Crock Pot · Dinner · freezer

Making Frozen Leftovers Tonight’s Supper – The Easy Way!

Leftover collage

What, oh what would I do without my freezer?  I’ve said it before, but my freezer is my best friend…well, you know what I mean.

It’s there for me!

It has supper waiting!

It has gifts inside, both for me and many other friends!

Isn’t that a great friend?!

I’ve always put leftovers in my freezer, but I’ve not always stored them in the best way, or in a way that was easy to reheat them.  But I have two new tricks using frozen leftovers that have worked for me and I want to pass them along to you!

  1. Slow-Cook leftovers from a frozen state.
    Last Sunday I went to the freezer before heading to church and I pulled out a container with a yummy casserole, Countryside Chicken Bake, full of great things, aside from the chicken, like Cream of Mushroom Soup, sour cream, rice, and carrots (or peas, if you prefer).  I had marked the container saying, Countryside Chicken Bake, Two Servings.  Knowing that would be perfect for our Sunday dinner, I took it in its frozen state and put it directly into my slow cooker, adding about 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth to keep it moist .  I put the crock pot on High for one hour, low for 3 hours.  I think going slow and making sure there is plenty of liquid is the best way to reheat so you’ll have a good outcome.
    When we came home from church, it was hot, juicy, tender and ready to eat!  That is a freezer win!!

    Countryside Chicken bake
    Does this look like leftovers to you?  I don’t think so!!

    countryside chicken bake 2.jpg

  2. Put small amounts of chili, soups or stew into muffins tins for individual servings.
    I love this so much!  You know how the last half of the chili doesn’t look too appealing after eating it two days in a row?  This makes it a cinch to store and reheat for dinner another day when you’ll be glad to see it again!

    I had leftover Taco Soup last week with just a little left over.  I used the large muffin tins, but regular sized one will work, too.  Fill them up, cover with syran wrap and freeze for a couple hours or overnight until frozen solid.
    Then run warm water on the bottom of the tin and then pop them onto a tray.
    Store the frozen soup “pucks” in freezer bags, labeled with the soup name.
    soup collage.jpg
    When you need lunch or supper, pop the frozen soup into a microwave container and warm it up!  You could do one serving or six, depending on your needs (and the amount of leftovers, of course!). At one time this winter I had three different soups in the freezer.  It made for a really easy lunch, which seems to be the hardest meal for me!
    Image result for taco soup
    Leftovers don’t have to have a bad name!  They can be reused at a later time and used in a way that will make a busy day much less stressful if you store and reheat properly.

    If you try these tips I bet your freezer will become your best friend, too!

One more thing that I love about my freezer is freezing breads that are ready to bake, like these rolls or these muffins!  They’re super good and so handy to have on hand!

Happy freezing!

Denise Signature 150 px

breakfast · Make-Ahead

(L)Oven Monday – Baked Oatmeal Cups

Oatmeal Cups 1

Hi Friends!  Happy Monday and Happy May 1st!  I hope you all had a great week last week.  I had a restful time away, but am happy to be back here with you today sharing another great recipe!

I’ve shared my recipe here for Baked Oatmeal – it’s a great do-ahead dish.  It’s nice to have on hand for a couple of days.  But there are times when I don’t have that made up and I need to eat something before heading out the door in the morning.  I’ve recently found a recipe for a Breakfast Oatmeal Cup that is a baked oatmeal made in muffin tins, creating the perfect single-serving size.  Once baked, they can be kept in the fridge for a several days, but what I’ve been doing is freezing them and popping one into the microwave for those busy mornings.  I put one into a bowl and add milk, just like I do with my other Baked Oatmeal.  It’s so delicious, and keeps me from getting that low-sugar drop later on.  This is so good, and lots better than regular oatmeal!  I love the texture of these as opposed to the traditional bowl of oats.


You could add any variety of fruits and nuts.  This recipe is one of my favorite combos – Strawberry-Banana.  So good!  Here’s the recipe:

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Cups

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2⅓ cup low-fat milk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup – you could use honey instead, if desired
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds or walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well until everything is combined.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and scoop oatmeal mixture in using a large ice cream scoop or a ¼ measuring cup. The mixture will be a little watery, so it’s important to mix well before each scoop to make sure you get an even combination of milk and oats.
  3. Bake oatmeal cups for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Keep in fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

Oatmeal cups 2

To eat from frozen state, thaw overnight in fridge or in microwave, then warm for about 30 seconds.  Add milk and enjoy!

What do you keep on hand for breakfast on busy days?

Denise Signature 150 px

 

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Cooking

What’s Cookin’ in the Country?

When I used to hear Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa say that she prefers to use homemade chicken stock in her recipes, I wondered if she wasn’t being a little over the top.  Really?  Why make your own stock when it’s canned up nicely and readily available in the grocery store?

THEN, one Sunday last year our church had purchased about six rotisserie chickens from Sam’s Club for a gathering after the service.  When the meal was finished and I looked at all those carcasses left with some meat still lingering on the bones, I decided to take them home and try my hand at making stock.

The result?  It was so flavorful, so nicely seasoned and made so much that I have not gone back to the store brands since!  It takes a little while to cook, but there is nothing hard about it!

The benefit?  You can season it to your taste.  No more salt overload.  One of my roasted chicken recipes cooks with lemon inside the cavity.  I throw that in the stock too, and love the little lemon zing it gives the stock!  It’s also cost-effective!  It costs pennies to make of something that would’ve ended up in your trash can!

The process:

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken Carcass – leave any meat leftover on the bones
  • Large onion, peeled, cut in half
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, cut in large pieces
  • 2 Celery Stalks, cut in large pieces
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • Thyme
  • Salt, pepper
  • Water

Place the carcass of the chicken in a large stock pot.  Add onion, celery, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add enough water to cover by an excess of two inches.  Bring it to a boil.  Cover and turn to simmer, for 2 hours.  Check occasionally to see it has enough water.

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Remove pot from stove and place a strainer over a large bowl.  Pour liquid into the strainer.  I pick through the bones and remove any meat to use for pot pie or some dish like that and toss all the rest of the bones and veggies.

Allow stock to cool a little.  Rather than canning my stock, I freeze it. Here’s how I do that:

PicMonkey Collage

I place a ziplock back into a one cup measuring cup and then using a funnel, I ladle in the stock.  After zipping the bag shut, I lay it flat and place the small bags into a gallon size bag just in case anything leaks.  I take out about three cups at a time to thaw and place in a mason jar to keep in the refrigerator so it will be ready to use.

There are so many uses for Chicken stock, like gravy!

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The sauce for Chicken pot pie requires chicken stock.  Homemade soups are so good with this homemade stock!  Using chicken stock instead of water for rice or couscous makes it really flavorful! (Have I used the word “stock” enough?!)

It only makes sense if you have a chicken carcass to use it to make stock rather than tossing it into the trash can!!!  I hope you’ll give this a try!  If you can boil water, you can make STOCK!

With love from my country kitchen,

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