Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Freezing Foods, My latest obsession!

I think I may have talked about freezing food when I posted about budgeting and coupons before.  I have done a lot more freezing since then that I wanted to share.

CHICKEN - I eat a lot of chicken, I like that you can flavor it easily and it is used in lots of ethnic cooking. It is honestly much cheaper than beef, and that is the biggest reason I use it a lot.  I recently bought roughly 9 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast.  The following are the three ways I prepared and froze my chicken.
Breasts - I usually wrap my breasts individually then bag them for freezing.  I have been thinking of how much waste this creates.  So this time I cut the chicken into my portioned sizes, and placed them on my Silpat to freeze for a bit, then I just placed them in two bags.  The pre-bagging freezing prevents major sticking to each other in the freezer.  I defrost these by dropping in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes, the 4 oz portions thaw quickly.
Chopped - Some of the chicken I chopped into bite size chunks. These I sauteed and portioned into freezer bags.  These I will use when I am throwing together something healthy, but don;t have a lot of time, salad, pasta, curry.
Restaurant Shredded -I just started freezing the cooked shredded chicken and it is AWESOME!  For this batch I threw some chicken in the crock pot on low with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a few bay leaves, then covered with water.  The next morning I woke up to a delicious smell.  The first time I did this I took the chicken out and attacked it with two forks, this time I used a post from Pinterest.  I took the piping hot chicken and put all 5 large breasts in the bowl of the Kitchen Aid, added the paddle attachment, and turned it on medium-low for 10 seconds.  This is not an exaggeration, in 10 seconds my chicken was shredded, a little over-shredded to be truthful, should have gone slower.  But this is what it looked like.
I have frozen some of this in my muffin tray, with a touch of water.  It is great for quick easy portions for lunch.  I have thawed and mixed up a lunch serving of chicken salad, BBQ chicken, and buffalo chicken.  This is also easy to add to a fast soup.  LOVE IT!!!

Herbs - Cilantro sometimes goes bad in my fridge.  It shouldn't because I love it in lots of dishes, but sometimes I buy too much or forget I have it.  I have made cilantro cubes!  Cilantro chopped or pureed with a bit of water or olive oil, then frozen.  I have dropped this in beans as they cook up for refried beans, thaw and drop in the blender in salsas, or add to a curry for a bright finish.  This would be great for fresh basil in your winter pasta sauces, or for freezing pesto.
Lemons - Freeze your lemons after squeezing for zest later, just toss in the microwave for a few seconds and zest away! Also can add to sauces, especially a braise, so good subtle citrus!
Tomatillos - Do you use tomatillos?!  I love these little guys!  But I don't always use them fast enough, or need that much salsa.  So I have started peeling and washing these gems when I get home, toss them in a bag in the freezer.  I pull them out as I need them, defrost in the microwave, and toss in the blender with a couple cilantro cubes, add a half can of diced tomatoes and chiles, and you have a fast easy homemade salsa!
Coconut Milk - I love to make Indian inspired dishes, but cooking for one, I do not need a whole can of coconut milk.  I normally can get three uses out of a can, one in the pan, and two in bags in the freezer.
Canned Beans - Same as above, but I usually do half a can in a bag.  A warning is that beans lose some texture in the freezer, so I tend to use the frozen ones in soups or to make re fried beans.
Tomatoes - Toss diced tomatoes in a freezer bag for soups or pasta.  I also love this method for tomato paste, when frozen flat in bags, I just pull out and toss in warm pasta sauce and it thickens it right up.
Broth/Stock -  A tip for homemade broth and stock, after cooking chicken in a crock pot you can add a mirepoix mix to the broth and cook it a few more hours.  Strain out everything for stock, or puree the veggies to make a gravy.  I then pour this in muffin trays and freeze (you could use ice cube trays).  Less waste and easy to add to homemade soups.

Lastly, I am trying to do some premade smoothie mixes, I will update how it goes.

I hope some of this was helpful!

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