A freezer full of goodies!

Over the last few weeks we have been filling up our freezer with delicious meals.  It’s nice on winter weekends to cook a little extra and then be able to take a night off by eating from your freezer.  Right now I have the following to choose from:

Beef stew

  • 3 lbs beef (round or chuck – I used 1/2 and 1/2) cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour mixed with 1/2 tsp dry mustard, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 6 – 8 strips of bacon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1 lb baby bello mushrooms
  • 1 can consomme
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 12 – 16 small white onions, peeled
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 TB chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp thyme

Toss beef cubes with seasoned flour until well coated.  Cook bacon in a large pan until it begins to brown but is not crisp.  Chop bacon into 1 inch pieces and place in a heavy glass baking dish.  (I have an old one but one of the really pretty Le Creuset Dutch ovens has been on my wish list.)

Saute garlic and mushrooms in the bacon grease until garlic is browned and mushrooms are soft.  Put mushrooms in the casserole.  Add beef cubes and brown quickly on all sides – turn often.  You may have to do this in two batches.  Put meat in the casserole dish.  Add brandy, consomme and 1 cup of the red wine to the pan and bring to a boil.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all browned bits mixed in and pour liquid over ingredients in casserole.

Add onions, carrots and spices to casserole dish and pour remaining 1/2 cup of wine over top.  Bake covered at 300 for 2 hours.  Remove, cover and chill.  Remove from refrigerator 90 minutes before serving.  Let stand for 30 minutes and spoon liquid from bottom of container over meat.  Bake covered for 1 hour at 300 and serve hot.  (Remove bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves before serving.)  Serve with hard rolls or French bread and a green salad.

Chicken jambalaya

  • 8 pieces bacon chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken things, trimmed of fat and cut into approximately 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 TB vegetable oil
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 qts chicken stock
  • 1 28 oz can tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 12 oz diced ham (we used leftover Smithfield ham from Christmas)
  • 12 oz chicken andouille sausage, thinly sliced (we used Aidell’s)
  • 3 1/2 cups rice

Cook bacon in a large heavy pan over medium heat about 3 minutes.  As it starts to render the fat, increase heat to medium high and add chicken.  Cook, stirring until chicken browns (about 4 – 5 minutes).  Remove bacon and chicken to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Add oil to pan.  Add vegetables and cook, stirring about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, paprika, thyme, salt and peppers and stir in.  Add stock, tomatoes and paste.

Return chicken mixture to pan and add ham and sausage.  Bring to a simmer and add rice.  Stir and return to simmer.  Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes covered and then remove from heat and let stand covered for about 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve hot with hot sauce for those who like it.

Seafood gumbo

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped peppers (we used 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green)
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1 lb frozen okra
  • 1 lb diced Smithfield or country ham
  • 2 28 oz cans of tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 veal shank (have your butcher cut it into 4 pieces – use two and freeze two for another time)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 pounds claw crabmeat
  • 1 pints oysters with liquor
  • rice
  • File powder

Heat oil in a heavy pot until it is smoking hot.  (My husband does this step and he finds it is easier to make the roux in a smaller heavy pan and then pour it into the stock pot when the roux is finished.  It’s hard to keep whisking reaching down into a deep pot without burning yourself.)  Whisk in flour and stir constantly over high heat until mixture is reddish brown.  Do not burn.  Be patient – it will start to turn color.

When roux is browned, add onions, celery, peppers and garlic.  Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring.

Stir in okra, ham and tomatoes.  Mix well and simmer for about 10 minutes covered.  Add water, veal, seasonings and corn.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove veal shanks and bay leaves.

5 minutes before serving add the crab and the oysters (with the oyster liquor).  Simmer for 5 minutes until oysters begin to curl.  NOTE: You can add additional seafood if you want to serve more people.

Cook rice according to directions.  Serve by putting rice in bowl and spooning gumbo overtop.  Pass file powder.

Mexican Chicken Soup

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, bone in
  • olive oil
  • 2 chopped yellow onions
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 quarts of chicken stock (I have homemade in the freezer and will use 1 container of store bought to stretch mine)
  • 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seed and chopped fine
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 6 corn tortillas (6 inch size)
  • sliced avocado
  • sour cream
  • grated cheddar cheese

Optional:

  • chopped cilantro
  • tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Roast for 45 minutes or until done.  Let cool.  Remove skin and bones and chop meat.  Set aside.

In a soup pot, heat 3 TBs of olive oil.  Add chopped onions, celery and carrots and cook for 10 – 12 minutes.  Add garlic and stir in with veggies.  Add chicken stock, tomatoes, jalapeno, cumin, coriander and cilantro (if desired).  Cut tortillas into strips and add.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add chicken and check seasonings – add salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with sliced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips (if desired).

Seafood gumbo

This is a wonderful recipe and one of my husband’s favorites.  He made it on Saturday afternoon and it makes a large amount. We’re having leftovers tonight and we have more in the freezer.  (For us it is also a good use of some of our leftover Smithfield ham from Christmas.)

