Friday, November 2, 2012

Running Recipe Link List

This is the central resource page for all of the recipe links that we have used.

Single Serving or Flexible Portions Possible
Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa
Sweet Potato Burritos
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Spinach & Walnut Strudel
Vegan Breakfast Burritos
Vegan Taco Foil Packet 
Black Bean and Corn-Stuffed Potatoes

Soups and Stews
Vegetarian Groundnut Stew
Hearty Pumpkin Soup
Winter squash coconut curry soup
 Quinoa Barley Veggie Soup
 Black Bean Soup
Moroccan Lentil Stew
Split Pea Soup Split Pea Soup
Veggie Lentil Soup
Red Lentil Thai Chili
Spicy Thai Tempeh
Roasted Vegetable Pasta
Cold Carrot and Broccoli Soup
Dilly Stew With Rosemary Dumplings

Black Bean & Tomato Quinoa 
Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze
Vegan Galumpkis and Pierogi 
Pesto Pizza
Ethiopian Yellow Split Peas, Lentils
Funky Vegan Spaghetti with Marinara and Italian Sausage
Delicious Dal
 Spicy Cabbage Masala
Red Beans and Rice
Beans and Quinoa with Chipotle Raspberry Sauce
Bombay Potatoes Meet Chickpea Tomato Curry
Spanish Lentils
Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Vegan Spinach Ricotta Filling
Meltaway Cabbage
Winter White Bean Salad

Spiced carrot lentil burgers
Jerk Sloppy Joes With Coconut Creamed Spinach
Carefree Curry Burgers
Veggie Burgers

Chocolate Banana Muffins
Orange cranberry muffins
Pumpkin Muffins
Dessert Hummus

Fixings and Sides
Kale Pesto
Freezer Slaw
Vegan Spinach Ricotta Filling
Vegan Pesto

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October Freezer Exchange was unintentionally a Forks Over Knives month. One person made the Spinach Vichyssoise from the Forks Over Knives cookbook. Another made the Winter White Bean Salad. (The cilantro pesto was an extremely nice balance to the sweet squash.)

I am always happy to find recipes with specific directions for the freezer. This recipe from Once and Month Mom for Black Bean and Corn-Stuffed Potatoes had wonderful directions for freezing success. I did a batch of Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls

On an administrative note, I'm working on a running master list of the recipes that we link to. I hope it will end up being helpful. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September Exchange

It has been a month of changes and transitions for our group. We are saying farewell to two members as their schedules change.

With wonky schedules I find that the meals made up into essentially "single serving" pouches are convenient. Anything stuffed in flat-bread, a tortilla, or dumplings where you can easily heat a small portion and leave the rest is wonderful. "Meatballs" and cookies are good for this as well. I especially like to keep on hand flexible portion freezer items that do not require thawing. If I have surprise visitors for lunch then I can quickly turn out however much we need. (Veggie burgers and vegan ravioli are great examples of item that don't need to thaw before cooking.)

This month we exchanged:
Masaman Thai Curry Stew
Meltaway Cabbage
Roasted Fresh Tomato Soup
From Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker Bourbon Baked Beans and a Carrot and Parsnip Bisque

Friday, August 24, 2012

August Exchange

From this months exchange.
Even if our group were to lose interest in exchanging and I couldn't find another set of people to trade with I would still freeze quite a bit. Veggie burgers are a great example. If your family does veggie burgers often, and I don't know a vegan family that doesn't, then perhaps making a large batch once a month a freezing portions would serve you well. Breakfast burritos also are great to make monthly. 

Even if you don't want to end up with six gallons of chili, making a double batch and waiting a week to thaw a eat the other half may serve you well. Freezing like this is all about reducing overall cooking and prep time. You can scale up or down according to your needs, freezer space, and interest.

This month we exchanged:
Zucchini Carrot Muffins 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chest Freezer Organization

This afternoon's addition to our freezer:
Oh She Glows Veggie Burger
I have long resisted getting a chest freezer. I enjoy cooking freezer size batches (in case you couldn't guess). But I did not want to use the energy/money/space of a whole chest freezer. For a number of reasons I caved this month.

