Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sweet Bean Salsa!!

My fabulous mother-in-law Pam brought this Sweet Bean Salsa to share at a Wine & Design night I had back in October.  She had gotten the recipe from my sis-in-law Katherine (everyone check out her photography website!  She rocks:  Furnished Photography )  who had gotten it from someone else so this recipe has been passed on many times and is refreshing and YUMMY!

Since they shared it with me in October, I have made it for 4-5 different events I have attended and everyone always RAVES about it and begs for the recipe... I have promised many people I would post it on the blog and here it is FINALLY!!

Sweet Bean Salsa
  • 2-3 Stalks Celery Chopped
  • (1) Small-Medium Green Pepper Chopped
  • (1) Small-Medium Sweet Onion Chopped
  • (1) Can White Corn, drained
  • (1) Can Pinto Beans, rinsed & drained
  • (1) Can Black Eyed Peas, Rinsed & Drained
  • (1) Can Black Beans, Rinsed & Drained
  • (1) Small Jar Pimientos, drained
Combine all of the above in a large bowl.

  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
Boil the above sauce ingredients, stirring occasionally until mixture is clear.  Let cool.  Pour over vegetables and toss.  Refrigerate overnight.  Before serving, drain excess liquid from the bowl.

Best served with "Scoops" Tostitos so the beans don't roll off your chip!  =)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Freezer Cooking #2

Foodsaver V3460 Smartseal Vacuum Sealing Machine (Google Affiliate Ad)
My Freezer

Since my last “Freezer Cooking” post I have learned a few things:
1.      All vegetables taste the same in the crock-pot.
2.      I am NOT a fan of potatoes in the crock-pot, no matter what the sauce!
3.      It ROCKS having 10+ meals in the freezer at all times-it makes life so much simpler!
4.      I will never post the “procedure” again without having the actual result first.  A couple of the meals in the First Freezer Cooking post turned out to be incredibly BLAND once I cooked them which was AFTER I had posted the method.   I like my food with a lot of flavor—and some of the recipes were lacking pizzazz!
5.      I got a FoodSaver as a gift, and I am not sure how I ever lived without it!  Everyone should get a FoodSaver… NOW!
6.      My freezer always looks like a work of art. =)

For Round 2 of Freezer Cooking most of the recipes DO NOT contain vegetables or potatoes.  I have decided that I prefer to cook a quick vegetable and starch to go with the freezer meal instead of cooking them all together.  By all means, if you prefer to throw your veggies in the crock-pot, you can add almost anything to these recipes and it will be good, carrots, onions, peppers etc… Just my own personal preference to leave vegetables OUT of the crock-pot this go-around.    I also included some recipes that are not “crock-pot” recipes but are easy to bake in the oven when you get home from work.

I will also point out that I have adapted all the recipes/bags to be for “2 servings” (except for the Chicken Pot Pie)  Since there are only 2 of us eating…this helps with waste & portion control.  If you will be serving more than 2 people with your freezer meals then adapt the quantities for 4.  (For Example:  My instructions for the Sesame Chicken: you will need to have (2) bags and put (2) chicken breasts in each bag & divide the given sauce recipe evenly between the two bags.  If you are freezer cooking for (4) people, you will want to DOUBLE the Sauce Recipe and you will want to place (4) Chicken Breasts in each bag)  If you decide to make each bag (4) servings you will need to increase the amount of meat you buy and increase the sauce recipes accordingly.

Also, I will be using my FoodSaver system to seal/store all of the meals.  For the sake of the instructions and so no one gets confused I will still refer to everything as “bags.”  For this round of recipes you will need Quart sized freezer bags if you follow my instructions how they are OR Gallon sized bags if you are increasing serving sizes to (4).   You will also need (3) foil round pie pans.

Here is the menu for Freezer Cooking Round 2:
·         Chicken Pot Pie (3) *this is 4-6 servings PER PIE (Thanks Amanda Hughes!)
·         ShreddedPork BBQ (3)
·         Chicken with Honey Sauce (2)
·         Oh So Easy Pork Chops (2)
·         Sesame Chicken (2)
·         Marinated & Baked Pork Chops (4)
·         Marinated Steak (2)
·         Twice Baked Potatoes (approx  24)

Here is my grocery list:  (don’t be alarmed!  The list looks a bit long but most of the ingredients were already in my cabinet and are probably in yours!  Everything in italics was already in my cabinet.   Compare this list to your cabinets and cross out the items you won’t need to buy at the store. =)  )

Fresh Produce:

