Freezing Eggs

WHITES Break and separate the eggs, one at a time, making sure that no yolk gets in the whites. Pour them into freezer containers, seal tightly, label with the number of egg whites and the date, and freeze. For faster thawing and easier measuring, first freeze each white in an ice cube tray and then transfer to a freezer container.  

YOLKS Egg yolks require special treatment. The gelation property of yolk causes it to thicken or gel when frozen. If frozen as is, egg yolk will eventually become so gelatinous it will be almost impossible to use in a recipe. To help retard this gelation, beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or corn syrup per 1/4 cup egg yolks (4 yolks). Label the container with the number of yolks, the date, and whether you’ve added salt (for main dishes) or sweetener (for baking or desserts).

WHOLE EGGS Beat just until blended, pour into freezer containers. seal tightly, label with the number of eggs and the date, and freeze.

HARD-COOKED Hard-cooked yolks can be frozen to use later for toppings or garnishes. Carefully place the yolks in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water to come at least I inch above the yolks. Cover and quickly bring just to boiling. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, in the hot water about 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and package for freezing.

Hard-cooked whole eggs and whites become tough and watery when frozen, so don’t freeze them.

To use frozen eggs… Thaw frozen eggs overnight in the refrigerator or under running cold water. Use yolks or whole eggs as soon as they’re thawed. Once thawed, whites will beat to better volume if allowed to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  • Substitute 2 tablespoons thawed egg white for 1 Large fresh white.
  • Substitute 1 tablespoon thawed egg yolk for 1 Large fresh yolk.
  • Substitute 3 tablespoons thawed whole egg for 1 Large fresh egg.

Tip:  Store eggs in trays designed to freeze baby food.  They resemble ice cube trays with lids and are BPA free.

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Hard Cooked Eggs in the Oven

During our last grocery delivery (yes, I have our groceries delivered, it saves time, money and gas but more on that later), I had a very large batch of eggs delivered.  60 egg count to be exact.  No, we don’t eat THAT many eggs but I discovered that you can freeze eggs!  I’ll create a blog post for that later though.  This one is about the eggs I haven’t frozen.  Instead I want to talk hard boiled…er… baked.  First, let me just say that of all my culinary accomplishments, boiling the perfect egg is not one of them.  I don’t know why I fail at this nearly every time but I do. From undercooked to overcooked to half the white coming off with the shelling, I just don’t seem to have that knack.  Until now.

I’ve seen a few posts come across my feed suggesting baking eggs instead of boiling them and I just had to try it.  It’s ridiculously easy.  Here’s the instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place eggs in the pockets of a muffin pan or something similar so they don’t roll around.
  3. Once your oven has finished heating, place eggs in the pan on the middle rack and set your timer for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and place eggs in an ice water bath using tongs.
  5. Allow to fully cool (roughly 10 to 15 minutes) and peel.

That’s. It. Right?  Who knew?!  Well now we do!  And I have to say, that peeling them was MUCH easier and the yolks seem less dry or somewhat creamier than boiled.  So it looks like I have a new way to make some tasty hard cooked eggs for deviled eggs, egg salad, with just salt & pepper or in cobb salad!  Oh yeah… we might end up eating eggs a bit more often at this rate.

The eggs will get little brown specks on them while cooking, this is completely normal.

 

Slow Cooker: Roasted Potatoes

Now that I’ve introduced you to baked potatoes in the slow cooker, here’s a recipe for slow roasted potatoes.  This is a great recipe to create in bulk and freeze in meal size proportions (freezing information is below the recipe).

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (I create huge batches of 10 lbs. in my 6 quart slow cooker)
  • Neutral flavored oil (I use Safflower or grapeseed oil – olive oil is often too heavy)
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Options:
    • Minced garlic instead of garlic powder
    • Minced onion instead of onion powder
    • Rosemary
    • Dill

Directions:

