Freezer Meals Tip

In the process of doing some research for my next round of freezer meals I came across a great tip. If you put the freezer bag in the refrigerator the night before it will be much easier to put in the crock pot. Check out http://whoneedsacape.com for lots of ideas, recipes and meal plans.

Crock Pot Meal Plan Review: Santa Fe Chicken

Another hit! This one is pretty straight forward.

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken
  • 8 ounces frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • t teaspoon pepper
  • 3 scallions chopped

Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. A half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning. Serve over rice. Garnish with cilantro and sour cream if desired.

***

I’m giving it 4 stars. A good, solid recipe. Really good flavor and sufficiently different from the other chicken recipes. I served it with quinoa and roasted vegetables. It would do well in tortillas.

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I think I cooked this on low for 8 hours and it was fine. It didn’t make as much as the other recipes so we didn’t freeze any. I had actually planned to use the leftovers to make soup but after two dinners there weren’t any. This could easily be doubled.

Crock Pot Meal Plan Review: Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

One word: Great!

I could use a lot more words, but that one works.

Five stars!!!
 

 

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Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

  • 3-4 chicken breasts/thighs
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 10 oz. frozen corn
  • 1 taco seasoning packet [or 2 heaping tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with chilies

A half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. [The recipe didn’t specify, but I assume you are supposed to cook it a little while longer at this point.] Serve with fresh cilantro, shredded cheese and/or sour cream.

Honestly, I am a little surprised by how much I liked it given my confessed lack of love for chicken. This turned out so well. Tons of flavor, a nice balance of food groups. Everyone in the house loved it.

I diced the chicken instead of shredding it.

So, here is the one thing that needs improvement. This is by far the biggest freezer bag we made. It turned out to be difficult to get in the crock pot in the frozen state. The lid barely closed (after a while it did go down but I worried about the heat loss so I cooked it an extra hour on low). I’m not sure what the solution is. Maybe I should defrost the bag in the sink with cool water for a little while. I am open to suggestions.

As usual, this made a ton and gave us enough for a few meals in addition to a bunch of containers for the freezer. Yum!

Crock Pot Meal Plan Recipe Review: Beef Barbacoa

Good news, recipe fans. This one is a keeper!

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Crock Pot Barbacoa

For the freezer bag:

  • 1.5-2 lbs Beef Rump Roast
  • (I used a different cut of beef that I can’t recall)

  • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2-4 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
  • 1 container of chopped mushrooms (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours [These times don’t sound right to me.] Shred the meat (discard the bay leaf).

Then add:

  • 1 16 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 12-16 ounces can green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook 30-60 minutes longer on high.

 

The verdict? 4 stars

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This was really good. The beef came out tender and flavorful. The spice was just right. It was great with brown rice, in a burrito, and just served with a little cheese and avocado.

Next time, though, I think I would do things a little differently. I don’t see why you have to wait to add the second group of ingredients. I am planning to add the tomato sauce, chiles and spices at the beginning next time (for that matter, I think you can probably just throw everything in the freezer bag).

Hooray for another successful meal. We had enough for a few meals plus a a big container in the freezer. We are well stocked these days and it feels good!

Crock Pot Meal Plan Review: Lentil Sweet Potato Soup

Well, it was bound to happen. My first flop. Okay, flop is a bit harsh. Let me just say this: I am not enjoying this and I have a TON of it.

This is the recipe:

Crock Pot Lentil Sweet Potato Soup

  • 4 large carrots, chopped or sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1.5 cups chopped green beans (I used frozen)
  • 2 cups dry green lentils
  • fresh rosemary (the recipe didn’t specify an amount so I used about 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Put above ingredients into the freezer bag. Before cooking, add:

  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 64 oz. vegetable broth

Cook on low for 10 hours. Add additional broth if the soup is too thick after cooking.

Verdict? 2 out of 5 stars.

