Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stay at home Saturday: Savory Smackerel~Fix and Freeze Part 4

The past few Saturdays have been devoted to a special Savory Smackerel Series on the topic of Fix n' Freezes...what they are, our insight gained through trial and error and maybe a freezer friendly recipe or two. If any of you are experienced at FNFs we would love for you to throw in your 2 cents! Feel free to comment on this post, email us at roofwithaview (at) gmail (dot) com or join our Facebook group here.

So far, our FNF tips to ensure FNF success and harmony have been:
  • Select friends that have roughly the same size family as yours.
  • Be sure the people you do it with have similar "taste" as you and your family.
  • Be honest with one another about preferences, likes, dislikes (ex.-no grizzle, dark meat, mayo, peppers, etc.).
  • State expectations of portion size and # of servings from the onset to prevent assumption and the feeling of getting jipped. :)
  • Select your recipes.
  • Do not select a recipe that you've never made or perfected.
  • Share your recipe that you've selected with your FNF partners to make sure they give an A-OK and aren't repulsed.
  • Schedule your FNF exchange date far enough in advance (all the while collecting coupons)-- preferrably 3-4 weeks out so you can work the sales and coupons accordingly.
  • Keep an eye on the sales, particularly meat. Meat will most likely be your most costly FNF item so Buy One Get One or significant cost reductions will be your time to stock up.
  • Select your FNF friendly recipe based on the sales you have hit and the stockpile of groceries you already have.
Today's FNF tips are focused on how to freeze your freezer friendly recipes. What you use to wrap your items and how wrap them is key to preventing freezer burn, not so great smells and change in taste. Use only ziploc bags or tupperware containers that are labeled "freezer" b/c these will be moisture and vapor proof.
  • Remove as much air as you can before sealing the items. Note: Leave just a tad of room for liquids because they will expand just a bit.
  • Wrap solids such as casseroles, meat and baked goods in aluminum foil before bagging.
  • If you use a container, make sure the lid is air tight.
  • Write the dish and date on your items.
  • Keep in mind you don't have to spend a ton on such containers and wrappings. You can find great freezer pans in packs of two at your local dollar store.

    Great freezing resources
  • Freezing and Food Safety- The US Dept of Agricultures in depth guide to freezing and food safety.
  • Freezing Foods: A Real Time-Saver- AllRecipes guide to before you freeze, freezing, thawing, freezer friendly recipes and storage times.
  • Foods that don't freeze well- National Center for Home Food Preservations guide of things that don't freeze well and the effects freezing has on those foods plus the effects on spices and seasonings.
Our Ashlie (from Train Up Your Child Tuesday) has shared one of her fav tried and true recipes that just happens to be a freezer friendly recipe. It sounds like one you can't mess up and that you can adjust according to your family's taste preferences. Ashlie says:

It is my ABSOLUTE favorite chick cass. My m-i-l used to always make it for me. I didn't even wanna know how to make it b/c I thought no way it would turn out like hers. Turns out though, that I CAN rock it out, and do frequently ;-p

Here's the basics: (Oh, and I don't know what book this came from, but it is called "Company Chicken Casserole")

Company Chicken Casserole
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 cup chopped celery (or cream of celery)
1 cup (or can) of sliced or chopped water chestnuts
1 cup cooked rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. grated onion
1 cup crushed bread crumbs, stuffing, or even crushed cornflakes (I've never done the latter, but that is the original recipe idea)
2 Tbsp. melted margarine

First, know that the celery, chestnuts, almonds, and onion are all pretty optional. I've made it with all of them or just some of them. Once you make it, you'll know what you like best.

Also, I've used whatever leftover chicken from a small roast chicken (the kind you pick up at Target or Food Lion and such).

Finally, I've tried all types of topping....stuffing, bread crumbs, and my new favorite - Panko bread crumbs. They all work!

Combine chicken, celery (if used), rice, soup(s), onion, mayo, water chestnuts, and almonds. Mix well. Spoon into a 2 quart dish (or 9X13). Top with stuffing and margarine. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

You could cook half of this and freeze the other, or better yet, make 2 or 3 of these recipes. Cook one, freeze smaller portions of the rest. Keep some or give away to the household with the new baby or the elderly widowed woman next door. :)

Happy Saturday, ya'll!

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