Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Freezer Binge Cooking - Day 2 (and 3 and 4)

The cooking day hath been completed, and several tasty meals have been born! Specifically, 45 individual servings of easy weeknight goodness.

For those of you who missed my first post (and its nerd-tastic planning), you can check it out here. This post is going to more 'memoir' than didactic, and I recommend checking out the recipes themselves for more of a detailed breakdown. It also may have morphed into three extra days of cooking, not because of difficulty but primarily because I am easily distracted.

One detail I was arguably way TOO excited about was the fact that I was able to procure some restaurant-style takeout containers in which to store two portions each. These babies are courtesy of Amazon, which was very handy for stacking (read: stuffing) our new food in our already-packed freezer. Hey man, four half-used bags of frozen peas take up space!

Ooooh, sexy containers. You headin' my way?
But what went in those containers, you ask? Oh I will tell you.

The very first step on the cooking day was actually remembering to take out the spinach for the lasagna I was going to make that afternoon, which has to be fully thawed. Thank you, planning notebook!

When it came time to begin the real cooking, the chili was first up. This is Pioneer Woman's "Simple Hearty White Chili," which cooks on the stove for several hours. I prepped the necessary produce for the recipe, and let it cook on the stove so I could move on to prepping the rest of the produce needed for the day.

On to Martha Stewart's Primavera Lasagna. Oh this lasagna is good. I started by making the creamy sauce (made with whole milk instead of cream so, you know, zero calories), then added the vegetables and let it all cook together while prepping the other lasagna components. Mainly cheese. If making at home, be sure to prep an extra cup of grated cheese or so for snacking, otherwise the lasagna won't turn out right.

Once prepped, the lasagna is layered and put in the oven. Here is the final product, pre-freezer:

Lasagna Primavera and White Chili. So so good...
Lasgana money shot.

Having pre-shredded all of the produce for Smitten Kitchen's Stuffed Cabbage, I cooked up the parsnip, carrot and celery and set aside to cool.

...then I realized I was running super late for my friend's amazing Crawfish Boil and decided to make the rest of the stuffed cabbage the next morning. Which, thankfully, worked out very well! This is a great place to stop if you have to dash out.

The next morning, full of crawfish, I picked back up and finished the filling, prepped the cabbage leaves, and assembled the rolls, letting them stew in tomato sauce.

Tomato-y goodness.

Turns out, doubling the recipe makes a LOT of stuffed cabbage, which I conveniently forgot from the last time I made this recipe. I'm talking 16 servings.

Ready to freeze.
As the cabbage cooled, it took no time to throw together the Black Eyed Peas in a Spicy Goan Curry. I immediately spooned small servings into freezer bags and stacked them so they could be frozen as sleek, thin rectangles.

Yes. I made a bit of a mess  by the time it was all done.

Cleaning service, anyone?

The one straggler that made its way to Monday was the Curry Chickpeas with Dill, out of sheer laziness. However, making a double batch on Monday yielded two dinner servings and three hearty lunch servings, so it was all worth it. It really does make an excellent lunch. No photos. Too hungry.

So.... there it is! A fantastic binge freezer cooking weekend (+Monday). All things considered, it really didn't take me long at all for the amount of meals that we have. It is also much cheaper to buy everything at once and prep in bulk. Highly recommended! We are reaping the bounty tonight and having a much more leisurely evening, no cooking required.

What are your favorite freezable recipes?

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