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped peppers (we used 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green)
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1 lb frozen okra
  • 1 lb diced Smithfield or country ham
  • 2 28 oz cans of tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 veal shank (have your butcher cut it into 4 pieces – use two and freeze two for another time)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 pounds claw crabmeat
  • 1 pints oysters with liquor
  • rice
  • File powder

Heat oil in a heavy pot until it is smoking hot.  (My husband does this step and he finds it is easier to make the roux in a smaller heavy pan and then pour it into the stock pot when the roux is finished.  It’s hard to keep whisking reaching down into a deep pot without burning yourself.)  Whisk in flour and stir constantly over high heat until mixture is reddish brown.  Do not burn.  Be patient – it will start to turn color.

When roux is browned, add onions, celery, peppers and garlic.  Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring.

Stir in okra, ham and tomatoes.  Mix well and simmer for about 10 minutes covered.  Add water, veal, seasonings and corn.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove veal shanks and bay leaves.

5 minutes before serving add the crab and the oysters (with the oyster liquor).  Simmer for 5 minutes until oysters begin to curl.  NOTE: You can add additional seafood if you want to serve more people.

Cook rice according to directions.  Serve by putting rice in bowl and spooning gumbo overtop.  Pass file powder.  Here is the picture from Saturday.

IMG_3036

Soup and Salad

Friday night we wanted something light and found a recipe for a Thai seafood salad that we adapted.  The recipe called for a few ounces of crabmeat.  Of course that isn’t how crabmeat is sold – it is sold by the pound.  Keith decided to make a gumbo with the leftover crab.  We didn’t have this soup and salad together (I think they would be a little weird at the same meal) but we enjoyed both.

Thai Seafood salad

  • 2 sea scallops per person, cut in half horizontally
  • 4 jumbo shrimp per person, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 oz crabmeat per person
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp Thai chili paste
  • 1 red pepper cut in strips
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of mint leaves, torn
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, halve lengthwise, scoop out seeds and slice thinly
  • 1 – 2 TB basil leaves, torn

Combine shrimp and scallops with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast 1t 425 8 – 10 minutes or until done  Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chili garlic and chili paste.  Test and adjust to your taste.  Arrange vegetables on plates, top with seafood, mint and basil leaves and dressing.

This was a lovely combination of flavors and very healthy.  It will be great on a hot summer night.

Thai seafood salad

Thai seafood salad

The gumbo we had for dinner this evening was also excellent.  Making it ahead gives time for the flavor to really develop.  You don’t have to use both shrimp and crab but I think the combination is delicious.

Seafood gumbo

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 oz okra, cut into rounds
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups of fish stock
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 oz andouille sausage, cut into rounds
  • 12 – 16 oz crab meat
  • 3/4 lb cooked shrimp, cut in pieces
  • 4 cups cooked rice

Heat 2 TB of oil and add okra.  Cook over medium-high heat until softened (about 5 minutes).  Remove to a plate.

Heat remaining oil in a heavy pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Whisk in flour and cook.  Whisk constantly until roux is golden brown (about 15 minutes).  Add onion to mixture and cook, stirring about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and stir.  Cook an additional 3 minutes.

Add fish stock and spices and bring to a boil.  Add okra and sausage and cook until gumbo is thick (about 8 minutes).  Add crab and shrimp and stir.  Adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve over rice.

Casual dinner party

We had a few friends over last night for a casual dinner.  We wanted something hearty for a group of 12 but did not want to have chili again.  We knew that everybody would gather in the kitchen and wanted people to be able to manage their dinner easily while sitting or standing (it’s so hard to handle a plate and silverware on your lap and even harder to try to cut food while balancing everything).  I opted for appetizers and dessert that could be picked up and eaten and we made seafood gumbo so people only needed a bowl and a spoon.  The appetizers were devoured (a double batch of cardamom cheddar sticks, the mushroom and shrimp pastry shells and asparagus with wasabi – all previously blogged) and there is only a little seafood gumbo left.  Here is the recipe for the gumbo – there are a lot of ingredients but it’s delicious.  You will need a large pan or stockpot.

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped peppers (we used 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green)
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1 lb frozen okra
  • 3/4 lb diced country ham
  • 1/4 lb diced Smithfield ham
  • 2 28 oz cans of tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 veal shank (have your butcher cut it into 4 pieces – use two and freeze two for another time)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels
  • 2 pounds claw crabmeat
  • 2 pints oysters with liquor
  • rice
  • File powder

Heat oil in a heavy pot until it is smoking hot.  (My husband does this step and he finds it is easier to make the roux in a smaller heavy pan and then pour it into the stock pot when the roux is finished.  It’s hard to keep whisking reaching down into a deep pot without burning yourself.)  Whisk in flour and stir constantly over high heat until mixture is reddish brown.  Do not burn.  Be patient – it will start to turn color.

When roux is browned, add onions, celery, peppers and garlic.  Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring.

Stir in okra, ham and tomatoes.  Mix well and simmer for about 10 minutes covered.  Add water, veal, seasonings and corn.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove veal shanks and bay leaves.

5 minutes before serving add the crab and the oysters (with the oyster liquor).  Simmer for 5 minutes until oysters begin to curl.

Cook rice according to directions.  Serve by putting rice in bowl and spooning gumbo overtop.  Pass file powder.