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Category: cooking ahead

Good Cooking Weather!

Good Cooking Weather!

Right now I’m in Heaven. It’s been cool and cloudy and foggy for two days and now we’re getting a snowstorm. The air yesterday had that quality that made everything smell good and really enhanced the smell of food. This weather makes me want to cook!

We have been using a lot of bread lately so I am going to start making it again. I don’t like to make it when we’re not eating much because it takes me a few batches to get it to come out really well. It always tastes good, but sometimes it’s too crumbly and not so good for sandwiches.

I also plan to make whole wheat tortillas, and start a pot of beans for burritos, bean dip, beans and rice, and whatever else sounds good with bean in the next few days.

I am making chicken soup from homemade stock and leftover chicken bits from a whole chicken I cooked a while back, and lots of parsley. We are going to have chard w/bacon and black-eyed peas with the soup tonight.

I am making veggie burger patties from black-eyed peas that I will freeze and then we can just pop them in the deep fryer, and I am going to start some sprouts. The sprouts will go well on the veggie burgers. We put humus on them too. Sometimes I make it, but our grocery store carries some that we like a lot.

That should take care of my cooking for a while and save me some time.

Ground beef – Cooking Ahead

Ground beef – Cooking Ahead

I do this with 3 to 5 pounds of ground beef at a time, then freeze it in portions. You can make any amount that works for you, and of course the amount of seasoning will depend on personal taste. These are the seasonings I normally use, but you should use whatever you like best.

Ground beef
Worcestershire sauce
Onion powder
Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350-400. Place ground beef in a large glass baking dish and break up some with a fork. Add Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Cover. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir with fork. Drain if it has produced a lot of grease. Cover. Bake until done. If you have a meat thermometer (and you should) check the temperature in the center of the meat. It should be at least 165. Drain. Allow to cool. Separate into meal-sized portions and freeze for later use.

I will post my method of draining the meat soon.

Cooking Ahead

Cooking Ahead

If you’re like me, you don’t always have the time or energy to cook a big meal. Cooking ahead and freezing food can mean having food on hand whenever you need it, but for some that sounds like spending all day, or at least several hours, in the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be that way!

You can simplify and save time by making several versions of one thing at a time. I like to use chicken as an example, but you can use this for other foods. Instead of just making one chicken dish, try making throwing together 3 or 4 (in separate baking dishes) and baking them all at once. It will add a few minutes to your prep time, but save you several hours. Try a combination of any of the following.

1. Lemmon & Pepper chicken (see recipe June 27, 2007).

2. Teriyaki Chicken – just place the chicken in the pan and cover with teriyaki sauce.

3. Chicken with tomato and mozzarella – placed chicken in the pan, cover with a can of diced tomatoes, add some garlic if you like, and top with shredded mozzarella.

4. Spicy herb chicken – place chicken in the pan and add salt, paprika, oregano, basil, garlic powder, cayenne, and any other spices that sound good!

5. Onion and garlic chicken – place chicken in the pan and add sliced onions, fresh garlic, and a few pats of butter.

6. Quick raspberry jalapeno chicken – scaled down from my more time consuming recipe, place chicken in the pan, top with some raspberry jelly or preserves, sliced, fresh jalapeno, a little onion powder, brown sugar, and some salt.

7. Other fruity chickens – if you have cans of fruit that you’re not sure what to do with, fresh fruit that needs to be used up before it goes bad, or fruit juice, put it in there with the chicken! You can add onions, peppers, and/or molasses, for a nice twist.

All of these can combine well with quick and easy accompaniments and sides. In the summer, it’s nice to serve chicken on a bed of salad. Pasta, rice, couscous, or baked sweet potatoes make nice additions, with or without the salad. Or, you can always use chicken in a sandwich.