·         Sweet Onions (3)
·         Package of Celery (6 stalks)
·         Package of Carrots (6 stalks)
·         1 Garlic Pod
·         5 Ib bag Russet Potatoes (I usually try to get a bag with larger potatoes)
·         3-4 Ib Boston Butt
·         16 Chicken Breasts (I usually buy the HT Value Packs)
·         16 Pork Chops (You can get Bone-In or Boneless)
·         (4) Grilling Steaks – your choice
·         Worcestershire Sauce
·         Ketchup
·         Honey
·         Tabasco Sauce/Texas Pete
·         White Vinegar
·         Dijon Mustard
·         Fruit Preserves (Strawberry, Raspberry, Orange, Apricot)
·         (3) 14 oz cans Green Peas
·         (3) 10 oz cans Cream of Chicken
·         42 oz Chicken Broth
·         Soy Sauce
·         Teriyaki Sauce
·         Vegetable Oil
·         Olive Oil
·         Brown Sugar
·         White Sugar
·         Garlic Powder
·         Ground Ginger
·         Sesame Seeds
·         Lemon Juice
·         Dried Basil
·         Dried Parsley
·         Ground White Pepper
·         Salt & Pepper
·         Red Pepper Flakes
·         Sour Cream
·         Butter
·         Shredded Cheese (Cheddar or White Cheddar)
·         (3) Boxes Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts (near cookie dough/crescent rolls)
·         Quart Freezer Bags
·         (3) Foil Round Pie Pans

Of course, once you get everyone home and you are ready to cook put it on the counter and admire what you are about to do!! =)

I label everything with name, date and instructions BEFORE I start:
·         Chicken Pot Pie (3):  350 Degrees, 45 Minutes  *you won’t be able to label this until you assemble it and write on the plastic wrap.
·         Shredded Pork BBQ (3 bags):  Thaw in fridge or Microwave, Heat & Serve
·         Chicken with Honey Sauce (2 bags):  Low 6-8Hrs/High 3-4 Hrs  Serve over Rice
·         Oh So Easy Pork Chops (2 bags):  Low 6-8Hrs/High 3-4 Hrs
·         Sesame Chicken (2 bags):  Low 6-8Hrs/High 3-4 Hrs Serve over Rice
·         Marinated & Baked Pork Chops (4 bags):  Thaw in Fridge Overnight.  350 degrees 30min/flip/15min 
·         Marinated Steak (2 bags):  Grill (time depends on cut of steak)
·         Twice Baked Potatoes (approx 12 bags):  From Frozen State:  400 degrees 25 minutes  # of bags will depend on # of potatoes in your 5Ib bag

First, we are going to get the BBQ Going.
*its takes about 10-12 hours for your Boston Butt to cook so depending on what time you start it, make sure it will “end” at a time you will be home so you can finish the recipe… If you start your freezer cooking at 9am- then your Boston butt will be ready around 7pm so be prepared to finish it =)
·         Trim your Boston Butt and cut away any excess fat (you want to leave a little bit of fat though because this is what makes it so tender while slow cooking!)
·         Place Boston Butt in crock-pot (on occasion I have to cut it in half to fit)
·         Mix together (2)Tbsp Sugar, (1)Tbsp Salt and (1) Cup White Vinegar.  Pour mixture over Boston Butt.
·         Cook on Low Heat 10-12 hours.
·         Once it is done, remove meat from crock-pot and shred with two forks removing any excess fat.  Place Meat in large bowl/container.
·         Mix together ½ Cup Ketchup, 1Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce, Texas Pete and 8 Tbsp Broth from Crock-pot.  (I also sprinkle some red pepper flakes in if I feel like it).  Dump sauce over shredded pork and mix well.
·         Divide Pork Evenly Among (3) Quart Sized Freezer Bags.  Make sure they are labeled “BBQ Pork, Today’s Date and Thaw & Heat”.
·         The pork is easy to remove from the freezer and thaw on demand in the microwave.  Serve on a bun with Chik Fil A Slaw recipe.

Second, we are going to simultaneously tackle the Chicken Pot Pies & Twice Baked Potatoes:
·         Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
·         Wash & Trim ALL the Chicken Breasts.  Put (6) Breasts in a pot of water on the stove and cook on med-medhigh heat for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Put all other uncooked chicken in the fridge until later.
·         While the Chicken is cooking…Wash ALL potatoes out of 5IB bag.  Set aside (3) of the smallest ones to use later.  Place the rest of the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake 30 minutes.  Remove Potatoes and stab each a couple times with a fork- place back in oven for additional 30 minutes.
·         Next, chop vegetables for chicken pot pie:  (3) Onions, (6) Carrots, (6) Celery Stalks and (3) Small Potatoes.  Put aside 1/8 cup chopped onion for another recipe.  Melt (4) tablespoons butter in large sauce pot and add all chopped vegetables EXCEPT potatoes.
Chicken Pot Pie all wrapped up
·         While the veggies are sautéing, shred the cooked chicken breast with two forks and set aside.   Add Chicken Broth (42oz) & diced Potato to pot with sautéed veggies after about 5 minutes and let simmer over med-med high heat until reduced by half.
·         Remove pre-made pie crust from fridge.  It will need to sit for (10) minutes before placing in round foil pans.
·         At this point your baked potatoes should be ready to come out of the oven—set aside to cool.
·         After the Chicken Broth has reduced by half with the veggies- stir in shredded chicken, 3 cans peas and 3 cans cream of chicken.
·         Line each of the (3) foil round pans with a pie crust.  Evenly distribute chicken/veg mixture into each pie pan.  Top each with remaining pie crust.  Pinch sides of each together using your fingers or a fork.  Cut 2-3 vents in the top using a sharp knife.  WRAP WELL with plastic wrap.  Using a permanent market- write on each one “Chicken Pot Pie, the date and 350 degrees 45 minutes” *or until golden and bubbly.  Place in Freezer.
·         Twice Baked Potatoes:        
o   Using an oven mitt or towel, hold the potatoes in your hand and one at a time cut them lengthwise in half.  Scoop “potato” out of the center and put into a large mixing bowl.  You should leave enough potato around the edge so it keeps it shape and looks like a canoe. 
Potatoes on a Cookie Sheet Freezing
o   Once all of the potatoes have been halved and “scooped”, add Butter (approx ½ stick or heaping scoop of spreadable), shredded cheese (2 handfuls) and 2-3 heaping scoops of sour cream into the large mixing bowl with the potato insides.  I also usually add some salt, pepper and if I’m feeling risqué a little garlic or onion powder!  Using a hand mixer, mix the ingredients well.  Taste the filling to see if you like it.  Add more ingredients if you think it needs more..
o   Once the filling meets your approval re-scoop it into the potato shells.  I find it easiest to line the potatoes up on a cookie sheet that will fit in my freezer as I am re-filling them.
Potatoes Portioned
o   Once all of the potatoes are re-filled, pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for 1.5-2 hours or until the potatoes are hardened.
o   Now, portion out your potatoes in freezer bags.  I usually only put “2” per bag since there is only 2 of us eating in the house… but you may want to put “4” depending on your family size.  On each bag write “Twice Baked Potatoes, today’s date and 400 degrees 20-25 minutes”

