Tag Archives: freezer

Frozen Overs – Curry

16 Oct

This started out as a strange Southern-style curry dish that involved ketchup.  I learned it while working at Susannah’s Gourmet Pantry in Jacksonville, Florida.  This recipe is my own take on that one that I made more times than I can count.  It’s definitely nothing like authentic curry, but it’s good comfort food and it’s something my husband often reaches for in the freezer when sent down to ‘pull something out’.  He loves it especially with roasted cauliflower, chick peas and green peas, which is how I have been making it lately.

Ingredients (makes enough for 5 square GladWare trays 8″ x 8″ plus fillings:

  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 stick butter (I said this was a Southern thing, didn’t I?)
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 5 T. curry powder (I used Penzey’s Maharajah)
  • 2 T. cumin
  • 1 T. crushed ginger
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 quart (4 c.) vegetable stock
  • 1/2 gallon of milk
  • salt to taste

If using chicken, you will use 8-10 breasts for this much sauce.  For cauliflower and chickpeas, use 1 head cauliflower, roasted and 1 can of chickpeas, drained.

Saute onion in butter.  Add dry ingredients and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly.  Add tomato paste and then slowly add vegetable broth and milk to make a smooth but thin sauce.  Cook until thickened, at least 15 minutes at simmering temperature, stirring frequently.

(The red bits in the sauce are saffron.)

While it is cooking, roast the cauliflower at 400F in the oven.  I toss it in some olive oil and Creole seasoning first.  DO NOT roast cauliflower in GladWare.  Use a sheet pan.  This is what it looks like after it has been cooked and portioned into the GladWare.

Portion the cauliflower and chick peas into freezer pans.  You can also freeze this sauce by itself or add some chopped cooked chicken.  It’s nice to freeze it by itself so you can add leftover bits and bobs to it on a busy night.  I use zip lock bags, stack them in a pan until they are frozen and then move the frozen flat bags to a freezer shelf.

Portion the sauce over each pan.

Or just toss it together if you are going to serve it right away.  Mr. U. really likes green peas in this.  I don’t freeze them in the sauce because then they’ll get lost and possibly lose color.  I add them, frozen, when I reheat the sauce and it makes for a very pretty dish.

My cousin’s husband said this sounded good but wondered if you could add different things to it instead, like instead of the cauliflower and chick peas!

Serve with a fun group of condiments if you like.  This is how we served it at Susannah’s, but with a good curry powder and the right add-ins, I don’t find I need the condiments any more.  It is fun to serve it with the condiments, though, and I even got my picky brother-in-law to eat it that way.  Pictured are:  cilantro, scallion, peanuts, dates, raisins, chutney and toasted coconut.

Cookies Anytime!

6 Oct

Here is a little trick I love for fresh, homemade cookies whenever I want them.  Even better, for just 2 cookies at a time. Then you don’t have lots of cookies around, tempting you to eat more than you should.  Most cookie dough can be easily frozen in logs, sliced and baked from frozen. 

You need:  parchment paper, plastic wrap, tape and marker, PLUS cookie dough of your choice.

Make a batch of your favorite cookie dough.  Oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolate chip cookies work really well.  Spread out a sheet of parchment paper about the size of a cookie sheet.  Spoon the dough onto one edge of the long side of the parchment paper in a rough log shape.  Roll from the dough to the other side of the paper, smoothing the log into a roll as you go.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Repeat until all dough is used.

Label it and freeze it.

When ready to use, slice the frozen dough into cookies and bake at the normal temperature.  Bake from frozen so the chemical leavening doesn’t have time to react at room temperature.  The cookies will take an extra few minutes to bake vs. usual.

So now you can prep ahead for the holidays, for your turn to be snack mom, for whenever. My nephews love to get their favorite cookie doughs, wrapped and prepped for the freezer. They can have some homemade cookies any time they want!

Frozen Overs – Moussaka

11 Jun

I know that Moussaka is supposed to be made with lamb and with Myzithra cheese, but I don’t cook with lamb much and I always have Parmesan cheese on hand, which works well enough as a substitute.  This recipe has way too many ingredients.  If I figure out how to fix that I’ll let you know.

Eggplant:

  • 4 pounds eggplant, cut into one inch cubes
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450F.  Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.  Toss eggplant with oil and salt.  Distribute evenly over baking sheets and roast about 40 minutes until browned and cooked.  Set aside.

Meat Sauce:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Cook beef in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up, until it is cooked through.  Drain well, reserving 2T of drippings.

