Frozen Assets


“Help! My Freezer’s Too Small!”

One of the most common concerns I hear about preparing meals for the freezer is this: “I only have the small freezer above my refrigerator — how can I still do a full month of cooking ahead?”

 For someone with only a fridge-top freezer, I usually recommend starting with twice-a-month cooking, or just doubling and tripling recipes as you go about your regular cooking during the week. As Continue reading



Debi’s Spaghetti Pie Recipe

Just for fun, here’s one of my family’s favorite freezer-friendly recipes, Spaghetti Pie (reprinted from my book, Frozen Assets: Cook for Day, Eat for a Month, SourceBooks).This recipe can easily be double or tripled.

My original Spaghetti Pie recipe called for a full pound of ground beef, but now I only use half a pound per pie. I find half a pound to be more than enough. This recipe could also be made with ground turkey, Italian bulk sausage, TVP (texturized vegetable protein), or no meat (or meat substitutes) at all.

SPAGHETTI PIE (from: Frozen Assets)
(6 servings) Continue reading



Debi’s Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Streusel

This is so tasty, I always try to hide a little for breakfast the next day. It’s so delicious, it would almost work as dessert. :-)

Debi’s Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Streusel

Ingredients for Casserole:

  • 5 medium-to-large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 1 stick butter, melted (you can use margarine but it won’t be as yummy)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Streusel Topping:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Preparation

  1. Cook the sweet potatoes until soft. You can either bake the sweet potatoes in the oven like baked potatoes, or you can peel them and steam them or boil them. I usually steam them … it just seems to go faster that way.
  2. In a large bowl, mash well. Set aside.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Make streusel topping: Blend brown sugar, butter, flour, and chopped pecans together with a pastry blender or fork. Set aside.
  5. Mix mashed sweet potatoes with sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Pour into a 9×9-inch lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle sweet potato mixture with the streusel topping. Be generous. I even sometimes poke deep holes with the end of a mixing spoon into the sweet potato mixture so the topping creeps into the sweet potatoes while they’re baking. :-)
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes.
  7. Serve hot.

Note: This casserole can be prepared in advance and frozen. After cooling completely, scoop the prepared sweet potatoes into a large freezer bag, but do not add the topping. Freeze the topping in a separate freezer bag. When ready to bake, thaw completely, pour into the casserole dish, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Top with streusel and bake as directed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Deborah Taylor-Hough is the mother of three grown and nearly grown kids still at home, a full-time college student, a displaced homemaker trying to make ends meet on a limited budget, and the author of several older (but still in print) books including the popular Frozen Assets cookbook series. You can visit Debi online at: http://www.SimpleMom.com



A Secret to a Relaxed Holiday Dinner

thanksgiving-plate-entert1106-de1Can you imagine a relaxed holiday dinner without needing to actually cook a turkey on the big day? You’d be able to enjoy the festivities as much as your friends and family!

Believe it or not, it’s possible to roast your turkey ahead of time and store the cooked meat in the freezer to reheat and serve on the big day. If this sounds a bit too much like eating leftovers, let me assure you that by following these simple freezing and reheating instructions, you’ll have moist, delicious turkey — and not one of your guests will suspect you didn’t spend the entire holiday slaving away in the kitchen keeping watch over a hot oven.

Feel free to use your own favorite turkey recipe if you prefer, and then follow the freezing/reheating instructions at the end of this article (but I personally don’t think you’ll find a tastier turkey recipe!).

TO PREPARE TURKEY:

  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 6 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine (or water)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cups chicken broth, canned (reserve for freezing process)

In bottom of a deep roasting pan, place two quartered onions, four celery stalks, the carrots, bay leaves and white wine (or water). Remove turkey giblets, rinse bird inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Stuff turkey loosely with remaining quartered onion and celery stalks. Brush turkey with olive oil mixed with salt, pepper, sage, and thyme. Cover turkey loosely with a large sheet of foil coated lightly with olive oil, crimping foil on to edges of roasting pan. Cook according to chart below. During last 45 minutes, cut band of skin or string between legs and tail. Uncover and continue roasting until done. Baste, if desired.

Turkey Roasting Chart (loosely wrapped with foil):
12-16 pounds / 325 degrees F / 4 – 5 hours
16-20 pounds / 325 degrees F / 5 – 6 hours
20-24 pounds / 325 degrees F / 6 – 7 hours

Testing for doneness:

About 20 minutes before roasting time is completed, test bird. Flesh on thickest part of drumstick should feel soft when squeezed between fingers, drumstick should move up an down easily, and meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of leg should read 185 degrees F. (Or follow manufacturer’s instructions.)

- FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS -

DRIPPINGS: Pour liquid and drippings from roasting pan into a bowl. Remove vegetables. Allow bowl of liquid to cool in refrigerator until fat congeals on top. Scoop off fat with a spoon and pour drippings into a labeled freezer bag. Thaw to use for making gravy on serving day.

TURKEY: Allow turkey to cool in pan for 1/2 hour; then place turkey and its roasting pan into refrigerator. Allow to cool completely (several hours). When fully chilled, slice turkey as usual. Remove all meat from bones. Place breast and dark meat slices into labeled freezer bags. Pour canned chicken broth into bags over meat. Freeze.

TO SERVE: Thaw bag of meat and broth, and place into a covered baking dish for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Or place turkey and broth into a microwave-safe dish, cover with plastic wrap, and heat until hot (the time will vary with different microwaves, so check manufacturer’s instructions). Drain off broth (reserve to make more gravy, if needed). Arrange the heated turkey slices attractively on a serving platter. Serve hot.

**Excerpted and adapted from the 10-Day Holiday Meal Plan in the bestselling book, Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month (SourceBooks).

~Debi



Make-Ahead Pumpkin Puree

Whenever canned pumpkin is called for in a recipe, just substitute this homemade puree that you’ve frozen ahead. It’s almost like having fresh pumpkin anytime of year! And who says you can’t have pumpkin pie in February? :-)

Make-Ahead Pumpkin Puree

  • Two(2) 3-pound pie pumpkins

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut pumpkin in to 5-inch square pieces. Remove seeds and stringy pulp. Arrange pieces of pumkin in a single layer (skin side up) on a foil-lined baking pan or cookie sheet.

2) Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Allow to cool.

3) Scrape pumpkin “meat” from rind and place in a large bowl or the food processor. Using a hand mixer or the food processor, beat to a smooth pulp.

4) Transfer to freezer bags. Label and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator to use.

Makes 5 cups pumpkin puree



The Turkey Meatloaf Twins

I haven’t tended to use a lot of ground turkey in recipes because I find it usually ends up too dry and tasteless.  But I learned a wonderful little secret to making moist turkey loaves and meatballs … just add grated zucchini to the mixture!  The high water content of the zucchini keeps the meat moist.  An amazingly simple solution to a common problem.  :-)

A couple tips:  Be sure to handle the turkey meat mixture gently, it’s best to mix it together with your hands, don’t overmix, and don’t have big pieces of onion in the mixture or it’ll tend to break apart easily.

You can also use this same recipe to make meatballs.  You do everything the same except you only bake the meatballs for 30 minutes at 350 rather than for an hour.  If you need more ideas for serving turkey meatballs, you can find some sauce recipes and meatball ideas at the bottom of this post:  Meatball Mania

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The Turkey Meatloaf Twins
  • 2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 cup oats (gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, snipped
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
In a large mixing bowl, gently but thoroughly combine first seven ingredients (everything except for the eggs and spices).  In a separate smaller bowl, combine eggs, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  Mix the egg and spice mixture into the meat mixture.  In a lightly greased 9″x13″ baking pan, form meatloaf mixture into two loaf shapes. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
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Makes great leftovers, yummy sandwiches, and freezes well, too.
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To freeze, cool completely in the refrigerator.  Wrap in foil; label; and freeze.  Thaw in the fridge overnight.  Can be served cold or reheated in the microwave for an easy meal on a busy day.
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~Debi


Never a dull moment around our house …

Over the past few years people in our home have developed various food allergies, and have required special diets for things like Celiac, etc.  Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more complicated food-wise, my son and I both developed an inability to digest meats (beef for me, anything flesh-related for him).  Crazy.

So now in order to make a meal to feed all four of us at the same time, it needs to meet the following criteria:

  • Gluten-free (essentially only rice noodles and rice bread)
  • Sugar-free (no honey or fructose, either)
  • Aspartame-free (no Nutrasweet)
  • Vegetarian (or at least beef-free, but then my son needs something else to eat)
  • Peanut-free
  • Mushroom-free (including mushroom soup)
  • Carrot-free
  • Apple-free
  • Light on the eggs (can be an ingredient, but not the main thing such as in omelettes or scrambled eggs)
  • Mint-free (not usually much of an issue except with teas and desserts)
  • Green tea – free

I think that’s all. LOL! 8-)

I’ve decided to try to figure out a list of menus I can prepare that we can all eat so I’m not preparing separate meals for our various special diets.  Sadly, doing bulk freezer meal cooking has sort of fallen by the wayside as one after another of our regular recipes have bit-the-dust.

So, any suggestions for cheap eats that meet the above requirements?  And of course freezer-friendly recipes and ideas would be ideal!  :-)




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