Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tips for freezing and crock-pot freezing

Tips for freezing and crock-pot freezing

Next time I do this I’ll take pictures to go with the endless tip list below, but for now this is what I have, and my friend Sarah wanted tips ASAP. Also the three posts below this one are some great recipes and a link to my crock-pot Pinterest page. :)  

1. Make out a good detailed grocery list (if possible for what you are freezing only). Make it in order of the store, group together veggies, meats, canned goods, spices, etc., when buying a lot that helps quite a bit. After you make the list double check with your recipes to be sure you won’t be missing anything during the big freeze, also really look through your pantry, it’s amazing what you might find before you buy new. ;)

2. If the recipes you are using call for stock of any kind or a really runny/liquidy sauce freeze it the night before (many people use ice cube trays to do this step).

3. I like putting everything in raw (unless it is beef going into a stew, then sear the outside quick before putting into the bag).  Most of the recipes I made are crock-pot, which is my preference for large freeze days.

4. I know a lot of people do this with just a Freezer Zip-lock bags, or Tupperware. I have tried both of those options, but in my freezer they always end up with a lot of freezer burn or extra frozen water inside. I was lucky enough to get a FoodSaver for an anniversary gift a few years ago, and although the bags are a little more expensive I really think it’s worth it. If you don’t have a FoodSaver ask around, there is almost always someone out there who would love to lend you one. I had a little issue with ours once during a big freeze day and put on Facebook that I needed to borrow one, three people offered theirs up.

5. Before you begin bagging make sure you have a bunch of bowls, knives, cutting boards, bags, and your FoodSaver out for easy access.

6. There are two schools of thought regarding organization when packing meals for freezing. One is to get all the ingredients out for all the meals (except for the meat, you don’t want it sitting around), group all ingredients you need for each meal together in little stations. This option works well if you have a big kitchen/a lot of counter space, but if you have a small area this will just be overwhelming. Also people who try this option often pre-cut all the veggies. Option number two is to get out all the kitchen supplies you’ll need beforehand, and then get the ingredients out for each recipe individually. This option is best if you have a small kitchen. Either way just think out how you work best before you start, whatever form of organization works best for you is great, just make sure you come up with one before you start.

7. If you have helpers (husband, children who are old enough to help out), I find that giving them tasks like cutting up meat or veggies is great, or if you don’t trust them with a knife they can often be in charge of sealing the bags.  However it seems to work best if one person is actually trying to put ingredients into the bags, and that the person doing the bag loading is able to concentrate on putting the right ingredients in. J

8. Empty your trashcan before you start, and move it close to the counter where you’re working.

9. It is often helpful to stand your freezer bags up in a bowl, or have someone hold it open for you.

10. When you go to freeze lay things flat, you can then stand them up later if you want to, it will save space.

11. Since we have a family of two, and I don’t love eating one meal over and over for a week, so I usually take recipes that serve eight and put half in one bag and half in another.

12. If you are freezing a soup, I recommend putting it in a zip-lock bag a little smaller than your FoodSaver bag, freeze it overnight, and then cut the zip-lock bag off, put it in the FoodSaver bag, suck the air out, and put it back in the freezer. This might seem like overkill, but I’ve tried it a few different ways and this really does work the best. Also when you thaw out make sure you do it in the refrigerator the night before, if you think you might be putting a totally frozen soup in a crock-pot or large pan make sure that whatever shape you freeze in will fit in your pot however it really does work out best if you just completely defrost it first.

13. If you are doing a lasagna (which I think is awesome fresh and frozen) I would only cook it half way if you are going to freeze it. All the way cooked, so fine too, but it can get a little crunchy the second baking. I also use those disposable tin-ish 8 by 8 pans, it makes things easier. 

Links to Crock-Pot Meals that are Tested and Recommended

Links to Crock-Pot Meals that are Tested and Recommended

I just finished making another round of meals for the freezer, I needed food for two months this time. I went through all my Pinterest stuff and made one board for just recipes that I have personally already tried, not just making but freezing and then making. These are the ones I did during my last big freeze and am going to do again.

Pulled Meat Crock-Pot Meals

Pulled Meat Crock-Pot Meals

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I made these pulled BBQ sandwiches a few weeks ago. It's super easy, put about two pounds of chicken in the crock-pot, pour about half a bottle of Bull's Eye Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce on top, cook for about four hours on low, pull the chicken, let it sit at least ten minutes, put on bun. I like a little coleslaw on top, but many people think that's weird. 

Melissa Fornander Schiefelbein's photo.

Pulled Chicken 

This is one I learned from a friend, so I don't have a link or pictures, but it's super good. I made it for church dinner tonight, and my friend Stacey texted to tell me they licked the pan. 

Take a bag of frozen chicken breast, one big jar of Pace P
icante Sauce with a yellow lid, and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Take two forks and pull/shred the chicken. Then make it into tacos with whole grain soft shell taco shells and whatever other taco fixins you love. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Stews and Soups

Schiefelbein Stew

1 Small Bag of Frozen Corn
1 Small Bag of Frozen Green Beans
1 Small Bag of Frozen Carrots, or 1/2 Pound of Fresh Carrots
4-5 Red Potatoes
1 Standard Package of Stew Meat
1 Can Tomato Soup

Brown the stew meat, place it in the crock-pot, and then dump in all the other items with the tomato soup on top. Cook in the crock-pot at low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours, and stir every few hours. Sometimes you might need 1/2 cup of water if it seems to dry.

Vicki's Quick Hamburger Soup
1 Pound of Ground Beef
1 Can of Rotel
Green Pepper
Beef Broth


Brown hamburger in a large stock pot, then add in one can of regular Rotel, and add whatever amount of the rest of the ingredients that seem right to feed the amount of people you are feeding. Cook until the carrots and potatoes are softened or as long as you have because the flavor develops over time, however watch the carrots and potatoes to make sure they do not overcook.

Melissa's Chicken Noodle Soup

Organic Chicken Stock
Chicken (Cook in the crock-pot and pull)
Frozen Egg Noodles
Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
Olive Oil

Cut up the shallot (or onion if you prefer), garlic, flat leaf Italian parsley, and cook them in olive oil until they are very soft. Then add enough stock to cover the bottom of the pan, and add celery. Cook until the celery softens up, then add the rest of the stock and let it simmer for a while. In the mean time cut the carrots and add them in. Then about a half hour before you are ready to eat add the frozen noodles and chicken. (I pureed the steps up to the carrots in the magic bullet when I made it for the little kids, but I wouldn't if I was just making it for us.) I would add more parsley half way through, too, as long as you don't mind the color in the final soup.