Auditing, emptying, defrosting and refilling the freezer is something I try to do at least annually (my life is just that exciting!) and whenever I do it, I reluctantly declare that I should really do it more often. I regularly subject M to 'freezer surprise' dinners which on some days are wildly successful, and on others mildly perturbing - stewed apples with pasta anyone?
In advance of the baby arriving I felt that I should really get on top of the random contents of the freezer and try to organise them a bit more fully in order that we might have a good few weeks of being able to get something quick and easy for dinner out of our stocks.
As part of this planning, I've been going through my recipes and noting what would work best either doubled up, or cooked with leftovers portioned off and frozen. So far I've made and frozen the following:
I've never posted my recipe for lasagne, and despite being sure that anyone actually Italian might want to kill me merely on sight of it I thought I'd pop it here as it's a long held favourite of ours - it's not changed that much since uni... OK well it has a bit, but it's very similar in essence.
2 cloves garlic
1 red onion
2 sticks celery
250g (ish) chestnut mushrooms
2 large/ 4 small carrots grated
350g minced beef
1 tin tomatoes
1 glass red wine
Splash of milk
30g (ish) Equal quantities butter & flour
300ml (ish) Milk
Grated cheddar cheese
If you're feeling flush - add some mozzarella too
Put some oil in a nice big pan, cook down your onion, garlic and celery until soft over a medium heat
Add the minced beef, and brown this off too
Add the grated carrots and chopped mushrooms and stir to combine
Add the tomatoes, wine, oregano, bay leaf, tomato puree and milk. Stir to combine and leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
This can stay over a low heat simmering gently (if it starts reducing too much add a wine glass of water - or more wine - and put a lid on) until you're ready for it.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat (if you're using a non stick saucepan and want it to stay that way use a non stick whisk. Don't wreck your pans like I do) and whisk in the flour.
Once they've combined to make a sticky paste (roux) add your milk slowly, whisking as you go
Add the nutmeg and bring to a gentle simmer whisking as it warms through
As the sauce starts to thicken add the grated cheddar and switch to a wooden spoon - the sauce should thicken quickly now
Get a nice large, but shallow square dish
Line the bottom with a third of the meat sauce
Cover with lasagne sheets
Add a third of the cheese sauce
Then the meat sauce, then Lasagne sheets... and so on until you've used the final lot of cheese sauce
Top the lasagne with the grated parmesan - and if you're feeling flush some torn up mozzarella too
Put it in a preheated oven - about 180 for 30 - 40 minutes until the top is crunchy and if you stick a knife in it the pasta sheets feel cooked.
Serve with lots of red wine and good company.
What are your ideas of dishes to cook to stock your freezer up in advance of a big event?