Batch Cooking Baked Potatoes

I’m filling my oven with potatoes today (Monday) for potato sides throughout the week. Since a 10 pound bag was only 2.50 this week it makes a bargain for every meal. Today we’re having baked potatoes with our talipia for dinner. Tomorrow I’m planning baked potato soup for myself and another family. My poor friend has had tooth surgery and she is in need of soft foods, like nourishing potato soup. I’ll post this recipe for you.

We’ll have potato skins appetizers the following day and if I were to have any leftovers, cold potatoes make excellent home fries or hash browns for breakfast. All of these items might just take a 10 pound bag! It’s a good thing I have another bag waiting for more potato dishes. We’ll probably take a week off from potatoes though :)

Oven Baked Potatoes

Wash potatoes with a vegetable brush and water.  Pierce potato a few times with a knife or fork (sometimes I leave this step out when I’m in a hurry and I’ve never had one burst in the oven). If I’m serving some as baked potatoes, I rub them with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. These potatoes are best placed in a dish and the others can be baked around them.  I bake extra for potato soup, potato skins and hash-browned potatoes. I call this method working smarter and not harder.

Bake in a 400 degree oven (no need to preheat) for an hour or more depending on how many you are cooking and the size of the potatoes. I take small ones out within an hour and leave extra large potatoes longer. They are done when the potato feels squishy to the touch with a pot holder.

Here’s what my potatoes are designateted for:

 Day 1: Baked potatoes with desired toppings.

 Day 2: Baked Potato Soup Base (from the halved baked potatoes below) or you could make mashed potatoes or twice baked potatoes with the skins below. Go here for complete potato soup recipe.

 Day 3: Potato Skins (I use the pioneer woman’s recipe and I use a melon scoop to empty a half of potato out. The insides are used for potato soup and the outside-reserve 1/2″ potato inside for potato skins. I have enough for two meals so 1/2 of the skins will go into the freezer to make skins later. I realized her skins were not on her blog so I will have to do a complete post on this recipe later.

 Day 4: Potatoes for hashbrowns I’ll cube these and brown them in 1/2 canola oil and 1/2 butter, add onion and green pepper and serve them as a breakfast or dinner side. Go here for complete recipe.

Baked Potatoes…The possibilities are endless.

Menu Plan 11/7-11/13

 

It’s that time of year when it starts getting chilly and we will be doing more crock pot meal.  I’ll be posting the boiled chicken recipe I use since I won’t be grilling it this next time around.

I didn’t get around to making the sweet potato pound cake, but I might attempt it this weekend since I’m making my sweet potatoes in the oven tonight. I did make the slab apple pie though and it was good, but I’d leave out the bottom crust next time, because I really didn’t taste it much. We just love the apple crisp (our standby recipe).

Here’s the plan for next week.

I’ll bake my potatoes sometime on Saturday for Sunday’s menu.

Sunday-Potato Soup I’m trying a new recipe without the usual chicken broth I add to my recipe. I’ll let you know what I think and I will still post mine, but frugal girl’s sounded really good. I’m going to load it up like she  and serve it with cornbread.

Monday-talipia (grilled if the weather is permissible and pan sautéed in olive oil if not), baked potatoes, spinach salad

Tuesday-Hebrew National hotdogs, with stir-fried peppers and onions, potato skins

Thursday-pantry soup and grilled cheese for hubby and kids (I’m teaching class)

Friday-Baja Chicken Pizza (Kraft recipe on the back of a cheese bag)

Saturday-grilled hamburgers (if weather permits) backup plan is black bean casserole in the freezer.

Thawing foods in a shoebox

Thawing bags of food can be tricky because moisture is developing as they thaw. I’ve tried to thaw quart size bags on a plate before, but it takes up a lot of space in the fridge and the corners will drip onto the shelves. Have you ever had this problem? Here’s some refrigerator thawing tips.

The answer is to use 5 or 6 quart plastic shoebox (dollar store kind) in your fridge. I keep one handy in my cabinet for thawing purposes.  My current box holds 3 bags of fajita chicken in marinade. I started thawing this out two days ago for dinner on Thursday. Since I had over six pounds of chicken, it needed a good 2 day thaw. The box fits nicely in between shelves.

Guess what? The box catches all the condensation as it is thawing. When I’m ready to grill, I can use the box to transport the chicken and then I wash it in hot soapy water for the next thawing.

If  you forgot to thaw your food in the fridge and you need a quick thaw (2 hours or less), you can immerse your frozen bags in cold water for a while or try microwave thawing. Don’t leave it in the water all day, especially if it’s meat, this is unsafe thawing.

I typically thaw soups, meat, poultry, sauces and broths in my box. What could you thaw in your box?

Freezing Potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas or Anytime

We all love a good buy and potatoes are a great price at Ingles this week through Saturday, 11/6/2010.  A 10-pound bag of russets is just $2.50! The standard price is 3.99 to 4.99.

Most of us think of fresh-baked potatoes on the menu we see a sale like this, but what do you do with the leftover bag. Some might let the bag grow sprouts and eyes and others may wait until they smell something funny. Let’s not be one of those who let the bag of potatoes rot. Let’s make some potato dishes, such as potato skins, twice baked potatoes, my personal favorite, baked potato soup, and hash-browned potatoes. Did you know all of these can be frozen? Cubed potatoes can also be frozen. I’m thinking mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why not at this price?