Put drippings in the pan, add onion and cook until softened.  Add garlic and cinnamon and cook another minute or so.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to simmer and cook over low heat until filling has thickened and is no longer very wet, about 25 minutes.  Add additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Sauce:

  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • pinch nutmeg

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.  Add milk gradually.  Cook over low heat, simmering slightly, until sauce thickens and floury taste has disappeared.  Remove from heat, whisk in cheese and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Assembly:

I use 8×8 Glad OvenWare pans for this dish.  As you will see from the picture, I usually triple this recipe for freezer storage.  Place eggplant in the bottom of 2 pans, spread meat sauce over top and top with cream sauce.  Cover each with plastic wrap and put the lid on the top.  Freeze.

To serve, defrost overnight in refrigerator or in the microwave on 50% power for 15 minutes.  Heat in oven at 350F on a cookie sheet (if using OvenWare pans) for about 20-25 minutes until top is slightly browned and bubbly.

Frozen Overs – Eggplant Parmesan

31 May

My husband loves eggplant.  His mother used to make some sort of eggplant sandwich filling when he was a kid and he’s always loved it.  So I make a lot of eggplant parmesan, moussaka, and ratatouille for us, all of which freezes beautifully.  If you tell my husband to ‘just go pick something easy out of the freezer’, it’s almost always the eggplant Parmesan or moussaka that finds its way to the kitchen.  I always roast or grill the eggplant to avoid using a lot of oil and I never peel the eggplant. It’s not haute cuisine, but my husband loves it, so it works for a busy weeknight.

I buy square Glad OvenWare pans to store my Frozen Overs and I usually make up four pans at a time.  I only buy eggplant when the price is reasonable (should be under $1.50 each).  Late last summer, eggplant was $5.00 each and I just had to be patient and wait for the price to come down.  If I can spare the time to do a LOT of work, I can get a really good case price at Daisy Mae’s Market, my local produce company.  Be warned that a case of eggplant is a LOT of eggplant, so you need to be prepared to cook it all within a few days.  I also buy prepared marinara/pasta sauce when it is on sale and stock it for later use.  I have a special cabinet in the basement that’s just for these buy-ahead things like marinara and canned tomatoes. 

Eggplant Parmesan (makes four 8×8 OvenWare pans), each pan makes 4 servings

  • 5-6 medium eggplants, rinsed and sliced into 1/2″ thick steaks
  • 1 1/2 – 2 large jars marinara sauce
  • Shredded Mozzarella
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Cajun seasoning (if desired – this will add salt, but I do like the red pepper kick it gives this simple dish)If you are making this as a vegetarian dish, please check a list of cheeses for vegetarians. This is a permanent link in my blogroll to the right now. Cheeses made with rennet are not appropriate for vegetarians, but there are soy substitutes and also some brands making Parmesan (albeit not Parmagiano Reggiano) that give a similar flavor without the rennet.

To griddle:  Heat a large cast-iron griddle.  Spray the eggplant ‘steaks’ with olive oil spray (or lightly brush with olive oil), sprinkle with seasoning and grill until brown on the outside and semi-soft on the inside.

To roast:  Preheat oven to 450F.  Spray a baking pan with pan spray.  Place the eggplant in individual slices on the tray and brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning.  Roast until browned and the inside is semi-soft.

While the eggplant is cooking, spoon a bit of sauce, just to coat, in the bottom of each OvenWare pan.  Put a single layer of eggplant on the top.  Top with more sauce and cheeses.  Continue cooking eggplant steaks and layering pans until each pan has about 3 layers of eggplant.  Finish with cheese on top.

To cook it – defrost on 50% power in the microwave for 15 minutes, then bake at 350 F on a cookie sheet until bubbly and browned.  The plastic pan requires a cookie sheet underneath.  If you used another type of casserole dish, you can skip the cookie sheet.  Alternatively, you should defrost this for at least 36 hours in the refrigerator before baking.

In our two-person household, a pan of Frozen Overs will make Loved Overs, but they are truly loved, and they don’t last long.

Planned Over Baking – Bebop-a-Rebop Rhubarb Pie

30 May


 
I got this Rhubarb Pie recipe from Saveur.  I used Jeanne’s Pie Crust in this recipe, which meant my filling ingredients were:

  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Combine the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.  Add the egg mixture to the sugar and then stir in the rhubarb.

