Crockpot Meals in the Freezer

After the New Year I started reading a number of blog posts about preparing and freezing a bunch of crock pot meals. You don’t cook anything ahead, merely buy and combine ingredients, putting them into ziploc bags with labels.  When you want to use one, pull it out the night before, defrost it, and pop it in the crockpot the next morning, following directions written on the bag.   I decided today was my day to try!  Here is how the day went for me:

Morning:  I spent the morning sort of putsying around on the computer and making my lists… didn’t head out to do the shopping for it until about noon.  12:00 noon:  Living in Japan, I had to eliminate a fair number of potential recipes, and then go to three different stores to get my list.  (The first two stores, believe it or not, did not have bell peppers.  Well, the second store had two small yellow ones – $2.00 each!).

2:00 pm:  I came home and began organizing the space.    I put all the meat on one counter, all the veggies on another, and my herbs and spices in front of me as I started cutting meat.  Eric and I decided it would be totally easier in the U.S., where meats are more prepared for you.  Here, I had to take the skin off of all the chicken, cut up slabs of meat into stew meat, make my own chicken broth, etc.

3:00 pm – Kids came home from school and looked at mom like I was crazy!  Kitchen total disaster.

5:45 pm – Got the last set of chicken breasts into the bag with all of its accompaniments.

IMG_8879

Here are the dishes that I made.  You can find a good assortment of options and recipes here and here and here….I copied a bunch of recipes into a Word document, then went thru it today and printed off the ones that I thought were doable based on the ingredients i could get today. Here is a link to the Freezer Crockpot Meals that you can use to choose your own!

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Cacciatore

Country Captain Chicken (adapted from a regular crockpot recipe I had)

Orange Chicken

Molly’s drumsticks

Beef Stroganoff:

Lemon Chicken

Honey Cheese porkchops

Hawaiian chicken

Fiesta Chicken Soup

Italian Cheese Chicken

Lemon Pork Tacos

My general sense is that you can adapt any of your favorite crock pot meals and put them in the freezer.  I even made one with cream cheese in it (Italian cheese chicken).  For mushrooms, the best advice that I found was to fry them up in butter and freeze them separately in small baggies, then add when you start the crockpot.

One thing that I found was that it was the meat that took the most time to prepare.  If I don’t have as much time in the future, I think I would at least prepare a bunch of meat – that is often the biggest battle in getting a meal going (again moreso because we live in Japan).  I’m excited to have meals ready for this next month!

Let me know if you try it, and share your favorites!

 

 

Tastes of Fall

dscn1749.jpg

Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.  ~George Eliot

I have written in previous years about my love affair with persimmons.  We have two trees in our yard – this year was a good year for both of them.  (I actually prefer store-bought ones because they tend to be seedless, but free is free!)  We dice them up and throw them into salads, slice them up for guests or our kids for breakfast, and try different recipes.   I recently found  this recipe from a fellow blogger that is our favorite way to cook persimmons – it is perfect for fall because it combines the yummy flavor of nutmeg with pureed persimmons.  (Although they puree them, we think you could add them chopped and it would be just as good).  I also think this coffee cake would work fine with apples, instead. Tonight we enjoyed this coffee cake topped with whipped cream with our good friends the Sakamotos;  I made it one morning and we offered butter on the side.  Either way – it is really good!

img_3549.jpg

Persimmon Coffee Cake

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens: New Cookbook

1 ¾ cup whole wheat or all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped walnuts, or nut of choice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup persimmon puree (6 small very ripe Hongshi persimmons)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the flour, sugar, and 4 tablespoons of butter until it forms into a loose, sandy, crumble.  Remove ½ cup of the mixture and add the last tablespoon of butter, ¼ cup of the chopped nuts, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

To the remaining crumb mixture, add the baking powder and baking soda.  Then mix in the eggs,nuts, and persimmon puree until combined.

In a well greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan or two 4¾ x 2½ inch loaf pans, pour in the batter.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly on top.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

*If the top starts to burn, as mine did, place a sheet of aluminum foil on top.