I found the following method online to help us prep potato cubes for quick meals. I’ll be posting my baked potato soup recipe as soon as I purchase my potatoes. I’ll buy 20 pounds (2 bags) and bake as many potatoes as possible in my oven for many different side dishes throughout the week. Now that’s saving energy, time and money. Happy potato baking or boiling, whichever you prefer.

Freezing - To freeze large potatoes, begin by washing, peeling, and removing eyes. Cut into ½ inch cubes and blanch for 5 minutes. Immerse in ice water immediately following for same duration of time. For smaller, thin-skinned potatoes, scrub, blanch for 4 minutes, and bathe in ice before placing produce in an airtight freezer bag (from Green Giant Website)

Perfect Baked Potato in the Microwave

Scrub potatoes and pierce with fork. Lightly oil hands with olive oil and rub potatoes generously. Sprinkle kosher or sea salt on potatoes. Microwave on a microwave safe plate for approximately 6 minutes per large potato. I typically nuke 6 potatoes and it requires about 25-30 minutes depending on size. I will check them with a silicone hot pad to see if they are squishy (give gently). When they slightly give when I squeeze them, they are done. I immediately wrap them in a piece of foil to allow them to steam on the counter. Steaming time can vary depending on how much longer until dinner time. Just allow them to sit approximately 5-10 minutes to further soften the interior. Unwrap and enjoy a faux oven baked potato! They are so good with the works just like dining out. Butter, sour cream, bacon, cheese, salt, pepper, green onions or chives. This could be a meal with a salad. Enjoy!

What kind of potato dishes do you enjoy?

Freezer Chicken Fajita Marinade Tutorial

grilled chicken fajita

I’ve been taking advantage of the warmer weather and continue to grill our chicken for various dishes. I’m still buying chicken on sale, $2 or less a pound. I throw the marinade together and freeze the chicken in the marinade for  future grilling.

I’m using two family packs of chicken to marinate.

I butterfly the breasts so they receive a good coating as they thaw. I also trim any excess fat.  The chicken is prepped and set aside.

Next I prepare the recipe below in a large glass measuring cup. This easily pours into three bags. Don’t forget to date and label your bags before you fill them.  Even though I’m grilling it all at the same time, three bags thaw quicker than one gallon size bag.

slightlyadapted from  Our Best Bites

 

Freezer Chicken Fajita Marinade

Yield: Marinade for 8 to 10 boneless chicken breast cutlets

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 garlic cloves pressed or substitute 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons liquid smoke (found in the bbq sauce section of store)
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper (3/4 tsp. ground pepper)
  • 1 t. onion powder

Instructions

  1. Label three quart-size freezer bags with date and contents.
  2. Place upright in a plastic shoebox.
  3. Slice 8-10 boneless chicken breasts into cutlets and divide among three bags.
  4. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a 4-cup measuring glass.
  5. Whisk well and divide among three bags filled with chicken breast cutlets.
  6. Squeeze air out of bags and seal.
  7. Freeze flat in the shoebox. Remove box when the chicken is frozen solid.
  8. Thaw 24 hours in the shoebox in the refrigerator to prevent any contents leaking. Grill until juices run clear. Do not over cook.
  9. Cover with foil and stand 5 minutes before serving. Grilled chicken can be refrozen for convenient future meals.
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I divide the chicken among the three bags along with the marinade. I eyeball it. No exact measuring involved. It appears to be a little under 2 cups total, so around 3/4 cup per bag if you want to get mathematical.

 

I give the marinade a good whirl with the whisk to mix in everything right before I pour. The weight of the chicken holds the bags steady as I pour and then I squeeze as much air out as possible being careful not to squeeze out the marinade.

Now that was easy. The three bags lie flat in my freezer and take up less space than the original packages. I’m going to have moist delicious chicken ready to grill without having to deal with frozen chicken or spices. I’m ready to thaw it all out and grill all three bags and have a grilled chicken dinner one night. I cool, dice and bag the remaining chicken for convenience chicken. 4 cups are reserved for enchiladas the next day. The rest of the diced chicken is portioned in 1-cup portions in quart size bags. I used these throughout the month for various recipes, such as quesadillas, pizza, tacos and more.

What recipes would you use your chicken fajita?

Menu Plan 10/31-11/6

I make chicken enchiladas when chicken goes on sale (under $2 a pound). I’ll marinate the chicken first and grill it as a meal and cut up the rest for enchildas and freeze bags of diced, cooked chicken for other meals. Enchildas can be frozen uncooked and baked for a potluck. This is our family favorite casserole so I make three pans about every 4-6 weeks.

Sunday-Crockpot turkey Chili got pushed from Sat. to Sun, cornbread

Monday-breakfast bar-eggs, frozen homemade biscuits, applesauce, turkey sausage

Tuesday-Tacos, carrots, pintos (from the freezer) and cheese

Wednesday-soup, grilled cheese, carrot sticks

Thursday-Grilled Chicken, sweet potatoes, salad, garlic bread

Friday-PNO potluck-taking enchildas and undecided dessert

Saturday-manicotti from the freezer, green beans, garlic bread

Snacks: Cinnamon rolls http://cookandplay.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/freezer-baking-47-cinnamon-rolls/(freeze some)

Weekly Dessert: Sweet Potato poundcake or slab apple pie?