Thursday, February 12, 2015

Freezer Meals

I am due in 1 week.  It doesn't seem like nearly enough time.  In preparation for #3 to join us, I decided to make and freeze a bunch of easy meals.  My mom will be staying with us for the first week.  She's perfectly capable of making dinners but keeping the older 2 kidlets occupied is more than enough work for 1 person (especially since E is off school all week!).  This should make everyone's life a bit easier.

I scoured my recipes binder and narrowed it down to these entrees with many different flavor profiles. We like variety in our food!  I didn't include salt or pepper measurements in any of the recipes- add those as you see fit.

In addition to huge batches of broccoli cheese soup and chicken tortilla soup, I ended up with 2 family sized portions each of:
*Sweet and Sour Pork
*Red Pepper Chicken
*Honey Sesame Chicken
*Beef and Broccoli
*Balsamic Beef Roast
*Lasagna

The basic instructions are written right on the bag but I also printed a word document to stick to the fridge with more specific cooking/ reheating instructions.

Here are the recipes for the dinners.  Each recipe can easily be doubled (which I did).  

Beef and Broccoli:
Ingredients
2 pounds of your favorite beef sliced thinly - I used round steak for this
2 cups of beef broth
1 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar,
5 cloves of garlic, minced
4 Tablespoons of corn starch
4 Tablespoons cold water
3 pounds broccoli florets
Instructions:
In a small bowl combine broth, soy sauce, and brown sugar until dissolved.  Place beef in slow cooker with sauce on top.  Add minced garlic.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Mix corn starch with cold water in a bowl.  Add corn starch slurry into the slow cooker, stir gently.  Add broccoli to the slow cooker.  Cook on High for 40 minutes or until broccoli is cooked.  Serve over rice.  
*To freeze this recipe: place sliced beef, beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic in a large Ziploc bag.  Remove as much air as possible and freeze.  To prepare it: thaw overnight in refrigerator (it's OK if parts are still slightly frozen), cook in crock pot on low for 6-8 hours. Mix corn starch with cold water in a bowl.  Add corn starch slurry into the slow cooker, stir gently.  Add broccoli to the slow cooker.  Cook on High for 40 minutes or until broccoli is cooked.  Serve over rice.  

Balsamic Beef Roast:
Ingredients:
4-5 pounds Beef Chuck Roast
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon honey
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds baby carrots
Instructions:
Place meat and carrots into crock pot and turn on low heat. Whisk together all the other ingredients and pour over the top of the meat and carrots. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes.
*To freeze this recipe: place all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag.  Remove as much air as possible and freeze.  To prepare it: thaw 24 hours in the refrigerator (it's OK if it's still slightly frozen), cook in crock pot on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Honey Sesame Chicken:
Ingredients:
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1 green onion, thinly sliced for garnish
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Instructions:
In a large bowl, combine onion, garlic, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, and canola oil.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken into a slow cooker. Add honey mixture and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours.
Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred the chicken before returning to the pot with the sauce. Cook an additional 30 minutes.
Serve over rice, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired
*To freeze this recipe: place all ingredients (except green onions and sesame seeds) into a large Ziploc bag.  Remove as much air as possible and freeze.  To prepare: thaw overnight in refrigerator (it's OK if it's still slightly frozen), cook in crock pot on low for 5-6 hours.  Serve over rice with green onions and sesame seeds.

Sweet and Sour Pork:
Ingredients:
1-2 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into cubes
1 can (8 oz) pineapple tidbits, in unsweetened juice (do not drain)
1 bell pepper, any color, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup vinegar (white or apple cider, I like apple cider vinegar)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons cold water
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 green onion, thinly sliced for garnish
Instructions:
In a slow cooker, combine pork, pineapple, bell pepper, brown sugar, ginger, vinegar and soy sauce; and mix well.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  About 15 minutes before serving, in small bowl, combine water and cornstarch; blend well. Stir into pork mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high setting for an additional 10-15 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice, garnished with green onions, if desired
*To freeze this recipe: place all ingredients (except water, cornstarch and green onions) into a large Ziploc bag.  Remove as much air as possible and freeze.  To prepare: thaw overnight in refrigerator (it's OK if it's still slightly frozen), cook in crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve over rice with green onions. 

Red Pepper Chicken:
Ingredients:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, sliced (about 1.5 cups)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced (about one cup)
1 Tablespoon jerk seasoning
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and tender.  Serve with rice or pasta.  Another option is to shred the chicken, top with cheddar cheese, and roll into tortilla shells.
*To freeze this recipe: place all ingredients into a large Ziploc bag.  Remove as much air as possible and freeze.  To prepare: thaw overnight in refrigerator (it's OK if it's still slightly frozen), cook in crock pot on low for 5-6 hours.  Serve with rice or pasta.  Another option is to shred the chicken, top with cheddar cheese, and roll into tortilla shells.

Chicken Tortilla Soup: (This makes a lot of soup, I do not recommend doubling it)
*This recipe isn't an exact science.  If there are things in it you don't like, leave them out.  Prefer kidney beans to black, swap them. Hate beans all together, omit them. Can't handle spicy, use mild salsa and no jalapenos. Make it the way you like it. This just happens to be how we like it*
 Ingredients:
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chunky salsa (mild or medium)
3 cups frozen corn (no need to thaw)
1 can black beans rinsed and drained (optional)
1/2 cup jalapeno minced (optional)
2-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 tablespoons ground cumin (to taste)
1 tablespoon chili powder (optional, to taste)
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (or 1 packet)
chopped fresh cilantro (to garnish)
sour cream (to garnish)
tortilla chips
monterey jack, cheddar, or colby jack cheese, grated
 Directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, saute garlic and onions in butter.  Add broth and half and half.  Mix until well combined.  Add salsa, corn, chicken, cumin, chili powder, taco seasoning, beans (if using) and jalapenos (if using).  Simmer soup for 1 hour, stirring often.  Crumble tortilla chips into individual bowls, and ladle in the soup.  Top with cilantro, cheese, sour cream, and more tortillas if desired.
*To freeze this recipe, I make it exactly as stated, cover it, and let it cool in the fridge overnight (don't crack your shelf, use a hot pad under the pot!!).  The next morning I portion it into gallon Ziploc bags and put them in the freezer.  To prepare: thaw, reheat, and top it as desired.  You may or may not want to add more chicken broth if the ingredients absorbed all of your liquid.