Saturday, May 25, 2013

Super Saturday: Freezer Dinners

My workplace is moving farther away from my house in a few weeks, so I will be getting home from work later. This means I will probably be unable to help make dinner, leaving my wife to do it all herself. Making dinner whilst taking care of 4 boys is a real challenge, so we decided to make a bunch of freezer dinners, making it easier to get dinner on the table when the kids are a challenge!

Notes:

  • I like to make beans in a crock pot, but I only have one crock, so I do some of them on the stovetop. If you have two crock pots, you can do the black beans the same way as the red/white beans.
  • Brown rice has more fiber and nutrients, but you could use white rice if you prefer.
  • Make sure your kitchen, stove, sink, and dishwasher are clean/empty before starting, and clean up messes as soon as you get a chance!

Master Schedule

Preparation (the night before):

Prepare 1 pound of black beans for cooking

  • Pick through the beans, looking for bad/broken beans, rocks, etc.
  • Rinse the beans
  • Soak in salted water overnight

Prep your aromatic vegetables:

  • Chop 6 onions and 6 bell peppers
  • Mix together and divide in two (large bowls or plastic bags)
  • Mince 12 cloves of garlic and divide in two (keep separate from the other veggies)
  • Peel an additional 9 cloves of garlic, but do not mince them. Put them in a plastic bag
  • Refrigerate everything until needed in the morning

Showtime!

Step 1: Crock Pot Beans

  • Prep one pound of dried red beans and one pound of dried white beans as described above, omitting the soak
  • Quarter a large onion like you would an apple. Smash 6 of the cloves of garlic (but do not pulverize)
  • Put the beans, onion, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 12 cups water in a crock pot on high.Cover and cook for 4-6 hours or until the beans are creamy.

Step 2: Black Beans

  • Drain and rinse the brine from the black beans
  • Quarter a small onion like you would an apple (or use 2 or 3 quarters of a big one). Smash 3 of the cloves of garlic (but do not pulverize)
  • Put the beans, onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 bay leaf, and 6 cups of water in a cooking pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover, and cook for 60-90 minutes, until the beans are creamy.

Step 3: Brown Rice

  • Cook 3 cups of brown rice (enough to make 9 cups cooked) according to the package directions
  • Do this whilst the beans are cooking.

Step 4: Spicy Meat Sauce

  • Keep an eye on the beans and rice cooking on the stove whilst doing this step. Both the rice and beans benefit from cooking slowly, so keep the burners low to prevent burns.
  • Make a triple batch (3x) of this blog's Spicy Mexican Meat Sauce.
  • You will use one of the batches of onions/peppers and one of the batches of minced garlic that you prepped last night.
  • I did this over two stovetop burners in my turkey roasting pan.
  • Instead of using the canned tomatoes and paste as described in the recipe, I bought a Costco-sized can of crushed tomatoes in puree (106 ounces)
  • I also used 3 ounces of lime juice from the green squeeze bottle instead of fresh limes
  • After cooking, let cool and portion into freezer bags. Freeze!
  • This meat sauce is great for sloppy joes, taco salads, tostadas, topping baked potatoes, and baked in the oven with cornbread mix on top!

Step 5: Lime Refried Beans and Rice

  • By now, the black beans and the rice should both be be cooked. Drain them.
  • Pull the onion and garlic chunks from your beans when draining them!
  • Make a triple batch (3x) of Lime Refried Beans and Rice
  • We used the reserved tomato juice from the canned tomatoes instead of broth as described in the recipe
  • The recipe says to sprinkle half of the beans with cheese. This is because half of my kids can't eat cheese. I didn't notice this until after posting the recipe card on the blog. You can just put cheese over all of it.
  • We bought 6 5-inch by 7-inch disposable aluminum baking pans and portioned the recipe into them. Don't bake them today, just freeze them. (Bake them when you want to eat them).
  • You can use this whenever you would eat beans and rice: in burritos, with grilled chicken or fajitas, or with the meat sauce above!
You're almost done!

Step 6: Ham and Barbecue Bean Skillet

  • By now your crock pot beans should be complete. Drain them.
  • Make a triple batch (3x) of Ham and Barbecue Bean Skillet.
  • You will use the remaining onions/peppers and garlic from last night.
  • I used the widest cooking pot I had for this.
  • Be gentle when mixing in the beans so you don't mash them up too much.
  • After cooking, let cool and portion into freezer bags. Freeze!
All done :) Congratulations!

1 comment:

Jake Walkenhorst said...

By the way, dont forget to pull the onion and garlic chunks from your beans when draining them!