While I have only been Freezer Cooking for a few months now, I can truly say that it has changed the way things run in my household. Things run so much smoother! On those crazy days where everyone is going everywhere, for me to just pull out something healthy, pre-made and frozen, saves so much time and money. Most of the time when we are in those situations, the easiest thing to do would be to stop at some local fast-food place and grab a bite to eat, oftentimes to be left broke or feeling like that money could have been best spent elsewhere.
Here are some tips that have helped me so far:
* Try to menu plan around freezer cooking so that you make the most of your ingredients and reduce waste. I’m a little bias towards menu-planning anyway because I found myself several times with an abundance of fresh ingredients going bad, or having too much of an item that I only needed a small amount of!
* MAKE A LIST of what you are going to cook! I try to plan my meals around a few key items for that particular day so that way I’m not spending a lot of extra money buying items that I’ll only use once or twice. For example, for one package of blueberries I can make blueberry pancakes to freeze and use the remainder of them in muffins!
* MAKE A LIST of the groceries that you’ll need!! Nothing is worse than getting ready to “do your thing” in the kitchen only to find out that you are missing an ingredient!
* Remove air from freezer bags to reduce freezer burn.
* Allow foods to cool completely prior to packaging and freezing, to reduce freezer burn. There is nothing worse than a sad bag of meatballs to ruin a spaghetti dinner!
* Always label/date your items.
* Although you can keep things frozen for some time (depending on what you are freezing), I typically try to use up my dishes within 2 months.
Pot Pies Recipe:
This is an easy recipe because it is very flexible yet filling!
*You can substitute this recipe with turkey (great around the holidays) or beef. You may also use whatever veggies you have on hand! I always go heavy on the veggies and tend to use at least 1 cup each (or 1 can each depending on the vegetable), which helps me stretch this into 2 batches.
3 cooked chicken breasts*
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
¼ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chopped onions
Salt & Pepper to taste
¼ cup corn
¼ cup snow peas
2 ½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary and thyme
Pastry: (if you increase the amount of vegetables, you’ll need additional puff pastry sheets)
1 sheet puff pastry
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break chicken breast (or other meat) apart into small pieces then set aside. Heat a medium size pot over medium high heat and coat with olive oil. Add garlic, shallots, celery and carrots, stir. Add onions, corn and peas. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour in chicken stock and ¼ cup heavy cream. Add unsalted butter and stir. Add pieces of chicken and bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch and water to create thickening agent then pour into the pot. Add chopped rosemary and thyme then stir. Stop here if you would like to freeze this. You can divide this mixture up into freezer bags (2-3) and freeze until ready. Just pull a bag out and thaw in the refrigerator when you are ready!
Simply reheat the mixture in a pot while allowing puff pastry to thaw as directed. Depending on the size baking dish you are using, cut the puff pastry sheet accordingly and set aside. Beat the egg to create an egg wash and set aside. Fill the baking dish with the chicken mixture. Cover with puff pastry and then cut off excess around sides. Take a fork and poke a few holes in top of puff pastry and brush egg wash onto puff pastry. Place in the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown.
Optional- When you are ready to bake, I like to use the aluminum tart pans for this, and I’ll make individual/smaller pies for everyone!
*BONUS- I almost always have leftover scraps due to using 2 sheets/tart pans. So with the leftovers I brush melted butter on them and sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar. Then I’ll make a glaze using powdered sugar and milk to pour over them, yummy!
The King’s Court IV
A special thank you to Cristi for taking time to share this guest posting with us! I love her bonus tip on how to reuse those scraps of pastry–waste nothing and get a delicious treat, too!
I have another guest posting to share along with my latest freezer cooking session. So stay tuned!