Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Brr, It's Cold In Here!

"So, are we like best friends now that you've seen what's in my freezer?"
(Ralphie May)

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to use my oven less this summer. Cue "freezer cooking"; has anyone tried it? My freezer is currently chock-full-o' pre-prepped egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, slow cooker meals, and homemade biscuits and cornbread. I'm hoping that the time I spent upfront will be mitigated by the time not spent having to plan and prepare every single meal. I enjoy cooking, but I'm a busy working girl. This seems like a great timesaver for parents as well.

My fully-packed freezer

That's the idea behind freezer cooking: Dedicate the time to prepare menus, buy groceries, chop vegetables, cook portions of a recipe if needed (e.g. in my case, cook eggs, brown ground turkey, and bake biscuits and cornbread), put everything together, and make room in your freezer. When you're done, you have a variety of frozen meals and snacks ready to throw into your slow cooker or reheat, no thought required. Sometimes the summer heat makes me unable to think clearly. Of course, all of this does not mean that I'm not using my oven or stove these days, but I like options.

Microwave Breakfast Sandwiches

I've always needed to eat a substantial breakfast, and if I don't have enough I get growling hungry by 10 AM. I don't have time to prepare anything in the morning, but popping something into the microwave oven for a minute is doable. We don't use our microwave very often, but it's proven to be invaluable at times (like when I need to reheat my coffee). It's also perfect for these egg and cheese English muffins, which are much healthier than packaged frozen breakfasts or what you might buy on your way to work in the morning. I've found that 1 minute in the microwave, wrapped in a paper towel to absorb moisture, does the trick.

It's not exactly a recipe, but I loosely followed Flying on Jess Fuel: I pierced the yolks and baked the eggs in a muffin pan, used 2 ultra thin-cut slices of cheddar cheese per multigrain English muffin, and seasoned with salt and pepper. You can also make them with bagels or tortillas, and add ham or turkey cold cuts, or cooked bacon or breakfast sausages. My husband usually makes turkey sandwiches for lunch during the workweek, so I didn't feel the need to add extra protein.

Freezer-to-Crockpot Meals

I can't attest to how these slow cooker meals taste because I haven't cooked them yet, but judging from the comments on the blog I got them from, Baked In The South, they turn out well. I like that most of the recipes use simple and unprocessed ingredients, but I first noticed them because the spaghetti sauce called for herbes de Provence, of which I have lots from a friend's trip to the south of France! Why not use what you've got?

My tip: Stand bag in a pitcher for easier and cleaner filling

I also made my own Italian seasoning, rather than buying a pre-made blend. To make Italian seasoning, mix all of the following ingredients together:
3 tablespoons dried basil, 3 tablespoons dried oregano, 3 tablespoons dried parsley, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

Italian seasoning

I'm very cautious when it comes to handling raw meat. If you are also, you might want to deal with all of the raw meat first, and then move on to the veggies and other items. I have different cutting boards for poultry, seafood, and red meat, and wash those items and knives separately. My hands have probably aged a good 5 years just from washing them repeatedly when cooking!

9 different dinner recipes
All-Star Celebrity Apprentice viewers will understand

Most of these meals just need to be thawed enough to place into the slow cooker -- mine is the Cuisinart 4-Quart Programmable Stainless Steel Slow Cooker*, a lovely gift from our wedding registry -- and cooked from 4-8 hours. They can be served with any side dish, a simple salad, or bread.

Pre-Cooked Biscuits and Cornbread

Just for good measure, I decided to bake and freeze buttermilk biscuits and jalapeƱo-cheddar cornbread to enjoy with any of the slow cooker meals. There are some meals that are meant to be eaten with pasta, or could go well with rice or quinoa, but at other times, I can take out as many biscuits or pieces of cornbread as I want, and reheat them easily.

If you've tried freezer cooking, or plan to, let me know! I recently pinned more recipes for slow cooker freezer meals, and I hope the ones I try turn out well. And in a world of Pinterest-perfect food photos, this is refreshing and hilarious: "37 People Who Are Worse At Cooking Than You."

Just in case you didn't catch my millenial reference in the title: O-E-O-E-O, ice, ice, ice! Stay cool in this heat wave.

*Another small kitchen appliance I want to mention is the SodaStream Source, which we just bought over the weekend. I don't like single-use products and we're already so pressed for space, but we have a bad sparkling water habit and I had a Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon. Even though we recycle everything, making our own seltzer should be better for the environment and save us money. Plus, the city already bills for water, so I don't think anyone should have to pay more to drink it just because it's bubbly, especially when New York has good water!


  1. It's a masterpiece!

  2. Glad you liked the bfast sandwich idea! I love the crock pot ideas-- so easy!!

  3. wow! this is crazy - can't believe you made all this stuff!

    I like the idea of having frozen meals handy since it's dang hot in my apt too, but I just suffer through quick bursts of stove use and avoid the oven altogether. I hope everything tastes yummy!

    1. I can't completely avoid the oven because there's always something I want to bake... My nephew Peter is turning 4, and though he doesn't have a big sweet tooth, I want to make him a celebratory treat!

  4. those breakfast sandwiches look amazing~ what a great idea! i've done some freezer meals before but yours look much healther than mine (i get mine from sixsistersstuff.com). it all looks so yummy.

    1. That's one of the sites whose recipes I want to try! I'll wait until we get through all of this food first, though... It is a lot!

  5. The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, posted a ton of freezer cooking ideas on July 19: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/07/freezer-cooking/.

  6. You are invited to follow my Christian blog

  7. nice! the first time I saw how organized in the freezer! great job!

  8. Hi Sharon ~ I followed your link from a comment you left on Hostess with the Mostess and thought I'd take a minute to say hello. Your frozen meals sound delicious! I admire you for taking the time to put them all together. I typically cook double when I make spaghetti sauce, chili and stew then I freeze what we don't eat for another meal. Also do the same with biscuits and cornbread as well.

    Great post, and you have inspired me to step it up a little on my freezer meal planning!

    1. Thanks, Deb! Great idea to make double the amount and freeze half~ you're cooking anyway, might as well make the most of it, right?


I love your comments and interacting with readers. Thank you!