Thursday, May 28, 2009

Freezer Recipes

Since a good friend of Q's is laid up due to surgery, we've been making a lot of freezer food to share with his family, which has gotten me into bulk cooking mode. Our freezer stash has been depleted and quick, cheap meals are wonderful to have around. There's always pesto in the freezer and marinara in the pantry but pasta can only serve in a pinch so many times in a month. Bulk cooking also means that I get to use my favorite red pan (at the bottom of the link).

I talked about our triple batch of Three Bean Casserole the other day, so I decided to post the recipe here. It's been a favorite of mine ever since I was a kid. Especially using dry beans, it works out to a very economical $3/meal. If I finally get around to making baked beans from scratch, starting with dry beans, the cost may go down even a little more and the waste will go down to almost nothing. (Even though they're recyclable, tin cans make me a little guilty, who knows why.)

Note for cooking with dry beans, the standard is 1 lb dry = 2 c. dry = 5 cups cooked (It seems like a little less cooked to me). To cook dry beans, they can either soak overnight or get raised to a boil, removed from the heat and allowed to stand for an hour. I usually use the second, quick soak method because I'm never that far-thinking. After that, drain them, put in fresh water, and simmer until done, usually about 60-90 minutes (depends on the bean). For Three Bean, I just cook the kidney and lima beans all together, for a triple batch I do just over 2 cups dry of each, which ends up with about 9 cups of beans.

Tonight I made a triple batch of sloppies, so I included that recipe below too. The two recipes include many of the same ingredients, so I often make them at the same time. Freezing chopped green pepper when they're in season makes cooking even easier later.

Clearly, it's time for summer because my pantry is getting low. I looked in there today and most of the shelves are now filled with empty jars. I won't have to make jam or apple butter this year, but we've used almost all the peaches, tomatoes, and grape juice. The freezer is devoid of all berries. Thankfully, due to our warm weather, strawberry season is likely to start next weekend. Just in time for the peaches to run out for my morning smoothies. Side note: There has been a delightful run on red band bananas lately at the grocery so I've got about 40 bananas peeled and frozen right now for smoothies. Very exciting.

Three Bean Casserole

6 slices bacon

1 lb ground beef

1 c chopped onion

1 can baked beans

1 can (1 1/2 c) lima beans

1 can (1 1/2 c) kidney beans

3/4 c brown sugar

1-2 T vinegar

1/2 c catsup

1 t dry mustard

Brown beef and onion in a large skillet until cooked through; drain. Cook bacon until crispy, cut into pieces. Mix all ingredients together. (Divide here for freezing.) Bake at 350 degrees until brown or most of the moisture is gone; about 30 minutes. From frozen, it usually takes about 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. ground beef

1 T oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 T sugar

2 T yellow mustard

1 T vinegar

1 t salt

3/4 c catsup

1 t minced garlic

Brown meat in oil until crumbly but not hard. Drain grease . Add onion and green pepper, cook until almost tender. Add other ingredients, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Freeze in meal size portions. Serve over buns or bread.

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