Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Curry verdict

Chick pea curry was easy peasy to freeze and cook, smelled fantastic all day, and tasted good to everyone over the age of 3.  It also made a TON of food, even after I cut the recipe in half.  I ended up doing individual portions with the leftovers and re-froze them.

Original recipe (link) called for 3lb of chicken and 2lb of chopped butternut squash.  I used 32oz of canned chick peas instead of chicken and halved everything else.  To cook, I put the freezer bag contents in the crockpot along with half a can of coconut milk.  It didn't look like enough moisture to me, so I added half a can of broth, too.  About 30 minutes before we were ready to eat, I added the rest of the coconut milk and about 2/3 bag of frozen peas (peas are Addy's all time favorite vegetable, so I cooked the rest of them plain so she would have something to eat).

Mommy and Daddy ate the curry with rice and got quite full.  The girls did at least taste the sauce, but ended up eating plain rice, plain peas, crackers, and cheese.  Overall, it went about like I expected, but not as well as I had hoped.

Monday, August 18, 2014

That's me on a bandwagon

I'm jumping on the not-at-all-new freezer cooking train with the hopes of having more sanity in the evenings.  With one slow eater and one picky eater--much improved over 6 months ago, but still pretty limited in the proteins and veggies that she'll eat in any measurable quantity--we don't have time to cook multiple dinners and get kids fed and up from the table in time to get them (and us) to bed at a reasonable hour.

Level 7 Zen Master Freezer Cooks manage to spend a limited amount of a Saturday preparing and freezing a month's worth of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) and there are websites and blogs devoted to menu and process planning.  I'm not even remotely there (yet) and I'm also kind of apprehensive about jumping in full-force.  Part of the time savings comes from making double or even triple batches of meals, but if it's a recipe you decide you don't care for, why would you want to have 4-6 (or more) serving's worth haunting your freezer?

Most dinner recipes I found are either casseroles or slow-cooker recipes.  I went with all slow-cooker ones this time (though the fresh batch of Sloppy Joes I actually cooked in a skillet).

I spent a couple of evenings looking for recipes and trying to figure out if and how to modify them--onions don't agree with some of us and I decided I wanted at least 1 vegetarian option.  Then came trying to figure out a sane order for doing the chopping and bagging (and then when I actually got started with prepping, I looked at the clock and decided to do things completely differently).  Go me.

So far we've had Sloppy Joes, which have turned out to be pretty yummy.  Here's the original recipe (link) and here's what I did differently:

First off, I looked at the tomato paste and decided that, since I hate dealing with partial cans of tomato paste, I would go ahead and make several batches so I could use up a whole can.  Two tablespoons is about an ounce and tomato paste comes in 6 ounce cans, so that means making 6 batches.  Sloppy Joes are pretty safe and this recipe looked pretty good, so I went ahead and risked it.  Five batches went into the freezer, one was cooked up right away.  If you have one, the shredder blade on your food processor is your best friend for this task.  It was mine.

Second off, this recipe calls for onion, which, as I mentioned, is not enjoyed in large quantities in our family.  I reduced the onion by about half and subbed part of a rib of celery to make up the lost volume and moisture.

Third off, the instructions say to cook the whole thing and then freeze it so you can just reheat it later.  I think it's silly to go ahead and cook food just to re-cook it later.  Besides, I usually buy hamburger in a 3lb family pack and freeze the 2lb that I'm not using right away.  What I decided to do is mix up just the sauce (minus the canned tomato sauce), portioned it into bags, and froze it.  That also leaves the recipe flexible for using ground chicken, turkey, or tofu instead of beef when it comes time to actually cook it.

Overall, this one is a winner.  It fed 2 adults and 1 toddler for 1 dinner as sandwiches--I did get the picky preschooler to eat a sandwich with just the sauce plus a slice of cheese, but she declared it too salty (ha ha!) and would only eat plain cheese sandwich after that.  I made some pasta to add to the leftovers to make it into a second dinner plus 2 adult's worth of lunch.

Tomorrow night: Chickpea coconut curry.