Freezer Queen

I truly could be named the Freezer Queen. It isn’t that I have a frigid personality, I just love to use my freezer to make my life easier. I have found that making 2 batches of meatballs isn’t much more time than making one. That by having cooked chicken/ground turkey in the freezer I am saving myself valuable time and not stressing out during the dinner/homework crunch time. It is very easy to make chili if the meat is already cooked and in the freezer. I just dump it in the crock pot with the other ingredients in the morning and by dinner everything is perfect. I have also found that when the meat I like goes on sale, I can buy a lot, prepare it and freeze it. Some recipes that freeze well are…chili, meatballs, chicken enchiladas, lasagna, spaghetti sauce, teriyaki chicken, meatloaf, bbq chicken, seasoned extra lean ground turkey, won tons, hot and sour soup, escarole soup, miso soup w/o the tofu, butternut squash soup, split pea soup, stuffed shells, panini sandwiches, bean and cheese burritos, quesadillas, homemade chicken stock, (I actually freeze these in freezer Ziploc bags in the orange juice cardboard carton after I cut off the top folded in part. I find that they stack better in the freezer.)

I also try to keep in the freezer …Horizon yogurt tubes, frozen organic strawberries, blueberries, (so I can make a Smoothie a Go Go at any time) peas (great for putting on head bumps to reduce swelling), corn, mixed veggies combo, spinach, old bananas that I didn’t have time to make into banana bread, (I bag these in 2 bananas portions that way when I do need to make banana bread and I have no banana I can use these.) Frozen bananas are also great to have on hand for a smoothie or my guilt free ice cream recipe. One or two pizzas by Paul Newman. (His have no nitrates in their toppings.)  one bag of frozen southern style hash browns for making breakfast casserole and quiches. Puff pastry is great to put on top of chicken pot pies or to make a simple rustic apple gallete.

Preparing/cooking Ground Meat for Freezing

I always buy extra lean ground turkey. Lean turkey is deceiving in that you think you are eating healthy since it is turkey. You may not realize that lean turkey has dark meat and the skin ground up in it. Extra lean ground turkey has only the white meat in it. It will be drier so I add it in sauces to help give if moisture and flavor.

Hardware- skillet, pancake flipper, freezer ziplock gallon bags

software- 2 packs of extra lean ground turkey, 1 Tablespoons minced garlic, olive oil

Steps

Using a Sharpie pen, label your bag with “Cooked Ground Turkey” and the date. Heat up your skillet on med heat. Give it a 3-5 second drizzle around the skillet. Tilt the pan to let the oil roll around and coat the bottom of the skillet. Let the oil heat up. Using the flipper add chunks of the ground turkey into the oil. Once all the turkey is in the pan, add the minced garlic. Using the flipper break up the chunks of meat and gently flip and move the meat around. Keep breaking up the chunks as it is cooking. When it is all done, let it cool down. Scoop the meat into the ziploc bags. I divide it between 2 bags. By having it into 2 bags I know that I can make a recipe that calls for one pound of meat with it. Seal it tight and firmly press out as much air as you can. It is the evaporation of liquid due to exposer to air in the freezer that causes freezer burn. Place it in the freezer. Not the freezer door. Since it is already cooked you don’t have to worry about raw meat or long cook times when you are ready to prepare it.

I use this in chili, spaghetti sauce, tacos, stuffed shells, pasta bakes, udon, yakisoba, quesadillas, enchilladas. Also, you can use it in the fried rice recipe that I have on this blog under What to do with cold hard rice.

Another item that I freeze often is the ricotta mixture that I make for my lasagna. I find that I always seem to have too much ricotta mixture compared to the amount of noodles. So I put it in a freezer safe container labeled with blue painters tape. Note. make sure you put the tape on the container before you freeze it. Be sure to label what is in it with a sharpie pen. Then when you make calzones you have just the right amount to use. I find that my ricotta mixture reduces the saltiness of the salami turkey stuffing in the calzone.

Some items are as versatile as jeans in your wardrobe. I find that chicken is that way. When I am cooking chicken in a basic manner, I try to cook enough to freeze. For example… Shaking around a chicken breast in seasoned flour and pan frying it can work for Chicken Marsala, Chicken Maribella, Chicken fried rice, Chicken teriyaki, Chicken e’toufee. Chicken is the foundation and the sauces and herbs are the shirt and accessories.

Miso Soup

Hardware- 2 cup pyrex measuring cup, measuring teaspoon, tableware tablespoon, soup pot, ladle, cutting board, knife,

Software- Miso paste, Hon Dashi, firm tofu, Slices Napa cabbage (optional), green onion (optional)

The steps to miso soup. You need half a teaspoon of Dashi. You can find this product at the asian market. Then you need to put five cups of water into a soup pot. Wait for it to boil. While you wait for it to boil put two tbs of miso into a mug.  Slowly pour in one  cup of hot water into the miso. The miso is very salty to me, I don’t know about you though. When the water in the pot is boiling add in the miso and if you feel like it put some cabbage in it.

The soup freezes well with the cabbage. But the tofu does not freeze well. If you want, you can freeze just the broth part and add the tofu when you are reboiling it. I have done that before and it is fine.

Lasagna’s Ricotta Layer

Everyone loves lasagna. There is something so satisfying about the warm gooey layers of cheese and sauce with sheets of pasta. Only problem is that making a lasagna from scratch can be a daunting task. I have such a whirl wind of a week, that I have tried to create some short cuts. I use my pumped up store bought sauce recipe and my precooked frozen ground turkey and pair it with a prefrozen layer of ricotta and cottage cheese. Add a store bought bag of shredded motzarella and I can have a company worthy lasagna in no time.

I came up with the idea of the ricotta layer because I had so much ricotta stuffing left after making a calzone. I decided to line a lipped cookie sheet with plastic wrap and spread the ricotta mixture in an even layer and cover it with more plastic wrap. After sticking it in the freezer, the mixture has become a solid sheet of ricotta that was the perfect size and depth for a lasagna tray. This was fabulous. I could start to assemble the lasagna and after laying the noodles down simply peel off the plastic wrap and lay the sheet of ricotta on top. It was always a bit tricky to spread the ricotta evenly while the pasta was wet. Now I didn’t have to worry that the layer wasn’t even.

Low fat Ricotta Mixture

Software- low fat ricotta, low fat cottage cheese, 1 egg, half a box of spinach (defrosted and drained), grated parmesan cheese, fresh cracked black pepper,

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