the oven or microwave. He likes it so much he'd just live on it but that wouldn't be the best idea.

The frozen meal consists of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and Mac n Cheese. By making sure they all touch sides in the freezer package it helps keep them moist and avoid any freezer burn/drying out.

I make a meatloaf of quality meat (whatever you like, Turkey, Lean Ground Pork etc. But for us I use a quality ground beef)and adding, for our taste, finely chopped mushrooms, onion, fresh garlic or powder, drained canned tomatoes chopped very small or crushed, oatmeal soaked in the tomato juice rather than using breading. Eggs if you like. I like to mix the eggs in the oatmeal while it's soaking up the tomato juice drained off the canned tomatoes. This holds the loaf together nicely. Just use similar portions to your favorite meatloaf recipe. I season liberally..whatever appeals at the time. Seasoning salt, celery salt, white pepper, italian herbs seasoning, different things as my mood calls for or what is at hand in the pantry at the time. Before baking I scoop a furrow about 2" w and at least an inch deep down the length of the top of the meatloaf and fill it with spicy ketchup and sprinkle brown sugar over that. Be sure to let a little of the brown sugar drift from the ketchup to the top of the meatloaf. Bake. The tanginess of the ketchup and brown sugar are a great taste treat with this particular meal. You could freeze the meatloaf whole for a large family. But slice it before freezing.

Here's the comfort meal package:

For a smaller family like us, just two, I slice the meatloaf, packaging meal size portions for the freezer in a disposable pan or cake pan. If you want the meatloaf to stay moist in the freezer you can spread a little fresh ketchup over the entire piece. (Gravy will keep it moist too.) The ketchup on the top will have caramelized with the brown sugar so it will stay on the meatloaf when you cut a slice and lay it on it's side. Or if your meatloaf isn't tall just cut a chunk and set it upright in the pan and spread a little extra ketchup on the side that's up to make sure it stays moist. You can freeze this meal for quite a long time..but it won't last that long. :-)

Then I make mashed potatoes, place a meal size portion beside the meatloaf in the pan and be sure they are covered with a thin coating of gravy. A well in the center will hold enough gravy for a portion, and you just spread a thin layer of the gravy over the entire potato portion to keep them moist in the freezer.

I make homemade mac and cheese and add another meal size single portion. This is the reason this is not an every day meal and is called a comfort meal. Since you are going to heat this in a microwave or hot oven the pasta is not going to deteriorate as it would reboiling it.

All he has to do is make a small fresh salad or steam some broccoli and he's done. I plan the portions of potatoes and mac small enough so that he'll think he needs a large portion of broccoli or salad to "make ends meet". :-) That way I don't feel so bad for feeding him too starches in a single meal.

I know it's not for everyday. But it's such a comforting meal. I think it must be one of his favorite treats. I had to be away for five weeks years ago, so I left enough of these for about three or four meals per week. Most of them went to his office for lunches. I have to tell you the other men were begging and bragging on his wife and he didn't feel nearly as abandoned as he might have. Starchy as it is, it's far better than hamburgers or pizza every night. And really, if you portion it out wisely it's not worse than one large helping of either potatoes or pasta. And they think they are getting away with something!

And when I am not away from home it's nice knowing there is comfort meal an arm's reach away. There are those times when comforting with food (and no work) blesses a gal too.

The ketchup and brown sugar idea were my great-aunt Ellen's idea. I have never tasted better meatloaf than this. Another thing she added to the meatloaf was breakfast sausage like Owens or Jimmy Deans. You cannot believe how good. But who needs the fat?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 5:41PM
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Well, I just pulled some (vacuum sealed) turkey burgers I grilled a couple months ago, out of the freezer and left them on the counter for an hour. The GC was here fixing a little problem with his son, and those turkey burgers were getting a lot of attention. (They looked good because of the grill marks and bits of gruyere cheese.) I just put half a slow cooked brisket in the freezer for a later date; it was so tender it almost melted in your mouth. I recently used a jar of frozen pork drippings from a pressure cooked pork roast meal to make a fabulous soup. It turned out to be a quick meal with the addition of some vegetables and pasta. (I'm looking forward to the leftovers!) I also put a flat of chicken thighs in the fridge (from the freezer) for cashew chicken, chicken fried rice and hot chicken salad this week.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 8:59PM
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I'd like to do something like it, but I have a tiny freezer space at the top of the fridge and I find that most cooked and frozen foods don't taste as good. I do freeze fresh herbs washed and finely chopped: mainly parsley, dill and celery - I hate to waste the rest of the bunch and having those on hand makes cooking a bit faster. Also I freeze leftover tomato or minced meat sauce, uncooked humburger patties (greek humburger has a lot of ingredients in it!), 3 kinds of meat balls cooked, extra milk, leftover grated cheese, leftover uncooked cut veggies, and also nuts to keep them fresh.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 8:53AM
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