VOILA!  The hardest part is over I PROMISE!!

Next, we will assemble the rest of the meals.
The easiest way to do this is to get (4) Bowls in a row to mix up the sauces that will go in each bag/on each meat.  I placed my freezer bags that were pre-labeled behind each bowl so I wouldn’t get confused which sauce was which.

Bowl #1 Chicken with Honey Sauce
·         1 cup honey
·         1/2 cup soy sauce
·         1/8 cup chopped onion (that you set aside earlier)
·         1/4 cup ketchup
·         2 Tbs. vegetable oil
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes *if you don’t like heat, don’t add these

Bowl #2 Oh So Easy Pork Chop Sauce
·         1 1/2 cup fruit preserves of your choice
·         1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tsp dried ginger
·         ¼ cup Dijon mustard (I have also used honey Dijon when I was out of Dijon)

Bowl #3 Marinated & Baked Pork Chop Sauce
·         ¼ cup Soy Sauce
·         ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
·         ¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
·         4 tsp lemon juice
·         ½ cup Brown Sugar
·         ½ cup Ketchup

Bowl #4 Sesame Chicken Sauce
·         1 cup soy sauce
·         2/3 cup brown sugar
·         1/2 tsp. garlic powder
·         1/2 tsp. ground ginger
·         2 Tbsp. ketchup
·         2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (you can toast if you want.. I am lazy so I don’t)

Now that all your sauces are prepped, take your meat out of the fridge and distribute into freezer bags with sauces as noted below:

Chicken with Honey Sauce:
(2) Quart Bags w/2 Servings Each
Place (2) Whole Chicken Breasts in Each Bag and cover evenly with matching sauce.
Toss & Knead Bag so Chicken gets covered evenly in sauce.
Flatten Bag & Freeze.

Sesame Chicken:
(2) Quart Bags w/2 Servings Each
Place (2) Whole Chicken Breasts in Each Bag and cover evenly with matching sauce.
Toss & Knead Bag so Chicken gets covered evenly in sauce.
Flatten Bag & Freeze.

Oh So Easy Pork Chops:
(2) Bags with 2 Servings each
Place (3) Pork Chops in Each Bag and cover evenly with matching sauce.
Toss & Knead Bag so Pork Chops get covered evenly.
Flatten Bag & Freeze.

Marinated & Baked Pork Chops:
(4) Bags with 2 Servings Each
Place (2) Pork Chops in 2 bags and (3) Pork Chops in 2 Bags.
Cover evenly with matching Sauce
Toss & Knead Bag so Pork Chops get Covered Evenly.
Flatten Bag & Freeze

Steak Marinade:
In a blender (I used my Magic Bullet) combine the following:
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon texas pete or tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

(2) Bags/2 servings in each
Put (2) Steaks in Each Bag
Cover evenly with marinade.
Toss & Knead Bags to coat Steak with Marinade.
Flatten & Freeze
*Grill (time depends on cut of steak you marinated)

Make sure when you place all of your meals in the freezer you “flatten” them so the stack well!

And VOILA!  You are DONE!  You just made 18 meals and a bunch of twice baked potatoes!!!  Congratulations!
We typically have rice or a twice baked potato with every meal for the starch. 
Since most of these meals did not include a Vegetable... here are some of my Easy "Go-To" Vegetable Recipe Links to make with your meals... I am a huge fan of "Steamfresh" vegetables too.. SHHhhh don't tell anyone!

Let me know what you think of freezer cooking #2!