What Foods Don’t Freeze Well


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


Frozen Assets bookOne of the most common questions I hear from people who are interested in freezer-meal cooking is: “How do I know what will freeze well, and what won’t?”

If you’re unsure of how well something will freeze, then freeze a single serving when you prepare the dish for a regular family meal. This way you can check on how well the item holds up to freezing and reheating. The following lists should give you a good start at identifying potential freezing problems with various food items.

Don’t Freeze Well:

  • Greasy foods (they just become greasier)
  • Cake icings made with egg whites
  • Cream fillings and soft frostings
  • Pies made with custard or cream fillings
  • Fried foods (they tend to lose their crispness and become soggy)
  • Fruit jelly on sandwiches may soak into the bread
  • Soft cheese, such as cream cheese (can become watery)
  • Mayonnaise (it separates; use salad dressing instead)
  • Sour cream (it becomes thin and watery)
  • Potatoes cooked in soups and stews (they become mushy and may darken. If using potatoes, cook until barely soft and still firm; then freeze quickly.)

Change During Freezing:

  • Gravies and other fat-based sauces may separate and need to be recombined by stirring or processing in the blender

  • Thickened sauces may need thinning after freezing; thin with broth or milk

  • Seasonings such as onions, herbs and flavorings used in recipes can change during freezing. These are best added during reheating to obtain accurate flavors

  • Vegetables, pastas and grains used in cooked recipes usually are softer after freezing and reheating (Undercook before freezing, or add when dish is reheated)

  • Heavy cream can be frozen if used for cooking, but will not whip

  • Some yogurts may suffer texture changes
  • Raw vegetables lose their crispness, but can be used for cooking, stews, etc.
  • Many cheeses change texture in the freezer. Most hard cheeses turn crumbly (which makes them okay for grating, but not for slicing)

This list was adapted with permission from the bestselling Frozen Assets:  Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month.


Marinated Lime Chicken


Here’s one of my family’s all-time favorite chicken recipes.  The instructions include directions for preparing ahead of time for the freezer. So if you find chicken on sale at a good stock-up price, you can take advantage of the sale prices and have this delicious meal waiting in the freezer for a busy evening later in the month.

If you want to bake without freezing first, be sure to allow at least an hour or two to marinate in the refrigerator. 


MARINATED LIME CHICKEN (from  Frozen Assets Lite & Easy) 

6 servings 

  • 6 chicken breast portions (about 8 ounces each)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 4 limes (or 4 tablespoons bottled lime juice)

  • 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar

  • 9 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons basil

Preparation: 

Squeeze limes into a medium sized bowl. Stir in vinegar, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Place chicken breast portions into labeled freezer bags. Pour lime sauce over top; seal and freeze. 

To Serve: 

Thaw completely. Pour marinade into small saucepan. Heat to boiling. Place chicken pieces into shallow oven-proof dish. Pour boiled marinade over chicken. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh basil sprigs, if available. 

I hope your family likes this recipe as much as my family does! 

~Debi


510WdNuthdLAdapted with permission from Frozen Assets Lite & Easy by Deborah Taylor-Hough (SourceBooks).

Why cook every night when you can cook once a week for seven (or more!) delicious, healthy, family-approved meals? Frozen Assets Lite & Easy shows how to be healthy while saving time and money. Includes shopping lists, recipes, and detailed instructions on how to make freezer cooking work for you. Order your copy today!


Musing on Doing Dishes


In her essay, “Trouble Man,” Dodie Bellamy states, “I’m a lousy housekeeper, and by the end of the week dishes are stacked on every available surface of my kitchen.”

Me, too. Surprisingly, even with an automatic dishwasher, the plates, cups, pots, and pans still pile up.  My problem is that the dishwasher needs to be emptied prior to loading in some fresh dirty dishes.  Maybe it’s not so much that I’m a lousy housekeeper, but that I’m a lazy one?  Emptying the dishwasher just seems like too much work.  In reality, it isn’t a lot of work when I actually do it, but my mind tends to make emptying the dishwasher seem like a huge task looming over me that will somehow disrupt my entire day.

Bellamy listens to Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack while she’s getting caught up on the week’s backlog of dried on kitchen gunk.  Sometimes I listen to music, too—my favorite dish washing CD is the soundtrack to the No Reservations movie.  But usually I listen to the soundtrack in my head.  Either a song stuck in my brain, or just my quiet ruminations on life.

There’s something soothing, almost mesmerizing about doing dishes. The mindlessly repetitive, rhythmic movements.  The warm water and fragrant bubbles.  It’s satisfying to take the kitchen from complete disarray, and return it to a clean, shiny state.  Is that why I procrastinate?  Is it less satisfying on some internal level to just do little clean-ups here and there, but never have the transformational experience that comes from a complete overhaul?

Many things I’ve written have developed after a time of quiet personal reflection—believe it or not, usually while standing at the sink up to my elbows in warm, soapy water, gently scrubbing my plates and glassware.  Standing in one place, actively involved with a mindless physical activity, seems to release something creative in my mind.

Many writers over the centuries have used the mindless activity of walking as a physical meditative process.  For me, while I thoroughly enjoy a good walk, I tend to get so caught up in the sights and sounds, people and birds, creatures and weather around me, that my mind isn’t quite as free to wander as it is when I’m staring at a corner and small window of my kitchen.  The kitchen almost works as a sensory deprivation chamber.  There isn’t much to see, or hear, or experience.  Just the warmth, the steam, the water, the suds, the rhythms of the washing.

I wonder why I delay doing the dishes when it’s such a fruitful, creative time for me?  I have no answer.

But on that note, I have dishes awaiting me.  Meditation time draws nigh.

~Debi

Make-Ahead Apple Pie Filling

apple-pie-differenceA friend of mine shared this recipe for make-ahead apple pie filling, Apple season is beginning in our area.  Perhaps in yours, as well.  This is a great way to preserve some of the apple harvest if you have the freezer space.

Make-Ahead Apple Pie Filling

  • 18 cups peeled apple slices

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 4 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 10 cups water

In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice; set aside. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch. cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add water; bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add apples; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until the apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Ladle into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool at room temperature no longer than 1-1/2 hours. Seal and freeze; store up to 12 months.Yield: 5 1/2 quarts. (enough for about five 9-inch pies).

~Debi


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Simple Times is out! (August 18th, 2016)


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Photo Credit: Deborah Taylor-Hough © 2016

The latest issue of Simple Times is online now!

Lots of great information including recipes that actually use produce from the farmers’ market, eliminating mosquitoes, the high cost of convenience, confusing simplicity with frugality, and LOTS more!

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