  1. Peel and rinse your potatoes as normal, making sure to remove any new growth (eyes), soft spots or areas that look on the verge of spoiling.
  2. Quarter potatoes into large 1 inch chunks.
  3. Drop them in the slow cooker.
  4. Drizzle oil over potatoes while stirring to LIGHTLY coat them (keeps them from looking gray while cooking) and add any spices at this time.
  5. Set cooker on high and cover.
  6. Cooking time depends on how many potatoes you have in your cooker.  Generally, set your timer for two hours and stir the potatoes.  (If you are freezing any portions: You are looking for them to be just slightly undercooked to allow them to remain firm after thawing.  Freeze portions using a food saver or an air-tight container.)  If they aren’t ready, continue cooking on high and checking hourly (stirring each time so not to over cook the bottom ones while the top of the pile stays raw) until done.  10 lbs in my 6 quart cooker took about five hours in total.
  7. Potatoes are done when they are soft but not falling apart.
  8. Option:  You can add a bit of butter here if desired OR quickly fry them in a pan til the edges are crisp!
Freezing Information:
A great way to make meals easier during the week is to create portions of your meals ahead of time and store them in the freezer until you’re ready for them.   There are a few rules regarding freezing potatoes in general:
  • Don’t freeze whole potatoes.  They become solid bricks.
  • Always partially cook your potatoes before freezing.  Raw potatoes do not freeze well and become tasteless once thawed.
  • Using a food saver that removes any air and seals the packaging not only prolongs the amount of time you can freeze food but also helps them retain their flavor (not to mention keeps freezer burn away).
  • Package them in MEAL SIZE portions or individual portions.  Large batches thawed then refrozen leaves too much room for contamination and spoiling.
  • Potatoes that have been stored at room temperature for two weeks to a month are best for freezing (as they are thoroughly ripened and the most flavorful).
  • Thaw potatoes by microwaving or baking.  Boiling will turn them to mush.
  • If you plan on using your potatoes for fries and not mashed or chunks then simply make them into fries, allow to cool and seal.  The above method would make the potatoes too soft for creating fries.
  • If you wish to have potatoes ready for mashing in the freezer: Prepare the potatoes as normal by peelings, rinsing and cubing them.  Boil the potatoes till they are about two-thirds cooked (should still be quite firm when speared with a fork).  Drain and allow to cool.  Package potatoes in meal size portions and use a food saver to remove any air from the package and freeze.  You can also fully create the mashed potatoes as you would normally and freeze meal portions though remember, any frost on the potatoes may result it more watery potatoes.

Slow cooker whole chicken

Yet again, no image for this one but mostly because this entry is more like a quick reference.  If you want to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker, this is a general idea of weight & time.

Meat:

  • Meat that falls off the bone = 1 hour per pound on high + 1 additional hour for every 3 lbs. ( 3 lb. bird would cook for 4 hours on high, a 6 lbs. bird would cook for 7 hours on high – though temperatures vary in slow cookers so always check your bird after 4 hours then every hour after until you have the meat as desired): This is great for chicken stock, boiled chicken, chicken soup base or deboning a cooked chicken.
  • Whole chicken intact = 45 minutes per pound on high with NO liquids except for what naturally comes from the chicken during cooking: This is for when you want more of a presentation chicken.

Liquids:

  • For boiled chicken, soup stock, or to make a broth base: Add 2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup water to the crock pot before adding the chicken.  [NOTE: Chicken in the slow cooker is very moist to begin with especially if it is cooked with the skin (can be easily removed after it’s done cooking), adding any sort of liquids to the cooker is only recommended if you are making a soup/broth base or boiled chicken.]
  • For soup stock or broth WITHOUT boiling the chicken: Cook chicken as desired, remove from cooker but leave any liquid at the bottom.  Debone and/or skin the chicken, add them back to the cooker, add 2 cups chicken base (see below) and/or six cups of water.
  • Chicken Base:  Every time you make a chicken in the slow cooker, keep the drippings for a chicken base.  If you aren’t making a broth/soup right away, simply allow the drippings to cool, pour them into a container and freeze.  If you want something with less fat, allow the container to cool in the fridge first; remove the layer of fat that rises to the top and then freeze the remaining.

Making Soup:

  • Egg noodles: Cooked in the drippings plus water for twenty minutes (with base already hot)
  • Frozen veggies/potatoes: Added after base and noodles are done cooking
  • Fresh chopped veggies/potatoes: Added an half hour before the noodles are added
  • Thickening Agent: I highly recommend Bisquick as a thickening agent for your chicken soup – remove 2 cups of the base from the slow cooker and pour it into a microwavable bowl.  Slowly whisk in the Bisquick until it is MUCH thicker than desired (remember it will be added to the base again and therefore much thinner).  Keep the base hot to allow the mix to completely dissolve and not produce lumps by putting it in the microwave for 30 second intervals as needed.  Pour and stir the mixture into the slow cooker base.

