Kitchen Fun with Carol
Summer Cooking Questions
Hello fellow freezer cooks! I hope you are having a wonderful summer. The produce in the garden is coming along and I have already picked four cucumbers. I must have chosen a different variety this year. They are very long and slender like an English cucumber instead of short and fat. I wish I would have saved the plant information when I planted them! The are still good. The tomatoes are coming but they are still green. I have several green peppers that are almost ready to be picked.
I received an email from Karin asking about the method I use to freeze sweet peppers. I freeze both green and red sweet peppers. According to the freezing and canning book that I have, you do not have to blanch the sweet peppers before freezing. Just wash and halve them. Remove the seed and pulp. Slice or dice the peppers and freeze. I flash freeze them to make them easier to remove from the package. If you have older or tough/large peppers, you can blanch them for 2 minutes in steam or boiling water. Then cool, pack, and freeze.
I wish I would have planted zucchini and yellow squash plants this year. They are one of my favorite summer vegetables. I remember growing them when I was a child. One summer to earn money for our summer vacation we set up a stand in the front yard and sold the squash to passing motorists. I also remember loading up our little wagon with stacks of zucchini and selling them door to door throughout the neighborhood with my brother.
I received an email from Mary asking for some ideas on what to do with a large crop of zucchini. Send me some! I would be glad to take them! Seriously, there are several great postings on the message boards with tips and recipes. You will find tips on grating and freezing, zucchini recipes, and information on how to use frozen zucchini in recipes. There are also several newsletter recipes that use fresh or frozen zucchini. Check out the Chicken Kabobs, Zucchini Carrot Muffins, and Chocolate Chip Zucchini Loaf recipes. Do you have a great zucchini recipe to share with everyone? Post them on the message boards and I will share them with everyone in the next newsletter.
Another summer cooking question I received was from Rachael regarding cooking for camping trips.
I really appreciate all I have learned on your website. A topic I would like to see discussed is easy ways to cook when camping with your family. We just got back from a camping trip, and it seemed like we spent most of the time cooking and cleaning. The previous camping trip I made and froze a couple of the recipes, and they seemed to work out well, I just needed a few other suggestions and ideas on making it easier when camping. I had a question- is the precooked food safe in the fridge to thaw for a couple or three days?
Since I have limited freezer space, I thought for a weeklong camp trip I could have three meals in the fridge thawing and three in the freezer in storage, but didn’t know if two or three days would be unsafe/ too long a thaw time.
According to the USDA, ground beef and poultry are good for one or two days after they have defrosted. Other meats are good for three to five days. For more information click here to read the USDA fact sheet on how to safely defrost foods. There are several newsletters on the web site that talk about camping and share some favorite recipes. Take a look at the July 2005 and July 2007 newsletters. There is also a great page on the web site with lots of camping tips. Click here to read it.
According to the USDA, ground beef and poultry are good for one or two days after they have defrosted. Other meats are good for three to five days. For more information to read the USDA fact sheet on how to safely defrost foods. There are several newsletters on the web site that talk about camping and share some favorite recipes. Take a look at the , , and newsletters. There is also a great page on the web site with lots of camping tips. to read it.
So what food bargains did you run into this month? I found more ground chuck for .99 a pound. I made a batch of hamburger patties. We measure ours so they are exactly a quarter pound. We do this so we can use them in other recipes if we do not use them all during the summer. It is nice to know that I can just grab four patties and know that I have a pound of ground beef for a recipe. I also made Master Meat Mix (from the Freezer Cooking Manual) for meatloaf, Wet Tacos. and Sloppy Joes. I froze the Sloppy Joes in individual servings. I received some emails last month asking how I do this. To freeze sandwich filling, I just put it in the muffin tins and place the tins in the freezer. Once the filling is solid, I fill my sink with an inch or two of hot water. I place the muffin tin in the water for about 10 seconds (without getting any water on the filling). I can then take a fork and pop out the individual servings. I place the servings in a gallon freezer bag and seal, label and freeze. So far I have frozen shredded chicken sandwiches, pulled pork, and the Crock Pot Roast Beef Sandwiches from the Freezer Cooking Manual using this method.
