Because life’s just smoother when dinner is as easy as preheating an oven.
The saddest sight, for me, is an empty freezer. I rely on my freezer. It’s always there, bailing me out when I need it most. True, there’s the constant restocking to think of, but that becomes sort of a habit. Here are the 5 things in my freezer I make sure never run out.
1) Cobbler Crumbs: Need a last minute dessert? Emergency side dish? Something delicious cooking in the oven that will smell so good and make everyone think you really have it together? This is what you do. Keep a large bag of this crumble in your freezer (see recipe below). Slice some fruit (anything really, but preferably tart fruit like Granny Smith apples or plums), sprinkle with a bit of sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and a few splashes of orange juice. Place in a pie dish and top with the crumbs. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350ºF. Serve and save the day.
To prepare the crumbs, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 ½ cups white whole wheat or regular flour, and ½ cup (1 stick) margarine. Use your fingers to form mixture into crumbs (some of the crumbs should be pea-sized). Freeze.
2) Mommy’s Chicken. I will always make sure to have a tray of this chicken in my freezer for those last minute dinner emergencies, like when I suddenly need to spend the next day in New York or if I’m expecting a work day to run late. This is a great dinner that I pull out of the freezer the night before, and pop into the oven at 300ºF the morning before leaving. The first child to come home uncovers the pan (by then the chicken will be super tender) and raises the temperature by a bit so that the tops will brown. This dinner will make everyone happy, even if Mommy isn’t home. Hence the name, Mommy’s chicken.
To prepare Mommy’s chicken, place chicken bottoms in a pan. Scrub clean a few yellow potatoes. Quarter potatoes and wedge them in next to the chicken pieces. Slice an onion and place in a small bowl. Add about ¼ cup ketchup, ½ cup duck sauce, salt, pepper, paprika to taste. Smear this mix over the chicken and potatoes. Cover, label, and freeze.
3) (Chocolate Chip) Cookie Dough: Freshly baked cookies are the hallmark of a perfect home. Am I right? Sure I am.
I like storing my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough (but any cookie dough will work) as a log of dough wrapped in parchment paper. I then slide the log inside a paper towel roll. That way, it’s easy to write the type of dough I’ve stored directly on the cardboard.
And it stores neatly. All I need to do when I need cookies is slice and bake.
4) Lukshen (noodles) and Kneidis (matzah balls). These are Shabbos staples, just like the chicken soup itself. I find they take time to prepare and taste just as good frozen or fresh. I prepare a triple batch every few weeks and divide into small containers. This cuts down a big chunk of my Shabbos prep time.
5) Breaded Veal Chops: This is the perfect supper for the adults when the little ones have requested macaroni and cheese, once again. I bread a few at the time and freeze them individually, ready to be baked. Simply pop in the oven, and 90 minutes later, a delightful meal is ready. To prepare the chops: Dip first into breadcrumbs that have been seasoned (salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder), then into egg, then again into the breadcrumbs. Freeze in individual Ziploc bags.