I haven't been posting much because...well...not much has been going on. Overall, the garden is doing well but there's still not much harvesting going on besides herbs.
Instead, I've been devoting my time to preparing for the arrival of Sprout who, coincidentally, is fully cooked (37 wks "old") as of today! Besides the usual Preparing of the Room, there is the Stockpiling Massive Quantities of Food.
I guess technically the stockpiling of food isn't strictly necessary but as someone that loves food and loves to eat, I want to make sure I have good stuff on hand. Plus, who knows if the Sproutster will be a chill sort of baby that just kind of quietly lays around (thus allowing me & the husband to leisurely cook) or the kind of kid that requires constant holding (thus making me & the husband want to pull out our hair). Best to be prepared for the latter, I think.
Anywho, the freezer is getting stocked. Note that while I love, love, love fresh fruits and veggies, it's also important to me to have their frozen and canned equivalents so that a healthy meal can always be thrown together on a weeknight. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of the take out, but my budget and waistline are not. I have no shame using canned tomatoes or frozen peas! It's still a "wholer" food than something from a box, IMO.
For the Great Stockpiling of Food, I wanted to load up on things that mostly just required 1 hand (so, just fork. No knife. This is in case I have to hold the kid in the other), had lots of veggies, didn't contain dairy (in case he can't handle lactose in my milk) and froze well. Many of these are staples that we make often. Most of them you can substitute frozen vegetables for the fresh ones making them either great pantry meals (see, no shame!) or good ways to use farmer's market/garden produce.
Here's the list:
2 loaves of Banana Bread
In one of the loaves, I added some chocolate chips. I figure, this will be handy for breakfast and snacking. When I have bananas about to go bad and zero time to make banana bread, I stick them in the freezer. Yes, they turn black, but once they are thawed they are all ready to go into some tasty baked goods...when you're ready for them!
2 loaves of Apple Cinnamon Bread
I didn't love the recipe I used, so I won't bother you with it. But, I did use up some of the apples I froze from last year's apple picking!
Chicken Kra Pow
I made it milder than usual and added some eggplant and peppers to make it more of a complete meal. My love of this is legendary and I used up the thai basil I froze last summer. Just in time too because my basil plants are really starting to take off!
Shredded for sandwiches. I didn't really use a recipe: Just put cut-up chicken crockpot with some BBQ sauce & a bit of cider vinegar. Cook on low until done. Remove. Shred chicken, de-fat remaining sauce and add a bit of extra sauce to thicken up. We'll eat it on buns (which I'll also freeze)
Chicken with Paprika, Chickpeas and Tomatoes
My husband found this dish and it immediately became a favorite. Good, smoked paprika is *key* to this dish. I usually mix in steamed greens or cooked, frozen spinach after this is done to sneak in a green vegetable as well as stretch the meal a bit further. Also, I often use diced canned tomatoes in this, especially when tomatoes aren't in season (like now). The Muir Glen fire-roasted ones add GREAT flavor. And, if I'm feeling carb-y--let's face it, I usually am-- this gets served with white rice or couscous. We always have plain yogurt on hand, so we'll make the yogurt sauce just before we eat this. I don't think that would freeze well.
Spicy Orange Chicken Stir-Fry
This is a new recipe, so I can't yet vouch for its delicious-ness. But it looks promising...
Moosewood's Chilaquile Casserole
We love this recipe from Moosewood's Low Fat Favorites cookbook (I urge all of you to check out this cookbook. My husband was skeptical, but some of our favorite recipes, vegetarian or not, come from this one source!). It's filling, tastes far less healthy than it really is and it freezes great. Every time before a long trip, I make this and freeze it so that we have something easy and healthy to eat when we get back. Again, you can use fresh vegetables when they are available or keep frozen/canned ones on hand so that you can make this at a moment's notice. We usually double the recipe below & eat it for 3 meals...it fits into our large lasagna pan that way. Oh, and any leftover filling is really good in a quesadilla or a topping for nachos...or just put over rice.
1 c chopped onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 c chopped tomatoes (fresh or cannned. The Muir Glen fire-roasted diced ones here great here too. I don't drain if I use canned. I like the way the liquid softens the chips)
1 1/2 c fresh or frozen corn kernels (Trader Joe's frozen Roasted Corn is great for this)
1 1/2 c cooked black beans (a 15-oz can, drained)
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 c Swiss chard or spinach (Steam or blanch after measuring. Or use 1 box of frozen stuff, defrosted)
2 c baked tortilla chips, crushed
8 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
2 c tomato salsa
Saute onions in the oil until translucent. Add in tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime, salt, pepper, greens and salsa. Warm through and taste for seasoning. Spray/grease baking vessel. Spread thin layer of crushed chips on bottom. Add about half of filling. Top with cheese. Then, add more crushed chips, topped with filling and cheese. Repeat until you use all ingredients.
Either wrap well, label and freeze or place in preheated 350*F oven for 35-40 minute or until bubbly and brown. I usually let this thaw before I bake it (if previously frozen) to reduce cooking time.
In addition to these homemade things, I was stoked to find falafels at Costco that just need to be heated up (and topped with produce from the garden) and I also bought some pocketless pitas that would be great falafel-holders or personal pizza bases. I'm also considering making some meatballs for the freezer that can either go with spaghetti, be placed in a sandwich or turned into Swedish meatballs.
Do you have any favorite freezer recipes to share?