Stocking Up

A few weekends I ago I got wild and made 3 different frozen meals to have on hand for when my bandwidth for a home cooked meal is stretched in a few weeks (one more week than I probably would like honestly).   

I made split pea soup, beef stew, and smokey turkey mole.  I wanted to make one easy recipe (split pea), one meal by itself (beef stew), and one option where you can cook some rice, defrost meal and be set (mole).  I also made butternut squash and pumpkin soup for Thanksgiving, froze it, and will bring to my in-laws. 

My split pea recipe is a homemade one, I have been making split pea for years.  An all-time fave.  I started to use beef broth as it gives it such a rich yummy flavor.  You could switch out chicken or vegetable stock easily. 

Split Pea Soup:

2 T olive oil 
1 bag dried split peas (picked though)
3 carrots, diced into small 1/2" pieces
3 celery stalks, diced into small 1/2" pieces
1 yellow onion, diced into 1/2" pieces
6 cups (or more) beef broth 
1-2 bay leaves
Salt and cracked pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 slices bacon (optional) 
hard cheese rind (optional)

If using bacon, cook it in a large pot/dutch oven on medium heat until crispy.  Remove bacon and add chopped onion, carrot and celery.  Cook until soft, roughly 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper while stirring.  Add split peas and let toast for 2 minutes with the vegetables.  Add garlic cloves and red pepper flakes.  After 1 minute add broth, bay leaves, and rind.  Bring heat up to high and once it reaches boil bring soup down to medium low, cover pot with lid half way and cook for 45 to an hour. Check the doneness of the peas and the liquid level.  If needed, add more broth or water to pot while soup simmers.  Once peas are cooked use an immersion blender to blend approximately half (this is my preference) of the soup, leaving some of the texture as well.  

Let soup cool completely (I leave it overnight on the stove, hasn't killed me yet) and then put into medium freezer safe containers.  Good up to 6 months or so. 

A word on containers - eye your freezer and buy containers that will most economically fit your freezer space.  Also unless you have a family of 4-6, buy containers that are on the smaller side so you can defrost portions for 1-2 meals at a time instead of living off a vat of soup for a week exclusively. 

Beef and Guinness Stew 
Adapted from Cooking Light 

3 T canola oil, divided 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes 
5 cups chopped onion (about 3 onions) 
1 T tomato paste 
4 cups beef broth 
1 (11.2-ounce) bottle Guinness Stout 
1 T raisins 
1 T all spice
1 t black pepper 
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices carrot (about 8 ounces) 
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices parsnip (about 8 ounces)
1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled turnip (about 8 ounces) 

Heat 1.5 T oil in large dutch oven.  Meanwhile coat all pieces of beef in flour.  Add 1 T of salt and pepper to flour if you would like a bit more flavor.  Take half of the beef and brown on all sides in dutch oven.  Remove beef once browned and add other 1.5 T of oil and other half of uncooked beef to brown.  Remove once cooked and place all beef in bowl/plate for later use.  Add chopped onion and cook on medium for 8-10 minutes, until soft.  Stir in tomato paste, broth, and beer, using a wooden soup to loosen all brown bits from bottom and sides of pot.  Put meat back in pot with raisins, all spice and pepper.  Add any salt to taste.  Cook uncovered for 45 minutes on low.  Then add carrots, parsnips, and turnips to pot, cover and simmer on low for 20 -30 minutes.  You want the veggies to cook through but not be too mushy.  Then remove lid and cook an additional 10 minutes uncovered if veggies are not too overdone.  If they are done, you can skip this step.  Cool completely and put in freezer containers.  

Smokey Turkey Mole
Adapted from Cooking Light
1/2 cup roasted almonds 
1/2 t vegetable oil 
2 dried Anaheim chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (found at Whole Foods)
1 cup chopped onion 
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 7-ounce can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (this is what gauges the spiciness of the dish, adjust accordingly to preference)
1 1/2 cups fire-roasted crushed tomatoes 
1 T sugar 
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t salt 
1/4 t ground cloves
1 1/2 cup corn tortilla chips 
14 1/2-ounce vegetable broth 
1 T white vinegar
3 cups chopped cooked turkey breast
Cilantro sprigs (optional, for serving)

Place almonds in a food processor; process until smooth (about 2 1/2 minutes), scraping sides of bowl once. Set aside.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add Anaheim chiles; sauté 1 minute or until softened. Add onion and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. Add half of contents of adobo chile (peppers and sauce) to pot. Add tomatoes and next 6 ingredients (tomatoes through broth); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture into food processor; process until smooth. Return mixture to pan; stir in almond butter and vinegar; cook 1 minute. Stir in turkey.  Let cool on stove and put into freezer containers.  I used ziplock bags for this for individual portions. I lay them flat so they would freeze that way for maximum storage potential. 

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