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Freezing Your Way To More Home-Cooked Meals

Posted: 01/17/2012 8:14 am

We've been saying we were going to do it for a couple of years now, and we finally did it. My husband and I bought a chest freezer. What on earth (you might ask) would possess a young couple living in a cramped New York apartment and expecting their first child to make such an outlandish purchase? After all, it's enough of a challenge to figure out where to store all of the baby gear without adding another large appliance to the mix.

Well, I've got news. The chest freezers of old, those massive, hulking objects reminiscent of Victorian-era steamer trunks, have been joined by a younger, sleeker breed. It was this stainless steel beauty that caught our eye last week and convinced us to finally take the plunge. It's nestled into a back corner of our dining room, where we plan to throw a tablecloth over it and add a vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit to complete the disguise.

Over the past 10 days or so, I've been cooking up meals to fill our new freezer. It seems I'm not alone in this endeavor, so I thought I'd share a list of some of the recipes I've already made or am planning to make to tide us over when all my husband and I have time to focus on is changing diapers and stealing a few precious moments of sleep wherever we can. Whether you're expecting or just looking to stock your own freezer with great meals that reheat beautifully, this list should be helpful. And please feel free to make more suggestions -- I've still got a week! -- Merrill

Chicken Soupy Stew
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My mother has lots of signature dishes, but one of my favorites is also one of her simplest: she calls it chicken "stoup," because it's a hearty chicken soup with more meat and veggies than broth ("Stew" plus "soup" equals "stoup" -- get it?). Over the years, I've adopted it as a staple, perfect for when the weather starts to turn chilly. My stoup has evolved to be somewhat different from my mother's -- for example, I never include potatoes, and I go pretty heavy on the lemon juice, dill and black pepper at the end. I do believe it's worth the effort of buying chicken on the bone and cooking it right in the soup before taking it off the bone in order to create a really rich, reinforced broth. Sometimes I add a little pasta -- fusilli, farfalle -- right at the end (I cook it separately in plenty of salted water, until just al dente), but that's up to you. - Merrill

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Photo: Sarah Shatz
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