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alexsmom
11-30-2015, 05:17 PM
I was digging up some recipes for cooking a turkey breast (never have done that before), and foodnetwork is claiming you can make a whole t-day fixins ahead of time, and freeze it, and it will be scrumptious when its reheated. They were sort of light on the how-to though.
Ultimate Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Tips and Ideas : Food Network (http://www.foodnetwork.com/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-how-tos/freeze-your-feast--the-ultimate-make-ahead-thanksgiving.html)

Does anyone do something like this? Cook the food, then freeze it? Including things like apple pie and stuffing?
My first impression was one of horror (like I feel when I think about baking with yeast), but is this an energy-saving method for making family dinners?

(Im going to admit to liking the complicated logistics of turkey dinner side dishes timing and oven coordination. But the idea of spending an entire afternoon cooking the weeks worth of food without DH having the feeling he is eating leftovers (oh the humanity!) appeals too.)

TFZ
11-30-2015, 05:34 PM
I was just talking to DH about this. We were eating our leftover turkey sandwiches and saying how much better it is than even the more expensive deli meat he likes. We were thinking a 10 pounder every two weeks = one or two dark meat dinners, sandwiches, shredded turkey breast for Mexican night instead of shredded chicken, soup stock... Is this a thing? Does this work? It would be SO EASY to whip out some cooked turkey to add to shells/enchiladas/turkey salad sandwiches.

murphs_mom
11-30-2015, 07:00 PM
Yes and no. How's that for an indecisive answer? :p

Eons ago, I was a private cook for a convent. Most days, I only had 8-15 sisters to cook for, but several times a year they'd have huge meetings there for a week or weekend and I'd cook for 125-250+. By myself. One of the dinners I'd do ahead and freeze was turkey. You can go ahead and cook them til they're 99% done, slice, and then freeze the meat separate from the juices. When I'd reheat everything, I'd drizzle the reheated juices over the meat and reheat it all SLOWLY in the moderate (300 - 325 degrees) oven so it didn't dry out. Dressing (NOT stuffing) was baked 75% of the way to done, and then frozen. Be aware that some seasonings will change intensity when frozen. It's been a while, but I think the general rule was onion weakens and garlic strengthens when frozen. Anyway, it's doable...you may have to reheat, taste, and then season/re-season accordingly. Don't try to freeze and reheat anything w/potato because it becomes mealy, IMO. A better starch dish to freeze & reheat is mac & cheese. Save all your drippings from the meat so you can do gravy or sauce when reheating.

FWIW, I never attempted to freeze an entire meal ahead of time. I only froze the stuff that I knew would freeze/reheat well: certain meats, many pasta dishes, soups, stews, breads, cookies, fruit pies, and such. I'd pair those up with some fresh stuff like tossed salad, pasta salad, or fresh fruit. If I was that desperate to avoid cooking, I'd just buy a turkey dinner w/fixings from a restaurant and reheat it at home (did that one year cause it was pretty much the same amount of money, but 1/10th the amount of time in the kitchen).

If you check a good cookbook, most of them have a section on freezing foods and general rules.

muddylilly
11-30-2015, 07:12 PM
Ugh....texture....bleh! The freezer can be your friend with some things, but Thanksgiving....a meal people actually look forward to....nah, I vote for the restaurant or catering if you don't have the time.

With that said I do make my rolls ahead and freeze them after the first rise. Pull em out in the morning to thaw, then bake.

And as MM said.....whatever you do....don't freeze anything with potato in it! Yuck!

TFZ
11-30-2015, 07:50 PM
How long can turkey chunks sit in the fridge? We could probably kill a medium one in 10 days or so. Maybe we wouldn't have to freeze it?

We basically just eat poultry or vegetarian here with a random fish meal thrown in every couple weeks. Is this goofy? Is there a difference between chicken and turkey? Lol cooking is my greatest weakness.

alexsmom
11-30-2015, 07:59 PM
Well, for t-day, we have gone out to eat every year (in vegas) for living memory (not sure how long that is, just know its since the first t-day after grama's cooking of it). I think if I host in the future, I will just make it all those couple days.

