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Freezer Cooking – Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

Posted by on Mar 28, 2012 in For Dessert, Freezer Cooking, Recipes | 1 comment

The last 3 weeks I’ve been sharing with you freezer cooking staples which I hope are helping to make your dinners a little faster.  Today I’m going share what my husband loves to have in the house on demand :)  It’s a sweet treat, and I’ve found it very nice to have them on hand in the freezer. Having cookie dough in the freezer makes making these favorite cookies very easy. Try making these for yourself, or tweaking the recipe to your favorite, while using this simple process. I’m sure your family will love it!

 Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour  (you could substitute for regular whole wheat flour or all purpose flour if you’d like)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil (melted – I used unrefined coconut oil so it did have a hint of coconut flavor, which I love.  If you don’t have coconut oil on hand just increase the butter a 1/4 cup)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup  sugar (I used Turbinado)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice (or 2 tsp orange flavoring)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cup of dried cranberries

In a large bowl combine: flour, baking soda, salt and oats and set to the side. Next, in a stand mixer combine: butter, coconut oil, sugar, eggs, orange juice and zest.  Mix together on med-low speed until all is well incorporated.  Then add dry ingredients.  Once cookie dough is mixed well.  Fold in cranberries.

Freezer Cooking Directions:

If you are just planning on storing cookies for a later date.  Divide batter into 3 portions.  Take each portion and make into a log shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and place into freezer bag.  When ready to use, thaw out on the counter for 30 to 40 minutes (or use the defrost feature on microwave, very briefly 1 to 2 minutes). Each cookie roll will make approximately 12 cookies.

Bake them now (because you and your family can’t resist):

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  On a lined cookie sheet, place 1 inch balled cookie dough on sheet.  Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until done.

If you are not a huge fan of cranberry orange cookies thats okay, substitute 1 tsp of vanilla instead of orange juice and add chocolate or peanut butter chips to your cookies instead of cranberries. Or add other favorite dried fruit such as blueberries.

 What are your favorite cookies to make? What ways do you use to make them simply?  Share in the comments! 



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Freezer Cooking – All About Beans

Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in Freezer Cooking, Recipes | 2 comments

The last two weeks, I’ve been sharing about freezer staples that have helped me cut cost and make cooking dinner easier. If you missed the last two weeks of freezer cooking check them out here and here. Today, I want to share with you about cooking beans and how to freeze them.

What are some recipes that you use beans in?  Tacos, enchiladas, burritos and salads are a few around our house.  The average price per can of beans is around 1 dollar per can.  If you buy organic you could spend up to $1.50 or more.  This one can gives you about one to two meals, depending on your family size. The time and effort into cooking beans and storing them in the freezer might sound like a daunting task, but it will realistically take you fifteen minutes to prep and store everything.  The cooking takes time, but if you have a slow cooker you are not tending to anything for at least 4 hours.

Lets get started!

What you need:

2  pounds of beans (black, pinto, or your choice)


8 – 16 oz freezable containers or freezer bags

1 to 3 tsp Salt (optional)

Slow cooker or large pot

STEP 1 – Place desired amount of beans into bowl or pot, add water to the pot or bowl covering the beans, and let them soak over night.

STEP 2 – In the morning, get out your slower cooker. Rinse the beans that have been soaking all night. Then add them to the slower cooker.  Fill the slow cooker with water.  Make sure their is good 2  to 3 inches of water covering the beans.  Turn slow cooker on Low heat or 8 hour setting.  You wont be cooking them for 8 hours, but you need to put them on this setting that way the heat isn’t to high. After 4 hours check the beans and see if they are soft.  If they are not, continue cooking for another hour and then recheck.  I added 1 tsp of salt to 2 pounds of beans at this point.  You have to option to put salt in or not.

STEP 3 – After the beans are cooked, divide them into the amount that you would like in each container.  Then add the reserved water from the crock pot and add to each container.  I’ve frozen beans without water before and they get crumbly and loose flavor, so make sure you add water. I bought these containers: a set of 4 each for 1 dollar.  Lastly, date, label and place in the freezer. Make sure you take into account how much water will expand.  These particular container were 16 oz, so I filled up the container to a little over 12 oz, then added the water.  Once it was frozen it was the perfect amount.  It might depend on the shape of your container whether you add more or less. I think next time I will get use my bigger containers so they can be 2 cup portions.

Thawing Process

You can do it three ways. First, take it out the night before you plan on using them.  Second, place them in a bowl of warm water and let them defrost on the counter for about 30 minutes. Lastly, use defrost feature on your microwave it you need them really fast!

Price Difference

Now I didn’t figure out how much it cost to run my slow cooker for 5 hours or the price of the water.  I’m only including the price of the actual beans.

Store bought can – 1 cup portion will have an average price of $0.50 to $0.75

Make your own – 1 cup portion was $0.08.  If you want to figure in the cost of the container (that can be reused) it would make the one time purchase of $0.33 per 1 cup portion. But from here on out if I buy 1 pound of beans at 1 dollar a pound.  I will only pay 8 cents per 1 cup serving.  “How about those beans!”

Nutritional Difference

I do have to point out that making your own beans, also allows you to control the amount of sodium and additives that go into them.

On the stove method

If you do not have a slow cooker this is not out for you to try.  Do the same over night process, follow step 2, but add to a large pot of water on the stove instead of the slow cooker.  Cook on low heat for 2 to 3 hours or until done. Make sure you don’t leave the house with the stove on.

