Cooking for the freezer

9:58 AM Posted In , , , , Edit This
I have this huge worry. I'm scared we will all starve if I'm not able to cook dinner. I'm worried after the baby is born I won't have the energy to spend a hour or more cooking dinner every night. With our food sensitivities, I can't just open a can or box and heat. Cooking for food sensitivities is like needing to reinvent the wheel everytime you want to cook. You know what food should look and taste like but the wheel you are used to doesn't work for you anymore so you have to find another way. I guess there may be a few things out there that are gluten, casin and soy free but the ones I have tried tasted like crap. I'm on a mission to pack the freezer with items I can grab out and reheat or prepare with little effort, things that have instructions so Doug can easily prepare after coming home from work if he had to. I'm not saying that Doug can't cook but I do most of the cooking around here so frankly I am better at it. It's kind of my job to be. There is also the problem that I fear Doug won't really take any time of work then I'm really in a bind for feeding everyone. He gets home at 7pm and is hungry when he walks in the door. If food isn't ready he tends to get a little grumpy and already that is wearing on me so I would rather avoid it if I can.

Last night we made lasagna, lots of lasagna. I was very thankful for Doug's help with the ingredient prep and for cooking the onion. I'm the only one with a true allergy, an anaphylactic reaction to raw onion, my lips and tongue swell and throat starts to close. I have usually caught it before swallowing anything, only once did someone try to kill me with onions but we won't go into that now. Because of this cooking raw onion is really hard for me too. After it is cooked the enzyme I'm allergic to dies and I'm good to go. Onions do add so much flavor, so many foods wouldn't be as good without them, I just need them cooked first.

So I had planned on making 4-11x7 pans of lasagna then realized that I only have two Stainless steel pans for freezing and that they could not be popped back out and vacuum sealed when I was done because the bags are not that big. I decided to make 2- 11x7 pans (after all that's what I bought them for) and 4-8x8 pans lined with parchment so they can pop out easily and get vacuum sealed. Now after the fact I realize that I should have done them all in 8x8 because that's the size of everything else I have frozen so it would all fit nice and also it's the size of one meal for the family. In the case of the lasagna they are so dense that it might still be two meals. The 8x8's weighed 4 lb each! In the end my kettle could not have held anymore sauce than I made and it was only enough for 2-11x7 and 2-8x8. I have extra meat mix and mushrooms so everything else was the right amount. The left overs will make great pizza toppings, another item to freeze!! Here's my recipe:

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Lasagna

Meat mix
3lb ground beef (2 would probably do but I wanted to increase the meat with the lack of cheese)
2 small bulbs garlic - minced
4 large onions
2 bell peppers
Italian seasoning
Sea salt

(This is very close to what I make for spaghetti sauce as well but I like it a little thicker for pasta sauce)
5 lb carrots-shredded
1 head cauliflower- chopped into 1" chunks and steamed
1 large handful spinach- steamed
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Sea salt
Triple Flake
Italian Seasoning

Additional layers
2 lb fresh mushrooms
4 cans olives sliced (or as many cans of sliced olives as you like, depending on your brand)
16oz spinach- steamed and chopped

Meat mix
Brown your beef in batches seasoning with sea salt and italian seasoning to taste. Sweat out the onions and garlic until just transparent then add bell peppers until soft. Mix with beef, cover and set aside.

Shred 5lbs of carrots in the food processor. Add to large kettle with a little water and a tight lid, cook on med-high until soft. At the same time steam your cauliflower until soft. Add to carrots, change water to avoid bitterness and steam your spinach for about 2 minutes. Puree together with the 2-6 oz cans of tomato paste. This is the easiest way to get the paste integrated. When you have the desired consistency add in 2-28 oz cans diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast or to taste (adds a cheese like flavor) and season with sea salt, kelp or triple flake and italian seasoning to taste. Add water as needed to thin the sauce so it is quite spreadable.

Boil water to cook your noodles one pans worth at a time. Mine took three minutes to cook. Take the noodles out immediately but do not rinse. Now is the time to work quickly before you noodles dry out and stick together.

I kept kitchen scissors on hand too for fitting ends. If you plan to remove them from the pan when frozen, don't forget to cover the bottom with parchment paper.

Start with a thin layer of sauce. Place in a layer of noodles. Top with cut steamed spinach squeased out well to remove as much of the water as possible. Just rip off little pieces from what is now a ball of spinach in your hand and dob all over. Next layer olives, then mushrooms then a healthy handful or meat mix. Add sauce and spread it out. Apply your next layer of noodles. Top with olives, mushrooms, meat mix and more sauce.

Repeat this as many times as you have pans for. When finished cover with several layers of plastic wrap, label and freeze. I added little cards listing the ingredients, and approximate cooking times. I *think* they should be baked at 350f for 35 min covered with parchment or foil then uncovered for 10-20 minutes or until done.