Friday, January 16, 2009

Frozen Taters

I've had a lot more requests for freezer meals. A great many of my friends and students are just plain tired of the chemical junk added to food. I hear. I know. It's getting insane. Finding a balance is hard. Do I make the meal or just buy the frozen stuff at the store? If I buy the frozen then I have more time with the kids. Personally, the reason we can afford for me to stay home, is because I save us a ton on food by making it here. My solution: I've married the convenience of frozen WITH spending time with the munchkins. They help me make the freezer meals. Wammo! They learn how to work and have practical skills. They have fun doing it. I...wash a lot of dishes.
So here is the staple we just munch. Frozen twice baked potatoes. No we don't suck on the frozen tater-lollie. We heat them. The Mary Poppins Taters. Stuffed with all different kinds of zany additions--like her carpet bag. I include a batch of these with every "once a month" freezer meal session...but do different flavors so my little men don't get bored.

Here's the basic recipe that can be adapted to add your own favorite baked potato ingredients...

Cottage-Dill Stuffed Potato Shells (but you can change the fillings...see ideas at the bottom.)
12 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed, baked 1 hour and cooled (microwave 3 potatoes ,5-7 minutes works too.)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
8 oz tub low fat cottage cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (I used Jack)
6 strips crumbled bacon (I used 2 cups of turkey ham today) [OMIT if you're vegetarian...I'm cool with that!]
2 T Dill (feel free to use other herbs too)
2 T garlic powder
fresh chopped parsley
salt and cracked pepper to taste.
Cut potatoes in half, lengthwise and remove pulp leaving ¼ inch in shell, put potato pulp and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well blended.

Heap filling back into shells and place on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Freeze.
Really, it's okay to change the recipe...see I added ham. I won't be offended if you want something else...
If you don't want to freeze them,
you can just go ahead and heat them for dinner.
2-3 minutes in the microwave for 2 single servings, or bake 400° on a sheet pan 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

See how gooey the filling gets with the cottage cheese in there?
If you do freeze...
When frozen, transfer individual potatoes into gallon size freezer bags. Label with date and these directions “ 2-3 minutes in the microwave for 2 single servings, or bake 400° on a sheet pan 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Flavor ideas (usually about 2 cups of the veggies or meat):

Broccoli Cheese (make sure broccoli is cooked so it won't get all tough and fibrous)
Sausage and cheese
Chicken and mushrooms
Blue cheese and bacon
chili cheese (omit the dill...)
feta and roasted red bell peppers
Roasted garlic...huge chunks...oh my heart. Havarti cheese...
My dad's (cheese and chopped up hot dogs...yes you can use veggie dogs...)

Be creative. It's okay.
End notes: These are great for kids lunches if they can microwave at school. Great for working folk's lunches too. Great as a main dish or side dish. Great for vegetarians or Meat-a-holics. Great for a single serving or to please a crowd.
Idaho and Colorado, I love you. All hail the super-bad-boy taters farmers! Y'all rock!
Potatoes go with everything...except that low carb diet friend I have. Sorry. You know I love you.

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