This may be strange but I really like packing. The couple days before a vacation where I get to plan and pack are actually something I look forward to. So in a weird way getting to organize a chest freezer, essentially "pack" a freezer, is oddly enjoyable. I found this and this source helpful and came up with this system:

You will need:

White Board and Pen
Reusable Grocery Bags of Different Colors

Example format from last month:

"July 2012: Red Bag
III Stuffed Shells in Al Bread Tins
II Gallon bags Butternut Squash Ravioli
IIII Quart Blueberries
I Gallon bag of bags of Breastmilk
II 2 cup Kale portions
III Quarts Chana Masala"

Why hash marks? Why not numbers?
Because if I take a quart of blueberries out all I need to do is erase a mark.

Red Lentil Thai Chili Frozen Flat

Why sort items by date?
To assure that nothing gets too old. I know some people prefer sorting by object type but the contents of my freezer are a bit too random.

Why bags? And why specifically different colors?
Bags have handles. Bags are cheap. Bags stretch. The colors are an easy visual cue as to which month or category you are looking for.

Why packaging size?
So I know what to look for.

A note on freezing flat:
Whenever possible try to freeze flat on a cookie sheet before transferring to a grocery bag for storage. In the case of a freezer group this is an important courtesy. You will always be able to see the writing on a flat bag and is often easier to find room for a flat bag.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July Vegan Freezer Exchange and the Beauty of Specialty Grocers

Grand Rapids has been breaking one heat record after another this month. But I will be heating up my kitchen a lot less because I have a stash of freezer meals.  The exchange has been a great gift in this heat. 

This month we exchanged:
Wendy brought these.

Concerning Potstickers: 
Many premade potsticker wrappers you find in grocery stores contain egg. So check the ingredients label before you buy. Quite often a Asian grocery will stock vegan ones.  They are wonderful for making pierogi as well. I recommend freezing a single layer flat on a cookie sheet so they do not stick together. Later you can transfer them to bags or containers to save space.

If you have never been to a specialty grocer I would recommend checking one out in your area. You will probably be amazed by the prices and quality of ingredients. I have also found them to be a great source of help and information. Recently, I had bought a new Indian cookbook online and picked out three recipes I wanted to try. I brought it into a local Indian grocer and they walked me through the store getting everything I needed and advising me on what to keep in mind while cooking. They are also extremely good for bulk items. Not only does it lower the cost to buy in bulk but you will be reducing your post consumer waste compared to smaller packages.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June Exchange and Summer Guidelines

Four of the families in our group do not have air conditioning and so avoid using the oven in summer months. Since freezer meal heating tends to make heavy use of the oven this can be an issue. We added the restriction of no oven heating for summer months.

Like becoming vegan sometimes adding a restriction can seem daunting at first. One wonders what in the world  to make. But then with a little intention, thought and planning what seemed limiting loosens up a bit you begin to find an abundance of what you can make and enjoy rather then focusing on what is ruled out.

We have been doing dishes that are lightly pan fried-such as the burgers below. A bit more tricky are dishes that are microwave appropriate-any sort of burrito works well for this. Even better are dishes that require no heating-like desserts, muffins or cold dishes. We have also seen more dishes served on rice or pasta.

This month we exchanged:

Kale Pesto and Minestrone Soup (I used the spice mix for this recipe found about midway on the page.
Red Beans and Rice using tofurky
Carefree Curry Burgers and Freezer Slaw
Kasha (an old family recipe from Wendy)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Spicy Kale Pesto - 6 Family Size Portions

I hit the jackpot in terms of in-laws. My mother in law and sister in law keep a veggie garden that I occasionally weed for 30 minutes and get massive amounts of veggies. Recently, I came home with a stuffed grocery bag of kale and turnip greens. I found a recipe for Garlic Scape and Kale Pesto and adjusted it to be vegan and make 6 full servings.

1 grocery bag of greens (from least spicy to more use spinach, kale, turnip, mustard greens).
2 bunches of garlic scapes (more of less depending on how strong you like the garlic flavor)
1/2 t salt (or to taste)
1/4 t pepper
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup toasted walnuts
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil

In a food processor I ground a little bit at a time using olive oil as needed to keep it moving. Transfer properly mashed sections into a bowl to mix together.

Portion for freezing. In this case each person got around 3/4 cup.

I thought it tasted great on pasta. Because it is an atypical pesto with a little bit of bite it should be awesome for pizza.

