Saturday, January 26, 2013

Prep ahead freezer to Crockpot meals

Okay, so some of you may remember that in October I posted that I had started to conquer my fear of the Crockpot, by prepping and freezing 10 meals for it. And I promised that I'd come back to share recipes. But I wanted to try them first, so I wasn't passing on boring recipes (or ones that didn't work).

I've finally tried them all, and so here goes...

Here's how you take this pile (plus a lot of meat!) and make it into this...
12 meals made and put in your freezer, in 3 1/2 hours. With only a few dishes used. Honestly, I used fewer dishes for this prep than I normally do to cook 1 meal!

We're making:

Wolfgang's Goulash (2 batches)
Honey Rosemary Chicken
Chicken Pot Pie (3 pies, maybe 4)
No Peeking Peking Chicken (2 batches)
Savory Vegetable Beef Soup (2 batches)
Moroccan Lamb Stew  (2 batches)

I've included the links to where I found the original recipes, although I made changes to several of them.

Here's your shopping list (it seems scary, but a lot of it is already in your house!)

Onions - 12-16
Garlic Cloves – 16
Carrots – 18-20 (I used about 2lb of baby carrots)
Celery Stalks – 10
Red Potatoes – 9
Scallions – 3/4c
Red Pepper – 1
Sliced Mushroom – 1 package

Beef – 1-1.5 lb
Beef Shank - 5lb
Chicken Breasts – 6-8 lb
Chicken Thighs – 8 (skinless, boneless would be nice)
Boneless Lamb – 4lb (don't use a boneless leg, it needs too much trimming!)
Bacon - .5 lb (optional, but divine!)

Green Beans (frozen) – 2c
Corn (frozen) – 1 bag
Snow Pea Pods (frozen) – 1 bag

Small Can V8
Diced Tomatoes – 28oz, 2 reg cans
Peas (14oz can) – 2
Tomato Paste - 6TB

Beef Broth – 1 c
Chicken Broth – 58 oz
Cream of chicken soup - 3 cans

3 foil pie pans (optional if you have a lot of pie pans!)
3 boxes of pie crusts

Soy Sauce
Honey (about 2/3 cup)
Sesame Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Fresh Rosemary
Sweet Paprika
Smoked Paprika
Spicy Paprika
Bay Leaf
Red Pepper Flakes
Seasoning Salt
Chipotle powder
Gallon Freezer bags and lots of plastic wrap! 

Once you have all your food in the house, there are a couple of steps:

1. Label your bags:

(2 bags) Goulash - Add 1 can chicken stock. Cook on low 8 hours
(2 bags) Vegetable Beef Soup - Add 1 1/2 c water and 15 oz Beef Broth. Cook on low 8 hours.
(2 bags) Moroccan Lamb Stew - Add 1 can chicken broth. Cook on high for 4 hours (low for 6)
(1 bag) Honey Rosemary Chicken - Defrost completely in fridge. Add 1 cup water and cook on   high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5. 10 min before serving add cornstarch to thicken sauce.
(2 bags) No Peeking Peking Chicken - Thaw on counter for 30 min. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

For the chicken pot pie you can write on the plastic wrap, but I used masking tape/painters tape and stuck it on top. Chicken Pot Pie - Thaw in fridge for 2 days. 350 degrees, 45 min or until golden.

2. Pull out your cutting board and start chopping! I chopped onions and measured them into all the bags, then all the carrots, celery, etc. Once the produce is done I prepped all the meat, then mixed up each of the sauces and added them to the bags. Flatten them out and stack in your freezer!

3. After you freeze everything, sit down with a margarita! I had a sore finger from how I hold the knife!

Here's the recipes and my notes on how I changed them/what I noticed about them.

Savory Vegetable Beef Soup
  • Chop 1 Onion
  • Chop 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1-1.5 lb Beef (I used steak but ground beef will work). Brown all together.

  • 4 whole carrots chopped
  • 4 celery stalks chopped
  • 6 Red Potatoes chopped
  • 1 small can v8
  • 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cup frozen green beans
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire
  • 1 cup Beef Broth
  • 2 TBSP Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp Chipotle
  • 2 TBSP sugar
Split into 2 bags.
*Place in Crockpot with 1 1/2 cups of water and 15 oz Beef Broth. Cook on LOW 8 Hours.
(This had a bit of a strange flavor to me, but it may be because I'm not used to tomatoes/V8 in my beef stew. Do not double! It won't fit in the Crockpot!)

