8 Great Crock pot Freezer Recipes
Canning & Preserving, Homemade Not Storebought, Weeknight Favorites

OAMC – Once A Month Freezer Crock Pot Meals

I tried something new yesterday (Sunday).  New is good, and with Pinterest crowding my brain, new is inevitable.  I was seeing lots of people post their OAMC recipes, menus, shopping lists, etc.  My problem?  I didnt like half the recipes tey were using, or couldnt get half the ingredients.  I hate teriyaki sauce, and fruit and chicken dont go together, so that pineapple concoction with teryaki sauce totally grosses me out.

I have therefore made my own OAMC setup, containing 8 super simple recipes with staples and easy to find ingredients.  No weird sauces, no nuts in main dishes.  (Someday I’ll need to write a post about all the wrong things people do with their food – fruit and nuts in savory dishes are some of those things)

Here’s My Recipe List:

  • Saucy Pork Chops
  • Soy Chicken
  • Chicken Fajitas
  • Beef Fajitas
  • Pot Roast & Veggies
  • “Pulled” BBQ Chicken
  • Ranch Chicken Breasts
  • Italian Chicken Breasts
  • Italian Pork Chops

Here’s my shopping list:
Meats:

  • 8 Pork Chops
  • 18 chicken breasts or equivalent in Thighs or breasts & thighs
    • 12 whole breasts
    • 3 sliced into fajita strips
    • 3 cut into bite size pieces
  • 1-2lb London broil, chuck steak or flank steak sliced across the grain in thin strips for fajitas
  • 1 3-4 lb Pot Roast (chuck is best)

Veggies: 

  • Garlic
  • 5 Onions, 2 sliced, 2 ¼’d and 1 diced
  • 2 Bell Peppers, sliced
  • 1 lb small red potatoes
  • 1 lb Carrots – peeled and in 3″ sections, or use baby carrots

Staples/Pantry:

  • 1 Package Asian frozen vegetables
  • 2 Cans Rotel
  • 1 Qt Reduced Sodium Chicken Stock or Broth (or homemade)
  • Powdered Ginger
  • Corn Starch
  • 1 Can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 Packets Brown Gravy Mix
  • Italian Dressing Mix
  • 2 Packets Ranch Dressing Mix
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper
  • ½ to ¾ Bottle Italian Dressing
  • 1 Packet Onion Soup Mix

You’re also going to need Gallon-sized FREEZER zip bags and a Sharpie.

First clean up and chop your veggies.  Set them aside in piles for when you need them

I also lined up my packets and cans and opened them.  This makes the actual assembly go really fast.

Recipe 1 – “Pulled” Chicken Breasts

  • 3 Whole Chicken Breasts
  • 1 1/2 C Favorite BBQ Sauce
  • Combine in your zip bag, label and freeze.

Preparation Instructions:

Thaw and place in your slow cooker with about 1/4 C of water for 3-4 Hours on High.  Shred chicken and mix back in with sauce, serve on crusty rolls with a slice of cheese.  This recipe is also pretty flexible and can be baked or grilled if you don’t want to slow cook.

Recipe 2 – “Ranch Chicken”

  • 4 Whole Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Packet Ranch Dressing Mix (The dry kind)
  • Dust the chicken with the ranch dressing – try to get the whole packet to stick.  I found this worked a bit better if I didn’t try to do it in the bag, so I did it on a plate and put whatever didnt stick in the bag.  Label and freeze.

Preparation Instructions:

Thaw and place in your slow cooker with about 1 C of Water or Chicken broth for 3-4 hours on High, or 4-5 Hours on Low.  Serve whole or chop up for tacos or sandwiches.

Recipe 3 – Italian Chicken

  • 4 Whole Chicken Breasts
  • 1 1/2 C. Italian Dressing

Preparation Instructions:

Thaw and place in your slow cooker with about 1/2 – 1 C of water or Chicken broth for 3-4 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low.  This recipe can also be grilled or baked with amazing results.

Recipe 4 – Soy Chicken

  • 4-6 chicken breasts or pieces
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 1 Package of frozen Asian
  • 1/2 Cup of soy sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1-2 Cups of chicken stock
  • 1/4 Cup of sugar
  • 1 Teaspoons Molasses or Hoisin sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of corn starch

Preparation Instructions

Combine all ingredients except Vegetables and Cornstarch in a zip bag, label and freeze

Keep the Asian veggies frozen until you need them

Thaw and add to Crock Pot, cook 3-4 hours on High .  30 minutes from serving remove 1/2 C of cooking liquid and dissolve the cornstarch in the liquid, add back in and stir well.  Microwave the vegetables for 3-4 minutes and stir in.  Place cover back and cook for remaining 30 minutes.

