Cook Now, Eat Later: Freezer Meal Plan Week 4

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It is starting to get very cold around here. This morning, as I dropped my daughter off for kindergarten, it was a mere 5 degrees outside. Something about the cold makes me want stews and soups, roasts, whole chickens...you know, hearty food.

This week, we'll be working with beef. Not the ground kind, but the roast kind. My very favorite cut of beef is cross rib, but for whatever reason, it is impossible to find that cut out here. In the west, it was readily accessible and at a good price, too. Here, beef is quite expensive. So, you might want to pick and choose a recipe or two (or three or four) from this week's plan if roast beef isn't in the budget. If you can't find a cross rib roast, go with a chuck roast or bottom round. But do NOT go with an eye of round. Terrible cut of meat. I've found that many roasts are a terrible cut of meat, but you never go wrong with a cross rib. Second best is the chuck.

We'll be making beef stew, Chalupa, Pepperoncini beef, and packaging roasts for CrockPotting later. First, de-fat your roast to your liking. For the CrockPotted roasts (like for a roast dinner), all you're going to do is label a gallon sized ziplock freezer bag and put the roast inside. For the Chalupa and Pepperoncini beef, you'll just put the whole roast in the CrockPot with the appropriate ingredients and cook it until shreddable. For the beef stew, you'll need to cube your raw roast into bite sized pieces.

If you're going to package roasts for cooking later, here is a great seasoning mix and instructions to make a succulent roast. I posted it a while back, but here it is again.

ROAST BEEF and STEW SEASONING RUB

3 Tbs seasoned salt
1 Tbs parsley
1 Tbs pepper
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs garlic salt
1 Tbs paprika
½ Tbs chili powder
1 tsp basil
3 Tbs dried minced onion (sometimes I use half as much onion powder instead)

Mix together ingredients. My favorite cut of meat is a Cross Rib Roast because it is the most tender, the list grisley, and does the best in a CrockPot. However, that cut is seemingly unavailable here, so I've been using a bottom round chuck roast lately and it is fine. Just not as good as what we love. Sprinkle and rub seasonings over entire roast. Work in seasonings as much as you can. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, place roast in skillet. Use tongs or forks to rotate roast to brown all sides. Brown really well. Remove from skillet and place roast in Crockpot. Scrape any remaining seasonings from skillet into CrockPot. Combine 1/2-3/4 cup water and any remaining seasonings (I usually sprinkle a little more into the water) and pour over roast. Cover and cook on low 7-10 hours. Shred meat and serve. To add veggies to roast, chop potatoes and carrots and add to pot about 2-3 hours before serving. Turn temperature to high and cook until the veggies are tender and the meat falls apart.

The amounts may seem like a ton, which they are. But combine them anyway, because you'll use the same seasoning mix for the beef stew and it is always handy to have it combined and ready to go, instead of having to mix it every time. All you do is toss a couple Tbs of this mix with 1/2 cup of flour, toss that with cut up cubes of roast, then brown them in a little oil in a large skillet. Add to a CrockPot filled with potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion. Then add enough beef broth and water to cover. Add a few more sprinkles of the mix, cover, and cook on low 5-7 hours. About 20 minutes before serving, mix together about 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 cup water. Pour through strainer into stew and stir to thicken. Add more seasoning mix if you feel it doesn't have enough flavor for your tastes. I often add more garlic salt, since I really like that. You won't be disappointed! When meat is very tender, turn of CrockPot and allow to cool slightly before packaging. To package, pour 6-10 cups of stew to a gallon sized ziplock bag, label, and freeze flat. Thaw and heat to serve.

In another CrockPot (or on another day), combine the following ingredients to make Chalupa.

CHALUPA

4 lb. pot roast or pork loin roast (I use beef)
3-4 cups dry pinto beans
2 small cans diced green chilies
1 t. oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. chili powder
1 T. salt
1 T. ground cumin (opt)
Water
Additional garlic salt, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and salt to taste

Put all ingredients except salt in large crock-pot and cover completely with water (this should not be done in a small crock pot because the beans will not cook). Cook on low heat approximately 4 hours, then on high for 2 hours, then back on low until ready to serve. Add salt. Shred meat with a fork. Serve over bed of corn chips & top with grated cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, sliced avocados, sliced olives, and salsa. May also roll in tortillas and eat as a burrito. Or serve over Navajo Fry Bread.

And finally, for the Pepperoncini Beef, which I originally found on Our Best Bites, just follow this recipe (see Our Best Bites for clarification or explanation of where to find the peppers):

PEPPERONCINI BEEF for SANDWICHES

1/2+ tsp. kosher salt
1/2+ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive or cooking oil
3 lb. beef roast, trimmed of excess fat
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 16-oz. jar sliced pepperoncinis, undrained
Crusty sandwich rolls (for sandwiches)
Sliced provolone cheese (for sandwiches)

Heat oil in a pot or high-sided skillet over high heat. While the oil is heating, combine the salt and pepper and rub it into the meat. Add more if necessary. When the oil is hot, sear the roast on all sides so the outsides of it is browned and a little crispy. Transfer the roast to a slow cooker and add the minced garlic and the entire jar of pepperoncinis. If possible, cook on high until the liquid comes to a boil and then turn it to low and cook until the roast shreds easily with a fork, for a total cooking time of about 6-8 hours. If not possible, cook on low for 8-10 hours or until the beef is fork tender.

For sandwiches, slice the rolls and spread lightly with mayonnaise and then top with the shredded beef. Add a slice of provolone cheese and then place under the broiler for 1-3 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Makes 12 large sandwiches.

To package, just fill quart sized bags with about 3-4 cups of the meat. Label and lay flat to freeze. Thaw and heat and then assemble sandwiches as instructed.

Enjoy these meals!

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About Cheri

Hi! I’m Cheri and I’m so excited to be blogging with you! I am a stay at home mom with 4 little girls and one little boy, with another baby girl on the way. We have a third grader, first grader, kindergartner, 3 year old, and 18 month old. So, I guess you can say life is pretty busy. But my heart is even more full than my hands, and I wouldn't change a thing. Like my post? Please comment.
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