(Above pic is from the apple orchard field trip. I love field trips!)
Head over to MJ’s for Freezer Food Friday. I am posting Gluten Free-zer Friday late this week due to getting to help with the first grade harvest party and with the middle school after school party. My middle schoolers specifically asked me to help out. It’s great to be wanted at middle school functions (especially when one is a 14 year-old boy). I will try not to embarrass them TOO much (maybe just a little – ha!).
This week instead of a recipe, I thought I would show how I package up my freezer goodies.
Below are 3 chickens seasoned and ready to cook in my turkey roaster. If you have a roaster that you only use for your Thanksgiving turkey, this is a great way to use it more often. I usually roast 3-4 chickens (depending on the size), freeze the meat in 2-3 cup portions. I then put the bones etc, back into the roaster, add celery, carrots, garlic, etc (anything that would be good in stock that’s time is up in the crisper), top with water and let simmer until the stock is how I want it. Strain the solids from the stock, cover and refrigerate. In the morning the fat will have hardened on top of the stock, so it is easy to remove. I then freeze the stock in 4 and 2 cups portions as that is what I use in recipes most often.
Below is an example of how I freeze “dump” recipes or marinades and what I do with extra things that go with the recipe. This method helps me keep all the parts together for a recipe and helps to save me room in the freezer. Below I am putting together the Pineapple Pork Chops recipe. After labeling the freezer bag (it’s easier to label BEFORE all the stuff gets in the bag), I fold the tops over of the bags. This keeps anything out of the zip closer (yuck) and helps to hold the bag in an open position. I set a bag each in a bowl. Dump all the stuff that needs to go in the bag for a sauce or marinade, mix around the ingredients, then add your meat.
Seal the bag and mix the marinade ingredients around the meat, evenly coating everything. Be careful if you have bone in pork chops or chicken as the bones can poke through the bag causing a leak. Open the bag and remove as much air as possible. Seal.
If a recipe has a smaller, second component, such as the pineapple sauce for this recipe, I label two smaller freezer bags, fold over the top, and prop in bowls as before. I add the ingredients needed for the sauce (or later add in veggies or whatever), mix, remove as much air as possible and seal as above.
I like to use an extra large freezer bag to package up the meal at this point. I know it seems like over-kill, but just ask my friend Andrea how her freezer smelled when a small tear happened in her garlic-dijon chicken! You want to double wrap to protect your food you worked so hard on and your clean freezer. I do not reuse a bag that has had raw meat in it, but I do wash and reuse the outer bag as often as I can to save on the environment and cut down on the cost of bags. I again label the outer bag, prop in a bowl, and slid in the large and small filled bags. As you can see below, they both do fit.
Again, remove as much air as possible and seal.
When I am ready to thaw the meal, I put it into a container of some sort before putting it into the refrigerator to thaw. I do this just in case there has been any tears in the plastic so I don’t have a leaking bag sitting in my refrigerator.
Below is the Chicken and Broccoli Casseroles. You can either freeze in foil pans or the baking pans you have. Some people get extra baking pans at garage sales and thrift stores to use for freezer cooking. If you do not want to have that many pans, you can still use your baking pans for freezer cooking if you would like to not use foil. Lightly oil the pan and line with parchment paper. Fill with casserole and freeze. When casserole is completely solid, remove from pan. Double wrap with freezer plastic or with freezer plastic then foil. When you are ready to thaw your meal, remove from freezer and remove all wrapping. You can remove the parchment or leave on, your choice. Put meal into the baking pan, cover and allow to thaw in the refrigerator. DO NOT put your frozen/cold casserole into a glass baking pan directly into a hot oven as the temperature shock can cause the glass to break. I let it thaw, put the casserole into a cold oven, turn on the oven and allow everything to warm up together, adding on a few extra minutes to account for the warm up time.