Freeze-for-later Meals

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Contributing Writer
Vicki McGraw

Happy 5th Anniversary to the Jamestown Gazette! I cannot believe it has been five whole years since I began penning this column. It seems like just yesterday my dear friend Stacey, our beloved publisher, decided to jump in the deep end of the pool with her idea for a weekly paper. We had, over lunch (and the occasional cocktail), discussed her ideas for a publication for ages. We would talk about going into business for herself…something I was up close and personal with, of course, and the pros and cons of being a small business owner in today‘s economy. I am still thrilled that she asked me to be a contributing writer. I have had a great time inviting you into my kitchen for the last 5 years, and am looking forward to doing so for many more to come!

As I sit here writing this week’s column, I am looking out the window at
a very snowy, blustery day…not exactly the warm spring weather I would prefer, but then again, it does encourage me to turn on the stove and do some cooking! Today will be a good day to fill my freezer with casseroles and other meals for busy day suppers! Nothing makes a busy day better than NOT having to worry about what you are going to serve for supper!

I love to be able to open my freezer and feel like I have accomplished something when I see it full of meals and side dishes that I can simply thaw and cook. When I have time for a “freezer day”, I will make a couple of different kinds of lasagna (like traditional, veggie and chicken wing). I will also prepare a few chicken entrees. Stuffed chicken breast, chicken divan and chicken noodle soup all freeze well. I will prepare beef stew for later cooking in the crock pot, putting all of the ingredients right in a crock pot bag, so I can just plop it in my slow cooker. City Chicken is a great make-ahead meal, too. I will prepare the skewered meat, brown it and freeze in a single layer in a zipper bag. That way I can pull out as many or few as I need. Another great make-ahead-and-freeze item is spaghetti sauce. I can make a big batch and freeze it in small deli containers. This way I can take out just what I need, and the small size potions will thaw quickly.

Now that my freezer is full, I won’t have to worry about preparing dinners as much…I will just have to remember to take things out of the freezer to thaw the night before! Remember, it is best to thaw food in the refrigerator because leaving things on the counter to thaw encourages the growth of bacteria…we don’t want to have wasted ingredients as well as our prep time by having something spoil before it even gets cooked!


 

Pesto Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup pine nuts (optional)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, place basil, cheese and nuts (if desired) and pulse to chop finely. Drizzle in olive oil to create a loose paste.

Portion into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove from tray and store in a zipper bag for later use as desired.

Pesto is great tossed with pasta, added to soups or used as a marinade.


 

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.