I had no idea, though, that some frozen food can be heated and it will taste just as good as made fresh.

Can I just make things like regular chicken parmesean, pastichios (not sure on that spelling - layers of meat and bechamel and chopped veggies), or rice casseroles and freeze them? DH really is opposed to eating things that taste like leftovers.
Can everything just be reheated at 300-325 oven, checking to make sure it doesnt get dried out?

I dont like potatoes (except as gnocchi or an ingredient in veggie burgers), so no worry there about freezng them.

alexsmom
11-30-2015, 08:01 PM
I dont leave leftovers in my fridge for more than a week. I remember even after like 2 days that leftover turkey gets a bit dry.
If its going into stews or stuff I would guess freezing might work just as well.

murphs_mom
11-30-2015, 08:09 PM
The chicken parm would taste the same, but the texture would suffer (I like the combo of crispy edges with softer, cheese-covered centers). Most casseroles do well. The one w/layered meat/veggies/béchamel should do well. I have to admit that I think tomato-based sauces freeze better than cream sauces, but that's purely opinion.

As long as the food was originally cooked to the correct internal temp, it can be reheated easily & safely. Something like quiche reheats better at 225 degrees, but a lasagna would do better at 300. If the heat is too high, the outer part of the dish will get overly heated/dried out while the center is lukewarm. I prefer to put the dish in the oven WITHOUT preheating. It allows the oven and the dish to slowly warm up together. Using a lid/cover helps to keep moisture in and reheat faster.

I saw a recipe for mac n cheese the other day that used gnocchi instead of elbows...that would probably freeze REALLY well. :)

ebh87
11-30-2015, 08:46 PM
I freeze a lot of foods in bulk - mostly meat for my sons because they eat so much of it. Most things heat up great and it's so much easier and convenient to cook that way. I just read this year that stuffing can be frozen ahead of time and I would definitely try that. I've frozen lasagna, chili, taco meat, chicken, turkey, roasts, corned beef, pulled pork, hamburgers, turkey burgers, etc.

Erica

ebh87
11-30-2015, 08:48 PM
How long can turkey chunks sit in the fridge? We could probably kill a medium one in 10 days or so. Maybe we wouldn't have to freeze it?

We basically just eat poultry or vegetarian here with a random fish meal thrown in every couple weeks. Is this goofy? Is there a difference between chicken and turkey? Lol cooking is my greatest weakness.

I wouldn't eat cooked meat after it's been in the refrigerator for more than three or four days, but I'm really fussy about things like that. You can always do an internet search for that information. My guess is that most sites would say 3-5 days.

Erica

murphs_mom
11-30-2015, 09:08 PM
Sorry I missed TFZ's question...I've read elsewhere what ebh87 said and totally agree: 3-4 days for leftovers.

A big caveat, however, is whether or not the foods sat out first. IOW, if we're talking about T'giving leftovers that sat on a dinner table for 1-2hr while people foraged, then the leftovers need to get used up ASAP (3-4 days). If, OTOH, this is something you cooked and froze immediately, you have a bit more leeway.

When I did freeze this stuff, I'd pull it from the oven when done, let it set about 20m to cool down a bit, slice it up (if meat), and then get it in the freezer immediately. When we do turkey here (which is more often than I'd like), I usually let them eat what they want for dinner, then have DH slice off as much meat as possible. Half the meat goes in the fridge and half in the freezer. I boil the carcass to remove the rest of the meat and make a stock. That all gets sifted through (they fight over the wishbone) so that meat and stock are on one side, scary stuff on the other. If I need more meat for the soup, I pull from what's in the fridge. And if they're not in the mood for soup, I turn it all into pot pies. Those freeze well, too.

alexsmom
11-30-2015, 10:15 PM
Oh Pot Pies!

So If I made chicken or turkey pot pies, but with an empanada recipe... would I bake the empanadas so they are cooked, then freeze them, then re-cook them? Or assemble then leave them uncooked and just freeze them?

Heres an empanada recipe, it doesnt say where to freeze them...
Simple Empanada Dough for Baking | My Colombian Recipes (http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/simple-empanada-dough-for-baking)

But she suggests smores empanadas, and apple empanadas....

TFZ
11-30-2015, 10:26 PM
What? What scary stuff? What is in there?

murphs_mom
11-30-2015, 10:50 PM
So If I made chicken or turkey pot pies, but with an empanada recipe... would I bake the empanadas so they are cooked, then freeze them, then re-cook them? Or assemble then leave them uncooked and just freeze them?

OMG, the apple/caramel empanadas look awe-freaking-some. Bookmarked it. Anyway, I usually precook my apple pie fillings to the half-way point in an iron skillet because I don't like crunchy apples in a pie. That's just me. For an empanada, I might cook it a little more than half way. I would make the dough, fill it with the cooked & cooled filling, pre-freeze them on a sheet, and then use my vacuum sealer to store them in the freezer. When I'm ready to cook them, I'd remove them from the freezer bag while still frozen, put them on parchment, and then brush with the egg wash. They will thaw a bit while waiting for the oven to heat up. It may take an extra minute or two to bake; that part will require some testing. Definitely doable, though.

murphs_mom
11-30-2015, 10:53 PM
What? What scary stuff? What is in there?

LOL...the neck & gizzards (good for stock flavor, but I really don't like eating them), skin, connective tissues, bones, veiny bits: the scary stuff. :_no:

TFZ
12-01-2015, 07:21 AM
Oh yeah, I forgot about that stuff. Last year was our first year cooking a turkey. DH was looking and looking for the bag of scaries. Turns out it's down the neck, not up the... chest cavity? Had a good laugh over that.

fastweedpuller
12-01-2015, 09:05 AM
OK AM good golly that sounds like a sh*t-ton MORE WORK than the Thanksgiving meal itself! Is this a thought experiment or a time-saving experiment?

I have a ton of friends who do the crock-pot thing where they spend a day to freeze entire (precooked) contents of some slowcooker meal and then pull them out and you know let them cook all day or whatever it takes to make them edible. They say this saves time.

Elly
12-01-2015, 09:18 AM
OK AM good golly that sounds like a sh*t-ton MORE WORK than the Thanksgiving meal itself! Is this a thought experiment or a time-saving experiment?


That's what I thought, too. I don't cook TG dinner, but I do turkey for Christmas (we're British) and it's hard work, but I think that cooking the day before then re-heating etc would be just as hard. And like you're doing it twice!

Elly

PS leftovers after turkey Xmas are a big thing in the UK. The tradition is usually sandwiches, with bubble and squeak (fried up leftover veges), a curry and maybe a pie. Half the fun of cooking the turkey is leftovers!

Avalon
12-01-2015, 09:51 AM
Yes, it is possible to freeze almost everything, but quality does suffer. My mother-in-law, the world's Queen of Freezing, often freezes everything, including meat, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. She'll even make up "TV dinners" for re-heating in the microwave. I wouldn't want it for the main event on Thanksgiving, though.

If the goal is to make the big dinner go more smoothly, I usually have other people bring all the side dishes, so my main responsibility is turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. My mom and sister bring mashed potatoes, vegetables, and salad. If I have to do a big meal all by myself, I will peel/cut/chop as much as possible the day before.

alexsmom
12-01-2015, 11:05 AM
It doesnt sound like freezing food in general is a time saver.
Last night I made a mini thanksgiving dinner, just thrown together in the afternoon and it wasnt much work - the turkey breast, mashed cauliflower, acorn squash, stuffing, fresh cranberry sauce (with orange and ginger). I started at 3:30, it was ready at 5:30. (Usually I start around 4:30.) (This was all because I had a whim for cranberry brie and turkey sandwiches.)