Stock/Base:

  • Cook the entire chicken: skin, bones, meat, etc.  You can even cook the giblets and neck if so desired.
  • Remove the meat from the cooker once it’s fully cooked.
  • Debone and/or skin the chicken.  Set the meat aside.
  • Add the bones and skin to the chicken drippings plus 1 cup chicken broth or water.
  • Cook till bones become soft.
  • Remove bones and skin (skin can be chopped in a food processor if you wish to use it in the stock).
  • Pour into single use containers and freeze.

 

Sour is sweeter

One of my favorite “secrets” to cooking is to use sour cream instead of yogurt in parfaits and various desserts!  I know, I know… you would think it pretty tart but not at all!  Here’s how it’s done:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring (not extract) (see Tips & Hints)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or fruit preserve (you can adjust this to taste) (see Tips & Hints)

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix well with a beater/mixer.
  3. Taste test. (see Tips & Hints)
  4. Add to dish and enjoy.

Tips & Hints:

  • Vanilla flavoring can be used by itself or with a touch of honey to sweeten.  Extract can leave a bitter taste to the cream.
  • I love to make this with just honey as it reminds me almost of greek yogurt.
  • When adding a fruit preserve, try not to add anything with a seed such as strawberry and blend a little at a time to taste.

Uses:

  • Parfaits
  • Dessert dressing
  • Drizzled over cake
  • As a fruit dip

Homemade whipped cream

In yesterday’s post, I talked about whipped cream versus CoolWhip.  Now if you’ve never had homemade whipped cream, you are going to kick yourself over how easy it is to make and how absolutely delicious it is!  Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:

  • Pint of heavy whipping cream (found in the dairy section and is actually called “heavy whipping cream”)
  • Options: honey, chocolate syrup, baking flavorings* (see Hints & Tips)

Directions:

  1. Keep the cream quite cold until you are ready to start whipping it.  Start by pouring it in a bowl.
  2. Start whipping the cream with a beater/mixer.  It will begin to froth then foam.
  3. Once it starts to foam and have a little bit of thickness (a minute into the mixing), start adding your flavorings a little at a time, testing the mixture until you are satisfied.  (see Hints & Tips)
  4. Continue to whip the cream until it thickens and starts to form peaks.  You can whip it as much as you like.  Though generally the whole process takes less than five minutes.
  5. Add to your dessert and eat!
Hints & Tips:
  • Flavorings: DO NOT USE EXTRACTS!  Whipped cream easily carries tastes and extracts will give it an alcohol-type flavor.  Instead, use actual flavorings (found in the baking section of your store).  I highly recommend vanilla, honey, chocolate/strawberry/caramel syrups, orange or mint.
  • To store any unused portion, you can freeze the whipped cream but it will get runny once you thaw it out again.  Try whipping it again if needed.  Allow it to thaw in the fridge only.  Heating it will change the consistency.  If you are going to use it immediately, simply keep it in a covered bowl in the fridge.
Uses:
  • Whipped cream is excellent for hot cocoa, flavored coffees or chai
  • As frosting or a dollop on a cake
  • Over ice cream
  • As a fruit dip
  • On parfaits

Homemade Tahini

If you make much Middle Eastern style foods, you’re familiar with Tahini or a ground sesame paste.  If you make homemade hummus, you know its a key ingredient though technically, not essential.  I’ve made it without it because I didn’t have any on hand.  So that got me thinking (as most things do), how is it made?  I found several extravagant recipes and have copied the basics here:

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups sesame seeds
  • 3/4 cups olive oil (see “hints & tips”)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Toast sesame seeds for 5-10 minutes flipping seeds frequently.  Do not allow to brown.
  3. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour sesame seeds into food processor and add oil (see “hints & tips”).
  5. Blend until desired consistency (thin paste).
Hints & Tips:
  • Oils: Grapeseed, sesame and vegetable oils are all a good substitute for olive oil in this recipe.
  • Thin mixture by adding more oil or thickening by adding more seeds, so don’t toss everything in there at once.
  • Tahini should be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly closed container. It will keep for up to 3 months.