Kitchen Focus

A common question I get from cooks everywhere is, "Can I freeze it?" In general, the following tips will lead you to good results with your freezer:

  • Cook and freeze stews, casseroles sauces, and pastries up to three months.
  • Fully cooked dishes will lose moisture when frozen, so slightly under cook casseroles such as lasagna or macaroni and cheese. Do not thaw these before reheating.
  • You can also steam frozen vegetables without thawing them.
  • Baked cake layers, breads and cookies freeze very well; keep these goodies in the freezer for two to three months.
  • Remember, all foods need to be frozen in air-tight containers to prevent freezer burn.

Use the "make one and store one" process: as you make casseroles or one of the recipes in this article, make enough for dinner that night and a second batch to freeze for a later date. For quick homemade breakfasts, freeze homemade pancakes and waffles to pop in the toaster instead of buying prepackaged ones.

Remember to label your meals, including date prepared. Have an inventory list attached to your freezer to remember what you have and to aid anyone else who is preparing dinner.

Watching your budget? Freeze meals based on sales. When your local store has a sale on hamburger meat, make and freeze meals containing hamburger or freeze browned hamburger for quick meal add-ins. It can be an excellent way to stretch a dollar.

Now, before I leave you for the month, let me share a recipe that is perfect for freezing and saving time, money and effort. Enjoy!

Ginger Chicken

  • 1 frying chicken (3 to 4 lb)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger root -- minced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 freezer bag -- gallon

Loosen the skin around the chicken by sliding a chopstick between the meat and the skin, poking into thighs, legs, from the back and over the breast.

Wash and dry chicken, and salt the cavity and outside. Mix soy sauce, sugar, ginger and sherry. Pour inside the chicken skin, turning the chicken so the mix penetrates all around the chicken.

To freeze: wrap chicken tightly in plastic wrap. Place whole chicken inside gallon freezer bag. Freeze.

To prepare: thaw wrapped chicken before cooking. Place chicken breast down in microwave cooking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Cook 12 minutes on High with breast down; turn chicken breast up, cover with plastic wrap and cook 13 minutes more on High. Cut up on platter for serving, and top with the juices.

Note: Bones and scraps make an excellent Asian-style broth for hot and sour soup!

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 35 minutes

If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .