Freezing Foods,pt.2/Ranch Chicken

As promised, more on how-to-freeze….foods…or maybe I am just feeling cold today. The meteorologists blew today’s forecast. I was drenched to the skin this morning, and I was in a raincoat. [Prediction was for 40 % of scattered afternoon showers. Tell the people who had flooded areas ay 9 AM.]

 

There are several ways to go about successfully freezing foods, so let’s look at them

The original way was with ‘freezer paper’, something you don’t see much of any more. Freezer paper is thick and coated to keep out air and moisture. It is also a bit stiff and because it needs to be taped with ‘freezer tape’,(made specifically for this purpose when other tapes lost  their grip because of the cold and moisture of the freezer), the paper does not make an air-tight seal so it only worked well for short-term freezing, if it truly worked well at all. Its best use today is as a separator of layers of frozen meat.

Aluminum foil was the next-best,(worst), way to freeze foods for basically the same reasons, except that if you fold and crush the foil ends, it makes a better seal, if it doesn’t tear.

Enter plastic wraps and bags, and thank Heaven for the zipper-closures and improved thicknesses of the bags. Most of the time, you can use ‘food-storage’ bags and not even bother with ‘freezer’ bags, unless you want to keep your food frozen for some time.

 

 I have a vacuum sealer. It is my second one,(neither are/were top-of-the-line.) Although vacuum sealer bags are fantastic, they are not necessary and not the only thing the foods in my freezer are stored in. More on plastic bags and wrap later in the post.

 

I love the vacuum sealer for many things; you could probably keep foods frozen in them for years; (however, rotate your stock). One drawback is the price of the bags or rolls to make bags. If you do what I do, buy a lot when things are on sale or cook in bulk and so you freeze a great deal, it can get very expensive if you use the sealer bags for everything. They can be washed, dried and re-used IF the foods were not raw, or had any sort of oily residue,(cooked meats, stews, etc.), or anything that would leave an odor. You can re-use them to a much smaller size than most manufacturers tell you,(after all, they want to make money. I keep down-sizing to very small, as long as I can.

If you do a lot of freezing or buy in bulk, this is the way to go, though. If you cut the rolls  into over-sized bags, you can re-use them; (there will be some waste as there is about a two-inch top area where the bag goes into the sealer and the air is vacuumed out. This is where you want to do your labeling if you anticipate being able to re-use the bag.

I  make my own ‘TV Dinners” with left-overs. Even as we speak I have a turkey dinner or two with potatoes, gravy, dressing and vegetables; Salmon with rice with some sort of mixed vegetable dish, cod with pasta and vegetables, barbequed boneless ribs with potatoes and mixed vegetables and Southwest chicken with pasta and a bean dish. If you can get your hands on sectioned dishes from prepared frozen meals,(you can get them from family and friends, or buy separated ones that are designed as lunch containers, use them lidless with your vacuum bags. Sometimes, I just freeze an entree and one side, (such as pasta , rice or potatoes, that do not matter if the flavors blend), in small container.

I also have entire meals ready, in sections, as well as ‘nuke’n’go’ food. Right now I have three types of chicken wings, ham and bean soup, spaghetti sauce, sliced ham in gravy, a whole chicken,(I don’t remember right now if it is one that I made or a rotisserie one from the supermarket) and Swedish meatballs…and maybe more, all in vacuum-sealed bags.

There are prepared vegetable dishes, as well.

I have an open, plastic box with small left-overs, enough for a sandwich…prepared filet of fish, sliced meats, salmon patty, turkey burger, large sausage patty, etc. ready to thaw,  add a little embellishment  and go into my husband’s lunch, or for one of my sons to eat quickly.(I will do a lunch blog soon).

Another good use for the vacuum sealer is even if you don’t use the vacuum, the sealer is good for closing bags of pancake mix, baking mix, cookies, (such as bags of animal crackers or vanilla wafers), crackers, cereals or chips. At least, put them in zipper-close gallon plastic bags and squeeze the air out to keep them fresher longer.