Chicken Pot Pie

--> --> 6 chicken breasts
3 onions
6 carrots
6 celery stalks
3 small potatoes
½ lb bacon
4 T butter
42 oz chicken stock
3 boxes of pie crusts
2 – 14 oz cans peas (drained)
3 – 10 oz cans cream of chicken soup
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp chipotle
2 tsp seasoning salt
1 package sliced mushrooms

Put chicken breasts in a pot of water on the stove and cook on med-med high heat for 30 min or until cooked through.
Chop onions, carrots, celery, potatoes.
Cook bacon. Crumble or chop into small pieces.
Melt butter in lg saucepan and add all veggies except potatoes. Shred chicken breast and set aside.
Add chicken broth and potatoes after 5 minutes and let simmer over med-med high heat until reduced by half.
Remove 3 boxes of pie crusts from fridge to warm up.
Stir chicken into stew. Add peas, cream of chicken soup, pepper, chipotle, seasoning salt, bacon and mushrooms.
Line each of 3 pie pans with crust. Evenly distribute mixture into each pan. Top with crust. Pinch sides together and cut 2-3 vents in top. Wrap well with plastic wrap. Using a permanent marker write “Chicken Pot Pie, the date, 350 degrees 45 minutes or until golden.” Place in freezer.
*This makes a lots of pot pie. If you're using the foil pans, you can probably make 4 pies (they're smaller than my 9 inch pans, and I had a serving or two left to eat :-)

Moroccan Lamb Stew

--> -->
4 pounds boneless lamb
4 large onions chopped
2 can or 2 cup chopped tomato
4 cups carrots
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt

Divide everything into two, one gallon freezer bags and label.  When ready to cook, dump into slow cooker , add 1 can chicken broth and cook on high for 4 hours.  Serve with couscous.
 *This recipe was missing something for me, but I'm not sure what.

No Peeking Peking Chicken
8 chicken thighs (definitely use skinless! Boneless might be good)
salt and pepper
3/4 cup chopped scallions
8 cloves garlic
½ cup soy sauce
6 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 bag frozen corn kernels
1 bag frozen snow pea pods
1 red pepper chopped

Divide meat and veggies evenly into two, 1 gallon sized freezer bags per recipe. Mix sauce and divide into both bags. Seal and freeze. On the day of, thaw the bag on the counter for about 30 minutes, dump into the Crockpot, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
*Make sure you use skinless, otherwise it's way too greasy! If you use boneless, think about cutting it into 2 pieces for more flavor in the chicken.

Honey Rosemary Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into large pieces
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 c honey
1/3 c olive oil
3 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 t salt.

Let marinate for several hours in the refrigerator before freezing.
TO COOK- Let defrost completely in the fridge. Add 1 cup of water and the contents of the bag to the crockpot. Then cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours. Ten minutes before serving, add cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
TO SERVE- Serve over couscous (or rice). Be generous with the sauce as you ladle- it’s fabulous.
*The original recipe calls for the chicken to be cut into bite size pieces, and it overcooked quickly. Cut into larger pieces (or leave whole).

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 4-6 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 4 teaspoons spicy paprika
  • 4 teaspoons marjoram
  • 2/3 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 5 pounds beef shank, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
In a large skillet, heat olive oil and saute onions and sugar until caramelized. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add paprikas, marjoram and thyme. Saute another minute. Add tomato paste. Deglaze with vinegar and stock. Add salt and pepper.
Split beef between 2 bags and put a bay leaf in each one. Split onion mixture between the two bags.
To cook, add 1 can chicken stock. Cook on low 8 hours. Serve over egg noodles or spaetzle.
*The onions should cook down to become part of the sauce. The first batch I made I let simmer on the stove for 1/2 hour to reduce and let the onions break down more (while the noodles were cooking).
*This is my favorite of all the meals! Of course, this was already a favorite of mine and I converted it to be a Crockpot/freezer recipe.

1 comment:

  1. I am going to try this. I have wanted to do it for a long time, but keep putting it off because I am lazy! Thanks for the motivation!