I used frozen rhubarb this time, because I got some on sale.  As usual, I made two 7″ pies and I found that there was a bit too much filling for the two pies, so I put in all of the rhubarb and just added as much of the egg mixture as would fit.  I baked one at 350F for about 45 minutes (keep in mind this was a 7″ pie) and I froze one unbaked.  This filling is a little bit tart, so make sure to buy some ice cream, too!

Planning – Freezer Prep

28 May My big freezer prepared for my 8 week disability aka "The End of Days"

I’m fortunate to have a big freezer.  I use it throughout the week to make my planning and cooking easier.  If you don’t have a big freezer, you can still freeze sauces in zipper lock bags (see below for instructions).  This will save space if you don’t have room to freeze meat or other additions with the sauce. 

Here are a few tips on preparing food for the freezer.

  • Don’t freeze meat in the container (styrofoam/plastic wrap) in which you brought it home from the grocery.  Wrap it properly, eliminating any air from around the meat.  This means either a) tight plastic wrap and then into a zip-seal bag for protection or b) freezer paper.  I always use freezer paper and tape.  It’s easy to use and relatively inexpensive. 
  • Sharpies are great for labeling things.
  • Glad OvenWare goes freezer to microwave to oven to refrigerator.  The 8×8 size stacks up great in my freezer.  I label both the side and the top with tape.  I have found that labels can be difficult to remove.  Always remove labels or tape before heating the pan.  If I have a casserole with a dairy-based topping, I usually put a layer of plastic wrap between the food and the lid so that the cheese or sauce doesn’t get stuck to the OvenWare lid in the freezer.
  • Glad FreezerWare is great for things that don’t need to go in the oven.
  • Foil ‘hotel’ or ‘steamtable’ pans also work great for larger quantities, with the disadvantage that they obviously can’t go in the microwave.  If you are going to stack them in your freezer, you will need to buy lids as well.  You can usually get these at a warehouse store (Sam’s Club, Costco, BJ’s) or you can get them at a restaurant supply store.
  • Zipper lock bags are also a great choice for sauces and smaller portions.  If space is at a premium, you can stack them, sealed, in an appropriate size container until they are frozen.  Once solid, you can remove the container for easy viewing.
  • Baked goods can be wrapped in plastic wrap.  I recommend overwrapping:  pull out a big sheet of wrap, place the item in it and wrap up and over the top.  A pastry chef I worked with used to say, “The only think plastic wrap always sticks to is itself.”  I often freeze bar cookies, cheesecakes, and other baked goods right in the pan, wrapped in this manner.  You can also freeze certain unbaked doughs in plastic, such as pie dough, or even whole unbaked pies, still in the pan.  I wrap raw cookie dough in parchment and then in plastic wrap before freezing.
  • I’m not a fan of aluminum foil for freezing, unless it’s as an additional layer over plastic or inside zipper lock bags.  It tears.

Martha Stewart has labels you can download and print at home.  They are kind of cute, but I would rather have BIG block letters that I can read easily.  Plus, a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie works really well and costs very little, whereas adhesive labels tend to stick to my containers and cost more, both in terms of printer ink and for the blank labels themselves.

Frozen Overs – Smoky Almond Mole (with Chicken or Without)

27 May

This rich, flavorful recipe originated from Cooking Light (you can find the original recipe for Smokey Turkey Almond Mole at myrecipes.com).  I have adjusted it in several ways.  First, I use dried ancho chilies in place of the anaheim.  This is primarily because I stock ancho chilies in my pantry anyway, but there are some other good reasons I like them.  Anchos are a bit sweeter and typically a bit hotter than anaheim chilies.  Anaheims can range between 500-2,500 Scoville units, whereas anchos tend to stay reliably between 1,000 and 2,000, so I know what I’m getting.  Because I use a sweeter pepper and because I’m not much of a fan of adding sugar to things, I significantly reduce the sugar content in the recipe as well.  The first time I made this, I felt it was too sweet and not hot enough.  At the time, my brother-in-law was living with us and he liked it that way.  (Rude comment about brother-in-law’s palate deleted.)

A note on the heat level:  this dish is warm, not hot.  The chilies are so rich and flavorful that when you take a bite of this, you keep waiting for the afterburn and it never comes.  The heat you feel when you first taste it is exactly what you get.  It doesn’t sneak up on you.  If you are worried about the heat, leave out the chipotle pepper entirely.  Once you have completely finished the dish, you can add a bit of pureed chipotle or even just a little bit of the adobo sauce from the can, to suit your palate.