2-out-of-5-stars

You see that part about cooking on low for 10 hours? I probably should have tried that. I was short on time, so I cooked on high for an hour and then low for 8 hours. That should have worked but the lentils were crunchy. After 8 hours I tried to give it another hour or so. Better, but not great. The lentils are edible but not how they should be.

The flavor is fine but something is missing. It doesn’t taste bad. It is just not delicious.  It tastes like the healthy, vegetarian soup that it is. I am pretty much forcing myself to eat this for lunch this week but I have had enough. Even Max said “I no like this” and he loves sweet potatoes.

Oh, I reduced the broth (I used chicken). 64 oz seemed like way too much. I did around 45-50 oz. Maybe that is the problem. Or maybe raw lentils are not meant to be frozen.

I used Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes for this one because they are generally more flavorful. It didn’t help much (or did it?).

So now I have a ton of leftovers (the Knight is away this week, and the Little Prince won’t eat it. I could freeze it but I’m pretty sure I’d never defrost it. I hate wasting food.

Oh well, they can’t all be big hits. At least I didn’t waste expensive meat on this.

***

Next day edit: I have been thinking more about this and I have a theory. When I put the contents in the slow cooker the lentils were not covered by the liquid. The bag contents were in one big frozen chunk. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.

Here is what I will do next time. I am going to break up the contents and ensure that everything is covered by broth. Also, per my friend Razak’s suggestion I am going to add cumin, paprika and maybe some cayenne. Stay tuned.

Crock Pot Meal Plan Recipe Review: Salsa Chicken

The next recipe we tried was Salsa Chicken. This might be the easiest of the recipes.   Salsa Chicken

  • 2-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs/breasts
  • 1 15oz jar of your favorite salsa
  • 1 can sweet corn drained & rinsed [I used frozen]
  • 1 can black beans drained & rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

To serve, you can serve as is or shred.   What did we think? I’d give it 3 stars. 3-stars-out-of-5 But here’s the thing. I don’t really like chicken very much. I know, who doesn’t like chicken? I actually don’t mind chicken thighs, or fried chicken or other fatty chicken. I just find chicken breasts generally very unappealing. So keep that in mind as I review the chicken recipes.

I used a combination of breasts and thighs for all of the recipes because of our divided household. The Knight prefers chicken breasts.

The first night I shredded the chicken and served it over tortilla chips (I know, not terribly healthy, but I just wasn’t feeling like eating straight chicken). I added some grated cheddar, along with the corn and black beans and some of the juice from the crock pot.

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The second night I served it over brown rice with salad. I liked it better, but I’m not sure why.

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For lunch on the third day I put it in a tortilla with brown rice and cheese. This was my favorite of the three options.

The Knight wasn’t home to enjoy this. The Little Prince liked it just fine.

This made a ton so I wound up freezing three big bowls full for later, with one bowl for the next day’s dinner/lunch. I think this would be great over salad or rice, or in a tortilla.

Crock Pot Meal Plan Recipe Review: Beef Stew

The first recipe we cooked up was the beef stew. We skipped the freezer step, so I don’t exactly know how the raw potatoes would have done in the freezer (I will report back).

Here is the recipe:

 BEEF STEW

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 20 small red potatoes cut in ½ or ¼
  • 6 carrots, chopped [add more]
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 1 cup low sodium beef broth

Directions:

Put meat, flour & spices in the gallon freezer bag first & toss together to coat meat. Dump in rest of the ingredients & seal bag.

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The verdict? I’d give in 3.5 stars (out of 5). 

3-5-stars

It is a winner. All three of us enjoyed it. The flavor was good, but not fantastic. It needs something… I am going to experiment and see if I can improve it.

The beef came out super tender. The chunks (from Costco) were a bit large for me to eat without cutting.

As for quantity, this made enough for the three of us for dinner, plus three big bowls more. It probably would have fed us for two more dinners/lunches.

The recipe that I made was low on potatoes and carrots for my liking so the recipe I posted doubled the veggies in the recipe I posted.

If you make this, please let me know how you like it (and if you have any suggestions for zipping up the flavor). Enjoy!

 

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