Well thats enough beans for today! Have you ever cooked beans before?  If not, would you give this a try in your freezer cooking?  How might you add this into your routine? Share your thoughts in the comments!

photo credit

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Freezer Cooking – Ground Beef

Posted by on Mar 14, 2012 in Freezer Cooking, Recipes | Comments Off on Freezer Cooking – Ground Beef

Last week, I started a short 4 week series on freezer cooking.  I’m giving you recipes that require only a few simple staple ingredients to help you come up with your own family favorites that help make dinner prep faster!  A little prep work ahead time makes quick and easy meals.

When you go to the store, do you typically buy a large quantity of ground beef?  I actually have avoided buying ground beef because it is more cost effective to buy ground turkey or chicken but when its at a great price; I stock up on it. I may even start shopping for a grass-fed cow, but thats a whole other post/story! Anyways, my old way of packaging ground beef, was to divide  uncooked portions and store in the freezer until I need it for a meal.  Now, I plan out meals of what I want to make with it: meatballs, taco meat, hamburgers, and cooked seasoned ground beef.

What I love about having cooked ground beef readily available in my freezer is that I can use it for so many things in a snap. Just to name a few: casseroles, spaghetti sauce, toppings on pizza or stromboli!

Here is how I cook and freeze seasoned ground beef

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Depending on the size of your pan, you’ll be able to do roughly 3 pounds at at time.

To 3 pounds of meat add:

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp pepper

Mix meat together with seasonings.

Feel free to add your favorite spices or use what you have on hand. If you have Italian seasoning use that. You might need more or less of the other ingredients, but thats okay; make it your own.

Then place meat in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through. After cooked, remove from the oven. Using a spatula, break up the meat and then let it cool.

Packaging is the same as I shared with you all last week.  Our family’s portion size is 2 cups  in each freezer bag, but place the amount in each bag that accommodates your family.  Date and write contents on the bag and place in the freezer.  When you are ready to use it, get it out the night before and let it thaw in the refrigerator.  For a quick defrost, place it in the microwave of defrost for a couple of minutes.

Now I know you are probably asking, “How do I incorporate this into my day.  I have diapers to change, laundry to fold and those kitchen floors really need to be cleaned!”  Well I have a solution for you to try.  Do this when you are already making dinner.  One night you are planning on making a casserole, make the meat for the casserole and the meat for the freezer!  If that doesn’t work, try making it at lunch time (when the kitchen is already a mess) or on the weekend when you have a little more time.  The take-home-message here is freezer cooking doesn’t have to an elaborate thought out process.  It can be simple, try it some time, you might be surprised how easy it is!

How do you freeze ground beef? What seasonings are you using to make it “simply yours?”


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Freezer Cooking – Chicken

Posted by on Mar 7, 2012 in Freezer Cooking, Recipes | 3 comments

Freezer cooking is something I’m fairly new to doing.  About eight months to be exact.  At first, I was really timid to try and didn’t think things would turn out well after being frozen. But after reading a lot about freezer cooking and actually doing it, I’ve found three things to be true.

#1. Use recipes that are tried and true.

#2. It makes meal planning easier.

#3. It saves money and time.

Over the next 4 weeks (on Wednesdays), I’ll be sharing with you some of my favorite foods I love to have readily available in the freezer at all times. Lets get started. How many meals can you think of that require diced or shredded chicken?  Take a quick moment to jot down 5 of your families favorites.  Still need a little help, here is a list of a few ideas: casseroles, enchiladas, tacos, chicken salad, sandwiches, and soup.

When chicken is on sale for $0.99 per pound, this is when I plan my meals around chicken.  This chicken is Foster Farm’s chicken and it does have the skin on and bone in.   Which is great when you roast chicken.  It helps keep the chicken moist and adds flavor.  I know it’s not the fun to debone and peal the skin off, but after it cook it is easy.  I’ve found that it takes me roughly 15 to 20 minutes to remove the skin, debone and shred 6 pounds of meat.  I add this into my schedule, typically I make it durning lunch time (kitchen is already a mess) and after Little Buddy goes down for his nap I dice it and bag it up! Find a time that it works well into your schedule, it doesn’t have be planned just to do it. Streamline it!

Here is my process:

Pre-Heat oven to 400 Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place one flat of chicken on baking sheet.

Using 1/4 cup of oil (use Grapeseed or Olive Oil) and pour over chicken.

Liberally season favorite spices and herbs(I typically use: oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and basil.) Then rub all the ingredients on chicken.

Place in oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until cooked.

After chicken is cooked, let it cool for at least 20 minutes (that way you don’t burn your hands).

Remove the skin and bones.

When I cook chicken this way I tend to dice it up.  For me I find it to be fast, but you can totally shredded it if you’d like.

Then, place 2 cup portions in a freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible and spread chicken out so the bag is as flat as possible.  This will save lots of space!

Lastly, place in the freezer until you are ready to use it.

When you are ready to use the chicken, remove it from the freezer the night before or the morning of and let it defrost.  I have on occasion removed it from the freezer an hour before I needed to make something and just tossed it in a casserole.

How much chicken do you use in a one month period?  Would having diced chicken on hand make it easier for you to meal plan? Share your thoughts in the comments! :) 

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