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THE 411 ON STORING, THAWING, AND REHEATING
FOR EACH RECIPE IN THIS book I provide the specific directions for how best to store, thaw, and reheat each dish. But here is a quick primer on the essential tools you need, tricks and strategies for making the most of your refrigerator and freezer, and reheating food to get the best tasting results.
MUST-HAVES AND NICE-TO-HAVES
THERE ARE A FEW INEXPENSIVE food storage tools that are essential, and a few items that are not totally necessary, but certainly good to have. Assuming you already have basic cooking gear — pots, pans, baking trays and pie plates, a large casserole dish, etc. — you will need the following to be able to refrigerate or freeze and reheat optimally:
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
For wrapping foods that will go in the oven and an extra layer of freezer protection
For an extra layer of freezer protection
Sealable plastic freezer bags in quart, 1-gallon, and 2-gallon sizes
Quart-sized bags are ideal for single servings of stews, soups, and sauces, 1-gallon bags are perfect for wrapped individual foods, and 2-gallon bags will hold a roast or mediumsized casserole dish.
A permanent marker
There is a designated space on most freezer bags for marking the contents of the bag and the date. You could also write directly on a foil wrapper.
A set of sealable, microwave-safe food containers in various sizes For refrigerating leftovers
Six to eight individual serving size (2 to 4 cup capacity) airtight containers that are oven, freezer, and microwave safe For freezing or refrigerating individual servings of casseroles and bakes. Helpful hint: square is more space-efficient than round.
Two 8-inch square casserole dishes that are oven and freezer safe For making a larger casserole in two batches so you can eat one and freeze one
Six to eight 1½-cup capacity jars (12 ounce or 500 ml) with lids For attractive storage of layered salads and breakfast parfaits
Unlike tape and office labels, which do not adhere well to cold surfaces, food labels are designed to stick to food containers in the refrigerator and freezer.
Refrigerator and freezer thermometer
So you really know if your food is being stored at a safe and optimal temperature. Keep your refrigerator between 32°F and 40°F and your freezer at 0°F or below.
A microwave splatter guard
This lid maintains the right moisture level and prevents messes with microwave reheating.
A vacuum packing system
This appliance removes all the air from, and then heat-seals, the heavy-duty plastic bags that the food is placed in. Although they can be expensive, they are excellent for protecting flavor and avoiding freezer burn.
THE FREEZER FOUR-STEP: CHILL. PACK. LABEL. STACK.
CHILLING FOOD BEFORE FREEZING IT helps prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface. Place cooked food in the refrigerator as soon as possible so it cools quickly. (You do not have to let it cool at room temperature and should definitely not let food sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours.) Once the food is chilled, freeze it quickly by packing it in small quantities, and making sure your freezer is at 0°F or colder. If your freezer has a "quick-freeze" setting, use it.
TO PREVENT FREEZER-BURN AND OFF tastes from developing, be sure your food is as well-sealed and airtight as possible. If you are using containers with lids, "burp" them to remove excess air. Double wrap individual food items, first in plastic or foil, then in sealable plastic bags with the air squeezed out of them. Place soups and stews in doubled plastic freezer bags, pressing the air out before sealing.
To leave both of your hands free for scooping when transferring food into plastic bags, place the bag into a tall glass or pitcher, fitting the opening of the bag over the mouth of the vessel to hold the bag open in place.
Although sometimes you have to tear a bag to remove the frozen food, most times a bag will be reusable, so wash, dry, and reuse whenever possible.
LABEL EACH BAG OR DISH with exactly what is inside and the date. While frozen foods remain safe indefinitely, their taste and texture become compromised over time. The freezer storage times suggested in this book are for optimal quality.
LAYING BAGS OF LIQUIDY FOODS flat to freeze allows you to stack them like books once frozen, which optimizes the space you have. Freeze them unstacked so they freeze quickly, then stack them later.
MANY OF THE FREEZER-FRIENDLY DISHES in this book do not need to be thawed at all. Rather, they go directly from freezer to oven or, once released from their container by running them under hot water for 30 seconds, they can be thawed directly on the stove, which makes them extra-convenient.
When you do need to thaw a dish, it is critical to do it safely, and the golden rule is never to thaw at room temperature where harmful bacteria thrive. Instead you may thaw safely in the refrigerator, in the microwave, or in a cold water bath. When thawing in the refrigerator, place the food on a rimmed plate or in a bowl to catch any leaks or drips. Once a food is thawed you should cook it as soon as possible. Also keep in mind that most foods take longer to thaw in the refrigerator than you might think. Some will thaw overnight, but most take 24 to 48 hours.
