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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What's cooking? Wednesday - Speed cooking

I was going to post a recipe for enchiladas today but while putting them together, I had a different idea.  Cooking is not my favorite thing to do so I try to come up with shortcuts to speed up the process.  Maybe some of these tips will help speed up the time you spend in the kitchen too!

There are many people who like to do large batch cooking - where you spend a whole day making meals in advance and freezing them to heat up later.  I tried that and wasn't happy with the results.  In theory it was a good idea but either the food didn't taste as good as when prepared fresh or I forgot about it and it ended up in the bottom of the freezer, only to be discovered a year later when I got around to defrosting the freezer.  But, I found that a modified approach gives me the best of both worlds - that of preparing food in advance and preparing it fresh.

Whenever possible, I prepare more than needed for a meal and freeze the leftovers. I do this with rice, pasta, beans, bulgar, oatmeal, beef, and chicken.   With the exception of oatmeal, these foods take at least 20 minutes to cook; meats and chicken much more.  So, if they are already cooked and only need to be reheated in the microwave, a meal can be put on the table quite quickly.  Regular oatmeal only takes about 10 minutes but sometimes my husband is in a hurry in the morning and I can get it ready in two minutes if I previously made enough for three or four breakfasts.  Not bad!

Today I put eight chicken breasts in the crock pot with a little water and some chicken soup base and cooked them until the chicken shredded easily with a fork.  I used the equivalent of about three chicken breasts for the enchiladas and froze the rest in quart size freezer bags.  The next time I make enchiladas, the chicken will be ready.  I also grated far more cheese than I needed and put the rest in quart sized freezer bags for another meal.  The more you can prepare ahead, the better.  Then when you want to make something, most of the work is already done. 

Freeze everything flat then store upright in a Rubbermaid-type container to keep organized and easy to see.
With crock pots, freezers, food processors, and other equipment (and a little forethought) you don't have to spend all day in the kitchen.  And that's my goal.  I'm lazy that way  :)


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