I also found boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale for 1.66 a pound. I never pass up this sale when I find it. This time I concentrated on using it for lunches. The price per pound is great compared to what lunch meat costs. Chicken is also much better for you than lunch meat. I ended up making chunk chicken seasoned with poultry seasoning for chicken salad sandwiches and sliced chicken using the Montreal Chicken Sandwiches recipe from the Freezer Lunches to Go ebook. How do you bulk cook your chicken? When I first started cooking using 30 Day Gourmet I would cook them on the stove using several pans. This was very time consuming. Then I started baking the chicken in the oven. This is a great way to cook a lot of chicken but not in the heat of the summer. In the summer, I enlist the help of one of my sons or my husband to fire up the grill and cook the chicken for me. It works out well. The chicken cooks quickly and it is something they enjoy doing. Try it sometime!
My other great find this month was apples. Our local grocery store had a one day only produce sale. They offered an pound bag of Fuji apples 5.00. Normally, this is a great price but when I went back to the store the next week after the sale was over they were selling the apples for .99 for a 10 pound bag. What a great deal! I peeled, sliced and cored the apples and froze them in 8 cup packages. I will use these in recipes such as Apple Crisp in the fall when it is cooler.
So what are you doing this summer to stretch your food budget? Click here to send me an email and I will share them with everyone in the next newsletter. Have some great recipes to share with everyone? You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page.
Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert
I first tried this recipe at a cookout with our church small group. My friend Elaine made this to share with everyone. I call Elaine “the master of desserts”! She makes the best desserts. This is her recipe and I hope you like it as much as we did.
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Lemon bars are one of my favorite deserts and they freeze wonderfully. My friend Karen makes the best lemon and lime bars and this recipe reminds me of her. These are an adaptation of the the traditional lemon bar. There is a small cheesecake layer at the top of the bar.
Freezer Cook of the Month
Our Freezer Cook of the Month is Michelle from Waupun, WI. I loved her story and her guts to be able to have 8 children and work at the same time. Doing that with 3 was a hard enough task for me. Way to go Michelle! Read how freezer cooking the 30 Day Gourmet way has helped organize her life.
Let’s hear her story:
My husband and I have 8 children- 4 adopted and 4 home-made. Seven of them are under the age of seven! I teach kindergarten in a job-share and the only way I can keep my sanity (most of the time) is to be very organized. I discovered the wonders of freezer cooking at a preschool mom’s group called MOPS. I fell in love with the software from this site and have been trying it for about 6 months. The first time I tried a cooking day, I picked out 25 recipes! I knew that I had too many, but I was so excited that I refused to actually count how many I had. The $400 in groceries I purchased for that day should have been my first clue! So, it took me 3 days to do all the recipes, but my 3 freezers were full. It was so nice to not have to repeat a recipe for a whole month because I had so many. It seems like I have many picky eaters and I didn’t think I could get them to eat a meal twice in one month! About 2 months later I noticed how empty my freezers were getting, but I was still a little burned out from the first 3 day saga! So I decided to try rotating different categories of freezer foods and it has worked out so awesome! Once a month I do a cooking day with all side dishes. I make about 25 of them. Then the next month I do all soups and so on. It has worked out fabulous since they last at least 6 months or more in my big freezer. My kids of course love the month I do all snacks and desserts!
Thanks for sharing this inspirational story with us.
Closing Comments from Carol
Just a reminder, I am looking for zucchini recipes. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page and I will share them with everyone in the next newsletter. I am also looking for any ideas on how to stretch your food budget. For example, I make a list of our favorite recipes, calculate the cost of each recipe and then rank the recipes from lowest to highest cost. Then I create my list of recipes for my cooking day with more of the lower cost recipes and a few of the higher cost ones. This has helped us keep our budget under control even with the rising cost of food.
Next month I hope to share some grilling and seafood recipes.
Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’d love to try and share them with everyone. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!
Have fun in your kitchen!