Put my dinner on ice
July 30, 2010 10:04 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite freezer-friendly recipes? Caveat: I'm diabetic and don't eat grains or legumes. However, things meant to be served over grains, legumes, or starchy vegetables are fine (I'm not always the only one eating at my table). Super bonus points for being able to freeze in portions.

I've got a big upright freezer that held a quarter-calf until he got eaten, so there's plenty of room. I'm an experienced home preserver, so I've also got a full range of canning supplies and a Tilia/FoodSaver vacuum sealer.

Chili, spaghetti sauce, and soups are my standbys now, but I'd like to change it up a bit, especially with spicier, non-tomato-based recipes. The advantage of the soupy recipes is that I can freeze individual portions; since I'm single and often eat my meals out of the microwave at school, that's a huge advantage. I don't mind doctoring things after they thaw, since freezing can really kill flavors, so ideas for "base recipes" are also welcome. I'm just in an icy rut and would like to burst out of it before school picks up again in a month.
posted by catlet to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Pesto freezes really well.
posted by Dmenet at 10:10 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can make New Orleans style red beans spicy as you like and freeze it in individual servings. I make it thick and do without the rice, but you could make the rice later or maybe have it with a slice of french bread.
posted by *s at 10:26 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

...if you wanted to serve it to others.
posted by *s at 10:29 AM on July 30, 2010

Cook's Illustrated's Spicy Sichuan Noodles (Dan Dan Mian) - no grain/legume, so delicious it will make you get down on your knees and thank god that you eat with your mouth rather than by osmosis, and freezes wonderfully (I make it in quadruple batches and eat off of the frozen chunks for MONTHS).

White chicken chili: delicious!

My own personal Green Devil chili is really good - it uses black-eyed peas, but you could always substitute ground turkey or textured vegetable protein (TVP) or somethin' to "bulk it up" without using starch:

Dice, cook 'til v. soft in few tsps oil:

- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 med. onion


- 1/3rd - 1/2 can chipotle in adobo
- 1/3rd - 1/2 can pickled serranos
- 1 large can tomatillos
- Chicken broth to thin

Dump in pot w/veg, reduce for a bit. Dump in:

- 2 quarts chicken broth
- Pinch dried oregano
- 4 - 5 cups finely shredded turkey, reduce for a bit, dump in:

- 3 cans black eyed peas, drained, periodically sprinkle in small amounts of:

- Maseca, stir well, when almost entirely thickened, stir in:

- Few tsps chopped parsley

- Juice of 1/2 lime, take off heat, stir in:

- 1 large container light sour cream.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:32 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm also a freezer-in-portions (mason jars for me), though most of mine are also chili & soups (and beans, as *s suggests, though the OP wants non-legumes). Other things that are great to freeze & use as the base for a meal:

+ blanch fresh greens, squeeze out all of the water, and freeze the resulting tiny ball of greens in a ziploc.
+ vegetable purees (zucchini, cauliflower, carrots)
+ fish stew (mine is tomato-based, but yours doesn't have to be)
+ bacon (I use turkey bacon, but you could use whatever) to crumble over roasted veggies (I make roast kale & polenta & turkey bacon regularly)

My favorite site for recipe-inspiration is 101cookbooks - though her recipes are pretty grain & legume-intensive, as she's vegetarian, it might be a nice starting point for flavors and ideas for you.
posted by judith at 10:37 AM on July 30, 2010

Are we calling corn a grain, or a veggie? If it's only gluten you're worried about, grits freeze well. You can even add cheese and roasted chiles to round it out.
We make a big package of bacon and keep it in the fridge. With just a little prep, you're not to far from a nice BLT or a salad.
How about bolognese? That should freeze pretty well, and there are lots of variations of it.
posted by Gilbert at 10:55 AM on July 30, 2010

For hot weather, chilled soups are fantastic, and depending on your ambient temperature may be perfectly thawed by mealtime. Gazpacho is a stand-by, but since I don't do chicken broth, kind of low on protein - the garnish becomes the best part: thawed frozen shrimp (any size), sliced mozzarella balls, sliced avocado, extra basil/chives/garlic-scapes. It's currently squash season for me, and I'm loving this chilled squash soup.