Recipe 5 – Pot Roast & Veggies (2 bags)

  • 1 3-4 lb Pot Roast – Chuck is best
  • 1 Pkg Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 Pkg Ranch Dressing
  • 1 Pkg Italian Dressing Mix
  • 3/4 C Chicken or Beef Stock
  • 1 lb very small red potatoes, or larger ones cut in half
  • 1 lb baby carrots or carrots peeled & cut in sections
  • 2 medium onions, quartered

Preparation Instructions

In a large zip bag add the mixes and the Stock, zip shut and combine well.  Add back in the roast and smush around to coat, label and freeze

Add the veggies to a second zip bag, label and freeze

Thaw and dump into crock pot with veggies on the bottom.  You might need to add 1/2 to 3/4 more liquid to get things going.  Cook 7-9 hours on low

Recipe 6 – Beef Fajitas

  • 1-2 lbs chuck steak, flank steak or London broil
  • 1-2 Tbsp Fajita Seasoning, from a packet or a jar
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 medium pepper sliced
  • 1 Can Rotel tomatoes & green chiles

Preparation Instructions

The meat should be sliced across the grain and added to your zip bag.  Add in the Fajita Seasoning and smush around.  Dump in the rest of the ingredients and smush around, label and freeze

To prepare thaw and dump into the crockpot – cover and cook 4-5 hours on low

Recipe 7 – Chicken Fajitas

  • 3 Chicken Breasts, sliced into fajita strips
  • 1-2 Tbsp Fajita Seasoning, from a packet or a jar
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 medium pepper sliced
  • 1 Can Rotel tomatoes & green chiles

Preparation Instructions

Add the meat to your zip bag.  Add in the Fajita Seasoning and smush around.  Dump in the rest of the ingredients and smush around, label and freeze

To prepare thaw and dump into the crockpot – cover and cook 4-5 hours on low

Recipe 8 – Saucy Chops

  • 1 15oz Can 98% Fat Free Cream of Chicken or Mushroom Soup
  • 1 1/2 Cups Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Package Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 Package Onion Soup Mix
  • 4 Regular Cut Pork Chops
Preparation Instructions:

In a bowl combine the soup, broth and mixes, whisk until smooth.  Add chops to a bag and pour the sauce over them.  Seal and label.

Thaw and add to crock pot, cook on low 6-7 hours and serve with potatoes or noodles.

Recipe 9 – Italian Chops

  • 4 Nice Pork Chops (assorted or center cut – or even pork steak – doesn’t matter.)
  • 1 1/2 C. Italian Dressing

Preparation Instructions:

Thaw and place in your slow cooker with about 1/2 – 1 C of water or Chicken broth for 3-4 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low.  This recipe can also be grilled or baked with amazing results.

8 Great Crock pot Freezer Recipes

Freezer Organization Tips
Canning & Preserving, Inside Projects

Tips for Organizing Your Frozen Foods

Buying in bulk, portioning and freezing family packs of meat and produce have been a way for the busy home cook to save money on meals for a long time.  Unfortunately the thawing, protecting from freezer burn, and remembering what you have in the freezer is sometimes a nightmare.  I have learned, from trial and error, what works and what doesn’t so I thought I’d share some tips for freezer organization, food safety, and hassle-free dinners.

Freezer Organization Tips


First the equipment.

Freezer Organization Tips

  • I love my slide-zip freezer bags – I always have them on hand in gallon and quart sizes.  I freeze a dinner-size portion of protein for the 4 of us in one bag.  I also freeze smoothie fruit in a quart bag and just have it ready to dump in the blender.  Sometimes I even add the protein powder to the fruit before I freeze it.  It works great.
  • If you prefer, you can wrap in butcher paper.  I don’t find that this makes the meat last much longer though – UNLESS I first wrap it in a layer of plastic wrap.  My mom uses her vacuum sealer and has very good luck with it.
  • A well organized freezer is a key to knowing what you have.  I have a shelf for fruits and veggies, a shelf for convenience foods, a shelf for meat, and a drawer for big things.  I keep bread and miscellaneous things in the door.
  • A cheap pair of warm gloves.  I always hate it when my hands freeze while rummaging around int he freezer.  I keep a cheap pair of gloves on top of the freezer to slide on when I’m rummaging around.  This keeps me from hurrying because my hands are cold.
  • I always have 2 or 3 sharpies in my kitchen and by my freezer.  be sure to mark what and when on your items.  This is the best way to know what is new and what is old.

