Thursday, April 16, 2009

April's Freezer Cooking: Evaluation

April (well, the end of March) was my first attempt at Once a Month Cooking, and we've now gone through about 2/3 of the meals that I made. Some items were bit hits. Others were not. Here's an evaluation.

Since all of this happened before I started this blog, links are back to my LJ
Most of the recipes are here.
One more recipe is here.

First, the GREAT. By far the number one meal was chicken pot pie. We figured out that if we remove them from the freezer to the fridge in the morning and then bake at 300 for 2 hours, they are perfect. Also, extremely tasty. This one will definitely be on the list in the future. YUM. There was actually nothing wrong with them at all, though my husband asked if we could add edamame next time. No problem.

Also great was the Butternut Squash Soup. The portions I froze (1 qt for 2 adults and a toddler) are perfect. it reheated great on the stove and made a hearty meal, especially when topped with a dollop of sour cream. Another keeper.

Next, the GOOD. These are meals that came out good, that we would certainly make again, but that definitely need a little bit of tweaking for future freezer-meal-making.

Baked Ziti was mostly really good, but it dried out a bit. It's probably just a matter of keeping it covered in the oven when re-heating until the very end, but it might also need a bit more sauce.

Chicken Enchiladas also dried out when re-heating in the microwave. I would probably compensate by ensuring that the tortillas are completely coated in sauce on top. Otherwise, they were great, and with a side of rice, the portions were perfect.

Beef Stew. Nothing particularly wrong with it but it really fell apart on reheating. Probably would crock pot for a bit less time. Portions (1.5 quarts for the 3 of us) was perfect with noodles underneath.

Onion Beef Muffin Cups: The big remider is to always use the regular flaky biscuits. The reduced fat will not work. These reheat great in the microwave and are a huge hit. Once again, thanks so much to Lady Ozma for that recipe!

OK, here we go. The ONE that didn't work. The BAD. The "I can pretend that I love this meal because I made it but ew) one. The Chicken Penne al Fresco (Pampered Chef recipe). The sad thing is that it is a spectacular recipe when made fresh! It just reheats terribly. the cheese manages to stick together into one big clump in the middle, and the pasta either gets too hard in reheating or too soft from too much liquid on the bottom. I could hardly eat it, and my son didn't really want it either (my husband will eat anything and he did eat Micah's leftovers but that doesn't say much. I love him so much.). And, the left overs are making my fridge smell awful and I'm about to go toss it all out because there is no way I am eating it reheated again.

Truthfully, all in all, April has been a success. And you know, the chicken penne dish is DELICIOUS when you make it fresh, and I highly recommend it! It just reheats terribly and does not make a good freezer meal. So avoid it!

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