Thursday, October 6, 2011

Frozen Food = Warm Home

I have a new mommy/homemaker hobby these days: making freezer food. 

I spend A LOT of time in my kitchen cooking and baking. And I love it - almost as much as I enjoy eating the things I concoct. ;) Eating is an essential daily activity, so why not make it a delicious daily experience? I view the preparation of good wholesome food as central to much of what I try to accomplish as a stay-at-home mom everyday. Not only is it a substantial way I nourish my family, but I also see it as my #1 opportunity for daily family ritual creation. Did you know that there is quite a bit of research about the importance of dinner time to families and their success? Dinner time is important! Food is important!

Though I'm ranting and raving about the virtues of dinner time and food here, I must admit I don't always feel excited about the hassle of elaborate scratch meal preparation every day.  And I surely don't want to eat a steady diet of processed food either. My solution? Frozen fresh food. 

I've been cultivating the habit of cooking large meals. We eat what we like for dinner, I put aside enough for leftover lunch the following day, and then I freeze the rest right away. I used to make large recipes and then we would struggle to eat all the leftovers. But, excess and boredom with the same meal for lunch and dinner for 5 days in a row only left the refrigerator full of spoiled food. But, this new freezer meal thing has really been working for us. Here are a four meals I currently have ready to re-heat in my freezer:
 

Beef Stroganoff, Chili, Mexican Chicken and Dinner in a Pumpkin. Here's my previous post with requests for freezer meal recipes. There are some nice recipes and resources in the comments section. Not pictured here is the chicken tortilla soup we recently reheated, or the individual sized pizza crusts we've eaten. I'm going to share my secrets to the frozen individual pizza crusts with you! I used to freeze my pizza dough, and then re-thaw it all day. I like this mode of easy fast scratch pizza much better. No all day thawing required, even better texture too. (Thanks for the tip, Mom!)

For ready made scratch pizza crust, I simply prepare a batch of pizza dough (recipe here), and then I divide the dough into 9 pieces after the first rise. I then roll each chunk of dough out flat and put it on my paddle with cornmeal, poke it a few times with a fork, and cook it on the pizza stone for about 8 minutes - not all the way. After I'm done half-baking all the crusts I simply throw them in a couple gallon sized freezer Ziploc bags. When Squire and I want homemade pizza on the fly, we only have to take a couple crusts out, top them, and bake them until they are golden brown (about 10-15 minutes.) Easy peezy lemon squeezey.

But what about the baby? He gets freezer meals too! This picture below shows: pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, yellow squash, green beans, breast milk, and peaches, all frozen in to cubes. He's kind of a squash guy if you couldn't tell. :) 

Frozen baby food cubes.
These little cubes are the perfect size for him. I simply pull out a milk cube, heat it up for 30 seconds and mix it with rice cereal and then grab a veggie or fruit cube and microwave for 30-40 seconds, and he's got a perfect little meal! We'll be adding boiled chicken to the mix to increase his protein shortly among other things. I've been reading the book, Super Baby Food. (Thank you, Suzanne!) It is an excellent resource if you are trying to figure out where to begin with making your own baby food at home.

One last thing we've been freezing around here: cookie dough! :) What husband doesn't like to come home to some warm cookies and a cold glass of milk?! I know mine does. Fresh cookie dough, balled and frozen  is pretty much wonderful. No hassle or extra dishes. Just warm gooey perfection any old time.

Chocolate chip pecan cookies and Snickerdoodles. Yum.
What is your favorite meal or food item to freeze?

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You can make yummy freezer food wearing the apron I made if you're the lucky winner! ;)

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