Cookin’ at the Keyboard with Shelley
When I started freezer cooking eight years ago, I began by cooking enough meals for one month at a time. It wasn’t long until I started to double the recipe quantities, stocking the freezer for two months instead of one. With a little extra planning and only one extra day in the kitchen, we’ve been able to freezer cook every four months. We plan a cooking session in early February (after we’ve recovered from Christmas), June (stocking the freezer with lots of marinades for the barbecue), and October (to get us through the busy holiday season).
One summer I had selected several chicken marinades and multiplied each by a quantity of four (one for June, July, August, and September). After assembling individual recipes of each marinade in separate freezer bags, I added my chicken pieces to each bag and anticipated a hassle-free summer at the backyard barbecue. Everything went as planned until some unexpected company arrived in late August. I went to my freezer and found that I had one bag of Teriyaki Chicken, one bag of Spicy Grilled Chicken, and one bag of Debbie’s Chicken in Marinade…but not enough of anything to serve my guests. The result was a quick trip to the grocery store for me!
I learned my lesson that summer. Now I freeze my marinades separately from the meat. It’s easy to find 1-cup and 2-cup containers on sale and they store conveniently in the freezer door. I specify the container needed for each marinade recipe in the Advantage Cooking software, and then use the Container Report to anticipate the number of containers I need to have on hand.
Using this method, I can spontaneously react to the carefree days of summer, mixing and matching meats and marinades. Here are three new ideas for the grill that we’ve enjoyed this summer.
Spicy Grilled Chicken
Ready to try something new? This marinade is a little different because of the strong, spicy flavor. The older our daughters get, the more they like it.
Blackened Chicken Rub
We like to use this seasoning mix for grilled chicken sandwiches, which has become our recipe of choice to serve to company this summer. Butter and toast the sandwich rolls on the grill. Everyone will rant and rave!
Grab a stack of burgers and throw them on the grill. Sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce and Montreal Steak Seasoning. For a stronger flavor, repeat on the other side after turning. It doesn’t get any better, or easier, than this!
Our family gave a big “thumbs up” to April’s Chicken Marinade and the Grill Fries Seasoning Mix that Carol shared in her newsletter earlier this month. We are planning a “back-to-school” mini-cooking day next weekend and are anxious to try some of Nanci’s snack and lunch recipes. Her cost analysis has given me added incentive to do some extra baking before school starts! Thanks, Nanci!
I’ve received a request for the Advantage Cooking software to print recipes in “column” format, similar to the Freezer Cooking Manual. It is possible to use the software to generate the scaled quantities for any recipe entered. Here’s the process.
Unless I’m trying a meal for the first time, I always cook multiple quantities of a recipe. Depending on the nature of the recipe, I will assemble the ingredients in one of two ways.
The first method is used when the recipe ingredients are difficult to divide into individual meals. Marinades are the best example. Instead of combining four times the quantity of one recipe in a bowl and then trying to separate the “layers” when I’m done, I’ll use four different bowls (or freezer bags) and assemble one recipe, four times. In this case, I don’t need to multiply the recipe ingredients while I’m cooking; the original recipe has all the information I need. The critical step is to make sure I buy the correct amount of each ingredient! When planning for my Cooking Day, I must be sure to enter a quantity of “4” for this particular “Cooking Day Recipe” before generating a Grocery Report.
A good example of the second method of assembly would be meatballs. I don’t want four different bowls; I want one bowl with four times the recipe. To print a recipe with the ingredients already calculated, use the “Scale” option in the Recipe Manager. Select the desired recipe and click the “Scale” button. When the scaling window appears, enter the desired multiplication factor (“4” in this case), check the “Copy Recipe” option, and click “Scale.” A new recipe will be added using the same recipe name, followed by the quantity. All the ingredients are automatically multiplied by the scale factor! Print this new recipe and use it, instead of the single version, when assembling the recipe. Please note: when planning for the cooking day, be careful when selecting the “Cooking Day Recipes.” If you select the single version recipe, enter a quantity of “4”. If you select the scaled version of the recipe, enter a quantity of “1”. Either method will calculate the correct amount of ingredients on the Grocery Report. (An easy mistake would be to select the scaled version of the recipe, enter a quantity of four, and come home ready to make 16 recipes of meatballs. Oops!)
You will notice that scaling a recipe can result in some unusual amounts and measures of ingredients. Use the “Change Measure” button at the bottom of the window to quickly convert to equal, but more easily used, measures (e.g. 12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup).
Closing Comments from Shelley
I was surprised when a friend of mine recently said to me, “I haven’t been able to freezer cook for awhile, but I think of you every time I grocery shop.” Reading the puzzled look on my face, she went on to explain that she uses the Advantage Cooking software to create her grocery list every week. Tammy also mentioned in her July newsletter how helpful the grocery report can be. Whether or not it’s time to focus on your kitchen and restock your freezer, take a few minutes this week and enter or import a new recipe or two. You’ll be laying a foundation that you can build on tomorrow.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and I’ll see you back here next month!