 

If you don’t want to use a vacuum sealer, I use zip-closure gallon bags and the stretchy-type of plastic wrap . It is the best and your local, famous discount store that is EVERYWHERE has their own brand which is very affordable. It clings well and stretches over the foods to truly seal. You need to use several, overlapping layers, but it works. I have a few plates in the freezer now; off the top of my head I can think of a pie plate with a White-bean, Asparagus Polenta wrapped just that way, ready to heat and serve. I have some of the left-overs for lunches in the wrap and then zipped into a sandwich bag. Many rimes there have been whole rotisserie chickens so wrapped in there. You can often put foods wrapped in the plastic in a zipper bag with as much air removed as possible for longer-term freezing.

 

I have been discussing cooked foods.  In the next post, I will talk about raw foods, plus fruits and vegetables.

 If you have bones from the next recipe, they will be meaty. Freeze and save for soup.  A soup and broth post will come soon.

 

Today’s Easy Meal:

 

Ranch Chicken

 

You’ll need:

 

6-8 boneless chicken thighs {or cut out bone by slicing halfway through of both sides;

                                             keep the thigh whole.  

Prepared (boxed) dry bread crumbs, [reserve the remainder

butter or margarine, ¼ cup milk or 2 Tbs. sour cream,

water  plus the following:

 

1 cup of milk

2 Tablespoons plain yogurt, sour cream or mayonnaise

1 Tbs. Onion powder                                                  

1 Tbs. Dried chives  

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 tsp. paprika

 mixed

 

OR:

1 ½  cups Ranch dressing thinned with 2 Tbs. milk {reserve when done

 

Moisten the thighs inside and out with the milk mixture. Fold in half and cover in breadcrumbs. Brown the two sides quickly in the butter or margarine, then add a small amount of water, lower the heat and cover until just cooked though; this will not take long. Remove cover and cook longer let the excessive moisture evaporate.

Remove thighs and keep warm.

Drain excess oils from pan, return to heat and add the reserved ranch mixture and left over bread crumbs; heat to a boil, as the mixture has been exposed to raw chicken. Lower heat and  add the ¼ cup milk or 2 tbs. sour cream; heat thoroughly and stir to thicken. Season to taste. Spoon a small amount over the chicken and mashed or baked potatoes, pasta or rice. Add salad or favorite vegetables on side.

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7 thoughts on “Freezing Foods,pt.2/Ranch Chicken

  1. thisismeandfood

    Love the tip on freezing whole dinners made up, I would usually just put in the fridge for hubby’s lunch the next day, can you microwave these from frozen or defrost first??
    I’m in the process of weaning a 6 month old onto home cooked solid foods so my freezer is being taken over by mini pots of mush 🙂

    Reply
  2. tonettejoyce Post author

    Either way, defrost of microwave from frozen.However,if you microwave from frozen solid, it takes nearly forever and sometimes, the insides stay cold when the outsides start drying.I would make sure that if you do, you check on it regularly and I don’t suggest soft plastic containers.I know there are some who think you shouldn’t put any plastic in the microwave, but I can’t say that I don’t.If I do need to heat’n’eat when the foods are totally frozen, I often pop them out into glass or ceramic plates or bowls first. I went to visit relatives this summer with my sister and I had pre-made meals, entrees, sides and sandwich fillers pre-frozen, picked-out and lined-up for my husband to reach down the columns each day.
    I hope I have answered your questions, if not, please feel free to come back.
    I need to do a blog on leftovers and lunches, as I have learned to make nearly anything into a sandwich,(I also make a great many leftovers into frittatas or omelets).
    [Good luck with the weaning and …you look marvelous!
    I see “Dublin” in your address; I did not know you were in Ireland! I’m thrilled to have you with me.]

    Reply
  3. petit4chocolatier

    Thank you for the information and the chicken recipe. I am always looking for new ways to prepare chicken and this sounds great!

    Reply
  4. The Perky Poppy Seed

    I love my vacuum sealer!!! I feel like an infomercial when I start talking about the wonders of my vacuum sealer how it has changed my life and saved me thousands of dollars… but really it has!!! As I am sure you can attest to:) LOL 🙂

    Reply

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