I'm going to include minestrone soup with the pesto. Have you ever tried soaking beans overnight and ended up demolishing half of them because they expand into a tight, frustrating bean brick? Try soaking in a sturdy ziplock bag. You'll never have that problem again. :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Exchange

Exercising reasonable food safety practices while cooking for oneself is obviously important. I believe that cooking for others merits extra care.  For me this meant sitting this month out. My sweet little baby had a nasty upper respiratory virus which the hubs and I picked up as well. During the time period I was planning on cooking and hosting the exchange we were too sick and I did not want to exchange this virus! Sadly, I missed some great food. But I'm quite happy to have the recipes and try them now that we are all feeling better. The rest of the group exchanged:
Dilly Stew With Rosemary Dumplings Jerk Sloppy Joes With Coconut Creamed SpinachSpicy Cabbage MasalaVegan Taco Foil Packet 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Exchange

This month we exchanged:
Vegan Breakfast Burritos
I combined this and this recipe to make Coffee Muffins
Cold Carrot and Broccoli Soup
Funky Vegan Spaghetti with Marinara and Italian Sausage
Delicious Dal
Curry Stuffed Flatbread made use of this and this recipe
Broccoli and Potato Soup

A benefit of the freezer group that I had not anticipated has been that these meals are easy to give away. We had a family member give birth a few months ago and rather than work to cook a bunch of different meals I just handed over most of that month's exchange. Another friend had a nasty cold that he just could not shake. I guessed what in my freezer he might like best and ran it over to him.

All of the meals come labeled with cooking directions and no dishes to return. (Some groups have casserole dishes and other containers that they trade, reuse or return. Our group has for the most part used Ziploc bags.) Because of this they are particularly suited to being given away. 

Giving a dish away also mollifies the issue of not liking something that you get. Let's say that no one in your family has a taste for breakfast burritos. What do you do with the four servings in your freezer? Just throwing them would be wasteful. Next time you hear that someone is sick, in the hospital, just had a baby, or something else, ask them if they would enjoy it. Chances are they would like it and appreciate the break. Have you ever been the recipient of homecooked meals? What did you get and enjoy?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vegan Breakfast Burritos for 24 (1 bowl and 1 skillet)

2 bell peppers chopped
1 large red onion chopped
2-3 carrots peeled and chopped

5 med. tomatoes seeded and chopped
1 or 2 blocks firm or extra firm tofu
4 cloves garlic minced
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 t chili powder (vary this to how spicy you want it)

2 cans black beans
2 cans kernel corn

olive oil for pan
24 burrito size tortillas

Prep veggies. Saute peppers, onion and carrots in skillet. While those cook prep tomatoes, tofu and garlic. Move veggies to large bowl. Saute garlic , tomatoes and tofu. Mix in yeast flakes and chili powder. When hot move to the large bowl. Add beans and corn to the mix. Stuff and fold into tortillas. Below are pictures of the finished product ready for freezing.

There are a couple nice aspects of this recipe. First, while it takes a very large bowl it only takes one normal skillet.  Second, to eat we take one out of the freezer the night before to thaw in the fridge and microwave in the morning. The convenience of the microwave in the morning is great (we cook for 1:20 (my husband has it down to a science) but this may vary depending on your microwave). Third, as far as breakfast goes this is about as healthy as you are going to get. Forth, it is simple to adjust for taste and seasonal preferences. Last and perhaps most important, it tastes excellent.  :)

To evenly divide the veggie mix I spoon out into the tortillas with them folded like this.

Plastic wrap is between all of them accordion style for freezing. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Favorites Month

One of our members had a great idea this month--she suggested that rather than have everyone do another new recipe, we would vote for our favorites and divvy up those. There are several benefits to this idea. First, it saves us the research of a new recipe. Second, it essentially guarantees that this month is going to be particualy awesome. Third, it's a nice excuse to try a recipe that another person made before.

I pulled a rough list from this blog, about 25 dishes, and emailed a request for a top three. I was surprised and pleased by the amount of convergence. The winners:

Sweet Potato Burritos- 4 votes
Lentil Burgers/Quinoa Burgers- 1 each-so I figure some kind of burger got 2 votes.

For the Vegan Galumpkis and Pierogi I did not feel up to repeating the whole process involved in making proper rolls. So I did a modification that I think turned out quite well. With all of the ingredients listed in the recipe I chopped the cabbage (as if making coleslaw) and mixed everything together in a giant bowl. I think it was an improvement for two reasons: first, it was shockingly easy compared to making rolls and second, it became quite a bit more cabbage in proportion to the other ingredients so I feel like we ended up with a healthier dish. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

February Exchange

Ethiopian style beets and my set of spices
When you go vegan you often need to find new restaurants. American food is so often meat based that it is easy to find oneself in a restaurant of another region or culture. This month's exchange definitely had a ethnic food trend.