I was really wondering if freezing was some miracle method I hadnt ever employed. If I could spend monday afternoons cooking the weeks dinners, then just reheat through the week. If reheating requires tending, then its probably just easy enough to make it fresh, ya know?

But freezing pot pies is intriguing to me. Empanadas are a little too small, but I dont want to tie up my little oven dishes in the freezer holding little pot pies. Maybe I can buy some little cheapo mini pie tins!

Mariam
12-01-2015, 06:16 PM
We freeze quite a bit of food for the winter. I make a lot of soups and stews (including a turkey soup after thanksgiving) and freeze them. Then in the evening I take out the soup and heat it up. I can go from freezer to dinner fairly quickly.

For us it is truly a timesaver. We also fry up hamburgers, freeze and reheat them. I can see preparing casseroles and freezing them prior to baking, then all you have to do is pop them in the oven. For us, we have a cook-a-thon at our house. We go to Costco and then plan on spending about 3 days cooking a ton of food. We have every burner going and the crock-pot. That usually yields us about 3 months of frozen meals. (That is including the occasional pizza or Chinese takeout)

Now anything with rice or pasta, we don't freeze as a soup. At the beginning of the week, I try to cook up some rice and pasta to add to the soups or use as a side dish.

I wished DS like casseroles, I wouldn't mind trying to freeze some of those.

Elly
12-01-2015, 07:48 PM
Freezing some stuff is useful, e.g. I make meat sauce and that can be frozen and used with spaghetti or for lasagne, even spiced up for a chili. I often make curries and freeze left overs.

murphs_mom
12-01-2015, 08:03 PM
It doesnt sound like freezing food in general is a time saver. If I could spend monday afternoons cooking the weeks dinners, then just reheat through the week. If reheating requires tending, then its probably just easy enough to make it fresh, ya know?

But freezing pot pies is intriguing to me. Empanadas are a little too small, but I dont want to tie up my little oven dishes in the freezer holding little pot pies. Maybe I can buy some little cheapo mini pie tins!

I think there's a couple of things that makes freezing a worthwhile project. One is doing it when you've got the down time...like a snowy day when you're stuck inside, a lazy Sunday afternoon, or a long holiday weekend. It can be great to make several meals ahead of time and just shove them in the freezer for a day when life's crazy and you've no time for cooking. I would buy large packages of burger when I was single, and break it up into different meals: patty & freeze some for just making a cheeseburger, make some meatballs for adding to spaghetti or having a sub, and I'd make lots of little meatloafs (I love a good meatloaf) cause I lived alone. I got a crapload of meals out of that one package of burger. I'd take the item out of the freezer in the morning before heading to work, and toss it in the oven when I got home. I didn't make it a specific day though...it was just when things were slow, I'd cook & freeze.

The other thing that made freezing worthwhile is when we had something in large quantities and wanted to use it all, but couldn't right then. I can remember one year when I was a teen...OMFG the number of blackberries we picked on the farm was obscene. It was gallons and gallons of beautiful berries. I think mom put up 50 pints of blackberry preserves, they juiced maybe 12 gallons & froze the juice, and then there were the cobblers. It was like a bizarre Lucy skit where person A was making the crust dough, person B was rolling it out, person C was dumping berries in, person D was adding the butter, flour & top crust, and my little sister and I were running them down to the chest freezers. And I think there were still 10-15gal frozen in bags. Two days of work yielded food that we grazed on for more than 2yr. That was one of the most over-the-top freezeathons I recall. Sometimes stores will have beef, poultry, fruits or veggies (in season) that are great bargains because there's just so much of it. That's when it can be a great time to freeze stuff.

The pot pies are good to have one hand, and you don't have to have mini dishes for storing them. I will assemble them (no baking), freeze them solid, and then vacuum seal them without a dish. I try to avoid aluminum because of the health concerns, but freezing in those would probably work. When it's time to cook them, though, I take them from the bag and then put them back in the baking dish. The dish would just take up more room in my little freezer and I'd need more dishes. This way, things fit tighter and I need fewer dishes.