Now the tips:

  • Try to arrange your items in a single layer in your zip bag and lay flat – this makes it easier to organize in your
    freezer and much faster to freeze (safer) and thaw when it’s time to use your items. When you lay these in your freezer lay them flat until they’re frozen, then arrange however you like.
    • Note: I saw a video over on the Ziploc Facebook page that I really wanted to share here – unfortunately they dont make their video sharable.  They now have a product called perfect portion bags that allows you to portion your meat in smaller bags inside your large freezer bag.  Great idea!  Check out the Perfect Portion Bags.  Now, I’m not one for uni-tasker kitchen products, so I think I am going to try this concept with regular fold top baggies instead of the perfect portion bags FIRST.  If I don’t see much improvement with the baggies, I might try the perfect portion bags.
  • Always ALWAYS use freezer bags.  Storage bags arent insulated enough to protect your food.
  • Get rid of things that are old or have freezer burn, its not worth the hassle and the risk.  The Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends the specific guidelines when storing frozen food.  I think I push the boundaries on some of these but stay pretty close.
  • Rotate your food, put new on the bottom and old on top so you use the old first.
  • Keep your freezer at around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.   For every five degrees Fahrenheit above zero, the recommended storage time is cut in half, so this is important!  The experts say you should freeze your food at 10-below Fahrenheit, and store it at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, but who can do that with one freezer?  The coldest part of your freezer is the bottom, so you might try to freeze things in the bottom and organize it after things are solid.
  • Meats and proteins should be stored low in the freezer, veggies and bread in the top or the door (colder lower, not as cold, higher for fragile foods)
  • It is easier to maintain the 0-degrees Fahrenheit in a full freezer than a half-full or empty freezer.  If you just don’t have that much frozen food, you can fill empty spaces with your flour, rice and dried beans.  If a freezer doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain it’s temperature, you don’t have to pay as much to keep your food frozen.

 

Budget Friendly, Canning & Preserving, Recipes

Amazing Apple Butter Recipe

My mom taught me to can when I was pretty small.  We put up lots of jams and vegetables when I was a kid.  Store-bought was expensive and we usually had a garden, and we never threw ANYTHING away.

This recipe grew out of another recipe and Mom & I tweaked and fidgeted with it for awhile to get it right.  There arent many ingredients, but you’d be surprised how much a little more cinnamon, a different type of apple, and not enough allspice can change things.

The complete directions will be in the recipe below, but I wanted to give you photos of the process and my tips as we go along, so I’ll put them in the body of the blog here.

You need to be sure you get the right apples.  Delicious apples are ok for this – but not my favorites.  This batch was made with Pink Lady apples.  I also like Gala, Braeburn or Johnathans.  I think Granny Smith’s would be too tart, you’d need to add more sugar than what we have outlined here.

First get your gallon of cider on to reduce.  Right in your canner and bring to a boil, reduce it in volume by half.

Next, you need 4-gallons of apples – that’s 16-quarts – I cut up some apples and measured them in my quart jar to see how many made a quart.  For these apples – it was about 4 per quart, but you will need to measure yours, some are bigger than others.

I then counted out all my apples and laid them out on the counter.  I filled the sink with cold clean water and got to work with my wedger.  You dont need to peel your apples, but you do need to core them.

Once I got them all wedged and clean and my cider was reduced I dumped all the apples in my canner.  This filled it up to the top, so I had to keep smushing them down and stirring them around until they were all cooked, soft and mushy.

Once they’re all cooked to a pulp, I started running them through my food mill.  If you don’t have a food mill, borrow or buy one – you CANNOT use a food processor for this – the food mill turns your apples into applesauce and removes the skins from your mix.  This takes awhile and I only have the one canner/pressure cooker so I mill into about 3 large mixing bowls.  You’ll need to scrape the skins out of your food mill after every few batches.

Once you’ve got it all milled, dump it back into your canner and add the rest of the ingredients.  Be sure you just SIMMER this – don’t boil it – because the bottom will burn.  Stir often while it cooks together.  I think I cooked mine for a good 30-40 minutes on a low simmer.

Note – If you do burn the bottom, its okay, just be sure not to stir to the bottom or scrape that up into the rest of your apple butter, it will make the rest of your batch taste burnt.  If you have a 2nd canner, dump the good stuff over into the clean canner and get that burned on stuff soaking – it will take awhile to get it off.

To test your butter, put a glob on a plate and let it cool down a bit – if it slides around in one big blob and “looks” like a loose jelly, it’s ready to jar and process.

I sanitize my jars and rings in the dishwasher to get them ready when i first start and let them sit until I need them.  Use a canning funnel to ladle the apple butter into the jars leaving about 1/2 inch at the top.  Wipe your rims, add a lid that you’ve boiled for a few minutes and removed from the heat.  Screw on a lid until it’s just hand tight – you don’t need to permanently affix the ring onto the jar.

Process your jars 15 minutes for 1/2 pints, 20 minutes for pints.  I had one quart because I ran out of jars – that one I did 20 minutes plus I left it in the hot water (burner off) for about 10 more minutes.

This batch made a whopping 20-PINTS of Apple Butter.  I’ll have gifts and yummyness in the pantry for a long time.  It took quite a long time – probably 4-5 hours start to finish with waiting time while things cooked – but it was totally worth it.

Get the recipe below – but you might want to bookmark this whole article for the instructions.  If you get stuck or have questions, just post them below and I’ll answer as fast as I can.  You can also email me at carrie (at) lookslikehomemade.com

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