I frequently make a pasta sauce with all the veggies I can possibly find, lots of spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, grated carrots and squash, onions/garlic, mixed with a good tomato sauce and simmered with half a bottle of red wine. So much stuff in the sauce it takes the focus off the pasta beneath it (also v. good with spaghetti squash as noodle substitute). Delicious, and stores very well.

I'm not a canner, so these are things I freeze either in ziplocs (sandwich size, laid flat, then piled when frozen) or as hockey-pucks (freeze in a muffin tray then toss the pucks in a big zip bag). But I think it would can very well if that's your thing.
posted by aimedwander at 11:31 AM on July 30, 2010

Best answer: A lot of these recipes have grains/legumes, so to help you guys... a quick list
grains are: pasta and things made from flour, corn, oats, rice
legumes are: peas, peanuts, soybeans, any other type of beans

Sauces really do freeze well, so here is a way to use them in a more traditional manner. Use a spiralizer on zucchini to make it look like a noodle. Saute that up for a just few minutes and you have a sauce friendly spaghetti type food. The rest of your family can use their regular pasta.
posted by smalls at 11:46 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here's my contribution to the thread for a freezer idea:
Thai curries (add more veggies and skip the rice). I'm lazy, so I generally just use the recipe on the Thai Kitchen curry paste jar. It freezes pretty well.
posted by smalls at 12:02 PM on July 30, 2010

Kind of tomato-ish but. This ratatouille recipe is nice.

I have successfully frozen cauliflower cheese (leave off the crumb topping in the Cook's Illustrated cauliflower gratin).

I've made and frozen some vegetable-stew-type-stuff from the unexcitingly named ethiopianrecipes.net with good results (potatoes are a little blah texture-wise -- chop them small, don't use too many)

You can saute up some onions, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, as you like, fire them into "snack size" zip-lock bags, add grated cheese when the veg has cooled, and call it omelette filling.
posted by kmennie at 12:06 PM on July 30, 2010

Best answer: Chilis and curries are my standard things, but if you're looking to vary the sauce beyond simple tomatoes, have you considered making your own yogurt? High protein! Delicious! Make it from milk, then strain it to make it THICK AS HELL.

There's a million online tutorials on making one's own yogurt at home, each with different levels of annoyances and equipments, but here's what I use for mine:

1) A big plastic container, like such as this whey powder comes in; the one I linked to can hold a gallon and a half of milk, plus a bit of store-bought yogurt that gets used as a starter-culture. I drilled a hole in the top of the lid for...
2) A thermometer, so I can check what temperature the yogurt is. The metal rod hangs down into the milk, the mushroom-shaped top is visible at a glance. You can make the hole with nothing more than a hot nail.
3) a five-gallon bucket to put the other container inside. These are available at most hardware stores for like four or five bucks. I got mine at Home Depot. And when I'm not using it for yogurt-making, I can also repurpose it to ferment Apfelwein!
4) a big pot, for heating the milk
5) A cheesecloth, for straining the yogurt; also, a colander's nice, for putting the cheesecloth in.
6) milk, and a wee container of yogurt to use as a "starter culture". Make sure the wee container says on the side, in tiny letters, something like: "CONTAINS LIVE CULTURES". Most of them will even tell you what cultures they contain, which is fun and lets you pretend you are a biologist! So let's say it's $6.50 for a gallon-and-a-half of milk, plus fifty cents for a little single-serving cup of yogurt. Seven dollars is your ingredient costs.

