Freezer Inventory

In the process of throwing a bunch of stuff into my pot of chicken stock, I ended up cleaning out the freezer and taking inventory.¬† After discarding some REALLY old stuff (e.g., two veggie burgers from pre-2008; pesto from 2005 ūüôā¬† here’s what’s left in the freezer part of my refrigerator (I keep saying I’ll get a freezer chest for the basement, but after seeing this list, I’m not sure that’s a good idea).

Ratatouille (1 qt)
Posole (1 qt)
Chicken or turkey stock (1 qt)
Crushed tomatoes (1 cup)
Ground Beef (1 lb)
burger buns (7)
Chicken Breast (1 large)
hot dogs (2) and buns (2)
Pork & Vegetable Pot Stickers (1 large bag)
butter (2 lbs)
8 grain cereal, dry (2-3 cups)
Good Grains Pancake Mix (2 batches)
lemonade
limeade
Thai basil cubes
thai chile peppers
mini corn (half a can, drained and frozen)
lime leaves
jalape√Īos (canned, chopped, frozen)
chipotle in adobo sauce
curry paste (green and red)
lemon grass
red enchilada sauce
pesto (3 qt bags)
pearl onions (1/2 bag)
baked eggplant (2 qt bags)
corn (1/3 bag)
broccoli (1/2 bag)
peas (1-2 cups)
green beans (blanched) (2 cups)
rhubarb (2 bags: one chopped, one whole)
raspberries (4 bags)
cranberries (2 bags)
cranberry sauce (2 cups)
peaches (2 bags of questionable vintage)
mangos (1 bag of questionable vintage)
strawberries (2-1/2 cups)
1 kit-kat bar
2 Luna bars
3 ice packs
3 trays of ice cubes

WHEW!!

Now on to the pantry . . . then time to work on using this stuff !!

So what’s the most interesting thing in your freezer?

Update November 30, 2010: For those non-believers out there, here are some pics . . . I’ve now added 4 quarts of chicken stock, 2 pounds of butter, and some Jimmy Dean sausage (click on the pic to see larger image):

Freezer Inventory Main

 

Freezer Inventory Door

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

Getting ready to make this for Thanksgiving next week.¬† Of course had to dig around to find the recipe.¬† So I’m breaking my rule about not posting other people’s recipes unless I have adapted them myself.¬† This way I’ll always be able to find this now perennial favorite!

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Food Network
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cranberry-fruit-conserve-recipe/index.html

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 4 cups

Ingredients
1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions
Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled.

NOTE from Lucinda: I don’t use as much sugar as the recipe calls for; I usually keep it to just a little over 1 cup. But if you want the sauce to get more solid when it chills, I think you need to use the amount of sugar listed above . . . . I also sometimes leave out the nuts. Yummy either way.

Gluten-Free Pear-Apple Crumble

Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer desserts with lots of butter, flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream and/or cream cheese.¬† I also tend not to like ingredients that seek to “mimic” these traditional dessert ingredients (no tofu or quar gum or applesauce or tapioca in my baked goods).¬† Which means I’m fairly certain that a “vegan dessert” will never come out of my kitchen.¬† And certainly my own intolerance for “artificial sweeteners” (in all of their guises; they give me migraines) will keep plain old white and brown sugar in my pantry indefinitely.

On the other hand, when a recipe requires only minor variation to go from “traditional” to “restricted diet,” I’m willing to give it a try.¬† Just as I was getting ready for Autumn Apple Crisp season, I stumbled on several recipes for “Gluten-Free Fruit Crumbles”¬† that use ground quinoa in place of flour.¬† I’m a fairly recent, but enthusiastic, convert to quinoa, so I keep a supply of it in the pantry (well actually in the refrigerator).¬† Once I figured out that my mini-chopper would not grind quinoa but my spare (and well-cleaned) coffee grinder would, I was all set to give “gluten-free dessert” a try.