Honestly, you can makes lots of dishes on one day each week and just store them in the fridge for use later in the week...no need for freezing. Freezing is only necessary when you're wanting to hang on to the item for longer than 4 or 5 days. KWIM? As an example, I may brown 2# of ground beef on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and then divide it into four portions. I'll make a mac 'n cheese & toss some of the burger in there, I'll put together burger stew or chili and use some of the beef in that, I might add taco seasoning to part of the burger, and the last portion might get added into pasta sauce. All of it goes in the fridge to use later in the week. The stew/chili just needs reheating, the mac cheeseburger is a casserole that just gets put in the oven, the taco meat only needs reheating when we have taco night, and I make pasta when reheating the pasta sauce/meat. We've done the same thing with the roasted whole chickens that they sell at Sam's for $4...I have been able to get 6-7 meals out of that one bird. Only freezing any of it when we're not going to eat it within a few days.

I gotta go eat chili now. :) DH has been slaving away over it the last few hours.

crunchynerd
12-01-2015, 10:09 PM
Sorry this is late, but freezing mysteriously saps a lot of flavor, depending. Some things are great to freeze: homemade pie crust freezes well. Cakes also freeze well, as does bread, but be sure you thaw at room temp. anything starchy or bready. Thawing in the fridge makes it stale (check Cooks Illustrated for articles on why that is so).

So yes, pies freeze quite well (and the commercial frozen pies like Marie Callender's are pretty darned good for not-homemade), and stuffing too. the only problem is that once frozen, salt seems to just disappear, in savory dishes like stuffing. They tend to taste more bland, after freezing.

Freezing isn't really a timesaver unless you consider mass-production. If you make 10 loaves' worth of bread dough, for instance, and want to freeze 9 loaves' worth, it takes roughly the same amount of time (if you have a dough hook stand mixer, or good strong powerful hands and arms that just LOVE to knead) to prepare 1 loaves' worth of dough, as it does 10...so you may as well make a lot and freeze most of it, for instant convenience later.

Howerver, if you're making meals and freezing them, then having to thaw and re-heat or else cook forever-and-a-day from frozen/raw to thawed/cooked, going through all the prep and freezing ahead, followed by the thawing/prolonged cooking later, isn't a time saver.

It makes sense if you're going to cook massive amounts, then portion and freeze for heat-and-eat convenience. But it's a lot of work, when you can get the same thing done in factories (provided your family can eat preservatives, soy products, etc) for packaged frozen entrees and meals.

My faves were frozen lasagna, fruit pies, and pot pies (Marie Callender's), frozen meatballs and egg rolls (instant PARTY!), and frozen cream puffs. Followed by frozen phyllo dough. Baklava, anyone?

fastweedpuller
12-02-2015, 09:56 AM
Freezing has its purpose, of course! Maybe it's just a texture/color thing but most Thanksgiving meals are blandly brown and soft so the idea of cooking ahead and freezing just seemed so...disappointing to me. Sorry to rag on the idea. It's my favorite holiday by far and I do swear I could live on stuffing/dressing (and have yay leftovers) but yipes freezing is not a magic bullet.

My freezers are meat, fruit and (some) veg harvest freezers. I also have a ton of meat/bone stock in them, and if I cook garbanzo beans I always freeze about half of them. I suppose I could use them more creatively but me and meal-planning just don't mix, you know? I tend to wonder if my life would be magically easier if I pre-made some meals. Maybe it would, but that would require planning and I guess I'm just more spontaneous than that. YMMV of course and certainly aspirational websites like Pinterest are made for such things right?

alexsmom
12-02-2015, 10:48 AM
Like Crunchy, my DH is also of the opinion that foods frozen and reheated dont taste the best.

