Sunday, December 15, 2013

Freezer Meals

When I reached about 32 weeks in this pregnancy I hit a wall physically.  I remember hitting the wall with my forth pregnancy as well.  I knew the instructions from the midwife at my next appointment would be to go home and sit. 
I don't really have a "sit" still kind of a job so I panicked a little when I felt myself reaching my limit.  How am I going to get the "extra" accomplished in the upcoming weeks if I can't even getting the normal things done?  There is so much I want to do between now and baby day.  BUT I have been learning lately that God will provide for what He truly wants me to do.  These are a series of both hard lessons and at the same time liberating ones as well.
I was resting last week scrolling through Pinterest when I came across this pin boasting 40 crockpot freezer meals in just 4 hours.  I was inspired.  Most of the recipes were both real food and dairy-free, and when I checked the paper the next day chicken, pork and beef were all on sale.  I had to try. 

I did NOT make 40 meals in 4 hours.  I took 3 afternoons and made 24 meals.  I may not be as amazing as the original blogger, but my freezer is stocked with main dishes both for pre-baby and post!  I mentioned it on Facebook and people asked for the recipes.  I thought I would share them and what I learned!

Why I didn't get it done in 4 hours: 
  • My goal was to do as much from a barstool as possible.  I can no longer stand for long periods of time. 
  • I involved the kiddos a lot too.  (No explanation needed on how much that slows a person down!)  They had a blast and it allowed me to stay on my stool, but it was slow going. 
  • I cut my own stew beef out of the roast that was on sale.  It would have been so much faster to buy stew beef, but I saved between $10-15 dollars buying the roast on sale and the stew beef that I buy is too big for my little people to chew and so in the end I am going to cut for them anyway. 
  • I don't love chicken thighs.  On some of the recipes I used drumsticks instead.  (For some reason my kids get a kick out of eating drumsticks.)  I completely forgot that these are not skinless.  It makes a huge mess at the dinner table pulling saucy skin off chicken so the kids can eat it.  I pulled the skins off before I threw them in the sauces. 
My tips and tricks:
  • I saved time by buying frozen chopped onion.  (We aren't huge onion fans but so I added what I thought we could handle.)  I also used frozen chopped pepper from our summer garden. 
  • I kept hand sanitizer and a bowl of water and vinegar on the counter to put my knives in when I would break from cutting meat.  I cut a lot of meat and there were many interruptions from little people.  I get nervous around raw meat so for peace of mind about germs and bacteria I tried to be prepared. 
  • I had used some bargain storage bags and some name brand.  I highly recommend name brand; there is a difference!  (As the bag that is ducted taped together in my freezer can attest.)
  • I cut the roast into two or three large pieces so that they thaw more quickly.  I have learned to get a tender roast DO NOT cook the meat frozen. 
  • There was a lot of garlic being peeled-heads and heads of garlic.  The kids helped with some of that, but part way through I thought about how easy it would have been to buy the jar of peeled garlic. 
Meals I made:
  • Apple Barbeque Chicken
  • Maple Dijon Chicken
  • Island Chicken
  • Mongolian Beef
  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Steak Fajitas
  • Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks
  • Orange Chicken
  • Honey Garlic Chicken
  • Rosemary-Balsamic Pork Roast
  • Cowboy Chili
  • Red Wine and Cranberry Beef Roast
  • Beef Stew
The first 9 are new recipes.  (A couple of them I personally didn't double, just in case we didn't like them!)  The last 4 are tried and true family favorites.   Because I cook a little like my mom I didn't follow each recipe exactly.  Here are all 13 recipes sans the Beef stew (I don't follow a recipe for that one, sorry!) 

If you double the following recipes you will need:
  • 17 whole chicken breasts (BUT when the recipe calls for 4 chicken breast it is technically referring to 4 halves.)
  • 32 drumsticks
  • 2-3lb pork roasts
  • 2-2 lbs beef steaks
  • 6 lbs beef roasts

Apple Barbeque Chicken

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • 1 large apple cut into chunks
  • 2/3 cup BBQ sauce 
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t chili powder

  1. Spray Crockpot with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Place chicken breasts on bottom.
  3. Mix all remaining ingredients together, and pour over chicken.
  4. Cook 6-8 hours on low setting.

Crock Pot Maple Dijon Chicken
  • 3 Chicken breasts
  • 1/2 C Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 C Maple Syrup
  • 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 onion sliced
  1. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Place chicken in crock pot
  3. Mix together mustard, syrup, vinegar and pour over chicken
  4. Top with sliced onion (mushrooms if you’d like)
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours

Island Chicken

  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 T of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic diced
  • 2 t of dried oregano
  • 2½ t of soy sauce
  • 1/2 c of olive oil
  • 1/2 c of chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix all the ingredients, and marinade overnight.
  2. Pour the marinade chicken and ingredients into the crock pot, add the chicken stock and cook on high for 4-5 hours

Easy Crockpot Mongolian Beef

  • 1 ½ lb. stew meat
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh minced ginger

  1. Freezer directions- dump all ingredients into a labeled freezer bag, seal, mix up, freeze flat.
  2. When you're ready to cook- take the bag out of the freezer the night before and let it defrost in the fridge. The next morning dump the bag into the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If you're going to be longer just add a bit more water so it doesn't dry out. Serve with fresh slice green onions and rice.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • 3 chicken breast
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, more if needed*
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper

  1. Cook on low for 6 hours. (In the last hour add the mushrooms if you’d like)
  2. Serve over whole wheat pasta. (Approximately 6 coups)
  3. If cooking from frozen, then it should take 8 hours on low in the crock pot.

*Depending on your crock pot you may need to add more liquid.

Crock-pot Fajitas

  • 1 large onion cut into 1/2 in strips
  • 1 green bell pepper cut into 1/2 in strips
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2 in strips
  • 2 lbs boneless steaks strips (not too thin)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  1. Place onion and pepper strips in bottom of crock-pot. Place meat on top.
  2. Mix water, vinegar, lemon juice, and spices and pour over meat/pepper mixture.
  3. Cook covered on low for 6-8 hours
  4. Place on warmed tortilla, top with lettuce and cheese. You could also top with sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, or cilantro. Serve with brown rice and enjoy!

Crockpot Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey

  1. Put all ingredients into a ziploc bag and you can either freeze for a make ahead meal or let marinade overnight
  2. The next morning just dump it all in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into bite size pieces)
  • 3 T Coconut oil
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 T Soy Sauce
  • Chopped nuts

  1. Spray Crock Pot with cooking spray
  2. Place cut chicken into crock pot
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together except for peanuts and pour over chicken
  4. Cook for 4-6 hours on low
  5. Serve with Stir Fried Veggies and rice.  Top with chopped nuts

Crock-pot Honey Garlic Chicken
  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • salt and pepper

  1. Place Chicken in crock-pot.
  2. Mix spices, soy sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, and honey. Pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on low 6 hours.

Rosemary-Balsamic Pork Tenderloin Roast
  • 3 pounds pork tenderloin roast
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  1. Combine the garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 
  2. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for 4-10 hours.
  3. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

Cowboy Chili
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup dried parsley leaves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ pound beef stew meat
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 2 cups kidney beans
  • 1 cup baked beans
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

Combine and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 

Red Wine and Cranberry Roast

  • 1 1/2 lbs of Beef roast
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 T dried onion flakes
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup wine
  • 1 T gluten free Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

  1. Combine the dry ingredients and rub the mixture all over your piece of meat.
  2. Place the roast in the bag with the wet ingredients and dried cranberries and freeze.
  3. Cook the thawed roast on low for 8-10 hours.

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