Finally, I never bother making something like this in a small batch.  If I have to pull out the food processor and make even a small mess, I’m going to make sure I have a full pot of sauce going and I will freeze some for another use.  Typically, I freeze some of this without any additions for use as a marinade/slop for grilling meats, or to offer as a condiment with any kind of Southwest meal.  The rest of it gets some poached chicken breast before it goes to the freezer.

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz sliced almonds, roasted in the oven and processed in a food processor fitted with the knife blade until smooth.  Don’t bother cleaning the food processor, we’re going to use it again.
  • 1/2 T. olive oil
  • 6 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded.  The Cooking Light recipe says to chop them, but you’re going to puree them in a few minutes, so don’t bother chopping them.
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.  The Cooking Light recipe says a can, but then in the instructions says ‘use 1/2’.
  • 4 1/2 cups of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes.  A big can + a  small can.
  • 1 tsp sugar.  Per my quantities, the Cooking Light recipe would tell you to add 3 Tablespoons.  I say – start with a bit and add just a bit more to taste after you puree if you think you need it.
  • 1/2 T (1 1/2 tsp) ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 6 corn tortillas, torn into small pieces.  Most grocery store tortillas are made with vegetable shortening, but double-check if you are planning to serve this as a vegetarian/vegan meal.
  • 42 oz unsalted vegetable broth or stock
  • 3 T. white wine vinegar
  • Optional: about 4 pounds (2 kg) of poached, chopped or shredded chicken breast or cooked, chopped turkey breast (or about 6 cups of cooked vegetables and beans) if you are planning to freeze this as a main dish.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add chiles and saute until softened.  Add onion and garlic and saute 4 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. 

Add the remaining ingredients except almonds and vinegar and optional additional ingredients.  Bring to a boil and simmer approximately 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture into the food processor and process in batches.  Return the puree to the pot, add the almonds and vinegar and simmer until slightly thickened.  Adjust to taste with salt, pepper (and sugar, if needed).

At this point, you can pack it up for the freezer.  If adding chicken, I allow this to cool to room temperature before packing.  I almost always save a bit of the sauce out before adding chicken so that I can use this yummy sauce for another purpose.  I have not tried this as a vegetarian meal, but I am anxious to do so.  I will probably add cooked black beans and an assortment of vegetables instead of the chicken.  I expect that would work beautifully.

Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.  To reheat (if chicken or vegetables have been added), put it in a big pot with a little bit water (you can also do this while it is still frozen) and cook it over medium until it is hot.  While it is heating, I cook some rice and make a big salad to go with.

Note on Chipotle Peppers in Adobo SauceThese, smoky, wonderful peppers can be found in the Hispanic foods section of your local grocery store in little bitty cans.  They are hot (Scoville scale:  3,000 to 10,000), so go easy on them.  Because they are so hot, the issue of what to do with the rest of them comes up.  I can’t bear to waste the rest of the can.  I spoon them out, with a bit of their sauce, onto a parchment-covered cookie sheet (don’t use foil) and pop the tray in the freezer for a few hours.  When they are hard, I put them into a freezer bag and put them back in the freezer.  Then when I need one, I have one.

Husband’s Note on Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce:  No reason to leave these little beauties cooling their heels in the freezer waiting for some recipe to call for them.  Add them, chopped up, to scrambled eggs or omelettes, to canned soup, to macaroni and cheese, to chilis and other dishes like the one above, which clearly do not have enough heat to satisfy.

Reduced Quantities of This Version:

 

  • 2 oz sliced almonds, roasted in the oven and processed in a food processor fitted with the knife blade until smooth.  Don’t bother cleaning the food processor, we’re going to use it again.
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded.  The Cooking Light recipe says to chop them, but you’re going to puree them in a few minutes, so don’t bother chopping them.
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 ea. chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.  Use more for hotter, but it’s easier to add it later than take it out once it’s in. 
  • 1 1/2 cups of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. (14 1/2 oz can).
  • 1/4 tsp sugar.  Drastically reduced from original recipe.
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 corn tortillas, torn into small pieces.
  • One 14 1/2 oz can unsalted vegetable broth or stock, or scant 2 cups if you have your own
  • 1 T. white wine vinegar
  • Optional: about 1 1/4 pounds (.75 kg) of poached, chopped or shredded chicken breast or cooked, chopped turkey breast (or about 2 cups of cooked vegetables and beans) if you are planning to freeze this as a main dish.