And, Like FWP, my freezer mostly has unprocessed/cooked foods. Although we just have one freezer, attached to the fridge. ;)

The prep is often a lot of the days work. I used to prep all my veggies when I got back from the grocery store - mostly because I liked using my food processor, but didnt want to hassle with cleaning it daily. And washing / drying berries, picking grapes (this is a keep-the-kids-busy task), any other prep processing that had to be done.

I made an extra large mac n cheese with ham for dinner last night, and casseroled another dinners worth and stuffed it in the freezer. We will see if it meets with DH approval next week. I think I will try stroganov and chicken parmesean too. Both of those have a lot of prepwork, if I can do two dinners worth at a time, itd save some effort. (Cook the noodles fresh, but freeze the meat / sauce.)

Thanks for all the responses! Ive learned that I am missing out on a bit of saving work, but not totally crazy for not jumping at the idea of Thanksgiving Feast being a reheat activity.

Oh, and I avoid pinterest and now most food blogs like the plague. Unless someone knows of a good blog that has just the right mix of do-it-from-scratch but not Pretentious. I used to love Pioneer Woman before she became so commercial, but even then, she used packaged mixes more often than I liked.

drehstdu
12-02-2015, 10:52 AM
We just decided to start a two week freeze-a-thon sort of thing. I haven't been able to cook a lot during the week and by the time my husband gets dinner done it is 6 or 6:30. Then it is bedtime so family time during the week feels nonexistent.

We have decided that two weekends in a row we will cook extra and freeze meals. Then we will have most meals made for the following two weeks. Last weekend we did well but not as great as I hoped. We made pot pies, chili, chicken enchiladas and split pea soup. We cooked one of the pot pies last night and it turned out really well!

The freezer meals have taken a bit of the pressure off of me and we are less likely to get convenience foods.

alexsmom
12-02-2015, 11:04 AM
We just decided to start a two week freeze-a-thon sort of thing. I haven't been able to cook a lot during the week and by the time my husband gets dinner done it is 6 or 6:30. Then it is bedtime so family time during the week feels nonexistent.

We have decided that two weekends in a row we will cook extra and freeze meals. Then we will have most meals made for the following two weeks. Last weekend we did well but not as great as I hoped. We made pot pies, chili, chicken enchiladas and split pea soup. We cooked one of the pot pies last night and it turned out really well!

The freezer meals have taken a bit of the pressure off of me and we are less likely to get convenience foods.

I remember those days, having a kindergartener and a baby... I think I gave up entirely on cooking. About a year ago is when DS3 stopped being a pest for DS9s schoolwork (a combination of DS3 being more independant, and DS9 starting to work more independently), and DS3 still likes to interfere with making dinner - he wants to be the one at the stove, stirring stuff. Maybe I hover too much, but I dont want him there.

I think we lived on skillet meals and Marie Callendars frozen lasagna. Doing it ourselves probably would have been a lot more cost effective! I hope it works for you!

TFZ
12-02-2015, 11:07 AM
<<<<<Freezer envy over here.
I could eat enchiladas everyday. That was the first example I gave to DH - I can just make shredded turkey for the enchiladas! I sometimes stuff the stuff in those huge pasta shells instead of tortillas. Omg yum.

RTB
12-02-2015, 11:23 AM
I've done all sorts of freezer meal methods.

Now I've settled on the cook double dinner batches for a week and freeze. It is the easiest.

I did one of the mass freezer-to-slowcooker buy every thing at CostCo plans one time. The food was not very good. But what did work was a friend and I got together to make the mass assembly go a little faster, and then split the 20 meals it made. So I would recommend mass cooking with a bottle of wine and a friend :o

dbsam
12-02-2015, 12:03 PM
The only cooked food I freeze is refried beans. I sometimes make big batches, then freeze some to be used later. It freezes fine. I have frozen baked goods but usually we eat it before it can get into the freezer :(

Since we are vegetarian, I rarely make meat. When I host our family Christmas dinner I typically make turkey breast and pork tenderloin because they are easy to make. (Last year I bought premade frozen meat dishes from our local meat market, heated them up, and had a little 'meat buffet'- pulled pork, meatballs, Italian beef, etc.)