So now:

1) I simply wash out the plastic container, then dump the fresh, store-bought, pasteurized milk into it. Most websites tell you that you gotta boil the milk first, because those websites are responsible, and they don't want you to culture some microbe that will kill you. I will not tell you that, because I've never had a problem with anything outcompeting the active live cultures in the store-bought yogurt. I just bring the milk up to about 115 degrees fahrenheit (the upper limit for live yogurt cultures), then pour it into the container. Since you're ignoring basic sanitation advice by doing this, I suggest you also listen to some Mötörhead at the same time so as to feel even more deliciously high-risk.

2) Stir in the yogurt from the wee single-serving cup.

3) put the lid (with the thermometer in it) on the container, then put that inside the big bucket. Fill the area between the bucket and the container with hot water; this is your warm, lovely insulation.

4) Leave the bucket someplace warm overnight.

5) In the morning, you will see that the milk has turned into yogurt! Listen to some more Mötörhead in celebration.

6) At this point, I like to strain the yogurt through my cheesecloth. The yogurt becomes THICK AS HELL after about twelve hours of straining, and your final volume is about half a gallon of THICK AWESOME YOGURT. That's 64 ounces of yogurt, for seven dollars worth of ingredients. Not bad, my friend!

7) When you've strained out the whey, you can either just dump it down the sink, OR you can save it! I always save mine, because it's salty and tangy and a little savory, so it's good for boiling other foods in. In particular, I like to boil tempeh in it, since tempeh because less bitter and more delicious if you boil it for 10 to 15 minutes. Oh, and I wash out the cheesecloth in my sink so I can use it again. Every once in a while, I'll throw it into the laundry for a more thorough washing.

ANYWAY. The point is, you now have 64 ounces of delicious, healthy protein to use as the base of creamy, wonderful curries. GO NUTS, MY FRIEND.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:29 PM on July 30, 2010 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Greg, I haven't made yogurt in YEARS. Might pick up some raw milk at the market this weekend. [ATTENTION CRANKY GEORGIA GOVERNMENTAL PEOPLES: I mean "pet milk" for my "pets" amirite!] NOTE: actual pets will not be harmed by unpasteurized "pet milk" as they will not be allowed near it nom nom nom.
posted by catlet at 1:55 PM on July 30, 2010

Best answer: I second the idea of curry -- the squishier, the better for freezing (dry dishes don't freeze as well). I don't eat starch, same as you, but I find most curries to be delicious served stew-style in a bowl, even without rice/bread/whatever. Another alternative which works for me is to whiz a head of cauliflower in a blender with a bit of garlic, saute it in olive oil (with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste) 'til it turns light brown, and serve it beneath the curry like rice!

Some of my favorite recipes for freezing curry are Saag Murgh (spinach chicken), Pork Vindaloo, Keema Matar (ground meat with peas), Murgh Makhani (butter chicken), and Madhur Jaffrey's Lemon Chicken with Fresh Coriander (make this with small pieces of chicken rather than whole breasts, and it'll freeze better). Any sauce-y curry will work.

The way I do it is to cook a massive amount of curry in a pan, eat it for dinner and lunch the next day, and then freeze the rest. All of these curries can be frozen in individual servings, and will warm up perfectly in the microwave. And if you make yogurt according to Greg Nog's recipe, you can mix up some fresh salted lassi or cucumber raita to go with the curry!
posted by vorfeed at 2:21 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Bear in mind that anything with a good fat content will freeze well. This means meats, of course, anything that has been prepared with oils or dairies, etc. Trader Joe's is even selling frozen avocados now.

(Full disclosure, of sorts; I myself don't particularly care for dairies that have been frozen without being cooked into something else, i.e. a whole block of cream cheese or what-have-you. In my limited experience, when the whole dairy product came out of the freezer I thought the texture had changed too much for it to be useful or tasty).

Sorry that I don't have yummy recipes to share, my stand-alone freezer is full of tomato-based sauces, chilis, and stews (and meat, bread, flour, sugar, etc that we buy on sale).
posted by vignettist at 4:38 PM on July 30, 2010

Might pick up some raw milk at the market this weekend.