Random Recipes – Cilantro Pesto

26 May

I adore fresh cilantro, but couldn’t grow enough to satisfy my needs, so I often buy bunches.  As a result, I often have partial bunches of cilantro in my refrigerator, which will slowly turn into a disgusting, dark brown, primordial ooze if I don’t do something with it.  I’m getting better at catching it early these days and one of my favorite things is to make a bit of cilantro pesto, which can be frozen for later use.  You do need at least a small food processor for this.  I use a rocket blender that my friend Mary Beth gave me.  I also love my rocket blender for vinaigrettes, sauces and marinades.

The quantity of ingredients will vary depending on how much cilantro you have on hand, but assuming I have a half of bunch left (again, an imprecise measurement):

  • Cilantro, half a bunch, washed and picked over, tough center stems removed (just leaves and tender stems)
  • Garlic, one clove, cut into small pieces to make it easier to process
  • 2 T Pine nuts (although I often substitute walnuts or almonds if I have them on hand and need to use them up)
  • 2 T shredded or grated Parmesan cheese (again, you can substitute another hard, nutty cheese if you have something to use up)
  • Olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Put the nuts and garlic and a pinch of salt in the food processor fitted with the knife blade and process until chopped.  Add the cheese and cilantro, and process until well ground, drizzling a bit of oil into the mixture as you go.  In the rocket blender, I add a bit of oil to start, then stop and add a bit more and so on.  Continue processing until all of the cilantro is well chopped.  I find this makes a somewhat creamier textured pesto than that made with basil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I recommend putting a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto so that it won’t turn brown, and then covering it to refrigerate or freeze.  It should keep a few months in the freezer, a couple of days in the refrigerator.

 

Now what to do with it?  I love to slather it on fish before baking or grilling.  Anywhere you might normally use garlic and cilantro will be just fine for this.  With roast pork?  Tossed with pasta?  I recently had a party where we served a variety of fillings for tacos and flatbreads:   grilled flank steak, black beans, mole, grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, assorted salsas and so on.  The cilantro pesto was a hit, and best of all, I took it out of my freezer for this occasion, along with the mole, which I will publish soon.  So easy!

Planned Over Baking – Berry Pie

23 May

So why does pie count as a Planned Over?  Like most busy people, I’m not standing around in my kitchen making pie every day.  I have learned that many baked goods tolerate being frozen unbaked, and then baked without defrosting.  Pie is one of these things.  So if you’re taking the time to make pie, make two and put one in the freezer for another time.

Here is another favorite pie trick.  A 10″ pie recipe will make about the right amount of filling for two 7″ pies.  And really, it’s close enough with a 9-9.5″ pie recipe as well.  A 7″ pie will give me 4-5 slices.  For the two of us, that’s dessert plus two servings of pie to enjoy as Loved Overs.  If I have another couple over for dinner, it’s enough pie for four.  At Thanksgiving, it’s not such a huge pie commitment that I can have a few different varieties and I can make them ahead, so why not?

When I am ready to bake, I put the whole 7″ pie, still frozen, straight into a 350F oven.  I have never had a problem with doing it this way.  I don’t think I would try it in a ceramic pie plate though.

Where to get 7″ pie plates?  Amazon.com, where else?  The pie plates at this link are a bit more than I would like to pay.  I bought my 7″ pans at Sur la Table, and I can’t imagine that I paid more than $5 each, because I own several of them.  Of course, if you are feeding a crowd, just make a full size pie.  You can still make two (or more!) and freeze the extras unbaked.

Berry Pie

For the berries, use what you can get.  I show blackberries in the photo above.  I used frozen berries in this case, which is why the filling looks so juicy.  It would look less juicy if you used fresh berries, but they will release their juice in the oven.  One of my husband’s favorite combinations is cranberry and blackberry.  In this case, I would use the full amount of sugar.  My husband also likes the frozen mixed berries in a pie.  I often buy frozen berries on sale to have on hand for when the pie-baking mood strikes.  Berry pies benefit from a squeeze of lemon if the berries are very sweet.  Sometimes I put a pat of butter on top of the berries before I seal the crust.

  • Jeanne’s Pie Crust
  • 1 c. sugar (can use up to 1 1/4 cups, but I usually like it less sweet)
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 4 c. berries (approximately two bags of frozen)

Roll out the pie crust to fit the pie pan, top and bottom.  Mix sugar, flour and berries in a bowl and fill pie.  Top with a layer of crust, seal edges, and cut to vent.  Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze or Bake at 375F.  Makes two 7″ pies or one 9″ pie. 

Warm pie is wonderful, but fruit pies benefit from being baked several hours in advance so the filling sets up.

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