A question...Can I make the turkey breast and pork tenderloin earlier in the day, under cook it a bit, slice it, then heat it up just prior to dinner? I do not like slicing the hot meat while the guests are here. I am not very good at it, I get flustered and I makes a mess. Would it make the meat dried out? Would I put gravy on it before it heats up? (Not everyone eats gravy so I am not sure it is a good a idea.)

dbsam
12-02-2015, 12:06 PM
<<<<<Freezer envy over here.
I could eat enchiladas everyday. That was the first example I gave to DH - I can just make shredded turkey for the enchiladas! I sometimes stuff the stuff in those huge pasta shells instead of tortillas. Omg yum.

We could eat enchiladas every day too! Since ours are veggie, it is so easy to assemble and cook there is no need to freeze anything ahead of time. However, my daughter recently started eating meat. I should cook some chicken or pork, freeze it and just add it to her enchiladas. I never thought about the pasta shells. My daughter and I are not fans of pasta...but my son and husband love it; I'm going to try it.

fastweedpuller
12-02-2015, 12:43 PM
Now I've settled on the cook double dinner batches for a week and freeze. It is the easiest.

I did one of the mass freezer-to-slowcooker buy every thing at CostCo plans one time. The food was not very good. But what did work was a friend and I got together to make the mass assembly go a little faster, and then split the 20 meals it made. So I would recommend mass cooking with a bottle of wine and a friend :o

Yeah RTM this is exactly what my friend had her 7th grader do as an economics exercise. Not saying that a 12 year old should enjoy a bottle of wine and all that :) but it was a complete make the lists, buy the stuff, get the freezerbags, do it all in one day affair. And they said the meals stretched pretty far for their family of 4. Like, really far, maybe 3 meals total?

Dbsam I hear you. Our meat is non-CAFO (local grassfed beef and milk-fed piggies) and our own birds and fish, I just don't do meat otherwise. Not everyone has that as a choice or would even want to I know! I am admittedly a bit bean-mad.

Now, you guys are talking about enchiladas, yum, but my personal fave is tamales. THOSE freeze well. We do a shredded pork one for DH and spicy cheese for me/dd. We freeze them before we steam them. Maybe we could freeze them after we cook them but I just haven't tried that. It's one of those long cookign projects we like to do on weekends in winter.

AM I hope you can find some good info in here!

dbsam
12-02-2015, 12:53 PM
Dbsam I hear you. Our meat is non-CAFO (local grassfed beef and milk-fed piggies) and our own birds and fish, I just don't do meat otherwise. Not everyone has that as a choice or would even want to I know! I am admittedly a bit bean-mad.

Now, you guys are talking about enchiladas, yum, but my personal fave is tamales. THOSE freeze well. We do a shredded pork
one for DH and spicy cheese for me/dd. We freeze them before we steam them. Maybe we could freeze them after we cook them but I just haven't tried that. It's one of those long cookign projects we like to do on weekends in winter.



We are not vegan so I realize we support the meat industry by purchasing dairy products, but I try to pick the best sources available to me for dairy, eggs and now meat. There is a local farmer south of me that I plan to purchase meat from for my daughter. Her pigs roam through her woods and have a decent life. We get our raw milk from a man near our house - at least his cows get to go outside a bit. Our local meat market is not grass-fed, etc. I just went there for convenience and to support a local business.

I love tamales but none of the Mexican restaurants around here make a vegetarian version. I have wanted to try them at home but they seem really difficult to make. Can you provide your recipe?

fastweedpuller
12-02-2015, 01:04 PM
I have an ancient cookbook by Diana Kennedy (The Cuisines of Mexico) and I love Rick Bayless too but the recipe I adapt is from her old book. I found an adapted one online; I sub butter for the pork lard sssshhh

Tamales with Poblanos and Cheese (http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/tamales-filled-poblanos-and-cheese) (from the Splendid Table)

And yeah we freeze them and steam them straight from the freezer as she says in the recipe. Yummmmm

dbsam
12-02-2015, 01:16 PM
I sub butter for the pork lard sssshhh


Well, we love butter in this house so we will do the same!