Here’s what I came up with:

Pear-Apple Crumble with Gluten-Free Oat-Quinoa-Pecan Topping Recipe

Pear-Apple Crumble

Baked Chicken Florentine Pasta and Variations

Baked Chicken Florentine Pasta and Variations

A local restaurant used to make this great Chicken Florentine Pasta with a yummy garlic cream sauce that I loved.  Last time I ordered it to go it was dry and not very yummy at all.  SO, I decided to try to make it myself.  Then I got carried away, threw in several other ingredients and ended up with something a bit over the top.  Below is the dish I actually made, along with some suggested, simpler variations . . . Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound (12 oz.) dry pasta (I used Penne Rigate, but anything substantial will do)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbls. oil
  • 1 tsp Penzey’s Florida Seasoned Pepper (this is a combo of pepper, lemon and orange peel, garlic and onion, but feel free to use any salt free seasoning that works well on chicken)
  • 3-5 oz. baby spinach, cleaned
  • 1 tsp. Italian Herb Seasoning (or a combination of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and cracked rosemary)
  • 1 oz sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in 1/2 cup of boiling water (or approx. 1/3 cup of the oil soaked variety), drained & julienned (optional)
  • 6 oz. jar marinated artichoke heart quarters, drained (I cut each one in half, but feel free to use as is) (optional)
  • 4 oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • 4 Tbls. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 4 Tbls. flour
  • 3 cups milk and/or half&half
  • 1/2 – 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

There are three basic components to this dish: pasta, a chicken and vegetable sauté, garlic cream sauce, each prepared separately and then baked together in a 3-quart casserole.  You can make the parts one at a time and set aside or all at once, depending on your stovetop-juggling skills.

Preheat oven to 350¬į F.¬† Grease a 3-quart casserole.

Heat 3-4 quarts of water to boiling.  Salt or not as you prefer.  Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box/bag and according to your preferred tenderness.  Drain, set aside.

While the pasta is cooking and you prepare the other ingredients, marinate the chicken in the 2 Tbls. oil and the Florida Seasoned Pepper.

If your sun-dried tomatoes need rehydrating, make sure you have done that.

Prepare your garlic cream sauce: Melt the 4 Tbls. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the minced garlic and cook gently for about a minute.  Do NOT let it brown or burn!  Gradually add the flour to make a roux.  Once all the flour is added, cook for 1-2 minutes to cook the flour.  Now gradually add the milk or half&half, whisking or stirring frequently.  You want a medium-thick cream sauce.  Once the sauce will coat the back of a spoon (or is the thickness you desire), turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese.

Prepare the chicken and vegetable sauté: Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and its oil/spice marinade.  Cook until the chicken has lost it pinkness.  Stir in the Italian Herb Seasoning and the sun-dried tomatoes.  Stir in the artichoke hearts.  Toss in the spinach; cover and cook until the spinach wilts.

Assemble: Combine the pasta and the chicken/vegetable mixture.  Place half into the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle on half of the goat cheese.  Add the remaining pasta mixture and the remaining goat cheese.  Stir gently to combine.  Pour the garlic cream sauce over the entire contents of the casserole dish.  Once again, stir GENTLY to combine.  Finally, sprinkle the grated mozzarella over the top.

Cover and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly.  You might want to remove the cover for the last 15 minutes to brown the top.

Notes & Variations

  • Technically, Chicken Florentine is just chicken and spinach in a cream sauce served over rice or pasta.¬† Thus, the other vegetables in the saut√© are “optional”.¬† Same with the goat cheese.¬† I loved how they all combined in the dish I made, but feel free to simplify as your wallet and palate dictate!
  • I love baked pasta dishes because the time in the oven gives me time to relax, talk to guests, make a salad and/or do some dishes.¬† If you prefer, I’m fairly certain you could combine everything as described above and just serve as is without baking.¬† You might want to make the cream sauce a bit thicker (it thickens up a bit in the oven).
  • For those of you cutting calories, if you add a bit a water to the saut√© and stir the goat cheese into the warm saut√© after everything else is cooked, you should have enough of a “sauce” to serve over the pasta without making the cream sauce at all.

Enjoy!

Copyright © 2010, Lucinda DeWitt

Quinoa and Green Bean Salad

Saw this recipe sitting at the chiropractor’s office the other day.¬† Coincidentally, a few hours earlier I had picked up some fresh purple string beans at the Farmers Market.¬† I love quinoa, so this seemed perfect.¬† In case you are wondering, purple string beans turn green when cooked.

Quinoa and Green Bean Salad

from Whole Living July/August 2010

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup for the dressing
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup quinoa
1-3/4 cups water
1 lb. green beans, trimmed (cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces)
1 cup flat parsley leaves
3 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in quinoa and cook for 1 minute. Add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered until water is absorbed, about 16 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes; fluff with fork. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp. of salt and beans, cook until bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

Combine quinoa, green beans and parsley. Dress with 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper.

Notes
I didn’t have any flat parsley, so I made the recipe without it.¬† It tasted great anyway.
I forgot to take pictures of this dish, but will add them the next time I make it.