A WORD ABOUT REHEATING
FOR JUST ABOUT EVERY RECIPE served hot, I provide two ways to reheat it; in the oven/on the stove, or in the microwave, and I include the approximate time required. Keep in mind that regardless of what method you choose there are many variables that affect thawing and reheating time, such as the dish you are using, the temperature of your refrigerator, etc. The times provided here are intended as a general guide.
TIPS FOR USING THE MICROWAVE
IF YOU ARE MICROWAVING, HERE are a few tips and tricks to make the most of it:
Cover the food as I indicate in the recipe directions. Sometimes a food is best reheated wrapped in a paper towel, other times it is best to use a splatter guard. If you do not have a splatter guard you can use a microwave-safe bowl or container, upside down, to tent over the food.
Only microwave food in a microwave-safe plate or container. Do not use take-out containers or plastic food tubs.
At the midpoint of the cooking/defrosting time, give the food a stir, or flip it over.
After heating, allow the food to rest, covered, for a minute or so before eating, to allow the heat to distribute evenly throughout the food.
Food thawed in the microwave should be cooked and eaten immediately afterward.
The cooking times I provide here were determined using my 1000-watt microwave oven, where "high" is 100 percent power and "defrost" is 30 percent power. You will need to adjust cooking times if your microwave wattage is different. This online calculator easily converts the numbers for you: www.microwavewatt.com.
The cooking time required for a microwave also depends on the amount of food being heated. Throughout this book I have provided microwave instructions for a single portion of a given dish. To thaw and/or warm twice that amount you need to multiply the cooking time by 1.5. To heat more than that, it would not be accurate to simply multiply, so it is best to increase the cooking time minute by minute, checking frequently for doneness.
Breakfast & Brunch
Mango-Chai Breakfast Rice Pudding Herbed Ham and Cheese Bread Pudding Family Favorite Granola Blueberry-Chia Overnight Oats in Jars Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats in Jars Apple-Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Sweet Ricotta and Berry Flatbread Breakfast Pizzas English Muffin Breakfast Pizzas Broccoli Cheddar "Quiche in a Bag" with Melt-in-Your-Mouth No-Roll Olive Oil Pie Crust Pumpkin Waffles Dutch Baby Pancake with Fall Fruit Compote DIY Whole-Grain Buttermilk Pancake Mix Mini Frittatas with Leeks and Asparagus Harvest Breakfast Cookies PB and J Breakfast Bake Savory French Toast Sandwiches with Tomato Jam with Honey Cheese Blintzes with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote Peach-Cherry Breakfast Cobbler Eggs in a Skillet with Spiced Tomato Sauce, Chard, and Goat Cheese (Shakshuka)
Mango-Chai Breakfast Rice Pudding
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
RICE PUDDING FOR BREAKFAST? SURE, why not? Especially when it is made with brown rice, low-fat milk, whole fruit, and just a touch of honey. The mango and warm chai spices give it a tropical essence and enticing aroma, and a finishing dollop of yogurt is like icing on the, um, pudding. Go ahead and treat yourself!
1 CUP SHORT-GRAIN BROWN RICE, SUCH AS ARBORIO
1 Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a heavy, ovenproof pot, such as a Dutch oven. Add the rice, cover, and simmer over low heat until the rice is nearly cooked, 40 to 45 minutes.
2 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Add the milk, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the pot with the rice and stir to combine well. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then add 1 cup of the mango and cook for 15 minutes more.
3 Remove the pot from the oven and allow to cool, uncovered, for 15 minutes, then stir in the remaining 1 cup mango. The pudding will be slightly soupy at this stage but the liquid will continue to absorb into the rice and thicken as the pudding cools.
4 Distribute the pudding among six 12-ounce cups or jars, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. To serve, dollop with the yogurt, drizzle with the honey, and sprinkle with the cinnamon.
Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
* Serving size: Scant 1 cup pudding, and 2 tablespoons yogurt; Per serving: Calories 260; Total Fat 2g (Mono Fat 0.4g, Poly Fat 0.1g, Sat Fat 1g); Protein 10g; Carb 52g; Fiber 2g; Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 160mg; Excellent source of: Riboflavin, Vitamin C; Good source of: Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Vitamin A
Herbed Ham and Cheese Bread Pudding
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
THE SUMPTUOUS, SAVORY STRATA IS fragrant with nutty gruyère cheese, smoky ham, and fresh thyme. It is moist and rich tasting, a real treat for a celebratory Sunday brunch. But it is so much better for you than most, thanks to the use of whole-grain bread, low-fat milk, and a balanced amount of cheese.