Oh, AWESOME. Of course, I'd be a lot more likely to heat it up to 165-ish if you're getting the raw stuff. Dang, though. I wish I could get some of that!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:56 PM on July 30, 2010

Sauerbraten is my favorite thing to freeze because it does extraordinarily well and is just the sort of crazy-hearty-wintery thing you want on a dark cold night when you're tired and blue and don't want to cook anymore, aaand it takes so farkin' long to make in the first place (seriously, at least 3 days and usually more like almost a week) and is best made only certain times of the year temp-wise anyway because of the scary pickling step. Nthing pesto and red beans and rice too--those are go-tos in our household, especially the latter for a lot of the same reasons as sauerbraten.

Maybe a pie crust is too much grain for you, I'm not sure, but Canadian tourtiere (meat pie; link to my LJ warning) freezes really well too and is delicious. It's what I give people when they have babies as a step away from all the lasagnas and casseroles.
posted by ifjuly at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2010

And btw, the red beans recipe specifically linked to ("Red Beans and Rice with Sausage Fulcher") is THE best one. Fo' real. It's what I grew up on, my father's favorite, and the only one I make on my own. Soooo good.

Like sauerbraten's spaetzle or egg noodles, the rice in the red beans dish is optional.
posted by ifjuly at 12:51 PM on July 31, 2010

Potstickers! It's a little tedious to make them, but if you make a ton, they freeze well. Freeze individually on a sheet pan, then transfer to a ziptop bag. They last for at least a few months.

½ head napa cabbage
½ lb. ground Meat (recommended: Pork)
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce (be sure to use real soy sauce)
1 tablespoons hoisin sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Chinese five spice (optional)
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 eggs, divided
Wonton wrappers (you can use any shape you want, but this recipe teaches how to fold square wrappers)
Vegetable oil
¼ cup liquid (recommended: Chicken broth, but water works fine)

Preparing the filling:
NOTE: The first two steps to this recipe are to purge excess water from the ingredients so the final potstickers aren’t too wet.

Shred the cabbage as thinly as possible. Place in a salad spinner or colander. Salt generously, about 2 tablespoons. Let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse and dry thoroughly. The salad spinner makes this easier.

once cabbage have drained, place them in a work bowl with the next nine ingredients, plus one of the eggs. Mix thoroughly.

Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water to use as an egg wash. Place about ½ teaspoon of the filling in the middle of a wrapper. You will be tempted to overfill the wrappers; failing to resist this temptation will result in exploding potstickers, which, I promise, sounds much more fun than it actually is.

Folding the potstickers:

Place a filled wonton wrapper on a work surface with the corner facing upward; in other words, have it shaped like a diamond rather than a television set.

Place a small amount of egg wash along the upper-left and upper-right sides of the wonton wrapper. Fold the bottom corner up to the top removing as much air as possible. Pinch to seal.

With the filled wrapper now resembling an elementary rooftop, take the Right corner, fold it in towards the center, then make another, smaller fold back towards the outside. Your wrist should make the same movements as locking and unlocking a door, or flipping through a book. Perform this action twice on each side of the potsticker.

Cooking the potstickers:

Place a pan that has a tight fitting lid over medium heat for 5 minutes. Once preheated, pour in just enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin film. Carefully place potstickers in the hot pan and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Check after a minute; these burn easily.

Once the potstickers turn brown on the bottoms, pour in the ¼ cup of liquid and immediately cover with the tight fitting lid. Reduce the heat to low and let steam for 3 minutes. If frozen, make it 4 or 5.

When cooked, potstickers will be slightly tacky on the outside and firm to the touch. Some may stick but will be easily removed with a thin metal spatula.

You can make an easy dipping sauce with soy, hoisin, sesame, etc.
posted by leeconger at 2:44 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

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