Ethiopian food is by far my favorite group of ethnic food. In an effort to not get it every night, as I am tempted to do, I am learning to cook Ethiopian food. Included are a couple of the most useful links I've found below.

This month we exchanged:
Veggie Lentil Soup
Red Lentil Thai Chili
Pesto Pizza (made with this pesto)
Dessert Hummus (That's right-dessert!)
Ethiopian Yellow Split Peas, Lentils, and Beets: made with a vegan version of Niter Kibbeh (using Earth Balance) and a Berbere spice mix.
Chana Masala
Quinoa Burgers

Friday, February 10, 2012

Managing Large Batches

Nietzsche approves of the size of this measuring cup.
Cooking for 6 families can feel daunting and could be a barrier for enjoying freezer exchange groups. Here are some tips that I have found useful:
  • Copy and paste the text of a recipe into something you can edit--covert all units up to six meals worth at one time rather than having to think about it as you go shopping or while cooking. 
  • Shop for ingredients on a different day then you plan on cooking.
  • If a recipe contains lots of directions that begin with things like "In a separate bowl..." you may want to rethink the recipe. 
  • You do not have to do a one dish meal. Include a side dish, muffins or a dessert. My vote is generally for a dessert. 
  • You don't even have to do all aspects of a meal in one day. Split it up as is convenient. Cut and chop veggies the night before. Cook muffins one night and the main dish the next.
  • Or, take the opposite route, and plan a day to do everything. In my case this means letting hubs know he's on baby duty for an afternoon.
  • Large slowcookers are your friend.
  • It probably would not hurt to invest a large cooking pot, bowl, slowcooker or measuring cup.
  • Label containers that you are freezing in before you place food in them. 
So, what did I miss? Any other suggestions from your experience?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ten Minute Asparagus Brown Rice (101 Cookbooks)

Here is a recipe that is very tasty but I am uncertain if this would be good as a freezer meal since rice seems not to do too well after freezing.  I have made this several times and it has turned out very tasty!  I thought I would share it with the group.

January Exchange

With the new year comes a new semester for some of our group. We have had to change the date and time that we exchange.
Exchanged this month:
Black Bean & Tomato Quinoa 
Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze
Spinach & Walnut Strudel and Vegan Apple Crumble
From the book "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker" we have a Slow Cooked Ziti Casserole. (This is a wonderful cookbook that I recommend to everyone! I have worked out of it for years and have not found a recipe that I didn't enjoy. It's author has written numerous vegan and vegetarian cookbooks and has a nice blog.)
Also see previous posts: Split Pea Soup and Vegan Galumpkis and Pierogi 

The convenience of freezer food is warming me up to the idea of a small chest freezer. I'm also right in the thick of freezing breast milk and making my own baby food. Any recommendations as to make and models would be much appreciated. Upright or chest?

Monday, January 9, 2012

African Pineapple Peanut Stew

Here is a recipe that I make often that turns out delicious.  I thought I would share it because I am not sure how well it would freeze.  I found it when I was reading about Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type on the internet.

African Pineapple Peanut Stew
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch kale or swiss chard (4-5 cups)
2 cups undrained canned,crushed pineapple(20-ounce can)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
sea salt to taste
crushed skinless peanuts
chopped scallions
How to make it:
Sautee onions and garlic in oil for about 10 minutes stirring frequently until lightly browned.
While onions are cooking wash kale, discard large stems, stack leaves on cutting surface and slice crosswise into 1 inch thick slices.
Add pineapple and its juice to the onions and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the kale or chard, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes, until just tender.
Mix in the peanut butter, soy sauce, and cilantro and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add sea salt to taste.
Serve over your favorite grain and top with crushed peanuts and chopped scallions.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vegan Split Pea Soup

During the holidays I decided to cook my January freezer meals.  I was wrestling with a creamy cashew macaroni and vegan split pea soup.  I have made both of these meals but I went with the vegan split pea soup since I have made it several times and it turns out great.  It is packed with lots of tasty veggies and very hearty.  Here is the recipe for the vegan split pea soup:
The funny story with this meal is that I thought my husband said he didn't like ham in split pea soup.  So I tried this vegan split pea soup, which we both enjoyed.  So I have been making it ever since.  One day when my husband was around I was telling someone about the recipe and the reason I had made it.  Well my husband tells me that he doesn't mind ham in his split pea soup.  We continue to enjoy the veggie version of split pea soup and don’t miss the ham.