Friday, September 23, 2011

Cooking ahead

Cooking from scratch is fun and healthy, but it often creates a time-consuming mess.  I decided to cook a few meals for the freezer so that I could occasionally start my day without having to clean up the previous night's mess.  The meals I chose were lasagna and un-stuffed pepper casserole.

I started by chopping a very large onion.  In a large soup-pot, I fried them until they were just sweating and translucent.

I then added little more than two pounds of ground beef.  Once it was broken apart and cooking, I noticed that there was too much moisture for it to brown properly, so I scooped small amounts into a hot frying pan and transferred the batches into a colander to drain.

I also cooked two cups of brown rice for the pepper casserole.

I am not sharing my lasagna recipe just yet because I keep doing something wrong.  In this case, it required me to open an extra jar of pasta sauce, skip an entire layer, and the ones that went in the freezer require a white-sauce topping when they are ready to cook.

I made one dish to eat that night, and two 11-cup casserole dishes.  The noodles did not fit so nice in the freezer dishes, so I carefully snapped off the ends and used them to fill the gap in the middle.

I swear that my table was clean before I started.  It just shows how easily the mess gets a foothold.

For the green pepper casserole, I cut up three green peppers and made a layer out of the straighter pieces in the bottom of two six-cup casserole dishes.

I then mixed 400grams of cooked ground beef with three cups of cooked brown rice and three cups of tomato juice.  I also added two tablespoons of worcestershire sauce to the part of the mixture that was going into the casseroles.  I then spooned a layer of rice over the green peppers and topped it with the remaining green pepper chunks.

Let the frozen dish thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  Baked covered at 350 until the middle is hot, allow about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  Remove cover, top with cheese, and continue to bake until cheese is melted.

The remaining rice can be layered with cabbage and baked with tomato sauce, or mixed with salsa to make enchiladas.

The one thing I regret about this project is that I did not line the dishes with parchment paper so that I could easily retrieve my dishes once the food was frozen.

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