Avalon
12-02-2015, 01:18 PM
I've done all sorts of freezer meal methods.

Now I've settled on the cook double dinner batches for a week and freeze. It is the easiest.

I did one of the mass freezer-to-slowcooker buy every thing at CostCo plans one time. The food was not very good. But what did work was a friend and I got together to make the mass assembly go a little faster, and then split the 20 meals it made. So I would recommend mass cooking with a bottle of wine and a friend :o

I used to do the double-batch method and found it worked really well. Right now, though, I have three teenagers in the house and everyone eats a lot, so my "double-batches" are really only enough for supper plus leftovers for lunch for 2 or 3 people. I've been trying to make even bigger batches of soups & stews & sauces, but I don't have the proportions and sizes worked out. I don't think my pots and pans are large enough!

murphs_mom
12-03-2015, 12:04 AM
A question...Can I make the turkey breast and pork tenderloin earlier in the day, under cook it a bit, slice it, then heat it up just prior to dinner? I do not like slicing the hot meat while the guests are here. I am not very good at it, I get flustered and I makes a mess. Would it make the meat dried out? Would I put gravy on it before it heats up? (Not everyone eats gravy so I am not sure it is a good a idea.)

Yes, you can make it earlier in the day, or even the day before. Don't undercook it, though. Go ahead and cook it to the indicated internal temp. Make sure you allow it to rest once you pull it from the oven when it's done; meat (and most things) continue to cook when they are pulled from the oven. Letting it rest does important stuff to the meat. I'd go into all the science babble, but I can't remember it all TBH. Bottom line is that it needs to rest so it will slice better. After it's had 20min or so to rest, slice away. Make sure you reserve the drippings/liquid! I like to layer it in a spiral pattern so it looks pretty and can go direct to the table when it's done reheating. I cover the dish (usually a 9x13) and stick it in the fridge until it's time for reheating.

When it's about 45m or so before dinner time (it really depends on the quantity/thickness of the meat), I'll put the cold dish in a cold oven. I would never put gravy over it first because some people don't like the stuff (I'm one of them), some are watching weight, sodium &/or dairy (if your recipe uses cream, for example), and some may want to put the meat on bread for a sandwich. Instead of gravy, I like to use a little bit of the original drippings drizzled over the meat before it goes in for reheating. Not enough that it's sitting in a bath, but enough to keep things from drying out. I use 275-300 degrees for reheating poultry and it would probably work well for the loin too. Keep it covered to keep the moisture in there. If you think people will want gravy, you can go ahead and use the rest of the drippings to do a batch about 5-10m before dinner time. If it's beef being reheated, I like to have some au jus on the side for those into that.

Hope that all makes sense. :)

IF there are leftovers afterward, the meat can be cubed/chopped and mixed into the leftover gravy, add some veggies, toss it in a baking dish and cover it w/a pie crust for pot pie in 2-3 days afterward.

dbsam
12-03-2015, 02:53 AM
Thank you for all the tips Murphs_mom!
I knew meat continues to cook after taken out of the oven.. Even thought I don't like cooking, we watch a lot of Chopped in this house :)

I would never have thought to put the cold meat into a cold oven. I always preheat for everything I make.

I need to buy a meat thermometer. I made the mistake of keeping a plastic digital thermometer in the meat the last time I cooked a pork tenderloin for Christmas - it melted. I didn't think it through; when I grew up my dad had metal thermometers that he kept in the food.

muddylilly
12-03-2015, 11:02 AM
National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://nchfp.uga.edu/)

Not sure if anyone has posted this link here yet, but this is my go to for food safety.