Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cooking from the freezer

So I was excited to write a guest blog about freezer cooking over at Little House on the Praire Living, look for it sometime this week! And on that theme, I thought I had better start sharing some meal ideas, since that was the point of this blog!

Our menu plan got waaaay off track this week, as there was a particularly unpleasant bug that passed through our home, completely killing any appetite that we might have had. Now that we are all healthy, we are back to eating more than yogurt and popcorn. Tonight, we came home hungry from a Sunday afternoon drive, during which we salivated over beautiful new houses. When we came back to reality, and remembered how much we dislike cleaning what we have now, forget about 4,000 square feet (!), I needed to get some food on the table. And it couldn't have been easier. Not even if I had a giant, designer kitchen!

So I made chicken burritos and refried beans, and most of the food came from the freezer in some way. The cheese and tortillas I load up on when they are super cheap, both freeze well. I would recommend shredding the cheese before you freeze it, it changes texture a bit. The chicken came from a source that I used to throw away; chicken bones. I love to make soup, and when I went frugal I started to get really annoyed with buying stock in boxes at $3 a pop. So I started making it, and it really is as easy as they say. Save all your chicken bones in a freezer bag, most of mine come from roast chicken, but I also get leg quarters when they're on sale. When you have a gallon sized bag full, throw them in a stock pot with some celery, onion, carrot, water to cover and simmer for about 5 hours. Or put it in the crockpot, on low for say 10 hours. I remember reading that you should remove the veg when it's done, but after five hours it's so soft that I don't bother (cause I'm lazy). I strain off the stock and freeze it in 1 or 2 cup portions, and then I freeze the chicken meat that I have scrounged in another container. For my burritos tonight, I dumped the chicken in my biggest pan, added some homemade chicken taco seasoning (I'll post that another time), and let it simmer for a few minutes while I made the beans. The beans came out of the freezer too; soak a pound of beans overnight (that would be whatever variety is on sale, I like black beans), drain off the water, and then simmer them for an hour, again water to cover. To store, divide equally into 5 freezer containers, include the liquid. One pound of dried beans makes roughly the equivelent of 5 cans of beans, and I pay $1/lb of dried beans, vs. .79 on sale for canned. For refried, I saute 2 cloves of garlic, minced, in some canola, throw in the beans with the cooking liquid, let them go for a couple of minutes, mash them with a potato masher, add some cumin, maybe some onion powder, a bit of chicken stock if they look dry.

We made our own burritos, I love the make it yourself approach to Mexican. Put out the fixings, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, a bit of rice I had leftover, and go for it. It took one heck of a lot longer to write this post than it did to make supper, and that's why having meal components in the freezer is awesome!

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