It's also easy and convenient to make — you pull the simple ingredients together the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day you just pop it in the oven and sip your morning coffee while it cooks and becomes puffed and golden. Leftovers reheat well, so don't wait for a special occasion to make it. Whip one up on any Saturday or Sunday and have breakfast on hand for the work week.
2 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL
1 Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent and slightly golden, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2 In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined. Stir in the cheese, ham, parsley, and thyme and stir gently. Spray a 9 × 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray and arrange the bread evenly in the dish. Pour the ham-egg mixture over the bread, moving some of the bread around to ensure the liquid is evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24.
3 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread pudding until the top is golden and eggs are cooked through, 60 to 65 minutes.
TO REFRIGERATE AND REHEAT
Once baked, chill uncovered in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, allow to sit at room temperature while the oven preheats to 350°F. Uncover the casserole dish, or scoop the desired amount onto a sheet of foil and place in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount. Alternatively, scoop onto a microwave-safe plate, cover with a splatter guard, and microwave on high for about 60 seconds for one portion.
* Serving size: One 4 × 3-inch piece; Per serving: Calories 400; Total Fat 18g (Mono Fat 7.2g, Poly Fat 3.1g, Sat Fat 6.4g); Protein 26g; Carb 31g; Fiber 5g; Cholesterol 305mg; Sodium 790mg; Excellent source of: Calcium, Iodine, Manganese, Phosphorus, Protein, Riboflavin, Selenium, Vitamin K; Good source of: Copper, Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium, Thiamin, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Zinc
Family Favorite Granola
MAKES ABOUT 6 CUPS; 24 SERVINGS
I HAVE EXPERIMENTED WITH MANY variations of granola over the years, changing up the nuts and seeds, adding seasonings like vanilla and cinnamon, tossing in dried fruit, or using honey rather than maple syrup as a sweetener, but I come back to this one again and again at my family's request. It's extra-nutty, with three kinds of nuts and seeds, plus shredded coconut, and it's lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup and seasoned with just a bit of salt. Despite its simple ingredients, it has a deep flavor that develops from a good, long toasting in the oven. I like to leave it in for the full hour so it is extra well done. Play around with it and see what you like best. If you want to add dried fruit, toss it in after the granola has baked.
3 CUPS OLD-FASHIONED ROLLED OATS
1 Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2 In a large bowl, stir all the ingredients together until well combined. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 40 minutes for lightly toasted and golden brown, and up to 60 minutes for deeply toasted flavor and darker brown color.
3 Allow to cool at room temperature. Granola will crisp as it cools.
Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 2 weeks.
Place in a sealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before using.
* Serving size: ¼ cup; Per serving: Calories 150; Total Fat 10g (Mono Fat 3.3g, Poly Fat 1.7g, Sat Fat 2.8g); Protein 3g; Carb 14g; Fiber 2g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 50mg; Excellent source of: Manganese
Blueberry-Chia Overnight Oats in Jars
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
WHEN YOU LET ROLLED OATS sit overnight in a mixture of milk and yogurt the oats soften and absorb the liquid, and you wake up to a treat that has the luxurious texture of a pudding. With that as the base you can run with all kinds of fruit, nut, and flavor combos. Here, fresh blueberries and blueberry jam add magnificent color and light sweetness, and chia seeds and almonds punch up the crunch factor while adding healthy fats, satisfying fiber, and protein. Using individual jars makes for an easy grab and go breakfast, or a fun way to serve for a brunch.
2/3 CUP WHOLE NATURAL ALMONDS, DIVIDED
1 Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then chop them coarsely.
2 In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, yogurt, jam, and vanilla. Stir in the oats, chia seeds, and half of the almonds. Then stir in 1 cup of the blueberries.
3 Divide the mixture evenly among four 12-ounce (1½-cup) jars. Top each with the remaining blueberries and almonds. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (Note: the nuts on top will soften a bit in the refrigerator. If you want them extra-crunchy, sprinkle them on right before serving.)(Continues…)
Excerpted from "You Have It Made!"
Copyright © 2016 Ellie Krieger.
Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The 411 on Storing, Thawing, and Reheating,
Breakfast & Brunch,